This past week has been eventful, but not quite as eventful as in past seasons. After the NBA trade deadline and All Star Game comes at least a little change for most every team. In this article I’ll discuss some of the most important notes as we head into the back end of the season.
The Celtics lost two guards to torn anterior cruciate ligaments before the All Star break, one much more important than the other. First came starting point guard Rajon Rondo, then weeks after Leonardo Barbosa, a reserve player, was lost for the season as well. Now Barbosa is wearing a new jersey, in the nation’s capitol. In exchange for Barbosa and big man Jason Collins (1.2 points per game, 1.6 rebounds per game), the Celtics received guard Jordan Crawford from the Wizards. Crawford will come off the bench for the Celtics and try to be their “wild card”. Crawford can get hot, and he will get opportunities. It was surely a good trade for the Celtics, as they now have a guard to fill the role of Barbosa off the bench. He has some upside. Expect Chris Wilcox to fill the role of Collins.
No trades here, but plenty to talk about. Joe Johnson‘s nagging, possibly serious injury, first comes to mind. While Johnson doesn’t think he has the feared plantar fasciitis, he has missed the last two games with what he says is a bruised heel. Nets intend to rest Johnson going forward, as they have the last two games, in hope he will be ready down the stretch. C.J. Watson is currently starting in his place and is averaging 14 ppg in his last two. The Nets are certainly going to need to be at full strength with Johnson to make a run. Another topic may be Brook Lopez‘s role late in the last three games, where he has played only six minutes of the final quarters in those games. However, head coach P.J. Carlesimo acknowledged his mistake and plans to make a change in the “future”.
New York Knicks
If you ask a basketball fan the key to the Knicks success, you’ll get a one word answer: Melo. Right now, Carmelo Anthony is slumping. In fact, in his last four games, three of which has been losses, he has shot just 33 percent (29-97) from the field. The Knicks just ended a season-long four-game losing streak with an win over the 76ers, but that didn’t end Melo’s slump. He shot 33 percent in that game. He hasn’t shot over fifty percent in any of his last four games, and, consequently, the Knicks are losing. As long as Melo is in his slump, J. R. Smith’s value is bumped a bit, but the Knicks value drops tremendously.
Thaddeus Young returned to action for the Sixers after missing six games– five of which Philadelphia lost, and played very well, pitching in 11 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in 36 minutes. He replaced Lavoy Allen in the lineup, but Allen still put up 10 and eight in 22 minutes. Thad has been the most important player –according to head coach Doug Collins– to the 76ers, and his return is huge. Collins made it clear that Young is 100% ready to return with his 36 minutes in a game where the 76ers were handled by the Knicks for most of the game. Hopefully Young can help the 76ers out of their five-game losing slump.
This team has suddenly become one of the most exciting to watch. The addition of Rudy Gay has been beneficial to both Gay and especially DeMarstellar play of Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry – the future is bright for this team. I expect them to head into the playoffs with a full-head of steam before running into one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs behind Gay and Co.
The Bulls are currently dealing with a couple of injuries. First off, point guard Kirk Hinrich is still day-to-day with an elbow injury. Nate Robinson will continue to fill-in for him, despite his poor shooting (2-14 from the field on Sunday). Power forward Taj Gibson is dealing with a knee injury as well, and is expected to miss up to two weeks. Gibson is currently coming off the bench.
With back-to-back games coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kyrie Irving has a tweaked his knee. He’ll be out for Tuesday’s game, but nothing beyond that has been confirmed. Expect Shaun Livingston to start in his place. Another guard, Dion Waiters, has made waves as of late, but in a much different way. He caught fire with 26 points against Miami on Sunday, and has shot over 53 percent in four of his last five. Waiters has stepped up while Irving’s role has been reduced a bit with his knee injury. Hopefully that will continue — he loves to shoot.
We’ve got lots to talk about here. Brandon Knight is out for the time being, which has opened the door for both Jose Calderon and Rodney Stuckey. You can expect their roles to expand while Knight is out, although he wants to return on Wednesday, but there is no definite return date for the guard. Calderon and Stuckey also saw an extra boost in minutes on Monday because of Will Bynum’s one-game suspension for punching Tyler Hansborough on Saturday. He’ll be back on Wednesday.
Danny Granger made his season debut on Saturday after recovering from his serious knee injury, but it wasn’t a big bang of a return. Granger shot 1-for-10. He should soon replace Lance Stephenson as the starting small forward, but for now he could continue to come off of the bench. When he returns to 100% (which should take some time), Granger should take some value from Paul George, who will be moved to SG. Until then, George is a safe play in daily leagues, as long as the salary is right.
J.J. Redick started with a bang in his debut with the Bucks. He scored 16 points on 4-9 from the field with seven assists and four boards. Not too shabby for the sixth-man. Expect him to continue to come off the bench behind Monta Ellis, but he should continue to have a fairly significant role with the team going forward. Big man Larry Sanders‘ back injury has become a thing of the past. He has beasted and swallowed Samuel Dalembert‘s role. It’s no surprise. Sanders can do it all and has all year when he has gotten his chance. He’s averaging 4.6 blocks in his last five games.
All the hype leading up to a block-buster trade with nothing doing. The Hawks decided to keep Josh Smith in wake of the 2013 trade deadline. They did, however, pick up Jeremy Tyler from the Warriors and Dahntay Jones from Dallas. Neither of which has any impact fantasy wise. The Hawks lineup continues to be jumbled up constantly, but Kyle Korver did draw the start against Detroit on Monday. As long as that lineup is being mixed and matched, there’s not a lot of guys I’d be confident starting in a daily format at the SG/SF. Korver has been and will continue to be the best play out of that group with nothing else to see there. Al Horford continued to do his post-injury thing on Tuesday with 23 points and 22 rebounds. He’s almost a must-start player in DFS right now.
Byron Mullens returned to the hard floor at the start of February and impacted the Bobcats immediately. but in his last two games he has shot under 10 percent with under nine total rebounds in those games. That’s not good. Mullens was playing great before this slump, but his shot isn’t falling right now. We’ll have to wait this slump out, but I do expect him to bounce back soon. Jeffery Taylor scored a career-high 18 points in 33 minutes in the Bobcat’s last game, the most minutes he’s had in a single game since mid-December. After the game, Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap said of Taylor via the Charlotte Observer: “Every time I give him minutes, he takes advantage of them. … I’ve got to find him more minutes.” Taylor is a stud when he gets on the floor. Here’s to hoping the rookie can begin getting more minutes, the minutes he deserves, over veteran Ben Gordon.
Not much to say here other than Dwayne Wade has begun to look like himself as of late. Wade has put his injuries behind him and is playing as good as ever, a huge proponent and in the Heat’s current 10-game winning streak. He’s averaged two more points and has 1.4 more rebounds per game during that winning streak than the rest of this season.
As previously mentioned, the Magic traded away Redick prior to the trade deadline, which will open up minutes for those reserve players behind him. In my opinion, it’s a bad move for the Magic. Redick was a major part of this team, especially when Jameer Nelson missed a game here and there. When Nelson went down, Redick often put the team on his back and he has played his best basketball of his career in 2012-13, but it’s part of the re-building for the Magic.
That being said, the Magic got Doron Lamb, Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih back from the Bucks. Udrih will play behind Nelson, and should have the most impact in the trade, but I don’t expect him to have as much of a fantasy presence as Redick had. Maurice Harkless will start at SF with the lengthy, athletic Harris backing him up. Harris has a real chance to make an impact as well. Andrew Nicholson now gets the lion share of minutes at the PF spot. Lamb will be a project and shouldn’t be seen as having any fantasy value.
I came to a conclusion when I came back from my cruise on Sunday: Bradley Beal is a stud. Plain and simple, the youngster can play. He’s dominated since his return to the floor, with 20 or more points in four of his six games. He has 14 three-pointers in his seven games back from injury. Emeka Okafor has notched double-digit points and nine or more rebounds in each of his last five games and his minutes reached 34 in the most recent contest, the most he’s had since January 7th. Nene Hilario has recently played more minutes but isn’t doing as much as Okafor has in his most recent game.
Come back for my recap on the post-All Star break Western Conference later and be sure to follow me on Twitter, @CHardySports, for news, notes, and fantasy advice for the NFL and NBA alike. Also be sure to subscribe to the site to become become one of the founding members of FantasySports.org and score a life-time membership.