February 15, 2012
You should try to sell high on Jeremy Lin. That statement will undoubtedly elicit a wide range of reactions, and that's a large part of the reason to consider doing it. It's already happening, as Lin has been the most traded player for four days straight. The first question you will ask, of course, is why. Think of it less as a cynical act and more as a pragmatic course of action. You owe it to yourself to find out if you can land Monta Ellis, Greg Monroe, James Harden, or Paul Millsap. Those names either sound completely ridiculous or perfectly reasonable to you, but what really matter is what the other guy thinks. So which of Lin's numbers from his six-game onslaught aren't sustainable? The two biggies right off the bat: 40 minutes per game and a usage rate around 36 percent. Both of those are league-leading numbers, with that usage only being topped by Kobe Bryant's near-record 38 percent. Sure, Mike D'Antoni will continue to give Lin all the minutes he can handle, but you've got to expect fatigue, particularly with the Knicks looking at eight back-to-backs over the next six weeks. And Knicks now-former savior Baron Davis has to play at least a few minutes at some point to prepare him to contribute during a potential playoff run, right?
About that usage: Lin has averaged 19.5 shot attempts and 8.8 free throw attempts over the past six games. Both of those numbers top Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire's season averages. On Tuesday night, Amar'e and Lin combined for 42 field goal attempts and 16 free throws and everyone else on the Knicks combined for 38 and 11. Melo is going to get substantial usage once he returns from injury, and he doesn't have to match his team-leading, pre-injury shot totals for that qualifier to be accurate. Fewer minutes and less usage for Lin means less numbers. And with Amar'e and Melo back in the fold, Lin's responsibilities will deal less with scoring than facilitating. In other words, we'll stop tracking that "most points scored in first __ starts" at some point. What I do expect to continue are robust assist and steals totals, which will keep his reason rank in "solid" territory, somewhere around 75th (higher in no-TO leagues). Should you trade Lin for whatever you can get? Of course not, and that's particularly true if your team needed point guard stats to begin with. But, again, you owe it to yourself to - at the very least - explore possible trade scenarios while the world's media handles the marketing side of things for you.
• Don't read too much into Greg Monroe's line from Tuesday night (22 minutes, 4 points, 2-11 FG, -12). Monroe struggled early and then didn't play from the middle of the third quarter forward, as Lawrence Frank deferred to Ben Wallace. Big Ben turned in his best line of the season (26 minutes, 9 points, 5 boards, 1 steal, 1 block, +8) in a game where he set the modern record for the most games played by an undrafted player. There was a time when Wallace, who will retire after the season, was a true fantasy beast - he averaged 7.7 points on 47-percent shooting, 12.6 boards, 1.6 steals, and 2.7 blocks during the seven seasons that constituted his prime (from 00-01 to 06-07), and he was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year four times during that stretch. For some perspective on the rarity of those defensive stats, click here.
• LaMarcus Aldridge left Tuesday's night's loss to the Wizards with a left ankle sprain. X-rays were negative, so there is no structural damage, but he's not with the team Wednesday (@GSW) and it looked bad enough to keep him out for at least a few games (the team has yet to offer any specific timetable). The Blazers end their current back-to-back-to-back set on Thursday against the Clippers and then finish up before the All-Star break with games on Saturday (ATL), Monday (@LAL), and Tuesday (SAS).
The most notable piece of Blazer-related news before Aldridge's injury was that Nate McMillan replaced Wesley Matthews with Nicolas Batum in the starting lineup at shooting guard. Batum went nuts in his start (42 minutes, 33 points, 3 threes, 1 steal, 1 block), but he and Matthews (37 minutes, 15 points, 3 threes, 5 boards) saw plenty of playing time with LMA out of the lineup. Coming into the game, Batum had averaged 26 minutes to Matthews' 33 - those numbers may flip-flop or come a bit closer to 30-30 under normal circumstances, but neither player's minutes figure to be altered dramatically. McMillan ended up playing Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford a combined 51 minutes in a strict platoon at point guard on Tuesday (Felton 28, Crawford 23), and how he handles these minutes is certainly worth watching. Sticking to this plan under normal circumstances would allow McMillan to limit the struggling Felton's minutes and would ensure that Matthews will still play plenty off the bench, so this is something to keep an eye on even while Aldridge misses time.
• A good read from the Jonathan Feigen here on how Kevin Martin's struggles are partly on Martin himself and partly on Kevin McHale. Sure, Martin needs to be more aggressive when it comes to seeking out his own offense, but McHale also needs to acknowledge that Martin is not, as Feigen called him, an "interchangeable part" of the Rockets' rotation, and that he has to be involved for them to be at their best. Martin is the best volume scorer the team has and has historically been among the league's best players when you consider volume and efficiency. As for being benched on Tuesday, Martin said "I'm just over there chilling" and "It is what it is at the moment," and there was no mention of his recent battles with back spasms limiting his play. Unfortunately, we still have to be in wait-and-see mode as fantasy owners. We know Martin has the talent to dig himself out of his slump - let's see if he comes out with some aggressiveness on Wednesday night against the Thunder and if McHale makes an attempt to get him involved early.
• Status updates: Kevin Garnett (hip) participated in Wednesday shootaround and is probable .. Danny Granger (ankle) will be a game-time decision Wednesday .. Kyrie Irving (concussion) will start and play 30-33 minutes on Wednesday .. D.J. Augustin (foot) will play Wednesday and may jump right back into the starting five .. Mario Chalmers (hand) expects to be able to play on Friday .. A quote from Rod Thorn on Spencer Hawes: "With Spencer, he came back when he thought he was ready to come back and he got sore again. Whether he comes back before the All-Star break, nobody seems to know right now."
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Wait, wasn't Gordon Hayward awesome just a few games ago? Hayward totaled eight points and six turnovers over the past two games. While it's fair to give credit to Trevor Ariza and Kevin Durant on the defensive end and fatigue due to playing a fourth game in five nights, it's also prudent to look at his game log and note the season-long inconsistency. The biggest thing for Hayward is minutes - if he keeps playing 30 minutes, the numbers will be fine .. One game with some foul trouble (23 minutes, 6 points, 6 boards, 4 fouls) and Trevor Booker makes the most-dropped list? Color me confused .. The move to the bench and minutes at SG/SF has been a real positive for Iman Shumpert's fantasy impact. Playing off the ball (and alongside Jeremy Lin) has created more looks at the rim (44% FG over the past five games) and allowed him to assert more energy on defense (3.2 steals in 30 minutes). Check the starter/sub splits here and you'll probably want to get (back) on board .. Time to reassess your shares of O.J. Mayo. His shot has cooled considerably (10.3 points, 31% FG, 1 three over the past seven games) and he's headed for a smaller role after the All-Star break, as Zach Randolph gets re-acclimated. Mayo still has some deep-league appeal, but that 60-percent ownership can certainly come down a bit .. Drop Devin Harris in standard leagues, it's as simple as that .. There aren't a lot of minutes available behind Monta Ellis but Klay Thompson has been taking advantage of the playing time he's seen. Averages over the past eight games include 10.3 points on 58-percent shooting and 2 threes in 17 minutes. On the season, Thompson is shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from three (37 of 74).