The injury bug struck Kemba Walker last week, though fortunately he seems likely to return within a few weeks. While that isn't good news, it is practically cause for celebration given how many months-long timelines we have seen with injuries.
The Bobcats have an in-house option who should be able to give them a sizeable percentage of Walker's overall production in the form of Ramon Sessions, a veteran who has proven he can be a productive player when given the opportunity. Sessions is a score-first point guard in a similar mold to Walker, though he relies on getting into the paint and getting to the free-throw line more than Walker.
Sessions should see a huge increase in his role, and Fantasy owners are smartly taking note. He is the most-added player in CBSSports.com over the last week, with his ownership jumping from 31 to 60 percent as of Thursday night. Given his mediocre production prior to Walker's injury (17.7 Fantasy points per game), Sessions is likely to return to irrelevance as soon as Walker is back, but he should be useful for now..
Sessions is averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds in six games in which he has played more than 30 minutes this season. Three of those six have come since Walker's injury, so that seems like a pretty reasonable place to set baseline expectations for him as long as he remains a starter.
Walker was using up a ton of possessions prior to his injury, so Sessions has big shoes to fill. Though he isn't nearly the player Walker is, he should be able to provide a boost to Fantasy owners in his new role. As a No. 3 or 4 guard, Sessions should have a lot of value, and is worth picking up in most Fantasy formats right now.
Ryan Kelly, F, Lakers: Ryan Kelly came into the league with a reputation as a big man with the ability to stretch the floor, so it was only a matter of time before he would crack Mike D'Antoni's rotation. Sure, he is about the ninth option, but that doesn't matter if he can stick. My guess is, he is just another in a long line of flashes in the pan for this Lakers' team. Kelly had scored in double figures in three straight games before Thursday's turn against the Heat, but we have seen this before with this Lakers team. This team's rotations remain in a state of almost constant flux, so there is no knowing when Kelly will go the way of Jordan Hill or Shawne Williams or Chris Kaman or… You see the pattern, right? Kelly might be worth a look in deeper, category-based leagues, but my expectations are not high.(27 percent owned; +26 percent)
D.J. Augustin, G, Bulls: Given how Nate Robinson worked his way into Tom Thibodeau's heart last season, Augustin's success in finding a consistent role should not come as a total surprise here. Though Thibodeau has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most defensive-minded coaches in the league, he knows his team's offensive limitations and is willing to give a long leash to anyone who provides a semblance of shot creation. Augustin has been tremendous for the Bulls, a huge surprise given how little he has shown as an NBA player through his career. Thibodeau's rigid system seems to help subpar point guards find their way without allowing them too much room to make mistakes, and right now Augustin is enjoying the best stretch of his career. In the month of January, Augustin is averaging more than 30 Fantasy points per game, while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from three-point range. Augustin has little track record indicating he can sustain this, but we're also reaching a point where his extended success with the Bulls can't just be written off as a fluke. Point guard is a deep position for Fantasy purposes, but injuries have taken their toll there as they have everywhere else. Augustin is 22nd in Fantasy scoring among guards over the last month, ahead of bigger names like Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings, Bradley Beal and Wesley Matthews. He should probably be owned in nearly all Fantasy leagues at this point. (79 percent owned; +25 percent)
Derrick Williams, F, Kings: Even getting out from Minnesota and Kevin Love's shadow has not really improved Williams' Fantasy standing. Oh sure, he has been more productive since his trade to Sacramento, averaging 10.0 points per game in that time. But, his status as a starting-caliber player remains entirely context dependent, owing largely to his role as a reserve on one of the most top-heavy teams in the league. Williams should find success for the next week or so, however, with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins sidelined, as that duo combines for a shot nearly every other minute played. As both deal with injuries that could linger into next week, Williams could give you a few games' worth of solid production, before inevitably returning to his previous role. As long as you aren't adding Williams at the expense of a long-term piece, streaming him into your lineup as long as either Gay or Cousins remains out is a wise choice. (45 percent owned; +18 percent)
Patrick Beverley, G, Rockets: The relative value of the Rockets' point guards has been a hot topic in the Fantasy basketball community all season long. There have been Beverley supporters and Jeremy Lin partisans, a group I count myself a part of. For whatever reason, Beverley being the starter has inflated his perceived value, far more than his production has ever demanded, as he remained a pretty highly owned option even while ranking just 75th among guards in Fantasy scoring per game this season. He is back from a month-long absence due to a hand injury, but his outlook moving forward shouldn't change much. He remains a marginal Fantasy option, even if he happens to be on the floor when the ball gets tipped to start every game. (41 percent owned; +13 percent)
Jordan Crawford, G, Warriors: Fantasy owners are always waiting for trades to happen because they tend to be the best way for deserving players to step into bigger roles and provide more value. More than a few Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors owners were famously disappointed by the Jazz's decision to stand pat at last season's trade deadline. Of course, there is always potential downside to any move. Crawford's trade to the Warriors is a textbook example of how that can play out, as he went from one of the season's pleasant surprises in the first half to what looks like a Fantasy afterthought moving forward. The Warriors will certainly find a way to work him into the rotation more than they have through his first three games, but it is pretty clear his time as a starting-caliber Fantasy option is all but over. Crawford was thriving as the starting point guard for Boston, averaging 27.0 Fantasy points in 39 games, but is now relegated to filling the departed Jarrett Jack's role as a second-unit captain. Unfortunately, the Warriors don't quite need a backup ballhandler as much nowadays as they did last season, thanks largely to the acquisition of Andre Iguodala in the offseason. Gone are the days of big minutes for three-guard lineups, and with them the chances of Crawford remaining a Fantasy starter. In 10- or even 12-team leagues, there probably isn't any reason to hang on to Crawford.(63 percent owned; -23 percent)
Iman Shumpert, G, Knicks: It is nice to get things right every once in a while. Just two weeks ago, Shumpert rode a pair of massive performances to the top of the most-added list, with his ownership peaking at 63 percent in early January. Even at the time of his hot streak, I guessed the majority of Fantasy owners who were running to add Shumpert would be dumping him sooner than later. In 10 games since his 53-points-in-two-nights outburst, Shumpert has scored in double figures just twice, and his ownership has tumbled in a predictable manner. Shumpert is playing 30-plus minutes pretty consistently in the month of January, but still doesn't get enough shots to make a big impact for Fantasy purposes. I don't think his ownership has hit bottom just yet. 47 percent owned; -16 percent)
Flavors of Next Week
- by Joe Polito (@JoePo89)
|1.||Jordan Crawford, Warriors||62|
|2.||O.J. Mayo, Bucks||73|
|3.||Danny Granger, Pacers||77|
|4.||Brandon Bass, Celtics||61|
|5.||Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers||52|
It's almost time to start speculating on trade rumors, as we're less than a month away from the NBA deadline. There isn't much information to pounce on just yet, but it would probably be smart to familiarize yourself with NBA depth charts so you know who to add when someone leaves town. For now, we'll continue to react to injuries, and this week's unlucky teams are San Antonio and Atlanta. The Hawks are now out two starting centers, losing Horford for the year and Pero Antic for the next few weeks. So who's next up? Well, there's veteran forward Elton Brand. Meh. There's that tall Mexican guy, Gustavo Ayon. More like Gustavo I yawn, am I right? Well what about that 25-year-old athletic dude who's scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games? Go on ...
Mike Scott (14 percent) might be the Hawks' best option for playing heavy minutes in the middle. At 6-foot-8, he's not even close to center material, but when you look at the rest of the shrinking league, he plays big enough to get heavy minutes down low for Atlanta. He's averaging 23.8 minutes over his last four games and that number can only go up now that Atlanta is down another big man. He hasn't breached the 30-minute mark yet this year, but his 19.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per 36 minutes suggest he's ready to.
I'd liken Scott to Tobias Harris as a guy who can rebound and finish strong at the rim. He's a capable pick-and-roll partner for the Hawks' quick guards and should be able to play his way into a more defined role, whether that's starting or coming off the bench. Pick him up if you were counting on Andrea Bargnani or Brandon Bass and hope he meets his potential with more opportunity.
Marco Belinelli, G, Spurs, (27 percent): The Spurs are even more shorthanded now that Kawhi Leonard has been sidelined a few weeks with a fractured hand. Leonard and Danny Green's prolonged absence means more minutes and shots for Belinelli, who's proven at times to be a valuable shooter in the Spurs offense. Belinelli has stayed in double-figure scoring over his last eight games and has averaged more than 30 minutes per game over the last two weeks. His 86 Fantasy points in Week 12 put him ahead of Darren Collison, Gerald Hnederson, Arron Afflalo and Evan Turner for the scoring period. He's also shooting better than 50 percent from the field while hitting 1.7 threes per game over the last two weeks. He'll be droppable again in a few weeks, so pick up and play Belinelli now while he's receiving heavy minutes and attempting 10 field goals per game on average.
Boris Diaw, F/C, Spurs, (23 percent): Here's the other piece of the Spurs' replacement puzzle. The absence of Splitter and now Leonard has left a sizable void in the middle for San Antonio, and if there's one thing Diaw's good at, it's taking up space. In the five games Diaw's received 30 minutes or more, he's averaging 12.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 turnovers per game -- equating to 23.4 Fantasy points per game. Long story short: when Diaw gets enough time to do so, he has the range and ability to affect all parts of the game. His efficiency raises his value in category formats, as he's shooting 56 percent from the field, 76 percent from the free throw line and only turns the ball over 1.3 times per game on the season. Last time I touted him, Diaw disappointed us with a dud of a week. This time, the Spurs are more desperate, meaning his minutes should stay up. Pick him up for his present opportunity and positional flexibility.
|1.||Jeremy Lin, Rockets||90|
|2.||Dion Waiters, Cavaliers||72|
|3.||Kawhi Leonard, Spurs||93|
|4.||Amir Johnson, Raptors||84|
|5.||Miles Plumlee, Suns||85|
Rodney Stuckey, G, Pistons, (48 percent): Rodney Stuckey is back and doing Rodney Stuckey-type things off the bench for Detroit. He's scored 20 or more in four straight games and has been picking up the slack in peripheral categories along the way. He's been the Pistons' most efficient scorer, shooting 55.4 percent from the field in that span. He's attempting 11.6 field goal attempts and four free throw attempts per game on the season, so this pace seems somewhat sustainable. The real test will come in other categories, where Stuckey has been known to flounder. His 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assist on the year will have you relying heavily on his scoring for Fantasy, but if he continues to play 30-plus like he has the last three, the other stats will come much more easily. Go ahead and grab Stuckey if you dropped Tony Wroten or you're done with the Terrence Ross experiment.
James Johnson, F, Grizzlies, (34 percent): I'm pretty much basing this upside flier on a Jan. 15 stat line, wherein Johnson scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, passed out five assists, snagged two steals and swatted six shots. The range of verbs I was forced to use in that sentence shows the kind of versatility he offers. I'm hard-pressed to come up with a handful of guys who can help out in any category on any given night, and on good nights, all of them at once. The problem is he's only combined for nine points, seven rebounds, five assist and four blocks in the two games since. Still, I think he's worth grabbing just in case. From what I've seen, Johnson has Terrence Jones-like potential, but with fewer rebounds because he shares the court with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Pick him up with the hopes that the Grizzlies are ready to trust an exciting athletic ‘tweener the same way the Rockets have with Jones. Johnson is averaging 12.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes this year. And as a bonus for Roto players, he's made 88.2 percent of his free throws on the season. He's not starting material right now, but when you look at the serious lack of sizzle the Grizzlies roster offers, it's not a stretch to think he'll be Fantasy relevant by the end of the year. So if you had been stashing Danilo Gallinari, or you're bored with Harrison Barnes and Danny Granger, then why not drop a known for a more exciting unknown?