Who will step up with Rondo out?
Any hopes the Boston Celtics had of making a title run this season were immediately dashed the second it was revealed that Rajon Rondo suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. Granted, they pulled off an unexpected win over the Miami Heat on Sunday (even though the players didn't know Rondo was done for the season at the time), but this team isn't going to win an NBA championship without him. Unfortunately, there are plenty of fantasy hoops teams out there with the same problem.
Rondo was having a career-best fantasy performance this season, averaging 13.7 ppg, 48.4 FG% (on 12.2 FGA per game), 11.1 apg, 5.6 rpg and 1.8 spg; production so high it simply cannot be replaced by the Celtics, nor by your fantasy squad. Barring a trade, the C's will do their best to roll with Avery Bradley, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee as ball handlers, and while all of them are worth a speculative add in fantasy leagues, none carry tremendous upside. It's not like when Stephen Curry goes down and you can get a large chunk of his stats by inserting Jarrett Jack.
If Bradley can stay healthy, he should have the most upside, at least based on his terrific finish to last season, when he averaged 15.1 points, 1.2 3s, 1.2 steals and shot 52.0 percent in April. However, he's not really a passing PG, as he averaged just 1.5 dimes per game during that stretch. Terry may end up dishing out the most assists from this crew, but it's been seven years since he averaged more than 5.0 apg. On the upside, his 3-point totals should rise with increased playing time. Barbosa has never been much of a dimer, and hasn't been a legitimate 3-point threat in seven years. I am a little intrigued by Lee's game, because he has had success in scoring, steals, 3s, FG% and FT% at various times during his five NBA campaigns, so if he can put it all together he may surprise. In the end, I think Paul Pierce is going to pick up most of the slack in assists, just as he did Sunday with a triple-double (17 points, 10 dimes and 13 boards).
The bottom line, though, is that neither the Celtics nor your fantasy squad is going to find a suitable replacement for Rondo's production without pulling the trigger on some trades, so get to it!
• Raymond Felton returned to action for a pair of games this weekend. He laid a bit of a dud Saturday with 8 points (2-8 FG) and 3 assists, but he looked better Sunday with 12 points (5-9 FG), 10 dimes and 2 steals. He should get back to form quickly, but let's hope he can improve on that pathetic 39.6 FG% he is sporting this season.
• Teammate Carmelo Anthony went berserk from beyond the arc Sunday, posting a New York Knicks record nine treys on 12 attempts on his way to 42 points. Not much needs to be said about Melo at this point; he's completely full of confidence and an absolutely dominating offensive force. Melo has more than doubled his 3-point production from last season (1.2 per game) to this season (2.8).
• The Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick bombed eight treys Sunday. As a starter the past three games, he has totaled 15 3-pointers. He is red-hot and presumably getting extra work to boost his trade value, as the Magic likely will deal the free-agent-to-be before the deadline. It's unlikely that his production will remain this high on another team, which means you should trade him before the Magic do.
• The Los Angeles Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with back-to-back wins this weekend, and one player tallied 14 assists in each game. Nope, it wasn't point guard Steve Nash; it was shooting guard Kobe Bryant. Nash totaled seven assists in those two games, hasn't hit double-digit dimes in two weeks and hasn't double-doubled in about three weeks. Meanwhile, Kobe averaged 17.5 points in those two wins. Time will tell whether the Lakers stick with Bryant as the facilitator over Nash, but it seems clear that Nash is having trouble keeping up and that Bryant's fantasy value will remain elite, regardless of which stats he is providing.
• Chris Paul missed his fourth straight game Sunday (and the seventh of his past nine) due to his bruised right kneecap. It's not clear when he will return, as coach Vinny Del Negro said his starting PG remains day-to-day. The Los Angeles Clippers play only three times this week, so those of you who have to set your weekly lineup today will have a tough call to make, barring a positive update on his status. Backup Eric Bledsoe has played well in place of CP3, but he hasn't exactly wowed us with his production: 11.9 points, 4.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 40.0 FG% in seven starts.
• Mike Conley left Sunday's game early with a sprained ankle. Even though he said he "felt a pop" and was wearing a walking boot, coach Lionel Hollins said afterward that Conley "will probably" play Monday. I'm a bit more skeptical, so look for updates as the game nears. Jerryd Bayless would be a decent replacement for Conley; he posted 14 points (6-12 FG), 5 assists and 3 swipes Sunday.
Fast-break Player of the Night
It's a light slate of games Tuesday, as just eight teams match up to ball. Any time the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have the same night off, as they do Tuesday, that means you'll have to find some quality replacements for LeBron James and Kevin Durant at forward. I think the Portland Trail Blazers have a choice matchup at home against a Dallas Mavericks squad that is allowing the third-most points per game (103.0) this season. That makes both Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge excellent Fast-break plays.