Carlos Santana expecting to play third base for the Indians in 2014.
If this is truly the case, then any thoughts of Lonnie Chisenhall being a sleeper pick in this year's Fantasy Drafts has gone out the window. ANALYST: Michael Pichan
Update: David Hernandez will enter spring training as the favorite for closing duties.
After trading away Ken Giles, the Phillies left themselves without much in the way of closer options. Hernandez has experience as a ninth-inning fill in from his days in Arizona and both Edward Mujica and Ernesto Frieri will join the team in spring training this year. There are likely a handful of less-experienced option who may emerge this spring, but Hernandez seems to be the current leader of the pack. Expect the team to let a competition brew with a final decision to be made closer to the start of the regular season. Analysis: Howard Bender
Enes Kanter scored 11 points (3-6 FGA, 5-8 FTA) with 12 rebounds, one assist and one block over 27 minutes in Thursday’s win against the Pelicans.
It truly is shocking how often Kanter comes away with double-doubles when he simply gets playing time. Yes, he’s very, very bad on defense, but he’s an excellent offensive player who crashes the boards as well as anyone in the league…when he actually gets the chance. He has two double-doubles in three games and now has 13 total on the year. Look, it’s simple. You don’t give the guy $70 MIL to play just 20 minutes per game. He’s the Thunder’s best low-post threat and can stretch the floor and consistently knock down 18-to-20 foot jump shots. Kanter’s lack of time on the court, burns him in fantasy. It’s so hard to trust him when you never know how much playing time he’s going to get from one game to the next. Analysis: James Grande
Serge Ibaka scored 18 points (7-15 FGA, 3-3 FTA) with seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks over 30 minutes in Thursday’s win against the Pelicans.
Always overshadowed by Durant and Westbrook, Ibaka had a very good game against the Pelicans heading into the all-star break. He had been limping into the break, posting three straight scoring efforts of less than 10 points. The Thunder have always done a good job getting Serge involved in games early, but the end of the game is normally Durant and Westbrook time, so his point totals don’t really change much after half-time. He isn’t the most reliable fantasy player this year either as his scoring and rebounding are the lowest they’ve been since the 2012-’13 season. His name, more than anything, is keeping him relevant in fantasy. It’s only a matter of time before Enes Kanter surpasses him as the Thunder’s best front-court fantasy option. That is if Kanter can ever get some burn! Analysis: James Grande
Kevin Durant scored 23 points (10-17 FGA) with six assists, three rebounds and one steal over 30 minutes in Thursday’s win against the Pelicans.
The credentialed Super-Bowl photographer that plays basketball on occasion had a solid game Thursday. It was a very emotional day for the Thunder with the passing of assistant coach Monte Williams’ wife, and Durant was very vocal and visibly sad before the game. He, along with the entire Thunder team, played a virtually flawless game in honor of Williams. Durant who did score 23, is normally a few ticks north of that. He didn’t get to the free-throw line for the first time all year and that could have something to do with it. Durant is headed into the all-star break playing at an MVP caliber level. He’s averaged 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game in February. His shooting splits over that span are awesome, per usual, at 51-percent from the floor, 43-percent from three and 94-percent at the foul line. It’s getting to be the home stretch in a lot of fantasy leagues, and Durant will take you to the promise land. Just hop on his back. Analysis: James Grande
Russell Westbrook scored 23 points (8-14 FGA, 5-6 FTA) with 10 assists and nine rebounds over 28 minutes in Thursday’s win against the Pelicans.
One rebound away from another triple-double….yawn. It’s becoming comical how often Westbrook has a box score like he did on Thursday. He’s averaging 7.6 rebounds per game on the season and we shouldn’t put it past him that he comes out for the second half of the season a man on the mission -- attempting to be the modern day Oscar Robertson and average a triple-double for the entire season. His last 10 games stretch is what we we’ve virtually come to expect. He’s averaging 23.6 points, 11.3 assists and 9.6 rebounds over that span. Video game numbers. Numbers that nobody else in the league puts up. Westbrook is arguably the most valuable fantasy player in the game. He stuffs every category and at the same time is scoring 20-plus points per contest. Analysis: James Grande
Khris Middleton scored 27 points (9-of-17 FGA, 1-of-3 3PA, 8-of-9 FTA), grabbed six rebounds, recorded nine assists, and five steals on Thursday night against the Wizards.
Middleton led all scorers on Thursday night with 27, while he also proved to be the best player on the floor in terms of statistical diversity, as he recorded six rebounds, five steals, and nine assists against the Wizards. While headed into the season, Middleton was expected to do most of his damage from the three-point line, he has instead developed into a consistent, reliable scorer in a more traditional fashion. This doesn’t take away from his legitimacy as a fantasy starter, however fantasy owners should curb their enthusiasm when considering Middleton as a top-notch 3-and-D project. Analysis: Dom Murtha