Mimicking my “Since the All Star Game -Eastern Conference” post, here’s an update on the Western Conference, team-by-team, with some fantasy analysis included. Trades, injuries, hot players, cold players … it’s all here.
Dirk Nowitzki is finally playing like himself, like a top power forward in the NBA. He has over 30 fantasy points (fps) on DraftDay in each of his last five games, three of which he went over 40, and he’s finally back doing his thing. In a loss against the Lakers on Sunday, he recorded his first double-double of the season with 30 points and 13 rebounds — both of which were season highs. His performance hasn’t exactly boosted the Mavericks though, as they lost to the Hawks and the Lakers among those five games.
Big man Chris Kaman returned for the Mavs on Sunday after missing four weeks with a concussion and recorded four points and four boards in eight minutes of playing time. His role should gradually increase, and may be a nice value play here soon, but not quite yet.
The acquisition of Thomas Robinson from the Sacramento Kings was one of the biggest deals at the trade deadline. However, while Robinson finds his way with the Rockets, head coach Kevin McHale will give Donatas Motiejunas a chance to start at power forward.
Motiejunas will get the chance to impress McHale again after scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds in the Rockets’ last game. Carlos Delfino will be sent to the bench in favor of Motiejunas, and Robinson will get minutes on Wednesday as well. Expect all three to be contributors going forward unless something changes.
The Rudy Gay-to-Toronto and Marreese Speights-to-Cleveland trades have completely changed the Grizzlies season — that’s obvious. Minutes were shifted to Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless with the departure of Gay, but neither have been consistent enough to hold a lot of value in daily leagues. Allen is a rock-solid player with shut down defense, but with no range on his jump-shot.
You can expect around 15 fps from him daily, give or take. It’s the opposite for Bayless. He’s had explosive games where he’s hot, especially when point guard Mike Conley is on the bench. He’s a very exciting player with a very nice shot with upside on nights, but he’s very hard to trust. He can put up 10 fps one night, then explode for 30 the next. You jut never know, that’s why I tend to stay away from both. Zach Randolph has consistently dominated for the Grizzlies who have struggled to really find their footing this season.
New Orleans Hornets
Despite a knee injury, Hornets rookie Anthony Davis dominated Sacramento with 20 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting, continuing his recent hot streak. In three of his last five games, Davis had a double-double. He also recently sprained his knee, but that was prior to his 20-8 performance, so he should be good to go. Greivis Vasquezs, the association’s leader in assists (behind only Rajon Rondo, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the year), and that likely won’t change.
While he has been one of the game’s most improved players this season, his scoring has fluctuated from game-to-game, making his fantasy value shaky at times. It is worth noting that Vasquez scores nearly four more points with 0.5 more assists in wins than he does in losses this season, and his shooting just from 40 percent to 45 percent on the road.
San Antonio Spurs
After missing one game with a triceps injury, point guard Tony Parker practiced on Tuesday and says he’s “good to play” on Wednesday. Fully expect him to only miss one game and be back on Wednesday. He’ll take on the Suns for the second time this season. He scored 31 points, notched four rebounds and dished out seven assists against Goran Dragic and Phoenix last time. Expect him to come back with a bang.
Ty Lawson has been outstanding for the Nuggets in his most recent games. He has 20+ points in each of his last seven games — a career-high — and has shot over 50 percent in his last ten games, five percent more than his season average. With Danilo Gallinari missing time with a thigh bruise, and missing a of couple games (currently listed as day-to-day), many other Nuggets have performed well.
JaVale McGee, with all of his upside, is becoming a consistent part of the Nuggets’ rotation. With Gallo out in the team’s last game he scored seven points and picked up seven rebounds on 23 minutes. Expect him to start becoming more consistent and much more relevant. It will be frustrating for fantasy owners if he’s not — he’s got a lot of talent and upside.
The biggest news for the T-Wolves is that Kevin Love is expecting to play the final 15-20 games of the season after fracturing his hand earlier in the year. 15 games from the end of the season would be March 24 and 20 games from the end of the season is March 15. He’ll be returning about four weeks time. While he has yet to resume basketball-related activities, he seems optimistic about his return, and the pain in his hand has gone down, he says.
While love has been out Ricky Rubio has continued to improve his play. He’s neared a triple-double twice in his last five games, and he is no longer being put on a minute-restriction. He’s become one of the most consistent point guards out there, and is still relatively cheap in daily games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder sent back-up point guard Eric Maynor to the Trailblazers before the trade deadline to become rookie sensation Damian Lillard’s back-up in Portland. He debuted Sunday playing 15 minutes and notching a 2-1-3 line. Maynor never impressed me in OKC, but he should get more opportunity with his new home in Portland. Not much fantasy value.
Nicolas Batum has picked up his play since getting over a wrist injury. He nursed his injury over the All Star break and has hit two three-pointers in each of his three games since the break. He’s fragile, but until he goes down with another injury, he should be a safe play.
Oklahoma City Thunder
As I mentioned before, Eric Maynor was traded, but Derek Fisher was signed to return to OKC. Reggie Jackson may pick up some extra minutes behind Russell Westbrook as well, but don’t count on it. While Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant tend to be hot commodities every time they step on the hardwood, be sure to keep your eyes open for possible blowouts. OKC wins by a lot, and they do it often. But just because a game looks like it should be a blow-out, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking them, especially Durant.
Just proceed with caution if the Thunder have a good matchup. For example, if the Heat are playing the same night the Thunder are lacking competition, go with Dwayne Wade and LeBron James instead of RussWest and KD. Or maybe grab Kevin Martin instead. Just be sure to keep the possibility of a blow-out in mind when selecting these Thunder players.
Who saw a streak like this coming from Gordon Hayward? Not I. He has pulverized opponents after missing 10 games between January and early-February. His minutes are already up around 35 in his last two games, and he appears to be 100 percent. In his last two games he has shot a combined 30 times and 49 points. He’s on fire and a must own in daily leagues right now. However, there’s still lots to talk about in the Jazz back court.
At point guard, Mo Williams is still weeks away from returning, so Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson will be holding down the fort. That’s not good. Tinsley has been murdered on defense, most recently allowing Avery Bradley to put up 18 points, five rebounds and four dimes. The back-court has been the biggest problem for the Jazz in recent years, and the point guard has little to no value to fantasy owners, but the front court with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter is also a fantasy headache. Jefferson is a solid start every night (although he’s not always worth the money), but Millsap fluctuates. I tend to stay away from all three outside of Jefferson.
Golden State Warriors
There aren’t many guards playing better than Jarrett Jack right now. It started when Stephen Curry went down earlier in the year, but he hasn’t stopped. He’s been called a “leader” by head coach Mark Jackson and Curry. With Klay Thompson currently on a cold streak, Jack has been just that. In Jack’s seven games he’s played in in February, he’s averaged 20.1 points and 6.9 assists. Here’s a quote from the Mercury News on Jack’s 4th quarter play: “Jack ranks second in the NBA in fourth-quarter assists and seventh in fourth-quarter minutes. He’s 15th with 240 fourth-quarter points, ahead of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.”
It’s likely Thompson will soon pick up his play within a few games, as he often goes on cold streaks such as the one he is enduring right now. His deep-ball range is a major key in the Warriors’ success.
Together at Kansas University, and now reunited in Phoenix, the Morris brothers will play on the same team once again. Markieff Morris is expected to stay in his role, as a big man, while Marcus Morris will get time at both power and small forward, expected to contribute more at the latter.
On the court, Goran Dragic is playing great right now. While his defense still struggles at times, he’s the center piece for the Suns’ offense. But the supporting roles have been lackluster, and the Suns failed to bring in another weapon to support Dragic. Despite the lack of weapons, Dragic has found his way to his four consecutive double-doubles. Although he isn’t shooting great, the edges are becoming smoothing and Dragic is becoming a more complete point guard. That’s all Suns fans can ask for from him until they get more high-quality players around him.
With Patrick Patterson now in a Kings uniform via the Rockets, Jason Thompson now has competition for the PF spot. Thompson has been playing great, and has actually been a value play for me on many daily sites as of late, so this competition between Patterson and Thompson comes as a major bummer for me, as I don’t feel I can trust Thompson anymore. That said, I do think Thompson will win the job and keep close to the same role as he has been in along the way.
It’s also worth noting Isaiah Thomas has been stellar lately at the starting PG spot. He even peaked the attention of head coach Keith Smart, which doesn’t happen often. I’m confident in Thomas right now and rolling with him in many formats as a nice value that will put up 25 fps. A solid play.
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