The NBA takes Christmas Eve off, but apparently good St. Dirk wasn't going to wait around for the holiday to start before giving fantasy owners an early gift. Like getting a pair of socks from your old Aunt Myrtle, it wasn't a pretty sight but Dirk Nowitzki unexpectedly made his season debut Sunday, coming off the bench to score eight points in 20 minutes of action. He said he would have played more but the San Antonio Spurs were busy destroying the Dallas Mavericks by nearly 40 points, so there was really no sense in keeping him on the court any longer.
Nowitzki had been out since early October and had arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19. He was expected to wait until after Christmas to get back in the mix, so we'll take the extra action here in Fantasyland. Expectations for Nowitzki this week should be kept in check because his minutes may be relatively limited; the Mavs play only three games and they have tough matchups with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Spurs during that stretch.
On the other hand, you likely won't have a player with more upside than Dirk, so you may as well take advantage of his early return and stick him into your lineups.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Plenty of studs will be hitting the hardwood for Christmas game action, so you should have no trouble finding some good plays. My general recommendation would be to roll with guys who are playing at home, simply because they should be more comfortable and in a better position for success. To that end, while I am intrigued by rolling out Omer Asik in a road game against his old Chicago Bulls team, I will use Dwight Howard at center instead. He has scored at least 21 Fastbreak points in eight of his past nine games and plays at home against the Knicks.