Andrew Bynum returns to lineup
Andrew Bynum made his season debut Tuesday evening against the Washington Wizards. He came off the bench to hit just 1 of 5 field goal attempts, but he was 5-of-8 from the line and finished with 7 points, 4 boards and 2 blocked shots in 17 minutes of action. More importantly, he looked pretty confident on his surgically repaired knee. There's nothing about Bynum's fantasy game that all of us don't already know: He's just as likely to miss the next 20 games as he is to average 15 points, 8 boards and 2 blocks per game. He should be back in the starting lineup relatively soon, so any wily fantasy owner will have him on the trade block soon after he pumps out a couple of big games ... before the next injury hits.
• Not only did Chauncey Billups miss Tuesday's game, but he said he was going to miss at least the next week because of ligament tears in his right wrist. He's hoping short-term rest will mend it enough that he can play through the pain. Otherwise, he may face surgery, which could cost him 4-6 weeks. You can't like the idea of a 34-year-old point guard with torn ligaments in his shooting wrist. I'm expecting this to linger for at least the next month or two. Ty Lawson started in place of Billups on Tuesday and should be owned in all leagues. He finished the game with 16 points (6-of-12 FG), 6 dimes, 2 turnovers, a steal and a triple -- production which should become standard for the 23-year-old former first-round pick while Billups is out.
• It wasn't quite as noteworthy as Bynum's debut, but Martell Webster played his first game for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. Webster, who had been recovering from back surgery, had 17 points (6-of-8 FG), 5 boards, 2 3-pointers and 2 dimes in 26 minutes (as a reserve) versus the Golden State Warriors. Webster is capable of scoring and dropping triples, but he never did it in more than short spurts in his tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers. Just like in Portland, he'll have to battle for minutes and touches with a number of other swingmen; in Minnesota, it's Wesley Johnson and Corey Brewer. Still, Webster is worth a look in deep leagues in case he carves out the most minutes among that group.
• DeMarcus Cousins was 8-of-15 from the field and finished with 17 points, 7 boards, 2 assists and a block against the Houston Rockets. Perhaps more importantly, he didn't turn the ball over at all and had only two fouls. You may not get credit for those stats in your league, but they're important anyway because it's representative of a trend we've seen from Cousins in recent weeks. In 13 November games, he averaged 2.4 turnovers and 4.2 fouls per game. In six contests this month, he's dropped those averages to 1.3 TOs and 3.8 fouls per game. By being more responsible with the ball and staying out of foul trouble, he's getting more minutes (22.8 mpg in November, 26.3 in December) and shots (9.7, 12.2). That's a good start, but if he wants to take the next step, Cousins is going to have to learn how to finish his shots; no man with his size and skills should shoot anywhere near 40 percent.
A sprained knee has kept Robin Lopez out for the past month, but he's slated to make his return on Wednesday night against the Timberwolves. It sounds like he probably will start, but it's not clear how many minutes he'll get right out of the gate. Before his hiatus, Lopez was playing terribly, averaging just 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks and shooting 44.0 percent. Besides the blocks, all of those numbers are down from last season, so maybe it was just the knee. We're always looking for centers, especially if you have to start two of them, so Lopez is worth picking up now. He does have talent and opportunity, the two most important commodities for any young fantasy player.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.