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Courtside Seat: Working out the kinks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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MIAMI -- The Lakers had just lost to the Heat 98-87, and coach Mike Brown was looking at the box score. He was fine with the production he got from Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but he couldn't find much else to be happy about.

The rest of the Lakers combined for just 22 points, and an offense that used to rely on the triangle is now just three players trying to carry the load. The offensive woes in Los Angeles are a big reason the Lakers have lost three in a row prior to Wednesday night's win over the Clippers, and Fantasy owners can't find anyone outside of Bryant, Gasol or Bynum to start in the majority of leagues.

"We just have to have some other guys step up to help Gasol and Bynum and Kobe out in certain situations," Brown said. "When they're open, knock down shots. Or make some plays."

Over the past several years Fantasy owners have gotten more from the Lakers then just three players, mainly from Lamar Odom, who is now in Dallas. Metta World Peace, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, is now coming off the bench and struggling to produce at a high level.

Matt Barnes has been the best fourth option this season, but he doesn't play at a consistent level. And don't be fooled by Josh McRoberts, Steve Blake or Derek Fisher since they shouldn't be owned in the majority of leagues.

"The help will come from different people on any given night," Bryant said. "We're still experimenting. We're experimenting on the fly. This is what we have to do. It's a process, and we just have to stick with it."

Bryant said the offense is "under construction," and "we're still working on the blueprint." We know Bryant has been awesome as the No. 1 guard in head-to-head leagues despite playing with a significant wrist injury, Gasol is a Top 5 center in category-based formats despite a career-low scoring average (15.8 points) and Bynum has 10 double-doubles in 14 games. But it would be nice if other players on the team could offer significant contributions.

Typically you don't get more than three Fantasy options from a given team, but the drop-off for the Lakers after Bryant, Gasol and Bynum is staggering.

"It has to come a long way," Barnes said. "We have some more work to do. It's new. Most of the guys have been in the triangle for six, seven, eight years. This is a new offense, and we're still working out the kinks and finding our spots."

Until they work out those kinks, Fantasy owners should stay away from all of the Lakers not named Bryant, Gasol or Bynum.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things. It's our CBSSports.com potpourri look at Fantasy Basketball.

More on Kobe

Bryant is enjoying life without the triangle and Phil Jackson since his minutes and shot attempts are up, but you have to be concerned if he can sustain this level of play given his age (33) and wear and tear, especially with the wrist injury. He is averaging 30.5 points, which is his best production since 2005-06.

"As a team we have to pick him up," Barnes said. "He can't carry the load every single night. We have to help."

Fantasy owners might want to sell high on Bryant since he could bring back quite a haul in return. Some recent trades for Bryant include Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo in a rotisserie league and Bynum and Brandon Jennings in a head-to-head format. (You can see more trades on Bryant's player page).

Obviously the hope is Bryant can continue to stay healthy and play at a high level all season, but don't be afraid to shop him around and see what's out there.

Injury updates

Here are five significant injuries affecting Fantasy owners:

D.J. Augustin, PG, Bobcats
What's the deal: Augustin is out for the rest of Week 5 with a toe injury, and he could miss time in Week 6. That has opened the door for Kemba Walker to become a must-start Fantasy guard. Walker had 22 points, five rebounds and two assists against New York on Tuesday as the starting point guard, but his production should remain high with Augustin out. Derrick Brown (2 percent ownership on CBSSports.com) is worth a look in deeper leagues since he moved into the starting lineup, and he had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals against the Knicks.

Baron Davis, PG, Knicks
What's the deal: Davis could make his season debut very soon after dealing with a back injury, and we're excited to see how he plays. He should not be used in most daily leagues for the remainder of Week 5, but if he plays against the Heat on Friday or Rockets on Saturday -- and performs well -- then he might be worth starting in Week 6 as a No. 3 guard. Davis will likely hurt the value of rookie guard Iman Shumpert, and he could be worth dropping in the majority of leagues if Davis can start off playing at a high level.

Luol Deng, SF, Bulls
What's the deal: Deng is expected to miss a couple of weeks with an injured left wrist, which should allow Richard Hamilton and Ronnie Brewer to benefit. Hamilton (71 percent ownership) has scored in double figures in four games in a row, but he played great Monday with Deng out against New Jersey with 22 points, 10 assists and four rebounds. He should be considered a must-start option with Deng out. Brewer, who is owned in 8 percent of leagues, will start in place of Deng and is worth adding in deeper leagues. He had 11 points and five rebounds against the Nets.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks
What's the deal: Nowitzki (knee) is expected to miss the rest of Week 5, and he could miss time in Week 6 as well. We hope the rest can help him return at 100 percent, but several Mavericks should benefit in his absence. Shawn Marion had a standout game against Phoenix on Monday with 29 points, four rebounds and two assists. He also has two double-doubles in his past four games prior to Wednesday, and he should be considered a must-start forward with Nowitzki out. Odom also has shown signs of life with double digits in points in his past three games, and he had 11 points, five assists and three rebounds against the Suns. We hope this recent surge can wake him up for the rest of the year. One free agent to monitor is Ian Mahinmi (19 percent ownership), who had 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks against the Suns. Another game like that and he could be worth adding in all leagues.

Chris Paul, PG, Clippers
What's the deal: We hope Paul (hamstring) can return Wednesday against the Lakers after missing the past five games. Once he does come back at 100 percent, Mo Williams should return to the bench in the majority of leagues. He has been great with Paul out, but he won't continue to play at a high level when he's coming off the bench. He is averaging 25.7 points, 3.7 assists and has eight 3-pointers in his past three games. But he failed to score 15 points in any of his first eight games this season when Paul was healthy, and that's what Fantasy owners should expect going forward.

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies
Owned: 62 percent of leagues

Anthony Morrow, SG, Nets
Owned: 50 percent of leagues

Zaza Pachulia, C, Hawks
Owned: 43 percent of leagues

James Johnson, PF, Raptors
Owned: 41 percent of leagues

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Owned: 30 percent of leagues

Mayo has scored 20 points in two of his past three games and could be finding his groove a little. Morrow is averaging 17 points in his past two outings and could benefit if MarShon Brooks (Achilles tendon) is out for an extended period of time. Pachulia started Monday against Milwaukee and had nine points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes. If he starts he's worth owning with Al Horford (pectoral) out, but he has been in and out of the starting lineup. Johnson started Tuesday against Phoenix and had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come. And Thompson has done a nice job filling in for the injured Chuck Hayes (shoulder), but his value is short-lived once Hayes returns.

Social media corner

@NELaker on Twitter wants to know: Is Eric Gordon a buy-low candidate?

Yes, but buy very low. His knee injury could linger all season, but if he's able to return at 100 percent you're looking at a player who is capable of averaging 22.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds like he did last year with the Clippers. For the right price he could be a great addition.

@SeductionCity on Twitter wants to know: Should I drop Shumpert for Davis?

Yes, that is a good move to make. Shumpert is likely headed to the bench once Davis gets up to speed with his back injury. Shumpert has had some nice moments this season, but he is averaging just 11.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds in his past five games. Davis should eclipse those stats when healthy.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyNews . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Illness to keep Bulls' Jimmy Butler out of Tuesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:13 pm ET) Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters forward Jimmy Butler is dealing with an illness and will be held out of Tuesday’s game at Golden State. Forward Tony Snell is expected to see an increased role with Butler out.

The Bulls are 10 1/2-point underdogs. 


Wizards' John Wall game-time decision, Paul Pierce out Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:13 pm ET) The Wizards have declared point guard John Wall as a game-time decision for Tuesday's game against the Lakers, coach Randy Wittman said pregame. 

Wall, who is averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 assists per game, has a sore Achilles' tendon. Meanwhile, forward Paul Pierce , who is dealing with a toe injury, will not play.

The Wizards are currently 8-point favorites against the Lakers.


Lakers guard Nick Young dealing with ankle sprain, MRI confirms
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:07 pm ET) Lakers guard Nick Young has a moderate ankle sprain, an MRI confirmed Tuesday, according to TWCSportsNet.

Young is out for Tuesday's game and questionable for Thursday's game against the Bulls. He is averaging 14.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game this season. 


Sore groin forces Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova to leave Tuesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:00 pm ET) Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova had to leave Tuesday’s game against the Heat with a sore right groin and will not return, the team announced. Ilyasova played 10 minutes and scored four points before exiting with the injury.

Grizzlies' Mike Conley, Tony Allen out for Tuesday's game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:26 pm ET) Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and shooting guard Tony Allen will miss Tuesday's game against the Mavericks. Conley is dealing with a wrist sprain he suffered Monday.

Conley is averaging 17.4 points and 5.6 assists per game. Beno Udrih will start in his place.

Allen is dealing with an ankle sprain that caused him to miss Monday's game as well. He is averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The Grizzlies are currently 6-point underdogs against Dallas.


Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge plans to play for rest of season
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:21 pm ET) After opting not to have surgery on his injured thumb, Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge said his surprising return during last Saturday's game is not a one-game wonder.

As long as Aldridge does not further damage the torn ligament in his thumb and he's playing effectively, he said he plans on playing for the rest of the season, reports NBCSports.

"Once I said I was going to try, then I was back. And if it became too much, then I was going to have surgery. So as of now, I'm back," Aldridge said. "But if I get it whacked or if something happens where I can't tolerate it and I'm not playing at a good enough level to help the team, then I'll have surgery. But as of now, I think they have done a good job of protecting it, so I'm back for the season and then I'll just have surgery in the offseason."


Kings upgrade Carl Landry to questionable for Wednesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Kings forward Carl Landry has been upgraded to questionable for Wednesday's game at Toronto, reports ESPN.com.

Landry has missed the last five games while dealing with a wrist injury. In 18 games, he is averaging 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds.


Report: Pistons interested in Heat's Norris Cole
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) With guard Brandon Jennings lost for the season, the Pistons have shown interest in acquiring Heat guard Norris Cole, reports the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

While no deal is imminent, exploratory talks are ongoing and the Heat indicated Cole is available. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said he would like to add another point guard.

"We definitely got to get a third point guard, there's no question," Van Gundy said. "To go out and get a guy who would be a huge difference maker, you probably have to give up something that would hurt you down the road."

In 39 games, Cole is averaging 6.2 points and 3.4 assists.


Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh nearing more playing time
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Hornets rookie forward Noah Vonleh is getting closer and closer to more playing time. In addition to looking better in practice, coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday the big man could see more action with Bismack Biyombo and Marvin Williams both dealing with injuries.

"I think he’s getting there. Today was one of his best days," Clifford said after practice Tuesday. "It’s a big jump but I think he’s a great worker and a very serious player. He’s getting closer."

Vonleh said he's seeing a noticeable difference between how the college game is played and how things are in the pros.
"The speed of the game – being in the right spot defensively – is really important," Vonleh said. "The past few months I’ve been working hard in practice, picking things up watching games. I’ve been applying it playing 5-on-5 in practice. It’s really starting to pay off. Everybody is noticing I’m getting better with it."
Vonleh is ready and prepared when his time comes.
"I definitely think I’m more prepared. Listening to the vets and picking up the game. I think I’ll be ready when my name is called."

Pacers' Paul George increasing workload, still without contact
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:15 pm ET) Pacers forward Paul George has begun to do more off the court training, but is still not allowed to do anything involving contact with his legs, coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday.

Vogel did not provide any further update on the fourth-year-veteran. George is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered last August during a Team USA scrimmage in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.


 
 
 
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