Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: The Twitter Revolution - 01/18/2012
BY Aaron Bruski

  • Dirk Nowitzki wearing protective knee sleeve   
  • Mike Miller returns to hit 6-of-6 3-pointers   
  • LeBron James hits four 3-pointers in blowout   
  • Monta Ellis leaves game after elbow to face   
  • Stephen Curry could be out until Monday   
  • Derrick Rose will rest toe a few more days   
  • Spencer Hawes a game-time decision Wednesday   
  • Before I leap into action here I wanted to thank my Twitter friend Mike Gallagher for the nice shout out he gave us over at Fake Teams because it got me thinking.  The Twitter revolution has hit fantasy basketball harder than any other sport, because it makes fantasy basketball a nightly, real-time sport.  In many leagues without a waivers process for pickups, being on Twitter alone can equal a championship.  You’re essentially getting injury news and information before it hits anybody’s radar (or website).  We aggregate it in a way that keeps you from having to follow thousands of NBA types. 


    As Gallagher discusses, situations like the trade deadline last season were testaments to the power of Twitter.  Not only had we broken the trade deadline down weeks in advance because Twitter allowed us to wrap our minds around it in ways we couldn’t before, but during the deadline itself we were able to unearth enough value changes to give followers the chance to make over a quarter of their roster.  As I sat there smoking a fantasy cigarette afterward, I couldn’t help thinking – wow, that just happened. 


    Now as Rotoworld just found out that we won Most Valuable Content Provider from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, I can’t help but look at Twitter as one of the reasons why we’re doing well.  At first it was a natural progression to get the news, but now we deliver the news as much on there as we do on the site.  Then it goes to the blurbs and now here in the Daily Dose, rather than just reiterating the daily events in an A-B-C format, we can use this space to explore the trends in greater detail and thus provide the context for the whirlwind of nightly events.  It’s the Tinkers to Evers to Chance of fantasy analysis. 


    So as the popularity of fantasy basketball soars and we continue to break site records every month, it begs the question of whether or not we’re on the precipice of something larger with the game we cover and play.  Is the fantasy basketball experience now a real-time event or is it still possible to check the news once per day?  Is that a good thing as it rewards excellence?  Or is it a bad thing because we have lives and things to do every day?  Maybe the reason basketball is going bonkers is that it’s an NFL Sunday every night. 


    I don’t know.  All I know is that if you’re not following this group on Twitter (or some equivalent), you’re probably not winning. 


    Here is a list of the award-winning fantasy basketball crew (click to follow each of us on Twitter):


    Aaron Bruski

    Ryan Knaus

    Adam Levitan

    Ethan Norof

    Matt Stroup

    And, of course, Dr. A




    The Spurs got hornswoggled after jumping out a big lead against the Heat, giving up the second largest differential in Heat history with a 39-12 third quarter and ended up being routed in the end.  I sheepishly said on Twitter on Monday that I had just pumped $225 of $1,000 FAAB dollars into Kawhi Leonard in my uber-competitive big money league, and I was admittedly a bit scared to read the box score tonight.  It goes without saying then that I was pleased to see him play a team-leading 31 minutes with 12 points, two threes, six boards, and a steal. 


    Watching Richard Jefferson turn into Gregg Popovich’s nightly ire last season, and the subsequent draft day deal sending George Hill to get Leonard, I had calculated days and not weeks for Leonard to win the starting job.  Jefferson went and started hitting 60 percent of his 3-point shots, though, and in a truncated preseason that was enough to shelve Leonard.  The cream has risen to the top, though, as Leonard is taking his freakishly athletic game to a whole new level as Manu Ginobili’s replacement.  Not only has he improved on his shooting, but he looks like a natural – like the type of guy who is soaking up instruction and putting it into play in minutes, not days.  He’s ave! raging 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.3 treys per game over his last four contests, which is good for mid-round value over that span.  I know it’s optimistic, but the 34 minutes per game he has seen over that time seems doable for the rest of the year because of his defense.  With his wing-span, foot speed, and overall athleticism he moves like a giant spider out there and I don’t care if I’m the first to say it, he will make an all-NBA defensive team at least once in his career. 


    Yes, the fantasy risks are obvious – he’s a rookie playing for Pop and Manu Ginobili will be back eventually.  It’s just a risk I was willing to take, as you can see.   




    As for Jefferson, the worry with him is that he’s just not that good.  He can stick the 3-ball, but aside from being a big body he can’t defend at all.  He gets lost off the ball and teams relentlessly attack him.  The ironic thing is that by the numbers Jefferson is doing fairly well, holding guys to 35.6% shooting overall in a sometimes wacky Synergy accounting system (guys get credit for being witnesses to a play – you really have to watch the tape).   The takeaway, and we’re seeing it already, is that Popovich is willing to put up with Jefferson’s liabilities when he’s scorching the nets.  When he’s not, and when Manu Ginobili returns, Pop is going to have to decide between the better defender with offensive upside, or Jefferson and his 3-point only game.  The choice will be easy – it’s Leonard.&nb! sp;




    Danny Green got hot with 6-of-7 makes from 3-point land for 20 points and has looked great all year, but his current 54.1% 3-point shooting mark will undoubtedly take a dip, if not a dive.  When that happens, he’ll struggle for minutes playing behind Leonard and Jefferson.  I like what I see so far, but he has four games with less than seven points in his last six contests.  Let him prove himself before you go adding him after last night. 




    And since we’re in the realm of the Heat, it’s worth pointing out that LeBron went nuts for 33 points, five boards, four threes, and 10 assists.  Watching Kawhi Leonard’s defensive possessions I caught a lot of LeBron’s act, and the rookie did well to hold his own but LeBron wasn’t going to be denied.  If anybody else, and I mean anybody else was covering him – LeBron goes for 50 points or more with the way he was feeling it.  It’s pretty simple in Miami if you’re not talking about Mario Chalmers, who is posting early round value over at  If one of the Big Three is out, the rest will go nuts.  Chris Bosh looks like he dedicated hi! mself over the summer and will be a value pick this year, regardless. 




    As for Chalmers, he had 13 points and four more 3-pointers.  He is averaging 12 points, 2.1 threes, 1.8 steals, and 4.2 assists while shooting a ridiculous 54.3 percent from the field (45.8% from deep).  The scare from rookie Norris Cole appeared to work, and while LeBron still chews Rio out every night, he has answered the bell.  I don’t know that I could scream sell-high any louder with those shooting percentages, but for now Chalmers is playing way above his pay grade in fantasy leagues.  As for Mike Miller’s perfect six attempts from downtown last night, you can have them, which is pretty self-explanatory given the injury risk and his role in Miami. 




    Brandon Jennings has looked great at times this season, and last night was one of them as he racked up 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting with an otherwise full line.  The career 38.5 percent field goal shooter (including this year’s 45 percent mark) has dipped below 34 minutes just twice all year.  Conversely, serviceable backup Beno Udrih has played 20 minutes or more just five times this season and seen action seven times overall.  Forgetting that we’re talking about Scott Skiles here, I’d be worried that Jennings is due for a reality check.  Now remembering that it’s Scott Skiles we’re talking about here, I’m all about selling Jennings high.  He’s young, perceivably on the upswing, and I don’t see an overwhelming change in his game.&! nbsp; He’s still taking difficult shots – he’s just making them.  We’ll see how that wears on Skiles when he regresses to the mean.




    The Bucks that left owners reaching for boxed wine were Stephen Jackson (two points, 0-for-6 FGs, 16 minutes) and Andrew Bogut (two points, five boards, two assists, two steals, three blocks).  At least Bogut brought the peripheral stats, and both were benched for most of the second half with the Bucks down big to the Nuggets.  I’m not reading much into Bogut’s line or his concussion, unless league testing is a joke (possible, but not probable).  I am going to read into everything that Captain Jack does this year, however, because he fits Scott Skiles’ team like Charles Barkley fits in skinny jeans.  Sure, he can (could?) defend, but his my-way-or-the-highway approach offensively is b! ound to need plenty of ‘corrections’ from Skiles.  Which one sets Jackson off?  I don’t know, but as a guy that drafted him in the ninth and tenth rounds when he fell in 8-cat formats, I’m looking for ways to make love to the pressure of trading S-Jax. 




    Jonas Jerebko has been tossed around a bit with threats to playing time from Jason Maxiell and now Ben Wallace, and that’s really the byproduct of him being undersized as a power forward.  Jerebko came off the bench and scored seven points with six rebounds, a steal, and a block last night as the recent inconsistency continued.  Lawrence Frank wants a defensive unit, but I just don’t see how they keep Jerebko off the floor with the personnel that they have.  If you own him, you may just want to stash him to see how things play out. 


    Aside from Eminem-inspired car ads, Detroit has made a business out of the three-guard rotation lately, as unlike prior years Frank has decided to keep Will Bynum out of the picture.  This has allowed Ben Gordon (18 points, three steals, two blocks), Brandon Knight (15 points, three rebounds, four assists), and Rodney Stuckey (16 points, three boards, three assists) to be mostly productive.  And while Gordon and Stuckey have been a disappointment at times, the trio has been as consistent as one could ask for out of a 3-man rotation.  I don’t see a ton of change here if Frank decides to bench Knight or Gordon for Stuckey, ! and with Gordon’s confidence tenuous and Knight the being the future we could be looking at the lineup going forward.  Plan accordingly. 




    I was not in the draft Blake Griffin camp this year, simply because his lack of steals, blocks, and free throw percentage was too large to ignore.  Add in better teammates to steal touches from him, and the price simply wasn’t right.  The Poster Child has proven me right so far this year with just fifth to sixth round value, but he may be showing signs of wanting to block the ball with six blocks in his last seven games.  Dare I say that constitutes a trend?  And while he isn’t hitting threes like some had hoped, his numbers are mostly the same with a nice two-point increase in field goal percentage because he’s not counted on for spinning drives in the lane nearly as much.  The bugaboo with him right now is his foul shooting, which is a dismal 53.9 percent.  Luckily, with a 64.2 percent mark last season we can actually project a nice little! increase for him.  That, along with the potential for added steals and blocks, means big opportunity for the savvy buyer looking to help the guy with buyer’s remorse. 




    Dorell Wright continued to dawdle on his notepad at work with just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting (no threes), two rebounds, three assists, and a steal on Tuesday.  Dawdling isn’t exactly what owners were picturing where he was drafted, but Wright does enough to hold late round value in a 12-team league so you cut him at your own risk.  You also cut him at his likely ‘floor.’  Wright was held out of the entire second quarter for Brandon Rush (14 points, two 3-pointers) and then Mark Jackson ran with his entire second-unit for almost all of the third quarter.  Wright was right back out there with the starters during the fourth quarter and down the stretch. 


    What we can now say safely is that Wright has played his way into a timeshare with Rush and the rest of the bench mob.  For now, he holds the starting job and can either shoot his way in or out of the game on any given night.  Last night he may have gotten into trouble for his defense, too, as he closed out on the 3-point line horribly slow.  I took a look at his defensive numbers compared to Rush as I have already once in this space, and Wright is still the noticeably better option across all defensive scenarios except one – spot-up shooters.  And like Rush with his blocks, running out lazily to cover a guy in space is going to make more headlines than fighting around a screen.  Watching the two times Wright faked the effort on the close out, I’d have pulled him, too. 


    However we choose to incorporate his benching into his overall outlook, the bottom line for Wright is that what needs to happen for him to flirt with last year’s numbers hasn’t happened.  The Warriors aren’t running.  They have made improvements from the last time we talked about this, but they’re still only the 13th most successful running team (scoring 1.13 points per play) in the NBA.  On the contrary, they are the seventh best team in terms of transition defense (allowing 1.08 points per play).  What we have here is a failure to fast break, as Mark Jackson has tried to slow down the pace of play and make the Warriors a more balanced team – whether he has the personnel for that or not (not). 


    Likewise, watching most of Wright’s possessions we see a guy that’s just not that good in the half-court set.  When the Warriors run, the aggressive Wright uses players’ inertia against them.  With the defense settled, he’s forcing, missing, and lacks confidence now as a result.  The insertion of Nate Robinson has helped increase the pace, but the only thing that’s really going to help fantasy owners is some good old fashion losing.  The Warriors have won two in a row and sit at 5-8 after wins over years-away teams in Detroit and Cleveland.  They get the Nets and Pacers to finish the week, and if they sit at 5-9 or 5-10 looking at the Grizzlies, Blazers, and Thunder coming up next -- the locals should start talking about the failure to run.  That will be especially true if Alex Smith decides he’s done making the ‘game! -manager’ label his bitch. 


    If the Warriors run, he could bounce back to a semi-respectable late mid-round value.  If not, he’s going to be a late round guy all year, at best.  And while I expect Wright to improve his shooting as we go, would I blame any of you for dropping him during his next slump?  Not if the Warriors don’t make a move to be a top-7 team running the ball, and if Wright doesn’t start making shots it may not matter anyway. 




    I enjoy interacting with readers, even if it’s hard to keep up with all the emails and tweets, because I subscribe to the belief that millions of heads are better than one.  You guys keep me on my toes, point me in the right direction, and otherwise make this a dream experience.  And this was the case last week when I used the column heading ‘boo hoo’ to describe Lamar Odom.  If you don’t know, Odom has experienced quite a bit of death in his life recently and between that and the trade, he has gone in the tank.  I had a kind reader point out that I shouldn’t make light of that, and I realized immediately how I hadn’t connected the dots to clearly explain that I think he’s childish in his inability to show up to work every day – and not to laugh at his expense. 


    He’s a pro athlete and fans are paying pro prices for those seats, and plenty of other athletes go through trying times and don’t pout their way through it.  And spinning this into some fantasy analysis, I have talked a lot in the past few days about last Monday being a big night for him.  I wanted to see if he cared, if his coach cared enough to back him, and if he was capable of playing decent minutes due to all the talk about his conditioning.  He finished with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes of action.  More importantly he worked hard in warm-ups and during halftime.  His coach rebounded for him as a show of support.  I don’t think the talent left his body, and this is a pure mental issue for him.  I think the game against the Lakers, the standing ovation, and the like was a weight off his shoulders.  If it was a test to see if he could get his head o! ut of the rain clouds, he passed. 


    Outside of Dirk Nowitzki, there are no sure things in the Dallas frontcourt.  Odom is a player that can make them dynamic, and they’ll need ‘dynamic’ if they’re going to repeat.  I grabbed Odom in a few places to see if he could bounce back.  Monday was the first step.  If he’s still slow-going in a week perhaps we’ll have our answer about him.  I just couldn’t resist the chance to try to catch a comet. 




    If you’re looking for mediocre talents in starring roles on a prime-time show, look no further than Channing Frye and Jared Dudley.  Neither can create their own shot.  Because the Suns offense is struggling, with everybody aging another year and only Marcin Gortat is playing at a high level besides Steve Nash, the result is a frumpy Frye and dudly Dudley.  


    Frye has probably been dropped in most 10-team leagues and 12-team league owners are well within their rights to do so as well, but the problem is that he is still starting and despite last night’s four-point, four-rebound effort in 18 minutes, rookie Markieff Morris wasn’t much better with matching marks on 1-of-7 shooting. 


    Morris, while admittedly in a bench role, has scored four or less points in 3-of-5 games now, while Frye all but erased his bounce-back effort last week with a 2-of-14 mark from the field in two games.  The bottom line is that Morris has not definitively given Alvin Gentry reason to make a swap here, but Frye probably has about a week or two to get his act together, regardless.  He is hitting 39 percent of his shots from the field and 31 percent from deep.  The question isn’t if he’s going to improve on those marks, because he will, but rather can he do it fast enough to keep from losing his starting job.  More to the point, I won’t be passing on a hot free agent right now to gamble that he can do it.  Iman Shumpert, B.J. Mullens, Kawhi Leonard, the Chandler Parsons project are all waiver wire guys in the last week that would have caused me to pull the trigger.  Unknown quantities or lower-upside guys like Marreese Speights, Trevor Booker, and J.J. Redick wouldn’t have made the cut.  After all, if he can get it together there’s mid-round upside, which the latter group is going to struggle with. 


    As for Dudley and his slow start to the year, it’s not thrilling but I’m sitting on it in 8- and 9-cat formats.  He’s producing top 100-120 value in those formats and Shannon Brown hasn’t done much to move in on his turf.  Michael Redd is an awful basketball player if he isn’t standing in the corner taking wide-open threes.  The Suns simply need to find an offensive combination that works and Dudley’s floor will rise.  A 41 percent shooter from deep on his career, he has time that Frye doesn’t to improve on his current 33 percent mark. 





    1st Quarter: Eric Gordon hasn’t done any running or contact work and while Monty Williams wants him on the floor next week, he needs to get on the court this week to ensure that … I also wonder when the report that he’s out of cartilage comes out of the woodwork.  Stephen Curry was held out of shootaround and one has to wonder if the decision to play him early in the year was just one of those things that slipped through the cracks … he didn’t participate in shootaround and the Warriors appear to be doing the right thing with their formerly franchise player … it’s almost as if they listened to the outrage.  Dwyane Wade (foot) did not play on Tuesday and most believe he’ll play against Kobe on Thursday … me, I tend to wait until the report emerges before issuing a blanket ‘he’s gonna play because

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