Fantasy-worthy Heat not limited to big three
It is difficult to say, exactly, how impressive the Heat's win against the Cavaliers on Thursday night really was. After all, the Cavs are not a great team on either side of the ball and the Heat, as we're all painfully aware, are pretty darned talented. And, obviously, the major fantasy lines ended up belonging to the usual suspects, as LeBron James scored 38 points in a ridiculously efficient 30 minutes and Dwyane Wade nearly posted a triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
For those of us who prefer to obsess about the small stuff, however, there are some other things to consider. James Jones, for one, continues to knock down 3-pointers so efficiently that, despite his many flaws, it is becoming difficult to imagine a scenario in which he does not play a somewhat important role on this team (even after the return of the ever-brittle Mike Miller). Mario Chalmers, too, seems to slowly be getting his stroke back, and, as I wrote yesterday, it feels like eventually he's got a good chance to replace Carlos Arroyo as the starting point guard. Considering Chalmers averaged right around 10 points, four assists, two steals and two 3s per game as a rookie two seasons ago, it's worth hoping for a return to past glory.
For the Cavaliers, sadly, there is far less to be excited about. Amazingly, only one Cavalier -- Anderson Varejao -- is averaging better than 30 minutes per game this season, and Varejao has long been the odd player who is simply not as valuable in fantasy basketball as he is on the actual basketball court. Outside of Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson, there's almost no one on the roster to be excited about from a fantasy perspective. In actual basketball games, the fact that the Cavs play really hard and have a not-so-terrible seven wins to go with their 11 losses doesn't change the fact that -- according to the current rankings of our very own John Hollinger -- they are the third-worst team in the NBA.
Well, there's not a ton to look back on today besides what we've already covered here. The Warriors had a tough loss at home to the Suns. Andris Biedrins left with stomach problems after playing 24 relatively unimpressive minutes (a big game for him against that tiny Phoenix front line seemed like a given). Not surprisingly, a few players (Monta Ellis, David Lee, Jason Richardson, Steve Nash and Grant Hill) had really nice fantasy lines. Of course, none of those names come as a surprise to you, and so, with that in mind, we'll move on and take a quick look at the rich possibilities of Friday night.
The Lakers are going to be seriously thin up front if Pau Gasol can't go due to his strained left hammy; either way, it should be a good night to get Matt Barnes into your lineup, since he can play in almost any lineup, big or small. Two things were clear the last time the Celtics and Bulls matched up. First, the Celtics had no answer for Joakim Noah's quickness in the paint, as Noah finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Second, the Bulls were similarly at a loss when forced to deal with Ray Allen on the perimeter, as he finished with 25 points on some seriously hot shooting. If both those things happen again, I certainly won't be surprised. It should be a great night for Trail Blazers starter Wesley Matthews, as I don't think the Wizards have anyone in their backcourt with the size to deal with Matthews effectively. He is averaging four 3-pointers and better than 23 points in his past three games, and he's still available in a few leagues out there. I'm very interested to see what happens in the shooting guard matchup between the Rockets and Grizzlies, as well, as new Grizzlies starter Xavier Henry is fresh off a performance against Kobe Bryant that earned the rookie's defense some serious accolades (complete with the obligatory comparisons to Shane Battier). Kevin Martin, too, is a tough player to guard; I'm still going to expect a big night from the Rockets' go-to scorer, but I'll admit it's with a bit of trepidation and a lot of curiosity. Finally, after two straight lackluster performances, I'm very excited to see what Pacers center Roy Hibbert can do against the Suns. Last season, he averaged 18 points and seven rebounds in just 25 minutes per game in two outings against the Suns, so a big night is certainly in play.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.