Don’t blink – it’s already Week 4 and it seems like just yesterday we were pouring over draft guides and the like. There are 13 games on the slate for Big Wednesday and with just five games tonight, we get to do a full review of nearly every fantasy worthy guy going into the big night.
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HEY WHERE’D YOU GO?
The Wolves have been a very stable fantasy team but Ricky Rubio has been a bit frustrating for his tendency to disappear at times, which was the case last night when some early fouls and a serviceable J.J. Barea (12 points, 5-of-10 FGs, seven assists) caused Rick Adelman to sit him down the stretch.
Rubio still put up 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds and two assists, but he did not have a steal and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to learn of an injury in the coming days. His shooting and field goal attempts have always come and gone, but the zero steals even in limited minutes are a red flag that maybe something isn’t right. As for Rubio’s fantasy value, get him while you can in any buy low deal. He’s still a top 30-45 value on the season (8/9 cat) and his perceived woes are much greater than the reality.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $80,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the link.
Kevin Martin’s 4-of-17 shooting line are also a reflection of what things will look like in Minnesota when the machine isn’t properly oiled, but he still turned in 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal to go with his lone 3-pointer on the night. He’s a top 12-24 value on the year (9/8) and while I don’t see him slowing down by much, his high volume 91.3 percent free throw shooting is a bit high when considering career norms, as is his rebounding (3.7) and steals (1.4) production. These numbers aren’t so outlandish that I’m guaranteeing major regressions, though, and the only reason owners should be selling high here is his overall injury risk. I’d only discount him by a round in such a deal or two rounds for a guy with an up arrow next to his name.
There’s not a lot of love for Corey Brewer (16 points, four boards, four steals, 35 minutes) in our blurbs but I can’t see why with solid late mid-round value for Brewer on the year. Chase Budinger’s return will likely shift him to a late-round value better suited for 9-cat leagues, but we need to see Air Bud perform before writing that in stone and until we get to that bridge, owners should give Brewer consideration in starting lineups.
THE BEAL DEAL
It feels like Bradley Beal is worth a whole lot more than he’s actually worth, with outings like last night’s 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting seemingly every other night, but his high-volume field goal percentage (41.5% on 18.8 FGAs/gm) has only recently gotten out of the cellar. He’s a top-60 value on the year and some of his numbers are outstanding, as he is averaging 40 minutes per game to go with 20.7 points, 2.7 treys, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and an also rising 77.4 percent mark from the line.
It begs the question of how much he can improve when most of his counting stats are at least in the ballpark of projected amounts, while he also sports a 45.8 percent mark from deep that could easily regress. To become the upside guy owners envisioned he’ll need to continue to increase his field goal attempts – no easy feat on a team that is decently stocked with options – but with injury risks everywhere it’s probably in his future. I don’t know if owners can parlay his current underwhelming value into a buy low deal that escapes his name value, while also providing proper ROI under these constraints.
John Wall made up for a poor 5-of-17 shooting night to finish with 14 points, five rebounds, two steals, one block and a career-high tying 16 assists. His 35.7 percent field goal shooting on the year is guaranteed to get back on track, even if three additional 3-point attempts per game so far this season will keep him closer to 40 percent than last year’s 44 percent if continues to let it fly. His blocks (0.4) are down from his usual 0.8-0.9 per game and his free throw shooting (86%) is up by six points over last year, and my guess is that he splits the difference there in terms of regression. This leaves the eventual improvement in field goal shooting to move his current third round value into the first or second rounds. Plan accordingly.
Nene (20 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) should be in lineups whenever he’s healthy and owners should have a long-term policy of trying to move him for equal value in any deal, trying to get out from his injury risk.
Martell Webster has really done a bang-up job of revitalizing his career after being left for dead in Minnesota, and last night he put up 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (including five threes) to go with nine rebounds and a block in 43 minutes. He was a solid late round value while a healthy Trevor Ariza was blasting away expectations, so don’t toss Webster away preemptively whenever Ariza returns. Al Harrington’s knee issues (and touches) could go directly into Webster’s bucket as Little Al’s season is already in doubt.
The Knicks found themselves without Raymond Felton (hip, hamstring) and Metta World Peace (knee) in last night’s loss to the Pistons, so Beno Udrih started at point guard and the team unraveled from there. Outspoken Knicks beat writer Frank Isola has been full of great commentary so far on what is going on, and I wish I had listened to him when setting my FanDuel lineup as he mentioned that Udrih is woefully out of shape. That’s what owners got – zero points on 0-for-3 shooting with four assists in 18 minutes. Beno looked bad in the preseason but I had hoped that was just a passing phase, and apparently it isn’t.
Isola also commented the other day that Felton doesn’t want to be traded and that his current injury is essentially a way to deter teams from being interested in him, which is a circus-level situation just piling onto the Knicks’ woes. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and seven turnovers, and he’s either going to convert a plethora of available touches into serious fantasy dominance – or he’s going to start making plans for next season, whether that’s in New York or not.
Andrea Bargnani scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting with six rebounds and a block, and he has shaped up to be a nice late mid-round value. I’ll have missed the boat on that but I’m still not losing sleep over it, as he has to both stay healthy and manage to keep his efficiency intact amidst some tough times ahead. And when Tyson Chandler returns, all bets are off, but for now he’s worth consideration in your lineup.
J.R. Smith hit 7-of-15 shots (2-of-9 from deep) for 18 points with two assists and a steal in 34 minutes, and with a 27.9 percent mark from the field over his last five games he’s barely in the top-200 in that span. He’s going to get that number fixed and he profiles as a late-round value with some mid-round upside if things fall apart in NY and he’s one of the last guys standing.
Pablo Prigioni (eight points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, two threes, 23 minutes) is the guy owners want to take a close look at right now while Felton and MWP are out, and while he has plenty of issues he has been playing better than his playing time indicates. Tim Hardaway Jr. (zero points, 11 minutes) hasn’t been able to take the leap with all the available minutes, but he could be a guy to watch later in the year if the Knicks throw in the towel.
World Peace is possibly returning tonight and he hasn’t been useful lately due to his knee, not to mention the death of his sister, but he still has late-round value on the year and as long as he’s healthy he should be called upon to hold the line.
SICK TO HIS STOMACH
Rookie shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has probably been in the back of owners’ minds as they constantly sift for the next best thing in fantasy leagues, and he hit three treys on 4-of-12 shooting for 13 points, four rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes. I don’t know what we can expect out of Chauncey Billups going forward, if anything, but it’s still a bit early to ring the bell for KCP since Brandon Jennings’ stomach woes helped contribute to his numbers last night. Jennings hit just 1-of-3 shots for two points, seven assists and a block in 27 minutes, and with plenty of options in Detroit to limit his upside KCP is just a deep league stash right now.
Andre Drummond double-doubled with 13 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and three blocks on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, but true to form he hit just 1-of-5 freebies. Even with his 17.6 percent foul shooting on the year (yes you read that right), he’s a top 15-30 value in fantasy leagues (9/8 cat) on the season. That’s crazy.
Rodney Stuckey also picked up the slack for Jennings with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, five assists, one steal and a perfect five free throw attempts, and he’s been about as solid as owners can expect a late-round value to be. Don’t hesitate to pick him up, though a return of Will Bynum to 15-20 minutes in the rotation could be a drag to his value eventually.
LACK OF FIREPOWER
The Hawks/Heat game felt like a preseason match when it was announced that Paul Millsap (elbow) wasn’t traveling with the team for their one-game trip and then the Heat decided to rest Dwyane Wade. Millsap will be questionable for tonight’s game against the Pistons but if you’re looking for silver linings it would make sense not to send him with the team when they’re simply turning around and coming home.
While it might seem like the absence of such a big cog in Millsap would have spurred his teammates into producing more, the result was a lack of firepower that hurt everybody across the board for the most part. Jeff Teague (nine points, seven assists, 4-of-13 FGs) continued to struggle with his efficiency and did not make it to the foul line, Al Horford (12 points, seven rebounds) had seven turnovers, DeMarre Carroll (eight points, two steals, one block, two threes) played just 23 minutes, and Cartier Martin was unable to capitalize on Lou Williams’ planned absence with just five points in 20 minutes.
Mike Scott came through with 15 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a three in 28 minutes off the bench, and while he’s buried in the rotation right now he is a guy that owners will want to be ready for if anything serious ever happens to Millsap or Horford. These types of lines aren’t out of left field.
Likewise, without Dwyane Wade (rest) the Heat slogged their way to a win, with Mario Chalmers (14 points, three treys, three boards, four assists, three steals) and Chris Bosh (19 points, 8-of-9 FGs, five boards, one steal, one block, one three) leading the way. Chalmers is a top-50 play this season and there’s no reason to think he can’t stay in that ballpark. LeBron James was extremely quiet with just 13 points, six rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 31 minutes, and as I said last week this is your best and only time this year to make a play at him in a trade.
Ray Allen hit 5-of-10 shots for 17 points and three treys, and Norris Cole picked up some minutes and made the most of them with eight points, five rebounds and nine assists in 25 ticks. Michael Beasley (six points, five boards, one block, 17 minutes) is a long way from being worth fantasy consideration, but the team is working on rebuilding him and if the light bulb turns on he profiles well as the team’s fourth option on offense. Whether that can translate into fantasy value is anybody’s guess, as is which peripheral player will step up on any night one of the Big Three is out.
The Celtics got absolutely annihilated last night by the Rockets, which was pretty easy to see when considering their offense is catalyzed by Jordan Crawford and he was set to go up against Patrick Beverley. Crawford hit just 1-of-8 shots for six points, four assists, two steals and a three in 23 minutes, and like most of his teammates they were simply trying not to set records for futility after taking a 31-point deficit into the final frame.
I wish I had been more forceful about my concerns with Jeff Green, but images of some of his late-season games last year had me giving him too much benefit of the doubt. He just doesn’t have many (any?) go-to moves, he struggles to create for himself, and we knew of middle-of-the-road production while he got heavy minutes in OKC.
So even though my gut told me otherwise, I had Green all the way up at No. 40/44 in my preseason rankings (8/9 cat). Always go with your gut. I don’t think he’s suddenly going to become the guy that owners thought they were drafting, even if he’s all-but guaranteed to bounce back and approach mid-round value when he gets it all together (i.e. when Rajon Rondo returns). He’s a very good buy low target if you keep your expectations in check.
As for Crawford owners should simply look past this game and consider it a part of a worrisome trend rather than the end-all statement about his value. Beverley is an elite defender (yes you read that right), and with nobody else around to take the pressure off Crawford got gloved up.
Vitor Faverani drew the start, or blew the start depending on where you stand, putting up five points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes. Kelly Olynyk hit just 4-of-11 shots (including a three) for nine points, eight boards, three steals and a block in 22 minutes of garbage time, but this is a situation to avoid until one of them shows clear separation – not sooner.
Jared Sullinger looked like Big Baby diving into photographers for a loose ball, which is a backhanded way of saying he’s overweight, but he continued to defy that issue with 10 points, nine rebounds and a three in 22 minutes. I like how the Celtics need him to be good for them to be good, but his inconsistency is going to be tough to swallow in standard leagues. Consider him a stash in those formats.
BIG MONEY PICKUP
I’m really mad at myself for waiting an extra week to pick up Terrence Jones in a pair of big money leagues in which we do weekly FAAB runs. I knew better and I probably cost myself $389 in one league by being late, as I bid $390 of my $1,000 to get Jones, painfully reading my preseason notes that compared him to something in the ballpark of a prior Andrei Kirilenko or current Josh Smith in a best case scenario.
While there has been talk of upgrading the power forward position by trading away Omer Asik, look for the Rockets to look at any deals on their own terms knowing they have the guy they want in Jones excelling right now. He fits what they’re doing tremendously. He’s mobile but still has girth and he can defend threes, fours and small fives. He can run the court, block shots and most importantly hit the three.
Jones went out and backed all of those thoughts up with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, nine rebounds, two blocks and a triple for good measure. It came against a reeling Boston squad, but it’s this type of versatility that made me set his upside at top 25-40 value (9/8 cat) in a 30 mpg role before he disappeared in the preseason. It’s still too early to say that Kevin McHale is going to lock him into all that fantasy goodness, but last night’s play and Omer Asik’s six minutes upon return was a good first step in that direction.
The other guy that I spent a ton of time looking at this offseason, Patrick Beverley, finally got his offensive game going with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and two threes before turning in an early night in the blowout (23 minutes). While he didn’t have a steal or block last night that’s not going to be a problem for him going forward, but the offense is going to be spotty while the team is hitting on all cylinders elsewhere. I would not have dropped him after he returned early from a rib injury and struggled, but if he was dropped you should go run and pick him up. As I said last week, the best is yet to come.
The rest of the box score can be disregarded in this garbage-time mess.
Eric Bledsoe (shin) went all the way down to the wire and was eventually ruled out of last night’s game, leaving Phoenix to play entirely though Goran Dragic (10 points, 3-of-9 FGs, eight assists, two steals, seven turnovers, 35 minutes), even if Dragic’s stat line didn’t show it. Bledsoe heads back to Phoenix for the second half of the home-and-home series as questionable for tonight’s game, and it’s a decent sign that he seemingly had a shot of playing last night.
Gerald Green was pretty darn good last night with 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting, four treys, three boards, four assists, one steal, two blocks and a 7-of-8 mark from the foul line in 35 minutes. He’s leaking out on the break with good timing and anytime one of the two-headed point guard attack is out he’s proving to be money in the bank. When they’re both in tow, it’s still a crapshoot as to whether or not he’ll produce, but with each strong outing he’s making his case to Jeff Hornacek and that’s all we can ask of him at this point.
Channing Frye got off against the Kings’ poor transition defense, hitting 7-of-13 shots (including three triples) with nine rebounds and a block in 30 minutes. Surely the Kings’ problems and struggles at power forward played into this outlier performance, but owners should keep a close eye on Frye in his next game (also against the Kings) to see if he can follow it up. Markieff Morris turned back the clock with five fouls in 11 minutes, and everybody may need to put the cork back into last week’s champagne if consistency is going to become an issue again. And no, I’m not dropping him in a standard 12-team league just yet.
Marcus Morris picked up his brother’s slack with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, two threes, three boards and a 5-of-5 mark from the foul line. He has played his way into a relatively consistent late-round value this season so give him consideration as a pickup in standard formats.
Archie Goodwin finally joined the party with Bledsoe out, scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in 19 minutes off the bench. He needs an injury in front of him to matter in fantasy leagues, but it was good to see the coma-level sleeper wake up for a night.
The Kings game was really hard to watch and equally as hard to write about, if anything because there is so much of the same crap going on from a player/personnel standpoint, while the whole operation is tinged by chance. At least half the team can’t shake the bad habits of the past administration, and whoever is on the court when those multiple issues present themselves can go in the tank pretty quick, leading to jumpy value for anybody not named DeMarcus or Isaiah.
For all their troubles last night the Kings did emerge with some positives, though, including a win after playing horribly for two straight quarters in the middle of the game. The biggest positive was the career-high 19 points, five rebounds, four treys and a steal for rookie Ben McLemore in his 34 minutes. He’s a highlight waiting to happen, and when the game slows down for him he will be an impact player in the league on both sides of the floor. Perhaps the best news for Kings fans is that he’s already a team leader in terms of energy, and he’s making mistakes right now that you can live with for a rookie.
In fantasy leagues, he should be owned in all formats where stashing players is a viable strategy, even if things will be bumpy early on. Whether it’s down the stretch or much, much sooner – the Kings are going to give him every opportunity to step up like this.
Isaiah Thomas (19 points, 6-of-12 FGs, three assists) had his worst game of the year in my opinion, because he could have squashed Greivis Vasquez (11 points, six dimes) in the position battle and he didn’t. Thomas had some bad lapses in concentration, giving up 3-4 turnovers that simply didn’t need to happen. He was otherwise solid and completely changed the defensive dynamic, as Goran Dragic walked all over Vasquez and was forced to turn elsewhere when Thomas was on the floor. Mike Malone yanked Thomas after two bad turnovers in the first half, but rode him from midway through the third quarter to the end of the game.
Cousins popped his left shoulder out of place temporarily and that’s something to watch not just this year but for the rest of his career, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of offseason surgery down the road. For now the injury is in the nuisance category and he played through it to the tune of 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks. I still like what I’m seeing out of him on the whole, even if I could probably rattle off 10 things I’d like to see him start or stop doing in less than 10 seconds. Add it all up and the arrow is zigzagging all over the place but slowly pointing up.
The other positive was the play of Travis Outlaw (four points, nine rebounds, 18 minutes), and between he and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (four points, seven rebounds, two steals, 27 minutes) I think the Kings have a patchwork solution at small forward they can get by on. Anything to get John Salmons out of the lineup.
Outlaw is the guy for deep league owners to watch, as a confident Outlaw can hit some threes, score and provide some random bonus stats as he goes. Jimmer Fredette was the other positive, though it’s purely in the sense that he actually got on the floor and did some things. He’s still miles away from fantasy relevance, but knowing that he can take Marcus Thornton’s (DNP) place in the rotation on any given night kills the latter’s value.
TODAY IN KOBE
We were able to get some film of Kobe working out in practice yesterday and he looked pretty darn close to returning, and owners may as well consider him a possibility to play in any game going forward – even if it seems optimistic that he plays on Friday against the Warriors.
Kobe’s eventual return will move Steve Blake out of difference-maker status, even with Steve Nash looking like he’s on his way out of the association with each passing day. Kobe’s return will also send shockwaves throughout the lineup if he’s anywhere close to prior form, as he’ll demand heavy touches on a squad desperately needing a floor leader.
How far will the impact travel? The biggest question mark will be Jordan Hill, and not because I don’t think he should be on the floor for his current 30 minutes per game. He should. But Mike D’Antoni needs only a bad slice of pizza the night before to change his rotations. With Hill’s durability a question mark, it’s probably a good time to look at a sell-high deal even though owners will want to be a tiny bit picky in how they go about it. It will take a slide out of Hill for the media to let D’Antoni get away with a role reduction. Meanwhile, if you can get anything in the middle rounds I think it’s an easy call and returning a nicely positioned late-round value is also an aggressive play that could pay off.
I GOT YOUR JIMMY
Jimmy Butler (toe) didn’t practice yesterday and he was scheduled to get an MRI which isn’t exactly Hendrix to owners’ ears. The MRI report also came after it was reported that Butler expected to play on Thursday, so it’s unclear if Butler or the team had second thoughts. Kirk Hinrich would be worth a hard look in standard leagues as a spot-play and ultimately as a short-term play if Butler were to be sidelined beyond that. Mike Dunleavy is your deep league special behind Hinrich, though he comes with no guarantees.
BKY @ CHA: The Nets are on suicide alert after their last loss, but I can’t help but wonder if all of this will seem silly when the group of aging vets stops treating the first month of this campaign as their own personal preseason. That’s not to say the concerns aren’t warranted – guys look bad and Jason Kidd looks out of his element – as he sat one of his better-performing players down the stretch on Monday in Shaun Livingston for no justifiable reason.
It also looks like Deron Williams (ankle) was spurred into action by the recent events, and he expects to play tonight which puts owners that started Livingston in weekly leagues in a bad spot. There is also the concern that Williams is coming back too soon in response to all of the team-wide criticism, and with Livingston playing great basketball it’s certainly worth giving the comeback player a game or two to see how things play out.
Brook Lopez said he feels good enough to play but we’ll see if that gets him on the floor, and Andrei Kirilenko is still a few days away from getting a “green light” to play. After such a public loss, where players didn’t even talk with the media after Monday’s game, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Nets come out and lay the wood on Charlotte.
I’m not going to pile on Al Jefferson owners by belaboring the obvious – his ankles were an issue last year and this year’s early injury has him doubtful by recent reports for tonight. The report that he has an arthritic condition dating back to when he was six years old sounds like overkill but it’s obviously something to watch, and Josh McRoberts will continue to do Charlie Work until Big Al can get on the court.
TOR @ PHI: Kyle Lowry says he’s still struggling with his finger splint, but owners need to get all of their fantasy-worthy Raptors going in tonight’s playground tilt. If the Raptors were smart they’d pound Jonas Valanciunas relentlessly in an attempt to foul out Spencer Hawes, but owners can’t bet on that happening because that play has been thrown out of the Raps’ playbook.
We don’t have a recent update on Michael Carter-Williams’ (foot) status, so he’s simply questionable for tonight, but I think you have to roll Tony Wroten out there one way or another. He’s only a late-round value right now because of his poor shooting, but the potential for a big night will exist until MCW proves he’s healthy enough to set Wroten aside. It’s still too early to gauge if Wroten can hold his value when MCW returns, but he’s intriguing enough to hold and find out.
WAS @ CLE: Trevor Ariza (hamstring) is questionable for tonight, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he sat out. Dion Waiters is expected to come off the bench tonight, as he and Kyrie Irving are getting pounded by expectations. Waiters has plenty of talent but he needs to bring a renewed focus to the defensive end before he’s given free run on the offensive end, and from there he’ll need to address his efficiency before he can truly be counted on by owners. C.J. Miles will start and he’s a desperation spot-start at best. If you’re desperate for a center and Andrew Bynum is on the wire I think you have to take a chance. With all risks considered he has been playing serviceably and could be a stop-gap solution.
MIA @ ORL: So far it seems like Dwyane Wade will go but as usual be glued to our player news page until we get an answer. Glen Davis (foot) and Tobias Harris (ankle) started practicing even if their timelines are still hazy. Harris should be owned in all formats for his upside potential and we’ll have to see what Davis can do as the Magic have moved on without him. If Wade goes, Miami will have the bodies to make life difficult for Arron Afflalo, who has been out-of-this-world hot lately. And with the aforementioned returns on the horizon, it’s a great time to sell-high. I don’t think Big Baby threatens his value too much, but last year the two clashed in their fight to be the team’s No. 1 scorer. Harris is a much bigger threat to Alf in that regard this season.
IND @ NY: Lance Stephenson (foot) is the only question mark on the Pacers’ side, and he was a difficult weekly start with little to go on around Monday when lineups were due. Get your Pacers fired up against a flailing Knicks squad. Metta World Peace (knee) seems like a better shot to return tonight than Raymond Felton (hip, hamstring), and both are listed as questionable. They get a Pacers squad coming off their first loss that has the personnel to make Carmelo Anthony’s life hell, so look for Indy to throw Paul George on him with help and dare everybody else to beat them.
DET @ ATL: The Pistons bring the status quo into tonight’s game, though owners will want to watch out for reports that Brandon Jennings (illness) is feeling better. If he isn’t, consider benching him after last night’s disaster and bump up the rest of the backcourt in that case.
Lou Williams (knee) will play after taking a predetermined game off last night, and now is the time to grab him for a shot at mid-round upside. There’s no guarantee that he’ll get there after major surgery, but Atlanta is light in the backcourt and Sweet Lou has been consistent when healthy in the past. Paul Millsap’s status is up in the air and Gustavo Ayon didn’t do anything last night, so there’s no real reason to take a chance on him outside of extremely deep leagues if Millsap can’t go. Again, Mike Scott would be the desperation play there.
POR @ MIL: The Blazers are on a seven-game winning streak and the only thing that can stop similar results tonight is if they overlook a banged up Bucks squad. Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) said he’s ready to return tonight and I thought he passed the eye test when he was on the floor, especially considering he was nursing an injury that has caused him to miss all this time. I didn’t pull the trigger on him this week in weekly leagues, and I have this odd feeling he’s going to make me pay for it by stepping into a broken unit and providing an instant lift. Still, by virtue of his absence owners need to proceed with caution.
Caron Butler (shoulder) is probable but could be eased in by Larry Drew to ensure that he doesn’t aggravate the injury, and I’d consider this a wait-and-see moment for owners looking to plug him into a lineup. Brandon Knight (hamstring) is still doubtful and Gary Neal actually left practice yesterday after plantar fasciitis was the case that the Milwaukee trainers gave him. Nate Wolters has been a borderline late-round guy and if he can start shooting better than 37 percent he could cut into Knight’s value whenever the team’s preseason starter gets back on the floor.
UTA @ NO: Trey Burke (finger) will not play tonight by the most recent reports, and though the Jazz need him in the worst way I fear that he’s being setup for unrealistic expectations right off the bat. He struggled in the worst way to start his NBA career before getting injured, but the good news is that he’ll be playing with the ones and that might be enough for him to show something we haven’t seen to date. A lack of steals (0.9 per game in 36.1 mpg) in college and fears over his field goal percentage in the pros are primary concerns he will need to address.
We’ll be on the defensive stat watch for Enes Kanter, who is averaging just 0.9 combined steals (0.1) and blocks (0.8) on the year. Until he gets that worked out he can score and rebound all he wants but his value will continue to be depressed in standard formats. Marvin Williams can’t keep anything going for owners, as he had surgery on Tuesday for a broken nose and he’ll be questionable for tonight and probably for a few days beyond that. If there was ever a game for Alec Burks to bounce back in, it’s tonight with nobody behind the usual suspects in Utah to provide any punch with Williams out.
LAC @ MIN: The Clippers embark in their second of five games this week and find themselves in one of the night’s marquee matchups. The Wolves played last night and the Clips had the night off, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get the upper hand, but on the whole this game is wrought with intriguing matchups. Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio will try to blanket one another, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin get a formidable matchup with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, and role players in J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes will try to outdo Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea. Get your popcorn ready.
BOS @ SA: While I think Patrick Beverley covering the Celtics’ only real backcourt threat in Jordan Crawford was the nail in their coffin last night, a savvy Spurs squad could be just as bad for their health tonight. There’s no telling what direction Brad Stevens will go at center, so deploy Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk at your own risk. Crawford will have better success against Tony Parker, but Jeff Green isn’t getting any favors by lining up across from Kawhi Leonard.
Speaking of Leonard, he continues to be a buy low target as it would still be shocking if he didn’t build on last year’s value when it’s all said and done. Boris Diaw is an interesting guy to watch in standard leagues to see if he can build on his deep league value, and Tiago Splitter could use a good game as bad as anybody these days.
SAC @ PHO: We’ll be eagerly awaiting news on Eric Bledsoe but expect more of the same in Round 2 from last night. The Suns will pick-and-roll Greivis Vasquez to death and look to get Markieff Morris back on track, while DeMarcus Cousins’ shoulder is worth watching, as well as the progress of Ben McLemore and in deeper formats – (gulp) Travis Outlaw.
HOU @ DAL: The Mavs will put up much more resistance against the Rockets than the Celtics did, and Terrence Jones is both built for the matchup against Dirk Nowitzki and also ripe to get schooled by the old man. He’s Houston’s best option there so I wouldn’t expect them to go away from Jones, but he could take a step back if he gets into foul trouble or lets Dirk’s array of step backs and one-leggers get him down.
Patrick Beverley is going to be a tough shake for Jose Calderon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Monta got a taste of him too, but I’d only downgrade the former and not the latter. DeJuan Blair needs to prove his staying power after getting shelved in a small lineup against the Sixers on Monday, and though the Rockets trend toward small and run he’s a good fit against Dwight Howard on the block, especially if Samuel Dalembert gets into foul trouble. The entire Rockets backcourt is upgraded against the Mavs’ light defending counterparts, while Shawn Marion could clamp down on Chandler Parsons and also thrive in this type of up-and-down matchup.
MEM @ GSW: Tony Allen serves his one-game suspension tonight for kicking Chris Paul in Monday’s game, so Mike Miller becomes a bit safer play than he has been recently. My Warriors are doing great and in particular their injury reporting game is in fine form, as they did everything possible to give the impression that Stephen Curry was fine after slamming his head onto the court on Monday. He’ll miss tonight’s game for the mild concussion he received and that means Andre Iguodala will probably have a big night.
If you’re in a deep league give Kent Bazemore a look in a spot-start, while the other fantasy assets still have enough playmaking ability to stay on track while benefiting from the extra touches that Curry leaves behind. In that respect, Harrison Barnes is on the standard league radar as a spot-play, but I’m still not sold on his season-long value given the deficiencies in his fantasy game.