Andrew Bogut makes surprising return
Golden State Warriors fans unexpectedly got a brief glimpse of the future of their franchise Monday night, as Andrew Bogut came out of nowhere to start alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee against the Toronto Raptors. That was the lineup fans had been dreaming about all season while Bogut was out recovering from ankle surgery, but it was short-lived, as Curry turned his right ankle for the umpteenth time in the third quarter and did not return. Here are a few things we can glean from Monday's action:
1. What the & ?!? Bogut's back? He talked to reporters in his old Milwaukee stomping grounds Saturday and left the impression that he was still a month or more away. Let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, though; Bogut had 12 points (6-of-8 FG), 8 boards, 2 assists and 4 blocks and should only improve on those digits if he stays healthy. The catch is that he is not expected to play back-to-back games (he'll rest Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers) and is expected to have a minutes restriction (23 minutes Monday) at least until the All-Star break. Then again, he was expected to be out a month more, too, so who knows?
2. Curry said the ankle turn was just a tweak, but we should consider him iffy, at best, for Tuesday. As usual, Jarrett Jack is the best handcuff option in fantasy hoops, so you must own Jack if you own Curry.
3. Curry and Bogut are two of the more injury-prone ballers in the game, so you should trade them as soon as they post a big line or two and you can find a trade partner willing to take a chance.
4. This last one is the kind of thing you need to tuck away inside your brain for future reference: We can't trust anything the Warriors say about their injured players, because they are about as forthcoming in that regard as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. They never mentioned that Bogut had microfracture surgery on his ankle, and then they led us to believe he was out another month before letting him play two days later. Don't forget this down the road when trying to assess timelines for injured Warriors players.
• Luol Deng returned to action Monday after a five-game absence due to a strained hamstring. He had a mediocre night, scoring just 12 points (3-of-8 FG) with 2 3s, 4 boards and 3 dimes, but his production should quickly get back up to speed. Of more interest is that Jimmy Butler, who was hot starting in place of Deng, stayed hot with 19 points (7-of-10 FG), 6 boards and 2 assists. Perhaps he can maintain some value as a reserve going forward.
• Hedo Turkoglu returned from his hand injury Monday, although you'd barely know it from the box score: 4 points (2-of-5 FG) and literally no other stats besides a turnover in almost 12 minutes of action. On just about any other team, it wouldn't even be worth mentioning him, but the Magic are so light on talent that Turkoglu could have brief stretches of success in the second half of the season if things click for him.
• As I suspected, Mike Conley's sprained ankle kept him out Monday, and it's not clear when he'll be back. Jerryd Bayless started in place of Conley and shined with 21 points (8-of-15 FG), 5 boards, 9 assists and 2 turnovers. He was one of my favorite sleepers when he was with the Raptors, but the deep Memphis Grizzlies roster has left Bayless an afterthought this season. Bayless has scored in double digits each of the past four games, though, something he had done just three times all season and hadn't done since November. He's a solid play until Conley returns, and maybe he can carve out a big enough role going forward to help in deep leagues.
• It's not clear when Gordon Hayward will return from the shoulder sprain that kept him out of Monday's game. I'm guessing he probably will skip Wednesday's battle with the New Orleans Hornets in the hopes that he'll be ready this weekend when the Utah Jazz take on the Portland Trail Blazers in a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday.
• Bradley Beal has hit a rough patch, as he's combined for just 10 points (4-of-16 FG) in his past two games. He admitted that his right wrist has been bothering him, which may explain the struggles. Time will tell whether he can work his way through it, but don't be surprised if the Washington Wizards sit him down for a couple of games to rest the joint.
• Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank wouldn't say why Rodney Stuckey was inactive for Sunday's game or whether the guard would be in the lineup Tuesday against the Bucks. With Stuckey out Sunday, Brandon Knight went off for 31 points but failed to tally a dime. Frank noted how "very, very vague" the definition of "point guard" is these days when discussing Knight, but Sunday's stat line lends credence to the notion that Knight is really a scorer and not a dimer at heart. On the season, he is averaging just 4.3 apg.
• Since we started this blog discussing injured Warriors, let's wrap up the recap of Monday night's games by discussing one more: Harrison Barnes injured his left calf on a late-game dunk. He will have it examined Tuesday & and we will take any information the Warriors pass on to us with a lot of skepticism.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
With a full slate of games Wednesday evening, there are a slew of high-end options from which to choose in Fastbreak. At center, I see a tough call to make between Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. D12 has a delectable matchup against the overmatched Phoenix Suns. I think it's almost impossible for him not to come up big, but his production from game to game has been sporadic lately. Noah, on the other hand, has been on fire (35, 34 and 28 Fastbreak points in his past three games), but that has come against very weak defenses (CHA, WAS, GS). Still, I think he can dominate Wednesday's opponent, the Bucks, just as easily, so I give him the edge over Howard.