February 21, 2012
Jeff Teague played at least 30 minutes in 15 of his first 18 games, averaging 12.6 points on 47-percent shooting, 5.7 assists, and 2.1 steals. Kirk Hinrich was activated on January 25, and Teague has played at least 30 minutes in just three of 14 games since, averaging 11.2 points on 47-percent shooting, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals. Meanwhile, Hinrich has averaged 4.9 points on 33-percent shooting and 2.7 assists in 20 minutes. The Hawks have gotten off to terrible starts lately, reflected in Teague's minus-84 in 281 total minutes in February - Hinrich is a minus-10 in his 202 minutes - but the problems run deeper than Teague. Al Horford remains out, Joe Johnson has shot 40-percent in February and is now sidelined by knee tendinitis, and Marvin Williams remains as ineffectual as ever. Losing Horford and having Johnson at less than 100 percent cripples the Hawks' offense, and Teague's teammates' struggles have magnified the fact that he's a score-first point guard that needs some help. What everyone around the Hawks is hoping is that the All-Star break provides some much needed rest (particularly for Johnson) and they emerge with a renewed energy, led by Teague. It's worth noting that Hinrich is an expiring $8 million contract, so he could also generate some interest in advance of the March 15 trade deadline. It "makes sense" for the Hawks to give Teague as many minutes as he can handle in the second half, but it's not going to be a given while they continue to get off to slow starts and pile up losses.
• The Nets spoiled Carmelo Anthony's return to the lineup by hitting 15 of 31 threes in the 100-92 win over the Knicks, with a highly-motivated Deron Williams leading the barrage (34 minutes, 38 points, 8 threes, 10-12 FT, 6 assists). Jeremy Lin packed the box score yet again (36 minutes, 21 points, 2 threes, 7 boards, 9 assists, 4 steals), while Melo's rust and unfamiliarity were evident (37 minutes, 11 points, 4-11 FG, 6 assists, 6 turnovers), and Amar'e Stoudemire continued his season-long trend of missing long jumpers (36 minutes, 17 points, 7-17 FG, 4 boards). The offensive efficiency will eventually improve, but it's going to require more patience. And the bigger question for fantasy purposes remains how much an eventual increase in efficiency will make up for the loss of volume that Melo and Amar'e are due while playing off of Lin.
• The Rockets went small after both Luis Scola and Samuel Dalembert accumulated four fouls, limiting the playing time for both players. Scola scored 10 points in 21 minutes, while Dalembert scored nine points and grabbed six boards in 20 minutes (and was a team-high plus-10). Dalembert has now been hit with four fouls in five straight games, averaging 6 points on 56-percent shooting, 7.4 boards, 1 steal, and 1.4 blocks in 23 minutes during those games. With Scola also dealing with regular foul trouble (3.4 per game in February), Patrick Patterson has settled in as a rotation regular in February, averaging 26 minutes over the past 12 games, but it's only translated to 8.8 points on 47-percent shooting, 5.6 boards, 0.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks. He's a Watch List candidate in deep leagues while the playing time stays steady, however.
• Ekpe Udoh's impressive performance against the Clippers on Monday (38 minutes, 19 points, 8 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks, +13) led to Mark Jackson saying he'd "assess" the possibility of starting Udoh over Andris Biedrins. It's a move that has to happen, given Biedrins' almost total lack of production, and Jackson has to know that at this point. Udoh has nice fantasy potential when it comes to defensive stats - his per-30 minute averages on the season include 5.5 boards, 1 steal, and 2.5 blocks. But saying that Udoh's offensive game is a work in progress is understating things - he's got some hope if he can stay as active and confident as he was against the Clippers, but the outburst pushed his per-30 scoring average to 6.8 points, and that's tied to 41-percent shooting and 66-percent foul shooting. From the Warriors' standpoint, anything qualifies as an upgrade, given Biedrins' aversion to offense. Of note: Udoh didn't practice on Tuesday because of a left knee sprain, so he's no lock to play on Wednesday, let alone start.
• Jamal Crawford will replace Raymond Felton as the Blazers' starting point guard on Tuesday. The move (finally) comes after Portland scored just seven points in the first quarter against the Lakers on Monday. Felton had three points, one assist, and three turnovers in his nine minutes to start the quarter and finished with 19 minutes played to Crawford's 27 (15 points, 5-11 FG, 2 threes, 5 assists, 3 turnovers) in the 103-92 loss. Crawford at point guard is not ideal, but it's worth noting that he's currently posting one of the highest assist rates of his career (25.9% to Felton's 30.5%). What he'll need to do to make this at least workable is scale back his own usage (27.9% to Felton's 19.7%) and look to keep his teammates involved. This situation isn't any less interesting than when we were wondering how bad Felton would be on any given night, now we wait to see how good Crawford might be. Perhaps Felton's percent-owned number (86%) finally comes down with this announcement?
• The recent turmoil surrounding the Lakers may not result in any blockbuster moves but could, according to rumors, push the team to make a trade for a point guard like Ramon Sessions over the All-Star break. Sessions (49% owned) makes all kinds of sense as a stash through the break (and beyond) in the event that a trade does materialize. The Michael Beasley rumors are gaining some steam and it makes sense that the Wolves won't want to give him the $8 million qualifying offer after the season, but they may be content to end up with the cap room. Since we're on the subject: yes, a move to the Lakers would be good for Beasley, particularly if they happen to also land Sessions.
• Status updates: Ty Lawson (ankle) is day-to-day .. Initial reports on Nikola Pekovic's ankle sprain is that it's not serious, but we'll know more after a Tuesday updated .. Wilson Chandler thinks he'll have clearance to sign with the Nuggets within the next week .. We aren't going to see Gerald Henderson (hamstring) until after the All-Star break .. Drew Gooden needs a second opinion for his lingering wrist injury.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: The past two games are an example of what Matt Bonner can accomplish in a Tiago Splitter-free zone. Bonner has averaged 16.5 points, 4 threes, 3.5 boards, and 1.5 steals in 33 minutes and has all kinds of short-term fantasy appeal .. Ersan Ilyasova's 15 and 15 on Monday pushed his February averages to 14.1 points, 11.6 boards (5.2 offensive), and 1.2 blocks in 31 minutes .. Iman Shumpert technically missed Monday's game because of a sore knee, but his fantasy prospects are seriously limited now that Baron Davis has been activated .. Kenneth Faried has been flashing that exceptional per-minute potential for the short-handed Nuggets, averaging 10.6 points on 58-percent shooting, 7.6 boards, 1 steal, and 1.4 blocks in 23 minutes over the past five games. A deep-league add makes sense, but minutes will be sketchy after Nene Hilario, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler are back in the mix .. Randy Wittman has been going with a small look lately, getting Jordan Crawford a steady 27 minutes in February. Crawford fits the mold of a player that "scores when he shoots a lot" and often does as much to hurt fantasy teams as help - his February line includes 13.3 points, 1.2 threes, and 3.3 assists, but also 38-percent shooting and 2 turnovers .. It looks like Dorell Wright is back on the schnide - he's gone scoreless in his past two games (0-13 FG, 0-9 3PT) and has now averaged 7.5 points on 33-percent shooting and 1.4 threes over his past eight games. In 12 games prior to this cold streak, Wright averaged 15.1 points on 48-percent shooting and 2.7 threes.