After celebrating Ohio State’s National Championship on Monday, LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers lineup on Tuesday. He picked up right where he left off, scoring 33 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and dishing out 5 assists following a two-week break due to knee and back issues. The Cavaliers still lost the game, but fantasy owners won’t care about the Cavs’ record as long as James continues to put up lines like that.
James looked healthy and explosive, especially on these dunks. He wasn’t on a minutes restriction, as he saw 37 minutes of court time. James’ return pushes Mike Miller back to the bench, but he wasn’t providing much in starter’s minutes anyways.
While Miller moved back to the bench, J.R. Smith put up 29 points in his third start for the Cavs, after scoring 4 and 27 points in his two previous starts. It’s clear that Smith can still score in bunches on any given night, but expect the inconsistency to continue, as he is the fourth option on offense. There are just not enough shots to go around when you’re starting alongside Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James.
Speaking of knuckleheads, Lance Stephenson made his return to the Charlotte Hornets lineup on Wednesday night. After sitting out a total of 14 games over the last couple weeks, Stephenson put up 8 points and 2 assists on 3-8 shooting in his return. As expected, Stephenson was on a minutes restriction, playing 18 minutes off the bench.
Now that Stephenson is back, it’s unclear what his role will be. Since he missed so many games, he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction for at least the next couple games. Then we should have a better idea whether Stephenson will be inserted back into the starting lineup or continue coming off the bench.
Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Gerald Henderson have stepped up for the Hornets and have the wins to show for it. They won five games in a row prior to Wednesday’s loss to the Spurs. Given how poorly Stephenson started off the year and the Hornets’ recent success, it will be interesting to see how coach Steve Clifford divvies out the minutes. This is a situation to watch, as it could affect Henderson, MKG, and Stephenson’s fantasy values.
To spread the NBA’s global brand, the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks traveled to London to play against each other on Thursday. No one expected the Knicks to be this bad this season, but perhaps the NBA should have scheduled two of the more premiere teams to play in London. At this point, I’d rather watch the 76ers.
The Knicks rewarded English fans by losing by 16 points to the Bucks for their 16th straight lost. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire returned from injuries, but it wasn’t enough to halt the Knicks’ franchise longest losing streak.
Anthony played 28 minutes, scoring 25 points on 7-12 shooting, but also committed 8 turnovers. After the game Anthony said that the two weeks off really helped and that he doesn’t expect to miss much more time in the near future. Even with that claim, owners should try and trade Anthony as soon as he strings together a few good games.
Amar’e Stoudemire also started in his return, but played only 8 minutes. According to coach Derek Fisher, Stoudemire sat in the second half because the game was out of hand, rather than due to a setback.
The Knicks don’t play again until Monday, due to the travel, so it will be interesting to see how much Stoudemire plays next week. He’s been in and out of the lineup due to injuries all season and even when he’s played, he isn’t the fantasy monster he used to be. Owners should wait and see, before thinking about picking Stoudemire off of waivers or inserting him into their lineups.
For the Bucks, Ersan Ilyasova returned from a concussion and broken nose. He played limited minutes and didn’t shoot well (0-6 FG), but could be in line for major minutes down the line, as his main competition for minutes is 37-year-old Kenyon Martin.
Joakim Noah has been off to a relatively poor start to the season, averaging just 7.8 ppg and 9.6 rpg, since the Bulls brought in Pau Gasol. Noah had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last May and just hasn’t returned to his dominant self from last season.
On Wednesday night, Noah exited the game at the end of the first half with an ankle sprain. He didn’t return to the game and the Bulls lost to the Wizards, after blowing an 11 point first half lead.
This isn’t the first time Noah has suffered an injury to his right ankle. He missed four games earlier in the season, after spraining his ankle in two consecutive games. He’s set for more tests to determine the severity of the injury. As a result, owners will have to consider him as day-to-day until more is known. The Bulls play next on Friday night.
Once Noah went down, Taj Gibson took his place in the lineup and finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Gibson has had his own problems with ankle injuries this season, but is in line to start, should Noah miss any games. Gibson is a great shot blocker and rebounder and becomes a solid waiver wire add.
After exiting Tuesday’s game early against Dallas, Rudy Gay underwent an MRI on his knee. Doctors diagnosed him with a knee sprain and he’s doubtful to play Friday. The Kings also play on Saturday so Gay may be out for the weekend. Check the injury reports closer to game time, but Derrick Williams will be in line for more minutes, should Gay sit.
Tobias Harris will miss his 4th game in a row, after being ruled out for Friday’s game. Harris is day-to-day, but considering that he was ruled out for Friday’s game so early in the week, the injury may be worse than initially thought. While Harris is sitting, rookie Devyn Marble will start in Harris’ absence, but fantasy owners can do much better.
Dwayne Wade did not play in Wednesday’s game against the Warriors due to a hamstring injury. Fortunately for owners, Wade said that the injury wasn’t serious and is day-to-day. Danny Granger, Mario Chalmers, and Norris Cole will all get a bump in minutes and usage, should Wade miss more time.