Even though there were only 8 games on Friday, there were plenty of big performances throughout the league. Stephen Curry dropped 44 points in Utah while Rudy Gay and Dirk Nowitzki had a shootout in Dallas. With plenty to cover, let’s get right to the action.
Big Al blows up against Los Angeles
Al Jefferson tied his career-high on Friday by scoring 40 points to go along with 18 rebounds as the Bobcats defeated the Lakers. He added three steals and four assists on a solid 18-32 shooting. The Charlotte big man has been on a tear since the New Year, averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds per game. After a slow start, Big Al is coming on in a big way for patient owners.
Meanwhile in Utah, Stephen Curry was doing his thing, torching the Jazz for a season-high 44 points. He was fantastic from the field, shooting 14-26, eight of which came from downtown. The only downside is that he didn’t contribute much elsewhere, grabbing two rebounds and four assists with zero steals. Curry was also seen getting his left leg stretched out by trainers and while it didn’t look to be anything serious, watch out for any updates on the All-Star.
Rudy and Dirk go hard
Both Rudy Gay and Dirk Nowitzki led their teams in scoring Friday night as the Mavericks defeated the Kings. Nowitzki led a fourth quarter comeback with 34 points, five rebounds, and two steals. He was a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe and an efficient 11-19 from the field. Gay countered with an even bigger fantasy line of 35 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and one steal. Nowitzki has been on fire over his last three games, averaging 33 points and 10 boards per contest. The German sharpshooter should continue to hold early round value all season. Gay on the other hand, while he’s been tremendous in three of his last four, should take a slight hit when DeMarcus Cousins returns, which could be on Saturday night.
Foye’s assist party
Denver’s Randy Foye handed out a career-high 16 assists on Friday, chipping in 10 points and two steals. This was a funky game for Foye, who handled the point guard responsibilities with Ty Lawson out. Although the assists were nice, Foye shot just 4-13 from the field and had eight turnovers so it was certainly a mixed bag for owners.
The good news is that Foye is a crucial part of what the Nuggets do and with Nate Robinson now out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn left ACL, Foye’s touches should only increase. French guard Evan Fournier is also someone who will benefit with Robinson out. The 21-year-old put up 19 points on Friday and looks like a solid low-end option going forward.
Barnes and Kanter make surprise starts
Injuries to both David Lee and Derrick Favors forced Harrison Barnes and Enes Kanter into their teams’ respective starting units on Friday. The results were encouraging if nothing else. Kanter was the better of the two, scoring 15 points with seven boards. He played nearly 30 minutes and shouldn’t be sitting on many waiver wires due to his upside. Barnes wasn’t as impressive, scoring just eight points on 2-10 shooting. He added six rebounds and not much else in over 30 minutes. The interesting thing about Barnes is the Andre Iguodala factor. Iggy hasn’t looked right in quite some time but the Warriors are financially committed to him. However, if the Warriors shook up the lineup and gave Barnes a starting role, he’d be a much more attractive fantasy option. Until then, the small forward’s performances are too sporadic to be trusted in most leagues.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ starting lineup was a mess on Friday night. Michael Carter-Williams was very poor until garbage time, when he salvaged a useable line with 17 points and five assists. Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner combined to shoot 5-15 for just 12 points, nine rebounds, and five turnovers while James Anderson went 0-6 from the field. The bench wasn’t much better, highlighted by Tony Wroten’s 1-13 showing. The only saving grace was Thaddeus Young who actually had a phenomenal performance, dropping 29 points with eight boards, five steals and three triples. The young Sixers squad is usually a fantasy gold mine but they squad simply had an off night.
Waiver wire alert: Turiaf and Wolters
If you’re looking to take a flyer on a big man or point guard, Ronny Turiaf and Nate Wolters presented themselves as fantasy options on Friday night. Turiaf, supplanting the injured Nikola Pekovic in the starting unit, scored seven points with 10 rebounds, and one block in nearly 30 minutes. Turiaf has been relevant before in the fantasy world so it’s no shocker that he’s making the most of his opportunity. With Pekovic on the mend for another week or more due to an Achilles injury, Turiaf is worth a look if you need boards and blocks.
Nate Wolters actually replaced Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting five. The effect was interesting. Wolters played an astounding 41 minutes, nearly notching a triple-double with eight points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Antetokounmpo was much better in nearly 29 minutes, scoring 15 points with seven rebounds and a pair of triples. It’s tough to get a read on Milwaukee these days as Larry Drew switches things up quite often so if Wolters keeps plugging away, he’s worth a look for owners in need of assists.
Jeff Teague missed one week with a sprained ankle but returned on Friday to score 12 points and eight assists in just 23 minutes. The Hawks blew out the Sixers so Teague’s minutes shouldn’t worry owners at all. The point guard’s return seriously hampers the value of both Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams, who struggled to get into a groove during the contest. Both can likely be cut from most fantasy teams. As for Teague, he didn’t show any rust and should be plugged back into all lineups.
Nelson goes down
Jameer Nelson was forced to leave Friday’s game after the first quarter due to left knee soreness. He finished with just two points and three assists after playing the entire opening quarter and Doron Lamb started the second half in Nelson’s absence. The extent of Nelson’s injury is still a bit murky so Lamb isn’t a terrific option at this point. The main beneficiary in this situation is Victor Oladipo, who should get even more backcourt responsibilities going forward.
Bynum heading to Indiana
While negotiations started on Friday, the breaking news on Saturday morning is that Andrew Bynum has signed for the rest of the season with the Indiana Pacers. It’s a very savvy move by team president Larry Bird and will certainly bolster Indiana’s frontcourt depth and championship aspirations. However, Bynum’s value in the real world is much higher than in fantasy so don’t rush to pick him up. He has no chance of unseating Roy Hibbert in the starting unit and will likely be on a minutes limit.