Fantasy gurus can’t be fans. We can cheer for a team, but never take that loyalty into a draft room. One exception is permitted this year: if you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, draft as many of “your guys” as possible.
Last night, Danilo Gallinari had 19 points in 35 minutes and Corey Brewer caught fire off the bench with 24 to spark a road win. JaVale McGee started at C; both Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos came off the bench. How the minutes shake out between those three is the only uncertainty on this talented offensive machine. Rookie Evan Fournier got some run, as Wilson Chandler (hip) isn’t quite ready yet.
For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili sat again with a sore foot but is probable for Sunday. Tim Duncan was stellar (21 PTS, 8 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK) and Gary Neal, who is more of a SG but seems to have the backup PG assignment, added 19 points.
Please note that our Depth Chart has just been updated, listing the 300 NBA players we expect to receive the most minutes. It features links from every player’s name to his stats page, and links to team rosters. We’ll keep it up-to-date throughout the season.
Other Friday Games
DET @ TOR: As predicted, the Pistons made wholesale lineup changes. Rookie big man Vyacheslav Kravtzov — spelled like it sounds — made a nice debut. Kim English and Khris Middleton have yet to appear, but Kyle Singler (9 PTS in 24 minutes) and Austin Daye (only 2-11 for 4 PTS, plus 9 REB) got plenty of run.
From Bonavista to Vancouver Island, Canadians are unable to access the NBA.com scoreboard. Instead, we can’t escape the trumped-up “Canada Series” — exhibition games in Winnipeg and Montreal. The genius techie who wrote that redirect script has made it impossible for anyone in my country to see the scores page for the last three days. Fortunately, we have box scores right here at Sheridan Hoops.
Jonas Valanciunas is the real deal. A calf strain slowed him for about a week, so he’s behind in practice time. Last night he started, played a team-high 29 minutes, scored 11 points and grabbed 8 boards. Jose Calderon left early with a tight hamstring, and while Kyle Lowry (thigh) was dressed and eager, he didn’t play. John Lucas (9 PTS, 8 AST) has been superb so far, but remains a third-stringer when the Raps are at full strength. Ed Davis was more impressive than Amir Johnson last night; they may negate each other’s minimal fantasy value.
MIN @ IND: Don’t worry, Brandon Roy is fine. He started, played eight minutes, then was done for the night. It was all according to plan; he’ll play more at home this evening. Andrei Kirilenko got the whole night off, so Derrick Williams started, scored 25 points in 38 mnutes and almost single-handedly kept the Wolves in the game. Chase Budinger may be their best bench player this year, and Alexey Shved is dealing as much with culture shock as basketball; he should continue to get more comfortable each week.
Danny Granger (knee) didn’t play again for the Pacers, but David West did. D.J. Augustin ran the point, as George Hill (thumb) isn’t 100% yet, and Roy Hibbert was given the night off so coach Vogel could get longer looks at Ian Mahinmi (17 PTS, 8 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK) and Miles Plumlee. Indiana sent the home fans home happy with a fourth-quarter flurry to win the game; both Paul George (19) and Gerald Green (18) were impressive.
CLE @ CHI: The “bad news” for Cavs fans (and Kyrie Irving owners) was his ice-cold 2-15 from the floor. The “good news” was an inspired, focused Dion Waiters showing he didn’t like the coach’s doghouse with 18 points off the bench to spark a road win. Fellow rookie Tyler Zeller played 26 solid minutes and should be in the rotation from day one.
The Bulls don’t care about these games. The only surprise from their camp has been rookie PG Marquis Teague being buried behind Nate Robinson; the latter shot 1-11 last night and turned the ball over four times in 16 minutes. Insert your own joke about midseason form.
NOH @ HOU: As we told you in yesterday’s Spin, the schedule-maker played a mean joke on the Hornets, who reluctantly showed up for their third game in four nights and the second one on the road in 24 hours. Rookie sensation Anthony Davis (groin) was held out as a precaution, so Ryan Anderson started at PF. Al-Farouq Aminu is the #1 SF and Anderson may be the sixth man when the season begins.
Kevin Martin (17 PTS) led all scorers, Omer Asik pulled down 15 rebounds and the Rockets won easily. Jeremy Lamb (foot) didn’t dress but Donatas Motiejunas shot 6-10 (including a three) and may add C eligibility during the season. Toney Douglas, the backup PG to Jeremy Lin, played well in his 19 minutes.
OKC @ UTA: That was not exactly the real Thunder. Kendrick Perkins (wrist) was out; Russell Westbrook and James Harden were both rested. Cole Aldrich looked good in another start at C, and Reggie Jackson (not Mr. October) filled in for Westbrook. Perry Jones III looks like a contributor as a rookie, though he won’t see 30 minutes every night.
Maybe the Derrick Favors hype is out of control. He’d been rumored as the starting Jazz PF ahead of Paul Millsap, but last night, with Millsap attending to a personal matter, Favors missed all five of his shots in that role. Enes Kanter continues to impress, with a 12-point, 12-rebound effort in just 18 minutes. Mo Williams is shooting it well and could be a bargain pick in many drafts.
POR @ PHO: The Suns were fired up. Every starter was at least +11, plus they got contributions off the bench from Wesley Johnson (12), Markieff Morris (14) and Shannon Brown (12). Portland gave J.J. Hickson the night off and looked at Meyers Leonard (14 PTS, 8 REB in 21 minutes) as a starter. Damian Lillard missed 5 of 6 from deep and turned it over five times, but still scored 15 points. The main job up for grabs is backup SG, where Sasha Pavlovic is getting a look.
BRK @ PHI: Yes, I’ve changed “BRO” to “BRK” after using it the other way previously. It was a clown abbreviation, bro. By any name, I love the Nets. So far, Mirza Teletovic has been our little secret. Under the radar compared to rookies from the NCAA, the 27-year-old is a pure scorer. At 6’9 and at least 240, he can play the 3 or the 4 but will have trouble defending either spot. His ideal role is bench gunner, coming in for Kris Humphries to stretch the floor. I’m also interested to see the “new and improved” Andray Blatche, who was run out of DC for poor conditioning and has landed an excellent opportunity if he’s matured.
NYK @ BOS: The astute Bruce Wrigley called it on Thursday: rookie PF Jared Sullinger is pushing Brandon Bass already. My take is that the Celtics will need Bass, who can play C despite his size, because Kevin Garnett simply can’t play 40 minutes a night for 82 games. Sullinger is clearly in the mix, a great pick in a keeper league who could pay dividends sooner than expected.
WAS @ CLE: When your two best players are hurt and you lack depth, it isn’t pretty. John Wall will miss the first month of the season and Nene suffers from plantar fasciitis, which is painful enough when you aren’t a pro basketball player. It would appear than Kevin Seraphin will have a lot of value, as he can play the 4 or the 5, and Trevor Booker will certainly get more minutes than expected. Cleveland played on the road last night but they are healthier and should win this uninspiring contest easily.
CHI @ MIN: Let’s get my biases out on the table. I live in Toronto and follow the Raptors, though I loathe their corporate slimeball owners. My “love” of the Nets — and Nuggets, and Blazers — is from a fantasy perspective only. The team I root for is the T-Wolves. So perhaps I’m overrating Nikola Pekovic and my hopes for the Russian Connection are unrealistic. Both of these teams played last night, so major lineup shuffles will be no surprise. Kevin Love and Big Pek will play a lot more than 12 minutes and a fresh AK-47 should be prominent.
DET @ MIL: The Pistons who sat last night will play tonight, as Lawrence Frank continues to designate a different rotation for each game, instead of shuttling 18 guys in and out for shorter stints. For the Bucks, Ekpe Udoh (knee) will miss the next couple of weeks, creating an opportunity for Larry Sanders to get more run. In case you’re wondering, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is recovering from patella tendon surgery and rookie Doron Lamb has a sore elbow; neither has even practiced yet. I’m a Tobias Harris fan, whether he starts at SF or backs up Mike Dunleavy, and will be targeting the sophomore in deep leagues.
UTA @ LAL: The Lakers expect to have Kobe Bryant (shoulder) back and they’re about due to try, after sleepwalking through the first two exhibitions. My guess is that Dwight Howard (back) could play if the games mattered, but he’s being handled very carefully. Robert Sacre, the large rookie from Gonzaga, has been starting at C and appears to have a shot at backup minutes during the season, though Jordan Hill is more athletic. Paul Millsap (personal) is not with the Jazz, so Favors will get another start after last night’s debacle.
$1,000 Fantasy Hoops Contest
The countdown to our Halloween treat is 18 days. Join the one-day fantasy tournament for Sheridan Hoops readers at FanDuel. There’s a $2 entry fee, with $1,000 in cash prizes. First place earns $200, second $125, third $100 and even finishing 61st doubles your investment. Pick nine players within a $60,000 salary cap and the team that compiles the most fantasy points — on October 31st only — wins.
For more details, including stat categories, how to play, and my team’s lineup, see the Oct. 9 Spin. Or, give FanDuel a try for free; no credit card or deposit is required. They offer NFL leagues until the NBA begins, including free ones. Click their logo to get started.
We are here every morning by 9:00; there are now two fantasy articles on Thursdays and Saturdays, so I’ll be more concise (or less long-winded, if you prefer) on those days. This afternoon, Jeff Nichols’ terrific series on strategy continues. During the season, he’ll preview the upcoming fantasy week in that time slot.
Thanks for all the excellent feedback. Follow us on Twitter — @SheridanFantasy — all season.