Deng, Rondo make triumphant returns

February, 6, 2012
Fantasy teams missing an integral part of their lineups were relieved this weekend, as Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo returned from wrist injuries.

Deng didn't miss a beat, scoring 21 points with nine rebounds and three 3-pointers Saturday in 41 minutes of play. Coach Tom Thibodeau loves riding Deng for big minutes, and Deng is instantly back as a key cog in Chicago's lineup; he should be reinserted into fantasy lineups immediately. Ronnie Brewer's limited value essentially vanishes, and Kyle Korver goes back to being an inconsistent, 3-pointer-only option, as Deng and his near 40 minutes per game sop up the value of the other swingmen on the roster.

Rondo missed eight games, and even though he averaged 10.5 assists and two steals in two games this weekend, he was a bit rusty, going a combined 5-for-14 from the field (35.7 percent) with five turnovers in each game. I wouldn't be alarmed. I expect him to be averaging his typical numbers before long, although I would expect Paul Pierce's assist numbers to dip significantly with Rondo back. Pierce averaged 7.5 assists in the eight games Rondo was sidelined, a number that should come back down to his typical 3-4 per game range.

Looking back

Jason Thompson scored 15 points with 16 rebounds Saturday, his third straight double-double. He has started at power forward for the past nine games and is averaging 10.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor. As long as he remains a starter, he has legitimate value. He is playing well enough to render Chuck Hayes' return insignificant.

• It's Bismack Biyombo time in Charlotte. He received his first career start Saturday, responding well with 11 points, 12 boards, two blocks and a steal in 36 minutes. He's second in the league in blocks per 48 minutes with 5.03, so if he retains this starting role, he'll be top-10 in blocks in no time and among the league leaders for the rest of the season. He'll likely have occasionally solid rebounding efforts and shoot well from the floor with low attempts, but he will essentially be a one-category wonder who contributes enough blocks to be worth a roster spot.

Reggie Williams was signed in the offseason to provide Charlotte 3-point shooting, and now he finds himself in a prime short-term opportunity with Gerald Henderson out for the next 2-4 weeks because of a strained hamstring. Williams started Saturday, scoring 21 points with seven rebounds, six assists, two 3s and a steal. He's not shy from beyond the arc, chucking eight attempts in the game, and overall he's a major 3-point threat, as he averaged 1.3 per game in just 20.3 minutes last season with the Warriors. He should be good for close to two 3s per game for the next month or so while Henderson is sidelined and can provide some scoring, nice percentages and a handful of steals. If you need 3-point assistance, Williams is a good short-term option.

• The fact that Jeremy Lin scored 25 points Saturday showed the opportunity for numbers that Baron Davis will have upon his return. Lin is being considered for the starting job in the meantime, as his 25-point, seven-assist, five-board, two-steal performance was the key to the Knicks' win, and he should have increased fantasy value at least until Davis is activated. This hurts Iman Shumpert's value, as the rookie saw just 25 minutes in Saturday's contest, compared to his season average of 31.3. Lin's upside isn't crazy, and he isn't worth dropping a reliable player for, but if you have an open roster spot, he'll have some fantasy value, especially in steals. He averaged 2.5 swipes per game his final season at Harvard and 1.1 per game in just 9.8 minutes last season for the Warriors.

Looking ahead

Kenyon Martin is joining the Clippers and is likely to make his debut Wednesday. He'll likely get similar run to what he saw last season in Denver, playing minutes in the mid-20s and averaging nearly a steal and a block per game. If you need defensive stats, he's worth a spot in deeper leagues. Jared Dudley might miss more time with a thigh bruise, and if he does, Michael Redd is an option this week. Redd started and scored 17 points with four 3s Saturday. Dudley is considered day-to-day for Monday's contest.



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