The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has already begun. After announcing that he would be retiring this past weekend, teams will start giving him the Derek Jeter treatment as fans and teams say goodbye to the legend.
There was a lot of fanfare when Bryant returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, where his basketball journey began. The hype was there and despite a strong start, the Lakers lost, giving the 76ers their first win of the season. Bryant shot 7-26 from the field, including 4-17 from downtown. Definitely not the homecoming that everyone was expecting.
On Wednesday, Bryant played his last game at the Verizon Center and boy did he leave those in attendance with a memorable performance. Fresh off his poor shooting Tuesday, Bryant shot 10-24 from the field and 4-11 from downtown. Not vintage Kobe, but a marked improvement. More importantly, 12 of his season-high 31 points came in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defeated the Wizards.
Now this was definitely one of his best games of the season. Maybe with the Lakers’ season over and having already announced his retirement, Kobe will have one less thing on his mind and start to play better. I mean he can’t shoot any worse, right? I wouldn’t necessarily be buying low, but I’d hold onto him and pick him up in any leagues where impatient owners have dropped him. You never know, maybe he closes out his last season healthy and on a tear, a la Mariano Rivera (and that wasn’t an ACL joke).
Julius Randle – Kobe will be the story of the game, but as one star’s career is ending, one’s is starting to burn bright. Big double-double for Randle, with 15 points and 19 rebounds. That marks the third straight double-double for the 2nd year power forward. I think Randle will be a great pro, but his skill set might not translate to fantasy, unless he starts getting more steals and blocks.
Louis Williams – Usually known for his instant offense, the 12 points on 3-8 shooting might not stand out, but he collected 7 steals. That’s a lot of thefts. I wish he was on a better team, but outside of Kobe, no one else on the team can shoot. And that includes Swaggy P (Nick Young) who was a healthy scratch after calling the team ‘a circus.’
John Wall – The Wizards crushed the Cavs in Cleveland on Tuesday and then lose to the Lakers at home on Wednesday? Wall’s owners don’t care: 35/10/5 on Tuesday and 34/11/7 on Wednesday. Add 6 threes in those 2 games and Wall’s buy-low window has officially closed. (And I’m sorry that I complain about the Wizards every week, but that’s what DC sports fans do best, right?)
Marcin Gortat – Gortat has also picked things up recently with double-doubles in 4 of the last 5 games. He put up 18 and 10 with 1 block on Wednesday. Maybe it’s because I’m Polish and a Wizards’ fan, but I’d trade for Gortat. By the way, you should follow Gortat on Twitter if you want a good laugh. He responds to haters daily and shares his love of Brazzers.
Klay Thompson – Not to be forgotten, but Klay had 21 points with 4 3-pointers. He’s going to be fine, but may not be bringing his draft day value anymore with all these blowouts.
Nicolas Batum – Batum was the only starter to remotely play well for the losing Hornets. 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks for the Frenchman.
Reggie Jackson – It may not be October, but Reggie Jackson delivered for his team, scoring 24 of his 34 points after halftime in the Pistons’ overtime win over the Suns. Oh, and he also had 16 assists. I’m not worried that Brandon Jennings’ eventual return will affect Jackson too much.
Jon Leuer – Inserted into the starting lineup for the injured Markieff Morris (knee), Leuer produced quite the fantasy line: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and 2 threes, but don’t bother picking him up.
Marcus Morris – While his twin was hurt, Marcus posted a nice double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons.
76ers – So much for a 2-game win streak. Nobody on the team impresses me that much, outside of Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, but Noel keeps putting up disappointing lines (6 points, 6 rebounds, 0 blocks). Jerami Grant somehow keeps getting blocks (3 on Wednesday) and Robert Covington is useful (10/4/3 line with 2 threes), but this team is garbage. And by the way, Jahlil Okafor was suspended 2 games for beating up hecklers.
Kristaps Porzingis – Boy is this kid good: 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Rookie of the year is going to come down to him and Karl-Anthony Towns. Too bad Porzingis’ rise means Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have to do as much (only 12 points and 6 rebounds on Wednesday), but it means more wins for the Knicks.
Kyle Lowry – Talk about taking over a game. Scoring 22 of his game high 31 points in the 4th quarter, Lowry led the Raptors to their victory over the Hawks. He also added 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
Jeff Teague – All of the Hawks’ starters scored in double figures thanks to Teague’s 10 assists and 11 points.
Pau Gasol – Huge double-double for the Spaniard: 26 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks. I bet Gasol’s happy that he’s on the Bulls and not the Lakers!
Derrick Rose – Rose shot 3-17 from the field, but dished out 9 assists (and more importantly stayed healthy…knock on wood).
Jimmy Butler – The new alpha dog for the Bulls, Butler continues to play through heel pain and posted 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal and block each.
Joakim Noah – He may never be the fantasy monster that he once was, but I refuse to believe that Noah is completely done. He posted 9 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks off the bench. I’d pick him up in leagues with 12+ teams, if he was dropped.
Will Barton – He’s slowed down from his fast start, but he’s now posted 4 straight double-digit scoring games. With 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench, Barton should continue to be a fine back end kind of player for fantasy teams.
James Harden – Fear the Beard. 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, makes me overlook the 7-20 from the field and 1-8 from the 3-point line. His percentages are down from his career numbers, but I expect them to normalize as the season progresses.
Dwight Howard – He’s starting to play back to backs and has played well recently. 8 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks on Wednesday. I’d still recommend trading him while he’s healthy.
Ty Lawson – Wait, what?!?!? A Ty Lawson sighting? 12 points and 6 assists off the bench isn’t bad, after a 11/3/3 night on Monday. He’s definitely going to be used differently than his Denver days and won’t deliver draft day value, but he’s a guy that I think can turn things around.
Anthony Davis – 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 assists for the big man. Let’s just hope he stays healthy.
Tyreke Evans – Speaking of staying healthy, Evans posted a 10/8/6 line in his second game back from injury.
Tim Duncan – Duncan continues to prove that he isn’t too old to play basketball. He went 16/10 for his third straight game with double digit rebounds. Whatever he’s taking, Kobe Bryant wants in.
Boris Diaw and Patty Mills– You really never know which Spurs’ bench players will contribute on a nightly basis, but Diaw (11/6/3) and Mills (13/3/3 with 3 threes) delivered off the bench. These are guys to pick up the next time that Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, or Tony Parker sit.
Michael-Carter Williams – I have no idea what to think of the Bucks’ backcourt. MCW should be the best for fantasy purposes, but he’s been relegated to the bench and didn’t help his case with a 4/5/4 line on 2-10 shooting. Tyler Ennis received the start, but did little (4 points and 3 assists), while Jerryd Bayless received a healthy DNP. I was high on MCW at the beginning of the season, but I’d avoid this backcourt until things get sorted out.
Paul George – I say this every week, but did he really break his leg? I mean did anyone actually see it? It’s right up there with other conspiracies like did we really land on the moon? Or where are Tupac and Biggie? I diverge, but it’s unbelievable what he’s doing on a nightly basis: 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and 5 threes. That’s 4 straight 30+ point games. If Curry wasn’t playing so well, PG would be my MVP.
Rodney Stuckey – After George, Stuckey led the team in scoring with 18 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. That’s back to back double digit scoring games, after 3 poor games.
Ian Mahinmi – Not a very sexy name, but he’s near a double-double in the last 5 games. 14/7 with 4 blocks last night.
DeAndre Jordan – Jordan should have done much better against Mahinmi last night: 15 rebounds and 2 points, with poor free throw shooting (2-8). Better days are ahead.
Austin Rivers – Chris Paul is out for at least two games so that means Doc’s son gets the start, but he did little with the extra run (9 points and 2 rebounds). The Clippers really need better back up point guards because Rivers and Pablo Prigioni aren’t going to win them a title.
Lance Stephenson – If you thought seeing Ty Lawson play well was strange enough, once fantasy stud, Lance Stephenson, decided to show up too. He produced 19/3/3 with 3 3-pointers off the bench. Unfortunately, he’s still not getting enough minutes to matter for standard leagues.