What to do with Derrick Rose?
I'm pretty sure that if there wasn't some football player named Adrian Peterson, who narrowly missed the all-time single-season NFL rushing record after quickly returning from a worse knee injury than what Rose suffered, we wouldn't have believed for a second that Rose would be ready to ball at this point in the season. But that "All Day" guy does exist, and he threw expectations for Rose completely out of whack.
In assessing Rose's availability going forward, it's important to keep two things in mind. First, Rose has not had a setback -- at least one has not been reported -- he's simply trying to get back on the early side of his timeline and doesn't yet feel comfortable. That brings me to the second point: It sounds as if the Bulls and Rose don't plan to turn him loose in game action until he is mentally -- not just physically -- ready. He appears to be progressing with his rehab and may return at any point, but he won't do so until he and his people believe he can ball without fear of re-injury.
Fantasy owners trying to decide what to do with him should prepare for the possibility that he might not play at all this season, but if he does return, he should be able to crank out a good 80-90 percent of his typical production. In other words, if you can acquire Rose on the cheap for his upside in the final weeks of the fantasy season (when it matters most), go for it. On the flip side, if you can dump him on a desperate team that is willing to overpay, you should pull the trigger, in case he ends up sidelined the remainder of this season.
My gut feeling is that we may see him back in action early next month, like March 3 versus the Indiana Pacers. That would allow him to take advantage of a very friendly schedule that has the Bulls playing just one back-to-back set in March and five sets where they have two days between games.
• The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed Derek Fisher for the remainder of the season. Fisher is good at securing wins for NBA teams and the National Basketball Player's Association, but not so much for fantasy teams. He averaged just 4.9 points per game last season with the Thunder and now is 38 years old. In other words, pay him no mind unless you are in an extremely deep league.
• Jordan Crawford debuted with the Boston Celtics with two weekend games. Though he hit 4 of 10 from the field for 10 points Friday, he missed all four of his shots on Sunday, totaling just 29 minutes between the two games. Crawford is a chucker whose field goal percentage typically sits around 40 percent, and I just don't see how he can be a reliable scorer or fantasy asset on a Celtics team that doesn't allow players to chuck the ball. There is little fantasy potential for him in Boston.
• On the other hand, Anthony Davis is picking up steam. I've been pushing him for weeks as an excellent upside play for the stretch run, and with three double-doubles, five double-digit scoring games and two games with at least 20 points over his past five outings, it looks like he is coming on. He has been light on blocks lately (zero in his past two games), but he should be an excellent source of scoring, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage the rest of the way.
• Ricky Rubio still can't shoot worth a lick (39.4 field goal percentage this month), but he's outweighing that stat with ridiculous assists and steals totals. That includes 11 dimes and six swipes Sunday and February averages of 9.1 assists per game and 2.8 steals per game. However, his best stat right now might be his work from the charity stripe, where he has taken double-digit attempts in three of his past four games, including 10-for-11 from the line Sunday. Overall this month, Rubio has hit 77.9 percent of his 7.0 free throw attempts per game. His production so soon after tearing his ACL gives hope to those who think Rose can come up big as this season winds down.
• For a volume shooter (18.3 field goal attempts per game) who carries a quality shooting percentage (46.8 percent) this season, Kyrie Irving has struggled with his shot in some recent games (including 6-for-16 from the field Sunday). He did admit following Sunday's tilt that a sore right knee has been affecting his game, but it doesn't sound like he will miss any game action. That said, it's something to keep an eye on if his struggles continue.
• Tony Parker missed Sunday's game due to a bruised right triceps. That was the last game of their lengthy "rodeo trip," and now they will settle in for a nice stretch of home games. There has been no word about his status for their next game Wednesday, which puts those of you setting your weekly lineups Monday in a bit of a bind. My guess is that he will be back in the mix Wednesday.
• Carmelo Anthony may well face a one-game suspension for smacking Spencer Hawes in the back of the head Sunday. That would leave him with just two games this week, so check for updates prior to setting your weekly lineups. The good news for Melo and the rest of the New York Knicks is that beginning next week they are scheduled to play four times every week until the final half-week of games.
• Joe Johnson missed Sunday's game because of a bruised heel, an injury that has left him questionable for Tuesday's game. Like Melo and the Knicks, J.J. and the Nets have only three games slated for this week. Since the Nets need Johnson for the long term, I think he will probably skip Tuesday's game, but you should check for updates on his status later today.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Although there is the possibility that the game gets out of hand early and starters get some extra rest, I feel like I have to use Chris Paul and Blake Griffin against the pathetic Charlotte Bobcats, who are allowing 102.8 points per game to opposing teams this season. Both CP3 and Griffin are points-league beasts even against the top opponents, so they should be high-end options Tuesday against the Bobcats.