Happy New Year! I don’t know that 2021 is going to be any better than 2020, but I certainly hope so. Here’s what you might have missed in the fantasy hoops world while you were (theoretically) celebrating. Follow me on Twitter!
The Cleveland guards are better than you think they were going to be
Collin Sexton hit 12-of-19 shots and two 3-pointers for 28 points and some goodies, and Darius Garland had 21 points, five dimes and five triples in the Cavs’ loss to the Pacers. Both players are having an exciting season and while they both have flaws in their games, they’re much better than I thought they’d be by now. Cedi Osman, on the other hand, couldn’t sniff the rim and hit 1-of-8 shots for three points in the loss. Most of his shots were wildly off target and while I’d like to think he can offer some deep-league help, I’m not so sure anymore. JaVale McGee is now a sneaky center play after racking up seven points, 13 rebounds and a block, despite hitting just 3-of-11 shots in just 14 minutes on Thursday. He’s not getting enough minutes, but is still averaging 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks despite just playing 16 minutes per game. Larry Nance is a definite hold after his 10-5-7-2-1-1 line and Kevin Love out indefinitely.
T.J. Warren is out indefinitely due to foot surgery
T.J. Warren will have left foot surgery and will be out indefinitely so go ahead and drop him. While there are no obvious pickups in Indy, Doug McDermott had 18 points, nine boards and three 3-pointers on Thursday and I think he might be the guy. Justin Holiday and Aaron Holiday are also going to benefit, but I think McDermott will be the big winner here. He’s not a must-have player but is at least worth a look with the TJW news. All five Indy starters hit double figures in scoring and Victor Oladipo appears to have returned to form, while Myles Turner is playing well, making him far less annoying from a fantasy perspective than he has been in the past. And Domantas Sabonis (25-11-7), simply put, looks like an All-Star and a fantasy steal.
Short-handed Bulls beat Wizards, sending them to 0-5
Lauri Markkanen (calf), Tomas Satoransky (protocols), Ryan Arcidiacono (protocols) and Chandler Hutchison (protocols) were all out on Thursday and Otto Porter Jr. slid into the starting lineup and racked up a season-high 28 points, 12 boards, three steals and five 3-pointers in the win. He should be rostered everywhere given how good he’s looked to open the season. Wendell Carter Jr. struggled in the first half and suffered a left hip injury, but played through it for 16 points, five boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, despite being dominated by Thomas Bryant. I still think there’s plenty of hope here, so stick with him. Coby White had his best game of the season with 16 points, 10 assists, six boards and three 3-pointers, but hit just 5-of-16 shots. At least the numbers were there. Thaddeus Young made his season debut and was nice with 15 points, three boards, six assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes, and Daniel Gafford hit 7-of-8 shots off the bench for 15 points, five boards, two steals, a block and a bunch of powerful dunks. If the Bulls ever turn away from WCJ, Gafford could become a hot pickup. And I’m not taking the Thadd Young bait.
The Wizards got a 22-10-11 triple-double from Russell Westbrook, who will sit out on Friday for rest, yet they still couldn’t get their first win of the season. Westbrook is not going to take this losing lying down, but he really doesn’t have a choice in the matter. He’s 4-for-4 in triple-doubles, so I’m not sure what more he’s supposed to do. Thomas Bryant was awesome, hitting 10-of-11 shots, 3-of-3 3-pointers and 5-of-7 free throws for a season-high 28 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block. He overcame a sprained ankle on an awkward play and should be good to go going forward. Deni Avdija had six points, four boards and three assists in 25 minutes and I’m all for dropping him for a hot free agent, even though I like his game. Rui Hachimura looked great, hitting 5-of-8 shots and two 3-pointers for 17 points, five boards, three assists and a steal, but he won’t get to play the Bulls every night. Bradley Beal had 28 points and a full stat line, while Davis Bertans (0-for-8) and Troy Brown Jr. (6 points, 17 minutes) look like drop candidates to me. Raul Neto had 15 points, three 3-pointers and three steals and looks like someone to keep a close eye on going forward. If you roster Ish Smith for some reason, drop him for Neto.
Sixers destroy Magic 116-92
The Magic are no longer the NBA’s only undefeated team after the thrashing they took from the Sixers last night. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris all had their way with the Magic, while Seth Curry got loose for 21 points and five 3-pointers. Curry is worth rostering for now, but I’m not sure how long he can keep it going. Shake Milton added 14 points, four rebounds, six dimes, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 25 minutes. He’s really intriguing, but I think he’ll let you down just as many times as he pleasantly surprises you. Danny Green just isn’t working out in Philly and I’m calling him a cut guy. It’s just not happening.
For the Magic, Aaron Gordon played just 21 minutes and hit 1-of-8 shots for six points and a forgettable line. I still think it may be too early to cut him, but his minutes limits and soggy production have not been fun. The Magic box score was a disaster last night in a blowout and you can’t read too much into it, including Cole Anthony’s career-high 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a 3-pointer on 5-of-18 shooting. Terrence Ross was out with a hamstring injury and Evan Fournier didn’t return after first-quarter back spasms, which could bode well for both Anthony and Dwayne Bacon, who backed up his 18-point game with 10 points on Thursday. But despite Orlando’s injury situation and their great 4-1 record, the only guys I really trust here are Markelle Fultz, who struggled tonight, and Nikola Vucevic.
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Rockets hold off Kings 122-119
First of all, those Rockets’ baby blue unis are cool, right? James Harden went off for 33 points and another full stat line, Christian Wood came through with 21 points, 12 boards, a steal and two blocks, and John Wall started, racking up 22 points, six boards, nine assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. If Wall can stay healthy, look out. DeMarcus Cousins made his debut with eight points, three assists and a 3-pointer in 14 minutes, and it’s going to be baby steps with him going forward. I’m not sad I don’t have Cousins anywhere. Eric Gordon returned from his protocols rest and had 17 points, three 3-pointers and two steals. Gordon is a sneaky add right now, as long as he’s healthy, and you’ll get tired of hearing me chatter on about how amazing Wood is.
Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield were all solid last night, while Marvin Bagley took a step back, hitting just 1-of-9 shots for four points, eight boards and a block. He had an off night but I’m not overly concerned. Hassan Whiteside played just three minutes and I’m officially moving on from him, even though he could blow up in the second half. It’s a short season and I just don’t have time to wait for him to get into the mix or get traded.
Raptors pound Knicks despite absence of Pascal Siakam
The Raptors finally got their first win of the season with a gimme over the Knicks despite Pascal Siakam sitting this one out for disciplinary reasons. Siakam apparently stormed off the court and to the locker room after fouling out of his last game and didn’t even see the court last night. OG Anunoby celebrated the occasion by hitting just 1-of-10 shots and Aron Baynes was invisible, while Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet all played very well. Powell had been awful this season but came through with 17 points, four boards, one assist, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting. I dropped him recently and he benefitted from the absence of Siakam, but he’s worth a look, nonetheless. Chris Boucher, who played just two minutes in his previous game after racking up 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks on Dec. 26, hit just 3-of-9 shots, but also had a 3-pointer, nine points, nine boards and a block in his 24 minutes off the bench. I don’t like the way the Raptors are using Boucher, but I’m not the coach. I’m going to hang in there with him for a bit longer and see what happens.
The dreadful Knicks fell to 2-3 on the season the starting unit somehow managed to miss all 23 of their shots from downtown last night. Julius Randle double-doubled, Elfrid Payton was decent and RJ Barrett had 12 points, eight boards, three assists and a steal despite hitting just 4-of-19 shots. Kevin Knox had 16 points, six boards and two 3-pointers but hit just 5-of-14 shots and the Knicks are just a mess. Mitchell Robinson had four points, seven boards and two steals in 25 minutes, but didn’t block a shot, which is what you drafted him for. As weird as 2020 was , the Knicks are just as weird heading into 2021.
Pelicans destroy SGA, OKC
The Pelicans beat the Thunder 113-80 and all five Pelicans starters (Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, Lonzo Ball) went off. Zion had a disappointing line with 12 points and five boards in 17 minutes after being saddled with foul trouble and Ingram got ejected after his 20-point game, but Adams, Bledsoe and Ball, who just missed a triple-double with a 16-8-9 line, played well. Nickeil Alexander-Walker was fun with 14 points, a couple steals and two 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting in 19 minutes, but this was a blowout. Zion’s knees could probably use the limited minutes, so look for him to bounce back in the next one.
The Thunder were a mess last night as Darius Bazley, George Hill, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort all scored eight or fewer points. Al Horford had 17 points and six boards, and is a reasonable fantasy center option, but his teammates just didn’t have it on New Year’s Eve. I’m still all-in on Bazley, I really like Dort and SGA is going to have a monster year. And Bazley’s breakout game is just around the corner, I promise! If you just picked Dort up, don’t let last night’s struggles scare you away. He’s good.
Suns move to 4-1, stun Jazz
The Suns saw Deandre Ayton struggle for four points and nine boards on 2-of-8 shooting, but he also had three assists, a steal and two blocks in the 106-95 win. He’s fine. Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker were all fine and Chris Paul had 11 points, four boards and eight dimes despite hitting just 4-of-13 shots. I’m not messing with the Suns bench right now, but the starters are all worth having, despite some issues last night.
The Jazz got 23 points from Donovan Mitchell and solid lines from Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley, but the rest of the team really struggled. In particular, Bojan Bogdanovic missed all five of his shots and finished with three points and almost nothing else. He was a DFS disaster last night and was coming off a 23-point night with five 3-pointers. He’s been very inconsistent thus far and I simply will not trust him again any time soon, unless he gives me a reason to.