Dirk Nowitzki's protracted offensive issues continued Wednesday - and arguably hit a low point - as he scored eight points on 2-of-15 shooting and missed all five of his threes in 38 minutes of a 95-86 loss to the Thunder. Nowitzki has now averaged 9.3 points on 28-percent shooting in three games since returning from his rest period and has missed all 11 of his long-range attempts. Dirk says the swelling in his knee is gone, and now it's just a matter of working to get his shooting rhythm back and find confidence in his shooting stroke. We're in a situation where he have to take him at his word that he's feeling fine physically, and a good sign is that his non-shooting stats have been solid since returning (8.3 boards, 2.3 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal).
Fantasy owners looking for more of a silver lining should also note that Dirk averaged 19 points on 39-percent shooting in his first seven games after returning from a knee strain in mid-January of last season, and then went on to average 22.9 points on 52-percent shooting over the remainder of the regular season (37 games). Dirk missed almost three weeks with last season's injury. It's true that many of the circumstances are different here, but it's hard to get too down on Dirk, given that his consistency of production is stuff of legend. What may be best for all involved parties is a few more games off to make sure everything is good down the stretch, but that may not be a consideration while there are no specific injury concerns. Dirk is among the most-traded players on today's Buzz Index, as you might expect. His resume suggests that first-round numbers are eventually on their way, but his game log suggests that his days in the top 10 are finally over as he approaches age 34. I do expect Dirk's numbers to recover at least a bit as we move along, but I also expect him to be rested at points down the stretch in any case and would deal him for an "overachiever" like Paul Millsap, Marc Gasol, and Greg Monroe without hesitation, particularly in a h2h league.
• C.J. Watson should be good for some deep-league value for as long as Richard Hamilton remains sidelined with nagging leg injuries. Watson played 27 minutes on Wednesday, scored a team-high 20 points, and added four threes and four assists. He's battled elbow and wrist injuries this season but has been a stellar per-minute performer when he has played - his averages in 19 minutes include 9.9 points, 1.5 threes, 3.9 assists, and 0.9 steals. Bump those minutes up to 25 over the next few weeks and we're looking at useful numbers in more than four percent of leagues.
• Lawrence Frank finally replaced Ben Wallace in his starting lineup at power forward on Wednesday, but he did so with his next-worst fantasy option in Jason Maxiell. Maxiell responded in kind (23 minutes, 4 points, 4 boards, 4 fouls), but his foul trouble at least paved the way for Jonas Jerebko to play 31 minutes (14 points, 1 three, 3 boards, 1 blocks). Jerebko seems to have found an offensive rhythm lately (10.3 points, 50-38-95 percentages, 0.8 threes, 4.4 boards over the past eight games) and figures to emerge with more consistent minutes now that Wallace is back on the bench. The same unfortunately can't be said for Austin Daye, who played 11 minutes Wednesday to Tayshaun Prince's 39.
• One more heads up on Shawn Williams for deep-league purposes (3% owned), who is looking at all kinds of opportunity to flash some multi-cat production for at least the next few weeks, and likely beyond. In two starts at small forward thus far, he's averaged 35 minutes, 8 threes attempted, 4 boards, 1 steal, and 1 block. Someone (else) in your league is going to take notice and grab him once a few more of those threes start to fall (career 34%), so get on board now.
• Greivis Vasquez exploded for 20 points, three treys, six boards, and 12 assists in 28 minutes during the Hornets' blowout loss to the Suns on Wednesday. The production was of course a surprise, but the minutes were a continuation of a recent trend. Monty Williams has been running a deep rotation, in which an ineffective Marco Belinelli has been seeing less playing time of late. Belinelli was finally moved to the bench Wednesday, with DeJuan Summers getting the start, but it was Vasquez that saw the second-most guard minutes on the team. He's now averaged 26 minutes over the past four games, in addition to 12.3 points on 58-percent shooting and 7 assists, and maintaining that number of minutes certainly is realistic for as long as Eric Gordon is sidelined. What is not realistic is expecting a starting role or starters' minutes while Jarrett Jack is healthy - grab Vasquez for the solid per-minute potential, but don't overstate the ceiling here based on one huge game. His per-28 minute averages on the season include 9.4 points, 0.8 threes, 3 boards, 5.4 assists, 2.4 turnovers, and 1.4 steals.
• Blake Griffin blocked three more shots on Wednesday - to go along with 31 points and 14 boards - and has now totaled 11 blocks in his past four games. It's quite an interesting development, given the limitations of his line beyond scoring, field goal percentage, and boards that we've seen to this point of his career. It's a bit early to get overly-excited, considering he totaled eight blocks in his first 15 games, but clearly any increase would be welcome when it comes to Griffin's fantasy impact. His per-game rank of 121st on the season speaks to his drag on free throw percentage and turnovers - remove/punt those two categories and his rank jumps to eighth, according to Basketball Monster, and his rank is any scenario has held back to this point by average-ish contributions in steals and blocks.
• Status updates: Mike D'Antoni says the plan is for both Carmelo Anthony (misc) and Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) to play in all of the Knicks' back-to-back-to-back games, but there are no guarantees that it will come to fruition .. Grant Hill played just 12 minutes Wednesday because of soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee but expects to be in the lineup on Friday. Josh Childress would be in line for minutes in the not-so-unlikely scenario where Hill shuts it down for a bit .. Both Lamar Odom (illess) and Brendan Haywood (back) are expected to play Friday .. George Hill (ankle) is hoping to miss no more than two or three weeks .. Anthony Morrow (ankle) hopes to return on Friday .. Spencer Hawes (Achilles) is feeling better but still isn't 100 percent and won't return - or be allowed to return - until he is .. Marcus Thornton (thigh) has been medically cleared and will return to the lineup on Thursday .. For the Raptors: Linas Kleiza (knee) expects to play Friday, Andrea Bargnani (calf) remains on a non-specific "indefinite" timetable .. Kenyon Martin has been cleared to return to the NBA but won't impact anything outside of the deepest leagues at age 34. He logged a per-game rank of 131 in 10-11 with 26 minutes per game, more playing time than he'll find with any of the contenders that he's considering (LAC, MIA, ATL, NYK) .. Gerald Henderson is expected to miss two to four weeks with a hamstring strain. Deep-leaguers will want to take a look at Reggie Williams in the interim.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Ed Davis started and delivered a good line for the Raptors on Wednesday (38 minutes, 10 points, 12 boards, 2 blocks). He should have an opportunity to grab minutes while Amir Johnson continues to scuffle, but Dwane Casey's big-man rotations have been anything but consistent .. Nikola Pekovic continued his relatively strong play Wednesday (30 minutes, 13 points, 12 boards) and Darko Milicic is now dealing with a knee injury. Just be aware of Pekovic's own limitations (70% FT, 15:23 Curry Line ratio on the season) .. Trevor Booker dealt with foul trouble Wednesday (21 minutes, 4 fouls) but was still plenty useful (8 points, 4-6 FG, 9 boards, 2 blocks). There are numbers to be had here.