Evans, Jennings finally match expectations

January, 6, 2012

In what was probably the least-watched game of the four on Thursday night, the Sacramento Kings came back from a big deficit and beat the Milwaukee Bucks with a huge fourth quarter. In terms of fantasy basketball, though, the performances of the two starting point guards really stood out.

For the Kings, Tyreke Evans had his best game of the season with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and a season-high five assists. This is important, because people who drafted Evans in fantasy leagues this season were beginning to worry there was little chance he'd match the 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists he put up as a rookie two years ago. With Evans, the key is always in his ability to get to the line, so the fact that he was 9-for-9 from the stripe is probably the best sign of all.

On the losing side, it was still an extremely productive night for Brandon Jennings. He had 31 points, seven assists, and five steals, but most encouraging was the fact that he was 6-for-10 on 3-pointers. Jennings absolutely needs to make 3s to be valuable in fantasy because his field goal percentage is abominable. He was only shooting 18 percent on 3s coming into this game, but that number jumps up to 29 percent after this game and should keep going up from there.

Looking Back

Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers stepped up for the Miami Heat with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade out. Each played a ton of minutes in the triple-overtime win, but each was efficient and put up big fantasy numbers. Unfortunately, no one else on the Heat seems worth much attention. Udonis Haslem will get you rebounds, but nearly nothing else. Terrel Harris had a great game with nine points, 14 rebounds, and four assists, but my guess is we shouldn't be hanging around waiting for him to have another fantasy-worthy performance.

Tracy McGrady bounced back from a terrible performance against the Chicago Bulls with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks for the Atlanta Hawks against the Heat. He's right on the fringe of being someone who should be owned in fantasy leagues, but if he can continue to rack up somewhere around four or five assists per game, he should definitely be on your roster.

• Only one player on either side managed to play 30 minutes in the San Antonio Spurs blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks: Richard Jefferson. Clearly, it wasn't a very exciting game for fantasy owners, and it's probably a mistake to try to extrapolate anything from a game like that unless it's the fact that these teams are both going to take every opportunity they can to rest their players.

• In his first game since coach Paul Westphal was fired, DeMarcus Cousins finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. Chuck Hayes left the game with a dislocated shoulder, and that could mean more minutes for Cousins (and more numbers for fantasy owners) down the road if Hayes misses significant time.

Andrew Bogut missed another game for personal reasons, and since the Bucks are on a road trip, it's possible he may miss more time. Keep an eye on his status, because if he misses more time, you're going to want to keep getting Drew Gooden into your lineup. Gooden had 18 points and nine rebounds against the Kings, and is perfectly capable of putting up numbers like that on a regular basis.

Jamal Crawford is still missing way too many shots for the Portland Trail Blazers, but he's carved out his usual niche of being the go-to scorer any time he's on the floor, and once he starts making his usual percentage of 3s he's going to be an important player in fantasy leagues. He's a good guy to target in trades right now if you need 3-point shooting.

Looking Ahead

• With Rodney Stuckey questionable for the Detroit Pistons in Friday night's matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, it should be a good night to get Brandon Knight into your lineup. Knight had a bad game against the Bulls, but some more minutes could help him get back on track.

Corey Maggette is expected to miss the Charlotte Bobcats' game against the Hawks, which should open up some more minutes for Gerald Henderson. Henderson's been really good in the early going this season, averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals.

Ray Allen might miss another game for the Boston Celtics with flu-like symptoms, but the C's have a tough matchup with the Indiana Pacers and there's no one on the roster with the potential to put up great fantasy numbers in place of Allen.

Stephen Curry will miss the Golden State Warriors' matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. That will probably mean more minutes for Klay Thompson, and while I don't think he's ready to be on fantasy teams, there's some real potential for 3-point production there if he can carve out 25 minutes per game or so.

Trevor Ariza and Nene Hilario are both unlikely to play when Ariza's New Orleans Hornets meet up with Nene's Denver Nuggets. The Hornets seem to be splitting up the minutes pretty evenly behind Ariza, which is bad for fantasy owners. The same goes for the Nuggets, but if you need blocks, it should definitely be a great night to get The Birdman, Chris Andersen, into your lineup.



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