Terrence Jones, PF Houston Rockets
The timing of Terrence Jones’ absence (leg) looked like it would kill the Houston Rockets at power forward, but after signing Josh Smith and thanks to the emergence of Donatas Motiejunas, Jones returned to the team as a luxury rather than a necessity. However, Jones seems to have a knack for this timing thing, because his return to the fold comes just as the team announced that it will be without Dwight Howard (knee) for at least the next month.
Jones has not been an impressive since returning. Averaging just six points, three rebounds and 1.75 blocks over his last four, TJ hasn’t seen more than 21 minutes in any of those contests. And coming off a game where he saw just 14.5 minutes while registering just four points and a steal, one might wonder just how much appeal he holds.
Three words: Don’t be impatient.
Remember, Jones’ absence was due to a nerve-related issue. He mentioned he couldn’t even feel his leg when the issue first popped up—that’s not something worth just glossing over. Jones is going to be worked back into the mix at a gradual pace and not just thrown into the fire. That being said, the Rockets are going to need Jones to serve a real role—and soon. With just an unproven Joey Dorsey and rawer-than-raw Clint Capela behind Howard at center, Jones is going to have to help serve as the third man in three-man weave of a rotation behind himself, Motiejunas and Smith.
I’d rather be early on a player and sit through a few stinkers than be late and miss the boat entirely. This isn’t some scrub. Jones was viewed as legitimate asset before the season began, and health withstanding), there’s nothing to suggest he won’t be able to produce in this new role—in fact, there’s lots of evidence to the contrary.
Jones only averaged 29 minutes per game as a starter earlier this year, and he still managed to average 14 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.0 steals and 0.8 triples over that stretch. That’s a reminder of this: He good.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Detroit Pistons
Don’t let the Achilles issue scare you out of missing out on a KCP pickup. A clear beneficiary of the Stan Van Gundy era, SVG has made it a point to emphasize his similarly-nicknamed sophomore shooting guard both in the media and on the floor. And while KCP has had the good game here and there, the consistency fantasy owners would like to see simply hasn’t been there.There’s good reason to believe that’s about to change.
It’s more than likely that he’ll still flash some inconsistency from time-to-time, but KCP is clearly being encouraged to be aggressive on the offensive end, especially when it comes to shooting the ball. With a firm footing in place on the starter’s job, an ability to defend and the backing of his head coach (who doubles as the team’s decision-maker), Caldwell-Pope’s stock is firmly pointing up.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF Dallas Mavericks
Al-Farouq Aminu is one of those players who often elicits the same reaction no matter who is watching: “Why isn’t this guy better than he is?” While Aminu still hasn’t lived up to his original draft status when he was selected eighth overall in 2010 (Los Angeles Clippers), he is now starting to find a nice home inside Rick Carlisle’s rotation for the Mavericks.
Entering Thursday’s contest against the Sacramento Kings, Aminu had seen 20-plus minutes in five straight contests after playing more than 20 minutes just once since the calendar turned to 2015. When engaged, Aminu can be an effective role player for a very good team, and it’s clear he’s proving his worth to Carlisle and co. of late. Over those five games referenced, the versatile forward is averaging 9.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 1.8 blocks.
While it’s not an earth-shattering offensive contribution, the defensive stats are what make Aminu so valuable in both fantasy and reality. In this case, Aminu’s blocks were influenced by a six-block bonanza, but the steals are a proven, sustainable stat for the former Clipper.
He’s not likely to be a prime-time target for most owners considering he’s not going to ever find himself in the headlines (especially on that team), but for the savvy owner looking to add another versatile contributor to the squad at the expense of dead weight at the back end of the roster, bringing Aminu on board makes all the sense in the world.