So did anyone have Kevin Love in his or her lineup Wednesday? For those looking in the right place on Twitter, there was some advance warning, but still, I can't imagine any Love owners, anywhere, having him active for his shocking return. You are free to prove me wrong, though; if you activated Love for that 34-point, 14-rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 21, please give yourself a virtual high-five in the comments. (And don't lie. Lying isn't allowed on the Internet.)
Another player who most likely didn't grace any lineups Wednesday is Jeremy Pargo. Pargo of course is filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving. And Pargo's performance was every bit as stunning as Love's: 28 points, including four 3-pointers, five rebounds and four assists against the Philadelphia 76ers.
On what is known as Black Friday in the U.S., fantasy owners might not be stampeding to get Pargo, but he is moving briskly.
You might recall that Pargo was a member of the Memphis Grizzlies last season. When Mike Conley was injured in the first week, Pargo had a couple of games of double-digit scoring. However, for the 2011-12 season, he shot just 33.3 percent (and just 59.3 percent from the line).
Since he played such limited minutes for the Grizzlies, I'm willing to give Pargo the benefit of the doubt, especially since he's impressed Cavs coach Byron Scott. Prior to Irving's injury, Scott made Pargo Irving's primary backup, moving him past Donald Sloan on the depth chart. I think for the next month or so, he'll be reasonably productive, but those percentages do concern me. On a substitute point guard impact scale from A.J. Price to Linsanity, I expect Pargo will be closer to Price. As far as what the schedule thinks of Pargo, we'll get to that in a bit.
Week 5 at a Glance
"R" matchup ratings are based on a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, its opponents' numbers in those categories, and its performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the right lists the team's total number of games scheduled ("G") as well as home games ("H") and lists the overall rating from 1 to 10 for that team's weekly schedule ("R").
Al Horford just recorded what I figure has to be one of the ugliest near triple-doubles in NBA history. While going for 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, Horford somehow bricked nine of his 10 free throw attempts. Pretty amazing for a guy who is a career 75.2 percent foul shooter.
I mention this because I figure Horford should have time to work on his free throws, since the Atlanta Hawks play just twice in the week ahead. The timing is unfortunate for those who have snatched Kyle Korver from fantasy free agency. Korver has started every game, but only recently have his shots started to fall; he's averaging 14.6 points and 3.2 3-pointers per game over his past five games. Although he draws a couple of favorable matchups in the Charlotte Bobcats and the Cavaliers, that's all he gets.
Players to Watch
Randy Foye, SG/PG, Utah Jazz (DEN, @NO, @OKC, @HOU): As the Jazz try to wedge Derrick Favors into the lineup, Foye has started the past two games, with predictably erratic results. Still, Foye is a robust 44.3 percent from downtown this season, and it's tough to imagine he'll ever see a more favorable schedule than this. New Orleans Hornets, Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets opponents are first, third and sixth, respectively, in triples. Actually, we should focus on the Hornets. In their past five games, they've surrendered 10 3s to the Rockets, 14 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 13 to the Milwaukee Bucks, 14 to the New York Knicks and 15 to the Indiana Pacers. That's 66 treys in five games. Despite the fact that the Hornets are only in the middle of the pack in points allowed per game (98.7), they are a prime fantasy matchup right now.
Markieff Morris, PF, Phoenix Suns (@CLE, @DET, @TOR, @NY): After getting 16 points and a couple of 3s off the bench against the Miami Heat on Nov. 16, Morris replaced Luis Scola in the starting lineup Nov. 21 against the Portland Trail Blazers. In that game, Morris came through with 19 points and seven boards in just 25 minutes (figure the limited minutes were due to the Suns' blowout win). Most significant about both those outings is that Morris was 6-of-9 against the Heat and 9-of-13 against the Blazers. In his season-plus career with the Suns, Morris is just a 39.8 percent shooter, but if he can stay steady from the field as a starter, he's worth adding in leagues of at least 12 teams. The week ahead should provide a good barometer for Morris' long-term accuracy; Cavs, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors opponents are in the top third in field goal percentage.
Gary Neal, PG/SG, San Antonio Spurs (@WSH, @ORL, @MIA, MEM): In his first start of the season, Neal had 12 points, including a pair of 3s, and two steals against the Boston Celtics on Nov. 21. Given the injury-depleted Spurs roster, Neal is another possibility in deeper leagues, although this schedule skews as challenging. While Heat opponents are second in treys, Wizards, Orlando Magic and Grizzlies opponents are in the bottom eight in this category.
Jeremy Pargo, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (@MEM, PHX, @ATL, POR): While this schedule doesn't seem all that favorable, new Pargo owners probably can find reason to activate him for the week ahead. Trail Blazers and Suns opponents are first and third, respectively, in shooting percentage, and Suns opponents are fifth in assists and ninth in 3s. However, Grizzlies opponents are only 23rd in assists and 3s, and Hawks opponents are 24th in shooting.
Jason Thompson, PF/C, Sacramento Kings (MIN, IND, @LAC): Over his past five games, Thompson is averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds. It's worth noting that these five games encompass DeMarcus Cousins' two-game suspension, as well as Cousins' foul-plagued 21-minute stint against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 21. I've mentioned Thompson frequently in the Forecaster, although through the years I've become more gun-shy on him. His good stretches just never seem to last. About all I can say about this set of games is that each of these opponents has a good C/PF combo: Love and Nikola Pekovic for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Roy Hibbert and David West for the Pacers, and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Kings should need Thompson in these matchups. It will be interesting to see how he responds.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors (@HOU, @MEM, PHX): I think fantasy owners have been a bit hasty with Valanciunas, who's now available in about two-thirds of ESPN.com leagues. He'll struggle defensively, resulting in some empty lines, but the youngster has shown his potential with back-to-back double-doubles against the Sixers and Bobcats. For this week, I kind of feel about JV the way I do about Thompson: The Raptors will need him against the Rockets' Omer Asik, the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and the Suns' Marcin Gortat. Rockets opponents, at least, are seventh in blocks.
Opponent Performance, Past 10 Games
All statistics are for teams' past 10 games played and are defensive numbers. PPGA: Points per game allowed. FG%A: Field goal percentage allowed. 3PT%A: 3-point percentage allowed. RPG diff.: Rebounds per game differential. SPGA: Steals per game allowed. BPGA: Blocks per game allowed.