Kyle Lowry having breakout season
So how high can Lowry go this season? Well, he had a semi-breakout campaign last season, averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and a 3-pointer per game. In 14 March games, he averaged 19.8 points, 8.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.3 3-pointers per game. That combination of assists, steals and 3s is extremely enticing, and judging by his early play this season, we might be seeing the beginning of a full-blown breakout campaign from Lowry.
The only concerns about him at this point are a sometimes shaky field goal percentage (42.7 field goal percentage last season, 41.1 percent this season, 0-for-6 from the field on New Year's Eve), too many turnovers (3.2 per game early on, including six on New Year's Eve) and consistency. The last part could be the biggest issue. The Rockets are thin on talent this season, and although that offers Lowry plenty of opportunities, it also means he won't have as much help succeeding as he would on another team. But right now, it appears he's confident and good enough to succeed all on his own.
• Andrew Bogut missed Tuesday's tilt versus the Utah Jazz, but at least the reason for his absence, "personal reasons," should squelch some concern from his fantasy owners, who saw a DNP for Bogut and assumed it was his body breaking down again. It's not clear yet whether Bogut will rejoin the Milwaukee Bucks in time for their next game Thursday versus the Sacramento Kings, but his absence for whatever reason is a good reminder that he's bound to get hurt in this compressed season, so you should trade him while he's healthy and playing well. With Bogut, Mike Dunleavy (groin) and Beno Udrih (shoulder) out, Drew Gooden started and produced 24 points and 12 boards. He's always capable of a random stretch of double-doubles when he can get the minutes, but he'll go back to the pine after Bogut returns.
• DeMarcus Cousins was back in action for the Kings on Tuesday after a one-game benching for reportedly demanding to be traded. Whether he actually demanded a trade or not, the fact that Cousins came off the bench Tuesday to play just 22 minutes implies that he's squarely in coach Paul Westphal's doghouse. His production Tuesday was representative of what he was doing as a starter: He hit the glass hard (eight boards) but was awful putting the rock in the bucket (1-for-5 FG). Cousins has immense talent and usually plays with energy, but his lack of focus and fundamentals would draw the ire of any coach and will result in shaky fantasy production this season. Still, the Kings aren't giving up on him, so neither should you.
• Richard Hamilton missed his second straight game Tuesday because of a sore groin. Rip was a marvel of fitness at his physical peak, but since turning 30 a few years back (he's nearly 34), he has been unable to stay healthy for long stretches. Bulls fans and fantasy owners alike had better get used to his missing action.
• Speaking of guards who can't stay healthy, Devin Harris left Tuesday's game against the Bucks because of a strained left calf. There was no immediate word on how long he'll be out, but look for Earl Watson to start in his absence. Watson had eight assists and three steals Tuesday night, while rookie Alec Burks had nine points and six dimes. Both should see a boost in minutes while Harris recovers.
In the most compressed season in NBA history, most teams are playing four or even five games a week. A short week this season is three games. However, the Los Angeles Clippers play one of just two games this week Thursday against the Rockets. Their final game this week is Saturday versus the Bucks. Despite the lack of action, most fantasy owners probably kept Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in their lineups this week, because both guys are capable of posting a week's worth of stats in just a couple of games.
Keep in mind that the Orlando Magic are the only other team with a two-game week until the All-Star break. They'll play the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors next week. Surely you'll keep Dwight Howard in your lineup, but you'll probably seek replacements for the rest of your Magic options.