Chauncey Billups looks good in return
Chauncey Billups found his way back into the lineup on Thursday night for the Nuggets and did not appear to suffer from any lingering problems with his knee, finishing with 30 points in 39 minutes for the Nuggets against the Mavericks.
Billups, of course, is getting older. The 34-year-old is using fewer possessions this season, but he continues to do two things extremely well: He gets to the line, and he takes (and makes) a ton of 3-pointers. So although many of us were correct in imagining that Billups' numbers would begin to slide this season (he's playing fewer minutes and scoring fewer points), he's still an extremely valuable fantasy commodity.
It's hard to say whether Billups will be able to keep up his career-high 44 percent shooting from 3-point land, but it seems like a good bet that he will considering he's been above 40 percent in four of his past six full seasons and shooting is a skill that tends to age well.
Billups, then, continues to be just as valuable as ever coming back from yet another minor injury. It would appear that you can throw Ty Lawson back on your bench for now. Lawson is a promising player, but Billups is still the star.
The Nuggets, by the way, beat the Mavs on a buzzer-beater by Arron Afflalo. Afflalo once again proved that he is a legitimate fantasy stud and not a flash in the pan, scoring 24 points (including four 3s) in 35 minutes against the Mavs and hitting the winning shot on a night when Carmelo Anthony blew up for 42. Ray Allen finally broke Reggie Miller's career 3-pointers record, knocking down two in the first quarter and finishing with 20 points (and three 3s) in the game. On the other hand, it was a real off night for the rest of the Celtics, as Paul Pierce struggled with the flu and the rest of the C's looked tired and stifled by their lack of depth (thanks to injuries) and the Lakers' size in the paint. The Suns continued their bizarre string of excellent defensive performances by holding the Warriors, once again, far beneath their season average. The Suns have now won five of their past six games and are giving up just 90.2 points per game during that stretch; considering they've faced the Warriors twice, that's pretty impressive.
With Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic both listed as doubtful for the Timberwolves' Friday night game against the Pacers, it might be a good night to try getting rookie forward Wesley Johnson into your lineup. He looked good in a start against the Rockets on Tuesday night, finishing with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks in 28 minutes. The Jazz will play with a new, official head coach for the first time since the late 1980s when they face the Suns on Friday night, but I wouldn't expect any drastic changes right away under new coach Tyrone Corbin. The Jazz got blown out by the Suns the last time the teams played and now will face them in Utah in the first half of a home-and-home. It's worth noting that Paul Millsap was the only Jazz player who had a good game when these teams met in November. Brandon Jennings has not looked great of late for the Bucks, but he'll face a Grizzlies team that, although playing well lately, tends to give up decent numbers to point guards. Jennings wasn't in the lineup the last time these two teams faced off, but it's worth having him in your lineup this time.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.