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Friday, April 5, 2013
Gallinari injury opens door for Brewer


Danilo Gallinari exited Thursday's matchup against the Mavericks with a major knee injury, likely a torn ACL, allowing Corey Brewer to play 35 minutes off the bench. He scored 23 points with two 3-pointers, two steals and a block. Brewer was averaging 25.8 minutes per game in the five previous contests, but he is primed for a significant uptick in minutes now, which will result in solid points, 3s and especially steals. Brewer ranks sixth in the league with 2.88 steals per 48 minutes, so with consistent starter-type minutes, he should be among the league leaders in steals from here on out. He's currently owned in just 15.5 percent of ESPN leagues but warrants much higher ownership if he's getting 30-plus minutes per night on a regular basis. Gallinari's injury should also open up extended minutes for Wilson Chandler, who is averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 3s, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks per game in his past five contests. Chandler provides the type of across-the-board production that makes him an excellent late-season fill-in if you've got an injured player or a starter not performing up to standard. Both Brewer and Chandler deserve to be owned in most formats now that Gallinari is sidelined, and Kenneth Faried's production could also increase if his 12 points, 19 rebounds, 2 steals and 4 blocks Thursday is any indication.

Looking Back

Kawhi Leonard returned after missing two games with a sore knee. He posted a dazzling line in a losing effort against the Thunder, scoring 24 points with 14 boards, six assists and three 3s. He's averaging 14.7 points per game since the All-Star Game after averaging 10.5 points per game prior to it and is blossoming into the type of multicategorical gem many expected when they drafted him this season. Despite his inconsistent production, Leonard ranks 43rd on the season Player Rater when sorting by averages and is looking like a legitimate fourth-round pick for next season's draft.

Chris Kaman scored 13 points with nine boards and two blocks Thursday, coming off Tuesday's contest in which he scored 14 points with six rebounds. He's back in the starting lineup, at least for now, and even though he's been awful this season, he's still capable of putting up nice scoring and rebounding totals when getting minutes, as indicated by his 20.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per 40 minutes. If he keeps starting, he's a viable second center in most formats, especially if you want to augment your team's field goal percentage down the stretch.

Looking Ahead

Paul Pierce is questionable for Friday's game with a sore ankle, which will open the door for Jeff Green to continue his hot late-season play. Green ranks 19th on the 30-day Player Rater and is averaging an impressive 23.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.0 3s, 1.2 blocks and 2.0 steals per game in his past five, numbers he should easily replicate if Pierce sits.

J.R. Smith has been very un-J.R. Smith-like lately, taking the ball to the rack with much higher frequency and shooting 50 percent from the floor in the past five games and 79.1 percent on 8.6 attempts per game from the stripe. If he continues being aggressive, he's much less of a hindrance in the field goal percentage department and becomes a much savvier play against a mediocre Bucks defense that's allowing teams to score 100.5 points per game since the start of March.

• There's not much incentive for Erik Spoelstra to start his stars against the lowly Bobcats on Friday, so look for Norris Cole to continue his improved play and put up a stat line worthy of notice in deep leagues. Cole is averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 assists, 1.0 3s and 1.3 steals per game in his past three contests and is a nice spot-start for daily transaction leagues if it looks like Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers are set to sit out another game.

• Among my new favorite players is rookie center Jonas Valanciunas, primarily because of his ability to contribute heftily in both percentage-based categories. This was on full display Wednesday night when he scored 24 points while going 4-for-7 from the field and an incredible 16-for-18 from the stripe, and he's a must-start in every format at this point if you need a bump in percentages with some points, rebounds and blocks thrown in. He ranks 33rd on the 30-day Player Rater and will be a hot name in next season's draft based upon his post-All-Star averages of 10.8 points on 59.6 percent from the floor and 81.8 percent from the stripe with 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 26.6 minutes per game. Extrapolate those numbers to 30 minutes per game, and he's a top-10 center next season, so spending a mid-to-late round pick on him should reap dividends.

• Keep an eye on how Terrence Jones is used Friday, as he came out of nowhere to score 14 points with 12 rebounds in 29 minutes Wednesday night. The power forward situation in Houston now consists of a four-headed monster of Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Thomas Robinson and Greg Smith. The overcrowded nature of the situation will likely result in none of the players seeing enough consistent playing time to be worth anything in all but the deepest formats. If you need a power forward, monitor the minutes distribution Friday, and if Jones once again sees significant run, he's a nice flier for deep leagues.