Dose: Dagger Doncic

Jared Johnson

Dagger Doncic Strikes Again

Luka Doncic powered the Mavs to a 119-115 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday, scoring 29 points on 10-of-23 shooting (7-of-10 from the stripe) to go with 12 assists, eight boards, two trey-bombs, two steals and one turnover across 35 minutes. The 19-year-old rookie didn’t back down from the big moment, burying three huge shots in the clutch, including a dagger 3-point bomb with 23.9 seconds left to seal the deal for Dallas. He leads all rookies in clutch points and became the youngest player since LeBron James to record at least 25 points and 10 assists in a single game. It’s amazing to me that Doncic dropped to No. 3 overall on draft day because he *checks notes* was ballin’ up against grown men in Europe instead of 18-year-old Americans. We’re only 41 games into the season, but Deandre Ayton would have to have a legendary second-half of the year to even get into the same conversation as Doncic in the Rookie of the Year race.

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Back-to-Back MVP?

James Harden did what you’d expect a perennial MVP candidate to do against the worst team in the league on Friday, popping off for 43 points (12-of-24 FGs, 11-of-11 FTs), 10 rebounds, 12 assists, eight triples, two steals, two swats and four turnovers in just 29.5 minutes of floor time. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 40-point triple-double while playing fewer than 30 minutes, and his eight triples catapulted him to the No. 13 spot on the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooting list. He also joined Kobe Bryant as the only other player since the 1976-77 season to average 40 points over a 15-game span, and he extended his NBA-best streak of games with at least five triples to 12, which is five games longer than the next-best streak in league history.

Here’s a look at his shot chart from that 15-game span – if you stare long enough and squint your eyes a bit, you should be able to see the face of Mike D’Antoni.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Early-Round Teague

Jeff Teague had another solid outing on Friday, tallying 12 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks and four turnovers across 31 minutes. He was in an awful slump while fighting through the ankle issue earlier this season, but since getting back, he’s been flirting with top-30 value behind averages of 14.5 points, 8.0 assists, 1.8 triples, 2.5 steals and 2.5 turnovers per contest on 52.3% shooting. I’d expect him to finish the year as an early-round guy.

Maybe Donny Mitch is a Point Guard

Donovan Mitchell again thrived as the Jazz starting point guard with all the other PGs unavailable in Utah unavailable on Friday, scoring 33 points on 14-of-24 shooting to go with nine assists, four rebounds, four 3-pointers, one steal, two blocks and three turnovers across 33 minutes. Mitchell got off to a slow start this season, but he had been heating up since the calendar switched to 2019, and has really come alive since Ricky Rubio (hamstring) hit the sidelines, posting averages of 30.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 4.7 triples, 1.0 steal and 4.0 turnovers on 49.3% shooting over the past three. He also threw down a demoralizing dunk over JaVale McGee, and I’d expect the big stat lines to keep coming, as he simply needs to be elite with Utah extra banged up and fighting to keep their postseason hopes alive.

A New Member of the Triple-Double Club

Tomas Satoransky recorded the first triple-double of his career during a surprising 114-106 win over the Bucks, tallying 18 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two 3-pointers, two steals and six turnovers in 35 minutes. John Wall (heel) is done for the year, so Satoransky will be starting the rest of the way, and he should be owned everywhere.

On the Radar

Kevin Huerter seemingly couldn’t miss during Friday’s upset win over the 76ers, going 11-of-17 from the field and 2-of-2 from the stripe on his way to 29 points (career-high), five triples, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and two turnovers across 39 minutes. The 20-year-old rookie has been hit-or-miss this season, but he’s been hot over the past two with averages of 21.5 points, 6.5 boards, 3.0 assists, 2.5 triples, 1.0 steal and 2.0 turnovers per game on 53.1% shooting. He should be owned in more leagues.

DeAndre Bembry had a nice bounce-back performance on Friday following Wednesday’s scoreless outing, finishing with 14 points (6-of-11 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one turnover through 41 minutes as a starter. He’s playing very well through the month of January with both Taurean Prince (ankle) and Kent Bazemore (ankle) on the sidelines, posting averages of 12.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 turnovers per game on 48.4%, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.

Mike Muscala played well in a fill-in start with both Joel Embiid (ankle) and Amir Johnson (migraine) on the sidelines, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with four 3-pointers, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block and three turnovers in 27 minutes. If Embiid is out again on Sunday, Muscala will be someone to consider streaming in deep leagues.

Austin Rivers put up 12 points, two treys, two rebounds, three assists and one turnover while Gerald Green finished with eight points, two 3-pointers, two rebounds, one steal, one block and one turnover; and both these guys are on the radar in deep leagues while Eric Gordon (knee) and Chris Paul (hamstring) are out.

Royce O’Neale got the start on Friday with Utah extremely banged up and finished with 17 points (5-of-13 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), seven rebounds, five 3-pointers, one assist, two steals and two turnovers in 40 minutes of floor time. Raul Neto (groin) won’t play Saturday, nor will Ricky Rubio (hamstring), Thabo Sefolosha (hamstring) or Dante Exum (ankle), so O’Neale should be looking at another start and he’ll be someone to think about streaming in deep leagues; particularly with a matchup against the Bulls.

Josh Okogie busted out of his shooting funk on Friday, draining a career-high four trey-bombs on his way to 15 points, two rebounds, one steal, one assist and two turnovers through 23 minutes as a starter. Consistency has been an issue for the rookie, but he’ll continue to see ample opportunity while Robert Covington (ankle) is out, and could see more shots falling his way if Karl-Anthony Towns (ankle) can’t play Saturday. He’s on the radar as a deep league streamer.

Shabazz Napier had another productive outing on Friday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting to go with three 3-pointers, two rebounds, five dimes and two turnovers in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s been playing well over the past seven games, posting averages of 15.4 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 triples and 2.1 turnovers per game on 42.7% shooting, so he’s on the radar in deep leagues.

Mario Hezonja ripped away a career-high tying five steals on his way to 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover in 30 minutes off the bench. He’s been heating up over the past three with averages of 14.3 points, 6.3 boards and 3.7 steals (inflated from Friday’s game and obviously unsustainable) per contest on 47.1% shooting, and with both Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) and Damyean Dotson (calf) leaving Friday’s game with various injuries, Hezonja could be looking at heavy minutes on Sunday if those guys can’t play.

Ante Zizic contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes off the bench. Sure, the game was a massive blowout, but that’s not exactly uncommon for this Cavs’ team, and with Larry Nance (knee) out at least 2-4 weeks and Kevin Love (toe) still not close, he should continue to see minutes in Cleveland. He has some low-end appeal in deep leagues.

Injury Tracker

Will Barton (hip) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game in Phoenix. This is the first time since Barton went down with the hip injury that he’s received the questionable tag on the injury report, so maybe he’ll finally be able to get back out there following a two-month layoff. Saturday’s game will be the first of a back-to-back set, so if he does play Saturday, I imagine he’d hit the sidelines for Sunday’s game against the Blazers, or vice versa. He’ll likely come off the bench and be operating with a minutes cap in his first game back, but at this point, he needs to be owned everywhere.

Gary Harris (hamstring) and Trey Lyles (wrist) are also questionable for Saturday’s game, and if those two are out, there will be more minutes available for Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Paul Millsap.

Devin Booker (back) is questionable for Saturday, but considering he didn’t practice on Friday, I’d consider him closer to doubtful. If he’s out again, Josh Jackson will get another start, Troy Daniels will see an uptick in minutes, and basically, all the starters will be asked to do more on offense.

Karl-Anthony Towns rolled his ankle on Friday, and while he was able to return to the game, he acknowledged that he may need to sit out Saturday’s matchup with the Pelicans if his ankle swells up on him overnight. If he is forced to the sidelines for the first time in his career, Gorgui Dieng would be in line for a start, Taj Gibson and Dario Saric would see more floor time, and there would be more shots to go around for Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague. With Saturday’s game being the second leg of a back-to-back set, the Timberwolves won’t host a shootaround, so owners may not get another update until just prior to tip-off.

Derrick Rose (ankle) returned from a six-game absence and came through with 21 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds, five assists, one block and two turnovers in 28 minutes with the second unit. He should be fine for Saturday’s game against the Pelicans.

Joel Embiid (left ankle soreness) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in New York. Mike Muscala got the start with Amir Johnson (migraine) also out, while J.J. Redick (who returned from a two-game absence), Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons were more involved in the offense. It’ll be more of the same if he can’t play on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (right quad, left hip) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Ersan Ilyasova got the start in his place, while Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe did the heavy lifting on offense. That’ll again be the case on Sunday if Giannis can’t play.

D.J. Wilson (hip) returned from a two-game absence and finished with five points, three boards, one 3-pointer, two steals and one turnover in 20 minutes off the bench. He’s irrelevant in most leagues.

LeBron James (groin) did not play Friday and he won’t be re-evaluated until next Wednesday (Jan. 16), meaning he’ll also sit out Sunday’s game against the Cavs and Tuesday’s matchup with the Bulls. Josh Hart will continue to start in his absence, with more shots falling to Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Myles Turner (shoulder) missed his fourth consecutive game on Friday, but with the Pacers off until Tuesday, maybe he’ll be able to get back for that one. They are just listing him as out with a “sore” shoulder, after all.

Tim Hardaway Jr. exited Friday’s game with cramping in his left hamstring and did not return, so there’s a chance he’ll sit on Sunday. Damyean Dotson also tapped out of Friday’s blowout loss during the fourth quarter with a calf contusion, and if both those guys can’t play on Sunday, Courtney Lee and Mario Hezonja would be in line for massive minutes, with Kevin Knox and Emmanuel Mudiay doing the heavy lifting on offense.

Enes Kanter (illness) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the 76ers. Luke Kornet and Noah Vonleh will continue to split the five-man minutes while Kanter and Mitchell Robinson (ankle, groin) are on the sidelines, with Vonleh offering more upside.

Frank Ntilikina (ankle) missed his third straight game on Friday and he should be considered doubtful for Sunday.

Raul Neto (groin) joined Ricky Rubio (hamstring), Dante Exum (ankle), Thabo Sefolosha (hamstring) and Grayson Allen (ankle) on the sidelines for Friday’s game, which resulted in Donovan Mitchell sliding over to the point guard position with Royce O’Neale moving into the starting five. Neto will be re-evaluated “early next week,” so it’s safe to say he’ll again be watching from the sidelines on Saturday.

Dennis Smith Jr. (back) missed his second consecutive game on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Warriors. It was Maxi Kleber who got the start in his place with a matchup against Minnesota’s more traditional frontcourt, but I feel like it would be Jalen Brunson to get that start on Sunday if DSJ is out again going up against the small ball Warriors.

J.J. Barea reportedly tore his right Achilles on Friday, which would obviously be a season-ender for the 34-year-old Puerto Rican. As I write this, there’s no official word on the Achilles tear, but the report is coming from Tim MacMahon, who is one of the most plugged-in reporters in Dallas, so I’d be surprised if it weren’t true. Barea is pretty much safe to cut everywhere. Jalen Brunson and Devin Harris will split his minutes, but they aren’t viable targets in most settings.

Dirk Nowitzki (illness) was scoreless in his return from a one-game absence, finishing with just four rebounds, one steal and one block to his credit.

E’Twaun Moore (quad) is expected to return for Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves. He only missed two games, so he shouldn’t have much of a minutes cap, and Darius Miller should head back to the second unit if he’s active.

Nerlens Noel (concussion) will not play Saturday, but the good news is that Steven Adams (ankle) isn’t even being listed on the injury report. He’ll need to play big minutes while Noel is out.

Rudy Gay (wrist) will not play Saturday, and he’s currently without an official timetable to return. Jakob Poeltl has been starting in his absence with Davis Bertans seeing more minutes with the second unit, but those guys are too inconsistent to trust in most settings.

Moe Harkless (knee) missed his second consecutive game on Friday and he should be considered doubtful for Sunday’s game in Denver with it being the first game of a back-to-back set. Jake Layman has been starting in his absence, but it’s Evan Turner who benefits most.

An MRI revealed no structural damage for Mo Bamba’s sore left foot, but he is doubtful for both games this weekend. Khem Birch will see more time as Nikola Vucevic’s backup while Bamba is out, and he could be on the radar as a low-end, shot-blocking specialist in deep leagues.

Ish Smith (groin) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game in Los Angeles. Dwane Casey recently hinted that Smith will be able to return at some point during their road trip, so it would seem he’ll get back out there for either Saturday’s game or Monday’s matchup in Utah. He’s not really worth your attention in fantasy hoops, though.

Rodney Hood (Achilles) went 2-of-7 from the field in his return from a three-game absence on his way to six points, two rebounds, two assists and one turnover across 18 minutes as a starter. Ignore him.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) missed his sixth consecutive game on Friday and he should be considered doubtful for Monday’s game against the Celtics. He’s a cut-candidate in most leagues.

Shaun Livingston (knee) was back in action following a one-game absence and posted three points, one rebound, one assist and one turnover in nine minutes off the bench. Ignore him.

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