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Nets 124, Pacers 115
Kevin Durant’s (hamstring) latest scan came back clean according to Steve Nash and he “has a couple weeks of ramp up left” which sets him up for a late March return. If you’ve been streaming guys like Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet and Jeff Green, it’s time to look elsewhere for players with better upside. Kyrie Irving sat with a “groin” injury that was deemed as a precautionary DNP, so there’s no concern there and please don’t be fooled by Tyler Johnson’s fluky line in this one.
James Harden paced the Nets with a truly epic line of 40 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and a pair of steals and triples for his first 40-point game of the season and 11th triple-double. He’s averaging 40.4 minutes over his last six games, so maybe the Nets look to get him a rest day soon. I have him as the No. 2 fantasy player going forward behind only Nikola Jokic. The Nets have a dilemma on their hands, but it’s a good one in Nicolas Claxton. They just signed Blake Griffin and are linked to every high profile big man such as Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge, but how can they justify not playing this kid? He had another stellar night, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 23 minutes. I’ll say it again, I think he unseats DeAndre Jordan as the starter before too long.
Domantas Sabonis posted his franchise record 6th triple-double of the season (18/11/11) to go with 4 steals, a block and a triple, Malcolm Brogdon added a 24/4/3 line and Caris LeVert looked solid in his third game back, shooting 6-of-16 for 19 points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals and three triples in 34 minutes. He’s already rocking a full workload, and his 25% usage rate over the last three games is right in line with Brogdon’s which means he has established himself as one of the engines to this offense. LeVert should be a top-75 player going forward.
Bucks 109, 76ers 105
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with a 32/15/5 line with a triple in 43 minutes, and he’s suddenly right back in the MVP discussion where he belongs -- the Bucks have won 10 of their last 11 games and Giannis is averaging 31.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.2 triples as the No. 2 player in fantasy in that span.
Jrue Holiday (19/6/6) has stabilized things for the Bucks since his return and the buy-low window is slammed shut, and while Donte DiVincenzo has been hit or miss all season, he showed his upside tonight with a 20-point game to go with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and four triples. He ranks inside the top-60 over his last four with 13.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.0 triples, so congrats if you kept the faith. Bobby Portis played just 12 minutes and is likely to lose minutes with the Bucks acquiring P.J. Tucker, and while Donte is a slight winner from the Bucks losing D.J. Augustin, Pat Connaughton is a name to watch in deeper leagues. He played 32 minutes with six points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Ben Simmons triple-doubled with a 13/12/10 line with two steals, two blocks and a rare triple, while Tobias Harris added a 19/9/4 line with two steals, a block and a triple. Seth Curry suffered an ankle sprain and wasn’t able to return, so that puts both Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz on the radar. Milton had a 15/4/3 line with a steal and a triple and is the better add in my opinion, but Korkmaz isn’t a bad option either, averaging 14.6 points, 2.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.6 triples in 21 minutes over his last five.
As for the position battle between Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley, I was obviously wrong when I said last week that Bradley was the better add. Howard has double-doubled in back-to-back games with at least 28 minutes in each, swatting four shots in that span.
Kings 121, Wizards 119
De’Aaron Fox put on a show for the Kings, dropping a 28/7/1 line with five steals and a triple, topping it off with a game-winning jumper. The Kings are 16-24 and this looks like another lost season, but watching Fox make “the leap” at least gives fans hope for the future -- over his last 10 games he’s averaging 27.7 points, 8.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.0 triples on 47% shooting.
Speaking of the future, Tyrese Haliburton thrived in the starting lineup in a move that likely sticks with Marvin Bagley (wrist) injured yet again. Haliburton finished with 17 points, three 3-pointers, four assists and two rebounds and offers top-50 upside now that he has his legs under him again. Hassan Whiteside returned from the protocols and played 20 minutes with six points, six rebounds and two blocks, and he’s a player I’m stashing as we get closer to the deadline. If he lands a role of just 20 minutes or more, it goes without saying he’ll be a monster in fantasy. Richaun Holmes had 18 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks, continuing his truly epic run as the 16th best 9-cat player for the last month. Only a trade to a contender could slow him down as his expiring contract worth $5M is one of the best bargains in the NBA.
Russell Westbrook triple-doubled with a 26/14/10 line and Bradley Beal added a 29/6/5 line, but the Wizards dropped their seventh game out of their last eight and are right back in the tank. Look for Westy’s minutes to get dialed back later in the season, and the same could be true for Beal if a contender doesn’t rescue him at the deadline. Deni Avdija looks like the only interesting player to stash in Washington, as he has a per-36 line of 14.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.4 blocks and 2.2 triples with Beal and Westbrook off the court.
Nuggets 129, Hornets 104
There wasn’t much to see here from the Hornets with Terry Rozier (21/5/4 with three triples and two steals) and Malik Monk (16 points, two assists, two steals and one triple) being the only bright spots. Devonte’ Graham had a quiet night in 17 minutes, and with the Hornets failing to extend his contract over the summer, I feel like there’s a chance he’s moved at the deadline. For that reason, I’d keep a close eye on Monk who had that six-game stretch from Feb. 22nd to March 3rd when he put up 22.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.3 triples in only 26.9 minutes.
Nikola Jokic had a Rondo-like triple double with a 12/10/10 line, Will Barton (23/4/4 line) has completely turned his season around and looks like a mid-rounder the rest of the way and Facundo Campazzo is still on the streaming radar with the Nuggets announcing that Gary Harris (adductor) has no timetable. Campazzo had six points, 10 assists, four steals, two rebounds and a triple in 25 minutes, and the Nuggets are loving their two-PG lineups. Michael Porter Jr. was the headliner here though, going for 28 points, 13 rebounds, three triples and a dime on 11-of-17 shooting. He has solidified himself as Denver’s third star, coach Malone is gushing about him and he’s a team-best +99 over the last 10 games, hitting 60% from the field and 50% from the arc. He could be a top-25 player the rest of the way.
Grizzlies 89, Heat 85
You already know what I’m going to say. Coach Taylor Jenkins made another egregious decision tonight by moving Grayson Allen into the starting five for Desmond Bane instead of De’Anthony Melton, but it didn’t take long for Melton to steal the spotlight. Melton finished as a team-best +20 in 23 minutes, coming up with a huge steal, offensive rebound and pair of clutch free throws to seal the win. Melton had a gem of a fantasy line too with 13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one triple, while Allen was 3-of-13 from the field and was a -17 in a 4-point win. You can’t make this stuff up.
Melton ranks 31st in 9-cat over his last eight games in 20.6 minutes despite Jenkins holding him back, but if he’s not freed after this performance I’m not sure he ever will be. I’ve been holding Melton everywhere in case that wasn’t obvious. Brandon Clarke had his second dud in a row, and with so many hot pickups on the wire, I don’t think he’s a must-roster player. I also think it’s going to be Kyle Anderson who gets the backup PF minutes behind Jaren Jackson Jr. instead of Clarke. Dillon Brooks (3-of-13 FGs) did what he does best by missing a lot of shots, and Justise Winslow has no business being in the rotation.
Jimmy Butler (24/7/2 line with one steal and two triples) and Bam Adebayo (15/12/6 line with one steal) were the only positives for Miami, who lost just their second game in their last 12. Butler was questionable to play with an ankle issue but obviously looked fine. He’s the No. 1 player in 9-cat over his last eight games, though I’m curious to see if the Heat brings in some help at the deadline. Tyler Herro (11/5/2 line with one block and one triple) simply isn’t a good fantasy asset yet with too many holes in his game.
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Warriors 108, Rockets 94
Draymond Green’s (16/12/10 triple-double) resurgence continued, as he’s the 27th ranked fantasy player over the last month with 8.5 points, 9.0 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks and 0.9 triples. His jumper is still broken, but I look like a fool for thinking this guy was washed just a few months ago. Credit to him for finding his second wind and he’s going to need it, as James Wiseman and Eric Paschall are set to miss at least a week due to protocols. Stephen Curry left the game with a bruised tailbone, with coach Steve Kerr saying after the game that he’ll have an update for us Thursday. "No idea if he'll play in Memphis,” Kerr said. “But he seems to feel like he'll be fine in the next week or so. We'll see. Don't take that to mean he's out a week. He could be back practicing tomorrow, for all I know.”
Regardless, it’s time to pick up Jordan Poole and Kerr and Draymond Green both couldn’t stop hyping him up after the game. Poole had 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting with one rebound, two assists, six triples and two steals across 24 minutes and is averaging 19.0 points, 2.2 assists and 3.4 triples over his last five. “It’s been a pretty natural progression for his development,” Kerr said. “These days, we all want instant gratification. But it takes time for players to get comfortable in this league. To me, he’s looking very comfortable now.”
Christian Wood finally returned from a 17-game absence, but couldn’t get a W in the win column (to the delight of their front office) for their 18th straight loss. Wood had 21 points (8-of-12 FGs), nine rebounds, two assists and one block and looked like the top-25 player he was before the injury, even dropping Draymond with a nasty crossover (link).
He showed nice chemistry in the two-man game with Kevin Porter Jr., and the only concern is how much the tank will affect his fantasy value down the stretch (lower minutes, random DNPs etc.). Speaking of KPJ, his playmaking has been out of this world so you better believe he’s going to love playing next to Wood. He had 25 points, seven dimes, four rebounds, three steals and three triples, and assuming John Wall is shut down and/or Victor Oladipo is traded, the sky’s the limit for a player who could coast his way to early-round numbers. He’s already that good. KJ Martin Jr. had a 13-point game with nine rebounds in 30 minutes, and he’s usually a great source of defensive stats. With P.J. Tucker gone, KJ Martin is a quality pickup with top-100 upside. Think of him like a Derrick Jones Jr. with more opportunity. Justin Patton played just 11 minutes, and while this makes him a drop, he could easily resurface if the Rockets are open to using him alongside Wood. We shall see.
Mavericks 105, Clippers 89
The words “Pandemic P” were trending on Twitter which tells you everything you need to know for the Clippers. Paul George was actually very good on offense with a 28-7-5 line with five triples, but was torched over and over again by Luka Doncic. But to be fair, who wouldn’t get torched by Luka? Kawhi Leonard added a 20-7-7 line with a pair of steals, but the Clippers are reeling right now as they are 10-11 since the start of February. On the bright side, maybe this means less rest for the studs. That means you can’t sit any more games because you’re dizzy, George.
Serge Ibaka (back) missed another game which made Ivica Zubac a no-brainer in fantasy lineups, and he delivered with a 14/7/2 line with three steals and a block in 35 minutes. If he keeps this up, Ty Lue is going to have a difficult decision to make when Ibaka comes back.
Luka had a 42-point night with nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and six triples for the line of the night. The Mavs are 12-4 in their last 16 games, and Luka has been unfair in that span with a 30/9/8 line with 3.7 triples, 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks. A slight uptick in defensive stats and FT% and we’re talking about the best fantasy basketball player in the coming years.
Spurs 106, Bulls 99
The Jakob Poeltl breakout is very real with the big man going off for 20 points, 16 rebounds and one assist. He didn’t have any blocks which is bizarre by his standards, but he was coming off a 14/12/2 line in his last game with four swats and has top-50 upside the rest of the way. Derrick White had a nice line but was just 4-of-14 from the field to keep the buy-low window open ever so slightly, and patience is finally paying off for Keldon Johnson’s fantasy managers as he posted a 14/3/3 line with one steal, one block and one triple in 31 minutes.
Thaddeus Young continues to light up the fantasy basketball landscape with another gem of a line (16/8/5 with two steals and a block), and Chicago’s phones are going to be ringing off the hook at the deadline. Do they flip him for a younger asset/player or hold him and let him continue to optimize guys like Zach LaVine with his playmaking? Tomas Satoransky is averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.3 triples over his last three games, but I’m not convinced his newfound role sticks for much longer. Patrick Williams (18%) is the player I’m more interested in, and while he had a productive night with a 10/14/1 line with a pair of triples, he’s been super volatile from night to night. Zach LaVine added 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting with six dimes and three triples as he cruises his way to a top-15 season.
Pistons 116, Raptors 112
The Raptors finally got Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam back in the lineup, but the rust was painfully obvious with the two combining to shoot 5-of-25 from the field. FVV said he had a particularly tough time with COVID, so if we learned anything from Jayson Tatum it’s fair to expect a slow climb back up to peak form. Chris Boucher started over Aron Baynes to the delight of the fantasy community, and he delivered with a 21/5/3 line with one block. If Boucher is going to flirt with 30 minutes on a regular basis, he’s going to be a fantasy superstar and he already ranks 15th over his last five games. Norman Powell has been electric for a couple months and paid a nice tribute to Monta Ellis with 43 points on 14-of-18 shooting with zero assists, the most points without an assist in Raptors’ history.
Saddiq Bey was one of the top picks in my Waiver Wired column over the weekend, but I can promise you I didn’t expect anywhere close to this line of 28 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and six triples. The Pistons are using him all over the floor, so even though they are experimenting with rotations, Bey’s fantasy value appears locked in as a borderline top-100 player. Delon Wright had a 18/10/8 line with two steals which suggests he’s ready to be the top-50 player he was before the injury, and I’m guessing that he’s going to be starting alongside Killian Hayes when he comes back. Isaiah Stewart had a 10/4/1 line with a block and a pair of triples and is doing just enough to be considered as an add, especially if Dwane Casey is serious about using him as a PF for stretches.
Cavaliers 117, Celtics 110
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 57 points, but it was Robert Williams who turned the most heads this evening. He had a monstrous line of 13 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals, playing a season-high 27(!) minutes. He did tweak his knee and Brad Stevens said he was initially concerned, but it turned out to be a simple contusion and he was able to finish the game. Williams is ranked 8th in 9-cat over his last three games with 11.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.8 blocks in 21.0 minutes. My favorite sleeper heading into the season is very much awake.
Darius Garland bounced back with 25 points, six dimes and two assists to calm the nerves of his fantasy managers, Collin Sexton has been consistently awesome all season and had a 25/7/6 line with a pair of triples and Larry Nance Jr. (18/10/4 with two steals, one block and two triples) is full speed ahead as a top-50 player with Kevin Love out seemingly forever.
Isaac Okoro is the potential waiver-wire pickup I’ve got eyes on, as he had a 15/4/2 line and has shown that he can contribute everywhere on the stat sheet.