Monday, January 16, 2012 Basketball Daily Dose

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MLK Day Is Here! - 01/16/2012
BY Steve Alexander

Sponsored By TicketCity
  • Derrick Rose (toe) wearing boot on Monday   
  • Chris Paul (hamstring) day-to-day after MRI   
  • Carmelo Anthony expected to play Monday   
  • Kobe scores 40+ in fourth consecutive game   
  • Paul Millsap rolls over Nuggets w/ 26 & 12   
  • Marcin Gortat posts season-highs of 24 & 15   
  • Steve Nash (quad) has 20 & 10 in return   
  • Week 4 is here and the biggest question marks are whether Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are safe plays. We’ll dig into that and a lot more in a team-by-team breakdown column.


    The Clippers have the big 5-game week this time, while no team plays just two games.  The Warriors, Pacers, Thunder, Suns and Jazz play three times, while everyone else gets four games this week.


    Monday is MLK Day, which is always my favorite day of the year.  Hopefully you have the day off, but either way, all the post-game news of what went down in all the day games will be rolling in the Rotoworld News feed. 


    The NBA Season Pass is up and running, so check it out!  Weekly projections and rankings, exclusive live chats, the schedule grid and breakdown, customizable scoring, and much more is all there.  Do you miss football already?  Didn’t get into enough hoops leagues?  Check out SnapDraft, where you can draft a new team every night and win some cash.


    MLK Day Schedule


    1 p.m. Magic @ Knicks

    1 p.m. Bulls @ Grizzlies ESPN

    2 p.m. Bucks @ Sixers

    2 p.m. Rockets @ Wizards

    2 p.m. Cavaliers @ Bobcats

    3 p.m. Blazers @ Hornets

    3:30 p.m. Nets @ Clippers

    4 p.m. Raptors @ Hawks NBA TV

    8 p.m. Thunder @ Celtics TNT

    8 p.m. Kings @ Timberwolves

    10:30 p.m. Mavericks @ Lakers TNT


    Team-by-Team Notes




    Al Horford’s fantasy season is over thanks to shoulder surgery so Zaza Pachulia will start at center and be backed up by Ivan Johnson.  Both players were solid on Saturday and Pachulia should be owned in all leagues, while Johnson is worth a close eye in all leagues.  Marvin Williams returned from a sprained ankle Saturday and had eight points and eight boards in limited run, and should also be an interesting pickup in the absence of Horford.




    Paul Pierce hit 5-of-12 shots, 9-of-10 free throws and a 3-pointer on his way to 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in Saturday's loss to the Pacers.  He'd hit just 8-of-34 shots in his previous three games and says his heel isn't yet at 100 percent, but looked much better on Saturday.  Despite the recent slump, it's advisable to keep him in your lineup going forward.  Jermaine O’Neal had 12 boards and three blocks on Saturday, but played heavy minutes.  Feel free to grab him if you’re desperate at center, but it feels like his feeble legs will give way again at any minute.




    The Bobcats benched a struggling Boris Diaw and started Kemba Walker at shooting guard Saturday, sliding Gerald Henderson to small forward.  Diaw can be dropped if you’re frustrated with him, but just beware that he could return to the starting unit at any time.  Walker, who scored 23 in the start, becomes a must-own player, along with center B.J. Mullens, who has scored 20 and 21 in his last two games.  Thomas is off to a slow start, but is still worth owning as long as he’s starting at power forward.  Unlike many teams, the entire starting five in Charlotte (D.J. Augustin, Walker, Henderson, Thomas and Mullens) should be owned in most leagues.




    Derrick Rose played through his toe injury for the second straight game on Saturday and you have to roll with him if you own him.  Joakim Noah has become a huge headache for his owners, struggling to score despite playing solid minutes at center for the Bulls.  Noah had just four points to go along with 12 rebounds and a block in 26 minutes on Saturday and has scored in double figures in just three games this season.  He’s also scored six or less in seven of his 14 games.  Maybe he has an undisclosed injury or simply can’t co-exist with Carlos Boozer.  Either way, I’d let him have a big game or two and then sell him for whatever you can get.  He’s going to be a headache as! long as Boozer is healthy.   Kyle Korver has disappeared in his last two games, while Taj Gibson played well on Saturday.  Get Korver on your bench for now and keep an eye on Gibson.




    Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are playing well and remain must-starts, while Antawn Jamison is worth a look.  Other than that, there’s not much to get excited about in Cleveland.




    Jason Kidd returned from a back injury on Saturday and had his best line of the season.  That doesn’t mean he should be in starting lineups for fantasy owners, but it could mean he’s ready to start doing something.  Vince Carter is back to coming off the bench but has scored 16 in two straight, and could be ready to challenge Delonte West for the starting SG job.  Dirk Nowitzki is averaging just 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and is hitting just 46.9 percent of his shots this season.  We haven’t mentioned it much, but those numbers are highly disappointing, and are easily the worst he’s put up in the last 10! years or so.  And if Lamar Odom ever gets going and commands more minutes, Dirk could become a real problem.  But for now, let’s just chalk it up to a lockout hangover and hope that Dirk returns to form soon.  If he can’t get up for Monday’s game against Kobe and the Lakers, I’ll officially be concerned.  And yes, he’s a good buy-low target right now.




    Ty Lawson appears to be over his foot injury and should be started in all leagues going forward.  Nene has been playing through his heel, and also looks like a safe play.  Danilo Gallinari’s bum ankle is an afterthought now after he had 14 points on Friday, and should be in lineups going forward, while Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo and Andre Miller can be used in deeper leagues.  And keep an eye on Rudy Fernandez, who is averaging close to 15 points, five! assists, three boards and two threes over his last three games, while shooting it very well for the Nuggets.  Just beware that Fernandez suffered an Achilles injury on Sunday night, potentially signaling more minutes for Afflalo this week.  Timofey Mozgov is starting at center and scored 12 in his last game, but is a shaky fantasy start at this point.




    Greg Monroe is entering beast mode and racking up assists, but I’ll be the first to admit that more blocks would be nice.  He’s must-start material though.  Rodney Stuckey is back from a groin injury and coming off the bench, and Will Bynum is out Sunday with a foot injury.  That should mean more minutes for Stuckey for as long as Bynum is out.  Jonas Jerebko bounced back with 22 points on Friday and could be ready to get hot again, so give him a look.  I am not touching Tayshaun Prince right now, while Brandon Knight looks like another must-own player in Detroit.  




    Stephen Curry and his bum ankle are hoping to return on Tuesday, meaning he could play in three games in Week 4.  He says he’s close to 100 percent and his return should hurt Nate Robinson enough to keep him out of fantasy lineups this week.  Monta Ellis and David Lee are must-starts, while Dorell Wright returned from a sore knee and scored 12 on Saturday.  He’s hit seven treys in his last two games and should be owned in all leagues, and possibly started this week depending on your options.  Andris Biedrins is the starting center until further notice, as Kwame Brown is done for the fantasy season with a shoulder injury.  Don’t trust Biedrins, but feel free to run him out there if you need boards and blocks.  Just don’t expect him to score much.  And Wright’s resurgence makes Brandon Rush a shaky play right now.  Just hang onto him in case Wright’s return is a mirage.




    Kyle Lowry is unstoppable right now, and along with Kevin Martin and Luis Scola, is an automatic fantasy starter.  Chandler Parsons is still the starting small forward and is playing well, but Chase Budinger somehow saw 39 minutes and scored 18 points on Saturday.  I need to see him do it again to take the bait, but a true timeshare at SF seems to be coming here.  Samuel Dalembert destroyed DeMarcus Cousins for 21 points, 16 boards and four blocks on Friday, but then had foul trouble on Saturday.  I plan on starting him this week, and am hoping Friday wasn’t a fluke.


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    Danny Granger has shown signs of breaking out of his slump and should be in starting lineups this week, despite the Pacers having just three games.  Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George are all starting possibilities, depending on your options, while I’d plan on leaving George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough on fantasy benches this week.




    Chris Paul is awaiting MRI results on his hamstring injury as I write this, which is tough news given the upcoming five-game week for the Clippers.  He was just starting to turn it on and was fantastic before going down late in Saturday’s win over the Lakers.  My guess is he’ll be OK, but could miss Tuesday’s game against the Nets.  But if he’ll only miss that game, he’s obviously a must-start.  Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to set your lineup before we have more definitive information on Paul’s status, unless the MRI brings back terrible news.  Weigh your options carefully before starting him.  Mo Williams is day-to-day with a foot injury, so get him on your bench, while Chauncey Billups is expected to go on Tuesday despite a tight back.  Billups, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan are must-starts in most leagues with five games this week.  And Billups could have a monster week if Paul is out.




    My personal take on Kobe Bryant’s wrist has been that he’ll play through it all season, and owners that attempted to sell high are struggling to sleep at night after he’s posted at least 40 points in four straight games.  Yes, the wrist is a concern, but he’s Kobe freakin’ Bryant, and will play through it.  The Lakers have four games this week, making Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum must-starts, but that’s where things screech to a halt for the Lakers.  Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher are all worth consideration in most leagues, but I bet you can find better production off the waiver wire.  Steve Blake is out for several weeks with a rib injury, which is the only reason Fisher even gets a mention here.




    Marreese Speights has been hit or miss thus far as Zach Randolph’s replacement, but I think owners should exercise patience with him.  The Grizzlies play four games this week, making Speights a tough call.  Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol are all must-starts, while Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and Speights can be started, depending on options.  Mayo has been playing well off the benc! h and is worth a close look in most leagues.




    Dwyane Wade’s ankle is a problem and despite the fact he was “moving well” Sunday, he didn’t practice and is very iffy for Tuesday.  He is basically the blood and guts of my 30-team league team and I will be rolling him out there in that one.  But I also own him in several normal leagues, and as of now, will bench him unless we get good news prior to Monday’s games.  James Jones, Norris Cole and Shane Battier will all pick up his slack if he’s out, but none are worth starting in most leagues.  No Wade would mean big things for LeBron James this week.  Mario Chalmers has been very good thus far and is worth a start in most leagues, while Chris Bosh remains a must-start player for the Heat.  Mike Miller is close to a return, but I’d ignore him for now, even with Wade’s injury.  Udonis Haslem had 12 points and 11 rebounds on Friday, but as long as Bosh is healthy, I’d be scared to put him in fantasy lineups.  Just keep an eye on him.




    Andrew Bogut is expected to play through his concussion symptoms on Monday so get him in your lineup until further notice.  Rookie power forward Jon Leuer has started in two straight games and could continue to do so with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute out, but is a low-end fantasy option after his dud on Friday.  The Bucks play four games this week and Brandon Jennings, Bogut, Carlos Delfino and Stephen Jackson look like must-start players for now.




    Ricky Rubio is now starting at point guard and balling, and is must-start in all formats, along with Kevin Love.  I was quite wrong about Rubio, and am as surprised as anyone at how quickly he’s adapted to the NBA.  He appears to be playing better right now than at any point in his life.  Luke Ridnour is now the starting shooting guard in Minnesota, and deserves a look in all leagues, while Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic, Wes Johnson, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Randolph and Anthony Tolliver are simply worth keeping an eye on from here on out.




    Deron Williams blew up on Friday for 35 points and six treys, and should be starting in all formats this week with four games.  Anthony Morrow scored just 12 on Saturday, but is also nearly must-start, while MarShon Brooks, Kris Humprhies and Mehmet Okur are all worth a look.  I’m going to start Brooks in the leagues where I own him, but Okur is a pretty shaky fantasy starter right now.




    Jarrett Jack is an automatic fantasy starter with four games, while guys like Marco Belinelli, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman and Carl Landry all deserve consideration.  The big men were pretty bad on Saturday, and I would be leery of starting any of them this week, despite the four games.  Jason Smith came out of nowhere for a double-double on Saturday, but he belongs on watch lists, and not on fantasy rosters unless he does big things in Week 4.




    Iman Shumpert is struggling a bit, but the minutes are there and he’s going to be worth a shot in most leagues with four games again this week.  The Knicks play four times a week until the All-Star break, so plan on riding Shumpert as long as you can.  Baron Davis should be practicing soon and could be back by the end of January, but Shumpert would likely slide to shooting guard once Davis is healthy enough to start.  Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler look like must-starts, but Carmelo Anthony is iffy with injuries to his wrist and ! ankle.  The ankle is the big concern, but late news on Sunday was that he is ready to play through it on Monday against the Magic.  I’m planning on playing Melo this week, and you should too.  Mike Bibby, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson and Toney Douglas are all worth a brief thought in deeper leagues, but chances are they will not come through.




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