There were some massive performances from some unlikely places on Monday night and I somehow had most of them on my DFS teams, like Jahlil Okafor and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, just to name a couple. Additionally, Matt Stroup and I had a special guest on this week’s Waiver Wired podcast and Brian Rosenworcel, who plays drums for everyone’s favorite band Guster, was hilarious. Check it out here!
Thunder 117, Timberwolves 104 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went beast mode with 20 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, 10 assists, a block and two 3-pointers on 8-of-12 shooting for a monster triple-double (his first) and a 60-point FanDuel night. He had a great matchup with the Wolves and took full advantage of it with the game of his life. Danilo Gallinari came through with 30 points and three 3-pointers and Steven Adams had 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, a steal and three blocks in the win. Chris Paul was quiet in SGA’s shadow with 10 points, four boards, three assists and a steal on 5-of-15 shooting, while Terrence Ferguson somehow got loose for 14 points and two 3-pointers. Dennis Schroder also scored 14 and Mike Muscala added 11 points, three boards, three assists, a block and three 3-pointers off the bench. I’m not messing with Muscala or Ferguson, despite their mild heroics last night.
The Wolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns due to both his knee injury and an illness, but it does sound like there’s a chance he could play on Wednesday night. He’s missed 14 straight games and the Wolves are now just 15-24 on the season. Naz Reid got hot off the bench in just 18 minutes and led the way with a career-high 20 points and four 3-pointers. Just put him on your radar. Robert Covington had a big night with 18 points, four boards, two assists, three steals, a block and four 3-pointers, Shabazz Napier had 16 points, five boards, four assists and three 3-pointers, and Jarrett Culver hit 7-of-15 shots for 14 points, five rebounds and two assists in the start. Andrew Wiggins hit just 4-of-12 shots for 10 points and Gorgui Dieng really cooled off with five points, four boards, a steal and a 3-pointer on 2-of-7 shooting in just 16 minutes. He was in foul trouble and the game was out of hand, so the Wolves just rolled with the bench for much of this one. Jeff Teague was also really quiet with six points and five assists on 2-of-7 shooting off the bench. Teague’s hit just 4-of-16 shots over his last two games for a total of 11 points and the Wolves, without Towns, are simply a mess right now. Teague has yet to fully go away, but it does appear that the Wolves are ready to move on from him.
Pelicans 117, Pistons 110 OT – We (as in Rotoworld) posted a blurb at 6:37 last night that Jahlil Okafor was starting over Jaxson Hayes with Derrick Favors out again with his hamstring injury. Hayes has been solid, and I kept him in one of my lineups, but I rolled the dice on Okafor in another and the move paid off in a big way. The Pels went with Okafor because they thought he matched up better with Andre Drummond and all he did was hit 11-of-21 shots for 25 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for a 57.3 night in FanDuel. I have no idea if he’ll do it again any time soon and I still like Hayes, but Okafor definitely made an impression last night. Nicolo Melli also started (for Brandon Ingram – right knee) and went off for a career-high 20 points, two 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, Lonzo Ball just missed a triple-double with a 17-12-9 line with three steals and three 3-pointers, but also had seven turnovers (Jrue Holiday was out again with his elbow injury), E’Twaun Moore started for J.J. Redick (hamstring) and had 16 points and seven boards, and Josh Hart had 11 points, six boards, two assists, a block and three 3-pointers. Frank Jackson had 13 points and eight boards off the bench, and Hayes ended up with eight points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes. The situation in New Orleans is quite fluid right now and we’ll just have to monitor these injuries, as well as who’s starting, from night to night. But my guess is that Okafor just had the best game he’ll have all year and I’m glad I took a last-minute flier on him. Favors could play on Thursday, which will hurt both Okafor and Hayes, although at some point you have to think the Pelicans just give up and let the kids play.
For the Pistons, Derrick Rose played a season-high 37 minutes and led the way with 23 points, four boards, eight assists and a block off the bench, while super-stash Christian Wood came through with 18 points, nine boards, two steals, three blocks and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench. Those two outscored all the Pistons’ starters, but Sekou Doumbouya was nice with 16 points, eight boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers in a start, Andre Drummond double-doubled with 11 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, Svi Mykhailiuk added 13 points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, and Bruce Brown added 12 points, five assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in the loss. Rose, Doumbouya, Wood, Svi and Brown are all worth owning in almost any league right now. The amount of fantasy value from guys who weren’t even drafted in most leagues this year was off the charts in this game and it was fun for those of us who had some of these guys in our lineups.
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Pacers 101, Sixers 95 – The Pacers disposed of the Sixers behind 21 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, a steal and three 3-pointers from Malcolm Brogdon (who returned from a bout with strep throat), and T.J. Warren also had 21 points with two steals and two blocks in the win. Brogdon had missed eight of his last nine games but looked great tonight and is hopefully now good to go. Domantas Sabonis had 10 points and 16 rebounds on 3-of-12 shooting, Myles Turner came through with 14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a 3-pointer, and Justin Holiday added 14 points and four triples off the bench. Jeremy Lamb started but was quiet with four points on 2-of-8 shooting and will take a hit once Victor Oladipo finally plays.
The Sixers were led by Ben Simmons’ 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists on 10-of-17 shooting, and Josh Richardson came through with 23 points, four boards, three assists and a 3-pointer in his 36 minutes. Al Horford, filling in for Joel Embiid (finger surgery), had 10 points, eight boards, five assists, a steal and two blocks, Tobias Harris had 15 points and 11 boards, and Mike Scott started again (for Embiid), but had just five points and four boards on 1-of-6 shooting in 18 minutes. Matisse Thybulle is back from his knee injury but hit just 2-of-8 shots for six points, five boards, an assist, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer after scoring just a total of two points in his games on Thursday and Saturday. He should be on your radar, but isn’t worth owning right now.
Celtics 113, Bulls 101 – Jayson Tatum was also in my lineups and came through with 21 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers, Jaylen Brown added 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals, Enes Kanter added 15 points, nine boards, a steal and a block, and Kemba Walker was quiet with 14 points, four boards, two assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 5-of-9 shooting. Gordon Hayward was also quiet with eight points, six boards and eight assists on 4-of-11 shooting, but the Celtics held on for the win. Marcus Smart was fun with 12 points, five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, and Grant Williams added 11 points, five boards, three assists, a block and a 3-pointer in just 16 minutes off the bench. Kanter’s a nice play right now with Daniel Theis out with a sore right knee.
The Bulls got 30 points, five boards, two assists, a steal, three 3-pointers and six turnovers from Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young came off the bench for 17 points, two rebounds and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes. The rest of the Bulls’ bench was invisible last night, and the rest of the starters weren’t much better. Tomas Satoransky had 12 points and seven assists in the start, Daniel Gafford had 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks, Lauri Markkanen had nine points, six boards and two steals in 25 minutes, and Kris Dunn hit 3-of-7 shots for nine points and five rebounds. This was just Dunn’s sixth game of the season without a steal. The Bulls have three more games this week and play four times in each of the next two weeks, making guys like Gafford, Dunn, Young and Satoransky worth a close look, while LaVine and Markkanen are must-start players despite Markkanen’s off night. And with Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) out for at least a month, Luke Kornet is also worth a look, although he had zero points, five boards and a block in this one. For the record, I like Gafford a lot more than Kornet.
Blazers 115, Hornets 112 – This game was all about the guards, as Damian Lillard had 30 points, nine assists and five 3-pointers on 10-of-16 shooting, and C.J. McCollum racked up 27 points, four boards, four assists and five triples on 11-of-22 shots. Carmelo Anthony was solid with 17 points, six boards, eight assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, and also had an incredible save that basically saved the game for the Blazers. Anthony Tolliver came off the bench for a season-high 16 points, 11 rebounds and two 3-pointers on 7-of-8 shooting in just 21 minutes. Hassan Whiteside, dealing with a respiratory illness, was quiet with seven points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers, but there’s no reason to give Tolliver a second look until he does this again in his next two games (he won’t). The Blazers starters are pretty reliable in fantasy circles, although the only four you can trust are Lillard, CJM, Whiteside and Melo.
The guards went off for Charlotte too, as Devonte’ Graham went off for 27 points, three rebounds, 10 assists, a steal and eight 3-pointers, and Terry Rozier hit 8-of-18 shots and four 3-pointers for 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 39 minutes for a bounce-back game after Sunday’s disaster. P.J. Washington went off for 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers, while starters Cody Zeller and Miles Bridges (0-for-7) did next to nothing. Willy Hernangomez somehow hit 7-of-8 shots for 14 points, four rebounds and a block in just 16 minutes after racking up 15 points, six rebounds and a 3-pointer on Friday night. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened, but it’s clearly tied to Bismack Biyombo’s nose injury, which we don’t have much information about. I assume Biyombo will be back for the next one and Hernangomez will go away, but it really doesn’t matter. The Hornets schedule is terrible, and they play just one more game this week, two games next week, three games in each of the following two weeks, and then have back-to-back two-game weeks again after that. It looks like this: 2-2-3-3-2-2 over the next six weeks, which is brutal.
Magic 114, Kings 112 – Aaron Gordon returned from his calf injury and hit the game-winner with 1.1 seconds left, finishing with 19 points, nine boards, a block and a 3-pointer, while Nikola Vucevic (26 & 15 with 3 blocks and 2 threes), Evan Fournier (25 points, six assists, a 3-pointer) and Markelle Fultz (16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a 3-pointer) all played well. Vuc showed no ill effects from the ankle injury he suffered on Friday night, which was nice. Khem Birch started at PF but had just four points and one rebound, while guys like Wes Iwundu, Mo Bamba, D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross were all really quiet off the bench. Augustin was pretty iffy with a sore left knee, but he was able to play through it. I’m a little surprised that Ross hasn’t completely taken off with Jonathan Isaac sidelined, but he did have 18 points and three 3-pointers on Friday before tonight’s six-point dud and should get plenty of minutes over the next several weeks.
Despite the return of Marvin Bagley from an eight-game absence with a left foot injury, Nemanja Bjelica went off for a career-high 34 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a career-high eight 3-pointers on 13-of-16 shooting. Somehow, he wasn’t in my DFS lineups, but he is still in several of my standard-league lineups. Maybe he’ll take a hit with Bagley back, but with Richaun Holmes (shoulder) down and out, Bjelica could easily keep it going the rest of the way. De’Aaron Fox had 31 points, eight boards, 10 assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, Buddy Hield had 16 points, five boards, five assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, and Bagley hit 8-of-17 shots for 18 points, six boards and two blocks in his 23 minutes off the bench. Hopefully, he’s back to stay. The Harrys (Barnes and Giles) were awful in starts for the Kings on Monday and Bagley should be back in the starting lineup over Giles sooner than later.
Lakers 128, Cavaliers 99 – The Lakers were in a dogfight until halftime and then had their biggest second half of the season (81 points) to run away with an easy win in the night’s final game. LeBron James returned from a bout with the flu to hit 12-of-16 shots against his former team for 31 points and eight assists, Avery Bradley scored 12, Kyle Kuzma had 11 with Anthony Davis (tailbone) out for the third straight game and Danny Green scored 10 points with four steals. Dwight Howard was basically the player of the game for L.A. with his season-high 21 points, season-high 15 rebounds and a 3-pointer off the bench. I am still in shock at how well Dwight is doing for the Lakers, and how well Melo is fitting in with the Blazers. Dwight will pipe down once Davis is back. Alex Caruso had 10 points, six dimes and a couple 3-pointers and might make some noise with Rajon Rondo out for a week with a finger injury, but I don’t trust him.
The Cavs got a strong and balanced attack from their starters and almost nothing from the bench. Kevin Love led the way with 21 points and 11 boards, Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 10 rebounds, guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland each scored 16 points with four dimes, and Cedi Osman had 15 points and four 3-pointers in the loss. I don’t really trust many Cavs, but the starters are all worth a look in all formats until further notice. Dante Exum had 28 points in the last game he played in but missed both of his shots and scored one point in this one after returning from an illness. My hope is the Cavs just keep running Garland and Sexton out there, and not focus on Exum. We shall see.