Hope y’all had the best holiday season of your lives. Christmas Day sure was a blast, what with Knicks-Celtics and Bulls-Lakers giving us a pair of thrillers to unwrap. The stars came to play and the fantasy world got some key answers in the first of 66. Let’s relive Christmas day, game by game …
Kobe, D-Rose deliver
There was never a doubt that 2008 MVP Kobe Bryant would play through a torn ligament in his right wrist and there was never a doubt that 2011 MVP Derrick Rose would come through in the end.
Rose’s game-winning running hook shot reminded me of Magic Johnson’s junior sky hook in the 1987 Finals against Boston. Rose shooting four-of-six from deep should have his owners counting on at least two 3-pointers per game this season. Kobe’s eight turnovers were bad news in reality (as well as annoying fantasy leagues that include turnovers), but fantasy owners were just fine with 28-7-6 and two steals.
LeBron better than KD? In fantasy, you bet
Do you think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had a score to settle on Christmas? James and Wade were so locked in, they might have beaten the Mavs two-on-five. LeBron went off for 37-10-6-2-2, while Wade calmly racked up 26-8-6-1-1. The fantasy owners who took LeBron over Kevin Durant are feeling mighty smart right about now.
The Heat didn’t stay on the court to observe the Mavericks raising their championship banner…probably because they have plans of their own. (By the way, I’ve got Heat over Thunder in an s-less Final).
Chris Bosh, like Chicago’s Rip Hamilton, had a tough defensive assignment and spent Christmas in foul trouble. No worries for either Bosh or Rip, as I still anticipate bounce back seasons from both.
Bass a gem in waiting
It’s not every day that players from two different teams benefit from one injury, but that’s what happened to Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony on Christmas.
With Paul Pierce resting his heel injury, Rondo got all the shots he wanted, making 11 of 19 for 31 points, to go with 13 assists, five steals and five rebounds. Rondo even made 9-of-12 free throws. Don’t hold your breath, but Rondo finally appears to be turning the corner with his shot.
‘Melo was free from Pierce’s underrated defense, making 10 of 17 shots for 37 points. If ‘Melo keeps hitting threes like this (4-for-7), then he will vault into the top 10 on the 8-cat charts.
I was worried that Amar’e Stoudemire would block fewer shots with Tyson Chandler manning the middle, but so far so good after Stoudemire got two swats on Christmas.
Brandon Bass exploded for 20 and 11 in 27 minutes, keeping the Celtics in the game in the first half. With Jeff Green out for the season and Jermaine O’Neal unlikely to play long minutes at center, Bass is going to hover around 30 minutes all season. His lack of shot blocking is a buzzkill, but don’t let that keep you from picking him up NOW.
Fantasy steal of the year in Orlando?
In a game featuring superstars Durant, Russell Westbrook and Dwight Howard, how ironic that Ryan Anderson stole the fantasy show on the strength of 25 and 10 with six 3-pointers? KD was KD, Russ was Russ, and Dwight was Dwight, but Anderson was the fantasy pickup of the day — and perhaps the fantasy pickup of the year.
When your power forward is hitting two-plus 3-pointers per game, it’s a game changer in head-to-head fantasy leagues. Glen Davis backs up the 4 and 5 right now, so Anderson will have no problem seeing 28-32 minutes per night. And if Christmas Day was any indication, Anderson could challenge for the league lead in total threes.
No limp in Curry’s game
The best fantasy news of the day came from Stephen Curry, who overcame a re-re-re-re-injured right ankle to start against the Clippers in the Debut Bowl.
Chris Paul made his Clippers debut, taking over the game in the fourth quarter with a personal 6-0 run. He finished with 20 points, nine assists with two steals, which are basically his career averages.
Chauncey Billups made his Clippers debut, posting a two-guard-esque line of 21-5-4 with three 3-pointers. The really good news was 19 shot attempts … and the fact that it didn’t feel abnormally high in L.A.’s offense.
Caron Butler made his Clippers debut with a double-double (11-10). Tough Juice had three steals and a 3-pointer, rounding out a solid total line. He’s a borderline fantasy starter in normal-sized leagues.
Coach Mark Jackson made his coaching debut with a loss, as he watched his backcourt of Curry and Monta Ellis combine to shoot 8-of-31. Call it an off night for the best fantasy backcourt. Despite Jackson’s pleas for more D, the Warriors are still the run-and-gun squad we know and love.
Klay Thompson made his Warriors debut and gave himself a chance, taking 8 shots in 19 minutes. He missed six of those shots, but remained confident, if not trigger happy.
Those debuts were nice, but Curry’s return was nicer. I thought my man would need a week or two to rest his surgically repaired ankle, but the Warriors’ point guard played the warrior card on the Clippers. Curry’s shot was off (2-of-12), but it might have been more due to lockout rust than his ankle, as he seemed to be running and cutting without limitation.
Merry Christmas to all … and to all a good night …