So Russell Westbrook played yesterday… Ummm… What?
After hurting his knee in last year’s playoffs, then requiring a second surgery on October 1st, Westbrook was one of the biggest fantasy news stories early in preseason with an uncertain timetable. Well that table has expired much earlier than anyone expected, and Westbrook was out there without a minutes restriction last night. It’s like the first surgery was done in Hostel, then the next one at the X-Mansion. Seriously, reports ranged from from early to mid-December as a target return date, but a little Adamantium in your bones goes a long way! The good news is he’s back, but the bad (and frankly, not shocking) news is he was mighty rusty. In nearly 33 minutes, Westbrook shot only 5-16 (0-2 3PTM 11-14 FT) for 21 points, with 4 Reb and 7 Ast and 4 TOs. Besides shooting like Michael Chiklis, you’ll take that line any day. Very encouraging to see Westbrook get to the line that frequently, and the minutes were indeed non-limited. He looked pretty Westbrook-ish in highlights as well. Even if Westbrook isn’t quite the player he was the past few seasons, all owners are looking at a steal for where they got him post-second surgery. Here’s what else I saw over the weekend in fantasy hoops action:
Reggie Jackson – Should get solid minutes off the bench, but his value obviously takes a healthy hit. Still played 28 minutes last night, 4 more than Thabo Sefolosha, and that was still with Derek Fisher getting 20 minutes as well. I think the real hit is any upside for Jeremy Lamb, who scored 8 in 16 minutes last night. Jackson and Westbrook are going to run together at times, with Fisher getting those 20ish minutes as well. I’d hold Jackson in most 12-team leagues, but he’s expendable if you have a bevy of hurt guys already.
Serge Ibaka - Well… Not looking so good thus far for one of my breakout picks. Hey, I’m biting the bullet with him on three of my teams including the REL dynasty, but I doubt that makes you feel any better. He’s flirted with double-doubles every game, but hasn’t shot well, only has 2 blocks, and well, just plain hasn’t been good the first week. But I still have big hopes, and Westbrook returning I don’t think will hurt. It can’t get much worse right? Right?! I’ve seen two Thunder games this year and can say that he looks more confident on offense, they just aren’t falling.
Miles Plumlee - Part 1 of NBA’s Waiver-Wire’s Big Man Hoarders. Two straight dub-dubs with three blocks in each to start the year, but then laid a clunker last night, going scoreless with 5 Rebs and a Blk after getting into early foul trouble and failed to get worked back in. Alex Len didn’t even see the court last night, as Channing Frye played nearly 34 minutes going 7-14 for 19/5 with a Stl and 2 Blks. If I need threes and a big rather than the boards from a big, I’d actually get Frye over Plumlee. A little more experience and less prone to clunkers like Miles.
Vitor Faverani - Part 2. I like him a shade more than Plumlee, but both showed why they’re never going to consistent this year with Faverani also getting benched most of the second half. Slim was singing his praises last week, a day before his huge 12/18 game with 6 blocks. Slim is the site’s Billy Zane when it comes to wire pickups. ”You should listen to your friend Billy Zane. He’s a cool dude. He’s trying to help you out!” That said, Brad Stephens benched him late as mentioned, and you just don’t know what the playing time will be like on a team “Wiggin’ out for Wiggins.” Dude totally trademarking that.
Jeff Green - Benched the whole 4th quarter in the close game as well. Wiggin’ out for Wiggins! Celtics beat writers calling it “defensive lapses” that lead to time on the pine. Brad Stephens said he’d rather just bench everyone because they have “being good lapses”.
Goran Dragic - Hurt his ankle. Or as Goran would say, his “gleženj”. I didn’t see the injury and seeing injuries is one of my least favorite things about being a sports buff. I had the Wolves game last week when Ronny Turiaf fractured his elbow. I didn’t want to watch, but could hear it on replays. Anyway, long winded way of saying I am not going to look at the injury and reports were it didn’t look good and he was in a lot of pain. Prepare for the worst and keep your ears peeled for news throughout the day.
Gerald Green - Played a lot of the minutes left behind by Dragic last night. Went 7-14 in 33+ with 5 3s for a 21/8/2 slash with 4 TOs. Green is athletically awesome, but shot friggin’ 36% from the field last year! Worth a look in deep leagues, especially if Dragic misses extended time.
Archie Goodwin - I think they have to give him minutes. He’s only played 19 minutes in two games thus far (didn’t get on the court last night), and they’ve gotta give the kid some run if Dragic misses a lot of time. Deep league owners (as in 16 or 20) should hold if they can and see how the guard situation in Phoenix plays out. As his owner in dynasty, I still think he has a bright future.
Eric Bledsoe - One thing’s for sure, Bledsoe is straight ballin’. 26/7/14 with 3 steals last night, but did have 8 TOs. Hit that huge game winner over the weekend. Love this guy, and loved him coming into the season. Yet he’s not on any of my teams… Sadface. Strike that. Scarface. I want to dunk my head into narcotics.
Mike Scott - After a good preseason, got 22 minutes off the bench and went 13/5/1 and a steal and took 13 whopping shots. Dem a lotta shots. I thought he looked good in two games I saw him play in last year down the stretch when he got some run, and he was solid in college at Virginia. The Hawks have only three interesting guys on their bench, so deep league owners take note of these guys (my FAAB bid of $9 was an easy winner in REL).
Cartier Martin - Hawks bench guy #2. 9/4/3 last night scoring all his points on three 3s in 28 minutes off the bench. He reportedly started the second half over DeMarre Carroll as well. I bid huge on him because I wanted to corner the Hawks minutes as best I could ($19) and maybe overspent. Oh well. Then there’s…
Dennis Schroeder - …to round out the Hawks bench guys. Obviously he’s well behind Jeff Teague, but will get run. He was more on the radar than the above two guys (already drafted in REL), but played well last night in his best NBA game going 10/3/4.
Xavier Henry - Wheels got moved into the Lakers starting line-up last night, and went 18/0/1 in 26 minutes. Hit two 3s and shot pretty well (5-11) and is on track to get that FT% better hitting 6-8. I bid $13 on him in REL, but knew I wasn’t getting him (went for a ginormous $61). Too much uncertainty with Kobe Bryant returning at some point for me to invest that much FAAB.
Kevin Martin - Wait the Wolves are 3-0?! I said way in the off-season I like them to make a playoff run and get in if everyone stays healthy, and so far so good. The flip side is, I wasn’t big on Martin. Put up 30 last night, hit 5-5 from deep and then not much else with 3 Rebs 2 Asts and 2 Stls. No complaints if you’re a K-Mart owner though!
Corey Brewer - Still starting, but had his minutes at just over 24 to Derrick Williams‘ 21. Given Brewer was inflated by being with the first unit, but he was +14 on the floor to Williams -15. Still think Brewer will be useful as the last guy on your roster in 12-teamers.
Victor Oladipo - Scraight balla. 8-13 19/6/4 with 2 Stls in only 22 minutes off the bench in the Magic’s surprise rout of the Nets. Jason Kidd better lay off the sauce after this one before driving home. I know he wants to have no memory of this game! Voice Over (initials VO always mean that to me) did have 7 TOs to sully the nice line. Everyone’s least favorite starting line-up clogger Arron Afflalo went 5-14. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA is always that) did flirt with the triple dub though, at 16/6/8.
Andrew Nicholson - Dan’s buying it, and so far so good for his favorite punner! 17/11 last night with a block. He’s better than Jason Maxiell who is somehow starting, but I’m still not much of a believer.
Trevor Ariza - After a huge start to his season, went ice cold last night shooting 4-16. Still managed a 13/7/0 with 2 Stl slash and played 31 minutes. Worth owning in deeper leagues, streamer in under 14.
Bradley Beal - Wasn’t hot by any means, but took a good step towards warming up shooing 6-14 last night and 4-8 from deep for 19. Ariza was like, “dammit Beal!” after Beal pulled some Pedro Cerrano voodoo to transfer his shooting woes to him. Hey, that sorta locker room stuff is a step up from what Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were doing!
Brandon Jennings - Returned last night, and played the most minutes of any Pistons guard at 31. 5-12 (1-2 3 PTM 3-6 FT) 14/3/4 and 4 Stls. Nothing huge except the steals, but good to see him out there. Effectively cuts Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from any relevance, and he’s droppable in virtually all redraft leagues. Which is a bummer because he looked good against the Grizzlies last week in a game I caught. A Jennings KCP backcourt at some point would be ridiculous to watch. Anyway, its a backcourt clogged with Gs and KCP needs injuries to get a role. But if KCP indeed fills in capably when he can and has a good offseason, could be big in 2014-15.
Michael Carter-Williams - Cooled off in his second game, but then heated right back up against the Bulls on Saturday, going 26/4/10 with 3 Stls. Shot 10-22 which you love, and only 4 TOs, which is more than acceptable. Too early for ROY votes?
DeMarcus Cousins - Only played 18 minutes on Saturday going 8/7 with 3 Stls. Why would they bench him he’s their best player?! It’s like we’ve never seen this before… He is just too frustrating for me to own.
Next Games: I’ll be highlighting BOS @ MEM then HOU @ LAC tonight. The main things I’ll be watching for is how Brad Stephens plays his best players, especially in what should be a pretty bad loss, then how Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan matchup. Will be a dandy. Notes from those and the other two games tomorrow and good luck in week 2!