J.R. Smith finally finding his shot
After struggling with his shot for most of the season, J.R. Smith has been on fire lately for the New York Knicks, and after posting 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor in a win over the Clippers on Wednesday night, he's now averaging 15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.8 steals and 3.2 3-pointers per game over his past five games while shooting 88 percent from the line for good measure.
Smith should be able to have one more great game against the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday night and will definitely be an interesting player to look at heading into next season's fantasy drafts, depending on how he plays during the postseason. He has a player option for next season, but any sort of playoff success could mean that it's worth it for him to opt out, and it's difficult to know what his value would be like on a different team. Regardless, he's been a useful fantasy option in the past, and now that he's shooting the ball well again it appears he'll be one again in the future.
• With almost half the team out with assorted injuries, rookie forward Tobias Harris got a shot for the Milwaukee Bucks and made the most of it with 15 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks will end the season Thursday night against a similarly depleted Boston Celtics squad, so Harris should be a good play.
• He put up a career-high 31 points in a win over the lowly Bobcats, and it's worth noting that J.J. Redick is ending this season for the Orlando Magic on a major roll. He's averaging big-time numbers over his past five games: 17.2 points, 3.6 assists, 2.2 3s and 46 percent shooting from the floor and 95 percent shooting from the line (on four attempts per game). If he could ever put up those numbers for an entire season, he'd be one of the best players in all of fantasy, but as it stands for now just make sure he's in your lineup against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.
• Patty Mills started at point guard for the San Antonio Spurs against the Suns with Tony Parker out of the lineup resting, and while he wasn't efficient he did manage 27 points and five assists in 35 minutes. The Spurs face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and it's a pretty good bet that Mills will score his fair share of points.
• The Cleveland Cavaliers spread their minutes around so much on Wednesday night that no one played more than D.J. Kennedy's 31. If you haven't heard of Kennedy (who was the Cavs' best fantasy option on the night), it's because Wednesday night's loss to the Washington Wizards was his first NBA game ever. Needless to say, if Thursday night's contest against the Chicago Bulls is similar, there isn't a player on the Cavs worth having in your lineup unless you are truly desperate.
• As is usually true of late, you'll want to make sure Avery Bradley of the Celtics is in your fantasy lineup on Thursday night. With Rajon Rondo questionable and Ray Allen doubtful, Bradley's going to get big minutes against the Bucks, and even though he struggled last time out against the Miami Heat, he's averaging nearly 20 points on 57 percent shooting over his past five games, and has finally picked up his numbers in steals over the past couple contests as well.
• In addition to the usual injuries to Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, the Houston Rockets will be without Chandler Parsons and Marcus Camby on Thursday night, and that means it's a good night to get Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger into your lineup. The Rockets will be going up against the New Orleans Hornets, and Lee and Budinger should both be in line for big minutes with all the injuries.
• I'm expecting Gerald Green to have a huge night for the New Jersey Nets to finish the season against the Raptors. He's averaging a modest 13.2 points over his past five games without doing much else to help your fantasy team besides knocking down 3s, but his resurgence has been one of the good stories around the league the past few weeks, and it'd be a surprise if he didn't end the year on a high note.
• With Metta World Peace suspended and Matt Barnes out with an ankle sprain, it's going to be up to Devin Ebanks to hold down the fort at small forward against the Sacramento Kings. That could work out OK for the Los Angeles Lakers, but Ebanks is not a player of consequence in fantasy leagues, and it's definitely not worth playing him, even if he's going to play a ton of minutes against a porous defense.