Monday’s schedule was a busy one, which is the case annually on the observation of the national holiday meant to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While it didn’t get off the best of starts thanks to the rock fight between the Knicks and Magic, things eventually picked up on a day that featured the Rockets debut of Victor Oladipo, another excellent outing for Chris Boucher, and James Harden becoming the first player in franchise history to score 30 or more in his first two games as a Net.
Knicks 91, Magic 84
Hawks 108, Timberwolves 97
Spurs 125, Blazers 104
Grizzlies 108, Suns 104
Nets 125, Bucks 123
Raptors 116, Mavericks 93
Heat 113, Pistons 107
Bulls 125, Rockets 120
Warriors 115, Lakers 113
Boucher keeps on rolling for Toronto: He may not be a starter, but Raptors center Chris Boucher is playing starter’s minutes for the Raptors. The “Slimm Duck” played 28 minutes in Monday’s win over the Mavericks, posting a line of 21 points (8-of-12 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers. Over the last week he’s been a top-10 player in 9-cat, and for the season Boucher has outperformed his Yahoo ADP (135) by a significant margin. He’s a top-25 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, so the fantasy managers who took the plunge should pat themselves on the back. In Toronto’s last six games, he’s led the Raptors in points, free throw attempts, rebounds and blocks despite ranking sixth in minutes. Toronto has now won three in a row, and the emergence of Boucher is a big reason why.
Some may be tempted to sell high here, but given the lack of production from Toronto’s other centers (Aron Baynes played 11 minutes, and Alex Len is out due to health safety protocols) it would be wise to hang onto Boucher. Norman Powell, who has been a top-100 player in 8-cat over the last week, posted a nice 17/2/2/1 line with one 3-pointer in 22 minutes off the bench.
Oladipo solid in his Rockets debut: Victor Oladipo was able to make his first appearance for Houston Tuesday night, and while there are some missing pieces to take into consideration he looked quite good in the road loss in Chicago. In 32 minutes he shot 13-of-23 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line, putting up a line of 32 points, five rebounds, nine assists, two steals and four 3-pointers. The lone negative: Oladipo was responsible for a team-high seven turnovers. How he will work with John Wall remains to be seen, as Houston’s starting point guard missed another game due to a sore knee, but overall this was a solid debut for the newest Rocket.
Eric Gordon and David Nwaba started in their returns to action, with the former putting up a solid 21/2/4 line with three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Rostered in 43% of Yahoo leagues, Gordon has been a top-100 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats. That percentage should be higher, even if there are concerns due to Gordon’s medical history.
Hood starts for the injured McCollum: Portland will be without C.J. McCollum for at least four weeks, as a small fracture was found in the left foot that he injured on Saturday. Anfernee Simons started the second half of that game, but it was Rodney Hood who moved into the starting lineup for Monday’s loss to the Spurs. And Hood had a solid game offensively, shooting 9-of-14 from the field and finishing with 21 points to go along with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. He’s currently rostered in 4% of Yahoo leagues, and the move into the starting lineup makes Hood a worthwhile pickup.
Neither Simons (six points, one assist, one block and two 3-pointers in 15 minutes) nor Gary Trent Jr. (2/3/1 in 24 minutes) had particularly good days at the office, with the latter remaining the better option in deeper fantasy leagues. McCollum’s absence will also mean increased offensive responsibilities for Carmelo Anthony with the second unit, as he shot 6-of-13 from the field and finished with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Rostered in 38% of Yahoo leagues, Melo isn’t a great option in standard leagues, but he’s a better choice than either Simons or Trent Jr. right now.
Oubre improves in adjusted role: In most games ahead of Monday’s matchup with the Lakers, it was Andrew Wiggins who served as the offensive anchor for the Warriors when Stephen Curry took his usual break at the start of the second quarter. Steve Kerr made a slight alteration to his rotation in the comeback win, inserting Kelly Oubre Jr. into the role that previously belonged to Wiggins. And it may have helped get the Tsunami Papi untracked, as he shot 9-of-18 from the field and finished with 23 points, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes.
The 3-point shooting remains a concern, as Oubre was just 2-of-8 on the night, but that isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things as he surpassed the 20-point mark for the first time as a Warrior. Monday’s effort was the latest sign that things are turning around for him after a dreadful start to the season, as Oubre has been a top-50 player over the last week. Things are starting to look up for Oubre and the fantasy managers who decided to hang onto him. And Eric Paschall had a good night off the bench, scoring 19 points in 19 minutes while also contributing four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Fournier (back spasms) continues to sit: Orlando was without Evan Fournier for a ninth straight game due to back spasms, and he has been missed. Monday afternoon the Magic shot just 33.7% from the field in a loss to the Knicks, and when the team needed a potential game-tying three it was Aaron Gordon who received the call. Granted, Gordon put up a nice stat line as he tallied 18 points, 17 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes. But he shot just 6-of-18 from the field on the day, and has never been known as a knockdown 3-point shooter. Outside of Nikola Vucevic (24/14/2 blocks with two 3-pointers), who shot 10-of-16, only Jordan Bone made at least half of his field goal attempts and he was 2-of-2.
So when will Fournier be able to return and give Orlando some much-needed perimeter scoring? That remains undecided, but he is making progress according to coach Steve Clifford. "He's feeling better," Clifford said before Monday’s game according to Joshua Robbins of The Athletic. "He did more yesterday. ... He said he felt a lot better. I haven't talked to him today, but he's definitely making progress.”
With Fournier out, Dwayne Bacon continues to start. Unfortunately, he hasn’t offered much in the way of fantasy value, regardless of league format. He isn’t even a top-300 player in either 8- or 9-cat formats, and fittingly Bacon is rostered in just 2% of Yahoo leagues.
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Tillman makes first career start: With Jonas Valanciunas ruled out due to the league's health and safety protocols, it wasn’t Gorgui Dieng who was entrusted with the task of replacing him in the starting lineup. Rookie Xavier Tillman received the call in Monday’s win over the Suns, and in 29 minutes he was responsible for 12 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer. And he’s been solid over the last week, providing top-50 value in 9-cat. Currently rostered in just 11% of Yahoo leagues, now is the time to pick up Tillman if he’s available in your league. Dieng played 15 minutes off the bench, accounting for eight points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer. He isn’t worth picking up unless the Grizzlies are hit hard by injury/protocol issues.
A question to ask regarding Memphis: is it time to move on from Dillon Brooks? While he remains a starter, he has struggled mightily in recent games. On Monday he was 1-of-10 from the field, finishing with three points, two rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes. Grayson Allen (16/6/3/1 with two 3-pointers) and Desmond Bane (10/1/2/2 with two 3-pointers) played 26 and 22 minutes, respectively, and over the last week the former has been close to top-50 territory in 9-cat. Brooks is still rostered in 65% of Yahoo leagues, and given the production that number is too high.
Vanderbilt posts full line in rare start: With Juancho Hernangomez joining Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio on the list of Timberwolves players sidelined due to health and safety protocols, Jarred Vanderbilt made his first start of the season on Monday. And he managed to post a full stat line in the loss to the Hawks, accounting for eight points (3-of-4 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot in 29 minutes. His production hasn’t necessarily been great recently, as he’s ranked just outside of the top-150 in both 8- and 9-cat formats over the last week. But given the absences of Towns and Hernangomez, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a flier on Vanderbilt until they’re cleared to return. He's currently rostered in just 3% of Yahoo leagues.
Aldridge bounces back from brutal showing: In San Antonio’s most recent game before Monday, LaMarcus Aldridge had a tough day. He played 17 minutes in a win over the Rockets, shooting 2-of-7 from the field and finishing with four points, two rebounds and two assists. The veteran center was much better in Monday’s win over Portland, tallying 24 points (10-of-17 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) to go along with two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot.
So, is all back to normal with Aldridge? I’m not so sure, as he’s accounted for a total of six rebounds in the last three games. His average of 4.7 boards per game would be the lowest of his career if it were to hold for the entire season. With a Yahoo ADP of 53, Aldridge still isn’t performing at that level, as he’s well outside of the top-100 in both 8- and 9-cat formats. His status as a starter makes him worth hanging onto, but it may be time to see if you can get something in return for Aldridge via trade.
Crowder comes off the bench for the first time this season: A fixture in the Suns’ starting lineup for the team’s first 11 games, Jae Crowder was replaced in the starting lineup by Cameron Johnson (10/4/3/1 with two 3-pointers) in Monday’s loss to the Grizzlies. The minutes split remained about the same however, as Crowder (5/2/5/2 with one 3-pointer) played 27 minutes to Johnson’s 23. Johnson has been the more valuable of the two fantasy-wise thus far, as he’s providing ninth-round value in 9-cat formats (12th-round value for Crowder).
The reason for the separation is the field goal percentage, as Johnson is making 46.8% of his field goal attempts and Crowder is down at 39.6%. Fantasy managers in need of more production in the non-scoring categories such as rebounds, assists and steals would be better served going with Crowder, even if he continues to come off the bench. Both players are rostered in 35% of Yahoo leagues.
Brunson, Hardaway Jr. start in their returns: Dallas, which remains shorthanded due to health and safety protocols, welcomed back Jalen Brunson (protocols) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (groin) for Monday’s game against the Raptors and both were in the starting lineup. While Brunson, playing for the first time since January 7, posted a solid line (13/2/2/1 steal with three 3-pointers in 27 minutes) in his return, Hardaway Jr. had a brutal night in the Mavericks’ defeat. He miss all 12 of his field goal attempts, going scoreless with five rebounds and one assist in 27 minutes. This was far from the norm for THJ, as he’s providing 11th-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, so I wouldn’t be too concerned there. But he is capable of the occasional dud, as we saw happen in Tampa.
Luka Doncic may have been a bit too deferential in this one, attempting just 11 shots and finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. One day after he called himself out for playing selfishly in a loss to the Bulls, this may have been an overcorrection of sorts by the third-year point guard. Given how shorthanded Dallas is presently, they’re going to need him to be more assertive whether he wants to or not. I expect him to bounce back in a big way next time out, and with the Mavs having three more games to play this week that’s good news for those who have Doncic rostered.
The good news for Dallas on an otherwise frustrating night: Kristaps Porzingis (23/9/1/2 blocks and two 3-pointers) played 32 minutes in the second game of a back-to-back. The knee and the ankle both appeared to be fine, and the Unicorn has been close to top-100 status over the last week.
Dragic moves into the starting lineup: Two nights after getting whipped by the Pistons at home, the Heat had the opportunity to redeem themselves in a rematch that was pushed back five hours in order to allow for COVID-19 tests to be processed. Trailing by as much as 19 early the Heat rallied, with Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic leading the way. Adebayo turned the ball over seven times, but the overall line of 28 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and one blocked shot in 35 minutes was a good one.
As for Dragic, he was in a different role as he replaced Gabe Vincent in the starting lineup. The Dragon played 33 minutes, tallying 22 points, three rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and one 3-pointer. With Tyler Herro (neck) and Jimmy Butler (health and safety protocols) still sidelined, there was a greater need for Dragic with the first unit. And that may remain the case until those two are back, which will only increase the veteran guard’s short-term fantasy value.
Someone to keep in mind in the short-term is Kendrick Nunn, who scored 18 points with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes off the bench. Rostered in just 3% of Yahoo leagues, he’s been a top-100 player in 8-cat over the last week. Vincent (nine minutes) and KZ Okpala played a total of 13 minutes, and there isn’t much reason to roster either right now, even with the Heat still missing some of their key contributors.
Temple solid in spot start for Bulls: With rookie forward Patrick Williams sidelined due to stiffness in his hip, veteran Garrett Temple was called on to fill the resulting void. He played 32 minutes in Monday’s win over the Rockets, putting up 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. The question right now, especially with Otto Porter Jr. also sidelined, is which Bulls veteran is a better potential streaming option: Temple or Thaddeus Young (12/9/3/1 with one 3-pointer in 25 minutes off the bench)? While Temple has been the more productive of the two in 9-cat, Young has been better in 8-cat (punting turnovers). Both are worth keeping an eye on, especially if Porter’s lower back issue becomes more problematic.
Some Notable Stat Lines
Zach LaVine: 33 points (11-of-16 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes vs. Houston.
Clint Capela: 23 points (10-of-16 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in 39 minutes vs. Minnesota.
DeMar DeRozan: 20 points (6-of-9 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), six rebounds, 11 assists and two steals in 32 minutes vs. Portland.
Kevin Durant and James Harden: Durant tallied 30 points (10-of-21 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs), nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes vs. Milwaukee, while Harden finished with 34 points (13-of-25 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), six rebounds, 12 assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes.
Kyle Lowry: 23 points (9-of-12 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), nine rebounds, seven assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes vs. Dallas.
Christian Wood: 30 points (11-of-16 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), nine rebounds, one assist, one steal and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes vs. Chicago.
Damian Lillard: 35 points (10-of-23 FGs, 12-of-12 FTs), three rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes vs. San Antonio.
D'Angelo Russell: 31 points (11-of-22 FGs, 3-of-5 FTs), three rebounds, seven assists, four steals, one block and six 3-pointers in 32 minutes vs. Atlanta.
Anthony Davis: 17 points (6-of-16 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), 17 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks in 37 minutes vs. Golden State.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 34 points (13-of-26 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 40 minutes vs. Brooklyn.
Wayne Ellington: 24 points (7-of-12 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), two rebounds, two assists and seven 3-pointers in 28 minutes vs. Miami.