GSW @ LAL: Way past my bedtime, the Warriors poured it on in the second half to trounce the Lakers. Festus Ezeli got the starting C assignment for Andrew Bogut, who is being brought along slowly. The Nigerian, by way of Vanderbilt, played 22:25 and while he didn’t fill the stat sheet, appears to be ahead of Jeremy Tyler (13:17) and Andris Biedrins (11:24) in the pecking order.
Round 1 in the SF “battle” went as expected. Brandon Rush started, but Harrison Barnes played more minutes off the bench and scored more points. Apparent third-stringer Richard Jefferson had 9 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST and a BLK in less than 16 minutes.
The Lakers side of the box score should be completely ignored. They shared minutes among 19 players, none of them Dwight Howard, and they will be ready when the regular-season bell rings, not before.
ORL @ NOH: In Mexico City, over 18,000 watched a lackluster contest. The Hornets won, but it wasn’t pretty. We’ll be reminding you all month not to overreact to “trends,” but Ryan Anderson came off the bench and shot 1-8 on 3PT attempts. Starting C Robin Lopez was brutal — turnovers, fouls and a -22 are all you can see beside his name. Big Solomon Alabi may get preseason minutes but Jason Smith could prove the best of the three to own.
With Eric Gordon sidelined, Austin Rivers got plenty of run at SG. Anthony Davis played well enough in his pro debut, and drew raves from our Jeff Nichols in a comment on yesterdays Spin, but the line that pops out came from Brian Roberts. The undrafted free agent, who impressed in the summer league, had 17 points in 27 minutes and could be the backup PG until Gordon returns. A new name for very deep leaguers to know.
Gustavo Ayon was an obvious start at C for the Magic in his home country and played very well. Without injured Arron Afflalo (hamstring) and Al Harrington (knee), E’Twaun Moore looked good off the bench, leading his team in minutes and points.
MIA @ ATL: Like the Lakers, Miami is confident and unhurried. Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem didn’t play for the Heat, who went with a starting backcourt of Norris Cole and Mike Miller. Not surprisingly, they lost, but super-sixth-man Ray Allen looked good. The Hawks went small — Zaza Pachulia (groin) didn’t play — and Kyle Korver started at SF. Atlanta also brought Louis Williams off the bench behind nominal starter DeShawn Stevenson, an interesting development if that persists. My esteemed Spin colleagues disagree, but I actually like Sweet Lou better in fantasy when he doesn’t start.
WAS @ CHA: Interesting how a stress fracture in the leg of John Wall benefits a SG, not a PG. A.J. Price started at the point, with Shelvin Mack running the second unit. Jannero Pargo (DNP, abdominal injury) may further cloud that picture. But it was rookie SG Bradley Beal (18 PTS in 26:50) and new Wizard Martell Webster (18 in 25:04) who did the most. Kevin Seraphin started at C because Nene and Emeka Okafor didn’t play.
Against that depleted lineup, at full “strength” and at home, the Bobcats looked pretty good. In particular, Byron Mullens drained three triples, an interesting addition to the game of anyone with PF-C eligibility, and the second unit backcourt of Ramon Sessions (14) and Ben Gordon (16) could have some fantasy value. In his pro debut, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12 PTS, 6 REB, 3 STL in 26:42) looked like he belongs.
UTA @ GSW: Back-to-back games at this stage seems unfair. The Warriors played well in L.A. but may not have the legs or wind yet to do it again 24 hours later. The Jazz have a new PG in Mo Williams and a plethora of PF. Offseason rumors had Derrick Favors taking over from Paul Millsap; they could play Millsap at the 3 and go huge, but can he guard SF?
Stephen Curry didn’t see the floor last night, but Mark Jackson had already said he wouldn’t play both nights, so he’s likely to appear for the home fans this evening.
Marcus Camby has a left calf injury that may keep him out ten days. His role is clear when healthy — brief stints behind Tyson Chandler — but the Knicks have other veteran bigs. It might be an “avoid them all” fantasy scenario.
Royce White, the promising Rockets rookie, hates to fly and was late reporting to camp. His representatives, the team and the league are working on a deal to let him travel by bus to as many road games as possible.
“What the Rockets are doing is astronomically appreciated by me and should be by the mental health community,” says the former Iowa State star. This story touches me on a personal level and makes me a huge fan of the young man; just not sure I’d draft him.
Jonas Valanciunas will not make an immediate preseason splash. The 7-foot Lithuanian is recovering from a calf strain and limited to non-contact drills. There was also a note that Aaron Gray may start at C for the Raptors with the rookie coming off the bench. Fear not, fellow JV owners; that’s the best possible news. He won’t foul as often against other backups, and will put up better offensive numbers.
His countryman Donatas Motiejunas has been slowed with an infection and is slightly behind the other Rockets in conditioning. The rookie has a better offensive game than Omer Asik and I’m predicting a timeshare. He is a very sneaky late-round flier.
Baseball is harder than hoops. There, I’ve said it. My free team in yesterday’s MLB Salary Cap league finished fourth of 10. Got a solid performance from my SP Wainwright, though his bullpen blew the W. In basketball, your man’s replacement can’t possibly affect his stats and there’s no one position that is nearly as important.
Also, in hoops a guy who is an established “double-double” player (either PTS-REB or PTS-AST) tends to be around those numbers every night. He might go 16-6, or 24-12, but he won’t put up a zero, barring injury or ejection. In hardball, even the greatest hitter routinely goes 0-4 at the plate. I had Curtis Granderson in my lineup against a relatively easy RH pitcher, dreaming of a two-homer game. No such luck; a walk and three outs earned me 0.25 points.
Meanwhile, the winner of that league used Ryan Hanigan of the Reds as his catcher, on the road in a pitcher’s park. His two hits and 3 RBI produced 5.5 valuable fantasy points. I’m not saying “it’s all luck,” the cry of losers everywhere. I’m saying that in a daily fantasy league, you need to make informed decisions and it helps if the ball (whatever size and shape) bounces your way.
We will try again today. It’s a 2-day MLB league, spanning Monday and Tuesday games. I’m going with Andy Pettitte ($7,600) as my SP, but that was a tossup with Jordan Zimmermann ($7,800). Either leaves a little over $27,000 from the salary cap to fill eight hitting slots. The best hitters cost $4,000 or more, and it’s difficult to find bargains under $3,000 — especially with only four games to choose from. I’m banking on Prince Fielder ($3,800) to break out against a pitcher returning from injury. That means “compromises” at other positions.
It’s simple and totally free to join FanDuel and you can start with a free baseball or football league. Basketball begins October 30; we’ll be playing every day on a $100 weekly bankroll.