November 12, 2009
Another Thursday rundown, featuring news of the day and recapping the most pertinitent information to arise from a full slate of Wednesday games.
• The struggling Hornets have parted ways with Byron Scott. The team has been average on offense and surprisingly bad on defense. While some have attributed the slow start to Scott's no longer being able to motivate the team, David West(notes) told reporters today that there were "philosophical differences" between Scott and some of the players. Current GM and former assistant Jeff Bower will take over as the team's head coach, and he's largely responsible for assembling the current roster. There's not a depth of talent to be mined here, but fantasy owners can at least hope that the switch allows Chris Paul(notes), West, and Emeka Okafor(notes) to maximize their talents. A few key quotes from the press conference:
Bower: Bower said rather than Scott's up-tempo approach on offense, he would prefer to see "steady pace with flow to the game," a better transition from offense to defense.
Bower: "What I'm not going to do is turn away from things that have been successful."
West: "I think we got to the point to where things we were doing just weren't effective."
• There are only two games on tap for Thursday, and the only notable status updates involve the Lakers' frontcourt. Although he's probably not out until Christmas, Pau Gasol's(notes) timetable remains indefinite. Andrew Bynum(notes) is expected to be back in the lineup for their matchup with the Suns.
• If you thought it couldn't get any worse in Oakland, then click here.
• What to do with Elton Brand(notes)... In a nutshell, the Princeton offense works best when their is only one post player on the floor, and the 76ers currently start two (Brand and Samuel Dalembert(notes)). The Princeton offense necessitates that you have a three-point shooter (or three) on the floor to spread things out for cutting players and the single post option - Jason Kapono(notes) is the sole long-range sniper on the team, and he runs with the second unit. When Marresse Speights is on the floor, it's often in a small lineup where he is the single "big" and Kapono is also involved. To me, it's a no-brainer that the starters are struggling, particulary relative to the team's second unit. What is Eddie Jordan's take?
"When you deal with the starting lineup, that can be a sensitive issue among the players. I don't want to touch a nerve right there right now. Look, are there reasons or are there some reasons for me to warrant to change the starting lineup? Yeah, because our second group has been playing very well. I like the way Marreese has been playing, I like the way Jason Smith(notes) has been playing ... but does that warrant me to change the starting lineup? No, not right now."
Okay, Eddie. More food for thought: take a look at the top two units here, note the singular difference in personnel, and then the marked difference in both offensive and defensive efficiency. While it's true that we're not dealing with large sample sizes, I'm not sure how he can say that a change in the starting lineup isn't already warranted... Brand will continue to post poor numbers for at least as long as there is no shake-up in the rotation. If Jordan makes the obvious switch, then Brand has significantly more hope for a turnaround, and that's magnified if Brand is occasionally allowed to be the single "big" in the lineup, as it's almost exclusively been Speights in that role to this point.
• Al Jefferson(notes) will miss the Timberwolves' next two games because of an illness in his family. Some combination of Ryan Hollins(notes), Oleksiy Pecherov(notes), and Nathan Jawai(notes) will absorb the surplus minutes against the Mavs (Friday) and Grizzlies (Saturday).
• The Knicks' backcourt is in a state of flux. Chris Duhon(notes) can't buy a bucket (25% FG, 22% 3PT) and his ability to positively (or noticeably) affect a game is in serious question. Toney Douglas(notes) has averaged 20 points and three treys over the past three games, including a start and 36 minutes on Wednesday, but the fact that he's also totaled three assists and six turnovers in those games doesn't bode well for his leading the offense. Larry Hughes(notes) is still Larry Hughes, but he at least impacts a game and has logged a 32:14 assist-to-turnover ratio to date. Nate Robinson(notes) could return Friday, but next week is a safer bet, and he's the likeliest candidate to relieve Duhon of his point guard duties, assuming he can't snap out of his current funk. The Knicks play just twice over the next eight days, although they are both favorable matchups (GSW, @IND).
Notes from Wednesday's games:
• It was the first real test for Josh Howard's(notes) ankle - the second of back-to-back games - and he didn't exactly pass with flying colors. He was limping on the court after 19 minutes (and 2-of-11 shooting), was subsequently pulled, and did not return. Rick Carlisle had the following comment:
"We'll evaluate it and treat it accordingly. He's had some soreness. It's no secret. There's going to be times when there's soreness, and we have to get him out of the game."
Howard also added that his ankle had swelled and that "cutting and stuff was killing me." While it's not known exactly how far Howard is from 100 percent, fantasy owners should clealry expect a bumpy ride for at least the next few weeks and be aware of his status on a game-by-game basis. The Mavericks play three more sets of back-to-backs before December 1.
• What Erick Dampier(notes) giveth, Erick Dampier taketh away. He recorded just one point, four boards, and no blocks against the Spurs after averaging 9.8 points, 12 boards, and 2.8 blocks in his previous six games.
• Richard Jefferson(notes) has picked up the slack in the absence of Tim Duncan(notes) and Tony Parker(notes), averaging 26.5 points, 1.5 threes, 7.5 boards, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 steals over two games. His ceiling is certainly limited when this team has it's full complement of players, but that's not something to be expected all the time. RJ's fantasy owners should just take the numbers while they are there - at least one of the Spurs' two missing stars will be back for their next game (Saturday, OKC).
• T.J. Ford(notes) left Wednesday's game with back spasms, and it's currently unknown if he'll miss any time moving forward. Earl Watson(notes) filled in admirably against the Warriors (35 minutes, 16 points, 3 treys, 6 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals). He technically makes sense as a speculative add in deeper leagues, but the Pacers play just once over the next five days and the matchup is not appealing (BOS).
• Give some of the credit to the matchups, but in 61 minutes over two games, Anthony Randolph(notes) has totaled 40 points on 47-percent shooting, 20 boards, six steals, and five blocks. With Andris Biedrins(notes) out at least another 10 days or so, AR's fantasy owners seem to have at least something of a temporary reprieve from the madness.
• Anthony Morrow(notes) replaced Stephen Curry(notes) in the starting lineup on Wednesday and that's likely to stick, at least while Biedrins is sidelined and if Morrow can do a bit better than 2-of-7 shooting. (I'll spare you the "analysis", but there's more Nellie/Stephen Jackson(notes) drama to take in if you follow that link, as well).
• John Salmons'(notes) owners have to be completely frazzled at this point, as his 1-for-11 shooting on Wednesday lowered his season mark to 31 percent. The career 36-percent shooter from long range also has made just 26 percent of his attempts thus far on the season. The shots are bound to start falling at some point and the rest of his line looks really good (4.1 boards, 2.8 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 blocks), so my advice would be to reject any offers to buy low. And if you don't have him rostered, you should attempt to buy low.
• Taj Gibson(notes): 28 points, 11 boards, five steals, and three blocks in 62 minutes over the past two games. This is the last time I'll bring it up, but yes, he's worth a roster add for the next month or so.
• Jose Calderon(notes) has made 13-of-17 shots over the past two games, raising his shooting percentage to an even 50 percent on the season. Please direct any and all complaints towards his counting stats (0.8 threes, 6.4 assists, 0.8 steals).
• The Celtics are a tough matchup for anyone, so that makes Deron Williams'(notes) line (13 points, 7 boards, 4 assists) that much more passable when you consider that he played 33 minutes with calf and back issues. He's currently considered probable for Friday's tilt at Philly.
• Wednesday's loss to the Celtics dropped the Jazz to 3-5 on the season, and Jerry Sloan could be contemplating a lineup change. Although conventional wisdom suggests that Paul Millsap(notes) would be joining the starters in some capacity, Sloan's comments were that "We'll see what happens" and "I don't know who it will be."
• Raja Bell(notes) missed Wednesday's debacle against the Pistons, but a calf injury was the culprit and not his wrist. Flip Murray(notes) got the start (31 minutes, 11 points, 2 threes) ahead of D.J. Augustin(notes) (16 minutes, 3 points, 3 assists).
• The numbers sure look good right now (15.3 points on 55-percent shooting, 9.2 boards, 2 blocks in 32 minutes per game), but I've got little faith in Andrew Bogut(notes) staying healthy over the course of the season. The Bucks play the Warriors on Saturday and then have four-game schedules for each of the next three weeks. I might mark that first week of December as a good time to think about a "sell high" strategy if he's still getting it done at that point.
• Mike Conley's(notes) string of off nights continued against the Rockets (17 minutes, 1-of-6, 2 points, 3 assists), and this time Marcus Williams got some serious run in his place (31 minutes, 3-of-11, 7 points, 7 assists). It's doubtful that Williams is any threat to his job at this point, but it's a situation to monitor while we also wait for an Allen Iverson(notes) update.
• Aaron Brooks(notes) was also off in the game (26 minutes, 3-of-10, 8 points, 3 assists), despite it being decided early, paving the way for Kyle Lowry(notes) to get solid run (29 minutes, 8 points, 8 boards, 10 assists, 2 steals).
** For your Thursday fix of the current Curry Line standings, visit busersports.com