Shortly before the tip of the Grizzlies’ game in New Orleans on Tuesday night, Memphis beat writer Ronald Tillery reported that coach Dave Joerger “desperately wants to reduce Marc Gasol‘s minutes.” Coming into the game, MG had averaged in excess of 38 MPG over his last five contests – a number that is, by all accounts, quite high for a true big man in today’s National Basketball Association. Fantasy owners of Gasol were probably watching Tuesday’s game to see how Joerger would adjust his rotations to get the prized center some more rest. What did they witness? (I’m so glad you asked…)
Marc Gasol played 42 minutes of other-worldly basketball, posting 38/13/6/0/4. If that wasn’t enough, he shot an even 50% from the field on 22 attempts and was flawless from the FT line on 16 (!!!) tries. Yep, sixteen for sixteen. He was the only Grizzlies starter with a positive rating (+8) on the night and his team won the game, which goes to show you just how instrumental Gasol was in this one.
(As an aside – perhaps Tillery heard coach Joerger wrong and he said he desperately wanted to reduce everyone but Gasol’s minutes? No other Memphis starter played more than 31. Go figure.)
This is your ultimate sell-high moment on the younger of the two Gasols. If you can score a top-25 asset in return, I think you pretty much have to do it. In trade negotiations you can point to the high minutes, the nice boards & blocks numbers, and the sweet out-of-position dimes. That is, unless you are a believer that Marc can withstand this kind of workload over the course of an 82-game season. I’m never one to predict injuries, but wear & tear is a very real thing, and when you’re dealing with a 7’1″, 265lb monster of a man on the wrong side of 30, miles add up quickly.
I’d be interested to know where Gasol’s owners stand after this one. Are they looking to sell? Or are they going to ride him all the way to the edge of the cliff? (Chime in below via the comments section if you have a buy/sell/hold take.)
Let’s take a look at what else shook down on Tuesday night with 12 teams in action…
Marcin Gortat – The Polish Hammer is starting to come around, slowly but surely. If not for a bit of foul trouble (including a couple really soft calls), Gortat could’ve had an even bigger game than the 15/11/0/1/4 on 7-10 FGs. He abused Timofey Mozgov early and treated Tristan Thompson to much of the same later on. He still played 33 minutes and looked downright dominant at times, albeit against a weak Cavs interior.
John Wall – Just as “The Bad” heading often doesn’t do certain players justice, “The Good” often falls short for guys who have stellar games but are superseded by outstanding games (wait a sec – is “outstanding” better than “stellar” in the hierarchy of superlatives? – I’m gonna say yes, but I’m not confident about it). Anyways, Wall was phenomenal against the Cavs on Tuesday night, erasing the Debbie Doubters out there after his last few sub-par outings. 35/4/10/5/0 on terrific percentages (14-24 FGs, 3-5 3PTs, 4-5 FTs) had him poised for line-of-the-night honors until that big ol’ Spaniard went off versus the Pellies. Sorry Johnny – next time you’ll know to drop a 40 burger if you want the lead.
Jerami Grant – Have yourself a game, young man! Even with the return of Nerlens Noel (14/9/3/1/0 in 26 minutes off the bench), Grant held down the starting four spot and rewarded coach Brett Brown’s faith in him with a terrific 14/7/4/1/4 line. Aside from the blocks those numbers aren’t eye-popping until you see that Grant did it on 6-7 shooting (2-2 FTs) and zero turnovers in 31 minutes. Awesome night for him and a huge part of the reason Philly got their first win of the season in 19 tries.
Robert Covington – After stealing every ball in sight over the last week or so, Lord Covington put up a goose egg in that category on Tuesday night. That’s pretty much the only thing he didn’t do against the Lakers though as he posted 23/5/4/0/2 with five hits from deep, and 50% from the field. Keep an eye on the news reports as he appeared to tweak an ankle with under 30 seconds to go and was a little bit gimpy. The 76ers play the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Knicks, so if the ankle swells up at all it’s going to be tough for him to suit up.
Alex Len – Sure, it was against the Nets, but 13/14/2/2/3 on 4-7 FGs & 5-6 FTs from the center spot is sweet. Given his injury history, I doubt Len can hold up to many 35 minute nights. But games like he had on Tuesday will go a long way in solidifying a major rotational role even once Tyson Chandler comes back. Stream him for now while there’s no competition for minutes and keep your fingers crossed he carves out a permanent place on your roster with more lines like this going forward.
Brandon Knight – Another nice Knight (err…night) for BK – 26/7/4 with a trio of long balls. No defensive stats but he also only turned it over twice in 38 minutes, so that’s a net win for his owners.
Nikola Vucevic – Nice line for Vuc, posting 18/12/4/2/1 on 9-19 shooting. No trips to the FT line is a bit odd seeing as how he played a high minute total (37). Owners could also do without the four turnovers from their center, but when Nik is giving you the defensive goodies those mistakes are easily forgiven.
Tyreke Evans – Way to stick to that 25 minute limit, Gentry! ‘Reke played 31 minutes and was all kinds of good in his first action of the season. He went for 20/5/10/0/1 with two triples, 7-12 FGs, 4-4 FTs, and only one turnover. I can’t imagine it getting much better for owners given Evans’ historical struggles with efficiency. If you can find an owner who knee-jerks on these kind of “first game back” lines, it wouldn’t be the craziest idea to flip ‘Reke for a more reliable asset after just this one game.
Zaza Pachulia – How is this guy still playing so well? He had a monster line going even without the overtime period factored in. 14/21/1/1/1 on an efficient 6-10 FGs in 38 minutes. Ride ’em ’til he bucks ya.
Deron Williams – Stellar performance from the man with the big cat tat. 11 of 17 from the floor, 6 of 7 from the stripe, a pair of treys and only one turnover in 45 efficiency-filled minutes. D-Will posted a final slash of 30/6/8/0/2 in a call back to his elite PG days. Sadly those are few and far between lately, but when he’s good, he’s real good and Tuesday was one of those nights.
Meyers Leonard – There were certainly better lines on the night, but Leonard’s is noteworthy in a good way since he found his stroke from long range (made four triples) and also may have reclaimed his starting job. When the game tipped off he wasn’t with the starting five, but when they came back to begin the third quarter he was. (RIP, Noah Vonleh. We hardly knew ye.)
Timofey Mozgov – Probably should’ve milked that injury for another week or three. Nine minutes as a starter that saw the positive contributions (two rebounds…seriously, that’s it) heavily outweighed by the negative (0-3 FGs, four turnovers, no points/dimes/steals/blocks). If the Cavs had even league-average backup big man depth, Mozzy would be playing himself right out of the rotation.
The Los Angeles Lakers – You lose to an 0-18 team, you’re going in “The Bad” section. Kobe Bryant‘s last game in Philly went about as well as all his other games this year, seeing him drop 20 points but needing 26 shots to do it. He pulled the trigger 17 times (!!!) from long distance, connecting on only four. His weighted average from the field is as much a killer as DeAndre Jordan‘s is from the free throw line. Unfortunately for owners of the Bean, he’s not going to be pulling down 24 rebounds anytime soon to help soften that blow. Elsewhere for the Lakeshow, Jordan Clarkson had a decent outing with 19/5/2/0/0 (9-19 FGs, one triple), and Julius Randle got his double-double on with 12 & 11 but not much else. Overall it was a night to forget, within a season to forget, for the Lakers.
Markieff Morris – There are some guys that deserve to struggle because they are quite obviously jerks who aren’t particularly interested in team success. ‘Kieff is one of those dudes. So when he posts 6/1/3/0/0 on 3-11 from the field and three turnovers, I’m tossing his butt into “The Bad” category with a smile on my face. (It also helps that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I was going to own any shares of him this year, so he’s someone else’s problem. That’s selfish, I know. So sue me. Actually, better yet, sue Markieff – he’s the one doing illegal stuff and killing your fantasy team.)
Thaddeus Young – 8/4/2/0/0 on 3-14 FGs and 2-4 freebies. Woof.
Karl-Anthony Towns – Another night of low minutes for KAT as he only saw 22 against the Magic. There was no blowout factor and he wasn’t in foul trouble. He just simply wasn’t effective, going 2-11 from the field for only six points. He blocked a couple shots and stole the ball once to salvage an otherwise lousy night. But with Gorgui Dieng (11/7/1/1/3, 29 minutes) improving with each passing game and Nikola Pekovic finally starting to participate in basketball activities, the rook is going to need to step it up a couple notches to command more minutes in the 2016 portion of the season.
Ish Smith – Not only was Tyreke Evans back for the Pelicans, but also Norris Cole. And with that, it appears the Ish Smith Experience is over. Or is it? Alvin Gentry played Cole 23 minutes to Smith’s 14 and the former went 3-12 from the field, 3-6 from the FT line and picked up four personal fouls. Ish never got in rhythm because he played in a few short spurts, but if Cole continues to struggle with efficiency, perhaps the coaching staff will remember all the way back to a few days ago when Ish Smith was able to carve up defenses at will and create all sorts of easy opportunities for teammates. As a Smith owner myself, there’s an admitted bias, but I just don’t see how Cole is deserving of the backup PG spot since he has never had a stretch of games in his career where he’s been as good a distributor of the basketball as Smith has been over the last few weeks. I’ll be watching closely to see how this rotation sorts itself out.
Mason Plumlee – Saw only 21 minutes of action and ceded court time to Ed Davis (31 minutes) who wasn’t quite as badly outplayed by a man named Zaza. Plumdog scored only three points on 1 of 4 shooting and didn’t block a shot while Davis double-doubled with 10 & 11.
C.J. McCollum – Couldn’t find the range for the second straight game, making only four of the 21 shots he hoisted. He’s now a combined 8 for his last 36 and the pre-season concerns about efficiency are proving out. CJM did connect on three treys while handing out five assists, but that shooting percentage is a tough pill to swallow.
Al-Farouq Aminu – Despite it being a closely contested game with the Mavericks that ultimately went to overtime, Aminu played only 18 minutes and went scoreless. He had a swipe and a swat, but was otherwise terrible. Are we witnessing the phasing out of AFA?
LeBron James – 24/14/4/1/1 is usually plenty good enough to get you into “The Good” category, but 8-20 from the floor, no triples (on three attempts) and nine (yes, you read that right – nine) turnovers take all the shine off what casual observers might call a sterling game. Credit where it’s due though – LBJ made good on all eight attempts from the charity stripe in a very welcome sign for his owners.
J.R. Smith – Continues to save awful shooting lines (3-14 FGs on Tuesday) with the money counting stats – three 3s, two steals and a block. He’s not a boring guy to own, that’s for sure.
Bradley Beal – Couldn’t get his long range shot to fall, going 1-10 from deep on Tuesday night. But he was able to post 18/9/6/1/0 while only coughing the ball up once in 42 minutes. Efficiency wasn’t there (took him 19 shots to get those 18 points) for Beal, but it was just an off shooting night as most of his looks were wide open, so it wasn’t a shot selection issue.
Nik Stauskas – Now that the ‘6ers are getting healthier, Sauce Castillo is fading from the rotation. Only 15 minutes of floor time on Tuesday, and Tony Wroten is due to return in about another week or so to steal even more backcourt minutes. I dropped Stauskas in my main league and I can’t think of many formats where he warrants a stash right now.
Shane Larkin – Nice little game from the Nets backup PG on Tuesday. He played 30 minutes off the bench (same as Jarrett Jack did in a starter’s role) and went 11/5/8/2/1 with a triple and no turnovers. Keep an eye on him as he could be useful later in the season if Brooklyn’s roster experiences a shakeup.
The Orlando Magic Rotation – Andrew flippin’ Nicholson played 31 minutes off the bench. Flip those numbers and you’ve got the amount of Aaron Gordon‘s run on Tuesday. I don’t even care that Nicholson is Canadian – that ain’t right, man. To make matters even worse, Channing Frye continues to start and see minutes in the teens while doing absolutely nothing to earn them. Scott Skiles is evil and he hates your fantasy team.
Andrew Wiggins – The 27 points are nice, as are the 11 FT attempts. Wiggy continues to be more aggressive with each passing game, but he still needs to get the peripheral stats up. He only had two assists and he didn’t steal the ball. He was able to connect on a three-pointer and block one shot, but in 36 minutes, he’s going to need to do more to start climbing up the ranks.
Mike Conley – Only played 24 minutes in a closely contested game with no back-to-back considerations. Not sure what’s up with the reduced run, but when the Griz hang a buck-13 on someone and Conley gets in on only 11 points and 3 assists of that, box score watchers have to be thinking “he must be hurt.” By all accounts, Conley is just fine and he simply split the PG minutes down the middle with Mario Chalmers who was a +22 during his time on the floor to Mike’s -13.
Anthony Davis – Brow was a bit of a mixed bag on Tuesday. He nearly triple-doubled with 17 & 14 plus NINE blocked shots, but his efficiency was lousy. Davis made good on only 4 of 15 from the field and 8 of 13 from the FT line. Other positives in the loss to the Grizzlies were his two steals, one three pointer (his only attempt) and a single, solitary turnover in 41 minutes. If he cleans up the shooting, this is a stellar outing, but those percentages count and he just didn’t get it done for owners in those cats. Still a heckuva night for a player who only needs to stay healthy to quickly climb back into the top handful of fantasy assets.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
Players who saw over 36 minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
Otto Porter Jr. (42), Bradley Beal (42), John Wall (41), LeBron James (37), J.R. Smith (36), Jordan Clarkson (38), D’Angelo Russell (37), Eric Bledsoe (38), Brandon Knight (38), Thaddeus Young (36), Brook Lopez (37), Nikola Vucevic (37), Andrew Wiggins (36), Marc Gasol (42), Anthony Davis (41), Dirk Nowitzki (37), Zaza Pachulia (38), Raymond Felton (40 – seriously, WTF?), Deron Williams (45), Wesley Matthews (40 – seems smart for a guy coming off Achilles surgery), Damian Lillard (41), C.J. McCollum (40).
That’s it for this Tuesday’s wrap-up. As always, if you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.