Happy Friday everybody and what a great one it is shaping up to be! Twelve games are on the books for this evening. That, my friends, is a lot of basketball for one night and it means even more opportunity to tinker with your daily lineups. Now, I had a hard time looking at the match ups and deciding on only three players to sit and start. Being from from New Orleans, we have a saying around here for giving a little something extra: lagniappe (pronounced Lan-yap). So sticking to my roots, I decided to add an extra player to start and sit for tonight’s games.
That’s right Hoop Heads, I will give you four players that I consider worth starting and four I believe you should stray away from tonight. A little something extra never hurt anyone, right? So with that being said, here are my picks for tonight.
Players I Love
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Nikola Vucevic vs Celtics – As surprising as the Magic’s start has been this season, it is no coincidence that it is partially because of Vucevic’s play. He has been on fire lately and seems to be getting better with every game. Against the Clippers on Wednesday, he might have had the quietest 30/20 in recent memory. I can’t remember the last time a player put up those numbers and it was just a blip on the radar. Tonight Vucevic plays against one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has another game like Wednesday night.
Gordon Hayward vs Bulls – If you don’t think that Hayward will be a top fifty player by the end of the year, then you haven’t been watching the Jazz. This kid can do everything you want in a player. He has been great at creating his own shot and hustles to get rebounds every time he is on the court. I love to watch him play and think he needs a big night if the Jazz want to get their first win of the season. The Bulls aren’t an easy matchup, but I think Hayward is a must play for tonight.
Damian Lillard vs Kings – Coming into this season, a lot was expected of Lillard after his stellar rookie year. Many people wondered if he could carry the load or was he going to have a sophomore slump. Well, I think it’s safe to say that Lillard is the real deal. He is a scoring machine that is handling the ball well and making smart basketball decisions. On top of that, he is rebounding better this year. I don’t mean to pick on Greivis Vasquez, but he is the definition of a turn-style defender. Expect another big night for Lillard.
Evan Turner vs Cavs – At the beginning of the season, Vegas had the Sixers at 16.5 wins for the season. From the looks of it, they will surpass that with ease. Turner has been cast in the shadow of Michael Carter-Williams and has quietly been their top offensive threat. He has played lights out so far; averaging over twenty points with a handful of rebounds and assists to go with it. Also, the Sixers are thin on bodies at the moment so Turner will continue to play big minutes. The Cavs are a stout defensive team but Turner should be the difference maker tonight.
Jonas Valanciunas vs Pacers – If you follow our fellow writer Ricky (@RSandersFR), then you know how high he is on Jonas. While I am also high on JV, I’m even more of a believer in the Pacers and their defense. Through five games this season, the opposing centers have averaged eight points and less than eight rebounds a game. Not to mention, Roy Hibbert has more blocks (26) by himself than 19 other teams. JV is going to have a tough time in the paint to in a very physical game.
Andrea Bargnani vs Bobcats – With the loss of Tyson Chandler, people expect Bargnani to step up and fill that void down low for the Knicks. I am not so convinced he can do it. He has yet to find his groove this season and still only managed six points and two rebounds after Chandler when down. Bargnani will need to get involved more in the offense in order for him to show he can be counted on. Until then, let him prove himself before starting him.
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Andre Iguodala vs Spurs – Iggy has been very hot or cold so far this season. Some games he looks like the Iguodala of seasons past; while other times he has shown he’s losing a step in his game. He still has the ability to put up big points but hasn’t produced much more offensively in other areas. Combine his streaky numbers with the fact that Golden State hasn’t won a game in San Antonio in seventeen years; their seems to be better value in other forwards for your lineup.
Brandon Jennings vs Thunder – Jennings hasn’t quite looked like his old self since coming back from injury. He’s not making the jump shots he has in the past and seems to still be adjusting to his new team as well. Tonight, he will have to create his own shots against a long defender in Russell Westbrook, who has been a solid defender so far this season. With Jennings under-producing, I would sit and wait before starting him, especially against a top team like the Thunder.