March 06, 2012
Ricky Rubio's struggles with his shot remain somewhere in the neighborhood of epic. Rubio was shooting 46 percent from the field (8.5 FGA per game) and 45 percent from three (1.8 3PA) after his first 12 games, and there was plenty of talk - I'm including myself here - that the scouting reports might have underestimated Rubio's NBA-ready game and that his offensive woes were overstated. It turns out that those scouting reports may have been right, after all. Rubio was 1-for-7 Monday and has made just nine of his last 45 shot attempts (20%), and his shooting percentages going back over his past 27 games are just 31 percent from the field and 29 percent from three. Pick a spot on the floor, and he's been bad and getting worse. Of course, his unquestionable skills have produced some excellent "other" numbers over the same stretch (82% FT, 4.3 boards, 8.2 assists, 2.4 steals), but Rubio has been squarely among the league leaders in negative impact on the FG% category since mid-January. Pair Rubio's negative impact over the past month (9.5 FGA, 30%) with LeBron James' positive impact (17.5 FGA, 55%) and you get the fantasy league average (46%), according to Basketball Monster, so this is truly a heavy load to bear. With the fantasy trade deadline just around the corner, it's your last opportunity to assess your team with Rubio's positives and negative and make sure that he fits into your championship plans. And if you are in the punt-FG% build, then make an offer - per BBM, he's still a top-30 talent on the season when you remove FG% from the equation, and he's in the top 20 when you also remove turnovers.
• Mark Jackson has named Ekpe Udoh as the Warriors' permanent starting center "unless he completely falls off the map." Udoh responded to the move Monday with one of his better lines of the season (27 minutes, 17 points, 7-7 FT, 6 boards, 1 block) and was only limited in the favorable matchup with the Wizards by foul trouble (5 fouls). Udoh's offensive game should get a lift while playing alongside the team's starting five, but keep him in mind that his per-36s for the current season include 9 points, 6.5 boards, 1.2 steals, and 2.8 blocks, along with middling percentages (43% FG, 71% FT) and 5.2 fouls. Teams starved for defensive stats should be first in line to acquire Udoh's services, but fantasy owners in general need to keep expectations in check. And for your viewing pleasure: a side-by-side comparison of Udoh and Bismack Biyombo's numbers here. In a vacuum, I'd roster Udoh ahead of Biyombo for the stretch run - Udoh's offensive output has a solid chance to improve at least a bit while playing with the team's first unit.
• Scott Skiles continues to toy with his minutes distribution on the wing. Monday saw him bench starters Carlos Delfino and Tobias Harris for the majority of the second half, instead going with Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih in a smaller look [game flow]. Skiles could look to pair Udrih with Jennings more moving forward in the hopes to get Jennings' offense going again - Udrih has averaged 25 minutes over the past three games (6.7 points, 3.7 assists), during which Jennings has averaged 31.3 points on 48-percent shooting, 3.3 threes, and 10.3 free throw attempts. Delfino certainly hasn't been helping his own case for playing time - he made just one of seven shots on Monday and has averaged 6.9 points on 25-percent shooting in 34 minutes over the past seven games. It should be noted that he's also averaged 4.4 boards, 3.6 assists, and 1.7 steals in those games, however.
• Kenneth Faried's best game of the season (20 points, 7-9 FG, 12 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks) coincided with the return of Nene Hilario (16 minutes) and Danilo Gallinari (18 minutes) to the Nuggets' active roster. Faried has been a per-minute juggernaut and has averaged 12.3 points on 67-percent shooting, 9.4 boards, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 27 minutes over the past seven games, but how much will George Karl play him moving forward? Faried's recent play has certainly made an impression on his coach. What needs to happen for Faried to remain squarely in the rotation is that Karl plays a healthy Nene more at center moving forward, at the expense of Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos, freeing up enough time for both Faried and Al Harrington at power forward. Will it happen? That remains to be seen, but Faried's numbers potential certainly makes it worth holding him while we find out.
• Status updates: Stephen Curry said he didn't have much more in him than the nine minutes he played on Monday (12 points, 5-7 FG, 2 threes). His minutes will continue to be monitored in the short-term [schedule] .. Tyson Chandler still doesn't plan to miss any time, but his hand/wrist problems are here to stay and there is a reasonable risk of an aggravation that would most certainly cost him games .. Don't expect Zach Randolph to be activated anytime over the next week. He's fine physically but needs more contact work before seeing game action. Next Friday (TOR) seems like a logical return date .. Anderson Varejao will be re-evaluated at some point this week but, as of Monday, still couldn't grip a basketball with his right hand .. The Nets will take no chances with Brook Lopez's ankle injury and will consider shutting him down if he has any problems meeting the three-week timetable .. Andrea Bargnani (calf) might be back this weekend. Then again, he might not .. Nikola Pekovic (foot) was back at practice for the Timberwolves on Tuesday .. Devin Harris tweaked his left MCL on Monday but doesn't think the injury is serious. He'll be re-evaluated on Tuesday .. Richard Hamilton is day-to-day with a mild shoulder sprain .. Brendan Haywood (ankle) will be a game-time decision on Tuesday .. It looks like a Jamal Crawford for Luke Ridnour swap could happen. Wesley Matthews and Crawford would be the winners there ..
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Isaiah Thomas is clearly struggling but his averages in nine starts overall include 15 points, 1.4 threes, 3.7 boards, 5.6 assists, and 1 steal in 32 minutes. He may not be as good as his best games but he's not as bad as these recent games, either, and his scope of opportunity still has yet to change for the worse .. Vince Carter's numbers have been tanking. The Mavs are 2-6 over their past eight games, with VC averaging 8.4 points on 37-percent shooting and 1 three in 25 minutes. Rodrigue Beaubois is pushing for playing time and Delonte West will eventually return from his finger injury, so VC (43% owned) doesn't exactly have fantasy staying power .. Gordon Hayward's first game as a reserve was certainly a success (28 minutes, 23 points, 8-11 FG, 5-5 FT, 2 threes, 4 boards, 5 assists). He should find minutes similar to his season average (27) on most nights and could actually end up in a better chance to succeed as the team's primary scoring option off the bench, but problem No.1 for Hayward this season has been his inconsistency [game log] .. Mike D'Antoni says that he'll stick with Landry Fields as the starting shooting guard for now, but added that he'll play whoever is playing well between Fields, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith down the stretch. All recent signs point to that being Shumpert, and the team needs his defense .. Evan Turner's first start of the season produced some good (12 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) and some bad (1-12 FG, 0-0 FT). But Jodie Meeks was effective off the bench (18 minutes, 13 points, 5-10 FG, 3 threes) and the Sixers struggled again on offense, so the move sticking remains a 50-50 proposition .. Alonzo Gee's averages in his five starts: 12.2 points, 1.4 threes, 4.2 boards, 1.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks.
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