The NBA Skinny will take a look at each of the league's teams and highlight news and information, coach-speak and major storylines, good or bad stats, and anything else relevant to fantasy basketball each and every Monday over the course of the season.
This is a good week to own shares in the Hawks, as they play five games (to make up for just two games last week). The five-game week is one of only three this season - Portland in Week 2 and Dallas in Week 10 are the other instances ... Josh Smith(notes) matched or set season highs in nearly every statistical category within the past four games, including 25 points, one three, 13 boards, six assists, five steals, and seven blocks. His averages over the stretch include 22.3 points on 56-percent shooting, 0.8 threes, 9 boards, 3.8 assists, 3.5 turnovers, 2 steals, and 2.5 blocks in 37 minutes ... Are we finally starting to see the effects of the new motion offense on Joe Johnson's(notes) numbers? In six games since going for season-highs of 34 points and 27 shot attempts on November 7, Johnson has averaged 16.3 points (13.8 FGA, 45%), 1 three, 2.8 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.7 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 36 minutes. Johnson is currently averaging 16 shot attempts per game after averaging 18.2 over the past five seasons. What is worth noting from a real-life perspective is that the Hawks are just 2-4 over the past six.
Look no further than the Celtics' past two games for a window into just how valuable Rajon Rondo(notes) is to this team. They lost 89-84 to an undermanned Thunder team on Friday with Rondo limited by a hamstring strain and then dropped a 102-101 decision to the Raptors while Rondo rested said hamstring. The latter exposed weaknesses on offense and defense that are largely masked when Rondo is on the court. Rondo is also questionable for Monday.
Stephen Jackson(notes) has been attempting to address the Bobcats' offensive shortcomings single-handedly. Over the past four games, he's averaged 26 points on 52-percent shooting, 92-percent foul shooting, 4.5 threes, 5 boards, 5.3 assists, 2 turnovers, 1.8 steals, and 1 block in 38 minutes ... Tyrus Thomas'(notes) offense has been coming around, as well - he's averaging a career-high 12.7 points in just 22 minutes per game thanks to career shooting marks (52% FG, 83% FT). His 4.8 free throws per game are a testament to how often he's attacking the rim - on a per-minute basis, Thomas has been getting to the foul line roughly as often as Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes).
It's tough to find much fault with Derrick Rose's(notes) fantasy numbers lately, eh? Over the past five games, he's averaged 26.8 points on 53-percent shooting, 1.6 threes (42%), 7.6 assists, 3.4 turnovers, 1.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 38 minutes. Rose is going to continue to carry this team at least until Carlos Boozer(notes) returns from his hand injury. He recently started light shooting and dribbling and may begin contact drills by the end of the current week, so he's definitely getting closer.
While there has yet to be talk of making changes to the current rotation, the Cavs' bench has clearly been out-producing their starters. The only really useful Cav for fantasy purposes has been sixth man Daniel Gibson(notes). Anderson Varejao(notes) has been decent, but we're still waiting on something consistent from Mo Williams(notes) and Antawn Jamison(notes). Consensus breakout favorite J.J. Hickson(notes) has been a real disappointment and has been losing playing time recently, largely due to his substitution being the team's best offensive threat (Jamison). Things are going to stay put for now, but it shouldn't be a surprise if we see Jamison or Gibson promoted to the starting five if the team continues to struggle on offense even after Williams gets healthy and back in the groove.
Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Jason Kidd(notes), and Caron Butler(notes) have all started slow relative to expected production, but the same sure can't be said for Jason Terry(notes). Terry currently ranks 30th in per-game value, thanks to a fantastic line that includes 18.1 points on 50-percent shooting, 1.9 threes, 5.1 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 1.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks in 34 minutes. Rodrigue Beaubois(notes) is still a ways away from returning to the court, meaning that Terry will continue to be heavily relied upon as an offensive spark, particularly if his veteran teammates aren't able to improve on their slow starts.
Nene Hilario(notes) has started to come around for the Nuggets, averaging 16.6 points on 56-percent shooting over the past five games. Chauncey Billups(notes), on the other hand, continues to flounder. Over the past six games, he's averaged 12 points on 33-percent shooting, 1.2 threes, 1.5 boards, 4.8 assists, 2.7 assists, and 0.8 steals in 31 minutes. There's no arguing that this is a transition season for the team, largely due to Carmelo Anthony(notes) wanting to play elsewhere as soon as possible. The next question then has to deal with what the team does with their 34-year-old point guard. Billups would prefer to remain a Nugget, but if this team goes into rebuild mode after Melo leaves, then he's blocking Ty Lawson(notes) and making a lot of money to do so. Keep Lawson on your Watch List in the event that the Nuggets are able to come to a resolution to their Melo problem, as it's likely that Billups would be on his way out soon after ... Chris Andersen(notes) (knee) is expected to make his season debut on Monday, so keep an eye on the box score and consider him for your roster if you need blocks and boards.
The Pistons have won five of their past eight games, and Charlie Villanueva(notes) has been settling in on offense during that stretch. With some ups and downs, he's averaged 15.6 points on 46-percent shooting, 2.4 threes, 5.4 boards, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks, and just 0.5 turnovers in 28 minutes. His role as a reserve has stayed consistent while the team has flip-flopped starters at power forward - Austin Daye(notes) has started two games and also has two DNP-CDs over the past four, as he's given way to Jason Maxiell(notes) in the starting five against bigger frontcourts (@SAC, WAS).
The Warriors are certainly missing David Lee(notes) - they've gone 1-4 over the past five games after a 6-2 start to the season. And no one player seems to have been more affected by Lee's absence than Dorell Wright(notes). During the eight games in which Lee was in the lineup, Wright averaged 16.3 points on 44-percent shooting (12.8 FGA) and made 3.3 of 6.3 threes per game (52%). In the six games that Lee has missed, Wright's overall attempts are up (14.8 FGA), but he's shooting fewer threes (4.6 per game) and his percentages are way down (34% FG, 17% 3PT). There has been no drop-off in his supporting stats (5.1 boards, 2.9 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks) and he's still shooting 41 percent from three on the season (36% career), so I'm thinking that trade offers to Wright's owners are going to be in order once Lee gets a bit closer to his return.
The latest on Yao Ming(notes): while he technically returned to practice Sunday, his activities were limited to watching video, riding a stationary bike, and shooting free throws. He's at least another ten days away from consideration for the active roster, and his conditioning is now also a major concern ... The latest on Aaron Brooks(notes): his left ankle sprain will keep him out until sometime after December 1, although at this stage he remains without a specific timetable.
Brandon Rush(notes) made his first start of the season Thursday, as Mike Dunleavy was away from the team because of the birth of his child. Rush responded with 14 points, four threes, five boards, two steals, and five blocks in 28 minutes. Rush has showed some things since returning to the active roster (46% FG, 1.3 threes, 40% 3PT, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks) and his numbers certainly bear monitoring in the event that Dunleavy can't maintain his current percentages (44/35/77) ... Darren Collison(notes) will be back in the lineup Monday after missing three games with a sprained ankle.
Blake Griffin's(notes) 44-point outburst against the Knicks Saturday was obviously an impressive performance (14-24 FG, 16-23 FT), but it's his supporting stats that fantasy owners should be celebrating (15 boards, 7 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block) ... Eric Gordon(notes) has been shouldering quite an offensive load for the Clippers of late. Over the past five games, he's averaged 26.4 points by way of 19.2 field goals attempts (42%) and 11.8 free throws attempts (83%). That shooting percentage could certainly use some help, but this is a team that needs help all over ... Baron Davis(notes) is expected back sometime after Thanksgiving, while Chris Kaman's(notes) ankle injury is expected to keep him out until at least December 1.
Want some insight into how well the Lakers are playing this season? They've got seven players in the top 100 in terms of per-game rank, including Pau Gasol(notes) (1), Kobe Bryant(notes) (19), Lamar Odom(notes) (38), Ron Artest(notes) (83), Derek Fisher(notes) (85), Shannon Brown(notes) (86), and Matt Barnes(notes) (96). Obviously success in fantasy doesn't always translate and vice-versa, but this is one instance in which it has.
O.J. Mayo(notes) is in the midst of the worst offensive stretch of his young career, punctuated by just two points in 22 minutes Saturday - a game neither he nor Zach Randolph(notes) started after being late to shootaround. Over the past six games, Mayo has averaged 8.2 points on 31-percent shooting, 0.8 threes, 2.3 boards, 1.5 assists, 1.7 turnovers, and 0.5 steals in 29 minutes. He's not only shooting poorly (31/21/78), but his volume of attempts is also down (10.3 FG, 4 3PA, 1.3 FTA). There's a good chance he won't be this bad all the time, but I don't see this as some tremendous buy low opportunity - part of his down numbers so far have to be attributed to expanded offensive roles for both Rudy Gay(notes) and Mike Conley(notes), in addition to Randolph's continued presence.
The Heat were a thin team before they lost Mike Miller(notes), a point that's been driven home in the first weeks of the regular season. The team's resilience will now be severely tested with the news that Udonis Haslem(notes) will miss a large portion of the remainder of the season due to a torn ligament in his left foot. Chris Bosh(notes) has averaged 33 minutes and 6.9 boards to this point of the season, and Haslem's injury certainly means that both of those numbers need to come up a bit. Beyond Bosh, it will be Juwan Howard(notes) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) getting a boost in playing time, and Big Z should immediately get deep-league consideration with around 25 minutes of playing time. There is also a chance that the Heat will take a look in the (very) shallow free agent pool, or possibly look to trade Mario Chalmers(notes) for a big. Miami's "big three" is quickly devolving into Miami's "only three" ... Dwyane Wade's(notes) left wrist sprain is not considered serious and he'll be a game-time decision Monday.
It took a while, but Drew Gooden(notes) is finally producing for the Bucks. He's double-doubled in three of the past four games, averaging 17.5 points on 51-percent shooting, 83-percent foul shooting, 0.5 threes, 11.8 boards, 1 steal, and 0.8 blocks in 36 minutes. Gooden's offensive spike has come while the team's offense continues to struggle as a whole - the team topped 81 points just once over those past four games ... Andrew Bogut's(notes) defensive game has remained strong but his offense has completely dropped off - he's averaged 10.3 boards and 3.5 blocks over the past six games, but just 8.3 points on 44-percent shooting. And the bad news is only getting worse: Bogut missed Monday's practice because of back spasms and he's currently questionable for Wednesday's game.
Obviously Darko Milicic's(notes) explosion against the Lakers (23 points, 16 boards, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, 6 blocks) was enough to put him back on rosters in most competitive fantasy leagues. He was showing some signs before that performance, however. He had blocked at least three shots in eight of 13 games on the season, and his field goal percentage has come up thanks to a change in philosophy that has led to more high-percentage shots. I'll stop short of saying a full breakout is forthcoming, but it's doubtful that his production going forward will force him off many of those fantasy rosters for which he was a recent addition.
Kris Humphries(notes) has been the Nets' best and most reliable fantasy option over the past few weeks. Now there's a statement I didn't expect to make at any point this season. But the team's recent stretch of games has only served to reinforce Avery Johnson's opinion that Troy Murphy(notes) is not a fit for this team and won't be without an injury or another radical change taking place. Humphries has averaged 11 points on 58-percent shooting, 11.7 boards, 0.7 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 30 minutes over the past six games. I'm okay with cutting Murphy loose in shallow or non-competitive leagues, as it's looking like it will take a trade to get him back on a team's active roster. If someone can find a reasonable solution to this situation via the trade machine, please alert the rest of us in the comments section.
Jarrett Jack(notes) should step right in for his new team as the primary backup to both guard spots. The trade served a two-fold purpose in strengthening the Hornets' backcourt with a player who also happens to be a friend of Chris Paul(notes). Not much is going to change in general for the team in the wake of the deal - Jack will see most of the minutes that were previously given to Willie Green(notes) and the now-departed Jerryd Bayless(notes). David Andersen(notes) will see mop-up FC minutes and Marcus Banks(notes) is an expiring contract and nothing more. Jack was a fringe fantasy option as the starter in Toronto and now is only a deep-league option as a reserve in New Orleans.
The Knicks have started to consistently produce in their speedball attack, having averaged 114 points over the past seven games. Amar'e Stoudemire has been leading the charge, averaging 26.9 points on 57-percent shooting, 9.3 boards, 2.6 assists, 3.3 turnovers, 1.3 steals, and 1.9 blocks over that span. Raymond Felton(notes) has also been fantastic, averaging 21 points on 49-percent shooting, 92-percent foul shooting, 2.1 threes, 4.3 boards, 7.3 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 2.5 steals, and 0.4 blocks. And Danilo Gallinari(notes) has caught fire, averaging 22.3 points, 93-percent foul shooting (10.1 FTA), and 2.3 threes. Wilson Chandler(notes) has remained a reliable fourth option, with averages including 17.1 points, 91-percent foul shooting, 1.4 threes, 4.6 boards, and 2.7 blocks. With that said, the Knicks are coming off a string of favorable matchups, so it remains to be seen if they can keep their offensive roll going against some tougher matchups this week (CHA, @CHA, ATL).
It's good news all around regarding the Thunder on Monday. They'll get both Kevin Durant and Jeff Green(notes) back in the lineup, and Scott Brooks said that Serge Ibaka(notes) won't lose minutes despite a return to his typical reserve role.
Dwight Howard(notes) had single-digit rebounds just 12 times in 82 games last season, or once every 6.8 games. He's done it four times in just 12 games so far this season, a symptom of the Magic using a bigger lineup that involves Brandon Bass(notes) or Marcin Gortat(notes) with more regularity. It's freed up Howard's offense a bit - he is averaging career highs in scoring (21.4), field goal attempts (12.7), and free throws (12.3) - but he also ranks "just" fourth in blocks (2.7) and sixth in rebounds (11.1) after leading the league in both categories during each of the past two seasons.
Andre Iguodala(notes) returned to practice for the Sixers on Sunday and is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday. He'll replace Andres Nocioni(notes) in the starting five at small forward, with Evan Turner(notes) staying in the lineup at shooting guard ... Thaddeus Young(notes) has been attacking the rim instead of settling for jumpshots, and it's translated to the box score (29 minutes, 15.4 points, 54% FG over the past five games). The key to his maintaining his fantasy impact after Iguodala returns is keeping that aggressive mindset.
Steve Nash's(notes) groin injury is expected to keep him out for the third consecutive game Monday ... Channing Frye(notes) has been starting in place of the injured Robin Lopez(notes) and has been excellent, averaging 14 points on 55-percent shooting, 2.2 threes, 6.2 boards, 0.6 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 0.4 turnovers in 34 minutes over the past five games. Lopez is expected to be out until the middle of December, so Frye's minutes are locked in for at least a few more weeks. One thing playing Frye at center has not helped is the team's defense, which remains completely anemic.
The Blazers don't play another game this week until Friday, so they'll have a chance to rest and regroup. Brandon Roy(notes) remains out of practice and is not currently a consideration for the active roster. Joel Przybilla(notes) will practice with the team this week and should be active Friday, assuming no set-backs ... Wesley Matthews(notes) was a mere fantasy mortal in his third start (33 minutes, 16 points, 6-16 FG, 0-6 3PT, 2 boards, 2 steals), but what is not in doubt is that he'll continue to see 30-plus minutes for the foreseeable future.
It's been tough going for the Kings thus far, with problems that are not confined to offense or defense. Paul Westphal's ever-changing rotation now features Luther Head(notes) and Donte Greene(notes) as starters, largely because they are better defenders than Beno Udrih(notes) and Omri Casspi(notes). For this team to really get better, they are going to need Tyreke Evans(notes) to get and stay 100 percent healthy. He's dealt with ankle issues since the preseason, and it's manifested itself in the form of dips in his shooting percentage and free throw attempts. But if he can't get some help from his coaches and teammates - on offense and defense - then Evans is in for a long and disappointing fantasy season, regardless of his health.
This is what happens when you give Manu Ginobili(notes) 30-plus minutes. He's currently fourth in per-game rank, thanks to a litany of career highs, and his numbers include 20 points on 47-percent shooting, 89-percent foul shooting, 2.6 threes, 4.5 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 1.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 33 minutes. He's helped provide a spark for Tony Parker(notes) as well, who has been posting a number of career highs himself. His current averages include 19.1 points on 54-percent shooting, 80-percent foul shooting, 7.7 assists, 2.8 turnovers, and 2.1 steals in 34 minutes. The fast starts by the duo have marginalized George Hill(notes) (25 minutes, 8.4 points, 2.6 assists, 1.1 turnovers, 1.1 steals).
Jose Calderon(notes) is now the undisputed starter at point guard for the Raptors, with Jarrett Jack having been dealt for Peja Stojakovic(notes) and Jerryd Bayless, and he immediately warrants universal fantasy ownership. He was technically a disappointment in his first start of the season Sunday (11 points, 1 three, 2 assists, 2 turnovers), but 33 minutes is the number to focus on. In 186 career starts, Calderon has averaged 12.2 points on 51-percent shooting, 91-percent foul shooting, 1.1 threes, 8.3 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1.1 steals in 33 minutes. Peja won't have a role of any consequence for the Raptors, who are already overstocked on the wings (DeMar DeRozan(notes), Linas Kleiza(notes), Sonny Weems(notes), Leandro Barbosa(notes)).
Some perspective on C.J. Miles(notes), who made seven threes and scored 25 points in 30 minutes on Saturday. 12 of his 19 threes this season have come in two games, and in those two games he averaged 22 points on 60-percent shooting and 6 threes on 75-percent shooting in 28 minutes. In his other 12 games, he's averaged 9.3 points on 35-percent shooting and 0.6 threes on 19-percent shooting in 23 minutes.
Is JaVale McGee(notes) ready to make the leap? He grabbed a career-high 16 boards in 42 minutes Sunday and has averaged 12.7 points on 59-percent shooting, 12.7 boards, 1.7 steals, and 2.3 blocks in 36 minutes over the past three games. The minutes are of particular importance, as Flip Saunders has been reluctant to give him many to this stage of his career. Perhaps it's time for that to change, considering that Hilton Armstrong(notes) is McGee's primary backup at this point ... John Wall(notes) practiced with the Wizards Monday but experienced soreness in his left ankle and remains questionable for Tuesday.