In the 2002 book titled “The Punch”, acclaimed sports writer John Feinstein looks at how one punch derailed the career of Kermit Washington and had a vast impact on the playing career of Rudy Tomjanovich.
In the 2015/16 NBA season, could one punch derail the Clippers season, or worse, the core foundation they’ve worked so hard to build these past few years?
Blake Griffin’s recent actions sure will test that theory. His extended absence could easily cause the Clippers to slide down the Western Conference standings, lose home court advantage in the first round, fail to advance and then force Doc Rivers to blow up their Big 3 this Summer.
If that sounds melodramatic, just think back to the Indiana Pacers last season or the L.A. Lakers post Kobe’s Achilles injury. It happens faster than you think.
Losing one core piece can have a drastic impact and it is no different in Fantasy Leagues. You can usually weather the storm if you’re high enough in the standings, but if you’re fighting for your playoff life, it may mean that wholesale changes are required to rebuild a contender in a different format.
If you’ve lost Griffin or suffered from any one of the other big-name injuries lately, then you probably need to make some drastic changes. Adding some subtle talent to complement any major moves is a good way to go about it.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help as Downtown listens to the Music of the Traffic, so you don’t feel like punching anyone in frustration.
Week 15 (Feb 1 – Feb 7)
4 Games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, MIA, NOR, NYK, ORL, SAC, SAS, UTA, WAS
3 Games: CHA, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, MIN, OKC, PHI, PHO, POR, TOR
2 Games: GSW
Another very healthy dose of games this week with 17 of the 30 teams playing 4 times, 12 going 3 times, while the Warriors bring up the rear with just two games on tap. If you’ve been eyeing a Harrison Barnes add to your roster, hold off for now.
The following players may be available in standard 10 or 12 team leagues.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (G/F, CHA): After showing some promise as a fantasy asset last season, a lot more was expected from MKG this year. However, that was all derailed by a shoulder injury that required surgery and was supposed to keep him out for the entire season. Miraculously though, he made his season debut yesterday and put in a pretty good showing. The former 2nd overall pick scored 13 points with 7 rebounds and 1 dime on 5 of 8 shooting from the field in 33 minutes. With all the injuries in Charlotte’s frontcourt, he’ll continue to play big minutes and although he’s known more for his defensive prowess, he should be a good source of boards with decent steals and blocks from the SF position. Add him in 12-team leagues right away.
Nikola Jokic (C, DEN): Even with Jusuf Nurkic back and Joffrey Lauvergne hanging around, the rookie Jokic is the one who’s been starting – and he’s been playing damn well.
Over his past 4 games, he’s averaged 12.5pts, 8reb, 3.3ast, 1.5stl, 1.5blk and .556 FG% – good for top-30 value. He’s had two double-doubles in his past 3 games and is as confident as he’s been all season. Jokic is available in 64% of Yahoo and 67% of ESPN leagues and should be owned in all 12-team leagues as long as he’s starting.
Myles Turner (C, IND): His ownership is up to 55% in Yahoo leagues and 60% in ESPN leagues which is good, but the Longhorn rookie has now had 7 straight games in double-digit scoring, 4 straight with at least 6 rebounds, 6 straight games blocking at least 1 shot and just 1 turnover per contest in his last 7 games, so he should be owned in more leagues than he is. Turner started his first career game in a big win over Atlanta on Thursday and did not disappoint. Don’t feel sucker punched by missing out. Grab him now.
Gorgui Dieng (F/C, MIN): #FreeGorgui – it’s a campaign that’s been running by some loyal fantasy owners all season and it may have finally achieved its goal. It took a KG injury, but Dieng has shown why he was a top-50 guy the second half of last season with two huge games this week. 21pts, 9reb, 1stl, 1blk vs. OKC and then 20pts, 15reb and 2stl at Utah. Run; don’t walk to grab the talented big man. He will not be available for long.
Zach LaVine (G, MIN): I’ve got egg on my face in one league where I dropped LaVine a few weeks back in the midst of his horror slump. That slump seems impossible to imagine now given his recent play and it appears the former Bruin is finally finding his niche for Sam Mitchell’s squad. He’s still playing a lot more SG than PG given Rubio’s health, but despite not starting, his minutes are around 30 per game the past 3 contests. He’s making the most of that time, averaging 25pts, 3.3ast, 2.3reb, 2.3 3ptm, 0.7stl and a ridiculous .705 FG%. While that shooting isn’t sustainable, his confidence is at an all-time high, matching his level of play. He needs to be owned in all formats right now.
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2016
Mason Plumlee (F/C, POR): Despite being left out of the Team USA squad, Plumlee still has a point to prove the rest of the season. He’s played well as a starter since moving to Portland, but is effectively in a contract year as the Blazers hold a team option for next season. Plumlee, who’s had an up and down run the past month, seems to be finding some consistency finally and has averaged 11pts, 8.7reb, 1.2blk, 1.5stl and a surprising 4ast per game over his past 6 contests. That’s good for top-40 value and he’s available in nearly 40% of leagues.
Willie Cauley-Stein (F/C, SAC): I had him as one to watch last week and the rookie continues to get more and more comfortable. He’s still starting at the five spot, pushing Boogie to the four, which seems to be working pretty well! WCS aka Trill is playing 29mpg over his past 4 contests and contributing a serviceable 8.3pts, 7reb, 1stl and 1.8blk on .542 FG% and .875 FT%. That equates to top-50 value in standard 9-cat leagues and while he’s available in 60% of ESPN and 65% of Yahoo leagues, he needs to be owned in all 12-team formats while he’s ballin’ like this.
Danny Green (G/F, SAS): I know, I know – he’s been one giant disappointment this season. But the fact that he’s proven himself to be a very valuable fantasy asset in the past is why so many have stuck with him and he’s finally starting to reward that patience. In the month of January, Green has averaged a modest 7.3pts, 3.5reb and 2.3ast, but he’s also delivering more than 1stl and 1blk per game, he’s hit .500 from deep this month and made over 2 triples per game and his offensive rating is a healthy 115. On Thursday Green had a season high 18pts with 6 triples along with 6reb, 3ast, 3stl and a 1blk and played 28 mins. He’s available in over 60% of ESPN leagues and while he’s a little harder to come by in Yahoo leagues (27% availability), now’s the time to either add him or try to buy-low before his value finally inches towards his ADP.
— Jonathan Sanford (@ctxsportsvoice) January 28, 2016
Ones to Watch:
Tiago Splitter (C, ATL): He started the second half against Indiana on Thursday following Paul Millsap’s ankle injury and while his line was modest (8pts, 4reb, 3ast and 2stl), just the playing time makes Splitter an intriguing guy to keep an eye on. If Millsap’s going to be out for any kind of extended period, Splitter makes for a solid add in 12-team leagues.
Gary Harris (SG, DEN): He’s been starting for a while now and had a couple of nice strings of games this month, but is still too inconsistent to count on in 10 or 12-team leagues. If he can string a few more solid games together, he’d be worth a look in 12-teamers as a source of 3s, points and steals.
Langston Galloway (G, NYK): You could make a case based on his recent play that he deserves to be owned, but some of that production was boosted by the absence of Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon and Kristaps Porzingis. Galloway has started the past two games, scored in double digits the past three, and added some defensive stats to boot. He is probably a better fit for the starting unit than Calderon, but until he’s a full-time starter, he’s too inconsistent to own outside of deeper leagues.
Don’t let one missing piece get you down. Keep making moves and stay in the playoff race until your stud returns. Starting with one of these guys is a step towards avoiding a derailment of your own.
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