Modern technology is pretty tripped out. I'm currently at 37,000 feet with the Wi-Fi crawling, packed like a sardine next to what appears to be the first old guy ever to mutter 'get off my lawn’. But because of Twitter and all of the other tools we have at our disposal -- I might very well be writing the first Rotoworld column from the sky. It was just four years ago when newspapers were doing quarterly blog updates during the games and Twitter wasn't even a thing. I'm pretty sure Twitter and all of this information overload is rotting my brain, but as they say 'when in Rome.'
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JOSE CAN YOU SING
Andre Drummond’s owners got some great news when Jason Maxiell was ruled out for the year due to a detached retina. Unfortunately the big man was clearly tired and only gave owners four points and four boards in 20 minutes. This was to be expected on some levels, and hopefully with a day off he can get his wind back.
Jose Calderon returned to Toronto and got emotional to the tune of 19 points and nine assists, and Brandon Knight struggled scoring five points on 2-of-8 shooting with four boards and two assists. Knight will be a dice-roll in standard formats the rest of the way out, but if healthy he will get all the minutes he can handle. Owners can certainly do better in standard formats. Rodney Stuckey played well with 18 points, four boards and six assists, but one look at his game log should remind owners that he’s as risky as Knight if not more. At least he’s healthy, however.
NOT ON THE J.V. TEAM ANYMORE
Jonas Valanciunas is paying me off handsomely right now. He scored 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting with six boards and five blocks, and the only thing bugging me is that the Raptors didn’t decide to unleash him sooner. Rudy Gay has bounced back nicely after a back injury threatened to derail his season, scoring a season-high 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting with four treys and a full stat line.
Kyrie Irving did not play last night as a part of his prescribed rest and he won’t play in back-to-back games, and he’s going to be a bit of a roller coaster down the stretch. I still think he’s startable, but owners should be glued to the updates. C.J. Miles was also a scratch due to an ankle injury, leaving the backcourt empty for Shaun Livingston and Wayne Ellington. Livingston scored 14 points with five boards, six assists and two steals. He needs a prolonged absence by Irving to be reliable for owners in weekly leagues. In a daily league, you might want to stick with him and deploy him accordingly if you need a low-end asset.
Marreese Speights matched a career-high with 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting, eight boards, a steal and a block. Start him at your own risk since he has not been able to string anything together this season. Ellington was pedestrian with 10 points, four boards and two assists, but if Miles stays out for any length of time he could have some sneaky value. Overall, his value proposition took a hit with Irving’s return.
Ivan Johnson couldn’t repeat on his big night over the weekend, playing just 19 minutes with seven points and five rebounds. Devin Harris went off with a season-high 25 points, three boards, seven assists, and three treys. If you can guess when to play him you should be playing the lottery while you’re at it. Al Horford returned from an illness and put up 16 points with six rebounds.
Manu Ginobili (hamstring) will miss 3-4 weeks, capping off a pretty frustrating season for the guy. I pined for him a few times early in the season and I’d probably do it again, since I’m always seeking upside out of waiver wire decisions, but it’s fair to say that owners did better if they simply ignored Manu when he was floating around the wire.
Tim Duncan (knee) and Kawhi Leonard (knee) were both rested last night, and I was concerned enough about Leonard getting another day of rest that I benched him in a weekly league. For a young guy, it’s a bit weird that he’s still getting rest, even if it’s Pop we’re talking about here. Tiago Splitter took advantage with 13 and 11 to go with a steal and block. It's hard to predict consistency for him, but he's well-positioned to hold low-end value.
OKAY EVERYBODY LET'S TAKE A NAP
Kevin Garnett (ankle) would be playing if it were the playoffs, and I get the sense that one day he’ll just surprise everybody by beating his timetable. Can you bet on that? Only if you’re cool with the gamble. Paul Pierce got the same rest for his ankle last night, leaving the Celtics with a skeleton crew. Avery Bradley got back on the board with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and not much else, but with Doc Rivers giving his vets rest he should be a decent bet for low-end value. Jeff Green scored 10 points with seven rebounds and five assists, which seems disappointing these days, and everybody else was pedestrian at best for the Celtics.
LOCKED AND LOADED
Nikola Pekovic returned from an ankle injury to score 29 points with five boards, a steal, and a block, and Andrei Kirilenko finally had a nice game with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. Get AK-47 back into lineups if he wasn't there already.
AMUSEMENT PARK IN ORLANDO
Jameer Nelson (ankle) did not play last night, and he’s like a lot of older guys during silly season – he could play the next time out or be a total wash. I’d try to hang on with the hopes he can turn it around, but in the meantime the Magic are primed for fantasy success. Beno Udrih might have scared away owners before his recent surge, which he kept pursuing to the tune of 17 points, 10 assists and three triples. With Nelson's health a question mark I've been all about gambling that Beno can keep it up. Moe Harkless scored a career-high 28 points and Tobias Harris went for 18 and 11 as these two continue to run wild for Orlando.
FINALLY, THEY SAT
James Harden (foot) and Chandler Parsons (illness) were ruled out a few hours before last night’s game, which probably put owners in a panic when it came to starting them in weekly leagues. Both guys have been in the DNP crosshairs for a bit now, and hopefully the Rockets get them going on Wednesday against the Kings. I rolled the dice on Harden, particularly because he faces some patsies this week. Jeremy Lin went for 19 and 11 with the pattern cleared out for him, and Omer Asik went nuts for 22 and 18. Francisco Garcia started for Parsons and scored 14 points with five assists, four threes and three blocks. I thought he could be intriguing in the Rockets' offense, but being real he'll only have value if both Harden and Parsons continue to miss time.
Byron Mullens (ankle) did not play last night and hopefully owners have moved on in most formats. He showed some promise early in the year, but he’s another guy that has been more trouble than he was worth with all the inconsistency. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did not play due to personal issues, and his inconsistency has also made using him a struggle. I swerved away from Josh McRoberts this week, and he showed me who was boss with eight points, 10 boards, four assists and a steal. He’s certainly worth a look in most formats. Kemba Walker scored 27 points with a full line in the Bobcats’ loss to the Bucks.
Larry Sanders has been relatively quiet lately but he went huge last night with a career-high 24 points and 13 boards. He didn’t have a block for the second game in a row, but if he’s going to beast like that owners will take it. The blocks will obviously come around. J.J. Redick made an appearance with 20 points, but he’s still only a 3-point specialist. Mike Dunleavy scored 15 points with seven assists, and he's in the same boat as Redick but with a bit better balance in the box. Brandon Jennings hit just 6-of-15 shots, but finishing with 19 points, six assists, and four treys at least Doc isn't going through convulsions anymore.
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) did not travel to Utah for last night’s game, which makes sense when you consider the Blazers are basically out of the playoff chase and they have a five-game homestand starting on Wednesday. Meyers Leonard wasn't quite as good as this weekend, but he did the trick with 12 points, seven boards, three assists and a block in 41 minutes. He's showing some consistency lately when given a heavy workload, but a return by Aldridge could muddle that equation. Damian Lillard played through shoulder pain and finished with 17 points and a full stat line.
WHO'D HAVE THUNK
Derrick Favors is starting to flirt with bigger lines more frequently, and last night he posted 18 points with seven boards and a steal. Mo Williams went for 20 and nine with six 3-pointers, and the Jazz have unsurprisingly righted the ship after realizing that Al Jefferson works much better later in the shot clock. Go figure.
I SAID A HIB-HOP, A HIB-HIB-HOP AND HE WON'T STOP
Yes, the lack of oxygen in this cabin and this old dude refusing to give me elbow room on the plane have made me resort to really bad rap puns. But hey why not, as Roy Hibbert's late season turnaround continued last night when he went for 26 and 10 with a steal and block, and Paul George went for 23 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, a block and two threes. Geez. David West joined the fun scoring 16 points with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block in 36 minutes. It looks like the rest accomplished its goal, and West should be locked into lineups.
LIMPING TO THE FINISH
Blake Griffin brought his calf injury into last night’s game and did well to score 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and a steal. It’s not ideal, but at this time of year owners should just be glad he’s playing through it. Matt Barnes is dealing with an ankle injury and he put up another pedestrian line of eight points on 3-of-4 shooting with two threes, five boards and an assist in 27 minutes and that was it. He’s somebody you can drop for a hot free agent. Jamal Crawford got his name called with 25 points in the loss.
NEWS AND NOTES
Ty Lawson’s owners got horrible news yesterday when George Karl said he hoped Lawson could return “in a couple of weeks.” I’ve had a lingering concern for the past two years that Lawson’s nagging injuries would catch up with him, and this one has him on the cut list unless you’re trying to grind a game or two out of him in a Roto league. Even then, I still wouldn’t hesitate to find greener pastures.
Joe Johnson (heel) hopes to play on Wednesday but didn’t sound totally convincing, but at least owners will get an update today. C.J. Watson proceeded to make noise once I finally forbid myself to say his name, but he’s still just a desperation play.
TUESDAY TUESDAY TUESDAY!
CHI @ WAS: Bradley Beal (ankle) reported no pain after his surprising and effective return to action on Sunday. I somehow scooped him up in a deeper big money league that I’m trying to win, so needless to say I’m ecstatic. He still has to hold up his end of the bargain, but regardless he’s a must-start player for the aggressive fantasy owner. Nene (knee) hopes to play limited minutes tonight, but it sure looks like his season will grind to a halt. Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin are worth watching, but still aren’t must-grab players until they can fully prove themselves.
NY @ MIA: The Heat are going to take a day-to-day approach with their Big Three going forward. To get it out of the way I don’t care if players are rested intentionally, but I understand complaints from people paying to go see the stars. I have put absolutely zero thought into this, but Frank Isola had an interesting strategy the league could use. If a team is up on another team by 10 regular season games, then they would host all but Games 3 & 4. This gives the top teams incentive to keep playing. While we’re BSing here, I also like the idea that top seeds get to pick their opponents. That would make for one interesting TNT special. Owners simply have to watch the reports and see if they can get an angle on these guys. Otherwise, there won’t be that much science to it.
Tyson Chandler (neck) is questionable for tonight and having plenty of neck and back issues of my own, I can only imagine what it’s like to deal with that as a professional athlete. I also know that they can come and go or linger with no real rhyme or reason. I gambled on him in a weekly league that I don’t have a whole lot riding on, but needless to say I felt there was at least a chance for him to return.
DAL @ LAL: Steve Nash (hamstring) is doubtful for tonight after missing practice yesterday. Steve Blake is a viable spot-start if Nash doesn’t go. I’d try to hold onto Nash if I can, but he’s not a must-own player at this stage of the game. O.J. Mayo’s disappearance is more than just Dirk’s arrival, but some combination of injury issues and a loss of confidence. He practiced fully yesterday and hopefully his (non-shooting) shoulder injury disappears faster than Mayo has recently.