Rookie Jennings going Buck wild

November, 4, 2009

Pretty much all of the preseason fantasy hype for rookie point guards went to Tyreke Evans and Jonny Flynn, but people seemed to sleep a bit on Brandon Jennings. The thinking was that while Evans had to beat out the likes of Beno Udrih for minutes with the Sacramento Kings, and Flynn had to hold off Ramon Sessions for minutes with the Minnesota Timberwolves, at least they didn't have to battle a rookie-hating coach like Scotty Skiles.

The trouble is that's a bit of an oversimplification of Skiles' thinking. Skiles doesn't hate rookies; he hates players who don't play hard and don't play smart basketball, which typically includes most rookies. Thus far, though, Jennings has proved worthy of Skiles' demanding standards and has been rewarded with minutes and opportunities to succeed in fantasy terms.

After nearly posting a triple-double in his NBA debut and averaging 20.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.5 3-pointers in his first two contests, Jennings had the chance to prove himself against another young point guard, Derrick Rose, on Tuesday. Rose got the better of Jennings as the Chicago Bulls won by two, but Jennings had another solid game: 25 points, 2 3-pointers, 4 dimes and 2 steals.

If by some miracle, he's still on your waiver wire, don't hesitate to grab him. With Michael Redd out at least the next couple of weeks, Jennings could establish himself as a quality fantasy option for the rest of the season. He took a whopping 23 shots Tuesday and should control the Bucks' offense, so long as he keeps playing hard and smart for his coach.

What went down on Tuesday

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs: 40 points (12-for-22 shooting, 15-for-16 free throw shooting), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks versus the Jazz.
Rasheed Wallace, Celtics: 20 points, 6 3-pointers, 6 rebounds, 1 block versus the 76ers.
Ron Artest, Lakers: 20 points, 6 assists, 5 steals versus the Thunder.
Kevin Garnett, Celtics: 3 points (1-for-7 shooting), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals versus 76ers.
John Salmons, Bulls: 7 points (3-for-15 shooting), 3 rebounds, 2 assists versus Bucks.
Elton Brand, 76ers: 6 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 block, 1 steal in 28 minutes versus Celtics.

• Officially, Tyrus Thomas missed Tuesday's game due to the flu. Hopefully it's neither a case of swine flu nor a case of doghouse flu. There are plenty of rumors that Thomas and coach Vinny Del Negro are at odds after the coach sat Thomas for the entire fourth quarter of Sunday's game. Let's hope this is just a little bump in the road, because Thomas can be an absolute fantasy stud when he's focused and on the court. In the meantime, rookie Taj Gibson started and mustered just five points and six boards in 20 minutes, but Luol Deng owned the glass with 20 rebounds to go with 24 points.

Vince Carter returned to action Tuesday after missing one game with a sprained ankle. Unfortunately, just like in his first two games with the Orlando Magic, he had another two-dimensional statistical performance (15 points, 3 3-pointers). So far, his boards and dimes have been limited, and he has yet to top 16 points in a game. He's bound to boost all of those numbers eventually, but with Rashard Lewis coming back relatively soon, it appears unlikely that we'll see Vinsanity anywhere near his max fantasy value this season.

• Also back in the mix Tuesday evening was Caron Butler. If you took him in your draft, you knew you were playing with fire, so be glad that his bruised left kneecap cost him only one full game. He missed 11 of his 23 shots Tuesday, but he racked up 22 points and 6 boards. It appears safe to keep him in your lineups for now, though the really safe move would be trading him while he's actually healthy and on the court.

What's coming up Wednesday

Tayshaun Prince had the second-longest active streak in the Association by playing 496 straight games, but he sat out Tuesday and will miss at least another two contests due to a back injury. With Rip Hamilton also in the infirmary again Wednesday, Will Bynum could be a sneaky play against the Toronto Raptors. The speedy and tireless guard had 20 points, 2 assists and 2 steals Tuesday.

• The big matchup Wednesday -- and I mean B-I-G -- is Phoenix Suns big man Amar'e Stoudemire versus Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard. Superman got in foul trouble Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons and basically didn't post any stats (8 points, 5 boards, 3 blocks) in his 16 minutes of action. However, Howard admitted that he aggravated a shoulder injury originally sustained Sunday, which is something to keep an eye on Wednesday against Amare. STAT has had a pretty quiet start to the season, but I think he will be eyeing his battle with a dinged-up Howard as a chance to bust loose with a big STATistical game.

• A bruised lower back kept Troy Murphy out Tuesday. He has a long history of injuries, so it wouldn't be surprising if he skipped Wednesday's run with the Knicks. If Murphy's out or limited, we could see another solid performance out of Roy Hibbert, who racked up 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in Murphy's absence Tuesday.

• If you look at the Philadelphia 76ers' box score from Tuesday, you'll wonder if the starters all went home at halftime. Essentially that's the case, as they got pounded by the Boston Celtics 105-74. I'd recommend ignoring that Sixers' box score, since it came against the C's. I'd also recommend sitting most of your T-Wolves on Wednesday, so you don't end up having to ignore another box score involving the Celtics.



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