I remember thinking during last year’s NBA playoffs that the Hornets were a team I could root for. Whether it was Monty Williams’ use of resilient water buffalo as the team’s inspiration, or Chris Paul’s 33 point Game 1 against the heavily favored Lakers, they showed heart. They were the quintessential vision of a young, talented team that may have lost in the first round, but promised a bright future. But as is with the modern NBA, we didn’t have an opportunity to see that future. Instead, Chris Paul is ironically taking over the Staples Center with the revived Clippers, and Monty Williams is conveniently drinking bourbon to the blues in any of a million bars in New Orleans. The unfortunate Hornets are a half game better than the league worst Bobcats. They also rank 2nd to worst in offense, averaging an anemic 87 points a game. Eric Gordon is responsible for some of their scoring woes.
Gordon was the major piece the Hornets were forced to receive after being the victim of David Stern’s all-powerful veto. Rather than receiving Andrew Bynum, the Hornets got Minnesota’s first round draft pick, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and Gordon. As with any trade, there was speculation that the Hornets received the better deal. This was Skip Bayless, devil’s advocate-talk. Nearly everybody realized the deal wasn’t a success for New Orleans unless the draft-pick ends up being Gary Payton. Gordon is sidelined with injuries after playing just two games this season. He owes a sincere and heartfelt apology to fantasy owners worldwide. And if that wasn’t enough, Gordon and the Hornets weren’t able to agree on a deal, and he will become a restricted free agent this summer. The Hornets are struggling for wins, but even worse, struggling for hope. The future looks bleak when Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are your main weapons. Still, the Hornets play hard, ranking 7th in points allowed. I hope the Hornets sign Gordon, or draft Jesus, because it’s a city and franchise that deserves better than the miserable and futile display they’ve given so far.
After a short training camp, the NBA is in it’s 2nd week and is now in full swing. The short preseason has played a huge factor in fantasy owners worst nightmares…INJURIES. Big name fantasy players like Manu Ginobili, Zach Randolph and Eric Gordon have fell victim to the injury bug, creating new opportunities for players across the league.
These sleepers have found playing time early. They are producing for their real teams, and if you are looking for some help in the fantasy game, could produce for yours as well.
Marco Belinelli: New Orleans Hornets ($5,208) – It was just reported that Eric Gordon will miss 2 to 3 weeks with an injured right knee. Belinelli will be the starter in his place and should see nice playing time and fantasy production
Tracy McGrady: Atlanta Hawks ($5,639) – Eventhough he comes off the bench, now that he’s on a playoff contending team, Tracy McGrady has been playing rejuvenated as of late. He has averaged 25 fantasy points in his last 3 games
Devin Harris: Utah Jazz ($5,950) – Though Harris hasn’t played exceptionally well to start the season, he is a very talented point guard that averaged nearly 16 points per game and over 5 assists last year. He is the starter for Utah and look for his fantasy points to go up
Gary Neal: San Antonio Spurs ($6,475) – Manu Ginobili is to miss the next 2 months with a broken left hand, and Gary Neal will replace him in the starting lineup. Neal has a solid overall game and should be very productive with the increase in minutes
Sam Young: Memphis Grizzlies ($4,785) – Zach Randolph will be out of the lineup for 8 weeks, and look for Sam Young to get a big increase in minutes and fantasy production. He has averaged 24.5 fantasy points in his last 2 games
Drew Gooden: Milwaukee Bucks ($6,710) – Andrew Bogut’s been out the last few games for personal reasons and Drew Gooden is the one who’s been benefiting. Bogut will be out a gain tonight, so be sure to consider Gooden for you fantasy basketball team
D.J. White: Charlotte Bobcats ($6,958) – White is a starter for the Bobcats and has been pretty steady since the beginning of the season. He’s not an absolute steal, but a safe pick for fantasy owners. White has averaged 24 fantasy points in his last 3 games
Byron Mullens: Charlotte Bobcats ($4,599) – Mullens doesn’t start for the Bobcats, but is the only true Center on the roster. He’s been getting more and more minutes as the season’s gone on, and has averaged 21.5 fantasy points his last 2 games
Kosta Koufos: Denver Nuggets ($4,785) – Nene has been out with a bruised left foot, and is not expected to be available for tonight’s game. Koufos has been the starter in his place and got his first double-double in the Nuggets last game
CP3 will be playing basketball in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, however not for the Lakers, but for that other team in LA. The New Orleans Hornets traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. The Clippers sent guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick to the Hornets. The Clippers will also receive two future second-round picks. The deal required the approval of NBA commissioner David Stern, who blocked a 3-team trade last week between the Lakers, Rockets and Hornets that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. But Paul will now be teaming up with Blake Griffin, making the Clippers arguably the new #1 team in LA. To no ones surprise, this has left people in Laker Land feeling pretty bitter.
So what now for the Lakers? With Paul now off the table, they are pretty much out of options when it comes to making a trade. Also on Wednesday the Orlando Magic pulled Dwight Howard off the trading block, leaving no marquee players left on the market. Stern denying the Lakers of Paul effectively threw them under the bus, indirectly. Indications were that he didn’t want to make them better, and now they’re worse. Now without Lamar Odom (traded to the Dallas Mavericks) and having high expectations as always, new coach Mike Brown may possibly have one of the most undesired jobs in the NBA. With the season only 10 days away, look forward to seeing the exciting duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin together, and mark your calendar for January 14th when the new look Clippers take on the lowly Lakers!