MONDAY 23RD DECEMBER 2013
THE BEST PLAYER EVER, TONIGHT
LeBron James, SF/PF, Miami Heat:
38 points (16/28 FG, 2/6 FT), 4 threes, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 0 turnovers
I think this is The King’s first line of the night, which is remarkable considering the rich vein of form he’s been in this season. The remarkable thing about James is his consistency; he never puts up a dud and always contributes across the board, but you don’t need me to tell you how good he is.
He also did this to Paul Millsap
So much for James only destroying guards.
Honourable Mentions: Gordon Hayward, Tyreke Evans
WAIVER WIRE LINE OF THE NIGHT
Khris Middleton, SF, Milwaukee Bucks (10.9% owned):
19 points (7/14 FG, 2/2 FT), 3 threes, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 1 turnover
Perhaps one of the unsexiest fantasy players, Middleton has been returning top 25 value over the last week and top 90 overall for the season, meaning he absolutely must be owned in every league, unless you’re playing in some mega small six team league. He looks like he is locked into to start, especially with Ersan Ilyasova out and is giving solid value in all nine categories.
Paul Pierce, SF, Brooklyn Nets:
0 points (0/7 FG, 0/0 FT), 0 threes, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers
Pierce had been on fire lately and absolutely killed your team here. Granted, he got a flagrant foul and was ejected from the game and possibly has a suspension in the offing, but in the 15 minutes before he was turfed, he still had two turnovers and managed to miss all seven of his field goal attempts. Don’t take this as a sign to drop him though as he will still be a very valuable player moving forward.
NEWS & NOTES
BUlls SG/SF Jimmy Butler is a chance to return from his sprained ankle in the Christmas Day matchup against the Nets, so remember to activate him in your lineups if that turns out to be the case. In other Bulls news, Luol Deng is also planning on returning on Christmas, so these two moves should bump the value of Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell right down.
James Harden has said that he is likely to give it a go on Christmas, although his ankle is not fully healed, so check closer to game time.
Carmelo Anthony sprained his ankle on Monday and is considered day-to-day and there’s no word on his status for Christmas, but another Knick, Raymond Felton, has a potentially severe groin injury, pushing Beno Udrih back to must own territory.
Celtics PG Rajon Rondo is targeting a late January-early February return, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for him to get back to being himself and if you’re offered him in trade, I definitely wouldn’t be giving up anything of value to get him.
DETROIT PISTONS @ CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
The Cavs continue to look pitiful and the Pistons took full advantage if this. Brandon Jennings had another top shelf game with 21 points, two steals and 13 assists and is currently averaging 8.1 assists for the season, a big jump from his career average. Rodney Stuckey returned and did Rodney Stuckey things, scoring 14 points with a whopping five steals.
Josh Smith had another big night and is cementing himself as the Pistons second scoring option, actually more like a 1A to Jennings’ 1. Andre Drummond will still get his inside, but it’s Greg Monroe who is being left out at the moment and is slightly disappointing fantasy owners. He did have a double double of 11 & 11, but nothing else. If anyone is still holding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, I think it’s time to cut him, as even though he’s starting, the minutes aren’t there as Stuckey and guys like Kyle Singler and Luigi Datome are getting more minutes.
The Cavs got killed and a s result, no one played over 30 minutes. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points with seven assists in a decent game, but no one else excelled at all. Andrew Bynum went missing for zero points with seven rebounds and two blocks and Anderson Varejao also did nothing grabbing only four boards in 18 minutes. Jarret Jack was horrible and I’ve been really low on him all year, so I’d be all for moving on from him in my lineup. He also went scoreless, missing all six of his field goal attempts. Cleveland got thumped that badly that a guy called Carrick Felix even played six minutes. If you own Felix in any leagues (or if you’ve heard of him for that matter) I take my hat off to you.
NEW YORK KNICKS @ ORLANDO MAGIC
As I stated above, the Knicks lost both Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton to injury in this game. Beno Udrih had six assists filling in for Felton and is a must add again. J.R. Smith had a really nice game off the bench, scoring 18 points, with 10 rebounds and two blocks, but still shot a poor percentage. Also shooting poorly was Andrea Bargnani but if you own him, that’s to be expected.
Tyson Chandler had a double double of 10 points, 13 rebounds with two steals and a block and even though he’s not considered a great fantasy player, he is in the top 50 for the season so far, so if by some chance he was dropped in your league, he needs to be owned.
Victor Oladipo is the big story here, playing off the bench and playing terribly. He played only 16 minutes and looked lost, scoring only three points and not much else. It’s a great time to send out a very low buy low offer to his owner, as the Magic are sure to make some kind of move going forward, which will push his minutes back up. In the mean time, you need to just grin and bear it. Arron Afflalo continued his great season with 26 points, five threes, five rebounds and five assists. I was recently ‘discussing’ on Twitter whether Afflalo is more worthy of an All-Star spot than Lance Stephenson. I went with Afflalo, but the other guy didn’t, so obviously not everyone is seeing what Afflalo is doing and might make him available in a trade where you can fleece his owner.
Tobias Harris started again for 14 points and seven rebounds and we are all keeping our fingers crossed he can produce like he did last year, and he is starting to edge toward that. If the Magic would just cut Glen Davis’ minutes, Harris would be ready to explode again. Jameer Nelson almost triple doubled with 17 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists and is quietly playing exceedingly well.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS @ CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
I really like this Bobcats team. Conversely, I despise this Bucks team. That doesn’t, however, stop them from having some fantasy gems on their roster. I’ve already covered Khris Middleton above, but Brandon Knight had another monster line of 26 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists. In his last four games, he is averaging 25 points, 2.8 threes, 8.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists. These are LeBron James type numbers and to think he was on many waiver wires in the first few weeks of the season.
John Henson came off the pine, scoring 14 points, nine rebounds and a massive six blocks. Giannis Antetokounmpo started again, scoring 12 points with two threes and six boards, and absolutely must be owned for the foreseeable future. He is one of the most intriguing and exciting players to come into the NBA in a while.
With Jeff Taylor out for the season and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still ailing with his broken hand, Anthony Tolliver started, but he can be avoided in all but the deepest leagues. Kemba Walker was one rebound shy of a triple double and his hot form continues. Al Jefferson abused the Bucks bigs for 26 points and nine boards.
Gerald Henderson was off his game for only eight points, but did add six assists to salvage his night somewhat.
ATLANTA HAWKS @ MIAMI HEAT
The Hawks were pipped by the Heat in overtime, but the extra frame helped bump a lot of guys’ values. Al Horford and Paul Millsap both had 20/10 games, with Millsap hitting a career high seven threes. Kyle Korver also hit five threes in his 15 points.
Jeff Teague scored 26 points with eight dimes and six boards but continues to be turnover prone with another five. Lou Williams struggled with only nine points and five assists and is definitely not a must own guy in all leagues, even with his explosion a couple of nights ago.
Dwyane Wade sat out again, frustrating his owners to no end. This moved Ray Allen into the starting SG slot, and he responded by scoring 19 points with six boards. Michael Beasley returned from his hamstring strain to play 20 minutes scoring 10 points with seven boards and is a decent guy to own in deeper leagues. Chris Andersen played 25 minutes and put up an impressive line of 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and is an elite source of blocks off the wire. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points, but was inefficient and had five turnovers, but I still maintain he should be owned in most leagues.
INDIANA PACERS @ BROOKLYN NETS
Lance Stephenson backed his third triple double by scoring 26 points with four threes, seven rebounds and five assists and is looking like a legit NBA shooting guard. Danny Granger is no threat to his value, playing only 14 minutes and going scoreless. Paul George was almost identical to Stephenson, grabbing just one rebound less. Roy Hibbert struggled again with only eight points and nine boards.
Jason Terry returned and scored an impressive 11 points in 15 minutes, but he’s not someone to own in really any league. Andray Blatche didn’t start with Brook Lopez out but played 25 minutes off the bench for 11 points and seven rebounds and one steal. Kevin Garnett scored 12 points in 18 minutes with five rebounds. Joe Johnson returned and scored 17 points on impressive shooting.
DALLAS MAVERICKS @ HOUSTON ROCKETS
The Dallas centre carousel continued, this time with Samuel Dalembert starting and playing 28 minutes, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and three steals. Monta Ellis scored 18 points and had five assists and boards, but shot abysmally, hitting 4-of-16 from the field. Dirk Nowitzki was at his dominant best with 31 points, six boards and two blocks and is really back to close to his best form.
With both James Harden and Patrick Beverley out injured, Jeremy Lin and Francisco Garcia started in the backcourt. Lin had 20 points but not much else, while Garcia only scored three points but added six assists. Aaron Brooks took advantage of the extra minutes, playing 27 minutes for 18 points, four threes and five dimes. Terrence Jones had 10 points and four boards and has dropped right off, but still has the potential to get his production going again.
UTAH JAZZ @ MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Gordon Hayward was another guy who came perilously close to a triple double, ending up with 16 points, 11 boards and nine dimes. Off the bench Alec Burks and Enes Kanter both struggled playing less than 20 minutes each. Burks is the best option of the two though. Richard Jefferson had 18 points with six boards, but that is hardly a sustainable performance.
James Johnson started again at SF and had a nice multi cat line with nine points, five boards, two dimes, a steal and four blocks. He is goo short term value for deeper leagues, maybe 14 teamers. Zach Randolph handed out seven assists to go with his 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Miller hit three threes in 17 minutes off the bench. Mike Conley struggled shooting, but did add five assists and four steals. The Jon Leuer hype train has run out of coal, playing 19 minutes but adding 11 points. I wouldn’t be holding him in 10 or 12 team leagues.
TORONTO RAPTORS @ SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Terrence Ross returned to some relevance with 23 points and three threes, but this is not going to be a regular occurrence it doesn’t seem, so I wouldn’t make any hasty moves to get him. A guy who will keep doing this however is Kyle Lowry. Lowry also had 23 points with nine assists and has been destroying teams since Rudy Gay left town.
Jonas Valanciuas had three blocks with 10 points and nine rebounds and is looking a lot better now and Amir Johnson was a little quiet with only seven points and eight boards, but had two blocks.
Manu Ginobili scored 18 in 24 minutes with two steals, while fellow bench warmer, Danny Green hit four threes in 14 points with a block. Green has struggled mightily, but is still top 100 on the season. You just have to be able to put up with his disappearing act. Tim Duncan had four blocks, while fellow Big Three member, Tony Parker had 26 points with eight assists. Tiago Splitter continues to disappoint, playing only 19 minutes in the start and scoring eight points with seven rebounds.
Kawhi Leonard had 13 points and 10 boards and is hitting a bit of form lately and your chance to buy low on him has probably passed for now.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS @ DENVER NUGGETS
Andrew Bogut’s great season continued, even though he scored only four points, He had three blocks and 11 boards and is a great option in a punt points team. Andre Iguodala had his best game since coming back from injury with 12 points and six boards. Harrison Barnes, however, has completely bottomed out and can be dropped in standard leagues. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both shot poorly, but can be expected to bounce back in the next game. David Lee had 28 points and 10 boards and is having a quietly great season.
With Kenneth Faried out with a sprained ankle, Timofey Mozgov started alongside J.J. Hickson and had a double double with two blocks. Hickson was quiet though with only seven points and eight rebounds. Andre MIller played almost 30 minutes and shared the floor with Ty Lawson a lot. He finished with 14 points and eight assists.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS @ PHOENIX SUNS
The Lakers got absolutely hammered by the Suns. Nick Young and Jodie Meeks both played well though scoring 19 and 18 points respectively. Xavier Henry started at PG and failed to register an assists, scoring 13 points with six rebounds on terrible field goal and free throw shooting. Pau Gasol played only 20 minutes in the blowout, but should be back to normal minutes in the matchup against the Heat, unless that’s another blowout which is a good chance.
Gerald Green hit another six threes and is in the middle of a little resurgence here. He is worth riding while the hot streak goes on. Marcus Morris hit five threes for 19 points. Miles Plumlee exploded for 17 points and 20 rebounds with two blocks, but bear in mind it was against the porous Lakers frontline. In saying that, I’ve been recommending him as an add a lot recently and if he’s still around, you should grab him again. Channing Frye had two blocks with seven points and eight rebounds, but he should still be held onto.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS @ SACRAMENTO KINGS
Tyreke Evans returned to Sacramento and proceeded to eviscerate his former team. He had 25 points, six boards, 12 assists and three steals and since he returned from his latest ankle injury has been a top 30 player. Anthony Davis had 21 points and 11 boards but didn’t much else, but you wouldn’t sneeze at the 20/10. Jrue Holiday added 17 points with 10 assists.
Eric Gordon played only 20 minutes, scoring 17 points in that time, but does have a slightly injured hip and we’ll have to monitor his status moving forward. Ryan Anderson scored only eight points and has cooled since his electric start, but this is nothing to be concerned about.
Rudy Gay shot woefully, scoring 11 points on 12 shots, which includes seven made free throws. Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points with five assists and three steals while DeMarcus Cousins had another 20/10 game with two steals and two blocks. Derrick Williams played 24 minutes for seven points and two rebounds and can be cut in nearly all leagues, which is a shame because he looked good before Gay came across.
GAMES ON WEDNESDAY 25TH DECEMBER
Each day after looking back on the games of the day, I will spend a little time looking forward, prognosticating if you will, what to look for in the coming day’s games. I will name one player from each position who is likely to exceed their usual production given their upcoming matchup.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors
We all know Paul is good, but the Warriors will give him a bump and he likes to go into FU mode in big games and this is a big game.
Danny Green, SG/SF, San Antonio Sours vs Houston Rockets
Hopefully Green has found a little form and can hit a couple of threes against the ailing Rockets backcourt.
LeBron James, SF/PF, Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers
This could get ugly. The Lakers are close to the Sixers in terms of fantasy bumps and LeBron has the look of a triple double waiting to happen.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors
Griffin against David Lee is a nightmare for the Warriors and with Paul throwing lobs all over the place, Griffin should continue his winning ways
Chris Bosh, PF/C, Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers
Bosh has been up and down, but as with LeBron, the Lakers are a mess defensively and Bosh should be able to close in on 20 & 10.
PLAYERS TO PICK UP FOR SPOT START DUTY
This section highlight guys who are available in less than 50% of ESPN leagues and are a decent option if you are looking to stream a guy in for a day to give you the boost to put you over the edge in your matchup.
If you need points: Jodie Meeks, SG, Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat
Meeks has averaged 15 points over his last four and should go close to that again.
If you need threes: Jodie Meeks, SG, Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat
His points will always include threes, so I’d be expecting two or three here.
If you need rebounds: Terrence Jones, PF, Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs
I still have faith in Jones and is the best available rebounder left on most waiver wires.
If you need assists: Beno Udrih, PG, New York Knicks vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Udrih has averaged almost six dimes in his last three games and should be good for that number again as the Knicks only ball handler.
If you need steals: Mario Chalmers, PG, Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers
You know I love Chalmers and with no ball handlers on the Lakers, he should get himself a bushel of steals.
If you need blocks: Terrence Jones, PF, Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs
Come one, T-Jones, prove me right!
As always, leave me any suggestions or comments below or on Twitter, @redrock_bball