Monday, December 24, 2012
Dirk Nowitzki makes season debut
The NBA takes Christmas Eve off, but apparently good St. Dirk wasn't going to wait around for the holiday to start before giving fantasy owners an early gift. Like getting a pair of socks from your old Aunt Myrtle, it wasn't a pretty sight but Dirk Nowitzki unexpectedly made his season debut Sunday, coming off the bench to score eight points in 20 minutes of action. He said he would have played more but the San Antonio Spurs were busy destroying the Dallas Mavericks by nearly 40 points, so there was really no sense in keeping him on the court any longer.
Nowitzki had been out since early October and had arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19. He was expected to wait until after Christmas to get back in the mix, so we'll take the extra action here in Fantasyland. Expectations for Nowitzki this week should be kept in check because his minutes may be relatively limited; the Mavs play only three games and they have tough matchups with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Spurs during that stretch.
On the other hand, you likely won't have a player with more upside than Dirk, so you may as well take advantage of his early return and stick him into your lineups.
Without really giving an explanation, Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson not only pulled Kris Humphries from the starting lineup Sunday, but he failed to insert the big man into the game at all. Johnson said Humprhies wasn't in the doghouse, but the end result was the same: a DNP-CD. Keith Bogans (13 points, three 3s in 35 minutes) made his first start of the season at small forward and Gerald Wallace (14 points, 6 dimes, 9 boards in 37 minutes) slid over to replace Humphries as the starting power forward. Humprhies is averaging only 5.8 points and 6.3 boards this month and it appears it's time for fantasy teams to move on.
Kawhi Leonard came off the bench in his return to action Friday, but he started Sunday's win over the Mavs, finishing with 17 points (6-11 FG), three 3s and five steals in 26 minutes. Great percentages, steals and some 3-point production make Leonard a great fantasy baller. He's owned in only 59.8 percent of ESPN leagues, so go make sure he isn't still sitting on your waiver wire.
Kevin Love was poked in the eye late during Thursday's game and missed Sunday's tilt with the New York Knicks as a result. The Minnesota Timberwolves hope he will miss just the one game, but the trouble for fantasy hoopsters who set weekly lineups on Monday is that the Wolves play only two games this week. Hopefully, he will be ready to go Wednesday against the Houston Rockets and Saturday against the Phoenix Suns, but if his injury lingers, your team could end up taking a zero for the week.
The word "hothead" has become synonymous with DeMarcus Cousins, so it should come as no surprise that he reportedly got into a heated exchange with coach Keith Smart during halftime of Friday's game. Nor should it come as a surprise that the Sacramento Kings suspended him indefinitely as a result of his latest outburst. Smart said they would revisit Cousins' standing with the team in a couple of days, but considering that this is his third suspension this season (the first two by the NBA), it's possible he could be out a while longer.
Although Amar'e Stoudemire appears to be nearing a return to action, it won't happen on Christmas. In fact, it appears that we may not see STAT at all during the Knicks' three-game road trip this week. Once he does get back in action, fantasy owners need to keep expectations in check for his statistical production because he likely will be eased back slowly in a reserve role.
Mo Williams injured his right thumb Saturday and missed Sunday's game. He will have an MRI examined by the Utah Jazz team orthopedist in the next day or two. However, Williams said the injury feels the same as when he tore ligaments in the digit back in 2008. He required surgery to repair the damage then and is out indefinitely at this time. Jamaal Tinsley figures to start in place of Williams and should be a quality source of assists. He tallied double-digit dimes three times last month.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Plenty of studs will be hitting the hardwood for Christmas game action, so you should have no trouble finding some good plays. My general recommendation would be to roll with guys who are playing at home, simply because they should be more comfortable and in a better position for success. To that end, while I am intrigued by rolling out Omer Asik in a road game against his old Chicago Bulls team, I will use Dwight Howard at center instead. He has scored at least 21 Fastbreak points in eight of his past nine games and plays at home against the Knicks.