by Ray Kuhn
As we reached the mid-point of the week, there was plenty of NBA action to enjoy. There was confusion as to Portland was listing as inactive and the Knicks have already eclipsed their win total from last season, among other things. Let’s jump right into some of the performances that stood out.
1) Kyrie Irving is Back
Yes, I know, Irving actually returned to the court a few weeks ago. But after playing a season high of 34 minutes last night, but more importantly dominating the fourth quarter, it is safe to say that Irving should no longer be looked at as a rehabbing player. We are now at the point in the season with Irving where we no longer have to be concerned about minutes limits and restrictions. Irving scored 32 points in 34 minutes last night while shooting 14 of 22 from the field with 18 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. He also added five rebounds and just three assists, but the takeaway here is the confidence he showed as an offensive threat. On the season, the point guard is averaging just 15 points and 4.2 assists per game, but both of those totals are on the rise.
2) Chris Paul Has an All Around Game
Earlier this season, Paul could have been considered a disappointment. The production was solid, but he really wasn’t doing too much to jump off the stat sheet; especially considering where he was drafted. Last night though, Paul did just that as he scored 21 points but more impressively handed out 19 assists. Paul is still a little bit behind the pace he has established over the past few seasons, 17.6 points and 9.2 assists per game are nothing to sneeze at either.
3) Can Mario Chalmers be a Fantasy Asset?
The problem with me asking this question, is that it is reactionary. In reality, for the rest of the season, we will likely be chasing Chalmers’ best performance, which came last night. With Mike Conley sidelined by an Achilles injury, Courtney Lee got the first crack at replacing him. However, that didn’t last long as he had to leave with a hip issue paving the way for Chalmers. The guard then put up 23 points while adding eight rebounds and nine assists. Prior to this season, Chalmers played close to 30 minutes a game in a complementary role for the Heat, and just barely eclipsed 10 points per game once. So far this season, he is averaging 9.2 points per game with Memphis, and I would not consider him a scoring threat. If Conley and Lee have to miss any more substantial time, then Chalmers is worth a look, but that’s about it unless you are in a deep league or need a true value play.
4) Chandler Parsons Does Something
To call this season a disappointment for Parsons might even be an understatement at this point. Granted he was limited by injury to start the season, has had to acclimate to a new team, and was previously dealing with a hip injury, but it has been a good start to his career in Dallas. Last night, the Mavericks had four rotation players on the bench, so by default Parsons had to step up, and he did with a season high of 21 points. After watching him not only struggle to score but to be efficient from the field, it was also a good thing to see him shoot 9 of 16 on Wednesday. After averaging 15.7 points per game last season, Parsons still has a long way to go as he is at just 8.9 currently, but there is upside.
5) Jonas Valanciunas is Also Back
Not only did Valanciunas miss over a month with injury, but it has taken some time for him to round back into form. The big center was out due to a broken hand, and last night was the first time he eclipsed the 30 minute mark since his return. Valanciunas looks fully healthy and like he has his legs under him as he had a nice double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds. For the season, Valanciunas is close to a double-double with 11.7 points and 9.1 rebounds a game, but I would expect to see both of those numbers be on the rise now that there are no more limits on his playing time.