Much has been written about Jimmy Butler and Bulls lately. Butler publicly criticized head coach Fred Hoiberg saying that the team needed to be coached harder. Reports then came out that there is growing tension in the locker room between Butler and his teammates. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose taking back seat roles this season, there are questions around Butler’s leadership. Just because he is paid well, doesn’t mean he’s the leader.
Leader or not, Butler willed the Bulls to victory over the Pacers in overtime. He scored 7 points in the final minute to force OT, before knocking down the game winner on an alley-oop tip in with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Pacers tried an alley-oop of their own on the ensuing inbounds, but Butler defended Paul George on the lob to preserve the Bulls’ win.
For the game, Butler finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. This was a much needed game for Butler, as Rose was a game time scratch with right hamstring tendinitis. As long as Butler is producing, owners shouldn’t worry about the drama surrounding the team. These things usually get blown out of proportion when teams are playing below expectations.
Aaron Brooks – While Kirk Hinrich (3 points in 13 minutes) started, it was Brooks who played more and helped Butler get the win. Brooks finished with 29 points, 5 assists, and 4 threes off the bench. Rose is day-to-day, but should he miss any more time, Brooks would be a strong waiver wire add.
Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol – The Chicago big men dominated the glass, combining for 25 rebounds. Gasol contributed 13/11 with 3 blocks, while Gibson posted 6/14/2 with 2 steals and 1 block. With Noah out a couple more weeks, Gibson should be scooped up in all leagues for defensive stats.
Lavoy Allen – On the Pacers side, Allen posted a surprise double-double (10 points and 12 rebounds), as Jordan Hill missed the game due to dental work.
Paul George – He wasn’t able to deliver the win for the Pacers, but he delivered for fantasy owners: 19/5/4 with 4 steals and 3 threes.
Brook Lopez – Monster fantasy line for Lopez: 24 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 5 blocks. The only flaw was his field goal percentage (7-18), but he made up for it by knocking down 10-12 from the free throw line.
Bojan Bogdanovic – BoBo has picked things up in December, ever since Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went down with a broken ankle. In 38 minutes, Bogdanovic went for 20/6/3 with 1 three for the Nets. With Hollis-Jefferson not expected back until mid-February, continue to roll with BoBo for points and threes.
Evan Fournier – Fournier is back in another grove, after having a mini slump at the beginning of the December. He scored 17 points to go along with 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 threes. I hope that you picked him back up or never dropped him in the first place.
Nikola Vucevic – Vucci Mane came through with another 20-point game (20/9/3), his 7th straight game of 20+ points, as he puts his slow start behind him.
Elfrid Payton – Payton came into Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle and an illness, which forced him to miss the morning’s shootaround. He ended up starting, but played only 5 minutes, as Scott Skiles pulled him early. Shabazz Napier, who started the second half (7 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds), and Victor Oladipo (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 threes) helped fill the void left by Payton.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – With Blake Griffin out with a partially torn left quad, someone on the Clippers will have to step up. Mbah a Moute may be starting for Griffin, but he hasn’t done much (4 points, 5 rebounds) and isn’t worth using in fantasy. Paul Pierce has seen an uptick in minutes and could be fantasy worthy in deeper leagues. He posted 13/5/2/1/1 with 3 threes last night. J.J. Redick (26 points, 5 threes) will also help to offset the loss of Griffin’s scoring.
Austin Rivers – A very big game for Doc’s son: 22/3/2 with 4 threes (7-11 FG, 4-6 3-PT FG). While someone will need to replace Griffin’s scoring, it’s more likely that Redick, Pierce, or even Jamal Crawford (11/3/3) will be more consistent fantasy options. Leave Rivers on the waiver wire.
DeAndre Jordan – Three straight double-doubles for Jordan (13/13), but he still continues to hurt you in FT%, with 5-10 shooting from the line.
Chris Paul – He shot poorly (4-13 FG, 0-3 3-PT), but went 11-12 from the charity stripe, on his way to a 19/11/5 line.
Kemba Walker – A night after dropping 38 on the Lakers (why can’t he play the Lakers every night?), Walker went for 29/7/3 with 2 steals and 2 threes. Not too shabby for a follow up.
Nicolas Batum – Batum continues his all-around production with 19/8/6, while shooting well (6-11 FG, 2-4 3-PT FG, 5-5 FT).
Cody Zeller – Al Jefferson will undergo knee surgery on Thursday and is expected to be out six weeks. With that news, Zeller should be locked in as a starter. He went for 12 and 8 with 3 steals on Wednesday. Frank Kaminsky will also see extra playing time, as he went for 20 points with 4 rebounds and 2 threes off the bench.
Jeremy Lamb – Lamb has seen his minutes dip, but bounced back for 19/5/2 on Wednesday. It was a nice effort, after a combined 2 points in the previous 2 games.
Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle – The Lakers’ future played well, leading the Lakers to their 6th win of the season. Clarkson chipped in 24 points, Russell went for 16/6/3, and Randle grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with 15 points and 4 assists.
Kobe Bryant – I know he’s retiring this season, but c’mon Celtics’ fans, you should never be chanting a Laker’s name on your home court! He’s killing your field goal percentage, but the counting numbers are good. 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists in his 20th season.
Lou Williams – Lou has been in a bit of a shooting slump, which could be attributed to a sore shoulder. It didn’t seem to bother him much on Wednesday, as he went for 19/4/2/2 on 7-9 shooting.
Isaiah Thomas – Thomas continues to make Danny Ainge look good for trading for him. Thomas led the Celtics in scoring with 24 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Jae Crowder – Crowder continues to make huge improvements in his play. He’s averaging almost 10 more points per game than he did last year! Last night, was much of the same: 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Evan Turner – Known more for his all-around production, Turner exploded for 20 points off the bench to go along with his 8 assists and 4 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan started off strong and never let up against the Wizards, on his way to a season high 34 points (He also scored 34 against Denver earlier in December). He made an extra effort to get to the line, as he went a perfect 15-15 from the charity stripe. DeRozan also contributed 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals for a solid all-around game.
Bismack Biyombo – Jonas Valanciunas (8 points, 9 rebound) may be back from his hand injury, but Biyombo dominated the Wizards big man on glass for 12/12 in 27 minutes off the bench. Valanciunas will see his minutes rise slowly, capping Biyombo’s value off the bench.
John Wall – In a great battle of point guards, Wall (19 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals) put up the better statistical game, but it was Kyle Lowry (11 points, 6 assists on 2-12 shooting) whose team won.
Jared Dudley – I thought that Kris Humphries (6 points, 3 rebounds) would be the power forward you’d want to own on the Wizards, but Dudley continues to shoot well from outside, proving me wrong. He contributed a 17/3/3 line while going 3-6 from downtown. He’s not quite consistent enough to trust on standard rosters, as this follows a 0 point effort on Monday, but he is someone to monitor, as he’s second in the league in 3-point shooting percentage.
Otto Porter – Porter looks to be healthy in his third game back, after missing a few games for a sore thigh. He posted a 20/9/2 line for his second straight 20-point game.
Ricky Rubio – Rubio was dishing dimes left and right, on his way to collecting 17 assists. The Jazz had no answer for Rubio, as he also contributed 10 points and 3 steals.
Gorgui Dieng – Dieng went for 12/9/1 with 2 steals, as he continues to show he needs more minutes.
Trey Burke – If it wasn’t for Burke, the Jazz would have lost by a lot more than 14 points. Burke led the Jazz with 23 points off the bench to go along with 4 assists, 3 threes, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
Jeff Withey – With Derrick Favors out with back spasms, Withey started his second straight game. He fell a rebound shy of a second straight double-double, but contributed a solid 13 and 9 with 2 blocks.
J.J. Barea – Barea has done his best to replace Deron Williams (hamstring): 23 points, 6 assists, and 5 threes. He’s now reached 20+ points in 3 out of the last four games, which ironically have all been Mavericks wins. Currently at 27% ownership, pick Barea up while the oft-injured Williams is sitting out.
Shaun Livingston – Livingston received the start, in place of Stephen Curry, who sat because of a sore leg. Livingston did little (8 points, 4 assists) as the Warriors mostly gave up without Curry. Klay Thompson (10 points, 4-15 shooting) and Draymond Green (11/9/4 on 4-15 shooting) had forgettable games for the Warriors, as they were blown out by 23. Curry, meanwhile, is listed as day-to-day, as an MRI revealed no structural injury. It was only Curry’s first missed game since March 13 of last season.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Lost in the Warriors’ great season, is how well the Spurs have been playing. They’re now 19-0 at home. Most of that has been due to Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 2 assists), but it was Aldridge who led the Spurs to their 33-point blowout of the Suns on Wednesday. LA finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Tyson Chandler – With the Suns being blown out by 33, there was very little going right for the Suns’ players. Chandler came off the bench for 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He outplayed Alex Len (0 points in 12 minutes) both in terms of production and minutes. With the Suns’ season in a complete free fall, who knows who Jeff Hornacek will give the big man minutes to.
C.J. McCollum – With Damian Lillard sitting out another game due to plantar fasciitis, McCollum led the Blazers to the victory over the Nuggets. He finished with a team high 29 points, along with 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 threes. Allen Crabbe also chipped in 20 points, to ease the loss of Lillard.
Al-Farouq Aminu – He’s in a three-point funk (0-5 last night), but Aminu posted a useful 14/9/4 line to make up for the poor 3-point shooting.
Mason Plumlee – Like Aminu, Plumlee posted a nice all-around game with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal. A quiet source of assists, Plumlee has averaged almost 3 a game in the past month.
Will Barton – He’s exploded in the month of December, going off for 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench, a night after scoring 29.
Gary Harris – Not quite as effective as Barton, Harris has still been a productive waiver wire add. 19/4/2/2 for him last night.
Jameer Nelson – I keep thinking his playing days are over and he keeps saying otherwise. Starting for an injured Emmanuel Mudiay, Nelson posted a 14/8/3 line. Those in need of assists should pick up Nelson until Mudiay is back.
Ish Smith – First off, the 76ers won a game! An away game at that, giving them one more win away than at home. Weird. What’s even weirder is that Ish Smith should be the starting point guard for the foreseeable future, as they cut Tony Wroten. Smith filled the stat sheet, posting 18/9/3/2/2. Mike D’Antoni has made mediocre point guards fantasy studs in the past. Smith just might be the next one to add to the list.
Nerlens Noel – He’s been unstoppable in the last couple games and continued the trend with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals.
Jerami Grant – While Noel didn’t pick up a block, Grant sure did, swatting 5 shots to go along with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 threes. Boy, there’s nothing he didn’t do.
Jahlil Okafor – Coming off the bench after missing two games, Okafor got back at it with a 10/10 double-double.
DeMarcus Cousins – Cousins fouled out, after putting up 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The counting stats are there, but the turnovers and shooting hurt (5 TOs, 4-10 FG, and 13-20 FT).
Omri Casspi – Jared Dudley is second in the league in 3-point shooting percentage, behind who you might ask? Omri Casspi that’s who. He posted a double-double (10/11), while going 2-7 from downtown.
Marco Belinelli – Another King that can knock down the three, Belinelli scored 28 points with 3 threes, but did little else off the bench (3 total rebounds, assists, and steals combined).
Rajon Rondo – He didn’t quite match Rubio, but 14 assists ain’t shabby. Rondo added 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals as well.
Hope you enjoyed my last Daily Notes of 2015. Happy New Year! See you in 2016!