The Bulls are beginning to look like a formidable team again and one of the better ones in the Eastern Conference. While they have had their struggles just like anyone else, Tom Thibodeau has them back to the No. 1 ranking in team defense and secured an impressive victory last night against the Sixers team that knocked them out of the playofffs last season. The problem is right now Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are playing more minutes than any duo in the league and the Bulls bench has all but evaporated with injuries to Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton. The key to this season for the Bulls is going to be not when Derrick Rose comes back, but what Derrick Rose comes back as. If they can get 80% of what Rose was this season, they have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs, but they are going to need a lot closer to 100% to be a true championship contender. The problem is, we don’t know if he’ll ever get back to that level and it almost assuredly won’t be this season.
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-Jose Calderon is back in action with Kyle Lowry out at least 10 days with a triceps injury. He had 10 points, 15 assists, 1 steal and 2 threes despite a poor shooting night in 40 minutes on Wednesday evening. Calderon is a legit NBA starting point guard and should have been owned in all leagues even before the Lowry injury. Calderon is going to keep eating into Lowry’s minutes even when healthy unless he commits to defense and playing hard, which hasn’t happened in any of his NBA stops thus far.
-CJ Miles continues to impress as the starting shooting guard for the Cavs. We knew he was a streaky player who could get hot in extended minutes, but this is ridiculous. He scored 28 points for the 2nd game in a row with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and 6 more threes. Playing next to Kyrie Irving is going to get anyone good shots and Miles is knocking them down right now. It will be hard for Byron Scott to take him out of the lineup until he cools off, so he’s worth an add in most daily lineup leagues.
-Ersan Ilyasova flashed off the bench again last night with 16 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks and a three in just 24 minutes. This is what we’ve been waiting for and it’s been happening more often lately. If he was dropped in your league, he needs to be added again, but continue to expect inconsistency as Skiles favorite, Larry Sanders, was out with the flu for this one. Ilyasova’s upside is just too high to be sitting on the waiver wire though.
-Ed Davis made his long anticipated jump to the starting lineup last night due to injuries and suspensions for the Raptors. He scored 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and added 3 steals in 45 minutes. He didn’t block a shot, but that was more of a fluke than anything in so many minutes. With Andrea Bargnani out indefinitely with his elbow injury, Davis must be scooped up if he hasn’t been already. He won’t play 45 minutes again any time soon, but he has proven to be an efficient player with decent minutes this season.
-I’m officially tired of answering Byron Mullens drop questions. Outside of the week he was limited really badly with injury he’s providing solid value in 12-team leagues. You know exactly what you are getting. He is a big part of the Bobcats offense, but isn’t good enough on defense to overcome bad shooting nights. He’s a fringe player in 10-team leagues, so either ride with him or don’t, his value and role aren’t going to fluctuate much all season, but his production will game to game. If you own him just ride it out unless something dramatic happens. Bismack Biyombo is the other interesting Bobcats big. He played 39 minutes last night and I love his blocks and rebounds upside in that kind of playing time. He’s a guy I would add in almost every 12-team category league unless the playing time fades.
Top Lines to Target:
(Those who target the night’s highest over/unders should reap fantasy success)
LAL @ NYK
SAS @ POR
(Guys I am trying to get into lineups tonight, ranked on comparison to perceived value.)
My early daily DraftDay Freeroll lineup is to the right.Check out our EFF Matchups to determine the best plays for yourself.
Value Play: Chris Duhon
Felton gets the Lakers and Chris Duhon tonight, it should be fun to watch. Walker has been impressive this season and has been hitting his value in this price range on a pretty consistent basis. Lillard should bounce back just fine tonight and after his stinker last game, his price has dipped nicely into an almost must-play range on DraftDay. Duhon is the cheapest point guard getting big minutes tonight.
Value Play: Jodie Meeks
Bryant is someone that I never went to sit heading into Madison Square Garden, especially with the way he’s been playing. Kidd has been getting extended minutes because the Knicks need him right now and has been producing at a high level. Smith is probable for tonight’s game after going down late the other night, he always plays much better at home. Meeks is a boom or bust play due to his three point shooting.
Value Play: Sasha Pavlovic
Melo playing at home and facing Kobe, he should be gunning as usual. MWP continues to provide pretty solid value and should see extended minutes guarding Melo tonight. Green struggled a bit last night, but is going to face the backup Portland wings most likely tonight. Pavlovic was the main beneficiary of the injuries for the Blazers last game.
Value Play: Byron Mullens
Aldridge is going to get all the shots he can take for as long as Batum and Matthews are out. Smoove has been playing like his old self over the last two weeks and is fitting nicely into an improving Hawks team. Duncan is as consistent as they come, but runs the risk of getting rested tonight against a weak Blazers team with the Spurs on a back to back. Mullens is still a focal point of the Bobcats offense and provides great value anytime his price is this low.
Value Play: Bismack Biyombo
Horford has destroyed Charlotte in two meeting this season, get him in every lineup. Chandler should bounce back from a slow game against the Nets tonight. Howard has been as consistent as they come, but hasn’t flashed the upside that used to make him such a great play due to a lack of blocks this season. Biyombo is playing heavy minutes and offers blocks and rebounds upside if that continues.