Corey Brewer, SF, Minnesota – In Wednesday’s win over Portland, Brewer became just the second player this season to put up at least 19 points (PTS), eight rebounds (REB), five assists (AST) and five steals (STL) in a game this season. The only other player to do it was none other than the “Baby-Faced Assassin” himself: Stephen Curry (so that’s some pretty elite company). The five steals, and 11 in the last two games, elevated him to second in the NBA with 2.24 steals per game (SPG) behind just Paul Millsap. The losses of Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Mo Williams are lending a hand to the uptick in production for Brewer but only Williams is expected back anytime soon. Martin, the most likely of the bunch to affect Brewer’s minutes, sounds like he’s still at least a month away. Coach Flip Saunders was quoted this week as saying “Corey Brewer is too valuable to trade,” so the team certainly thinks very highly of him. It has shown in his minutes, as they are up to over 30 per game (MPG) in the month of December. Brewer played just 25.9 MPG in November and 28.0 in two October games. He has played so well that he would still be well worth owning if all the injured T’Wolves returned today. Luckily for his owners, they have plenty of time to cash in on the extended opportunity. Brewer is an absolute must-own considering there’s no good reason his minutes should dip back under 30 per game in the immediate future.
Robert Covington, SF, Philadelphia – Covington’s situation is the equivalent of a Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon. Just as the audience believes he has finally won, the roadrunner proves he is too much and Wile E.’s plan falls short. This is the case for Covington; right as he was falling into some big minutes/production, Tony Wroten is going to return. Wroten was able to practice today and is listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Nets. Covington played his first game with Philadelphia on Nov. 17 and Wroten was injured Nov. 26, so there were less than six full games of overlap between the two. During that limited stretch, Covington only eclipsed double-digit points once. Although they play different positions, the 76ers play a bunch of “unique” lineups to say the least. Covington only played 11.5 MPG during the six game overlap and has risen to 24 MPG in the six games since. He’s shown he can play a little bit, so his role will likely be expanded beyond 11 or so minutes, but expect a decline. It’s unfortunate because Covington’s talent should warrant a consistent role on a horrific team such as Philadelphia. K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel have solidified roles so there’s just not a whole lot of minutes left to go around. Covington is a sell-high in deeper leagues, as he will struggle to eclipse 20 MPG in the near future.
Draymond Green, SF/PF, Golden State – Speaking of minutes likely to decrease, David Lee practiced today for the first time since his lone 2014-15 appearance on Nov. 5. If he does not return this weekend, he should definitely be back by the beginning of next week. Lee has been dealing with season-long hamstring issues and the team wanted to make sure he did not aggravate the injury this time around. Considering the Warriors have been extra careful, he should be good to go as soon as he steps on the court. It should take him a week or two to get his cardiovascular endurance back, but there is always a role for the former All-Star. His return likely means a minute drop for Draymond Green. Green has only played less than 30 minutes in five of 21 games this season and has been nothing short of phenomenal. His defensive rating sits at third in the NBA among players who have played at least 300 minutes (95 rating) behind Andrew Bogut and Dwight Howard. There are only so many minutes to go around on a team but Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala’s minutes are probably at a greater risk of collapsing. Green has simply played too well to have his minutes just drop off the table, and coach Steve Kerr must realize how important he is. If you can sell high on him, go ahead, but do not expect his minutes to dip below 28-29 (currently 32.3 MPG) even with a healthy Lee.
Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, New York – Amare’s name used to be synonymous with All-Star. Year in and year out Stoudemire was one of the best players in the league and maybe even better in Fantasy because of the elite percentages. Then Amare hit an injury wall and just could not stay healthy for an extended period. He missed nearly a full year in 2005-06 but bounced back in a big way after, so it wasn’t until Amare joined the Knicks that it really magnified. In the past three seasons with the Knicks, Stoudemire has not surpassed the 65 game mark (mind you 2011-12 was a strike shortened season). Nevertheless, Amare looks like a new man this season, having played in 23 of 24 total games. 25.8 MPG would be his highest since the 2011-12 season if they hold. Most of all, his rebounds are back above 10.0 on a per-36 minute basis for the first time since 2006-07 (his second All-Star season of six). The rejuvenation of the ability to bang in the middle shows that the health may very well be legitimate. Amare gives you elite field goal percentage and he is a solid FT shooter (career 76.2 percent) for a big. Even though the Knicks are not winning, Stoudemire is not at fault. Impressively, only Carmelo Anthony has a higher player efficiency rating on the team (20.9-20.7) and they are the only two on the team over 15.0 (which is considered a league average player). As long as he remains on the court, he should only improve on the 25.8 MPG.
All statistics are accurate before the start of games on Dec. 11.