But I had no idea that D’Antoni would behave like his fictional doppelganger (played by Powers Boothe) and that he would turn the Lakers into the Bella Union Saloon, a place rife with rigged gambling, card games that end in gunfire, out-in-the-open prostitution and inexplicable frontcourt rotations. OK, maybe just the last thing.
There really seems to be no method to D’Antoni’s madness. Jordan Hill got some serious run at the end November and responded with some double-digit rebound games, so of course coach slashed his minutes down to the high teens by the beginning of December. Around the middle of the month he called Hill’s number again, and the results weren’t surprising: He produced some nice games, including a 21-9-1 on Dec. 16 at Atlanta. Now Hill is starting, but his minutes have been crunched down to around 20 per game.
Some of this is injuries (Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, etc.). But then how do you explain Robert Sacre?
When Hill fell out of favor at the beginning of the month, D’Antoni reached deep into his bench and pulled out the unknown 7-footer, and Sacre played pretty well. But just when feel-good stories about Sacre earning D’Antoni’s trust started appearing, the Moustache chucked Sacre out to Mr. Wu’s pigs.
Now the Lakers are all kinds of banged up, but instead of going back to Sacre, D’Antoni grabbed Chris Kaman, who’s not even on the Laker depth chart anymore but managed to put up a double-double in Friday’s blow-out loss to the Warriors. Did D’Antoni have an “oh yeah” moment there, and realize that Kaman could provide a calming veteran presence? Doubt it. By the end of next week Kaman will start wearing out warm-ups again.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that if you’re looking for a guy who grabs rebounds and/or blocks shots, you should stay away from Cy Tolliver’s wild-west saloon. It’s like chasing saves on a team that uses a closers-by-committee approach, only the committee is the entire bullpen.
Here’s what else I’m seeing in the paint:
Brandan Wright – Did you jump on the Wright train the second it left the station with that 19-point debut a few weeks back? And did you stay on after he laid a stinker in his second game? Congratulations, you’ve got yourself a center. If you don’t have him and he’s out there, I wouldn’t overreact and dump someone good for him just yet, but his line of 19-6-4 against the Suns on Saturday has me sold.
Alexis Ajinca – Deep League Special! The French 7-footer only got in the mix the other night (4 points, 11 boards, 1 block) because of injuries, but there’s gotta be a reason the Pelicans signed him to a two-year deal. Plus, he’s got that satanic Kevin Garnett look (devil goatee, pointy ears) going on, which can’t hurt when he’s storming around the paint.
Al Jefferson - Barely missed three straight 20-10′s but had three blocks to go with 19 points and 11 boards against Utah on Saturday. This is really just an excuse to link to the Charlotte Almost Hornets’ new logo, for my man JB [editor's note - go Hornets!].
Glen Davis – I haven’t been reading the Orlando Sentinel too much these days. Did the Magic become playoff contenders overnight? Is that why they benched Victor Oladipo so they could run with a veteran lineup that includes Big Baby? And does that move even make them better at all? Hey, Jacque Vaughn’s boner can be your gain. Pick up Davis for your bench if you need boards.
Andrew Bogut – The onion continues to bloom for Bogut as he capped off a monster week of boarding, dumping a 12-20-2 on the Lakers. It’s almost like he tries to score in the single digits, but I doubt anyone who owns him is complaining. Kind of like anyone who has …
DeAndre Jordan – Threw up a 14-20-5 for the mini-rainbow line against the Pelicans. That is some choice Boards-N-Blocks Action!
Nene Hilario – He’s back from his latest weirdo injury, but it looks like he’ll be playing as many (read: as little) minutes as he wants while coming off the bench or starting, apparently his choice, whatever. If you can get anyone to take him, I’d sell while he’s healthy.
Trevor Booker – The most recent Hilario injury was the best and worst thing to happen to Booker. He shined for a few games after landing the temporary starting job, but while that was going on …
Kevin Seraphin – Took advantage of the extra minutes while Nene was out, looked good, and now seems to be keeping his time while Booker loses his. I liked Seraphin as a deep-leaguer or a sleeper bench guy heading into the season, and if he gets minutes he’s the guy to own over Booker.
Miles Plumlee – Don’t let his 6-point, 8-board poop on the floor of the U.S. Airways Arena on Saturday scare you off. Stick his nose in it, make him clean it up, and then realize that Plumlee is worth owning right now and for the rest of the season as long as Alex Len remains packed away in cold storage.
Tyson Chandler – Had 8 and 9 boards in 30-plus minutes in his last two games, but leg cramps are telling me those worn-down legs aren’t getting any younger.
Larry Sanders – Hey mom! Santa got me a Larry Sanders for Christmas! Doubt that will be said by anyone anywhere on Dec. 25, but it could be true, as that seems to be the new target return date.
Roy Hibbert – Finally got back into double-digits in boards with 12 (to go along with 3 blocks and 15 points) on Sunday against the Celts, but at 7-2, 280-plus he should be averaging more than 8 rebounds a game, right? After this year’s fantasy drafts I was pissed I didn’t have him on a single team; now, despite the blocks (2.8 per) I’m glad I don’t.
Jared Sullinger – Oh, that’s why Hibbert is so ballyhooed: He shut Sully down on Sunday, holding him to a paltry 6-2-2 line. But defense without numbers is real-life stuff, and we don’t care about that. As for Sullinger, his 22-11 against Washington was nice. But Kelly Olynyk has returned, and Vitor Faverani, although he stinks, continues to reside on the end of the bench. So you have to wonder how long Brad Stevens will be able to resist going back to the whack-a-mole, D’Antoni approach of deploying big men. You’d think Olynyk and Faverani looking like this and this, respectively, would be enough to tell Stevens that Sullinger was the man, but apparently not.
Little Big Man of the Week: Brandon Knight. What the what? When he exploded for 36 against the Knicks last Wednesday, he contributed 9 boards. In his next game in Cleveland, he cleaned the glass 14 times to go along with 17 points. The 6-3 guard is somehow averaging 4-plus rebounds per game, and even though its unreasonable to think he’ll hit double digits again anytime soon, go ahead and enjoy that gravy on some mashed taters or anything you like.