Here are a few things we learned about fantasy hoops over the weekend, excluding the ones that are documented in this week’s Waiver Wired column. I am in pretty good spirits this morning as a Jamaal Charles owner, and will face Rotoworld hockey writer and No. 1 seed Kevin Brown in the finals of our football league next weekend. I also own a lot of Falcons, and could potentially play six of my nine players on Monday night, which is a little enticing and scary, especially since Atlanta is at San Francisco. And for those of you who own Jam Charles and lost, I’m really sorry. Hopefully you’ll have better luck on the hoops side of things.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here's the FanDuel link. My early lineup is Jameer Nelson, Deron Williams, Rodney Stuckey, a struggling Alec Burks, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson (yikes), Kevin Love, Amare Stoudemire and Nikola Pekovic, but I can see it changing a few times before the games start.
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Games Played For Week 8
4 Games: BOS, CHA, CHI, DET, IND, LAC, LAL, MIN, OKC, SAS, SAC, UTA
3 Games: ATL, BRK, CLE, DAL, DEN, GSW, HOU, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHI, PHX, POR, TOR, WAS
Tim Duncan plays hide and seek with Gregg Popovich
I went on a preemptive strike against Gregg Popovich and the Spurs on Friday night, predicting that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were likely to sit out Saturday’s game against the Jazz, and posting it on Rotoworld as a headline. However, that turned out to be a bad move, as Pop once again juked fantasyland by playing his old guys, even though the Spurs were: A. Playing the Jazz, who have won just six games this season. B. Were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. C. Were playing for the fourth time in five nights. If there was a perfect time for Pop to ‘pop’ his guys, it was Saturday. My skepticism about the old dudes playing Saturday was apparently justified by Duncan’s comments the following day about hiding from Popovich so he couldn’t tell him he wasn't going to play Saturday. “I just don't look him in the eyes,” Duncan said. “Every time he starts walking towards me, I run away. As long as I can keep that up, he can't tell me I'm sitting out. I just hide from him, basically.” And in case you haven’t been paying attention, Duncan is rocking out right now, posting big double-doubles in three straight games.
Which leads us to Monday night, when the Spurs visit the Clippers. San Antonio is 19-4, meaning they’re not exactly desperate for a win, and Popovich could be ready to pull a fast one tonight, as he seems to enjoy sitting his guys against good teams. There’s no doubt that Duncan, Parker and Ginobili could use a break and the Spurs seem to win no matter who they throw out on the court. By benching his studs, Pop could get a huge mental victory against a top rival in the West, while not allowing Doc Rivers to see his team at full strength. I’m not going to go so far as to predict that Pop will start a D-League squad against the Clips tonight, but if it happens, I will just sit back and chuckle. It was a little over a year ago that he sent his stars home from Miami, ruining a Thursday night TNT bonanza, but at least that game was the second of a back-to-back and the fourth game in five nights for the Spurs. Go ahead and put your Spurs in your lineup for tonight’s big game, but do yourself a favor and keep an eye on the Rotoworld news feed throughout the day, just in case. (Shout out to Jed Jones for the inspiration for this Duncan rant).
Lou Williams can still play
Sweet Lou went off for 27 points and six 3-pointers on against the Knicks, who actually got a road win in Atlanta. Of course, it took the Hawks turning the ball over 27 times for it to happen, but a win is a win. As for Williams, it looks a bit fluky to me, although we can’t ignore the fact his minutes restriction has been lifted, his playing time is on the rise and he should have more confidence after Saturday’s explosion. I forgot to include him in Waiver Wired, but if there was ever a time to pick up Williams, now is that time.
Pablo Prigioni could be starting for a while
With Raymond Felton out for the Knicks for at least a couple more weeks due to a hamstring injury, point guard Pablo Prigioni should continue to start and log heavy minutes in New York. He hasn’t exactly been killing it thus far, but hit 4-of-8 shots for a season-high 11 points to go along with six assists, four steals and three 3-pointers against the Hawks. Prigioni isn't likely to score a lot of points for the Knicks, but he could be a sneaky point guard to add off waivers if you’re looking for one. There's also a new report on Monday morning that Prigioni could keep the job even when Felton returns, which takes him from a nice-add status, to nearly a must-add.
Kobe Bryant could qualify at point guard
Kobe Bryant is going to play plenty of point guard over the next few weeks with Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all hurting for the Lakers. Nash and Farmar appear to be on the road to recovery, but I’m not sure we’ll see either of them until the new year. And that means that good ol’ Kobe is going to be running the point for the Lakers. Some leagues require five starts before giving a player eligibility, while others require 10. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t an “eligibility guru” overseeing the whole thing, so some players will get the extra position when it’s due, while others won’t. But Kobe’s high profile should mean that he’ll gain eligibility as soon as he meets the requirements in all leagues, and if he doesn’t, I will bug people until it happens. And in case you were wondering if he can actually play point guard, Bryant is averaging 12.5 points and 10.5 assists over his last two games, and looks great for someone who had Achilles surgery eight months ago.
Mike Shanahan and J.R. Smith have a lot in common
Mike Shanahan is apparently trying to get himself fired as quickly as possible. It’s going to happen at some point, but after the whole RGIII debacle and then going for the two-point conversion instead of overtime in Atlanta on Sunday, he may not make it to the end of the season. The basketball version of Shanahan has become J.R. Smith, who looks like he’s trying to get coach Mike Woodson fired. Smith’s fairy tale story from last season, when he played like a good solider (and shot just 42 percent) before being named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, is a distant memory for the Knicks and their fans. Since then, he disappeared in the playoffs, failed to mention he’d need knee surgery until after he signed a three-year, $18 million extension in New York, and hasn’t done anything of note that didn’t involve cars, social media or ‘pipe.’
Smith’s latest antics include a standoff/confrontation with Woodson that resulted in him taking just one shot in Friday’s game (which he missed), backed up with a 1-of-8 performance on Saturday, despite the fact Woodson decided it was a good idea to put him in the starting lineup that night. Smith is shooting a disastrous 33 percent on the season and has hit just nine of his last 36 shots, which is good for 25 percent. If you want to drop him, it makes sense, as he hasn’t done anything fantasy relevant all season long, and could end up in the doghouse for an extended period of time if something doesn’t change soon. If there was a worse signing by the Knicks in recent memory, I’d like to hear about it. Oh wait, Isiah Thomas loved him some Eddy Curry, didn’t he? For more light reading about Smith’s antics, check this out.
Josh Smith can still play basketball
After a slow start to the season, Josh Smith blew up for a season-high 31 points on Sunday, to go along with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and no 3-pointers. He hit 13-of-17 shots and attempted just two 3-pointers, which could be becoming a trend. He’s attempting a ridiculous 4.2 3-pointers per game on the season, but has tried just three of them over his last two games. Part of the reason that he’s shooting just 40 percent on the season (which includes last night’s near perfection) is that he is throwing up so many bad shots from downtown. Maybe Mo Cheeks finally got through to him and convinced him that taking four or five 3-pointers a night is a bad business model. And if Cheeks has persuaded him to stop chucking, now is probably a good time to target Smith in a trade, as he could start putting up fun stat lines on a nightly basis going forward. On a side note, I’m really looking forward to the new Stephen Malkmus record, out Jan. 7, that includes a song titled J Smoov.
For the entire injury report, click here.
Michael Carter-Williams has missed six straight games due to a knee infection and unless we get good news, he should be benched in weekly leagues. The Sixers are at Brooklyn tonight and there’s still a chance MCW could play in that one, but I’m not holding my breath. Nor am I starting him in any of the leagues I own him in, which is, unfortunately, a lot. Tony Wroten remains a must-start player any time MCW is out, and could end up playing heavy minutes at shooting guard once Carter-Williams is back. Wroten is as must-own as they come right now.
Glen Davis dislocated his left shoulder on Sunday night, but played through it and said “I’ll be all right.” I’ll be surprised if he sits out tonight against the Bulls.
Brook Lopez skipped Sunday’s practice with his bum ankle, leaving him quite iffy for tonight’s game. He is now expected to play, which will hurt the chances of Andray Blatche staying as hot as he has been. Joe Johnson also missed practice with an illness and is questionable as well.
Rajon Rondo (knee surgery) has returned to practice for the Celtics, but it doesn’t sound like we’ll see him in uniform until 2014.
Kirk Hinrich missed Saturday’s game with a back injury, leaving him iffy for Monday night.
Dirk Nowitzki was out on Saturday with an illness and the Mavs are also off until Wednesday, which is good news for his probability in that one.
Andre Iguodala says he’ll be back “really soon,” but still doesn’t have a target date. Bench him until we have one, and keep playing Harrison Barnes until Iguodala is back from his hamstring injury.
Kevin Martin (knee), James Harden (ankle), Jeremy Lin (back), Terrence Jones (flu), Mike Conley (thigh), Danny Granger (calf) and Tyreke Evans (ankle) are all on the injury report, so be sure to check it out and watch for news throughout the day before setting your lineup.