As a Knicks fan, it wasn’t very nice of the Golden State Warriors to allow the game to be close throughout the first quarter. The Knicks led 20-18 after the first quarter, and while that should be an achievement of its own, it didn’t matter to the final outcome. SPOILER ALERT: The Knicks lost by 21 points. Draymond Green made the Knicks’ roster look like a high school team, going 9-9 from the field and posting a plus/minus of +28. Thanks for that. In other news, Kobe Bryant continues to make headlines this season, even when he isn’t in uniform. In that latest installment of Kobe’s farewell tour, he made poor rookie Larry Nance Jr. sit on the floor while he (Kobe) wasn’t in uniform. That’s just disrespectful. Finally, the NBA Trade Deadline is a little over two weeks away (February 18) so save your FAAB!
While Deron Williams has been enjoying a fine bounce-back season, the inevitable is starting to take place. Williams has battled minor ailments to this point but left the game Monday night after taking a hard fall on his hip. Head coach Rick Carlisle mentioned the word “concerned” when referring to the timetable of Williams. As seen in the past, anytime Williams misses time, J.J. Barea is there to pick up the slack for the Mavericks. Barea is undersized and might be a liability on the defensive end, but offensively he is an effective sparkplug. He minds his business and accepts his everyday role, but whenever the team needs him to step up and start, he gets down to business. Barea started a few games for Williams towards the end of December and was amazing. He even put together a game with 32 points on 13-20 shooting while dishing out 11 assists against the Nets. Barea has been noticeably effective over the past five games as well. During that span, he is averaging 14 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 three-pointers per game. There’s no official timetable for Williams, but he hasn’t played more than 68 games in each of the past three seasons. He’s extremely prone to injury and this one sounds rough. Barea makes for a high-end pickup in 10-team leagues or deeper.
Looking Deeper: Courtney Lee is a name that is popping up in trade rumors across the NBA, and the Grizzlies have made it their mission to showcase him in the meantime. Over the past seven games, Lee is playing just over 30 minute per night averaging 12.6 points and 1.9 three-pointers made. He won’t contribute in many other categories, but he can have a few big games in the scoring department. While he’s getting 30-plus minutes, owners in 14-team leagues or deeper can look at Lee as a fill-in shooting guard. He could also be traded to a team where he has more opportunities. He’s worth a speculative add in the mean time.
The expectations were very high for Stanley Johnson entering his rookie season as the eighth overall selection in the draft to the Detroit Pistons. Up until recently, he hasn’t performed too well. Keep in mind the kid is still just 19 years old. The month of January was kind to Johnson, as he posted his best true shooting percentage of any month yet at 50.1 percent. On top of that, he posted a monthly best +8.3 plus/minus and played nearly 25 minutes per game. It’s a maturation process for the rookie, and he’s especially showing consistency over his past four games where he’s averaging 14.5 points and three rebounds with at least one steal in each game. Johnson is a long, lanky wing player at 6’6″ with an 83.5-inch wingspan. He was highly-touted as a freshman coming out of the University of Arizona. It was there that he showed he’s able to score (mainly within the arc), be a willing rebounder and get in the passing lanes for steals. He still has much to prove in the Association, but his recent success warrants a pickup in 12-team leagues or deeper. He’s a player that could get better as the season goes on.
Looking Deeper: Following Blake Griffin’s most recent fiasco, the Clippers forward is expected to miss up to two more months of action. That may be it for Griffin’s Fantasy value, but if owners have an Injured Reserve spot on their team, you can stash him there. The Clips will need some more out of their rotation players, however, and that’s where Wesley Johnson steps in. Johnson isn’t going to wow anybody, but he does provide some sneaky three-point shooting and defensive statistics. He’s averaging 2.5 three-pointers per game over his last six, shooting 44.1-percent from downtown during that span. He’s also had a steal in every game but one, even notching a season-high six in one game last week. Three’s and steals are tough categories to expect from one player, especially in deeper leagues. Johnson can contribute in those over the next two months.
Often times, it’s hard to scout Eastern European big men in the NBA. There’s been an extensive history of these European bigs in the league and, for the most part, they don’t pan out. The times are changing, however. Kristaps Porzingis is an excellent example of somebody who has defied the stereotype, showing grit and talent throughout his rookie year. Obviously, Porzingis is owned but somebody like Nikola Jokic may still be floating around in 10-team leagues. The 6’10” rookie out of Serbia is making a name for himself on both ends of the court. On offense, Jokic is a versatile scorer who can get his points in the paint but has proved he has a nice shooting touch as well. He’s only attempted 31 three-points on the season, but he’s made 11 of them, good enough for 35-percent thus far. Overall, he’s shooting 54-percent from the field and a very impressive 79-percent from the charity stripe. Just a reminder Andre Drummond, who also plays center, is shooting 34.7-percent from the free-throw line this season. He fights hard on the glass and has become very consistent stealing the ball in the month of January. In 15 January games, Jokic has averaged 1.5 steals per night. He has four double-doubles in his last five games with his latest being a 27-point, 14-rebound effort. The kid is on fire and should be owned in all leagues, regardless of format or size.
Looking Deeper: Yes, I mentioned earlier I’m a Knicks fan and with that, I never thought I would be suggesting Amar’e Stoudemire as a pickup again. Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a hip injury, and Stoudemire has been filling in gracefully in his absence. He won’t play more than 26 minutes in a game, but he has been efficient when he’s in there. Over the past four, Stat is averaging 9.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. They aren’t eye popping, but if you’re a Whiteside owner, you may want to handcuff him with Stoudemire in 14-team leagues or deeper. Either that or maybe you’re just desperate for a big man. Nonetheless, Stat has been effective when he plays recently.