No one Celtic filling Rondo's shoes
The Celtics notched their fifth win in a row on Wednesday night in Toronto, but in spite of Rajon Rondo's absence, there's still not really another guard who is stepping up enough to be of major value in fantasy leagues. Jason Terry had been looking good, but was awful against the Raptors. Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley are valuable basketball players, but very little of their skill translates to fantasy right now. Leandro Barbosa has major potential given his fantasy value in the past, but he's not making enough 3-pointers right now to be worth anything. Given the choice, I'd go with Barbosa depending on the matchup (see below), but I wouldn't be dropping anyone of value for any of these guys right now.
• Amare Stoudemire continues to put up some pretty remarkable numbers for the Knicks given the injury he's returning from and the minutes he's playing. He's not doing much rebounding, and is actually putting up the kind of numbers you'd expect from a wing player, but with better field goal percentage. Over his past five games, he's averaging 18.2 points on 69.2 percent shooting from the floor and 86.4 percent shooting from the line. Yes, he's kicking in 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, but those numbers are pure gravy. It's nice to see Stoudemire producing again in fantasy leagues.
• Andre Drummond was unable to play more than a few minutes for the Pistons for the second game in a row, so his bad back is officially worrisome. One would imagine that, given Drummond's value moving forward, the Pistons would tread cautiously, so if I had to guess I'd say he'd probably miss a little more time while the team makes sure these back issues are nothing too serious.
• Elsewhere on the Pistons roster, the guard rotation is looking troublesome for fantasy owners. Jose Calderon, Brandon Knight, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey each played between 20 and 31 minutes against the Nets on Wednesday night, and the same was true in their previous game against the Knicks. Worse yet, the same guys aren't getting the same minutes each time around. Each night, a couple of them will have good fantasy lines, but it's hard to predict. Personally, I like Calderon's ability to rack up assists while shooting a high percentage, but you're really just guessing here for now.
• With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in street clothes, the Spurs got some extra help from Kawhi Leonard (19 points, 10 rebounds and two steals) and Danny Green (28 points, eight 3s, three steals) in a win against the Timberwolves on the road. Leonard and Green should probably be owned in more fantasy leagues, and any time Duncan and/or Ginobili is out of the lineup, there's a great chance Leonard and Green will put up huge numbers.
• Samuel Dalembert had another big game for the Bucks filling in for Larry Sanders, who is out with a back injury. Dalembert followed up his ridiculous 35-point, 12-rebound performance with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 steals against the Jazz. The Bucks lost the game, but amidst reports that the Bucks are shopping Dalembert (because of the emergence of Sanders), games like this will only stir the pot.
• In limited minutes against the Bucks, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors each went nuts. Kanter finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks in 17 minutes. Favors finished with 9 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 22 minutes. Clearly, if either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap gets moved before the trade deadline, Favors and Kanter are going to be must-starts every night.
• The Lakers travel to Boston to face the Celtics on Thursday night, and one thing that hasn't changed this season is that the Lakers are susceptible to giving up big numbers to opposing point guards. As I wrote above, however, the Celtics aren't exactly equipped to take advantage of that situation right now. Still, I think Leandro Barbosa's speed could cause the Lakers some problems. Barbosa's averaging 13.3 points on 55 percent shooting over his past three games, and while he's not doing much else, he's certainly capable of making some 3s and picking up some assists. He's worth a start on Thursday.
• In that same game, you'll also obviously want to start Earl Clark for the Lakers. With Pau Gasol out of the lineup for a while, the Lakers are going to lean heavily on Clark, who is admittedly a good fit in Mike D'Antoni's system. Clark's no Gasol, but he is averaging a double-double over his past five games.
• The Bulls, meanwhile, head to Denver to face the Nuggets, and with Kirk Hinrich out of the lineup and Marco Belinelli listed as questionable with a sore right ankle, you're going to want to make sure Nate Robinson is in your lineup.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Given the state of the Bulls roster at the moment, with the injuries mentioned above and Joakim Noah listed as doubtful, I'm going to go with Ty Lawson here. Lawson has been a bit better this season at home than he's been on the road, and in his first two games this February, he's averaging 21.5 points and 10.0 assists. I know that the Bulls play great defense no matter who is on the floor because they are so disciplined, but I'm still expecting Lawson to have a big night on Thursday.