This week's Dose begins with an exhaustive list providing the latest updates on every injured player whose status is pertinent for the week ahead, alphabetically by team:
(First, a quick reminder that four teams only play two games this week: the Hawks, Pistons, Magic and Jazz. Add and drop accordingly.)
Devin Harris (foot) sat out Friday and remains day-to-day.
Avery Bradley bruised his left collarbone on Friday, which is actually great news since the initial fear was that he aggravated his surgically-repaired shoulders. He didn’t practice on Saturday and is questionable to play Sunday vs. the Wizards.
Paul Pierce (ankle) and Kevin Garnett (ankle) are also questionable for Sunday. Doc Rivers said he thinks KG will return, but owners shouldn’t count on either Garnett or Pierce until we’ve had official confirmation, as caution will be the rule of the day. (UPDATE: Garnett practiced on Saturday and seems on pace to play, and Paul Pierce also practiced and is considered probable.)
Byron Mullens (ankle) could be done for the season, which makes Josh McRoberts a reasonable low-end play at PF/C. Ramon Sessions (knee) may also be shut down – his absence may have aided Gerald Henderson’s late-season breakout, but Ben Gordon has done precious little since sniping at coach Mike Dunlap prior to the All-Star break.
Taj Gibson (knee) is officially ‘out indefinitely', Marco Belinelli (abdomen) is day-to-day, and there’s no clear sense of when Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) may return, let alone Derrick Rose (knee). Carlos Boozer is the biggest beneficiary of Gibson and Noah’s absence, though Nazr Mohammad has been a desperation source of rebounds as the starting center. Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler are both reliable starts as long as Belinelli and Rose are watching from the sidelines, and Butler may have done enough to secure a starting job for the rest of the season. Consider his numbers in 13 starts this season: 14.2 points on 42.2 percent FGs and 80.6 percent FTs, 0.8 threes, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.5 blocks and only 1.6 turnovers in a whopping 44 minutes per game.
TRIVIA INTERLUDE: There are no active players in the NBA whose last name begins with the letter 'X.' The letters Q, U, Y and Z each correspond to three or fewer players...how many can you name? The answer will follow...
Luke Walton (ankle) and Daniel Gibson (elbow) both went down on Friday, temporarily giving more minutes to Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles and Wayne Ellington. Both injured players are day-to-day. It’s unclear if Dion Waiters (knee) will return this season, but it seems doubtful.
Elton Brand (calf) has missed a few games and said that he’s “not progressing well,” which solidifies Brandan Wright as a viable fantasy center, and makes Chris Kaman worth a look in deep leagues.
Ty Lawson (heel) is not expected to play during the regular season. Danilo Gallinari faces a major rehabilitation after tearing his ACL this week, and his absence combined with Lawson’s heel issues makes the Nuggets far less formidable in the postseason. Injuries are the worst. If Wilson Chandler is unowned in your league, pick him up and start him immediately.
Brandon Knight had his broken nose re-set and he’s probable for Saturday’s game. Impressively, he didn’t miss a single game with the injury. Jose Calderon (strained triceps) is also probable for Saturday, but Will Bynum (hand) has already been ruled out.
Chandler Parsons sat out Friday’s game with a calf injury, and Carlos Delfino sat out with the flu, leaving both guys iffy to play Saturday vs. the Nuggets. Francisco Garcia would be a terrific option if both players sit out, or even just Parsons, while Delfino’s absence would give him a decent shot at value off the bench.
Blake Griffin (calf), DeAndre Jordan (hip) and Chauncey Billups (groin) all sat out Friday’s practice. Billups is very iffy to play Sunday, while Griffin and Jordan are up in the air. The good news is that L.A. is still jockeying for playoff position, one game behind the third-place Nuggets and one game ahead of the fifth-place Grizzlies, whom they happen to be playing next Saturday (April 13th).
Steve Nash (hip, hamstring) is a game-time decision on Sunday. Steve Blake will continue to start at PG in his absence, though Blake hasn’t done much lately beyond knocking down 3-pointers (2.6 per game in L.A.’s last five).
LeBron James (hamstring), Dwyane Wade (ankle) and Ray Allen (ankle) are all questionable to play on Saturday. The Heat don’t play again until Tuesday, though, and three extra days of rest will surely look good to Erik Spoelstra and Miami’s banged up stars, so owners are forced to once again make contingency plans. LBJ and Wade sitting out the past three games has utterly ruined many fantasy owners, and will be fresh in many owners minds on draft day next year. I would choose Kevin Durant No. 1 overall anyway, regardless of this late-season threat of DNPs for LeBron, but there’s still nobody who touches LBJ at No. 2 overall.
Brandon Roy (knee) reportedly wants to play again this season. It remains to be seen if that happens…either way, his tenure with the Wolves is over and his future in the NBA is uncertain.
Kenyon Martin (knee) and Marcus Camby (foot) are both day-to-day, while Tyson Chandler (neck) continues to play through stiffness and pain with mixed results.
Moe Harkless (knee) left Friday’s game and is day-to-day, while Jameer Nelson (ankle) is getting close but still has “lingering” pain which forced him out again on Friday.
Dorell Wright (elbow) was a DNP on Friday and his status vs. the Heat on Saturday is uncertain.
Marcin Gortat (foot) hopes to appear in a game before the season ends. It’s great to see him working hard and showing some team spirit despite his dissatisfaction with his role this year, but he’s not going to help fantasy owners.
Damian Lillard suffered a left hip pointer vs. Houston on Friday and we’ll consider him questionable going forward, but the good news is that he was able to return against the Rockets. Nicolas Batum has “weakness” in his shoulder, in addition to a torn labrum, and there is no timetable for his return. I’ve cut him wherever I owned him, as late-season necessities have overtaken fondness for players and the concept of upside.
Tony Parker has been ruled out for Saturday due to a sore neck, and he’s already battling a leg injury which may or may not be tendinitis. Stephen Jackson (ankle) is probable to play. With Parker ailing and Manu Ginobili out as long as a month with a strained hamstring, Gary Neal and Nando De Colo are likely to emerge with temporary. One also assumes that Tim Duncan’s DNP-CD risk is through the roof. The last thing the Spurs can afford is an injury to their veteran workhorse, and if history is a guide Gregg Popovich won’t veer from his cautious path to pursue the best record in the West (currently percentage points behind the Thunder)
Jamaal Tinsley (back) and Alec Burks (ankle) both went down during Friday’s game and are listed as day-to-day, opening up a few extra backcourt minutes in Utah. Enes Kanter (shoulder) is doubtful to play again this year. (UPDATE: Burks didn't travel for Sunday's game, but Tinsley is considered probable to play.)
Bradley Beal, of course, is done for the season with a stress injury in his right fibula. It seems the injury was caused by his overcompensation for ankle injuries, and he has since admitted that he returned too soon. He dropped 24 points with six 3-pointers in his abbreviated return last week, and said after the game that he felt no pain “at all,” so the season-ending injury blindsided more than a few owners (myself included, times three leagues). He struggled with an array of injuries this year but personally I’m not inclined to view him as “injury-prone.” It seems he came back too soon from his first freak ankle injury, and perhaps the Wizards trainers didn’t appropriately assess the risk, but I’m actually encouraged by his desire to play through pain for a lottery-bound team. I’ll draft a warrior with his upside in a heartbeat, assuming he falls into the 5th round or later.
Now that we’re all caught up on who isn’t healthy…I’ll devote the second half of the Dose to a borderline stream-of-consciousness run through some stats, resources, and whatever else calls me.
The Sixers beat the Hawks on Friday behind Evan Turner's 24 & 11 and Spencer Hawes' 19 & 12. If you drafted Turner in a nine-cat roto league and you played him in every game this season, you got a 13th-round value. He contributes just enough points (13.7), rebounds (6.5) and assists (4.2) to catch your eye, but that value slowly erodes beneath sub-par steals (0.9), blocks (0.2), FG percentage (42.6), FT percentage (74.2) and turnovers (2.4). His value has jumped a few rounds in recent weeks due to improved shooting, and he knocked down 9-of-15 FGs with three 3-pointers on Friday, so at least he's closing the season emphatically. Spencer Hawes has gone a step beyond improving his play—he finished March with season-high averages in every category but FT percentage and steals. The result is top-10 value in nine-cat leagues in the past month. He's owed a guaranteed $6.6 million in the final year of his contract next season, and the motivation of a contract year is worth remembering.
While we’re discussing strong finishes…Jeff Green, in 11 starts this season, is averaging 22.5 points on 56.3 percent shooting, 1.8 threes, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.6 blocks and only 2.0 turnovers in 38 minutes. If those numbers were extrapolated for a full season (just humor me), Green would be:
- 8th in the NBA in scoring, behind Stephen Curry and ahead of Dwyane Wade, LaMarcus Aldridge and Monta Ellis.
- 6th in the NBA in FG percentage, behind Serge Ibaka and ahead of LeBron James, Amir Johnson and Kenneth Faried.
- 4th in the NBA among forwards in 3-pointers per game, and tied for 30th overall with guys like O.J. Mayo, Ray Allen and Martell Webster.
- 1st among forwards in blocks per game (tied with Josh Smith), and 9th overall just ahead of Anthony Davis, Bismack Biyombo and Marc Gasol.
Doc Rivers has already conceded that Green has "earned" the right to start when Kevin Garnett (ankle) returns, possibly on Sunday.
The Celtics actually lost to the Cavs on Friday, thanks largely to Tristan Thompson’s career-high 29 points on Friday, a nice bounce-back effort after he averaged 6.5 points in his previous two games. He did this against a Boston team with Brandon Bass at center and Jeff Green at PF, so we should view this game with a small asterisk. That said, he's coming off a solid month of March (12.1 points on 50 percent FGs, 9.4 rebounds, 0.9 blocks) and should continue to average 30 minutes until the bitter end of the season. The way competent players are dropping these days, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Three plays from Michael Beasley: 1) Two minutes remain in Friday’s game and the Warriors are winning on the road in Phoenix, 104-98, when Beasley wildly spins around Klay Thompson into a void in the middle of the defense, scoring on an easy finger-roll at the rim. 104-100. 2) After a missed jumper by Stephen Curry with 1:45 left, the Suns set up a play to isolate Beasley at the top of the key against Klay Thompson (Golden State has their usual three-guard set on the court in the 4Q). Beasley drives right, ignores a cutting P.J. Tucker and pulls up for a contested jumper, which he makes. 104-102. 3) Jarrett Jack misses a long jumper and the Suns gather the rebound with 1:00 remaining. Goran Dragic brings the ball up and again passes, fatally, to Beasley in an isolation on the right wing vs. Thompson. Beasley quickly aborts a drive to his right, panics in the face of a double-team and throws the ball away on a pass to Tucker, but the Warriors can't control the ball and it pops back into Beasley's hands. This time he makes an ill-advised baseline drive and throws a horrible pass directly to Carl Landry. Jarrett Jack drains a 3-pointer a few seconds later, and the Suns suffer yet another loss.
Beasley grabbed six rebounds and finished the game with 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting in 32 minutes, one of his best scoring games of the season. He didn't have a single FT attempt, however, and he had one assist vs. six turnovers, both exaggerated examples of career-long flaws in his game. He was nowhere near providing fantasy value in any sane format this year, and I implore you to avoid him next year, even if your imagination gets excited by some offseason trade rumors.
I finally swallowed my disbelief and picked up Damien Wilkins in two leagues, so Friday's line was a welcome sight: 16 points on 5-of-8 FGs and 4-of-4 FTs, two 3-pointers, four rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. If you checked out this week's Season Pass chat, available to subscribers, you already heard me say...
Q: Who should i start tonight? Damien Wilkins v. CHA or Alan Anderson v. WAS
A: I could hem and haw here and suggest that it depends partly on what categories you need...but instead I'll just say that you should deploy Damien Wilkins. He's playing heavy minutes, at 37 per game in the past two, he's shooting very well from the field and decent at the FT line, he gives you a handful of boards/dimes, and he is likely to give at least one steal. The clincher, of course, is Charlotte's truly horrific league-worst defense. They give up 109.6 points per 100 possessions, easily the lowest mark of any team, while the Wizards have quietly posted the league's seventh-most efficient D with 100.2 points allowed per 100.
Those defensive ranks at the end aren't pertinent for Wilkins going forward (other than April 12th when Philly plays the Wizards), but they are indicative of the kind of quick research owners can do to get a competitive advantage every day. You can also find defensive/offensive ratings for the past three games, the past month, or any other split you desire. The site HoopStats.com allows you to see which teams cede the most points/rebounds/assists to backcourts (PG/SG) and frontcourts (SF/PF/C). I won't vouch for the information but it seems straight...the Rockets lead the NBA in points allowed to opposing backcourts (43.5), the Lakers give up the third-most, and although the Pacers are 13th in that category, they are the stingiest team vs. opposing frontcourts. I use it occasionally for a quick snapshot: the Wizards are good against frontcourts (4th) and weak against backcourts (22nd). The Blazers are strong against guards (12th) but lousy against forwards and centers (26th). And so forth.
And if you simply want to follow the White Rabbit, you can quickly learn which player leads the D-League in double-doubles this season (our old friend Samardo Samuels!), which NBA sophomores lead their class in efficiency, or even how many turnovers per offensive play a given team forced during their road games in the 2004-05 season, not to mention the Wizards' winning percentage when they were known as the Chicago Zephyrs (it wasn't pretty).
You may also learn that Roy Hibbert is shooting 52.7 percent at the rim this season, the lowest percentage of any NBA center and half a mile behind second-worst Andrew Bogut (58.8 percent). On the plus side, Hibbert looked much better in March and there are plenty of optimists who think his offensive game may be 'back' for good (for more read this, then this and this).
Q stands for Chris Quinn, a recent call-up for the Cavs who has eight points in five appearances.
U stands for Ekpe Udoh and Beno Udrih, and nothing more.
Y stands for Nick Young, Sam Young and Thaddeus Young, who are biological brothers and co-own a chain of barbershops for dogs across the south.
Z stands for Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller, whose brother Luke was released by the Suns in February. Ever since, Tyler has dedicated his offensive rebounds to his dearly missed bro.