Concern about values of Gasol, Stoudemire
Pau Gasol and Amare Stoudemire have a lot in common; both have been much maligned over the years for not being classic big men who like to bang in the paint, and currently both of them are hurt and not playing. They may have one more thing in common this season: coming off the bench. But that won't happen right away.
Per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said that Gasol will start once he returns from his sore knee, which could be as soon as Tuesday.
"I'm not going to mess with Pau," D'Antoni said. "He's too important to the team and he's earned it, and he's too good of a player to even go there. That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move)."
The Lakers want to see how Gasol meshes with the team once Nash returns (not likely during their 4-game road trip this week), but if the Lakers continue to struggle once Nash is back in the mix, a "desperation" move may well be in order.
Meanwhile, Stoudemire appears to be nearing a return around Christmas. STAT has said he would be amenable to a reserve role, though time will tell whether such a move comes to fruition.
Because they aren't bangers, both Stoudemire and Gasol would benefit from facing opponents' second string. Plus, both may well end up on the court at the end of the fourth quarter, which would help keep their minutes up to a respectable level. But there really is no way to get around the fact that their stats would suffer to some extent if they end up coming off the bench. We should all keep our expectations in check for Gasol and Stoudemire going forward.
• Surely you've played on a Nerf hoop that was hung on a door. That's what it feels like if you are 7-foot-2 and play on a regulation NBA hoop. Is there any way on earth that you couldn't knock down half of your shots on that Nerf rim? No. Then how in the world is Roy Hibbert hitting just 38.2 percent of his shots from the field this season? It's truly inexplicable, but we've actually seen this from Hibbert before. Two years ago, he shot 41.6 percent in 15 December games and 38.8 percent in 13 January games. Hibbert knocked down more than 49 percent of his shots in the remaining three full months of games that season, so we should expect his current FG% to rise as this season progresses. You can't complain about his 3.0 blocks per game nor his 8.3 rebounds per game, so Hibbert makes for a quality buy-low option, especially if his owner is battling FG% issues and is growing frustrated.
• Ersan Ilyasova played 25 minutes Sunday and finished with 10 points, a 3-pointer, 2 boards, 3 dimes and 2 steals. It was the fourth time in five games that he scored in double digits. In the other three games, he took at least 11 shots. I still think that Ilyasova will work his way back into the starting lineup and return to producing quality stats, so perhaps his increasing production recently is a sign of things to come. I would snag him off your waiver wires if you have the space to wait a week or two on him.
• Coming off back-to-back 5-point performances, Nicolas Batum missed Sunday's practice due to a sore back. He is unlikely to play on Monday due to the malady. You'll want to check for updates as game time nears, but those of us who set weekly lineups today will have a tough call to make on Batum if he sits Monday. That's because the Portland Trail Blazers play only twice more this week, including a tough tilt with the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
• Dion Waiters has missed four games due to his injured ankle, and he remains iffy to return for Tuesday's battle with the Lakers. The Cleveland Cavaliers have three more games on their slate after Tuesday, so Waiters could still contribute if his ankle improves as the week progresses.
• We haven't seen Anthony Davis on the hardwood since Nov. 17, but he is expected to return to action this week. The New Orleans Hornets haven't given a specific date for when he will be back in the mix, but they have four games this week, including a back-to-back set Tuesday and Wednesday. Considering the nature of his injury (stress reaction in his ankle), he probably won't play both of those games. Stay tuned for updates.
• Derrick Favors appeared close to playing on Sunday but ended up a late scratch. He has plantar fasciitis, so clearly the Jazz won't let him return until he is fully up to par. Hopefully he will be ready in a couple of days when the Utah Jazz face the Spurs on Wednesday.
• Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said Saturday that he hopes to have Kyrie Irving back in action for Tuesday's tilt with the Lakers. He's been out with a fractured finger and needs to be cleared by doctors first, but it sounds like fantasy owners will get their studly PG back in the mix soon.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Kevin Durant and LeBron James don't play Tuesday night, so we will need to look at other options at forward. Anderson Varejao and Carmelo Anthony are Fastbreak studs, but they have potentially difficult matchups against the Lakers and Nets, respectively. Ryan Anderson, on the other hand, faces the lowly Washington Wizards Tuesday evening, which makes him a safe play with terrific upside.