|(A random drawing of the beach, for no real reason. Illustration courtesy of Terry Fan)|
- The Kobe-less Lakers did just fine on Friday, vanquishing the Minnesota Timberwolves thanks to 25 points from Nick Young and 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals from Xavier Henry. Both players are fantastic short-term adds, though Henry's fun in the sun might be abbreviated, as Jordan Farmar could return on Christmas and gobble up a lot of his minutes.
- Pau Gasol was tremendous last night, scoring 21 points and adding 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks and he even hit a three. After a month of terrible shooting, Gasol has shot 60% from the floor in his past five games and is looking like his old All-Star self, which is great news for his fantasy owners, as there aren't many better bigmen in the league than Pau when he's on his game.
- Danny Granger made his season debut for the Pacers, and... he looked horrible: 5 points on 1-7 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench. Lance Stephenson, who's been a fantasy godsend this year, marked his territory by producing 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 35 minutes. Granger, while he's been terrific in his career, only played in five games last year, so he seriously hasn't been a relevant fantasy option since April of 2012. He's an extraordinarily iffy pickup right now, as it's anyone's guess how good he'll be coming off the bench.
- Paul Pierce continued his strong play of late, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 4 three's on 7-9 shooting, while going 6-6 from the foul line. He also committed 6 turnovers, but who cares? Pierce has been terrific since he came back from his hand injury and should continue to be a solid utility player for the rest of the year... so long as he avoids getting hurt again.
- Markieff Morris had his best game in a while for the Suns, collecting 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 30 minutes off the bench. Morris might be the best star-in-waiting in the whole league, as he's merely a promotion away from being an elite fantasy power forward. Alas, with Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee starting ahead of him, Morris is merely a so-so fantasy option, with games like this being merely a taste of what he could do if he was actually getting major playing time. (Keep in mind that coming into tonight, Morris was averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds in games where he's played at least 30 minutes. Call me crazy, but I think the dude is being way, way underutilized...)
- With Reggie Evans and Kevin Garnett out, Mirza Teletovic was allowed to start for Brooklyn and he responded by scoring 18 points on 6 three's and a block in 33 minutes. Teletovic is a garbage time extraordinaire and could one day be a serviceable fantasy option in standard leagues. But with Evans and KG standing in front of him, that time ain't now.
- Kemba Walker was on a roll yesterday, posting 34 points on 12-17 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. He's scored at least 24 points in four straight games and is rounding into form as one of the best shooting guards in the league -- and an unnoticed one at that, as he plays for the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.
- Oh, and speaking of the Bobcats... Al Jefferson scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Jefferson's numbers aren't quite where they were expected to be, after he missed a few games with an injury in the beginning of the year. But he's been awesome of late and can safely be considered a guy who's not terrible who you should want to own on your fantasy team because he's not bad. So there!
- Brandon Knight continued his reign on terror, notching 17 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block against the Cavaliers. Knight is slowly starting to look more and more like the fantasy monster I predicted he'd be at the beginning of the year, which makes me feel like less of a raging lunatic after I begrudgingly stood by him through his rough patch in the beginning of the year. I don't know why he'd still be available in your league, but you need to fix that if it's still the case.
- Kyrie Irving has been outstanding lately. On Friday, he scored 39 points and added 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 blocks, and he's averaging 30 a game over his last five outings. Not bad for someone who was a game-time decision with the flu.
- Alan Anderson had a great night against the Sixers, scoring 26 points and connecting on 5 three's. If Anderson's performance intrigues you, it really shouldn't since he scored exactly zero points in his previous game. He's a roll-the-dice-and-hope-for-the-best kind of fantasy option.
- Michael Carter-Williams returned from his bacterial infection on Friday, with the possible Rookie of the Year scoring 15 points and adding 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. It's scary to think how good he can be if he can just stay healthy. He's already as good as anyone in the entire league at stealing the ball and is even averaging close to 6 rebounds a game. Hopefully you weren't foolish enough to have sold high on him in the beginning of the year.
- Tony Wroten was reduced to a sixth man role with MCW's return, though he was still pretty effective, totaling 19 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes. Wroten could still be a nice fantasy player coming off the bench, though the real reason to own him is that he's a certified stud whenever Carter-Williams is hurt.
- Hey, Ben McLemore finally did something. Hooray! The Kings rookie scored 20 points and added 4 three's in a blowout loss to the Miami Heat. It's a nice line, but he's going to have to string together a few more outings like this before he can be trusted.