Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams Light Up Cleveland

Raphielle Johnson
Rotoworld

There were six games on the NBA schedule for Tuesday, with Kawhi Leonard, Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo among those who had good nights. Donovan Mitchell made his return from illness and got going after a slow start, while Kyrie Irving posted a double-double in his second game back. 

Hawks 123, Suns 110 — While one team welcomed back its starting point guard, the other had to turn to a backup to fill the role. Trae Young made his return from a hamstring issue that sidelined him for one game, and he finished with 36 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one blocked shot and five 3-pointers in 38 minutes. The only question at this point is whether or not Young, one of the most valuable point guards in fantasy hoops, will make the trip to Chicago to play in next month’s All-Star Game. Individually he’s been very good this season, but the lack of team success could be an issue when it comes to being picked to play in the “midseason” showcase. 

The Hawks were down two bigs for this one, as Alex Len was ruled out due to lower back pain and Bruno Fernando made his return following the death of his mother but was inactive. John Collins played 29 minutes in his usual starting role, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two 3-pointers, while Damian Jones accounted for 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block in 27 minutes off the bench. Jones has some value when the Hawks’ frontcourt is as depleted as it was Tuesday night, but he hasn’t been all that consistent from a production standpoint.

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Kevin Huerter had one of the best games of his young NBA career, as he posted a line of 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Red Velvet has been a top-40 player in both eight- and nine-category formats over the last two weeks per Basketball Monster, and should be rostered in standard leagues at this point. As of Tuesday night he was claimed in just 61 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Phoenix was without its starting point guard, as Ricky Rubio is awaiting the birth of his first child. As a result Elie Okobo made the move from backup to starter, and he did not have a good night. Zero points, three rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes for Okobo, with the lone positive being the fact that he didn’t commit a turnover. Even if Rubio has to miss additional games, leave Okobo on the waiver wire. Fellow starters Aron Baynes (four points, five rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot) and Dario Saric (four points, one rebound, two assists and one steal) also had rough nights, with Baynes playing 15 minutes and Saric 19. 

While Baynes has been starting at center with Deandre Ayton coming off the bench, the second-year pivot is still playing starters minutes. He played 33 against the Hawks, accounting for 20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 33 minutes. Over the last two weeks Ayton has been a top-50 player in both eight- and nine-cat formats, so coming off the bench hasn’t adversely impacted his productivity. That being said, I have a very hard time believing that this arrangement will go on for much longer. Devin Booker led the way offensively despite his being ejected in the fourth quarter, scoring 39 points with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes. 

Baynes and Saric may have run their course when it comes to their viability as fantasy options, but Mikal Bridges is an intriguing option when looking at the Suns forwards/centers. He played 33 minutes Monday, accounting for 15 points, three rebounds, four assists, four steals and one blocked shot. Bridges has been a top-100 player over the last two weeks, and whether he starts or comes off the bench the second-year wing won’t lack for playing time. And he’s currently rostered in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues, so it’s likely that Bridges is available in your league. If so, pick him up. Cameron Johnson posted a solid line, finishing with nine points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. 

Jazz 118, Nets 107 Donovan Mitchell (illness) was back in the starting lineup for the Jazz, and while he did get off to a slow start he finished with 25 points, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes. The expectation here is that he’ll be better Thursday vs. New Orleans, whether or not the injured Jrue Holiday is able to play for the Pelicans. Mitchell’s return meant that Emmanuel Mudiay was back with the second unit, and he accounted for seven points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 16 minutes. With Mitchell and Joe Ingles running things Mudiay doesn’t have much value, even with Mike Conley still working his way back from a hamstring injury. 

Ingles matched his season-high with 27 points to go along with three rebounds, four assists, one steal and six 3-pointers. Since he’s filled the void left by Conley in the starting lineup Utah has taken off, as the Jazz have now won ten straight games. Rudy Gobert added 22 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocked shots, and Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 18 points, two rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers. Bogdanovic also had two turnovers, and over the last two weeks he’s averaging 2.9 per game. He certainly provides solid value in standard leagues, but the turnovers are limiting his impact. 

Kyrie Irving, who said after his return to the lineup Sunday that he plans to play both ends of this Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back, played 32 minutes and finished with 32 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, two steals one block and three 3-pointers. Irving is going to get his on most nights; the question to be answered in his return is how much will Spencer Dinwiddie be impacted. He played 36 minutes Tuesday, posting a line of 17 points, four rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers. 

Dinwiddie isn’t going to have the ball in his hands as much as he did when Irving was out, and efficiency will be the key when it comes to his fantasy impact. In Brooklyn’s last two games, he’s shot 9-of-24 from the field and dished out 13 assists against eight turnovers. Dinwiddie should certainly be rostered, but the return of Irving lowers his value especially if you’re considering the possibility of trading him. 

Joe Harris added 13 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer, with Caris LeVert accounting for 11 points, two rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench. At the center position DeAndre Jordan was the more productive of the Nets’ two options, scoring nine points with 14 rebounds and one blocked shot. Starter Jarrett Allen saw more of Rudy Gobert, so it comes as no surprise that his impact was minimal. Allen tallied eight points, two rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 25 minutes. Allen is slightly more valuable fantasy-wise, due mainly to the fact that he’s the starter. 

Bucks 128, Knicks 102 — Milwaukee and New York have played three times this season, and as one would expect the Bucks have beaten the Knicks like they stole something in each game. Giannis Antetokounmpo only had to play 21 minutes, and in that time on the court he racked up 37 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. The only starter to play more than 22 minutes was Wesley Matthews, who played 26 and finished with six points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer. Khris Middleton accounted for 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one three-pointer, while Eric Bledsoe put up 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers. 

The fact that game was a blowout meant that Mike Budenholzer was able to go deep into his bench. How deep? Dragan Bender played 21 minutes and tallied seven rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. There were a few more bench minutes available, as Robin Lopez (rest) was given the night off. Neither Ersan Ilyasova (14 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers) nor Donte DiVincenzo (nine points, three rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one three-pointer) offer up much in the way of long-term value, but their names are worth keeping in mind should one of the Bucks’ key rotations players be lost due to injury. 

DiVincenzo, who is rostered in just 14 percent of Yahoo leagues, has been a top-100 player in nine-category formats over the last two weeks, and that’s with Bledsoe being available to play. 

New York was once again without Dennis Smith Jr. (oblique) and Frank Ntilikina (groin), and Elfrid Payton being ejected during the third quarter didn't help matters either. Payton is currently rostered in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues, which is understandable given the fact that he’s well outside of the top-100 in nine-category formats. If anything he’s worth a look depending upon the matchup for the Knicks on that particular night, and the absences of DSJ and Ntilikina boost Payton’s value as well. But he hasn’t been anything to write home about, so even with the Knicks lacking depth at the point rostering Payton is a roll of the dice. 

Julius Randle (25 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers), RJ Barrett (22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers) and Bobby Portis (20/6/8/1/1 with one three-pointer) all scored at least 20 points, with Barrett’s 5-of-7 night from three being the best of his career to date. But was this a case of fool’s gold? In the seven games prior, the rookie forward shot a combined 5-of-22 from beyond the arc. Tuesday was certainly good for Barrett with regard to his individual production, but one game of good shooting from three doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly become a plus shooter. Hopefully he can follow this effort up with more consistent production from three. 

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Grizzlies 121, Rockets 110 — Houston played this one without Russell Westbrook (rest), which freed up even more shots for James Harden. Harden shot 13-of-37 from the field and 10-of-11 from the foul line, scoring 41 points with six rebounds, six assists, one blocked shot and five 3-pointers (on 19 attempts). He obviously didn’t shoot the ball well from a percentage standpoint, but the good news is that Harden committed just one turnover. For the season he’s averaging 4.7 turnovers per night, but he’s still the top-ranked player in both eight- and nine-category formats. Eric Gordon put up 19 shots off the bench, making nine and finishing with 23 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes. 

Mike D'Antoni went with what amounted to a seven-man rotation, with backup centers Isaiah Hartenstein and Tyson Chandler playing a total of six minutes. That may have been dictated by matchups as Memphis did not have a backup center, but Hartenstein’s fantasy value is tied to the availability of Clint Capela. Capela played 33 minutes Tuesday, scoring 16 points with 16 rebounds and two assists. Ben McLemore (14 points, three rebounds, two steals and four 3-pointers) and Austin Rivers (10 points, two rebounds, five assists and one three-pointer), who started in place of Westbrook, also scored in double figures for the Rockets. 

Memphis was also down a starter, with Jae Crowder (hip) sitting out and Kyle Anderson replacing him in the starting lineup. Anderson played 17 minutes, going scoreless with four rebounds and one blocked shot. He doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, and it could be argued that Anderson is better off playing with the second unit as the potential for him to spend more time on the ball is there. In the starting lineup that isn’t the case, as Ja Morant is obviously going to be the one initiating the actions. Even if Crowder has to miss additional games, players such as Brandon Clarke (14 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal) and Solomon Hill (three points, six rebounds, four assists, one block and one three-pointer) are more valuable than Slo-Mo. 

Going back to Morant, he had a very good night playing opposite Harden. The rookie point guard shot 10-of-11 from the field and tallied 26 points, five rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one blocks and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes, making all seven of his two-point shot attempts. Just inside of the top-100 in nine-cat for the season, Morant has been a top-50 player in nine-cat and a top-20 player in eight-cat over the last two weeks. The odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year at this point in the season, Morant has continued to make strides and that’s why the Grizzlies are in the conversation for a playoff berth. 

Dillon Brooks added 24 points, four rebounds three assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 31 minutes, with fellow starters Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (15/2/1/3/2 with two 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures. Over the last two weeks Jackson has provided first-round value in nine-cat, and he’s close to that in eight-cat as well. De'Anthony Melton, who’s rostered in just seven percent of Yahoo leagues, accounted for 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, one block and one three-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench. Simply put, Melton should be owned in far more leagues than he currently is. 

Mavericks 124, Warriors 97 Kristaps Porzingis (knee) missed another game, but his return could be coming soon. Prior to Tuesday’s win over the Warriors, it was reported that he could play Wednesday vs. Sacramento. That would put a serious dent into the fantasy value of Maxi Kleber, who started and accounted for 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes against Golden State. But given the fact that Porzingis has experienced knee issues in the past, it would be prudent to hang onto Kleber for a little bit even if Kristaps is able to make his return against the Kings. It’s also worth noting that Kleber has been a top-50 player in nine-cat over the last two weeks.

Dwight Powell didn’t miss a shot Tuesday, shooting 9-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line and finishing with 21 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 24 minutes. Powell and Kleber were two of the six Mavericks that scored in double figures, with Luka Doncic posting a line of 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. Doncic, Powell, Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers) scoring in double figures isn’t a surprise. But they were joined by Boban Marjanovic and J.J. Barea, with the latter scoring 11 points with two rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers in just eight minutes. 

Boban played 20 minutes, scoring 13 points while also tallying 11 rebounds and one steal for his second double-double in Dallas’ last three games. He’s a matchup guy for the most part, but Tuesday was different in that Dallas held such a commanding lead that Rick Carlisle was able to give Marjanovic solid playing time. However for as fun as this performance was to watch he should be left on the waiver wire, especially with Porzingis’ return on the horizon. 

Golden State’s roster will undergo some changes on Wednesday, as Damion Lee’s contract should be addressed and Marquese Chriss recently agreed to sign a two-way contract after clearing waivers. Lee is expected to be good to go for Thursday’s game vs. Denver, and he would be a good addition in most leagues. The absences of Lee and Ky Bowman (he’s run out of NBA days on his two-way deal) left Golden State thin on the perimeter, and they lost another contributor during the first half after Jacob Evans took a Powell elbow to the face. He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation, so consider him day-to-day until the Warriors provide an update on his status. 

D'Angelo Russell (three rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers) and Glenn Robinson III (seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer) scored 13 points apiece to lead the starters, while Jordan Poole (ankle) and Eric Paschall had solid nights off the bench. Poole scored 17 points to go along with two rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers, looking like a different player since returning from his stint in the G-League, while Paschall posted a line of 16 points, three rebounds and two 3-pointers. 

Willie Cauley-Stein added eight points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 18 minutes, a solid stat line, but his value remains lower than that of the player who replaced him in the starting lineup (Omari Spellman, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds). Draymond Green finished with five points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 27 minutes, and given how young the Warriors are he is of far greater value from a teaching/leadership standpoint than fantasy at this point. Golden State is well off the pace in the race for a playoff spot, which could eventually lead to Green getting the occasional night off. 

Clippers 128, Cavaliers 103 —Cleveland had no answer for either Kawhi Leonard or Lou Williams, as they shot a combined 24-of-35 from the field. Leonard went off for 43 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and six 3-pointers in 29 minutes, as he shot 14-of-22 from the field and 9-of-10 from the foul line. Williams was an efficient 10-of-13 from the field, scoring 24 points with one rebound, four assists and two 3-pointers in just 20 minutes off the bench. 

With Paul George (hamstring) missing yet another game, Landry Shamet made another start and accounted for 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers. Shamet’s value comes in points and three-pointers, so the rebound total is a nice bonus for the few who have him rostered. Also of note in the Clippers rotation was Moe Harkless replacing Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup. Harkless finished with six points, 11 rebounds and one blocked shot in 27 minutes, while both Patterson (four minutes) and JaMychal Green (six rebounds, one assist and one block in 21 minutes) were ineffective off the bench. 

Ivica Zubac (12 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and four blocks) and Montrezl Harrell (12 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also effective, with the former’s four rejections being one shy of his single-game high for the season. Zubac tends to be overlooked in standard leagues but he has value, especially in deeper leagues. Provided you have a more productive center on the roster, he can be useful as the second option. Patrick Beverley posted a line of 10 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in just 23 minutes. He has some value while George is out of the lineup, especially if there’s a need for rebounds and defensive stats. 

The good news for Cleveland was that Larry Nance (knee) was able to make his return to the lineup, but he was largely ineffective in his 19 minutes on the court. Nance did not score, finishing with three rebounds, four assists and one steal. Kevin Love (rest) being sidelined not only freed up minutes for Nance, but it also meant a rare start for Alfonzo McKinnie. He played 21 minutes, scoring seven points with five rebounds and one assist. Whether it’s as a spot starter or reserve, the former Warrior can be left on the waiver wire. 

Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman led the way offensively for the Cavaliers, with Sexton scoring a team-high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also accounted for one rebound, one assist, two steals and four 3-pointers. Sexton is certainly capable of providing points and three-pointers, but the other stats are lacking on most nights. That limits his value in standard leagues, but over the last two weeks Sexton has provided ninth-round value in nine-cat formats. Osman added 21 points, three rebounds, one assist and five 3-pointers in 24 minutes, and outside of Tristan Thompson (zero points, eight rebounds) he would be the player to add on nights that Love is rested. 

Darius Garland didn’t have his best night shooting the ball, as he was just 5-of-16, but he posted a double-double with 14 points, 10 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Matthew Dellavedova (14 points, two assists and two 3-pointers) and John Henson (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks) had productive nights off the bench, but neither should be rostered. At best, Henson can be worth a look in deeper leagues when Cleveland’s frontcourt is at less than full strength. 

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Detroit at Boston, 7 PM 

Brooklyn at Philadelphia, 7 PM 

San Antonio at Miami, 7:30 PM 

Toronto at Oklahoma City, 8 PM 

Washington at Chicago, 8 PM 

Indiana at Minnesota, 8 PM 

Charlotte at Denver, 9 PM 

Portland at Houston, 9:30 PM 

Dallas at Sacramento, 10 PM 

Orlando at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM 

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