With the sporting world turning its attention to the College Football Championship game last night, professional basketball was put on the back burner with only 3 games played. As I flipped between athletic contests, I couldn’t help but notice the parallel between the historical consistency of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the San Antonio Spurs. While the Crimson Tide hold the distinction of being the best team in college football (and one of the most hated at the same time), the Spurs excellence does not always translate to the proper accolades (although I don’t think it’s possible to hate the Spurs). Despite this difference in perception, both teams are the models of achievement in the respective sports.
So on a night in which a new champion was crowned, it was San Antonio’s victory, its tenth game this by a margin greater than 25 points, that illustrated the disparity between the Spurs and the rest of the 28 non-Warrior teams in the NBA.
As the Spurs fight to catch up to Golden State for home court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs, LaMarcus Aldridge not only played against the lowly Brooklyn Nets, he dominated them. The power forward recorded 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists in 28 minutes of action, marking his 38th 20/10 game over the past 2 seasons.
Kawhi Leonard – In a city full of skyscrapers, the high-flying forward leapt over tall buildings and poor help defense on his way to 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 steal against a struggling Nets squad last night. While Leonard has produced in every imaginable way for fantasy owners, his historic season from behind the arc lost a little luster with his 3-point percentage dropping below 50%. Although basic statistics may hint that regression to the mean is inevitable, Leonard is solidifying himself as one of the leagues best snipers, with an even more lethal shot selection. Fantasy owners should expect his 3-point shooting to hover between 45% – 50% for the remainder of the year.
Danny Green – At this point in the year, every lackluster performance garners the same reaction from fantasy owners, but it is puzzling to see that he’s owned in 75% of Yahoo leagues. After signing to a team-friendly deal in the offseason, it certainly is unpleasant to see one of the NBA’s premier role players suffer through such an extended slump, but fantasy owners are better off parting ways with the shooting guard. For anyone struggling to move on from Green due to sentimental attraction of his recent Finals performances, just remember, if you love something, you need to let it go.
Manu Ginobili – Between the random rest days and restricted minutes, Ginobili manages to hold solid value in deeper leagues with consistent rebounding and assist totals to augment his scoring and 3-point shooting. In 18 minutes of action, the famed sixth man chipped in 9 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound and 2 steals.
Brook Lopez – As the Nets drop their fifth straight game, fantasy owners did not have to worry about their marquee “star” finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. With the Nets struggling in their rebuild, conventional wisdom dictates the organization may be looking to move the big man around the trade deadline, potentially decreasing his fantasy value. However, logic and reason are two words I would not use to describe decision-making behind the Nets personnel decision. Without any avenue to improve their team for next few years, Lopez will likely be part of many rumors, but it’s tough to see the Nets moving one of their only assets.
Donald Sloan – The popular waiver wire addition failed to live up to the billing last night with 2 points, 5 assists, and 1 block in 24 minutes. In fairness to Sloan, it would be tough for anyone to start their first game against the San Antonio Spurs, but for a team in need of assists, Sloan is a worthy gamble given Brooklyn’s absolute dearth of healthy ballhandlers.
Bojan Bogdanovic – After a string of double-digit scoring performances, the scoring guard’s game has apparently, and drastically, vanished over the past week. Although I proclaimed him to be the biggest beneficiary of Jarrett Jack’s injury, Bogdanovic has scored a combined 2 points in his last 3 outings. He’s still been seeing between 20 to 30 minutes per night, but I’m concerned about his long-term outlook if his recent play continues.
John Wall – Recording his second straight double-double, the University of Kentucky product finished the night with 17 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 3 steals while going 2-4 from deep. While Wall has made solid contributions in virtually every fantasy category over the past week, fantasy owners are hoping the star point guard finds a new way to manage his turnover problem with 23 over the past 4 games.
Otto Porter – Playing over 30 minutes for the eight straight game, Porter is turning his heavy workload into solid fantasy value for owners. Last night was no exception as the third-year forward finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 2-5 from behind the arc.
Garrett Temple – After playing himself off of many fantasy rosters with a few too many single-point scoring efforts, the once popular waiver wire addition seems serviceable once again in larger leagues. Temple finished with 14 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal while shooting 2-4 from 3-point range. If Temple is scoring and hitting 3s, he’s going to be ownable.
Derrick Rose – An interesting game to say the least for Mr. Rose. 23 points, good! 2-3 from deep, maybe his shooting is coming around! 1 block, always nice to see! 1 assist, point guards don’t necessarily have to facilitate to be effective! Bulls were -25 when Rose was on the court, excuse me while I go cry in a corner about this.
Jimmy Butler – A well-rounded effort by Butler last night featuring 19 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals.
Pau Gasol – In recording his 20th double-double of the year, Gasol finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. While he still struggles to protect the paint, the former trade rumor is rewarding fantasy owners for sticking with him in 2016.
Chris Bosh – Starting at center while Hassan Whiteside was sidelined with knee tendinitis, the sharp-shooting big man recorded his second double-double of the calendar year with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Bosh has been on a hot streak for the past month, and his 0-5 shooting performance from deep marks the first time he did not make a 3-pointer since December 16.
Dwyane Wade – Leading all heat players in scoring, Wade’s 20 points did not come easy, making all 8 of his free throws to supplement a 6-19 performance from the field. However, his playmaking was, as the kids say, on fleek last night finishing with 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 1 block.
Justice Winslow – In his first career start, Winslow played a total of 26 minutes and finished with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 steal. Although the matchup against the defending champs deflated his performance last night, Winslow is worth a look as a streamer this week in deeper leagues with Whiteside potentially missing a few more games.
Steph Curry – Steph Curry, Volume Scorer? That certainly does not have the same ring to it as Steph Curry, Destroyer of Worlds, but the reigning MVP looked human last night, missing multiple wide-open 3-pointers. Although Steph finished with 31 points, it took him 27 shots and 6 free throw attempts to do so. Add in 6 assists, 2 rebounds, and a 1 steal, and fantasy owners can only complain so much.
Draymond Green – 22 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal in 36 minutes of action for Draymond last night.
Harrison Barnes – The 27 minutes Barnes played last night were the most since returning from injury, and the forward responded with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. His point total also marks the most points he’s scored in a game since the return as well. Fantasy owners waiting for Barnes will need to continue to exercise patience as he plays himself back into the starting lineup.