Dame Different; Ceiling Missin'

Jared Johnson

Different on Levels the Lord Allows


In a night loaded with monster stat lines, Damian Lillard led the pack with a career-high 60 points on 19-of-33 shooting (15-of-15 from the line) to go with seven trey-bombs, four rebounds, five assists and just two turnovers across 40 minutes in a heartbreaking 119-115 loss to the Nets. Dame D.O.L.L.A. has always been a special player, but he’s elevated his game to a whole new level this season, and he currently ranks No. 2 overall in fantasy hoops with averages of 33.3 points, 5.0 boards, 6.9 dimes, 4.1 treys, 1.3 steals and 2.6 turnovers per game on 49.5% shooting from the field and 90.8% from the stripe. He’s basically getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he’s been absolutely lethal during the fourth quarter with 10.4 points on 50.8% shooting, which ranks No. 2 in the league only behind Kawhi Leonard (13.5 points on 56.3% shooting). He also ranks in the top-5 amongst guards in true shooting percentage at 63.9%, and I’m confident that his current production is sustainable. He’ll be on a lot of winning teams this season.



D’Lo Back


D’Angelo Russell (ankle, tanking) returned from a three-game absence on Friday and dropped in a career-high 52 points on 19-of-37 shooting (7-of-8 from the line) to go with seven triples, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks and three turnovers across 40 minutes in an overtime loss to the Timberwolves. This is the guy people thought they were getting when they drafted him in the fourth round, and there will be plenty more nights like this with Stephen Curry (hand) out another three months. However, we all saw how bad Russell was when he was in a much-reduced role running alongside No. 30, so I would recommend that D’Lo owners use the next month or so to explore his market. Curry will be back after the All-Star break, so Russell’s production could take a serious hit right as we get into the fantasy playoffs. Partner that with the fact that the Dubs are clearly already trending towards tanking, and Russell just looks like a guy you don’t want to have on your roster in March. The next three months will be very fun, though.

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Not Buyin’ It


Andrew Wiggins ruined D’Angelo Russell’s night with 40 points (17-of-33 FGs, 4-of-8 FTs), five rebounds, seven assists, two 3-pointers and three blocks through 45 minutes of action. The former No. 1 overall pick has gotten off to a hot start this season, which is something we saw last season, but he wound up finishing the year as nothing more than a late-round guy. I’m just not buying the hot start and would recommend selling high anywhere you own him. Getting back a top-50 player would be incredible.


Spicy P FTW


Pascal Siakam matched his career-high with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, four assists, five 3-pointers and four turnovers across 39 minutes in a blowout win over the Pelicans. He was also a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe in this one, giving him a sterling 62.8 TS% to go with his 30.7 usage rate, and this 44-point outburst was actually even more efficient than his previous one when he went 15-of-25 from the field and 10-of-12 from the stripe. Last year’s Most Improved Player has potentially again put himself in the running this year, as he’s currently pumping out top 15 value behind averages of 27.9 points, 9.3 boards, 3.6 assists, 2.4 triples, 0.8 steals, and 3.3 turnovers per game on 51.9% shooting from the field and 95% from the stripe.




Kristaps Porzingis had a nice bounce-back performance on Friday following Wednesday’s 10-point dud, netting 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting (2-of-3 from the line) to go with nine rebounds, four triples, five swats and one turnover in 36 minutes of play. He’s been a bit up-and-down this season, which is to be expected from a guy who hadn’t played professional basketball in nearly two years, but I think PorzinGod is going to be a monster down the stretch. His draft day ADP was deflated coming off a missed season and talk of him potentially missing 15-20 games for rest, but I honestly think the rest talk was a bit overblown. The story that hinted at the 15-20 game number came from a column written by Tim Cato of The Athletic back in October, but it’s extremely important to point out that the proceeding sentence in that column stated: “The better Porzingis does, the more likely the team is to remove physical limitations from him.” Given that the Mavs have opened the season 5-3 and look like a playoff team, I’d say it’s likely KP gets his restrictions lifted over the second half of the year.

That said, the Mavs have their first back-to-back of the season on Saturday in Memphis, and after he logged 36 minutes on Friday night, that’s a game I’d expect him to miss.


Potential Pickups


Norman Powell started the second half of Friday’s game with Kyle Lowry breaking his surgically-repaired thumb again, and finished with 18 points (6-of-10 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), four rebounds, two 3-pointers, one steal and one turnover in 29 minutes. He’s likely going to be starting and earning heavy minutes until Lowry gets back, so he’s worth a look in most leagues. Just know that consistency will likely be an issue.

Chris Boucher saw 14 minutes off the bench with Serge Ibaka (ankle) leaving the game early and finished with five points (1-of-6 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. He might be able to flirt with close to 20 minutes a night while Ibaka is out, which would be enough floor time for him to make some noise as a shot-blocking specialist. He’s worth grabbing in deep leagues.

Alec Burks had another solid outing in 32 minutes off the bench, scoring 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting (6-of-6 from the line) to go with nine rebounds, two 3-pointers, one assist, two blocks and three turnovers. The Warriors are absolutely desperate for offense, and Burks is capable of providing that, so he could have some value on this dumpster fire of a team. In his past three outings, Burks has come through with averages of 19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 swats and 2.3 turnovers per game on 47.5% shooting from the field and 88.2% from the stripe.  

Tony Snell drained another three triples on his way to 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers through 33 minutes as a starter. He’s been trending up over the past week with averages of 14.0 points and 3.5 triples per game on 50% shooting, so he’s worth a look in deep leagues if you need a 3-point booster.

Bruce Brown hit 5-of-13 shots on his way to 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two turnovers through 37 minutes as a starter. He’s going to continue to log heavy minutes with the other three PGs banged up, and has put in averages of 13.8 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and just 1.8 turnovers per game on 38.9% shooting over the past four-game, so he’s worth grabbing if you’ve got someone to cut.

Langston Galloway scored 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting (6-of-6 from the line) to go with three 3-pointers, three rebounds, three assists and one block in 31 minutes off the bench. He’s another guy who has benefited from the bevy of injuries to the Detroit point guards, and he should get enough minutes to make an impact until Derrick Rose (hamstring) gets back. In his past four games, he’s put in averages of 13.5 points, 2.0 triples, 2.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks per game without recording a single turnover.

Justin Holiday blocked a career-high four shots in 31 minutes off the bench to go with 16 points (4-of-7 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), six rebounds, two 3-pointers and one turnover. He’s inconsistent, but if Myles Turner (ankle) and Jeremy Lamb (ankle) are out again on Sunday, he’ll be someone to think about streaming in deep leagues.

Cedi Osman hit 5-of-9 shots on his way to 11 points, one 3-pointer, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers in 37 minutes. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he is flirting with late-round value on the season behind averages of 9.9 points, 2.1 treys, 3.1 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and just 1.0 turnover per game on 43.3% shooting, so he’s on the radar in deep leagues.

Kevin Huerter showed some signs of life with 17 points, four 3-pointers, three rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench. He had an extremely slow start to the year as he was eased into things after experiencing some pain in his right knee, but he’s officially no longer with a minutes limit and has scored in double figures in back-to-back games, so he’s someone to consider grabbing in deep leagues if you need some points and triples. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him eventually replace Cam Reddish in the first unit.

Josh Okogie went 5-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line on his way to 14 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 32 minutes off the bench. The scoring comes and goes, but he’s averaging 1.5 steals per game this season, which puts him on the radar as a potential steals-specialist in deep leagues.

Taj Gibson got the spot-start on Friday with Mitchell Robinson (concussion) unavailable and finished with 12 points (5-of-6 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 28 minutes. If Robinson can’t play on Sunday against the Cavs, and Gibson is able to earn another start, he’ll be someone to think about as a streamer.

Bobby Portis came through with a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double to go with one 3-pointer, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 24 minutes off the bench. He’s another guy who could be someone to consider streaming on Sunday if Robinson is out again.

Frank Ntilikina looked great in another start sans Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Dennis Smith Jr. (personal), scoring 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds, four assists, four steals, three swats and just one turnover in 38 minutes of floor time. Payton is unlikely to play on Sunday and DSJ will likely have a minutes limit if he’s cleared, so Frankie Smokes could be looking at another start and is someone to consider grabbing. In his four starts this season, Ntilikina has come through with averages of 9.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 triples, 2.3 steals, 1.8 blocks and just 1.0 turnover per game on 48.4% shooting.

Raul Neto got the start sans Ben Simmons (shoulder) and scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with two rebounds, six assists, three 3-pointers, one block and two turnovers in 30 minutes. He’s obviously not going to hit over 80% of his shot attempts on most nights, but he should get at least two more starts, which gives him so low-end appeal in deep leagues for those seeking some PG stats.

Injury Report


The Clippers have reportedly zeroed in on the Clippers' upcoming back-to-back set on Nov. 13-14 (next Wednesday-Thursday) for Paul George’s (shoulders) potential return. It looks like the shoulder surgeries will only cause him to miss the first three weeks of the season, so those that snatched him up at a discount on draft day are about to have an extremely competitive roster. I’m not sure PG-13 will have his load managed in the same way as Kawhi Leonard, and while he may skip games on back-to-back sets at first, I don’t think that will be an issue later in the year. That means he’ll be the No. 1 gunner on that team whenever Leonard sits, so he could easily establish himself as a top-5 guy this season (he was top-3 last year). Once he’s back, JaMychal Green, Moe Harkless and Landry Shamet will take a hit.

Kyle Lowry suffered a small fracture to his surgically repaired thumb on Friday and is scheduled to meet with a hand specialist. He’s obviously going to miss more than a few games here, and while he’s out, Norman Powell could move into the starting lineup which puts him on the radar as a potential pickup. Fred VanVleet is also going to get all the run he can handle while Pascal Siakam will need to shoulder a massive load on offense.

Serge Ibaka rolled his right ankle and suffered a “pretty bad” ankle sprain, according to head coach Nick Nurse, so he’s likely going to miss Toronto’s upcoming Sunday-Monday back-to-back set. Marc Gasol may be able to flirt with close to 30 minutes while he’s out, and there will be more opportunity for Chris Boucher.

Otto Porter (left foot sprain) will not play Saturday and Chandler Hutchison will draw the start in his place. However, through 14 starts last season, Hutchison only managed to produce averages of 6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and not much else on 43.2% shooting in 27.9 minutes a night; so I’m not feeling him. Maybe Thaddeus Young will get some more run while Porter is on the sidelines.

Eric Gordon (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Bulls. If he’s out again, Danuel House will flirt with close to 40 minutes.

Jeff Teague (illness) and Shabazz Napier (hamstring) missed their second game in a row on Friday, which resulted in another start for Jarrett Culver. If they’re out again on Sunday, it’ll be more of the same.

Tim Frazier (shoulder), Derrick Rose (hamstring) and Reggie Jackson (back) did not play Friday, which resulted in another start for Bruce Brown with Luke Kennard taking on some more playing making duties. Expect more of the same on Monday vs. Minnesota.

Blake Griffin (left hamstring, knee) remained on the sidelines for Friday’s game, but he’s been fully cleared for basketball activities, so he should be back within the next few games. His return will ruin Markieff Morris and Christian Wood.

Myles Turner (ankle), Goga Bitadze (concussion) and Jeremy Lamb (ankle) did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Orlando. Aaron Holiday, Domantas Sabonis and Justin Holiday will see an uptick in minutes if they’re out again.

Ben Simmons (shoulder) did not play Friday and he’s not expected to play Sunday or Tuesday. Raul Neto should continue to start until he gets back.

Avery Bradley (leg) was back in the starting lineup following a one-game absence and he finished with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 25 minutes. With Bradley back in action, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned to the second unit and ended his evening with two points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal over 18 minutes. Neither of these guys are worth owning in most leagues.

Rajon Rondo (calf) did not play Friday, but he's reportedly looking to make his regular-season debut on Sunday against the Raptors. The Lakers' starting unit could use another ball handler, so I wouldn't be shocked to see Rondo replace Bradley at some point, although I still think No. 9 won't be anything more than a dimes specialist in deep leagues.

Elfrid Payton (hamstring) did not play Friday, but he is progressing and will be re-evaluated on Sunday. However, he still hasn’t gone through practice, so it’s unlikely he’ll take the court on Sunday. Dennis Smith Jr. (personal) didn’t play Friday, but he has returned to the team, so maybe he’ll be able to get back out there on Sunday.

Mitchell Robinson (concussion) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cavs. Taj Gibson got the start in his place, but it’s tough to predict if that will again be the case on Sunday given how volatile David Fizdale’s rotations have been.

DeAndre Jordan (ankle) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Phoenix. Jarrett Allen will start until he gets back and there will be more opportunity for Nic Claxton with the second unit.

Skal Labissiere sprained his right ankle on Friday and did not return, finishing with just two points, one rebound, and two turnovers in nine minutes. Rodney Hood only lasted six minutes before tapping out with back spasms, and if these two can’t play on Sunday against the Hawks, Kent Bazemore would be in line for major minutes and Nassir Little will have the opportunity to get into the rotation.

Enes Kanter (knee) will remain on the sidelines for Saturday’s game in San Antonio and I’d consider him doubtful for Monday’s game against the Mavericks.

Harry Giles (knee) made his regular-season debut on Friday, but finished with just four points, one rebound and one block in eight minutes off the bench. He’s worth monitoring in deep leagues with Marvin Bagley (thumb) out another 2-4 weeks, but he won’t be worth owning while he’s on a minutes limit.

Grayson Allen (ankle soreness) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Mavericks.

Terrence Ross (sore right knee) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pacers.

Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) and Justise Winslow did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Pistons.

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