It's that time of year again! Now that we're roughly 10 games into the season, get out there and vote for the 2009 NBA All-Stars! If you're like me, you may wait another week or six to submit your ballot – I'm one of those sticklers that prefer to reward actual performance with a nomination – but otherwise, have at it. Don't wait too long, though, because voting closes a month before the actual game is played. That makes sense, since the average team will only play a dozen games in the interim. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic and yes, I think the whole process and spectacle is a joke at this point.)
Weekend Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days
• Anthony Morrow was the big story of the weekend, as the undrafted rookie went for 37 points and 11 rebounds in his first career start on Saturday, prompting his addition in just over 32,000 leagues over the past two days. He started against the Clippers ahead of C.J. Watson because Don Nelson wanted "an extra shooter" in the lineup, and Morrow rewarded the decision by making 15-of-20 field goals, 4-of-5 threes, and all three of his foul shots in 42 minutes of a 121-103 win.
A little background: Morrow was an effective and fairly efficient scorer for Georgia Tech (he was slowed as a junior by a stress fracture in his lower back). He was passed over on draft day, but made quite a splash in summer league play, averaging 18.1 points in seven games and making an unbelievable 74 percent of his 3-point attempts (17 of 23); he was named MVP of the Rocky Mountain Revue and given a contract with the Warriors because of his performance.
Of course, the question on fantasy owners' minds is whether or not it was simply a fluke. It's always dangerous to speculate when Nellie is involved (case in point: Brandan Wright was a DNP-CD on Saturday), but Morrow has a good chance to stick in the lineup. A few key Nellie quotes from after the game were, "We're without a starting point guard" and "We have to attack in a bit of a different way." He identified C.J. Watson as "a good backup" and it all seems to me to be foreshadowing moving forward with what they presented on Saturday – four GF-types and Andris Biedrins. For now, Morrow looks like a solid roster addition. If his resume is any indication, then he could emerge as a relatively efficient source of points and threes (and some boards) for the fast-paced Warriors. The X-factor continues to be Al Harrington's trade limbo. A deal would likely bring an expected starter in return, but there's little news on that front and fantasy owners need to deal with the here and now. If you've got an expendable player, it makes sense to roster Morrow and see what happens.
• Jason Richardson, still recovering from having his knee scoped, is out for all of this week's games and could only call it "possible" that he'll be back in the lineup sometime next week. Matt Carroll has been in the starting lineup for the past two games but has averaged just 21 minutes, 6.5 points, and one three. Typically, he's a solid add – in 73 career starts, he's averaged 12.9 points and 1.8 threes in 32 minutes. Adam Morrison has produced well over the past three games (15 points, 2.3 threes in 25 minutes) and figures (along with D.J. Augustin) to see trickle-down minutes while J-Rich is sidelined.
• Dwyane Wade played in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game despite a sprained right ankle, but missed Monday's practice and is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game. His status will be determined during Tuesday's shootaround, and Daequan Cook or Yakhouba Diawara would get the start if Wade can't go.
Other Injury Updates: Jose Calderon did not play Sunday because of a strained right hamstring and his status for Tuesday has yet to be determined. … Michael Redd has now missed seven games because of his right ankle sprain, but the hope is that he'll return on either Tuesday or Wednesday. … Kevin Martin's return is looking like Friday at the earliest, and Francisco Garcia is even further away from returning.
Buzz Index: Notables from the weekend's Buzz Index
Lopez had a Morrow-like impact in his first career start, posing a huge line (25 points, 9 boards, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 2 fouls in 34 minutes) with Josh Boone sidelined with an ankle injury. He was slightly less effective in his second start (5 points, 7 boards, 3 blocks, 4 fouls in 28 minutes) but will get another crack at it on Tuesday, as Boone has already been declared out. Lopez has produced when he's been on the court – his per-30 minute averages include 9.7 points, 8.1 boards, 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks – but he's struggled with fouls and he's yet to officially pass Boone on the depth chart. Until one or both of those things change, he'll continue to be inconsistent, but he's got as much fantasy upside as any Nets big.
Green's fantasy impact has taken a turn for the better since he became a source of volume threes and steals – he's attempted at least three treys in six of his past seven games (after just one attempt in his first three) and has averaged 1.7 makes and 1.6 steals over the same span. He continues to shoot at a low percentage (42 percent) but his scoring average is up to 15.2 points per game and he's rebounding at a decent clip (6.3). The team has really needed him to step up and help Kevin Durant shoulder the scoring load, and he's responded. This is a very solid pickup.
Westbrook had his best game of the season on Friday, going for 19 points, 10 boards and six assists in 28 minutes. What shouldn't be understated is that it came against the Knicks. While the rookie PG hasn't been shy in terms of volume of attempts, it was the only game this season in which he has made at least half of his shots, and he made 3-of-12 in his follow-up on Saturday. Until his shot selection (31-percent shooting) and "PG skills" (31:25 assists-to-turnovers) improve, he won't pass Earl Watson on the depth chart or be more than an outside-the-fringe fantasy player (current per-game rank of 215).
Bargnani got his first start of the season on Sunday (at SF, in place of Jamario Moon) and ended his streak of playing terribly every other game. This still qualifies as a developing situation, but Bargnani deserves to be rostered at least until we see what he does with the opportunity. Although Moon was productive in 19 minutes (8 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks), the move could make him marginal enough to drop in standard formats, and Kris Humphries becomes viable in deep leagues as the team's sole reserve big (14 points, 9 boards in 16 minutes).
We're only 11 games into the season, but it's looking like the Suns' new look is affecting Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa negatively and Shaq positively. You've got to employ Shaq judiciously – you can't just plug him in and forget him – but if you can adjust for poor matchups (up-tempo teams) and days off (back-to-backs), then you can maximize very good contributions in three categories (FG%, REB, PTS) with occasional blocks and assists. And per usual, his drag on free-throw percentage needs to be considered relative to your team before you make the roster move.
I know it's tough, because Dahntay Jones continues to start and Smith continues to struggle with his shot, but I'm still recommending you hang on to Smith. Jones has averaged just 15 minutes and 3.0 points over the past four games, so he clearly doesn't have an iron grip on the job. George Karl intimated immediately after the Allen Iverson trade that Jones' starting role was going to be temporary while Chauncey Billups adjusted to his new team, and I can't help but feel that we're close to a change to Smith.
Take a look at Q-Rich's game log and you'll see three good games and seven lackluster efforts. Don't let the sexy 3-point totals throw you off – overall, his numbers aren't worth waiting for.
Yi struggled mightily in back-to-backs against the Hawks (combined 7 points, 5 turnovers in 40 minutes), but it needs to be noted that he entered the games averaging 11.6 points, 1.7 threes, 8.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in his first seven games. Clearly we're still going to deal with growing pains – after all, he's yet to turn 21 – but he's got one of the most unique skill-sets in the game and the Nets are completely committed to him as their starting PF (at least for now). What we may be headed for is another season of Yi making sporadic appearances among both the most added and most dropped players.
Mason has had a tough time finding good looks since joining the Spurs' starting lineup five games ago (32-percent shooting), but he's still been putting numbers together elsewhere (2.4 threes, 5.6 boards, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals) and remains the team's second option behind Tim Duncan for another few weeks. He showed some signs on Sunday (18 points on 6-of-14 shooting) and I'd be inclined to give him a few more games to adjust to the suddenly major role.
Maybe next year?
Hey, at least the Warriors are still trying. The latest is that they tried to shop Harrington and Marco Belinelli to the Nets for a big, but their advances were rejected. Anthony Morrow's emergence apparently has allowed them to use Belinelli as a deal-sweetener, although you can argue that 281 minutes of playing time since the beginning of last season isn't an ideal way to showcase him. I can understand frustration with the situation to this point, but if you've got an available bench spot, Harrington should stay on it for at least a bit longer. It's a fair assumption that his back injury is just a convenient excuse for the parties to stay away from each other, and that he'd be in the lineup very soon for his new team after a deal goes down.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update Now that's what I call parity – all six Week 3 matchups resulted in a 6-3 or 5-4 score, and my team happened to be on the good side of a 5-4 matchup with Justin Phan. Recent transactions included Kevin Love, Trevor Ariza, Jeff Foster, Erick Dampier, George Hill, Ryan Gomes, Jordan Farmar and Hakim Warrick, among others.