Rough night for Norris Cole

December, 29, 2011

Hopefully you weren't one of the folks who went all-in with Norris Cole after his stellar performance off the bench for the Heat against the Celtics on Tuesday night, as his Wednesday night performance against the Bobcats was a serious step backward (17 minutes and just five points on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor). Cole's going to be good at some point, but right now he has no 3-point range and is behind a more established player in the rotation in Mario Chalmers.

It's very easy to get excited about rookies, but that excitement rarely pays off. For example, on the other side of the Heat box score is Gerald Henderson. Henderson has started the season with two really good fantasy performances, averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor. Henderson, however, is not a rookie, and he doesn't play for a team that gets the attention the Heat get, and so Henderson and Cole are currently owned in approximately the same number of leagues (30.1 percent for Cole, 31.0 for Henderson). It's fine to have Cole on your roster, especially in deep leagues, but just be aware that there are probably far better fantasy options on your waiver wire than a rookie backup point guard.

Looking back

James Johnson certainly has some holes in his game (he's definitely not a scorer quite yet), but the Raptors small forward is getting plenty of playing time off the bench and averaging 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.5 blocks per game through the first two games of the season. If you need help in the defensive categories, he's certainly worth a try.

• Believe it or not, Marvin Williams is currently leading the Hawks in points, rebounds and steals. Of course, both games were blowout victories, so it's hard to judge what will happen in normal games, but it's also possible that, at age 25, Williams is about to have his best season. Even that wouldn't make him a great fantasy player, but he'd certainly be worth owning, and right now he's available in almost all leagues.

• Pistons rookie Brandon Knight might be worth the excitement that will follow his 23-point outburst in the Pistons' loss to the Cavaliers. Anyone who can make 3s the way Knight can (6-of-11 through two games) will carry some value in fantasy leagues.

• Another rookie I'm excited about is Tristan Thompson. The Cavs forward has put up decent numbers, scoring in double figures in limited minutes in the first two games of his career; he's probably an Antawn Jamison trade away from playing 30-plus minutes per game.

Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry both looked absolutely great for the Hornets in their demolition of the Celtics, and both players will probably be decent contributors as long as the Hornets' roster stays as it is currently constructed (especially Landry), but it's worth noting that much more of the offense will be going through Eric Gordon once he joins the lineup.

Mike Conley was out for the Grizzlies in their loss to the Thunder, and he's up in the air for Friday night against the Rockets. For what it's worth, Jeremy Pargo had 15 points and seven assists filling in for Conley, but it's very unlikely that Pargo will put up those numbers on a regular basis even if Conley misses more time.

• The Spurs are going to keep spreading around the minutes, and that's going to keep being frustrating for fantasy owners, but the early returns seem to point out that if Manu Ginobili can stay healthy, he's going to have another monster season. Through two games he's averaging 24 points, four 3s, four rebounds, five assists and two steals in -- amazingly -- just 29.5 minutes per game. Those minutes, by the way, are down from last season's by less than one per game.

• I'm happy to announce that Rudy Fernandez is finally a relevant fantasy player again! He makes 3s and gets steals, and he might even throw in some assists (he had eight dimes for the Nuggets on Wednesday night). If you need 3s and steals, he's definitely worth having on your roster, especially in leagues deeper than 10 teams.

• In the face of a blowout loss to the 76ers, the Suns appear to have opted for the throw-in-the-towel approach. It was not a good night for any of their starters, but that doesn't make Ronnie Price (16 points, four assists) worth paying attention to in fantasy leagues.

• I'm afraid to say anything, because it's like mentioning a no-hitter in the third inning, but the Warriors are playing defense! Opponents are now averaging just 91.3 points per game against them after they held the Knicks' potent offense to just 78 on Wednesday night. It's nothing to get alarmed about, mind you, but it's certainly worth keeping in mind that they might not be the fantasy fuel for other teams that they've been in seasons past.

Stephen Curry, by the way, missed the win over the Knicks with a sprained ankle, but the Warriors don't play again until Saturday, so we'll have to keep an eye on his status going forward.

Looking ahead

• It will certainly be interesting to watch Dwight Howard face off against the Nets on Thursday night with the subtext of all the trade talk surrounding him. On the court, though, I'm interested to see whether Ryan Anderson can continue leading the Magic in scoring; certainly the Magic power forward should be owned in all leagues. He's up over 50 percent now, so if he's still available in your league, this could be your last chance to snag him.

• The other big question on Thursday night will be whether the Mavericks can right the ship in a tough matchup with Oklahoma City. In particular, I'm interested to see whether Lamar Odom starts to find his niche on the Mavs, because the first two games have been nothing but a disaster for him.



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