Nikola Vucevic popped off for a career-high 41 points on 17-of-22 shooting (1-of-2 from the stripe) to go with 12 boards, three dimes, five turnovers and six triples (also a career-high) in 35 minutes during Friday’s 126-121 loss to the Nets. With Aaron Gordon (ankle) on the sidelines, Vucevic saw his usage rate rise to 29.9 (up from 21.2) and his 6-of-8 performance from beyond the arc would suggest that all the offseason talk of Vuc working to expand his range was more than just hot air. In the past few seasons, we’ve seen Brook Lopez and Marc Gasol both establish themselves as knockdown 3-point shooters, and it looks like Vuc is going to be the next 7-footer to add that 3-point shot to his repertoire. Additionally, it’s clear that head coach Frank Vogel is no longer going to mess around with the idea that Bismack Biyombo should be the starting center, so Vuc could be headed for a career-year in his age-27 season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo nearly triple-doubled in Milwaukee’s 116-97 loss to Cleveland, scoring 34 points on 15-of-22 shooting (4-of-6 from the stripe) to go with eight boards, eight assists, three steals, one block and two turnovers in 39 minutes. Through the first two games of the season, The Greek Freak has been operating with a 36.4 usage rate (up from 28.3 last season), so it’s very realistic that he’ll be able to improve upon his already incredible numbers from the 2016-17 season. Congrats if you own him.
C.J. McCollum busted loose for 28 points in his regular-season debut on Friday, adding three triples, seven boards, one assist, one steal, one block and zero turnovers in 32 minutes of floor time. McCollum seemingly couldn’t miss in this one, going 12-of-18 from the field for an effective field goal percentage of 75, and he’s another guy who should continue upon his upward career arc in his age-26 season.
Otto Porter was Otto-matic in Washington’s 115-111 win over Detroit, erupting for a game-high 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go with nine boards, three assists, four steals, one block, two trey-bombs and just one turnover in 38 minutes. He was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the stripe, giving him a sterling 67.4 true shooting percentage on the evening, and through the first two games of the season, he’s been working with an 18.8 usage rate (up from 14.9 from last season). Porter is living up to the hype after inking a four-year, $104 million max-extension with the Wizards this offseason, and there’s a good chance this 24-year-old is on the verge of a career-year.
Lonzo Ball had a nice bounce-back following Thursday’s three-point disaster, producing 29 points (12-of-27 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), 11 boards, nine dimes, four trey-bombs, one steal and four turnovers in 37 minutes. Brandon Ingram also had a nice bounce-back performance after a disappointing opener, posting 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting (4-of-6 from the stripe) to go with three triples, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 37 minutes. The stat lines for these two could be up-and-down throughout the year, but Los Angeles is committed to the rebuild, so they’ll be seeing nothing but opportunity all year long and both are obviously must-own guys in all formats.
Anthony Davis had his second consecutive plus-30 game on Friday, going 15-of-21 from the field and 2-of-5 from the stripe on his way to 35 points, 17 boards, five dimes, three 3-pointers, two steals, one block and four turnovers in 33 minutes. DeMarcus Cousins also continued his role as a stat sheet stuffer, registering 35 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals, three trey-bombs and six turnovers in just 25 minutes. While certainly unconventional by modern NBA standard, this new Twin Towers pairing in New Orleans is working, so no one should fear a dip in value from either of these elite big men.
On the Radar
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued his strong start to the season on Friday with 15 points (5-of-10 FG, 5-of-7 FT), four boards, one assist, three steals, three blocks and zero turnovers in 25 minutes. He’s locked in as the starting power forward in Brooklyn and needs to be owned everywhere.
DeMarre Carroll had a nice outing against Orlando, finishing with 17 points (6-of-9 FG, 2-of-2 FT), eight boards, two assists, three triples, two steals and just one turnover in 27 minutes. Carroll never really jived with the offensive system in Toronto, but he’s a nice fit in Brooklyn’s free-flowing offense, so maybe he can return to the being the top-55 talent he was during his “Junk Yard Dog” days in Atlanta. He’s worth a speculative grab in 12-team leagues.
Caris LeVert posted nine points, one rebound, two assists, two steals, one block and three turnovers in Brooklyn’s win over Orlando, and he should be able to flirt with close to 30 minutes a night with Jeremy Lin (knee) done for the year. LeVert isn’t necessarily a must-own guy in standard leagues, but he’s definitely on the radar in deeper formats.
Al-Farouq Aminu posted a 16-point, 16-board double-double during Friday’s win over Indiana, to go with two assists, two trey-bombs, one steal and one block in 34 minutes. He can be up-and-down, but he’s worth owning in more than just 38 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.
Terry Rozier shined in his 30 minutes off the bench sans Marcus Smart (ankle), tallying 14 points, seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists and two turnovers. Through the first three games of the year, Rozier has compiled averages of 12.7 points, 5.7 boards, 3.3 dimes, 2.0 triples and just 0.7 turnovers per contest on 48.3 percent shooting, which has been good enough for top-75 value in standard 9-cat leagues. The Gordon Hayward (ankle) injury opened up a lot of opportunity for Rozier, but Smart going down essentially pulled down the floodgates, so he makes for a strong speculative add in competitive 12-team formats with the way he has opened up the year.
Evan Turner had another solid outing despite the return of C.J. McCollum (suspension), finishing Friday’s win with 17 points (7-of-12 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), one 3-pointer, two boards, three assists, a block and zero turnovers in 32 minutes off the bench. Turner could realistically flirt with minutes in the high-20s this season with Allen Crabbe no longer a part of the equation, and while he doesn’t have the highest upside, he’s someone to consider as a speculative add in competitive leagues.
A video surfaced on Friday showing Kawhi Leonard struggling mightily to walk up the steps to board San Antonio’s team plane, casting an ominous cloud on Kawhi’s mysterious quad injury. The Spurs haven’t been very forthcoming with the updates, and have yet to even hint at a potential return date for Leonard, but given how much Kawhi was struggling to walk up some steps it doesn’t seem like he’s all that close. Those that drafted him can’t really do anything aside from hang on and hope for the best, but given that this is an issue that has carried over from the previous season, there’s some serious cause for concern here. Rudy Gay and Kyle Anderson will continue to man the three-spot in his absence, and LaMarcus Aldridge will operate as the No. 1 option on offense.
Chris Paul will miss Saturday’s game against the Mavs, and there are fears that this left knee injury could force him to spend a month on the sidelines. This is the issue with drafting 32-year-olds. While he’s out, James Harden will run the point with Eric Gordon operating at the two-spot, and there will be some extra minutes available for P.J. Tucker.
Andre Iguodala (back) made his regular-season debut, tallying seven points, seven boards, four assists and one turnover in 21 minutes. He’s not worth owning in most 12-team leagues.
Draymond Green played through his knee issue and finished with 10 points, four boards, seven dimes, one steal and three turnovers in 29 minutes.
Dennis Smith Jr. (left knee effusion) was a late-scratch on Friday night, which resulted in Nerlens Noel and J.J. Barea moving into the starting lineup and Yogi Ferrell shifting to the bench. It’s not great that DSJ was forced to the sidelines after just one NBA game, and it is somewhat concerning that this is the same knee that required surgery in high school due to an ACL tear, but Rick Carlisle downplayed the issue as just some minor swelling and for now this isn’t being treated as anything serious. He will, however, sit out Saturday’s game in Houston, which should result in Noel and Barea earning another start and Ferrell should see roughly 30 minutes off the bench.
Derrick Rose sprained his ankle during the fourth quarter of Friday’s win over the Bucks and he’ll likely miss Saturday’s game against the Magic. That should result in Jose Calderon moving into the starting five, but he’s not worth much more than a punt play in DFS.
Alex Len (ankle) made his regular-season debut, posting four points, seven boards, one assist, one block and three turnovers in 21 minutes. Meh.
Cody Zeller (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (knees) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal) missed Friday’s win over the Hawks and they should be considered questionable for Monday’s game in Milwaukee. Jeremy Lamb has been the primary beneficiary with both MKG and Nicolas Batum (elbow) on the sidelines, and Frank Kaminsky had a nice game sans Zeller, posting 21 points, six boards, three dimes, two triples, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes.
Myles Turner (neck, concussion) did not suit up against the Blazers and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Heat. Domantas Sabonis drew the start in his place, but he only managed to finish with three points, eight boards, one assist, one block and three turnovers in 29 minutes. T.J. Leaf, however, was able to see 19 minutes off the bench sans Turner and he finished with 17 points, two triples, four boards and an assist, so he could be someone to consider utilizing as a deep league streamer if Turner is again forced to the sidelines on Saturday night.
Marcus Smart (ankle) did not play against the 76ers and he should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Knicks. Aron Baynes drew the start in his place and finished with 10 points, eight boards, two assists and a turnover, but Rozier is the true beneficiary with Smart on the sidelines.
Aaron Gordon (ankle) did not suit up on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Cleveland. Elfrid Payton exited Friday’s game with a left hamstring injury and did not return, and he seems doubtful to be ready in time for Saturday’s game. If both these guys sit out Saturday’s game against the Cavs, we’ll likely see D.J. Augustin and Jonathan Isaac in the starting lineup, and Augustin would be someone to consider throwing out there as a deep league streamer or punt play in daily leagues. Nikola Vucevic would also be asked to operate with a hefty usage rate.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) did not play against the Mavs and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Nuggets.
Zach Randolph (mouth) made his regular-season debut, posting 13 points, six boards, one 3-pointer, two steals, one assist and one turnover in 30 minutes. Z-Bo’s playing time figures to head on a downward trajectory as the season winds on, so I wouldn’t recommend adding him in most leagues.
Hassan Whiteside (knee) has been ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Pacers, and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Hawks. Dion Waiters (ankle) was limited to non-contact work during Friday’s practice, but he’s expected to suit up for Saturday’s game. With Whiteside unavailable, there’s a chance we could see Edrice Adebayo slide into the starting five, and if that ends up being the case, he’d make for an intriguing punt option in daily leagues.
Alexis Ajinca underwent a knee procedure on Friday and he’ll miss the next 4-6 weeks.
Denzel Valentine (knee) sat out Friday’s practice and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Spurs.
Rodney Hood played through his knee issue and scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-3 from the stripe) to go with three triples, one rebound, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 24 minutes. Unfortunately, he injured his left calf and needed to be carried off the court with six minutes left in the fourth, and he’ll undergo an MRI on Saturday. This news makes Donovan Mitchell worth a speculative add in competitive 12-team leagues.
Michael Beasley (ankle) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Pistons.
Frank Ntilikina sprained his ankle during Friday’s practice and needed to be carried off the court, so chances are, he’ll sit out Saturday’s game. With the Frenchmen unavailable, the Knicks will look to Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack and Ron Baker to run the point, but none of these guys make for a great pickup.
Wayne Selden (quad) will not play Saturday vs. the Warriors, which should open up some more opportunity for Dillon Brooks.
DeAndre Bembry has been diagnosed with a fractured right wrist and he’ll have a timetable set on Monday.
Jason Smith (shoulder) did not play against the Pistons on Friday, which resulted in Kelly Oubre moving into the starting five although he did very little in his 36 minutes of action, finishing with just four points (1-of-5 FG, 2-of-2 FT), seven boards, two steals and a turnover.
Devin Harris lost his brother in a car crash on Friday and he’s taking some time away from the team.
Raul Neto (left leg) has been medically cleared to play, but he didn’t actually take the court on Friday night.