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Friday's seven-game schedule was headlined by Philadelphia's MVP candidate, who was dominant for two-plus quarters before suffering a potentially serious left knee injury. Joel Embiid will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and to say that the results will have a major impact on the season moving forward would be an understatement. That's where this edition of the Daily Dose will begin.
76ers 127, Wizards 101
Nuggets 103, Grizzlies 102
Pelicans 116, Cavaliers 82
Heat 101, Bulls 90
Spurs 104, Magic 77
Jazz 114, Rockets 99
Lakers 105, Pacers 100
Embiid returns, but suffers left knee injury: While teammate Ben Simmons remains sidelined due to the league’s health and safety protocols, 76ers center Joel Embiid made his return to the lineup Friday night after being held out of Thursday’s game for the same reason. The MVP candidate was playing to that level during the first two-plus quarters of Philadelphia’s blowout of the Wizards, accounting for 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 20 minutes. But Embiid’s night came to an abrupt end during the third quarter, as he landed awkwardly and hyperextended his left knee on a dunk.
He is expected to undergo an MRI on Saturday, and an entire franchise (along with fans and those who have Embiid rostered) are hoping for the best. Dwight Howard (six points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one block) and Tony Bradley (six points, three rebounds and one assist) were left to pick up the slack in the post, with the former playing 18 minutes and the latter nine. On most occasions this season it has been Howard who has started when Embiid is out, but it was Bradley who received the call Thursday night. Howard remains the better option of the two due to his production as a rebounder, but it’s worth noting that Bradley finished Thursday’s win with a team-best three blocked shots.
Matisse Thybulle made another start with Simmons out, posting a line of eight points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block in 22 minutes. At best he’s a deep league option for managers in need of defensive production, and that’s with Simmons sidelined. Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz scored 18 points apiece, and I think we’re getting back to the point where the former can be an effective option in deep leagues. Rostered in 24% of Yahoo leagues, Milton is providing 9th-round value in 8-cat, and10th-round value in 9-cat, over the last two weeks.
Washington was also forced to deal with some injuries during the games, as a tight right calf limited Davis Bertans to 10 minutes, and Bradley Beal played 29 minutes with a sore knee. Beal likely could have played more, but with the Wizards on the wrong end of a blowout through the first three quarters he didn’t play at all during the fourth.
Rockets boast a depleted roster in Utah: It’s likely safe to assume that first-year Rockets head coach Stephen Silas did not expect to be left with a roster like the one he had for Friday’s game against the Jazz when he accepted the job. John Wall (knee), Danuel House (knee), Victor Oladipo (rest), Eric Gordon (groin) and P.J. Tucker (not with the team) sat, and in the case of Gordon he’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks. By that point, Houston could be so far out of the playoff picture that the team decides that it’s best to go all-in with the youngsters.
As a result the Rockets began the game with a quintet that fans likely expected to see with the team’s G-League affiliate as opposed to in an NBA game.
Kevin Porter Jr. manned the point, with Ben McLemore, Sterling Brown (15/3/1/1 with three 3-pointers in 37 minutes), Jae’Sean Tate and Justin Patton (13/5/1/3/1 with one 3-pointer in 28 minutes) rounding out the first unit. Things have gotten so bad for the Rockets that David Nwaba, who was advised to undergo surgery to address a sprained right wrist, volunteered to return early. Nwaba played 18 minutes off the bench, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Managers who didn’t take our advice and pick up Porter Jr. after Thursday’s loss to the Kings had better hope that he’s still available, because the man is out to flourish for the the shorthanded (and struggling) Rockets.
His line in Friday’s loss: 27 points, three rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two blocks, one 3-pointer and three turnovers in 38 minutes. Rostered in 28% of Yahoo leagues after Thursday’s action, the percentage for Porter Jr. has shot up to 50%. Another young Rocket worth grabbing off of the waiver wire is KJ Martin Jr., who in 29 minutes off the bench accumulated 15 points, 10 rebounds, one assists, three steals and one blocked shot. He’s rostered in just 10% of Yahoo leagues, so there’s time for managers to get out ahead of the coming rush.
Lakers provide a Davis update, play without Gasol: Marc Gasol missed another game due to health and safety protocols, and his absence meant another start for Damian Jones. Recently signed to a second 10-day contract, Jones played 16 minutes in Friday’s win over the Pacers and finished with seven points and one rebound. Even if he continues to start, there’s no reason to even consider streaming Jones in deep leagues, much less those of the standard variety.
Markieff Morris, who made another start for the injured Anthony Davis (Achilles), posted a line of eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes. Basically, if you’re unable to get your hands on either Montrezl Harrell (17/6/1/1/3) or Kyle Kuzma (24/13/1/1 with three 3-pointers), there’s no need to consider any of the Lakers’ other fill-in frontcourt players. Prior to Friday’s game it was announced that Davis will be re-evaluated in two weeks time. Don’t expect any more updates before then, and even if cleared at that point the Lakers won’t rush Davis back into action.
Unfortunately there was another injury for the Lakers to deal with in this one, as Alex Caruso suffered a head contusion and did not return. A prolonged absence for him would mean additional minutes for fellow reserve guards Wesley Matthews and Talen Horton-Tucker, and while the latter does provide some upside the consistency simply isn’t there.
Love, Nance Jr. return for Cavaliers: Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. were back in the starting lineup after missing extended periods of time due to injury, with the former playing just 10 minutes in Cleveland’s blowout loss to the Pelicans. Nance Jr. was closer to his usual workload, playing 28 minutes and accumulating 11 points, four rebounds, one assist, one block and two 3-pointers. He’s clearly the more valuable of the two when it comes to fantasy basketball, as Love is on a stricter minutes limit.
What will be worth tracking is the impact that the returns of Love and Nance Jr. will have on Jarrett Allen. He was 2-of-6 from the field Friday, scoring five points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks in 33 minutes. Even if Allen’s scoring opportunities decrease, he should be fine as far as fantasy is concerned due to the work he does as a rebounder and defender. Quinn Cook had a good Cavs debut, putting up a 13/4/2/1 line with three 3-pointers in 17 minutes off the bench.
A noteworthy development for New Orleans was the absence of J.J. Redick, who was held out due to a sore right heel. This meant rotation minutes for Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who in 23 minutes off the bench chipped in with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer. Jaxson Hayes (13/6/1/1 block) also had a good night off the bench, adequately supplementing the efforts of starters Brandon Ingram (28/7/4/1 block with three 3-pointers), Zion Williamson (23/6/1 block in 18 minutes) and Steven Adams (10/17/2).
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LeVert set to make Pacers debut Saturday: Indiana is set to get a little deeper on the wing as soon as Saturday’s game in Phoenix, as Caris LeVert (kidney) is expected to make his debut for the team. Given the amount of time that he’s missed, fantasy managers shouldn’t expect too much too soon from LeVert when it comes to playing time. But eventually, his presence will mean fewer minutes for Edmond Sumner. Sumner, who had more turnovers (three) than points (two) in Friday’s loss, wasn’t worth rostering when the Pacers were at less than full strength. Aaron Holiday (10 points, one rebound and two steals in 15 minutes) would also be worth tracking, as LeVert can be a capable playmaker. That could be bad news for Holiday, whose fantasy value is already low.
Malcolm Brogdon (29/7/6/1 with four 3-pointers and five turnovers) and Domantas Sabonis (20/14/8/1 block) led the way offensively for the Pacers, while Myles Turner posted a full line (8/5/2/1/2) but shot just 1-of-5 from the field. Given the big men that the Lakers were without, it’s a bit surprising that Turner only attempted five shots even with his sharing the court with Brogdon and Sabonis.
Millsap returns, comes off the bench: Sidelined since February 16 due to a knee injury, Nuggets forward Paul Millsap returned to action for Friday’s one-point win in Memphis. Millsap came off the bench in this one, playing 22 minutes and tallying 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one 3-pointer. Rostered in just 33% of Yahoo leagues, Millsap can be a solid fill-in on the back end of standard rosters.
Michael Malone chose to leave his starting lineup as is, with Michael Porter Jr. (21 points, nine rebounds, one block and two 3-pointer) and Will Barton (21 points, one rebound, four assists, three steals and five 3-pointers) both putting forth solid performances. Porter Jr. has been the more valuable of the two by a significant margin when it comes to fantasy basketball, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
However things may be turning around for Barton, who got off to a very slow start this season. Over the last two weeks, he’s providing 6th-round value in 9-cat formats. While Denver only played five games during this stretch due to the All-Star break, the progress that Barton has managed to make should not be overlooked. Nikola Jokic (28/15/7/2 with one 3-pointer) did more of the usual, and the frontcourt more than helped cover for starting guards Monte Morris and Jamal Murray. They combined to score nine points on 3-of-22 shooting (Murray was 1-of-14). At least Murray and Morris managed to compile five assists and two steals apiece.
Dragic takes over in the 4th, torches Bulls: Miami was once again without Bam Adebayo, which meant another start for KZ Okpala with Kelly Olynyk serving as the starting center. Okpala didn’t offer much in the way of production (4/5/1/1 block in 25 minutes), and even though Olynyk didn’t shoot the ball well he did put up a full stat line. Shooting 4-of-11 from the field, he finished with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Interestingly, Chris Silva (four points, three rebounds and two blocks) passed Precious Achiuwa (two points, one rebound) in the rotation, playing 12 minutes to the rookie’s three. There’s no reason to have either rostered, regardless of league format, even if Adebayo continues to sit due to the tendinitis in his left knee.
The stars for the Heat in this one were Jimmy Butler (28/3/8/4/1 in 33 minutes) and Goran Dragic, with the latter scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter. Dragic, who hit three 3-pointers in the final stanza, finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers. With Adebayo out, Dragic stands to have even more opportunities to serve as a playmaker. But that won’t send him shooting up fantasy boards, because of the lack of defensive production. He didn’t record a steal or a block Friday night, and for the season Dragic is averaging 0.6 steals per game.
Bulls’ Williams (knee), Temple (ankle) injured: With Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter both returning to action Thursday night, Chicago’s rotation was as close to full as it had been in quite some time. Of course it took just one night for more issues to pop up, as both Patrick Williams (knee) and Garrett Temple (ankle) were injured during Friday’s loss to the Heat. The positive is that Williams was able to return to the game, and in 21 minutes he was responsible for three points, two rebounds, one steal and one 3-pointer. Despite being a starter, the rookie forward hasn’t offered a great deal fantasy-wise this season. I still like him as a dynasty league pickup, but single-season fantasy managers should leave Williams alone.
As for Temple, he was unable to return from the ankle injury that he suffered during the second half and will undergo an MRI on Saturday. Temple, considered to be doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Raptors, played 21 minutes and finished with five points, one rebound and one 3-pointer. There’s little reason to roster him, especially with Denzel Valentine (5/7/1/1 with one 3-pointer in 17 minutes) being the more productive reserve guard.
The biggest concern for the Bulls has to be the continued struggles of Wendell Carter Jr. He played 22 minutes, shooting 1-of-5 from the field and finishing with four points, nine rebounds and three assists. While his averages for the season are solid, Carter Jr. has scored a total of 29 points in Chicago’s last five games. If you’re looking for a positive it’s that he hasn’t let the scoring struggles negatively impact his work on the glass, corralling 33 rebounds over the course of the last three games. Carter Jr. was visibly frustrated during his postgame press conference, and recently Thaddeus Young (13/10/3/1/1 in 26 minutes) has been Billy Donovan’s choice to close games.
Shorthanded Magic routed by Spurs: The only team hit harder by roster issues than the Rockets is Orlando, which had a staggering nine players listed as out for Friday’s game against the Spurs. Eight of the players listed are sidelined due to injury while the ninth, Karim Mane, still hasn’t been recalled from the team’s G-League affiliate (which won the title earlier this week). As one would expect Orlando was blown out Friday night, even with the Spurs playing without DeMar DeRozan (personal reasons). Nikola Vucevic (26/9/3 with two 3-pointers) shot 12-of-18 from the field, while the only other double-digit scorer (Dwayne Bacon) went 5-of-16 from the field and finished with 15 points, two rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers.
Mo Bamba (4/7/1/3 blocks) played 19 minutes and Chuma Okeke (4/3/2/1/1 with one 3-pointers) played 27, and one would think that those two will be given even more opportunities to prove themselves if Orlando is unable to make a move into playoff contention. Orlando is “only” four games out of the 10th spot in the East, but that appears to be a very steep climb given how limited the team’s current rotation is.
Flipping over to the Spurs, with DeRozan sidelined Trey Lyles was called on to start alongside Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson in the frontcourt. Lyles played just 12 minutes however, scoring one point while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out one assist. Fantasy managers looking to account for DeRozan’s absence would be better served to go with Rudy Gay, who scored 19 points and hit three 3-pointers in 20 minutes off the bench. Dejounte Murray (17/6/6/2) and Derrick White (17/1/2 with two 3-pointers) scored 17 apiece, and I think the latter will improve his standing in fantasy leagues moving forward so long as he can remain on the floor.
Thunder, Pistons swap role players: We had ourselves a trade Friday night, as the Pistons sent Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for Hamidou Diallo. Diallo will see a familiar face in Detroit, as former Thunder exec Troy Weaver is the team’s general manager. While Diallo may not be the perimeter shooter that Svi is, he’s plenty athletic and could be a good fit in Detroit as a slasher and perimeter defender. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons see Diallo as a “core future player” and will work to sign him during the offseason.
Mykhailiuk’s shooting ability may prove valuable to the Thunder, given the team’s lack of consistent perimeter shooters who can play off of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Both players will be restricted free agents this summer, so their respective teams will have the ability to match any offer made.