Stephen Curry set to break 3-point mark
The fact that Stephen Curry is just two long-range jumpers away from owning the NBA's single-season 3-point record isn't really surprising. After all, he has knocked down 44.7 percent of his 3-pointers during his four-year career, including 45.5 percent the past two seasons. The difference this season, during which he has seen his 3-point production jump from about 2.1 3s per game each of his first three seasons to a whopping 3.5 3s per game this season is that coach Mark Jackson is letting Curry chuck an average of 7.6 3s per game (up from about 4.7 per game in his first three campaigns). Well, that and the most important element of all: he has stayed healthy for the first time in years.
Curry, whose bum ankles kept many fantasy owners from buying into his upside in drafts in the fall, forced him to miss just four games this season. There was reason to be very concerned about his ankles being a genuine, long-term issue for him, since he missed 40 of 66 games last season. The question now is whether his health issues are in the rearview mirror. He wouldn't be the first young player whose body had trouble adjusting to the rigors of an 82-game NBA campaign before his body got acclimated for the long term. Plus, last season's 66-game slate was so condensed that it was even tougher on Curry than a regular NBA season. Curry just turned 25, so although I will remain concerned about his health, I'll be willing to throw caution to the wind and roll the dice on his health next season.
Curry, who followed up Friday's 47-point, 9 3-pointer game with 35 points and 7 3s on Monday, will aim to beat Ray Allen's 3-point record Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Let's take a brief look at a number of unheralded players who had big games Monday night, because they may be able to chip in for their regular-season finales and/or carry intrigue for the 2013-14 campaign, if they can garner bigger roles next season.
• Since the Miami Heat rested their big dogs Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Norris Cole started and nearly triple-doubled: 16 points (6-12 FG), 2 3s, 11 boards and 9 dimes. He turned the rock over four times, but if the Heat rest or limit their studs again Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, Cole could be in position to make some noise again.
• Markieff Morris has been a shaky fantasy option this season, primarily because he couldn't get his FG% above the 40 percent mark. However, with an increased role since the All-Star break, we've seen some hope. He's shot 47.8 FG% and averaged 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds to go with a well-rounded 1.9 3s, 1.6 steals and 1.7 blocks in seven April games. He had his second straight 20-point game (8-15 FG) Monday, adding 2 3s, 7 boards, 5 swipes and 6 blocks. That sort of Shawn Marion-esque stat-stuffing makes him worthy of use Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets, and will make him an intriguing flier in next season's drafts, if he remains a starter.
• It's anyone's guess how the Milwaukee Bucks roster will look next season, but John Henson is doing everything he can to make a case for a bigger role then. On Monday, he torched the Nuggets for 14 points (6-13 FG), 15 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocks. That gives him a total of 14 blocks and 59 boards in his past four games after he was taken out of the Bucks' proverbial moth balls. So long as Larry Sanders doesn't return to a full role Wednesday, Henson appears to be a solid play against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who likely will be resting their better players.
• I've long been intrigued by Kevin Seraphin, but he hasn't been able to carve out a big enough role to crank out reliable stats. With Nene out for the rest of the season, though, Seraphin had 17 points (8-12 FG), 7 boards and a block against the Brooklyn Nets Monday. He has blocked at least one shot in each of his past six games and has a total of eight in his past four. He figures to be a decent plug-in option Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls.
• Prior to Sunday's game, Cole Aldrich failed to even post a single-double, much less a double-double, this season. However, he had 12 points and 13 rebounds Monday after going for 12 points, 12 boards and 4 blocks the day prior. He also hit all but one of his 13 shots in those two games. He's hardly a safe play, but deep-leaguers in need of rebounds may toss Aldrich into the mix Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
• Dorell Wright could end up being a reliable fantasy contributor once again next season if he lands in the right situation as a free agent. He had a solid game Monday against the Detroit Pistons with 22 points (5-12 FG), 4 3s, 8 rebounds, 6 dimes, 1 steal and 1 block. Since he has taken at least nine shots in each of his past six games, Wright figures to be a quality contributor Wednesday against an Indiana Pacers team that likely will rest its starters.
• Chris Copeland stayed hot Monday, following up Sunday's 20-point performance with 32 points (12-25 FG), 4 3s and 7 boards. The New York Knicks basically just used six players against the Charlotte Bobcats, which meant that Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, James White and Steve Novak joined Copeland as fantasy-relevant options. That likely will remain the same in their regular-season finale Wednesday versus the Atlanta Hawks.
• The NBA canceled the game that was scheduled for tonight between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics; it will not be rescheduled. "The NBA expresses its sympathy to all those affected by the tragedy in Boston earlier today," read a statement issued Monday by the league.
• You'll want to check for updates tomorrow, but it sounds like Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks intends to limit or hold out most or all of his starters Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. That could leave the door open for guys like Ronnie Brewer, Nick Collison, Reggie Jackson and Daniel Orton to makes some noise. We may even get a glimpse of rookies Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones.
• According to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich appears to be leaning toward using his starters in Wednesday's finale, but it's not clear how much game action they may see. You should check for updates as game time nears.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Every player likes to go out on a high note, so I love Kyrie Irving in Wednesday's season finale for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has been relatively quiet of late, but a matchup with the hapless Charlotte Bobcats should cure that ill. He's a high-upside play Wednesday, when so many of the usual top options will be taking the night off or seeing a limited role in preparation for the playoffs.