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Slump Snapped – Boucher Trapped
OG Anunoby, who came into Saturday’s game converting just 26.7% of his shot attempts, snapped out of his shooting funk in a big way, scoring 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting in his first 14 minutes of play – and he ended his evening with 23 points (9-of-15 FG), four rebounds, five triples, two steals, two swats and two turnovers in a loss to the Mavericks. He was fairly awful offensively through his first two games, but he found his rhythm on Saturday night and looked like the killer we saw throughout the preseason. I think things will only improve for him once Pascal Siakam (shoulder) returns, as Spicy P’s mere presence should improve the spacing on the floor, thus creating easier scoring opportunities for OG, so hopefully, the slow start is officially behind him.
Unfortunately, while OG was able to bust out of his shooting funk, Chris Boucher barely even saw the floor, going scoreless in just eight minutes off the bench, bricking all five of his shots and finishing with two rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one turnover. When head coach Nick Nurse was asked after the game if Boucher’s minutes were low due to his up-and-down play, Nurse responded flatly: “I didn’t see any up. He needs to start playing better. Period.” Nurse loves playing this game with Boucher’s minutes, which is massively frustrating for folks who drafted him, but I think he’ll figure it out soon enough. This guy offers way too much upside to outright cut, so don’t rage-quit him, but now would be an excellent time to reach out to Boucher’s fantasy managers with some buy-low offers.
Jonas Valanciunas busted loose for a 20-point, 17-rebound double-double in Saturday’s narrow loss to the Timberwolves, adding two assists, three steals, one block and one turnover in 36 minutes. He got punked by Joel Embiid in the season opener and had just nine points on 3-of-19 shooting, but he’s been great over the past two games with averages of 19.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 block, and just 0.5 turnovers per contest. All that said, I’m marginally nervous about JV being able to maintain this production once/if a healthy Zion Williamson (foot) returns to the floor, so if I had him on my roster, I would consider floating out some sell-high offers before his situation changes. Even including the dud from the opener, he’s flirting with top-25 value through the first three games, so you should be able to get a solid return on him right now.
On The Radar
Alex Caruso (26%) had another impressive showing in 27 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 at the stripe to go with four assists, two triples, five steals, one block and two turnovers in an easy win over the Pistons. The Bulls have opened their season 3-0, and Caruso has played a significant role in the hot start with his gritty effort on the defensive end of the floor. He’s actually flirting with top-60 value through the first three games of the year behind averages of 8.0 points, 3.3 assists, 1.0 triple, 3.0 steals, 1.0 block and 1.3 turnovers per game on 50% shooting from the field and 83% at the stripe. Now, there’s no way Caruso will average 3.0 steals per game this season, but he could provide some sneaky mid-round value as an elite steals guy who can give you a little bit of everything without hurting you anywhere. I think his defense is so valuable that even when Coby White (shoulder) comes back, Caruso will still be a major factor in the rotation, so I think he’s worth a roster spot just about everywhere.
Desmond Bane (39%) had another impressive outing on Saturday, going 7-of-15 from the field and 1-of-2 at the stripe for 19 points, six rebounds, two assists, four triples, one block and one turnover in 31 minutes. He looks ready to take a major leap in his sophomore season, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll stick as a starter even when Dillon Brooks (hand) gets back, so make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.
Cam Reddish (28%) scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting (2-of-4 FT) to go with six rebounds and three triples in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s looked a lot more confident in his third season, and he’s done a nice job of providing that offensive spark in the second unit. Now, it’s worth noting that Danilo Gallinari (shoulder) has yet to play this season, and he’s a guy who will demand the rock and put up shots, but I think Reddish could work alongside The Rooster just fine. If you want some points and triples with a steady stream of steals, then give Reddish a look.
Ricky Rubio (50%) got another start with Darius Garland missing another game due to the ankle issue, and he guided the Cavs to a 101-95 win over the Hawks with a team-high 23 points (9-of-15 FG, 2-of-2 FT), six rebounds, eight assists, three triples, one steal and three turnovers in 35 minutes. Rubio has seen some increased opportunity over the past few games with Garland unavailable, but even when Cleveland had a completely healthy roster in their season opener, Rubio still posted a 12-point, 10-assist double-double in 25 minutes off the bench. Regardless of Garland’s health, Rubio is going to play a significant role on this team, so if he can just stay healthy he could be in for a big year. He’s already rostered in 50% of Yahoo leagues, but that still feels quite low given he’s opened up the year with top-40 numbers.
Precious Achiuwa (38%) notched his second straight double-double in another start on Saturday, going 4-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-3 at the stripe for 10 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and one turnover across 33 minutes. Achiuwa was awful in the season-opener, but his minutes have increased with each game and he’s played much better over the past two. It’ll be interesting to see what his minutes look like when Pascal Siakam (shoulder) is back, Khem Birch (working on conditioning after recovering from COVID-19) gets back up to speed and Chris Boucher gets out of Nick Nurse’s doghouse, but it sure does seem like he’s endearing himself to Nurse. If you’re in a deep league and in need of a big, Precious could be someone to take a look at.
Jordan Nwora (8%) swatted away another two shots in 21 minutes off the bench, adding seven points (3-of-7 FG), six rebounds, one assist and one triple in a 121-111 win over the Spurs. Nwora was a negligible part of the rotation his rookie season, only appearing in a total of 30 games, but it looks like Mike Budenholzer has him penciled in for a significant reserve role this season and he’s been making a difference with his defense. Through the first three games of the season, Nwora has been flirting with late-round value behind averages of 11.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 triples, 1.0 block and just 0.7 turnovers per game on 37.5% shooting. It’s possible he could lose some minutes once Donte DiVincenzo (ankle surgery) eventually makes his way back to the court, but we still have no idea when White Donte will be back, and he’ll likely be slowly eased back into things. That gives Nwora a lot of time to make his case to Coach Bud for a consistent reserve role, so he’s worth a look in deep leagues.
Lonnie Walker (13%) saw 25 minutes off the bench and scored 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting (2-of-2 FT) to go with two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one triple and one turnover in a loss to the Bucks. This was a solid bounce-back performance from Walker following Friday’s six-point dud, and this was his first game shooting a solid percentage from the floor. He can be inconsistent, but he’s been providing some late-round value through the first three games of the season with averages of 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 treys, 1.0 steal and just 0.7 turnovers per game on 39.5% shooting from the field and 80% at the stripe.
Doug McDermott (9%) scored a team-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with four rebounds, seven trey-bombs and two assists over 32 minutes. McDermott will likely be inconsistent this season, but he’s worth a look in deep leagues if you need a points and triples guy.
Anfernee Simons (2%) hit 7-of-14 shots for 18 points, three rebounds, one assist, four triples and one turnover in 24 minutes off the bench during Saturday’s blowout win over the Suns. The blowout may have factored into Simons stat line, but Norman Powell also exited this game after just 12 minutes of play, thus creating more opportunity for the 22-year-old guard. If Powell needs to miss a few games, Simons could be someone to consider grabbing in deep leagues.
Nassir Little (0%) started the second half of Saturday’s game with Powell unavailable and finished with 11 points (5-of-10 FG, 0-of-2 FT), seven rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer and one steal over 27 turnover-less minutes. He’ll clearly have more opportunity if Powell is dealing with an injury that will force him to spend multiple games on the sidelines, but he’s more of a speculative add in very deep leagues with us not currently knowing the extent of Powell’s injury.
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Jrue Holiday (right heel contusion) returned from a one-game absence on Saturday and produced 16 points (6-of-9 FG, 1-of-2 FT), four rebounds, five assists, three triples and an unfortunate five turnovers across 25 minutes. Holiday has gotten off to a sluggish start this season, as he’s yet to clear the 30-minute mark, so this could be viewed as a decent buy-low opportunity on The Jruth.
Rodney Hood (right foot soreness) was available to play on Saturday, but he didn’t actually touch the floor. He’s not a part of the rotation and is safe to leave on waivers in all formats.
Brook Lopez (back soreness) skipped his second consecutive game on Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game in Indiana. If both he and Bobby Portis (hamstring) are out again, then Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely get another start at center and perhaps Georgios Kalaitzakis will be able to remain in the rotation.
Joel Embiid (right knee soreness) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. OKC and Andre Drummond (ankle) is doubtful. If both these guys hit the sidelines, Charles Bassey or Paul Reed could get the start at center, while Tobias Harris would be tasked with the heavy lifting on offense. Shake Milton (ankle) and Ben Simmons (personal) are out, so that should lead to another start for Tyrese Maxey.
Norman Powell exited Saturday’s game with a vague, left knee injury, finishing with 16 points (6-of-8 FG, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds and two triples in just 12 minutes of play. Adrian Wojnarowski reported after the game that initial testing suggested that Powell had avoided a serious injury, but it’s currently unclear how much time he will miss, if any at all. We should get an official update on Powell by Monday at the latest, but if he needs to miss some time, there will be more opportunity for Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons.
Danilo Gallinari (left shoulder soreness) missed his second straight game on Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Pistons. Cam Reddish will continue to lead the second unit while The Rooster is sidelined.
Darius Garland (left ankle) sat out his second consecutive game on Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game in Denver. Ricky Rubio will be the primary beneficiary while he’s out.
Kyle Lowry (ankle) did not play Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s matchup with the Magic. Gabe Vincent got the start in his absence, but he didn’t do much and it was Tyler Herro who closed the game, so it looks like Herro will be the primary beneficiary while Lowry is unavailable.
Cade Cunningham, who is not traveling with the Pistons on their current road trip, did not play Saturday and he will remain on the inactive list for Monday’s game in Atlanta and Thursday’s game vs. Philly. There’s a chance he could make his regular-season debut on Saturday at home vs. Orlando, but then he would likely sit Sunday’s game in Brooklyn, giving him a maximum of one potential game next week. If you’re in a weekly league, it would be best to leave him on your bench.
Terry Rozier (right ankle sprain) is being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Nets. If he can’t give it a go, Kelly Oubre could get another start, and all the starters will all see some increased opportunity.
Jaylen Brown (left patella tendinopathy) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Houston. If he’s forced to the sidelines, Josh Richardson would likely draw the start while Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart would be asked to step it up on offense. Aaron Nesmith could also be a larger part of the rotation sans Brown.
Pascal Siakam (shoulder surgery) has begun taking light contact at practice, but he’s still a few weeks away from making his 2021-22 regular-season debut. Just keep him tucked away in your IL-spot.
Jonathan Kuminga is making good progress with his strained right patellar tendon and he will be re-evaluated next Friday. That means he’ll miss most of next week, but he could be back relatively soon. However, were not expecting much from the rookie in his introductory season, as head coach Steve Kerr will have him on a short leash as the Dubs try and make it back to the postseason.
Josh Hart missed his second straight game on Saturday, which resulted in another start for Herbert Jones, although Jones again struggled despite the increased opportunity, going 1-of-6 from the field for two points, eight rebounds, two assists, one block and three turnovers in 29 minutes. Trey Murphy III was also disappointing, scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting from distance to go with five rebounds and one steal over 22 minutes. All these guys are safe to ignore in standard formats.
Cameron Payne (right hamstring) did not play Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. the Kings.
Tony Snell (right foot sprain) did not play Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Clippers.
Keon Johnson (illness) did not play Saturday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game vs. Portland.
Taj Gibson (personal) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Magic, while Nerlens Noel (knee) is doubtful. If both those guys are out, Jericho Sims and Obi Toppin could be a larger part of the rotation.
Moe Harkless (left hip soreness) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Warriors.
Gary Harris (right hamstring management) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. New York. He’s yet to make his regular-season debut and is completely irrelevant in fantasy hoops.