Games Played For Week 15
4 Games: BRK, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAS, SAC, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, GSW, MIA, MIL, PHX, TOR, UTA
2 Games: CHA, HOU
After a nearly unwatchable Super Bowl for anyone other than A. Seattle residents, B. People who bet on the Seahawks, and C. Tom Brady fans, we’ll take a look at Week 15 in the NBA. Pau Gasol’s name is being kicked around in trade talks, but his trade value may be at an all-time low, while owners of Al Jefferson and James Harden in weekly leagues have to figure out a game plan with them playing just two games this week. And if you're bored, you can click on the headlines below for links to the referenced songs. And on a serious note, congratulations to the Seahawks. What a dominant performance.
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Let’s take a quick trip around the league and check out some headlines to think about heading into this week’s games.
Pau Gasol could be heading to the Suns, if you believe everything you read. The last time the Lakers and Suns made a trade it didn’t work out so well, as the Lakers got a washed up Steve Nash on bald tires for, gulp, two first-round picks and two second-round picks. I’m not sure the Lakers are going to be able to get much for Gasol, especially with the state of his groin, and we all saw how he struggled with the thought of being traded the last time they tried to move him. But with the Lakers season all but over, they don’t want to pay the luxury tax, and moving Gasol, and possibly others, is their only hope of avoiding that. As for Gasol’s fantasy value, he’s 33 years old, out for the next week with a groin injury that caused him to say “something’s not right in there,” and could be traded to a team that doesn’t need him to start. In other words, I’m not going out of my way to try to get my hands on him, and he should be on your bench until further notice.
R.E.M. might have been telling manager Jefferson Holt that they were lost back in the day, but Al Jefferson knows exactly where he is. And that is Charlotte, where he’s the best player on a bad team. Here’s what I wrote for his outlook in the Draft Guide last summer: “Unlike his last couple seasons in Utah, Jefferson should be the clear cut No. 1 priority in Charlotte and is poised for a truly monster season.” I’m not even sure I believed it when I wrote it, but after a dismal start to the season due to a sprained ankle, Jefferson has been one of the best players to own this season. Even with the slow start he’s coming in with early fourth-round value at Basketballmonster.com, and if you look at him solely on a per-game basis, he’s No. 25 overall. And over the past month? Try No. 11, just behind LeBron James, and just ahead of Goran Dragic and John Wall. I don’t know how many more golden seasons Big Al has left in his tank, but if you drafted him and held onto him while he sat out nine of his first 12 games, congratulations. Those nine missed games seemed like an entire season’s worth when they were happening, but looking back on those three weeks, it was simply a blip on the radar. Patience is not a strength of mine, but maybe the story of Big Al Jefferson will help me work on that going forward.
It’s not a big deal (yet), but I am mildly concerned with the news that John Wall is talking about sitting out the Dunk Contest in order to rest his sore heel. Wall is having a great season and has managed to stay healthy, but he’s also dealt with back pain for most of the season, and hasn’t exactly been a picture of health for most of his career. Hopefully his back and heel are non-issues when the season resumes after the All-Star break, and getting as much rest that weekend should be a top priority for Wall and Wizards.
I saw a comment on the Rotoworld_BK Twitter feed making fun of our headline for Rajon Rondo on Sunday, which was “Rajon Rondo goes off for 19 points, 10 dimes.” No, under normal circumstances, 19 points and 10 assists for one of the league’s best point guards is not ‘going off.’ But since Rondo has only played in seven games over the past 12 months, and didn’t do much in six of them, I think the headline was quite appropriate. Rondo’s minutes are on the way up and trade rumors have quieted down for now, so if you have been waiting for him to ‘go off’ this season, our wait is about over.
Jameer Nelson is currently sitting with a knee injury but it’s not thought to be serious and he doesn’t need an MRI. He’s not traveling with the team and is out for Monday’s game in Indy, but could be back and ready to go on Wednesday when the Magic play the Pistons in Orlando. If you own Victor Oladipo, this could be a real productive week.
Another Rotoworld_BK comment that caught my eye over the weekend was about us constantly bashing DeMar DeRozan, no matter how well he plays on any given night. I’m not going to get too far into this, but I see the guy’s point. DeRozan hands out a career-high 12 assists? We felt obligated to mention that he also had a costly turnover late in the game that basically cost his team the win. He returns quickly from what looked like a pretty serious ankle injury and scores 19 points? We point out that he still can’t hit a mid-range jumper. He scores 34 a game after a career-high 40? We tell you his value might be perceived to be a little higher than it actually is right now. I am actually enjoying DeRozan’s breakout season and our staff has no problem acknowledging it (as we did after his 40-point game), but we’re simply trying to give the whole story when we write blurbs (in as few words as possible). The fact remains he’s returning late fifth-round fantasy value according to Basketballmonster.com, and if he was a better shooter, committed fewer turnovers and hit more 3-pointers, he’d be ranked a lot higher. End of story.
Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all practiced for the Lakers on Sunday, which is almost hard to believe. I picked Kendall Marshall up off waivers just before that news hit, and now have a tough decision to make. We still don’t know when any of the three will play, but it would make sense that they all see some action this week. And if that happens, Marshall has to take a hit. From a fantasy standpoint, Marshall has been brilliant, racking up nine double-doubles in January and averaging 11.9 points, 11.5 assists and 2.0 3-pointers for the month. But once Mike D’Antoni has four point guards available, Marshall’s minutes and production are going to fade quickly. With four games this week, I’m leaning toward throwing him out there while hoping the other three guys take their time getting back to form, but the move could seriously backfire on me. The best advice I can give you is to hold Marshall for the week and see what happens. Whether you want to put him in your lineup or not is a personal decision you’ll have to make. I’m going to weigh my options and go with my gut, but for now I’m planning on rolling him out there and hoping for the best. But once they’re all healthy and playing, none of them are going to be very much fun to own.
Dwyane Wade has done the unthinkable and played in three straight games on his ancient knees. The Heat have three games this week and none of them are back-to-backs. If there was ever a week to throw Wade into your lineup and let him help your team win, it’s this one. However, even without the back-to-back factor, Wade is still not a lock to play in all three of them and he will likely be listed as day-to-day for the rest of the season. I’m going to start him in my weekly league and hope for the best, but I’ve grown accustomed to him letting me down. I’d love to trade him, but if you’ve tried to move him this season, you know he has the street value roughly the equivalent of a six-pack of Natty Light. He’s on my ‘never again’ list, and you should probably put him on yours, too.
Andray Blatche is day-to-day with a hip injury but it doesn’t sound serious.
Gerald Wallace missed Sunday’s game due to a death in the family, but his value took a big hit with the return of Avery Bradley.
Kemba Walker suffered a setback on his ankle injury and is now very iffy for Tuesday. In weekly leagues, starting him is a true gamble.
Anderson Varejao was close to playing on Saturday, but couldn’t do it because of a sore knee. My guess is he’ll play tonight at Dallas.
Shawn Marion is day-to-day with a shoulder injury and the wheels have fallen off. I’m fine with dropping him for a hot free agent if you need a healthy body right now.
Nate Robinson is out for the season after undergoing ACL knee surgery, clearing the way for Randy Foye and Evan Fournier to play heavy minutes the rest of the way.
Ty Lawson sounds like he might play against the Clippers tonight after missing time with a shoulder injury. He looks like a must-start this week, but watch for updates.
David Lee missed Friday’s game with a shoulder injury, leaving him iffy for Tuesday against the Bobcats. I really don’t have a sense of whether or not he’ll play.
Mike Conley (ankle) isn’t expected to play this week and I like Nick Calathes as a short-term fix, while Courtney Lee should also have a nice week.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) isn’t likely to play much this week, if at all, and low-scoring Ronny Turiaf will fill in.
John Henson is dealing with a wrist injury and should probably be on benches until he gets hot, which may or may not happen this season.
Michael Carter-Williams was out Saturday with a shoulder injury. It’s not believed to be serious and I think I’m going to roll him out there with four games in hopes that he plays in three of them.
DeMarcus Cousins has missed six straight games with a sprained ankle and is another tough call for his owners. I’ve got him in a weekly lineup right now and am simply hoping for an update on his status for tonight vs. Chicago before lineups have to be set, but we may not get one early enough.
Derrick Favors missed Saturday with a hip injury and Enes Kanter went off in his place. He’s iffy for Monday against the Raptors, but my gut says he’ll play. Either way, Kanter is in my lineups this week, along with Favors (for now).
Good luck in Week 15!