J.R. Smith steps up; Shelvin Mack starts

December, 27, 2012
With the news that Raymond Felton will miss the next 4-6 weeks because of a fractured pinkie, it would make sense to look for someone else on the Knicks' roster, but Wednesday night provided no clues as to who will replace Felton's production. Jason Kidd picked up the slack, starting alongside James White in the backcourt, but White was ineffective in 18 minutes, and Pablo Prigioni played just 17 minutes off the bench. For now, I wouldn't pick up either guy. What this will most likely mean, at least in the short term, is more playing time for J.R. Smith, and given that he scored 27 points (on an absurd 27 shots) Wednesday night, that's definitely a good thing for people who have him in fantasy leagues.

Looking Back

• There isn't much to note here in Shelvin Mack's debut as the starting point guard for the Wizards other than the fact that it happened; he finished with just six points in 29 minutes. But both of his scores were on 3-pointers, and he did manage to rack up seven assists as well. In deep leagues, he's immediately relevant simply because he's the starting point guard on an NBA roster, even if his position there is likely tenuous at best. In four D-League games for the Maine Red Claws, Mack was shooting 39 percent from long range, so between the assists and the 3s, there might actually be some real potential here, but only if you're desperate for point guard production (and, of course, only until John Wall comes back).

Hakim Warrick started for the Bobcats in their loss to the Heat, and he finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, which would be more impressive if it didn't take him 38 minutes to get those numbers. With Byron Mullens out of the lineup, it's possible Warrick will get regular minutes in the interim. He always has been able to score, and he generally shoots for a high percentage in doing so. That said, we've been here before with Warrick, so don't get your hopes up.

• Double-overtime games can make for strange numbers, so don't put too much stock in the fact that Will Bynum threw up 31 points in 36 minutes for the Pistons in their loss to the Hawks. This is just a case of the bench having a really good night, and going forward, Bynum is unlikely to get much more than the 15 minutes per game he's averaging.

Ersan Ilyasova continues to put up big numbers on occasion. He had a great line Wednesday in 27 minutes off the bench in the Bucks' big win over the Nets, finishing with 17 points (4-for-7 FG, 8-for-8 FT), 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. His previous few games had all been terrible, but he has had outbursts like this from time to time this season. He's just too talented to give up on, as we saw down the stretch last season.

• With Jason Richardson out because of a back injury, Dorell Wright found his stroke again after losing it for a couple of games. Wright started for the 76ers and finished with 28 points, including five 3s, in 35 minutes. As a starter this season, he's averaging 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 3.0 3s, and he has been a great fantasy player in the past, so he's definitely worth picking up if he's still available in your league.

Looking Ahead

O.J. Mayo is questionable for the Mavericks for Thursday night's game against the Thunder due to flu-like symptoms. The last time the Mavs went out, they got it handed to them by the Spurs, and Mayo had a terrible game. That's all the more reason to see whether you have any other options for Thursday night.

• In that same game, make sure you play Chris Kaman. Yes, he has struggled a bit recently, but the Thunder have a propensity to give up some decent production to opposing centers, and without Mayo, Kaman is likely to be the focus of the offense while Dirk Nowitzki continues to get his feet under him.

• I'm also expecting a good night out of DeAndre Jordan in his matchup against the Celtics. The C's have size on the front line, and they have athleticism, too, but aside from Kevin Garnett, they don't really have those two things in the same player. Jordan is big and fast, and the Celtics are second-to-last in the league this season in rebound rate. That's a bad combination, and Jordan should be able to take advantage.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

Well, the guys to go with here are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook; both have big games almost every time out, and Durant is the best fantasy option in the league by a long shot. However, if you're looking at the game between the Celtics and the Clippers, take a look at Paul Pierce. In his trips to L.A. to face the Clippers over the past two seasons, he's averaging 24.5 points and six rebounds, and after a quiet game against the Nets, he'll seek to recapture the mojo he had while racking up 75 points over the previous two contests.



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