October 26, 2009
With just over 24 hours remaining until the NBA's regular season tips off, let's run through the league and discuss the most relevant of recent developments from a fantasy perspective, in the comfortable and familiar bullet-point form.
• Antawn Jamison's(notes) shoulder injury will keep him on the inactive list for the next three-to-five weeks. Flip Saunders says that it's the team being cautious with the 33-year-old veteran as much as anything else.
"He's really ahead of where we anticipated, but we're being really conservative right now. We're going to be patient with him, we don't want to take any chances. We want to make sure that thing is right and fully healed."
Fantasy owners should try to see the long-range planning as a good thing, although it's clearly not an ideal situation no matter how you look at it. In the interim, the 20-percent owned Andray Blatche(notes) should see an uptick in minutes and production.
• Scott Skiles has yet to announce his starting lineup for the team's season opener on Friday. The two spots where there is some mystery are point guard (Luke Ridnour(notes), Brandon Jennings(notes)) and power forward (Kurt Thomas(notes), Hakim Warrick(notes), Ersan Ilyasova(notes)). Jennings and Warrick have the fantasy upside and are clearly the rosterable options in general, although nobody should count on efficiency from the former or a diverse line from the latter. If Thomas can carve out 25-plus minutes in the FC rotation, then he'll also warrant some fantasy consideration of the know-what-you're-going-to-get variety (as in, 10/8 with 1.5 steals-plus-blocks).
• Developments in Portland: Greg Oden(notes) is locked in as the starting center; Andre Miller(notes) didn't think it would happen at this stage of his career, but he'll run with the team's second unit; and Nicolas Batum(notes) will undergo shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely, meaning Martell Webster(notes) is now the likely starter at small forward. Oden is certainly ready to make an impact on the court, but his foul rate will determine the size of his fantasy impact. The Miller news does not bode well for his contributions, but I expect him to play more than starter Steve Blake(notes) as it is, and it's doubtful that Miller will be a reserve for an extended part of the season (it just doesn't make sense, does it?). If you didn't draft him, add him to your Watch List and think about a buy-low scenario once we get a few weeks into the season. Before you sprint to the wire to grab Webster, check out his splits from 07-08 - he made some threes in 70 starts, but that was pretty much the extent of his positives.
• Don Nelson's starting lineup for Wednesday's opener will be as follows: Stephen Curry(notes), Monta Ellis(notes), Stephen Jackson(notes), Corey Maggette(notes), and Andris Biedrins(notes). The Warriors may try to use a zone defense to limit the deficiencies of their small backcourt and of course will push the ball on offense. Said Nelson:
"We have to shoot the ball, we've got to be fast, we've got to run. And if we do those things, it'll be a matchup problem for the other team. If we don't, then we'll be at a disadvantage."
It's great news for Curry owners, and Nelson has been particularly impressed with Curry's ability to get his teammates involved. Anthony Morrow(notes) and C.J. Watson(notes) will be the first guards off the bench. Anthony Randolph(notes) has been dealing with a sore back (and is questionable for the game), so he's been pushed to the bench in favor of Maggette for now. I wouldn't expect it to last long, but expectations aren't always a smart thing to have when it comes to the Warriors.
"When we start Spencer and Jason together, if one of them gets in foul trouble and the other one needs a rest, then we're awfully small," Paul Westphal said. "If we do it like this, we should be able to at least be big enough at the five spot throughout the course of the game, despite fatigue and injury."
• "It doesn't matter who ultimately scores, as long as the attempt was made easy by sharing." It gives you a warm feeling in your tummy, doesn't it?
• Brandon Bass(notes) got all the early attention in terms of covering for Rashard Lewis(notes) during his suspension, but Ryan Anderson's(notes) preseason play has pushed him to the forefront of the discussion for some short-term value. In seven preseason games, he averaged 14 points, 3.3 threes, and 4.3 boards in 20 minutes, with percentages of 49/56/87. His long-range shooting allows the team to spread out around Dwight Howard(notes), much in the same way that Lewis at power forward allows. Bass will still see steady minutes off the bench while Lewis is out - after that, things will be fairly muddled.
• Charlie Villanueva(notes) is still working his way back from a hamstring injury, leaving the door open for Ben Wallace(notes) to start at power forward on Wednesday. In the team's final preseason game, Wallace totaled 14 boards, four steals, and two blocks in 34 minutes (oh yeah, and five points on 1-of-7 shooting).
• Raja Bell(notes) has yet to decide whether or not to undergo wrist surgery, a procedure that would keep him out for up to four months. Bell has been working out since the injury and is awaiting a second opinion from a specialist. A pretty sizable amount of D.J. Augustin's(notes) fantasy potential for the season could be at stake in the decision here.
• Injury quick hits: Al Jefferson's(notes) achilles issues have his status up in the air for the season opener, while Kevin Love(notes) is hoping to come back early from his original six-to-eight week timeframe ... Andrew Bynum(notes) (shoulder) looks good to go for Tuesday's opener, while Pau Gasol(notes) looks like he might be a no-go ... Emeka Okafor(notes) (toe) went through a vigorous practice on Sunday and is not ruling out the potential to play on Wednesday ... Derrick Rose(notes) (ankle) practiced Sunday and plans on playing in the Bulls' opener on Thursday at this point, but he admits to being "far away" from 100 percent from a conditioning standpoint ... Devin Harris(notes) (groin, ankle) says he is fit for Wednesday's opener, but he also admits to needing to improve his conditioning and timing after playing just 58 preseason minutes ... Al Horford(notes) (ankle) and Mike Bibby(notes) (wrist) will both be at less than 100 percent if they do play in the Hawks' opener on Wednesday ... Blake Griffin (knee) and Baron Davis(notes) (foot) are both considered iffy for the season opener ... Josh Howard(notes) (ankle) won't play in the season opener for the Mavs and it could be a while before he does suit up ... Allen Iverson(notes) (hamstring) is closer to a return, although he remains questionable for the season opener ... Luis Scola(notes) (ankle) practiced fully on Sunday and should be fine when the Rockets open their season on Tuesday.