Opportunity & Comfort

Jared Johnson
Rotoworld

FVV Returns + Serge Surgin’

 

Fred VanVleet (right knee) was back in the starting lineup on Friday following a five-game stint on the sidelines and he came through with 18 points (6-of-18 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), one 3-pointer, nine rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two turnovers in 34 minutes. He saw his usage spike to 28 with Pascal Siakam (groin, out indefinitely) unavailable, so he figures to be operating with heavy minutes and a hefty usage while Norman Powell (shoulder) and Pascal are out.

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Kyle Lowry finished with a team-high 26 points on 7-of-14 shooting (9-of-11 from the line) to go with three triples, four rebounds, nine dimes, one steal and five turnovers across 41 minutes. He’ll be leading the charge on offense until Siakam gets back, and hopefully, he’ll be able to stay healthy while being forced into major minutes.

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Patrick McCaw got the start sans Siakam, with OG Anunoby shifting over to the four-spot, and he finished with 11 points (4-of-8 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), one 3-pointer, one rebound, one assist, three steals and three turnovers in 34 minutes. While he did play well, he was doing a whole lot of nothing (while still averaging close to 30 minutes a game) coming into this one, and I’d say the noteworthy stat line had more to do with the matchup. The minutes should be there while Powell is out, so he is worth monitoring, but it’s unlikely he’ll be anything more than a low-end guy in deep leagues.

OG Anunoby looked great in his 33 minutes of play as Toronto’s starting four-man, finishing with 18 points (6-of-11 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists and two turnovers. He saw his usage jump to 19.3 in this one (up from 15.3), so he’s clearly going to be a much more consistent part of the offense while Siakam is sidelined.

Serge Ibaka started at the five-spot sans Marc Gasol (hamstring, week-to-week), and posted a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double to go with two 3-pointers, one assist, three swats and two turnovers in 36 minutes. He should continue to flirt with minutes in the mid-30s while Siakam and Gasol are out, making him one of the biggest winners from the string of Raptors’ injuries.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson saw 19 minutes off the bench and finished with 14 points (4-of-8 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), one 3-pointer, two rebounds, four assists and one turnover. He’s fairly inconsistent, but his minutes figure to trend up over the next few weeks with the Raptors desperate for frontcourt bodies, so he’s someone to keep an eye on in deep leagues.

Chris Boucher had another disappointing outing, scoring just four points on 1-of-4 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with five rebounds and nothing else in just 13 minutes off the bench. Boucher offers a lot more upside than RHJ, but it’ll be impossible for him to realize his potential if Nick Nurse doesn’t commit to giving him minutes. If you grabbed him, I’d recommend giving him at least a few more games before contemplating cutting him, as he has amazing upside with the defensive stats and is looking at a ton of opportunity with Toronto’s frontcourt so banged up.

 

 

 

Trending Up

 

Kristaps Porzingis notched his fourth straight double-double in a blowout win over the 76ers on Friday with 22 points, 18 rebounds, two 3-pointers, one steal, three blocks and two turnovers in 37 minutes. He’s been a monster over the past four with Luka Doncic on the sidelines, flirting with first-round value behind averages of 23.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.8 treys, 2.5 swats and 1.8 turnovers per game on 43.6% shooting from the field and 73.7% from the stripe. I do think that this is a sign that KP is ready to really start rolling, and I’m confident he’ll be able to keep it up even upon Doncic’s return.

Jaren Jackson Jr. went 9-of-19 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe on his way to 24 points, four 3-pointers, three rebounds, one assist, two blocks and zero turnovers in 34 minutes. He’s really hit his stride over the past few weeks with averages of 21.6 points, 3.6 treys, 3.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.4 swats and 2.3 turnovers per game on 51.2% shooting, which has him flirting with top 30 value in 9-cat leagues. Taylor Jenkins, who was an assistant coach in Milwaukee under Mike Budenholzer last season, is apparently molding JJJ into Brook Lopez 2.0, and Jackson is finally excelling in that role.

Myles Turner scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting (6-of-6 from the line) in an easy win over the Kings on Friday, adding three rebounds, one 3-pointer, two assists, one steal, two blocks and zero turnovers across 24 minutes. Turner went through a terrible stretch earlier this month, but he’s jumped into the top-60 equation over the past five games with averages of 13.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 triples, 2.2 swats and just 1.0 turnover per game on 48.1% shooting from the field and 75% from the stripe. He might not be a top-20 guy this year, but I’d be shocked if he finished the season outside of the top-40.

Mitchell Robinson saw 28 minutes off the bench on Friday and finished with 18 points (8-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and zero turnovers. Sure, he did foul out (for the first time since the coaching change), but the key takeaway is that since Mike Miller took over the helm, Robinson’s minutes have come up to 27 and he’s been flirting with top-20 value in 9-cat leagues behind averages of 14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 0.6 turnovers per game on 71.7% shooting from the field and 76.5% from the stripe. It’s somewhat annoying that he’s still not starting, but he’s certainly headed in the right direction.

Derrick Favors logged 27 minutes as a starter on Friday, which is the most playing time he’s received since coming back from a prolonged personal absence, and he finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one turnover. His minutes have been trending up with each game, and he’s been sending away 1.8 shots per game over the past four, so things are moving in a positive direction here.

 

Potential Pickups

 

Dillon Brooks scored 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with four triples, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and one turnover in 33 minutes. He’s been quietly good this season and has really settled into a nice groove over the past few weeks with averages of 17.5 points, 3.3 boards, 2.1 assists, 2.1 triples, 1.4 steals and 1.9 turnovers per game on 44.5% shooting from the field and 83.3% from the stripe, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.

Goran Dragic (groin) returned from a nine-game absence and produced 18 points (6-of-12 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), four 3-pointers, eight assists, one rebound, one block and two turnovers in 24 minutes off the bench. He may have been cut while he was injured, so make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.

Derrick Jones Jr. kept his hot streak going on Friday, finishing with 14 points (5-of-6 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), seven rebounds, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover across 26 minutes with the second unit. He’s been on a roll over the past five games with averages of 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 treys, 1.2 dimes, 1.8 steals, 0.8 swats and just 0.8 turnovers per game on 63.9% shooting (dunking?), and he’s worth owning in most leagues while he’s playing like this.

Gorgui Dieng looked good in another spot-start sans Karl-Anthony Towns (knee), scoring 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 from the line) to go with four 3-pointers, six rebounds, one block and one turnover in 24 minutes. If KAT is out again on Saturday, Dieng will make for a quality streamer.

Aaron Holiday got another start sans Jeremy Lamb (groin) and finished with 11 points (3-of-6 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), three triples, two rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers in 30 minutes. If Lamb can’t give it a go on Sunday against the Bucks, Holiday could be a guy to think about streaming.

T.J. McConnell hit 7-of-8 shots on his way to 15 points, eight assists, three rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and two turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench. He’s been solid over the past three games with averages of 12.3 points, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.0 turnover per game on 72% shooting, and he’ll be another guy to contemplate streaming on Sunday if Lamb is out again.

Markieff Morris got the spot-start with Blake Griffin (knee) unavailable on Friday and finished with 10 points (3-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists, one steal, two blocks and three turnovers across 31 minutes. He should be more involved in the rotation while Christian Wood (knee) is out, so he even if Griffin returns on Saturday, Morris could have some low-end value moving forward. He’s worth monitoring in deep leagues.

Daniel Theis contributed eight points (3-of-7 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), six rebounds, one assist, one steal and four swats across 22 minutes as a starter. He’s not the most exciting guy to own with averages of 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game on 52.3% shooting, but he’s doing enough with the blocks to have some low-end value in deep leagues.

Enes Kanter hauled in a season-high 18 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench, adding eight points (4-of-9 FGs, 0-of-2 FTs), one steal, one block and two turnovers. He’s been trending up over the past three games with averages of 11.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block and 1.0 turnover per contest on 50% shooting, and it looks like he could continue to flirt with minutes in the mid-20s while Robert Williams (hip) and Gordon Hayward (foot) are out. His long-term outlook isn’t great, but he’s doing enough right now to warrant a speculative add.

Ish Smith didn’t miss a single shot in a narrow loss to the Raptors on Friday, going 9-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the stripe on his way to 26 points, four 3-pointers, one rebound, two assists, one steal, one block and zero turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench. Isaiah Thomas’ return hasn’t affected Smith that much, as he’s still come through with averages of 14.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.3 treys, 1.0 steal, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 turnovers in 28.3 minutes a night over the past three with IT. The scoring comes and goes with Ish, but he’s doing enough with the dimes and steals to warrant ownership in deep leagues.

Bobby Portis dropped in a season-high 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with eight rebounds, four 3-pointers, two assists, three steals and zero turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench in a blowout loss to the Heat. He’s been very hit-or-miss this season and was helped by garbage time in this one, but with a matchup against the Bucks on Saturday – garbage time could again be on the table. He’s on the radar as a potential deep league streamer.

D.J. Augustin netted 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting (3-of-4 from the line) to go with two 3-pointers, one rebound, three assists and one turnover in 29 minutes off the bench. He’s been hot over the past four games with averages of 18.5 points, 2.3 treys, 5.3 assists and just 0.8 turnovers per contest on 51.2% shooting, and while there’s no way he’ll be able to keep this up, he’s worth a look while he’s this hot.

Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled seven triples on his way to 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting to go with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 32 minutes. He was already trending up prior to Luka Doncic (ankle) going down, but he’s going to see way more opportunity while Doncic is out. He’s inconsistent and doesn’t do much outside of points and triples, but he is doing enough in those two categories to warrant ownership in most leagues.

Jalen Brunson handed out seven dimes through 25 minutes as a starter to go with 11 points (5-of-9 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), three rebounds, one steal and two turnovers. Over the past four games with Doncic unavailable, Brunson has registering averages of 13.0 points, 9.3 assists, 1.5 triples and 2.8 turnovers per contest on 42.6% shooting. He’ll drop off a cliff once Doncic gets back, but for now, he’s worth owning in most leagues.

Delon Wright finally saw his playing time eclipse the 20-minute mark and he finished with eight points (2-of-3 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and one turnover in 23 minutes off the bench. He’s another guy who has benefitted from the absence of Doncic, and despite only averaging 16.9 minutes per game over the past four, he’s still averaging 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals a night. He’s had an up-and-down season, but he tends to perform whenever he’s given the minutes, so I’d say he’s worth holding while Doncic is out.

John Henson tied his career-high in blocks with seven in just 16 minutes off the bench, adding three points, four rebounds and three assists in a win over the Grizzlies. Unfortunately, he’s only averaging minutes in the teens, which isn’t enough floor time for him to consistently produce, but if a trade or injury ever opens up minutes for him, he’ll be someone to grab.

Injury Tracker

 

Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) missed his second consecutive game on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Portland. If he’s out again, Gorgui Dieng will be looking at another start and there will be more minutes available for Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell, while Andrew Wiggins will be tasked with the heavy lifting on offense.

Deandre Ayton (ankle) found himself back on the sidelines just one game after his return from a 25-game suspension on Friday, but I feel like there’s a decent chance this was simply the Suns being cautious and he’ll be able to get back out there for Saturday’s game against the Rockets. With tomorrow’s game being the second of a back-to-back, the Suns won’t host a shootaround, so Ayton owners probably won’t get official word on his status until just prior to tip-off.

Carmelo Anthony left Friday’s game after just nine minutes with a left knee contusion and did not return, finishing with five points, six rebounds, one 3-pointer, three blocks and one turnover. It seems unlikely that he’ll be able to play on Saturday against the Timberwolves, which will likely result in Anthony Tolliver earning the start with more minutes falling to Skal Labissiere and Mario Hezonja. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will be extremely busy while Melo is out, and Kent Bazemore could see some more shots falling his way.

Devin Booker (forearm) returned from a three-game absence and produced 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and four turnovers through 28 minutes as a starter. With Booker back in action, Mikal Bridges returned to the second unit where he was limited to just 17 minutes and didn’t do anything worth writing about.

Cameron Johnson (hip) returned from a one-game stint on the sidelines and finished with four points, one 3-pointer, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 17 minutes off the bench.

Gordon Hayward (foot) and Marcus Smart (eye) did not play Friday and they should be considered doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Hornets. Smart is apparently dealing with the worst eye infection the Celtics’ medical staff has ever seen, but it’s still a little unclear exactly what Hayward is dealing with. The good news is that his MRI came back clean, so that rules out any structural damage, but it is concerning that he’s been dealing with a bum foot for about a month now. Grant Williams and Brad Wanamaker will continue to see some additional opportunities while Hayward and Smart are sidelined.

Blake Griffin (knee) and Luke Kennard (knee) were held out of Friday’s game with it being the first of a back-to-back set, but they’re reportedly expected to get back out there for Saturday’s game against the Bulls.

Christian Wood was diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise on Friday and he’ll be re-evaluated in one week, although this will likely be a multi-week absence. He’s not really worth hanging onto while he’s injured.

Jeremy Lamb (groin) did not play Friday and he should be considered highly questionable for Sunday’s game in Milwaukee with it being the first of a back-to-back set. If he’s out again, Aaron Holiday will get another start and there will be more minutes available for Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott.

Paul Millsap appeared to tweak his left knee during the closing minutes of Friday’s game, making his status murky for Sunday’s game against the Lakers with that being the first of a back-to-back set. If he is forced to the sidelines, Jerami Grant would return to the first unit and he’d be someone to think about as a potential streamer.

Eric Paschall tweaked his right knee on Friday and did not return, finishing with just three points, one rebound and one assist in seven minutes off the bench. The good news is that the Warriors are off until Monday, so he may not need to miss any additional time, but he also doesn’t do much aside from score so he’s not necessarily a hold if he ends up missing time.

Trevor Ariza (personal) did not play on Friday and considering he’s currently away from the team, it’s unlikely that he’ll make it back for Saturday’s game in Memphis.

Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game.

Moritz Wagner (ankle) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Philly. If he’s again forced to join Thomas Bryant (foot) and Rui Hachimura (groin) on the sidelines, Davis Bertans will continue to flirt with 40 minutes and Anzejs Pasecniks will see about 20 minutes off the bench.

Jarrett Culver (illness) returned from a one-game absence on Friday, but he was limited to just 13 minutes off the bench and finished with two points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks and one turnover. He was clearly still a bit under the weather, but he should be fine for Saturday’s game.

Frank Vogel said he’s hopeful that Kyle Kuzma (ankle) will be able to practice on Saturday and return to the court for Sunday’s game against the Nuggets. However, he’s been fairly bad this season, so I wouldn’t rush to the wire to grab him.

Justise Winslow (back) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Jazz.

Grayson Allen (ankle) returned from a five-game absence, scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting to go with two 3-pointers, one rebound and nothing else in 11 minutes off the bench.

Michael Carter-Williams (shoulder) exited Friday’s game and did not return, finishing with two rebounds, one assist and a turnover in nine minutes off the bench. He should be considered questionable for Monday’s matchup with the Bulls.

Nassir Little (back) missed his fourth straight game on Friday and he should be considered doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves.

Wesley Matthews (thigh) is doubtful to play on Saturday against the Knicks.

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