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.
Joe Johnson(notes) was expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing right elbow surgery on December 2, but he was back in the lineup this past week after just two weeks off. In two games since returning, JJ averaged 15 points on 30-percent shooting, 1 three (17%), 5 boards, 7 assists, and 1.5 turnovers in 39 minutes, pushing his season shooting percentages into career-low territory (40% FG, 25% 3PT). Johnson is shaking some rust after nine games on the sidelines, but his shot selection within the Hawks' new offense has been a season-long problem ... Jamal Crawford(notes) has missed three games with a sore back but is hoping to return Monday.
Obviously Nate Robinson(notes) gets a significant short-term boost while Rajon Rondo(notes) is sidelined with an ankle injury. Nate has averaged 16.3 points on 54-percent shooting, 2.5 threes, 4.8 assists, and 2.3 turnovers in his six starts on the season. What is also of note is that the big three have made up for the majority of the differences between Rondo and Robinson's games, posting a combined average of 14 assists and 5.2 steals in the six games that Rondo has missed, compared to 7.4 assists and 3.2 steals when Rondo is active. Their respective averages in the six games: Kevin Garnett(notes) (12.7 points, 58% FG, 10.2 boards, 3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 2 steals), Paul Pierce(notes) (15.2 points, 49% FG, 4.8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 1.2 steals), and Ray Allen(notes) (15.2 points, 53% FG, 1.5 threes, 4.5 boards, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals).
The Bobcats' two-game week consists of a back-to-back on Monday (@WAS) and Tuesday (OKC). Gerald Wallace(notes) (ankle) is likely to miss both games, while Stephen Jackson(notes) (forearm) will be a game-time decision Monday. Wallace's injury means more playing time for Dominic McGuire(notes), who grabbed 17 boards in 40 minutes on Friday and has averaged 10.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in the five games where he's seen at least 20 minutes of playing time ... The Bobcats have been aggressively exploring the trade market while Larry Brown continues to complain about a lack of effort and teamwork from his players. The team has averaged 86 points on offense and allowed 96 points per game during their 3-6 December.
Joakim Noah(notes) is expected to miss eight to ten weeks after undergoing surgery on his right thumb this past Thursday. He had been skipping practices and taking anti-inflammatories in order to make it through games, and ultimately decided to have the surgery now and get back for the playoff push. Noah's particular surgery is fairly common, and precedent has established that the timetable should prove to be accurate. Obviously it's a huge blow if you have Noah rostered in a league. How h2h owners should react directly correlates to their current place in the standings - if carrying Noah for two months won't dramatically affect your chance of making the playoffs, then there isn't a good reason to not do so. If you can't afford to carry an inactive player, then you should at least try to shop him to your league's top teams (sell his playoff potential) before settling on a straight add/drop. Roto owners in standard leagues should let him settle in to a bench spot for the next two months, assuming they have a serviceable backup in place ... Ronnie Brewer(notes) should be squarely on fantasy radars, given his recent stretch of production. He's topped 20 minutes played in six straight games, averaging 8.7 points on 57-percent shooting, 4.7 boards, and 3 steals in 25 minutes over that stretch. Keith Bogans(notes) doesn't appear to be long for the starting lineup - in those same six games (all starts), he's averaged 2.5 points on 33-percent shooting in 14 minutes.
Anderson Varejao(notes) has quietly been elevating his game as the season has progressed, posting a per-game rank of 63rd during the past month. Over the past eight games, he's averaged 12.1 points on 61-percent shooting, 12 boards, 1 steal, and 1.5 blocks in 34 minutes. The fact that the Cavs are among the league's worst shooting teams should help Varejao keep racking up those rebounds.
Now that Caron Butler(notes) has obviously got his offense figured out (16.4 points, 51% FG, 1.2 threes over the past 11 games), it's time to work on those steals. He's averaged 1 steal in 30 minutes on the season and his current steal% is a career low by a fairly comfortable margin ... In case you were wondering, Rodrigue Beaubois'(notes) recovery from left foot surgery continues to progress very slowly.
The Nuggets could get three players back from injury Wednesday in the form of Chauncey Billups(notes) (wrist), Chris Andersen(notes) (back), and Kenyon Martin(notes) (knee). We won't know the specifics until game day, as participation levels in Monday and Tuesday practices will ultimately determine each player's availability ... Ty Lawson's(notes) numbers in Billups' stead only serve to reinforce that he's ready to lead an NBA team as soon as the opportunity presents itself - he's averaged 17 points on 53-percent shooting, 1.6 threes, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, and 1 steal in five starts this season. His career per-36s after 91 career games include 15 points on 51-percent shooting, 1 three, 5.8 assists, 2.2 turnovers, and 1.2 steals. If Billups is dealt in a post-Carmelo Anthony(notes) trade around the deadline, Lawson certainly has the potential to affect the fantasy landscape in the season's second half.
The Pistons beat the Hornets Sunday with a revamped starting lineup, largely influenced by the absences of Rodney Stuckey(notes) (foot) and Richard Hamilton(notes) (illness). Ben Gordon(notes) started and played 44 minutes (25 points, 4 threes, 7 boards), Tracy McGrady(notes) also got the start (19 minutes, 5 points), Charlie Villanueva(notes) was added at power forward (40 minutes, 17 points, 1 three, 6 boards), and Will Bynum(notes) played big off the bench (37 minutes, 21 points, 2 threes, 9 assists, 5 turnovers). John Kuester was actually planning some moves before the game anyway, so it's likely to mean that Charlie V sticks as the starting power forward. It's doubtful that Stuckey is going to lose his job, as he was playing well before his foot injury, but Hamilton has been inconsistent of late and it's not out of the question that he'll give way to Gordon moving forward.
Stephen Curry(notes) update: he won't play Monday, has yet to completely rule out Tuesday, but likely will return to the active roster on Saturday. This should mean a few more good games from Reggie Williams(notes), who has averaged 21 points on 55-percent shooting, 3.6 threes, 4 boards, 3.2 assists, and 1.4 turnovers in 38 minutes over the past four games.
Aaron Brooks(notes) returned Sunday and played 15 minutes off the bench (9 points, 3-10 FG). Given a lack of practice time, Brooks will likely come off the bench for each of the next two games as well (Mon @GSW, Wed @LAC), as he acclimates after missing six weeks of game action. While Kyle Lowry's(notes) tremendous run is coming to an end (36 minutes, 14.9 points, 2.1 threes, 8.4 assists, 2.9 turnovers, 2.6 steals in December), he still will have a steady role as a reserve, so only execute an add/drop if you've got a solid option to replace him ... Chuck Hayes(notes) has a bit more relevance, particularly for deep-league owners, now that Yao Ming(notes) is officially gone for the season. He isn't going to score much, but averages like 56-percent shooting, 6.1 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.1 turnovers, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks in his 16 starts are certainly useful.
Josh McRoberts(notes) missed Sunday's game against the Celtics because of an abdominal strain, with Jeff Foster(notes) starting in his place (17 minutes, 2 points, 5 boards). What remains to be seen is if Jim O'Brien will stick with McRoberts as the starter once he's healthy - McBob has had some poor rebounding totals and inconsistent minutes in recent games, but O'Brien actually said that he has not been playing bad ... Monday's matchup with the Hornets will be an interesting litmus test for Darren Collison's(notes) standing with O'Brien. You have to imagine that Collison will be extremely motivated to perform well against his former team, but the extent of his opportunity will of course be dictated by O'Brien.
Blake Griffin(notes) has been doing his best Dwight Howard(notes) impersonation for fantasy purposes during his 15-game double-double streak. Ignore his 60-percent foul shooting during that stretch and he's delivered a first-round impact with averages that include 24.3 points on 53-percent shooting, 13.8 boards, 4.3 assists, 3.1 turnovers, 0.9 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 38 minutes. Howard's averages since Griffin started his streak include 22.2 points on 55-percent shooting, 13.7 boards, 0.7 assists, 3.8 turnovers, 1.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks in 38 minutes (13 games). If anyone paired Griffin with Howard in their h2h league, I'd love to hear how well the team is doing in the comments section.
Andrew Bynum(notes) felt some pain in his surgically-repaired knee Sunday, his fourth game of the season. He missed a layup, got his rebound, and felt a twinge when he put back the miss. The good news is that there was no swelling and nobody associated with the team appears to be overly-concerned with it, but clearly he's not close to 100 percent. Bynum has averaged 17 minutes in his four games (7.3 points, 35% FG, 5 boards), allowing Pau Gasol's(notes) minutes to dip slightly to 35 per game over the past week.
Marc Gasol(notes) has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury and it's certainly translated to the box score over the past four games (8 points, 21% FG). Gasol's contributions are down from last season's breakout numbers in general, and there probably isn't a better time to try to see if you can pry him from his current owner on the cheap (relatively speaking) ... O.J. Mayo(notes) was back in the starting lineup Saturday, but it was because Rudy Gay(notes) was serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul. Mayo has one of his best overall lines of the season (47 minutes, 27 points, 5 threes, 5 boards, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals), but there's yet to be any indication that he won't go back to a reserve role for Tuesday's game.
Go grab Mike Miller(notes) if he still happens to be available in your league (40% owned). He may or may not debut Monday, but he'll certainly be back soon and the Heat rotation is still desperate to add his skill-set, regardless of the current winning streak. James Jones(notes), Carlos Arroyo(notes), Eddie House(notes), and Mario Chalmers(notes) have combined for 79 minutes, 19 field goal attempts, and 11 three-point attempts per game thus far, and Miller will be in line for as many of those numbers as he can handle once he's running at full capacity.
Brandon Jennings(notes) will miss between four and six weeks as he recovers from a broken bone in his left foot. Jennings suffered the injury against the Spurs this past Wednesday and then played a painful 30 minutes against the Jazz Saturday. A Sunday MRI revealed the fracture and he'll undergo surgery Monday. Keyon Dooling(notes) will replace Jennings in the starting lineup, with Earl Boykins(notes) acting as the backup. This is a big blow for a Bucks offense that already ranks as one of the league's worst. Dooling should play plenty while Jennings is out and becomes a player of interest in most formats - in 63 career starts, he's averaged 10.6 points, 0.7 threes, 4.1 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and 0.8 steals in 31 minutes. On Saturday, Dooling had 14 points, three treys, five assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes.
Kevin Love's(notes) averages during his 14-game streak of double-doubles: 24.6 points, 49% FG, 88% FT, 1.9 threes, 17.6 boards, 2.9 assists, and 1.9 turnovers. Does anyone feel the need to nit-pick and ask for more steals (0.4) and/or blocks (0.4)? ... Luke Ridnour(notes) has been a mixed bag since Jonny Flynn's(notes) activation, averaging 5.5 points on 28-percent shooting, 6.8 assists, 2 turnovers, and 2.5 steals in 30 minutes over the past four games. Flynn has averaged 6 points on 50-percent shooting, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 turnovers in 19 minutes since being activated. What seems like the most likely outcome here is that neither player is able to establish a truly consistent role for Kurt Rambis while both are healthy and active.
Sasha Vujacic(notes) has immediately stepped into quality minutes for the Nets, totaling 57 minutes in two games after playing 54 minutes over 11 games for the Lakers. The 57 minutes were the most he's played in consecutive games in almost two years. Couple injuries to starters with the ineffectiveness of the majority of the team's active players and it's likely that Vujacic will continue to play plenty moving forward - deep leaguers will want to take note.
For a breakdown of why Marcus Thornton(notes) looks like a good speculative add at this point, see the Week 9 Dashboard ... Trevor Ariza(notes) is officially a fringe option in standard leagues, thanks to a per-game rank of 163rd over the past month. The poor shooting (39% FG) would be more palatable if there were more supporting stats to speak of (0.8 threes, 1.6 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks in 34 minutes), but there isn't an area where he hasn't been a disappointment.
One little-noticed aspect of the Knicks' success over the past month-plus is that it's come completely on the shoulders of the team's starters. Check out the following minutes averages for the starters over the past 15 games: Raymond Felton(notes) 41, Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) 40, Danilo Gallinari(notes) 38, Wilson Chandler(notes) 37, Landry Fields(notes) 36. Stoudemire has been playing with a sore neck and there have been plenty of signs of fatigue during the team's three-game losing streak. Mike D'Antoni has eliminated a large number of players from the team's rotation, and a scenario where multiple players are dealt for Carmelo Anthony certainly won't help the team when it comes to depth. The slow Christmas week certainly couldn't be coming at a better time for the Knicks, who play twice in a span of nine days.
Don't underestimate Thabo Sefolosha's(notes) potential as a fantasy glue guy. He's obviously not going to score much, but his minutes are secure and so is production in a number of areas. Over the past 11 games, he's averaged 6.7 points, 0.7 threes, 6 boards, 1.6 assists, 1.1 turnovers, 2.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 34 minutes. Those defensive numbers surely could swing a number of h2h matchups in his owner's favor.
The Magic are giving it another go with a drastically altered rotation. For a detailed breakdown of the weekend's trades, click here. What will be particularly interesting to see if the team's new offensive weapons will change the specifics of Dwight Howard's line - he's currently averaging career-highs in scoring (21.7), field goal attempts (13.3), and foul shots (11.8), while his rebounding (12.5) and blocks (2.3) are at their lowest levels in four and three years respectively.
The Sixers have won four of five games, but Jodie Meeks(notes) hasn't had much to do with it. Meeks has averaged 8.8 points on 27-percent shooting and 0.6 threes, during those games, and it's come on the heels of a three-game stretch where he averaged 20.3 points on 55-percent shooting and 5 threes. He's being ignored for fantasy purposes for the most part because of the inconsistency and a complete lack of supporting stats (31 minutes, 2.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 0.6 steals in six starts).
Marcin Gortat(notes) replaced Paul Millsap(notes) atop my list of reserves that I most wished had a starting spot this off-season after Carlos Boozer(notes) left the Jazz, so I'm thrilled with his trade to the Suns. Gortat is strong, athletic, and has been practicing against Dwight Howard for three seasons. In other words, the transition from Howard to Lopez in practice and most of the league's other centers in game situations should be quite an easy one. Gortat's career per-36s include 10.1 points on 55-percent shooting, 11.8 boards, and 2.3 blocks, and you have to think he has some upside in terms of offense with Steve Nash(notes) running the show. Gortat won't start for the Suns immediately, but he was the key to the trade and should move past Lopez on the depth chart before long.
Brandon Roy(notes) will miss his third consecutive game Monday and will be re-evaluated later in the week to determine when he'll be back on the team's active roster. Roy will have had nine days of rest by the time the Blazers return to the court on Christmas, but the team then plays four games in a span of six days.
If you are wondering what Paul Westphal sees as the Kings' offensive philosophy these days, then feel free to click this link ... Francisco Garcia(notes) has seen at least 25 minutes of playing time in seven games this season, including Sunday (28 minutes, 14 points, 2 threes, 2 steals). In those seven games, Garcia has averaged 16 points on 53-percent shooting, 89-percent foul shooting, 2.1 threes, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that this is a player that Westphal can't find consistent minutes for on a 5-20 team that ranks among the league's worst on both offense and defense.
Tim Duncan's(notes) scoring average has dipped dramatically, but his overall fantasy impact hasn't noticed. Over the past 10 games, Duncan has scored just 13.8 points on 51 percent shooting, but he's needed just 29 minutes to average 10.1 boards, 4.1 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 0.7 steals, and 2.6 blocks. He checks in with a per-game rank of 28th over the past month ... A sprained big toe will keep George Hill(notes) on the sidelines for at least the next few games. The Spurs are one of only three teams with a four-game week.
Perhaps Jose Calderon's(notes) demise was greatly exaggerated. In two games since returning from his foot injury, he's averaged 36 minutes, 17.5 points on 65-percent shooting, 1.5 threes, 13 assists, and 3 turnovers. In those same games, Jerryd Bayless(notes) averaged 3 points on 18-percent shooting in 17 minutes ... Linas Kleiza(notes) has posted a double-double in each of the past two games, averaging 22 points on 49-percent shooting, 3.5 threes, 11 boards, 3 assists, and 1.5 turnovers in 41 minutes. His spot ahead of Sonny Weems(notes) in the starting five is not temporary, so fantasy owners will want to consider him for a roster spot if he's currently on the wire (35% owned). Kleiza started the season slow but his per-36s on the season include respectable numbers like 16.3 points, 1.5 threes, and 6.8 boards.
Mehmet Okur(notes) is back on the inactive list after spraining his ankle during pregame warm-ups Monday. The injury is not considered serious, but he was in a walking boot and his status for the week is not currently known.
The Wizards may now be John Wall's(notes) team, but they will continue to play without him for the near future. What was originally being called right knee tendinitis is now being called a bone bruise under his right kneecap, and his current inactive stint could end up being another week or two, although nothing definitive has been established as of yet. What we do know is that Kirk Hinrich(notes) and Nick Young(notes) will see a lot of minutes at the guard spots in the interim ... Rashard Lewis'(notes) arrival could actually end up putting the squeeze on JaVale McGee(notes), who clearly has not been a Flip Saunders favorite despite some reasonable statistical production. Lewis will play both the three and four, pushing Andray Blatche(notes) to the five with a bit more regularity. Josh Howard(notes) and Al Thornton(notes) will also be looking at minutes at the three, so clearly Saunders is going to have some decisions to make.