Anthony Davis to remain sidelined
No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis has lived up to -- and arguably exceeded -- expectations during the first few weeks of his NBA career, but, unfortunately, his body hasn't been up to the physical challenge of balling with the big boys. He played two games before missing two, then he played four more games before missing four more. After turning his left ankle multiple times during that stretch, Davis underwent a precautionary MRI which revealed a stress reaction in the joint, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Jimmy Smith.
While the positive takeaway from the stress reaction is that they caught it before it became something more serious like a stress fracture, the downside is that he likely will miss at least the next week or two. Basically, he will rest the joint until the stress reaction has healed and the bone is at full strength. Davis understands the potentially serious nature of the injury, specifically noting the brutal ankle issues that put Grant Hill's career on hold at the peak of his skills.
"The fact I sprained my ankle three times in that one week, that was odd," Davis said. "So they found that inside my foot. And you know the whole Grant Hill story, so they wanted to be very cautious with the way I handled things."
Look for Robin Lopez to continue handling big minutes in the paint and Ryan Anderson to start in place of Davis. Not known for his shot-blocking skills, Lopez has rejected a dozen shots over the past three games. Anderson continues to be a beast, dropping 3s, crashing the boards and scoring in that starting role.
• Toronto Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas has shown some signs of life recently after struggling early on. After posting double-doubles against the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Bobcats, he mustered just nine points and six boards versus the Detroit Pistons Friday. However, he followed that up Sunday against the always-difficult San Antonio Spurs frontcourt with 22 points (9-13 FG, 4-5 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. After 14 games, he is averaging 9.6 points, 6.1 boards, 1.1 blocks and shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the line. As expected, his biggest issue is foul trouble -- he has 14 fouls in his past three games -- but once he gets comfortable, Valanciunas is capable of averaging 12-15 points, 7-8 boards and a block or two per game with great percentages. It's a good time to buy low on him.
• I recommended (and drafted) Steve Novak as a late-round addition in deep-league drafts this fall as a high-end source of 3s, despite the fact he does basically nothing else. Unfortunately, when he doesn't chip in those 3-pointers, he has zero fantasy value, and that's exactly what happened early on this season. However, he has picked up the pace of his 3-point production lately. He has attempted at least seven 3s in four of his past five games, including a 10-chuck night last week. On Sunday, he came through with his best game of the season, hitting 5 of 7 3s and tallying 18 points. Expect more nights like this going forward, which will make him a solid 3-point contributor in deep leagues, where the lack of other stats won't bring you down.
• LaMarcus Aldridge tweaked his back during Friday's game. The muscle spasms got worse overnight and his strained back kept him from taking part in Sunday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets. However, he said afterward that he "most likely" will return to the hardwood for Monday's tilt with the Detroit Pistons. Rookie Meyers Leonard started Sunday in Aldridge's stead and scored 12 points (6-8 FG) and pulled down three boards; not exactly as exciting as Aldridge's high-end production. The Portland Trail Blazers have four games scheduled this week, so even if Aldridge misses Monday's game, it sounds like he should be ready for the other three.
• The Golden State Warriors expect Andrew Bogut to practice Monday for the first time since Nov. 7. It sounds like there is at least a possibility that he will be ready to return to action as soon as their next game, which comes against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. A determination of when he may return will be determined by how his surgically repaired ankle holds up during practices the next three days. The Warriors play just twice this week, so there is no sense in putting him into your weekly lineups, but if things go well this week, Bogut may be ready for next week's four-game stretch.
• Pau Gasol admitted Saturday that he has been dealing with knee tendinitis since the preseason. That might help explain why Gasol, who has shot 51.9 percent during his lengthy career, is shooting just 43.4 percent from the field so far this season. It also might explain why his scoring has dropped from 17.4 ppg last season to 13.4 ppg, though one could make the case that the drastic roster and coaching changes made by the Los Angeles Lakers could have caused the diminishing production on its own. At this point, it doesn't sound like the tendinitis will force him to miss any action, so keep him in your lineups and hope he turns his game back on.
• The Philadelphia 76ers now consider Andrew Bynum to be out "indefinitely" due to the issues with both of his knees. He is slated to undergo an MRI on the joints on Dec. 10, at which point they will make another assessment. Considering his lengthy injury history and the fact he has two bad knees at the moment, we shouldn't expect to see him on the court for quite some time.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Dwight Howard hasn't been his usual statistically dominant self since Mike D'Antoni took over as coach of the Lakers. That includes the past three games when he failed to score even 20 Fastbreak points. His production has been uneven enough during that stretch that sitting him for other quality centers like Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah has made sense. However, Tuesday evening Howard is the only one of the top-eight producing centers in Fastbreak to hit the hardwood. His upside compared to those below him is too much to pass up, especially in a home game against the Indiana Pacers. Get him in your lineups and look for Howard to come alive.