NOH @ DAL: This contest was ugly as both teams combined for 34.5% from the field. Anthony Davis continues to impress with 17 more rebounds and 2 BLK for fantasy leaguers but that brutal -25 shows that he is still has plenty of growing to do. Lance Thomas started at SF in order to get Al-Farouq Aminu going and did just that. He failed to score in 14 minutes but Aminu came off the bench for 10 pts and 8 boards. Ryan Anderson is still struggling, hitting only 2 of 6 from 3. Austin Rivers decided he had enough after starting 0-5 and conveniently sprained his ankle. He should be ok to start the regular season. Eric Gordon participated in the pre-game shoot-around and his return appears imminent thus moving Rivers to the bench anyway.
The Mavericks were much better defensively but got crushed on the boards 62 to 40. With Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki out, Jae Crowder started and played 30 minutes. He had a poor night from 3 going 1 for 5 but otherwise did all the little things that fill out the fantasy sheet including 5 for 5 from the line, 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL and 1 BLK. O.J. Mayo is still having a hard time finding the mark going 4 for 16 from the field.
MIL @ TOR:The Bucks continued to start Tobias Harris at SF but he was outshone by Mike Dunleavy again who went 8 for 12 including 3 3PM, 5 REB and 3 AST. The rest of the starters were in mid-season form. Monta Ellis scored 26 pts. Brandon Jennings dished 10 assists. Ersan Ilyasova went 7 for 13 from the field. And, Samuel Dalembert grabbed 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
If you haven’t done so yet, it is time to move Jonas Valanciunas up your draft boards. He started and finished this one with the starters. He got to the line and made his shots going 8 for 10 along with 8 boards and 4 blocks. He also does the little things that coaches love but don’t count in fantasy.
The Raptors look quite settled now with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani and Valanciunas entrenched as the starters and Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson rounding out the rotation. Alan Anderson and John Lucas III have also played well and figure to see some key minutes. Ed Davis is on the outside looking in.
SAC @ PHO: Kent Williams has been pushing the Kings as a great source for fantasy this year. I, on the other hand, want to avoid Kings whenever possible. They just don’t know what they are doing and their rotation is as frustratingly fluid as ever. Aaron Brooks started over Isaiah Thomas and neither impressed. Marcus Thornton was back starting at SG after being touted as an ideal 6th man and acted like he’d rather be on the bench. Previous starters, James Johnson and Travis Outlaw played a combined 20 minutes contributing little. And, Keith Smart continued to flip a coin to see who his starting PF is between Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson. Thompson got the start but Robinson was the only King who played with any effort.
Phoenix looked like a playoff team by comparison but I think you can throw this performance out as the Kings clearly no showed. I still don’t like any of their perimeter players in fantasy this year despite decent games from Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley and Markieff Morris, who shot a combined 21 for 41 from the field for 54 pts. They all have huge holes in their game.
UTA @ POR: This one was a barn-burner with Portland getting out of the gate insanely hot. At one point they were 17 for 21 from the field and finished the first half shooting over 60%. Credit the Jazz bench for fighting it out and trying to make a game of it. Enes Kanter is another big who should be rocketing up draft boards. He went 7 for 7 from the field and grabbed 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. In my Northwest division preview, I predicted that Paul Millsap would be shown the door to clear the frontcourt logjam but I have changed my tune. Kanter is pushing his mentor Al Jefferson out.
No LaMarcus Aldridge, no problem for the Trailblazers. Nicolas Batum awoke from his preseason slumber and poured in 27 on 9 for 15 shooting. Damian Lillard refused to miss going 6 of 8 including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. And, J.J. Hickson out-hustled Jefferson dropping an 8 of 9. He becomes a must start whenever Aldridge is out of the lineup. Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard continued to split the back-up C minutes and both fouled out in 20 minutes.
GSW @ LAC: Like the weary Kings, the Warriors mailed this one in after one too many nights partying in Los Angeles. Stephen Curry continued to rest his ankle and Andrew Bogut practiced at full contact but is still iffy for the season opener. Jarrett Jack played admirably with a team high 14 pts and 5 ast. He also chipped in 6 boards. Otherwise let’s not look at this one.
The Clippers coasted to an easy win giving 10 guys between 17 and 26 minutes. All five starters were plus 15 or better. DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf destroyed Festus Ezeli and Carl Landry on the block to the tune 14 for 23, 30 rebounds and 6 blocks. I think Jordan in particular looks primed for a big year. The question is whether they get anything from their wings. Caron Butler, Willie Green, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford contributed little considering the weak opponent.