Bucks backcourt finds way to produce
When the Milwaukee Bucks acquired J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic, it seemed like one of the worst destinations possible; not just for Redick, who joined a ball-hogging backcourt, but also for ball-hoggers Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Upon further examination, though, I thought they would simply tighten up their rotation and run small ball, which would give enough minutes and touches for all three to flourish.
Although we haven't seen statistical consistency from the three guards, overall each of them has come up with some pretty nice numbers. Monday night was a perfect example of the statistical array we can expect from the trio, as Jennings had 20 points (8-14 FG), 4 3s, 17 dimes and 3 steals, Ellis had 34 points (15-21 FG), 1 3, 3 dimes and 4 steals, while Redick came up with 17 points (7-14 FG), 3 3s, 1 dime and 1 steal.
Not surprisingly, in his five games with the Bucks, Redick has had a smaller role than he had with the Magic. That means his assist production has dwindled significantly. However, he is still averaging 10.8 field goal attempts and 5.4 3-point attempts per game, so his scoring (15.4 PPG) and 3-point production (2.0) remain solid.
With Redick earning a lot of shots, Jennings has taken fewer field goal attempts (16.5 per game this season, 11.2 since Redick arrived) and scored less (9.4 PPG in the four games leading into Monday's 20 points), but he has embraced the point guard role the past couple of games (19 dimes Saturday, 17 last night).
Meanwhile, Ellis has flourished across the board with big scoring games (22, 27, 23 and 34 points), dishing games (9, 13 assists) and defensive games (6 steals twice).
All three have a lot for which to play, as each can become a free agent this summer, and I think we should see more of the same from them going forward with Jennings the primary disher, Ellis the primary scorer and Redick a solid 3-point threat.
• Anthony Davis had 17 points (6-13 FG), 15 boards and 4 blocks in his return from a shoulder injury Monday. That's the third stretch of games he has missed and he has toughed it out through other injuries. There will be some concern entering next season that he may be injury-prone, but hopefully he's just getting used to the NBA grind and will come back physically stronger next season and avoid regular trips to the infirmary.
• The Cleveland Cavaliers got Kyrie Irving back from a three-game absence Monday. His sore knee didn't slow him down at all, as he came up with 22 points (9-20 FG), 2 3s, 5 rebounds and 6 assists versus the New York Knicks. So long as he can stay healthy, he should be set for a huge finish to the fantasy hoops season.
• Andrew Bogut returned from his back injury Monday and played almost 30 minutes, though he failed to do anything statistically significant (4 points, 8 boards and 1 block). Due to his inability to stay on the court, he's among the more frustrating players in fantasy, especially because he can be a true fantasy stud in those rare moments when he is actually healthy. The Golden State Warriors' schedule down the stretch isn't going to help, either, because after rolling four times this week and next, they finish out with three straight weeks of three games. You're probably better off letting someone else deal with his headache of a fantasy game.
• E'Twaun Moore returned to the pine Monday because Jameer Nelson returned from his knee injury. The latter looked fine, scoring 15 points (6-15 FG) to go with 2 3s and 7 assists, while the former had just 7 points in 17 minutes as a reserve. Expect more of the same from both going forward.
• Carmelo Anthony left Monday's game early because of a sore knee. He said the joint has been bothering him for some time and that a recent MRI revealed nothing of note. That having been said, he may well skip Wednesday's tilt with the Detroit Pistons to rest it. The New York Knicks play four games every week the rest of the way, so it's possible we may see him sit out a number of games down the stretch if the joint continues to be an issue. This could be Amar'e Stoudemire's chance to prove he can still make a big impact for the Knicks. He played a season-high 32 minutes, took a season-high 15 shots (hitting 10 of them) and matched a season-high 22 points Monday.
• Byron Mullens failed to record a stat in three minutes of action before being pulled because of a sore knee Monday. He said it wouldn't be a long-term issue, but he has had trouble staying healthy this season, so there's no doubt that we should be concerned. Josh McRoberts should get some extra run if Mullens sits again, but an extended absence could help Michael Kidd-Gilchrist come up big down the stretch. The rookie had 17 points (8-11 FG) and 10 boards Monday.
• Nick Young will remain sidelined tonight, and it's not clear when he will return from his knee injury. Dorrell Wright will start in Young's stead Tuesday.
• The Utah Jazz could get Mo Williams back in the mix as soon as Wednesday. He has been recovering from thumb surgery and should be added in all leagues for his potential in the waning weeks of the regular season.
• Al Harrington reached double digits (10 points) Monday for the first time since returning to action five games ago. He is worth keeping an eye on as the season winds down because of his ability to score, hit 3s and rebound, especially on a team as thin on talent as the Orlando Magic.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Just about everybody will hit the hardwood Wednesday evening, so there is no shortage of high-end options. Unfortunately, two of the top centers, Tim Duncan and Joakim Noah, will face each other. While both are fully capable of racking up big stats anyway, I'd rather roll with the smoking-hot Al Horford, who has a much friendlier matchup against the nonexistent Philadelphia 76ers frontcourt. He has piled up at least 22 Fastbreak points in 10 straight games and should have no trouble topping that number Wednesday.