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Saturday, March 7, 2009
Fantasy basketball blog: Can Josh Smith bounce back?


I don't own Josh Smith in any fantasy leagues; not because I didn't like him entering the season, but mostly because the logistics didn't work out. He was either gone before I picked in the late first round, or gone before my pick came up in the mid-to-late second round. Boy did I get lucky. Don't get me wrong, Smith is still having a fine fantasy season with 15.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks per game, but those numbers are well below our expectations for the season, as his game has regressed in nearly every relevant fantasy category -- particularly from the free throw line, where he's hitting just 55 percent of his attempts on the year. What's worse is that he's struggling more and more as the season progresses. Last month he averaged just 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.8 blocks and so far this month (four games) he's averaging 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. Again, those are decent numbers for your regular run-of-the-mill fantasy player, but they're certainly not late-first-round, early-second-round material, if you ask me.

FRIDAY, MARCH 6
HIGHLIGHTS
Dwyane Wade, Heat: 42 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 3-pointers while adding a steal and a block on 17-for-23 shooting from the floor.
Steve Nash, Suns: 32 points, 5 rebounds, 13 assists, 4 3-pointers and a steal on 14-for-27 shooting from the floor in a 114-112 loss to the Rockets.
Deron Williams, Jazz: 25 points, 4 rebounds, 11 assists and 2 blocks in a 97-91 victory over the Nuggets.
LOWLIGHTS
Jose Calderon, Raptors: 3 points and 6 assists on 1-of-6 shooting from the floor in a loss to the Heat.
Tim Duncan, Spurs: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers in just 18 minutes in a blowout victory over the Wizards.
Nene, Nuggets: 10 points, 4 rebounds and a steal on just 2-for-7 shooting from the floor in 38 minutes.

The frustrations over his poor play must have come to a head last night, as Smith and head coach Mike Woodson apparently got into a heated argument at halftime (which reportedly could be heard in the hallway outside the locker room) that resulted in Smith's taking a seat on the bench for the entire second half. Smith finished the contest with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 21 minutes of play and the Hawks lost to the Bobcats, making this their seventh loss in the past 10 games.

I cannot pretend to tell you how this will affect his play going forward. It could either motivate him (think Carmelo Anthony's big night after the suspension), or it could send his season into a deeper tailspin. It's not a good sign that both Smith and Woodson refused to speak to the media after the game, and one has to wonder if he'll receive further discipline as a result of the argument. I don't know about you, but this situation would make me very nervous if I were relying on Smith to carry my team the rest of the way.

Under the Boards

Chris Bosh owners can thank Shaquille O'Neal for keeping their star player motivated for the rest of the season. Since Shaq's "RuPaul" comment, Bosh has gone out and dominated with an average of 29.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over his past three games. Bosh scored 34 against the Heat on Friday night and will probably be looking to prove Shaq wrong the rest of the way. … Don't get too concerned about Brook Lopez's poor scoring effort Friday. Lopez finished with just eight points and six rebounds in 24 minutes -- he got into early foul trouble going up against Dwight Howard. That will happen to the best of them, but Lopez's owners have to be happy that he was still able to create two steals and block three shots in the loss. … Rajon Rondo gave us a scare when he left briefly with an ankle injury, but he returned to the court to score six points while handing out 10 assists and two steals in 30 minutes. … The Warriors were missing Stephen Jackson (hamstring), Corey Maggette (ankle), Kelenna Azubuike (back) and Andris Biedrins (personal) on Friday, which explains why you'll see a bunch of minutes from Marco Belinelli, Anthony Randolph, Rob Kurz, Jermareo Davidson and Anthony Morrow in last night's box score. Don Nelson is too fickle with his lineup to rely on any of these players despite the fact that he's trying to give his younger guys more time on the court. The only one that excites me among that group is Randolph, but I'm still not rushing out to the wire to pick him up anytime soon. … The Pistons have found their groove since Allen Iverson went down with a back injury, and Rodney Stuckey is a big reason why. Stuckey went for 14 points, eight assists and three steals Friday night and has finally put his slump behind him. I'm thinking that he's safe to rely on the rest of the way, but there's still a risk that he could be negatively affected upon AI's return. … Aaron Brooks shook off a few poor outings to score 30 points with three assists and four 3-pointers in a 114-112 victory over the Suns. Brooks will be inconsistent, but he's still a fine addition for anyone looking for point guard stats this late in the season. … Matt Barnes got another start for the Suns and responded with 17 points, nine rebounds, four 3-pointers and a steal in the loss to the Rockets. Now that he's in the starting lineup, Barnes is a must-add for anyone in need of 3-point shooting. … As he's been known to do when Luke Ridnour is injured, Ramon Sessions went off for 20 points and 11 assists after Ridnour left Friday's contest early with a shoulder injury. Sessions always lights it up when Ridnour is out, but he is mediocre when Ridnour is able to stay on the court. Keep that in mind before getting too excited about Friday's line. … It's nice to see Joakim Noah continue to rebound and block some shots despite the arrival of Brad Miller. Noah grabbed 13 boards and blocked a shot in 25 minutes against the Bucks on Friday and is a solid addition for fantasy owners looking to bolster their front line for the stretch run. … Randy Foye missed Friday's tilt with the Lakers with a hip pointer, but Mike Miller could not get anything done in his absence. Miller went just 0-for-4 from the floor and finished with zero points in 32 minutes. Thankfully, he was able to salvage some fantasy value by grabbing five rebounds and handing out nine assists. … Sebastian Telfair returned to the court for the Wolves and had 18 points in 28 minutes of action. Go ahead and scoop him up if he was dropped in your league, as Bassy was averaging a solid 11.8 points, 5.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 3-pointers before the injury.