Manu Ginobili's broken hand a big blow
Manu Ginobili broke his left hand Monday, breaking the hearts of fantasy owners who were reveling in his quick start to the season.
The left-handed Ginobili, who sustained the injury late in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, could miss up to six weeks. Counting the eight points he recorded in 13 minutes Monday, Ginobili averaged 17.6 points, 2.8 3-pointers and 1.2 steals through the San Antonio Spurs' first five games. The 34-year-old topped 20 points in three of his first four outings and shot a sizzling 59.2 percent from the field (29-for-49), including 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from downtown.
While James Anderson, a second-year reserve, should receive the bulk of Ginobili's minutes, veteran Richard Jefferson could assume a larger role in the Spurs' offense and become the fantasy play here. Against the Timberwolves, R.J. finished with 16 points and four triples in a season-high 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Anderson had just four points on 1-of-6 shooting in 22 minutes.
Anderson did average more than 2.0 3s per 36 minutes in 2010-11, though he played sparingly as a rookie (just 26 games at 11 minutes a night). Another player to watch in deeper leagues is Gary Neal. The Spurs just sent Neal to the D-League on a medical rehab assignment but figure he'll be back in the NBA sooner than later. Neal, who's been sidelined since undergoing an appendectomy in mid-December, averaged 9.8 points and 1.6 3s in 80 games with the Spurs last season.
• Nene (left heel bruise) didn't play against the Milwaukee Bucks and is considered day-to-day. While Kosta Koufos took Nene's place in the lineup, Al Harrington (17 points, eight rebounds) enjoyed another strong game off the bench. Denver Nuggets coach George Karl gave Harrington the opportunity to start, but the player said he'd rather remain a reserve for the sake of the team's offensive continuity. Harrington may be onto something. He's thriving in his bench role -- through six games, he's averaging 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 3s while shooting 52.2 percent -- and is looking like one of fantasy's top free-agent finds. Get him if you can; he's still available in about a quarter of ESPN.com leagues.
• Michael Beasley took five stitches to the lacerated index finger of his shooting hand before having his best showing of the young season. A night after suffering the painful injury, Beasley scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He also made both of his 3-point tries against the Spurs.
• Speaking of 3-point success, Paul George went 5-for-5 from downtown against the Nets en route to a 21-point performance. Through five games, George is shooting a staggering 63.2 percent (12-for-19) from deep. Even more remarkable is that he's been only half as good inside the arc -- just 31.6 percent (6-for-19). As much as I like George, I have to figure that opponents will soon learn not to leave him alone on the perimeter. But at that point, hopefully the youngster will start making his close-in shots. George, by the way, remains available in about 20 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
• As tough as it is to find a shot-blocker, it's understandable that Greg Stiemsma is starting to attract interest in deep leagues. A former D-League defensive player of the year, Stiemsma did well (13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes) in place of Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) on Monday. With two more rejections, he brought his total to 12 blocks in only four games. Stiemsma may never see more than 20 minutes a night, but he seems to have found a home with the Boston Celtics. Plus it never hurts to bet on the brittle O'Neal getting and remaining injured. If Stiemsma can become, say, the new Chris Andersen, he'll be worth rostering in leagues of at least 12 teams.
• Apparently DeMarcus Cousins will rejoin the Sacramento Kings for their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. It's not known if he'll play, but with only six games Tuesday, owners in daily lineup leagues have no reason not to have Cousins active.
• Surprising as it was that the Atlanta Hawks won in Miami on Monday, it's even more surprising that Tracy McGrady (16 points, seven rebounds, three 3s) was one of their big contributors. Still, T-Mac seems to be assuming the role that Jamal Crawford held in previous seasons. Tuesday brings a tough matchup at the Chicago Bulls, but McGrady could be a viable fill-in.