Games Played for Week 18
4 Games: CHI, CLE, DAL, GSW, IND, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHI, PHX, UTA
3 Games: ATL, BOS, BRK, DEN, DET, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, OKC, POR, SAC, SAN, TOR, WAS
2 Games: CHA, MIA, MIN
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There were several interesting developments in the NBA over the weekend, some of which involved one of the most famous athletes on the planet, and some that involved guys the average sports fan may never have heard of.
The famous individual to which I’m referring is LeBron James. In short, his weekend started early on Thursday with a dominant performance and win over Kevin Durant and the Thunder on national television. That game also resulted in a broken nose for James, who managed to finish a dunk on the play that would have hospitalized, if not killed me. Is his nose on Twitter yet?
I then went on to report a couple ridiculous “news blurbs” about LeBron attending the movies with his kids and “looking good” in photos, as we dug for a sense of whether he’d play on Sunday against the Bulls. Because he’s LeBron, I really expected him to go, but it wasn’t meant to be. He was probably due for a day off anyway and the Heat clearly didn’t need him, waxing Chicago 93-79 as Dwyane Wade graced us with a strong effort and Chris Bosh shot it like vintage Ray Allen. LeBron’s three-game week was reduced to a two-gamer and I really felt it in the points league where I own him, and I’m guessing I wasn't alone. Now LeBron is iffy for Thursday’s game against the Knicks, although I would be shocked (shocked, I tell you) if he doesn’t play in that one. And even if he does, spoiled owners of LeBron could be in for another long week, as the Heat only have two games. Now let’s just hope that he plays in both of them.
Jason Collins signed with the Nets and played on Sunday, which I’m sure you’ve already heard about from 100 other sources. It’s a huge story and it’s cool that the NBA is the league where the first openly gay athlete will play. But as far as it relates to basketball, the move has no fantasy implications and he failed to score a point on Sunday, which will probably happen more often than not.
A couple hours after I wrote this column, featuring a guy named Kent Bazemore, he went out and started for the Lakers, racking up 17 points, two steals and a 3-pointer. He had 15 points, two steals and two 3-pointers on Friday, making these the only two games in which he has done anything of note. Mike D’Antoni has officially kicked Ryan Kelly to the curb for now, and he’s as unpredictable as any coach in the league. I have no idea how long the Bazemore phenomenon will last, but I think you have to at least consider grabbing him in most leagues, even though he’s a shooting guard playing power forward. In other Laker developments, Pau Gasol and Nick Young are back, and Wes Johnson appears to be useless. If you want to drop Wes for Bazemore, go for it, but keep in mind that the latest report on Young is that he’s still in a lot of pain and could be shut down again, which would help Johnson.
In other news of the obscure, Thomas Robinson blew up for 14 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks for the Blazers. T-Rob has been mentioned in every LaMarcus Aldridge blurb since the big man went down, and while things looked discouraging early with Dorell Wright starting, that all changed last night. Wright was benched for Robinson to start the second half, as T-Rob did a much better job on Kevin Love than any of his teammates. The fact he also came through with the big numbers is icing on the cake and Robinson is the guy to own until Aldridge comes back. I doubt he’s out much longer though, so Robinson’s run could be relatively short.
In even more news of the obscure, Evan Fournier went nuts with a career-high 27 points in a loss to the Kings, while teammate Randy Foye matched him. Fournier finished with four rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, hitting 8-of-11 shots off the bench. Foye broke out of a funk over the weekend, scoring 23 on Friday and then by hitting 8-of-18 shots and six 3-pointers to finish with 27 points, six rebounds, one assist and another block on Sunday. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but Foye has racked up at least one block in seven of his 10 February games, averaging 1.2 of them for the month, along with 16.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.1 3-pointers. He’s a must-own player still, while Fournier is finally living up to some of the hype that came when Nate Robinson went down for the season with a knee injury. And while the return of Ty Lawson from a broken rib will likely hurt one or both guys, it shouldn’t be a death blow.
Kevin Love is good at basketball. Kevin Love also had a big week, setting a franchise record with five straight 30-point games and racking up his first career triple-double along the way. His triple-double was of the nasty variety: 37 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and six 3-pointers. Ridiculous. If you own Love and you’re not rolling people right now, you’re doing something wrong. He’s averaging 34.6 points, 14.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.1 3-pointers this month.
Goran Dragic went off again on Sunday, racking up a career-high 35 points with five 3-pointers, three steals and three assists on 14-of-20 shooting. He was pretty bad on Friday against the Spurs, but then again, who isn’t? Dragic is having a monster season and it’s a shame he wasn’t an All-Star. Gerald Green went off again for the Suns, but with Eric Bledsoe on the apparent verge of a return, owners might want to start shopping Green before the bottom falls out. Markieff Morris had 21 points and seven boards, and is on one of those five-game streaks that we’ve seen before. And while they’re usually backed up with a drought, he’s playing too well to be ignored.
Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay combined for 92 points as each player scored between 27 and 33 points in Sunday’s romp over the Nuggets. Boogie was listed as a game-time decision with a hip injury, which makes me nervous about dropping him into weekly lineups right now. But you simply have to do it after he limped for 27 points, nine boards, five assists and five blocks on 8-of-16 shooting, as well as knocking down 11-of-12 free throws. And maybe Rudy Gay’s funk is finally over, as he hit 12-of-23 shots for 32 points and 11 rebounds. Perhaps Thomas was the best of the three, hitting 12-of-16 shots and four 3-pointers for 33 points, six dimes and three steals. That was fun to watch.
Paul Millsap – Day-to-day with bruised knee, I don’t think it’s serious and would lean toward starting him in weekly leagues.
Jeff Teague – Teague tweaked his ankle on Saturday and played through it, but he’s a misstep away from missing time. Tread carefully.
Marcus Thornton – Nets debut delayed two games with flu. Should be close.
Shaun Livingston – Tailbone injury could open door for Thornton.
Kevin Garnett – Old man rest on Sunday, could miss seven more games with back-to-backs.
Jared Sullinger – Concussions are tricky business and even though it’s minor, he’ll have to pass the tests. Benching him is the safe play, while Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries will benefit most from his absence, along with Brandon Bass.
Rajon Rondo – Got Saturday off for rest, but no back-to-backs this week to worry about.
Jimmy Butler – Bruised ribs will leave weekly owners with a tough decision after he missed Sunday’s game. It’s a shame too, as the Bulls have four games and Butler is finally starting to come on. I’ve currently got him benched for teammate Mike Dunleavy in League Freak, but could change my mind if we get a positive report on Butler later Monday.
Dion Waiters – His knee injury makes him unplayable this week, and is more good news for Jarrett (3-of-9) Jack.
C.J. Miles – An ankle injury is leaving him iffy as well, and is more good news for Mr. 3-of-9.
Anderson Varejao – Varejao’s back is one of those injuries we just don’t have much information about, and he’s apparently also dealing with a knee problem. Spencer Hawes came off the bench behind Tyler Zeller on Sunday, but that could be the last hurrah. Hawes had 16 points and 12 boards off the bench, and could be even better when starting, making him a must-own player still. Especially since we don’t know when we’ll see Andy again.
Ty Lawson – His broken rib continues to sideline him and we still don’t have a timetable, although they said on the broadcast Sunday that he is “close.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play Tuesday night, but start him at your own risk.
David Lee – Lee’s been ruled out for Monday as he continues to deal with the flu, which should mean more Draymond Green tonight. DG had 18 points and 10 boards with Lee out on Saturday.
Andrew Bogut – Bogut’s shoulder ailment continues to be an issue and Jermaine O’Neal will continue to be worth a look for as long as Bogut sits. JO turned back the clock on Saturday with 23 points and 13 boards on 10-of-13 shooting.
Nick Young – He played through his knee injury Sunday but is considering shutting it down and continuing his rehab, making him a shaky play right now.
Kevin Martin – His finger injury will be checked out Monday in L.A. and we should know more once those results are known. I don’t think you can start him in weekly leagues right now.
Nikola Pekovic – His ankle injury still isn’t right and the Wolves don’t know when he’ll return. Dante Cunningham is worth a look if Pek continues to miss time, as Ronny Turiaf is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Nate Wolters – He’s day-to-day with an ankle injury, and the arrival of Ramon Sessions could be enough to end his run. I wouldn’t play him.
Jrue Holiday – Crickets. I honestly don’t know if or when he’ll play again this season.
Kendrick Perkins – He’s out with a groin injury and could miss a week or so. And maybe that will be enough time for Steven Adams to finally put us out of our Perkins misery. Of course, Adams will need to do more than Sunday’s one point, six boards and one block in 16 minutes for it to happen.
Arron Afflalo – Won’t travel for Tuesday’s game with ankle injury, leaving him in doubt for Wednesday as well. Moe Harkless should start.
Eric Bledsoe – All reports are that he’s close to returning from knee surgery, but we still don’t know when that will happen.
LaMarcus Aldridge – He’ll likely be re-evaluated on Tuesday, leaving his week in jeopardy. Thomas Robinson is the play here.
Tony Parker – He’ll be iffy for Wednesday with his sore back and if he remains out, Patty Mills is your guy. Parker has missed three straight games and Pop’s not talking.
Kawhi Leonard – Appears to be very close to a return from a broken hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on Wednesday.
Amir Johnson – He was kicked in the right ankle on Sunday but the injury isn’t thought to be serious. If he does miss time, Patrick Patterson is the play.
Derrick Favors – His mysterious hip injury remains a problem and I don’t think you can trust him this week, despite Utah’s four games. The Enes Kanter train rolls on.
Nene – Nene suffered a left knee sprain on Sunday and we’re awaiting the MRI results. I think he’s going to miss time and I like Kevin Seraphin over Trevor Booker if you’re looking for a replacement.