This past Saturday marked the return of Superman. I mean Dwight Howard; my apologies to Shaq and Clark Kent. With Howard back in the lineup the Houston Rockets put on a clinic against the Denver Nuggets, improving their record to 18-5 on this early season. Howard, who was projected to play between 20-25 minutes, played a total of 30 minutes and put up a very impressive 26 points on 82 percent shooting from the field. In addition to the scoring barrage, Howard added his usual rebounding (13 rebounds) and defense (3 blocks). The Rockets have gotten off to a surprisingly fast start this season and have done it without Howard’s presence in the lineup. With Howard back, expect the Rockets to continue their surge. But most importantly for you my Fantasy friend, expect Howard to post Superman-like numbers.
Prior to the season, I was a big believer in Doug McDermott. I may have been a little biased considering I am a huge Chicago Bulls fan, but his summer league and preseason performances certainly looked legitimate. As soon as the regular season commenced, McDermott did not look like the polished rookie the Bulls acquired in this year’s draft. Instead, he looked hesitant, nervous, and a step too slow for the veteran-laden team. Why is McDermott even worth writing about? Well, for two reasons: Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy. Butler has played like an All-Star and will continue to play more than 40 minutes per game with Tony Snell as the only reliable backup to him. The same can certainly be said for Dunleavy. Dunleavy, however, is nowhere near as reliable as Butler. From an offensive perspective, Dunleavy can provide a little bit of scoring and can be considered a value buy in daily leagues. In deep standard leagues, Dunleavy may be considered an option if three pointers are a needed category. Keep an eye on Dunleavy’s production over the next month or so that McDermott is out.
As a quick update, it has been reported that DeMarcus Cousins will resume practicing next week. This likely means a two-week timeline before Cousins returns back to game action. In his absence, Jason Thompson has provided consistent scoring and rebounding numbers.
Returning to the Chicago Bulls; what’s going on with Joakim Noah? Noah has missed the last three games and looks as if he is going to have an injury-plagued season. With Noah out, Paul Gasol, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic will absorb all of the frontcourt minutes. All three can be considered in standard and daily leagues, with Mirotic and Gibson more suitable in deeper standards. Gasol, on the other hand, has played like a 25-year-old and looks to be a great draft day value for Fantasy owners. For Noah owners now may be the time to swing a deal for Gasol or Gibson to have as Noah insurance for the remainder of the year.
There is no timetable for Terrence Jones’s return at this juncture. For those that drafted Jones, you have already missed him for a quarter of his season, and he will likely miss significantly more. If you haven’t already dropped Jones, now may be the time to look for production on the waiver wire.
I have reported on David Lee a multitude of times since the beginning of the season. With a new coach and a new and improved version of Draymond Green, it looks like Lee may be the odd man out. Lee, who has forever been known for his scoring/rebounding and not for his defense, will get minutes upon his return. However, there is no evidence as to how Lee will fit into Steve Kerr’s rotation. Frankly, I feel more confident for Green owners than Lee owners for the remainder of the season.
The New York Knicks have been a model of dysfunction so far this season. The New York media is ready to fire Phil Jackson and trade away Carmelo Anthony for a Big Mac and a slew of second round draft picks. While the Knicks are stuck in the heat of futility, Iman Shumpert, a once promising prospect, has been ruled out for the next three weeks. With reports that Jackson is looking to ship J.R. Smith out, Tim Hardaway, Jr. looks like the likely player to inherit Shumpert’s minutes. Hardaway Jr., who has been reported to feud with Melo, can provide scoring in daily leagues. In standard leagues, Hardaway Jr. is simply not proven enough to be a consistent contributor.
With Christmas exactly 10 days away, here’s a list of things that you should keep an eye on before Santa, the family, and It’s a Wonderful Life consume your life/holiday.
- What will happen to Lance Stephenson? He was supposed to bring Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets toughness, defense, and outside shooting. Instead, he’s brought nothing but question marks. Stephenson is eligible to be traded on the 15th.
- Al Horford. Horford has had a slow start to the season but is just too good not to eventually turn it around and return to his usual All-Star level, pre-injury performance. For those that own Horford, don’t be persuaded by low-ball offers for the talented big man.
- Kobe Bryant. As Kobe begins his quest to reach Karl Malone as the number two scorer in league history, the question remains whether he will continue to handle the point guard duties. If so, Jeremy Lin will continue to be un-ownable in standard leagues.
- Joe Johnson simply looks uninterested in the Nets’ new offense. He looks a step slow and has not played with the same level of aggression as he did last year. Despite that, he is putting up similar numbers. If you’re in need of shooting guard help, Johnson may be attainable for a relatively cheap sum.
- Which rookie(s) will emerge? Andrew Wiggins continues to impress. Jabari Parker is starting to look comfortable. What about Nerlens Noel? Marcus Smart? Shabazz Napier? These were guys that were expected to make contributions and have looked timid so far in their rookie campaigns.