Ethan Norof

Sunday Daily Dose

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Draymond's Playground

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler have to be among the candidates for fantasy basketball MVP right now if we’re factoring in draft value. Both players, contributing in every category across the board, have become staples of successful teams this season, and it’s no wonder they’re both highlighted in this one for what they’ve brought their owners. We’ll spend more time on them later.


Elsewhere, Marc Gasol continues to make a real-life bid for MVP, it’s another big night for Anthony Davis, and Carmelo Anthony looks like a real threat to shut it down with his knee injury at any moment. The Knicks are terrible and quickly going nowhere.


It’s the Sunday Dose.   


Raptors 110, Clippers 98


In a game that was tied at the half and a two-point affair after the third quarter, the Raptors showed which team wanted it more en route to outscoring the Clippers 30-20 in the final frame of this one. Behind a (routine) big afternoon from Kyle Lowry (25 points, three boards, seven assists, three steals) and Jonas Valanciunas (22 points, 11 rebounds, 8-of-13 shooting), Toronto was able to hold off Los Angeles despite the Clips having three 20-point scorers in Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick with the latter two combining for eight three-pointers.


BG kicked in six boards, five more assists, a steal and two blocks, and he now has at least five assists in five straight contests. DeAndre Jordan added an unbelievable 20 rebounds, including seven offensive, but he had just four points in this one. Chris Paul struggled to make an impact in this one, finishing with just 10 points and eight assists on 3-of-12 shooting.


The Raptors got some rare help from Amir Johnson, who finally flashed some signs of life with eight points, 12 rebounds and a steal while playing 32 minutes, and he reduced Patrick Patterson to just 24 minutes (10 points, four rebounds, two triples) in the process. It’s going to be a rare evening when Patterson and Johnson don’t have an adverse impact on each other.


Pacers 110, Nets 85


Aside from Jarrett Jack (22 points, six rebounds), who continues to play well in a starter’s role for the Nets, this was an absolute stinker of a game for most of the Brooklyn roster that they can’t forget about soon enough. Deron Williams (seven points, three assists, 20 minutes) and Brook Lopez (zero points, five rebounds, two blocks, 15 minutes) each struggled in this one off the bench once again, and neither has looked right since returning from their respective injuries—stop me if you’ve heard that sentence before, Nets fans. Joe Johnson chipped in 18 points, six boards, and six assists, but he did it on an inefficient 4-of-12 shooting.


For the Pacers, it was a true team effort. With seven guys in double figures, including four off the bench, it was Rodney Stuckey who played the role of lead star: 20 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals. As a reminder, don’t chase the stats with Stuckey: He’s an inconsistent underperformer who does not have the ability to flourish consistently in Indiana’s offense. George Hill (knee) continues to work his way back into form for owners, and he chipped in 12 points, six boards, five assists and two triples in just 23 minutes. CJ Watson exploded for 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists (three triples, three steals) in 29.5 minutes, but that’s not going to be a regular thing with the backcourt rotation getting healthy—that’s going to be a committee effort.


Bulls 107, Pelicans 100


Another huge game from Anthony Davis (29 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks), but another Pelicans loss. Unfortunately that’s an all-too-familiar theme for AD early in his career, but I’m a believer in New Orleans playing to its real ceiling with some continuity and good health. Unfortunately, for this particular team, the latter may be more of the unicorn than the former at this point. Davis did get help in this one from both Tyreke Evans (26 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block) and Jrue Holiday (19 points, three rebounds, seven assists, two steals), but Ryan Anderson’s 13 points on a lousy 4-of-11 shooting represented the only other New Orleans player in double digits.


This Bulls team—when everyone is healthy—is the undisputed best squad in the Eastern Conference. The backcourt combination of Derrick Rose (19 points, two triples) and Jimmy Butler (33 points, five rebounds, two steals, one block) continues to move up the ranks by the day, and Butler is returning the best ADP of any current player given his ascension into a full-fledged superstar shooting guard this season—both in reality and in fantasy. Conversely, Rose’s fantasy stock isn’t what it once was, but it is nice to see the flashes of the “old Rose” becoming more regular than they had been since his MVP-winning campaign.


Pau Gasol had an off scoring night with just eight points, but with nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks, his owners certainly aren’t complaining. On the other hand, Joakim Noah’s owners might start whining if he doesn’t turn up the production soon. Noah had just seven points, nine rebounds, a steal and a block in 28.5 minutes, and the red flag I tabbed on his stock due to an offseason knee procedure is looking truer with every underwhelming performance. Taj Gibson’s double-double (12 points, 10 boards, a steal and a block) as well as Nikola Mirotic’s carving out a role in the rotation (10 points, six rebounds) are cause for concern when evaluating Noah’s chances of rehabbing his previous stock.


Grizzlies 103, Heat 95


Zach Randolph (knee) remains out for the Grizzlies, and that means the dominance of Marc Gasol—which has been a theme this season—continues to get thrusted toward the forefront as the most noticeable thing whenever he takes the floor. This season is finally when casual NBA fans notice how good Gasol is because his production is translating in the box score (22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks) unlike in previous seasons when that might not have been the case. The other thing Gasol has going for him this season—which is a major reason behind the Grizzlies’ excellent first-half—is his impressive consistency. He’s really become a major force in this league, and it’s just in time for his contract season. Imagine that.


Memphis also got 24 points from Mike Conley (including four triples), but three assists to three turnovers really limits the appeal of Conley’s line. He’s an underrated but overstated fantasy option. In other words, I’d feel great about having him as my No. 2 point guard, but not so good about having him as my No. 1.


Dwyane Wade (25 points, seven assists, four steals, two blocks) continues to prove that the yearly tradition of declaring him dead is a ridiculous one, Danny Granger bought a time machine and went back to 2006 to score 18 points off the bench, and Luol Deng had a very solid 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Miami. The Heat pushed hard in this one, but ultimately just didn’t have enough talent with Chris Bosh (calf) still out.


Magic 102, Hornets 94


Despite an unbelievable 42-point explosion of an effort from Kemba Walker, the Hornets were destined to lose this game when just one other player (Al Jefferson-14 points) joined Walker to score in double figures. This has to go down as one of the more disappointing loss of the season for Charlotte, and that’s saying something in a year that’s been a complete and utter disappointment in every sense. Jefferson added nine rebounds and an uncharacteristic four blocks in this one, so at least he was able to come through for owners who needed him to do so. Lance Stephenson is being used as the scapegoat for this team’s problems, but the issues run far deeper. They were underrated by fans, media and the opposition last season, and overrated by all three going into this one.


The Magic got six guys to score ten or more points in this one, and Nikola Vucevic’s solid double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) led the way. Tobias Harris continues to play well, and he poured in 21 points, six boards, two steals, two triples and two blocks in the win. Perhaps most notably was Elfrid Payton’s performance: 11 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers. The shooting is still a concern (4-of-13 in this game), but Payton’s arrow is firmly pointing up for the remainder of the season.


Wizards 101, Celtics 88


Underwhelming would be the nicest possible description to illustrate how the Celtics have fared since the Rajon Rondo trade. Jeff Green had 23 predictably empty points in this game, and although Jared Sullinger is showing some signs of life (12 points, five boards, two triples), he’s got a lot of work to do before becoming the player he was earlier in the season. Marcus Smart had another game where he had more turnovers (four) than assists (two) in just 14.5 minutes, and he’s nowhere near a must-add, let alone must-start player despite Rondo no longer in town. Kelly Olynyk played 29 minutes in this one and responded with 15 points and eight rebounds, and while I’m not an Olynyk guy whatsoever, he’s strung together a few decent-enough performances. Meanwhile, Tyler Zeller played just 12 minutes in the loss vs. Washington.


Paul Pierce turned back the clock against his former team and delivered ‘The Truth’ with 17 points in 19 minutes, and despite an off game from both John Wall (12 points, seven dimes, three steals, five turnovers) and Bradley Beal (nine points, four boards, two steals and a block), the Wizards got strong bench production from Kris Humphries (18 points, nine rebounds, two steals), Otto Porter (12 points) and Kevin Seraphin (10 points).


Hawks 90, Bucks 85


After being embarrassed by Milwaukee in Atlanta on Friday, the Hawks got some revenge in the form of a win on the Bucks’ home court. Jeff Teague stole the show for ATL in this one with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists with a perfect 10-of-10 showing from the free throw line. Al Horford contributed a fat line of 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, while Paul Millsap kicked in 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists. DeMarre Carroll’s stat line might not jump off the page, but nine points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two triples is a great illustration of what makes him such an undervalued small forward.


Milwaukee didn’t get much from the Greek Freak in this one, as he had just five points and five rebounds in 19 minutes with four fouls. In the nightly game of “who’s got the hot hand for the Bucks?” it was Khris Middleton who stepped up to the plate with 21 points, five rebounds and five triples in 36.5 minutes off the bench. Inconsistency is the consistent theme in Bucksville, USA. With Larry Sanders out of the lineup, Zaza Pachulia delivered a throwback Thursday line (on a Saturday) with 11 points, 15 rebounds and a block).


Jazz 88, Sixers 71


Big Shot Bob Covington continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Sixers and fantasy owners who scooped him from the waiver wire, and he delivered once again with 17 points, nine rebounds, a steal and two blocks (two triples) despite Philadelphia barely cracking 70 points in this one. He was a whopping minus-25 in his 36 minutes though, so that’s certainly something that warrants monitoring as it relates to Covington’s playing time going forward. So far, he seems to have the ultra-green light with a considerably long leash from Brett Brown and co.


The real story in this one for Philly was Michael Carter-Williams’ horrific night. A pathetic 2-of-20 showing from the field, MCW posted just eight points, four rebounds and six assists to go with his six turnovers. It was an embarrassing performance by a player who came into this one shooting 40.5 percent from the field, and there’s going to be more of these shooting woes in MCW’s future. The only other notable for Philly was Henry Sims’ 10 points, eight rebounds a steal and two blocks, and that’s now four solid but unspectacular Sims has quietly strung together with averages of 9.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 0.75 blocks, and that’s worth watching especially if Nerlens Noel (ankle) misses time. Noel is headed for X-rays on his ankle after injuring it in this game.

For Utah, Derrick Favors stole the show with a stat-stuffed double-double: 17 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and five blocks. I’ve been drinking Favors’ Kool-Aid since before the season began and hopefully you’re slurping up the rewards as well. Enes Kanter had an empty double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Trey Burke went for 17 points and four assists on 5-of-18 shooting without Alec Burks (shoulder).


Kings 135, Knicks 129


Another brutal loss for the Knicks. This was an especially excruciating sting in the rear to both the players and Knicks fans because of how close it was to being a win. Playing without Amar’e Stoudemire (knee), the Knicks have to win any game Cole Aldrich starts and gives them 18 points, seven rebounds, a steal and two blocks on 8-of-9 shooting in just 24 minutes. New York has little depth up front right now, so deep leaguers could do a lot worse than a short-term gamble on the white whale.


Carmelo Anthony had another huge game with 36 points, 11 rebounds, six assists a steal and two triples. He continues to play big minutes (almost 46 in this one), but so long as his knee holds up, it seems like he’s going to keep pushing through it. As the losses mount up, a shutdown is a very valid concern. Tim Hardaway, Jr. finally had a decent showing with 19 points, five rebounds, three triples and two blocks, but the returns of JR Smith (foot) and Iman Shumpert (shoulder) will eliminate his short-term value.


Sacramento saw DeMarcus Cousins continue his rampage of a season with 39 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and he even added a triple for good measure. DMC has really improved everything about his game, and it’s a treat to watch him play this year. He should be a slam dunk for the All-Star team. Darren Collison had one of his best games all season with 27 big points to go along with 10 dimes, adding two steals and three triples as well. Rounding out the big three was Rudy Gay with 29 points, two boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks. It was a good night for the Kings’ three-stack combination.


Warriors 110, Timberwolves 97


With back-to-back losses staring the Warriors in the face and the rebuilding Timberwolves waiting on deck, you could smell the blowout from a distance in this one. No Warriors starter played more than 32 minutes, and Draymond Green led the way in both minutes (31.5) and statistical production: four points, eight rebounds, six assists, six steals and three blocks. Green’s explosive line is an excellent reminder that he has strong value even when he isn’t scoring, and when he is it’s just icing on the cake. Green has absolutely blitzed his ADP and will get absolutely paid as a restricted free agent this offseason.


The Splash Brothers combined for 46 points (25 for Curry with four triples, 21 or Thompson with four triples), and even Andre Iguodala is showed some signs of life (10 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals) in the blowout win.


Rookie Zach LaVine put together a nice showing for his owners with 12 points and 14 assists, but the shooting (4-of-12) remains a real concern. LaVine’s stock is about to drop in considerable fashion with the return of Ricky Rubio (ankle) nearing. Thaddeus Young kicked in 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, while Shabazz Muhammad continues to do more than just score with nine points, nine rebounds and a block. Following two straight strong games of 20-plus points, Andrew Wiggins took a step back with just 10 points in the loss. Just a reminder: Wiggins won’t be 20 until the end of February. This is going to take some time, but there are very encouraging signs early in the process.




Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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