Welcome to the weirdest week of the NBA, at least schedule-wise. Starting Monday, January 17 (Happy MLK Day!) through Sunday, January 23, the number of games per day are: 12, 2, 13, 3, 11, 3 and 11. So, more or less, it’s an all or nothing situation, with four days having at least 11 games, with the other three having no more than three contests. And with 12 games on Monday, let’s waste no time.
C.J and Bam return
C.J. McCollum (collapsed lung) returned to action for the first time since December 4 and looked solid with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, one rebound, two assists, one steal, one block, two triples and four turnovers in 28 minutes of a 98-88 win over the Magic. He’s going to be much better than this going forward especially with Damian Lillard (abdominal surgery) not in action for a while, and it’s just a matter of time before C.J. is scoring 20+ points per game consistently again. Anfernee Simons played 35 minutes for a 13/2/7 line but shot just 4-of-11 from the field and those were his only stats besides two turnovers, but he’s fine and is a must-roster guy going forward. Jusuf Nurkic posted a massive 20/20 game as he went for 21 points (10-of-21 FGs), 22 rebounds, two assists, four steals, two blocks and six turnovers in 36 minutes. Whether this came from C.J. returning or just because it was the Magic, I’m not sure, but sign me up if there’s more where this came from. Nassir Little had a very nice 13/10/4/1/1 showing and seeing the surrounding stats is huge, especially with McCollum active, and Robert Covington got his usual two steals and three blocks with 11 boards and two assists but scored just seven points. Ben McLemore scored 14 points with four threes off the bench, but once McCollum gets back to his usual workload, he likely won’t be playing 21 minutes many nights. Orlando doesn’t even get their own section because they were pretty awful, as the Wagner brothers each scored 14 points to lead the team and Mo Bamba grabbed nine boards and blocked four shots but he still can’t score lately. I’d recommend not looking at the Magic’s side of the box score at all (you have 23 other options to browse).
Bam Adebayo (thumb surgery) played for the first time since November 29 and struggled a bit with a 4-of-12 shooting clip but looked good all in all with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 32 minutes. The playing time is a highly encouraging sign, and while it appeared he may have avoided using his right hand on a couple plays, he looked really good for not playing in so long. Sadly, the time has come to say goodbye to Omer Yurtseven, as he didn’t even enter the game and Dewayne Dedmon (8/9 with three blocks in 16 minutes) actually posted a serviceable line, which you shouldn’t get used to. Yurtseven was posting nearly fifth-round value over the past two weeks, but just like that, he can go back to the waiver wire. Jimmy Butler notched the second triple-double of his season in the 104-99 win over the Raptors, posting a 19/10/10 line with a steal, and this was a great bounce back after a nightmarish 1-of-11 effort against the 76ers on Saturday. Tyler “Sixth Man of the Year” Herro kept cooking with 23 points on 50% shooting with four boards, three assists, two steals, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 34 minutes, Duncan Robinson started but scored just eight points in 16 minutes and Gabe Vincent had two steals and two blocks to go with his 15 points in 27 minutes.
Nick Nurse is not messing around and basically ran a six-man rotation if you exclude Justin Champagnie’s nine minutes, so expect most of these guys to be useful for fantasy leagues especially if Gary Trent Jr. (left ankle) and Khem Birch (nose) miss more time. Pascal Siakam posted a huge 20/6/10/5/1 line with no turnovers and shot it well with a 10-of-21 clip, and Fred VanVleet (22/4/4 with six triples) and especially Chris Boucher (21/10 with two blocks and two triples in 38 minutes) were pretty fantastic, and I have no idea how Boucher is still un-rostered in 23% of leagues. Precious Achiuwa grabbed a career-high tying 15 rebounds with a steal and a block but scored just six points, and he’s semi-useful but is the least attractive of the preceding guys. Rookie Scottie Barnes had a nice 16/8/6 line with a steal and two treys but on 6-of-18 shooting, but he’s a pretty steady top-100 guy as long as the Raps stay competitive.
Miles Bridges scores career-high 38 points
With the All-Star Break quickly approaching and votes coming in hot, Miles Bridges wanted to remind us why there was so much buzz surrounding him in his hot start to the season. He went nuts in a 97-87 win over the Knicks, scoring a career-high 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting, adding 12 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block, five 3-pointers and just one turnover in 39 minutes. He also hit all five of his free throws to round out a pretty perfect fantasy line, and if you were out late on the tail end of the three-day weekend and didn’t wake up in time to put him in your lineup, I’m very sorry. He’s scored 20 points in three straight, and while the two before weren’t nearly as efficient, he should really be an All-Star when all is said and done. Plus, whenever LaMelo Ball (illness) is inactive, he’s better than usual with a 22.1/7.4/5.6 line in seven games of such instances, so keep that in mind for DFS lineups if LaMelo misses more games down the line. Considering Bridges scored 38 points and the team scored 97, the fantasy assets on Charlotte’s side were limited to Bridges and Terry Rozier, who went for 22/6/7 with a steal and four triples, while Gordon Hayward (16/2/4 with two steals) and Cody Martin (9/7/4 in 46 minutes) were fine.
Five Knicks actually scored in double figures despite the low score, but no one eclipsed the 20-point mark. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett both posted inefficient 18-point double-doubles, but Barrett had the much better line with five assists and two steals to his name to add on to the points and boards, but the six turnovers do put a damper on it. Mitchell Robinson’s three-game double-double streak ended as he went for 10 points, six rebounds, one steal and a block, while Obi Toppin (11/6) and Immanuel Quickley (12/3/7 with two triples and two steals) were the only other Knicks to make some noise.
Daniel Gafford is in trouble
Daniel Gafford managers, look away. He played just eight minutes in a 117-98 win over the 76ers and scored just five points with a block. He did battle foul trouble, but he played 11 and 16 minutes in his last two which have directly coincided with the return of Thomas Bryant. I’m giving him one more game if I can stay patient enough, but go ahead and set him free without worrying a whole lot. It doesn’t help Gafford’s case that Thomas Bryant had his best game since returning from a year-long absence as he scored 15 points with five boards and a block off the bench in just 16 minutes. It gets worse, as Montrezl Harrell led the team in scoring with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and one dime in 21 minutes off the bench. Kyle Kuzma posted a huge line of 15 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 29 minutes, and I’m starting to get convinced that he’s for real. He also did this with Bradley Beal (13/5/6) back in action, and with Beal back, Spencer Dinwiddie (7/3/7 on 1-of-5 shooting) re-enters drop territory.
Joel Embiid scored 32 points but was still quiet for his standards, if that tells you anything about how awesome he’s been this season. He shot it well from the field (10-of-20 FGs) and the line (9-of-10 FTs), and added eight boards, four assists and no defensive stats, but he also hit three 3-pointers in his 29 minutes. Philly lost this one but they’ve looked really good, and if they can finish as the top seed in the East, Embiid has to get some MVP love, if he isn’t getting some already. Again I say, please stay healthy. Tyrese Maxey scored 18 points (5-of-10 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs) with four rebounds, three assists and a steal while Seth Curry was quiet offensively but did a bit of everything with his 8/2/5/1/2 line, and besides Andre Drummond’s three steals and Charlie Browns Jr.’s random nine rebounds off the bench, there’s nothing else to see.
Brooklyn collapses late and Cleveland takes full advantage
The Nets made a lot of mistakes down the stretch of this game, including two missed LaMarcus Aldridge gimmes, leaving a man wide open for a dunk, and a bad James Harden pass to lead to a transition bucket. However, Cleveland is feisty, and I’m not just crediting them for the win due to the Nets’ mistakes. Darius Garland just has to be an All-Star and was awesome in the 114-107 win, scoring a team-high 22 points (10-of-19 FGs) with six rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, two 3-pointers and six turnovers in 36 minutes to help his team clinch five straight wins. His arrow has been pointing straight up for a while and he’s going to keep thriving on a surprisingly fun team. I would have no issues if Jarrett Allen was an All-Star as well, and while it may not happen, he continued impressing with a perfect 14/10 double-double (6-of-6 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) with two assists, two blocks and one turnover in 33 minutes, and other bigs Kevin Love (14/5/5), Evan Mobley (12/6 with a block) and Lauri Markkanen (14/6 with four triples and a block) were all pretty solid but Allen’s line was the best. Isaac Okoro had an empty 15 points in a start, and while at least he was efficient, he got some extra minutes with Lamar Stevens out with a knee injury, so leave him alone.
It’s no surprise that James Harden and Kyrie Irving did the heavy lifting, and that’ll be the case for the foreseeable future with Kevin Durant (MCL) sidelined for at least four-to-six weeks. Harden posted a 22/7/10 line with a pair each in the steals and triples categories, and his 5-of-12 mark from the field wasn’t completely awful but his 10-of-15 mark from the line was, but he’s elite there and can get a holiday pass. Harden did look to tweak his left leg/hamstring in the second half, but he played through it and finished the game so hopefully he’s fine. If he does miss any time, it’ll be full Kyrie time (when he can play), and he looked really good on Monday and led the team in scoring with his 27/7/9 line with three treys and a steal in 38 minutes. He hit 12 of his 23 shots and scored 14 of his points in the third quarter, and Kyrie playing limits Patty Mills (11 points, three triples and a bunch of ones) quite a bit. LaMarcus Aldridge (foot) had a nice 13/5/1/1/1 line in a return from a five-game stint in street clothes, and he joins Kevin Love in the “old but still kind of useful” club (with Love being a couple rounds higher than LMA on the season). Day’Ron Sharpe (10/6/2/2/1 but four turnovers) was good again and I’m fine using him when Nic Claxton (hamstring) isn’t active, and popular waiver wire add Cam Thomas flopped with just six points in 19 minutes, and he’s prone to games like these but is a solid option in the wake of the KD injury. Kessler Edwards scored 11 points with three triples and a swat in 38 minutes, so maybe he’s the pickup, but we’ll see what happens against the Wizards on Wednesday.
Nicolas Batum scores 32 points in second half
That is not a headline I was expecting to write today, but who’s even surprised with something like that this season. Nicolas Batum was unconscious in the second half of Monday’s 139-133 shootout win over the Pacers, scoring all 32 of his points in the second half and also chipping in five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and seven triples in 36 minutes. He was three points away from his career high of 35 points that he set over nine years ago, and he’s looked good in two straight games and will be picked up in a lot of leagues after this, which is not an idea I hate at all. The good news is that Batum went berserk but Amir Coffey still started and posted a very useful 16/3/7/1/1 line after a 20-point game two nights prior, and he’ll also be a popular pickup and probably my preference of the two simply for the youth and upside. Reggie Jackson went 6-of-14 from the field (which is good for him) but nailed 13 of his 14 free throws for 26 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, one triple and three turnovers in 32 minutes, but that’s as good as it’ll get for him, and Marcus Morris joined the 20-point club with an efficient 21 points, eight boards, three assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes.
Chris Duarte had the most-well rounded game of his young career as he contributed 24 points (10-of-14 FGs), seven rebounds, six assists, three steals, two triples and three turnovers in 34 minutes off the bench. Malcolm Brogdon (Achilles) never plays these days, and Duarte will get a boost whenever Brogdon sits, but like R-Jax, this will likely be a best case scenario for the rookie. Myles Turner (sore right foot) didn’t play, and while the Pacers went small to start, that didn’t stop Goga Bitadze from coming off the bench for a career-high 17 points, eight rebounds, two swats and a triple in just 25 minutes, and he isn’t a pickup unless we get bad news on Turner but I hope you used him in DFS on this occasion. Domantas Sabonis recorded a 19/11/7 line with two blocks, but this was just his second multi-block performance over the entire season, so don’t get used to that, while Caris LeVert also benefitted with Brogdon out and led the team with 26 points (9-of-18 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), also adding nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in 35 minutes. Justin Holiday was good again with 18 points, five triples and a pair of steals in 32 minutes of a start, and he’s quietly scored in double figures in five straight but is no more than a late-round option.
Devin Booker pours in season-high 48 points
Devin Booker has been hot and was scorching in a 121-107 win over the Spurs, as he went for a season-high 48 points on 18-of-33 shooting (7-of-8 FTs) with five rebounds, six assists, three steals, five 3-pointers and no turnovers in 35 minutes. He was having fun tonight and he’s been having fun over his last three, as he’s averaging a ludicrous 37.7 points per game on 52.6% shooting in those, so a D-Book hot streak is officially upon us. Chris Paul was awesome as always with a 15/2/12/2/2 showing with a three-pointer and also zero turnovers, and believe it or not, none of the Suns starters recorded any turnovers across 120 combined minutes which is pretty wild. JaVale McGee (6/8 with a block) started with Deandre Ayton (right ankle sprain) out, but of course it was Bismack Biyombo who went crazy off the bench for 17 points, 14 rebounds (eight offensive), one assist, one steal and one turnover in 25 minutes. These two could easily swap their stat lines next time out and it wouldn’t surprise me, and while McGee looked like a no-brainer option on Monday, Biyombo had other ideas. Otherwise, Mikal Bridges posted a 7/5/2/1/2 line, Jae Crowder scored eight with two treys and Cameron Payne scored 11 points with four assists off the bench.
The Spurs were well-balanced again and they have most of their main guys back, but they’re still 16-28 and need to turn it around in a hurry if they want a shot at a play-in spot. Jakob Poeltl posted a big 23/14 double-double with four assists and a pair of swats, and his 9-of-12 mark from the field is not even in the same hemisphere of impressiveness as his 5-of-7 mark from the free throw line given he’s shooting in the high 30s from there on the season. Dejounte Murray was so-so, which he almost never is, and had a 18/8/4 showing with two triples but nothing else besides two turnovers in 32 minutes, and Keldon Johnson also failed to record a defensive stat with his 14 points, seven boards and two threes. Derrick White was supposed to come off the bench, but his coach is Gregg Popovich so no one knows what’s true, but he ultimately ended up starting and had 14 points with seven dimes and no defensive stats (the whole team totaled three steals and two blocks over the whole game, so that lines up with my redundant statements in that regard). The only reserve to do much was Devin Vassell, who scored 10 points with four rebounds, one steal and two triples, and he’s still a hold as he’s been a bit better lately.
The other stuff
There weren’t any otherworldly performances in the remaining five games, but I’ll cover a few important things below (hint: Ayo Dosunmu).
- Much better, Jayson Tatum. He shot 50% from the field in a 104-92 win over the Pelicans after shooting just 15-of-41 (36.6%) from the field in his last two games, finalizing Monday’s line with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and two turnovers in 38 minutes. If you look at his game log, the trajectory says that he’ll probably be inefficient in his next game because that’s more or less what he’s been doing, and the three-pointers are a big reason why. He missed all four of them in this game and has converted on just 29.8% of them in eight January games, so even a slight increase in that area would help him drastically. Jaylen Brown and Dennis Schroder both scored 23 points with nice lines, Al Horford was useful per usual and Grant Williams started for Time Lord (personal) and scored 10 points with a pair of blocks. On the Pelicans side, Brandon Ingram posted a 15/10/6 line but shot 6-of-19 from the field, Jonas Valanciunas had a 22/14 double-double but no blocks, Josh Hart posted a very Josh Hart line with 13 points, nine boards, four assists and a steal and Herb Jones scored 16 with two more swipes.
- Plenty of fantasy goodies going on in the Grizzlies/Bulls game, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The Grizzlies lost their first game since December 23 on Friday and bounced back perfectly against a short-handed Bulls team, with Desmond Bane and Ja Morant both scoring 25 points in efficient fashion to lead the way. Their supporting stats weren’t fantastic, but who cares. Jaren Jackson Jr. blocked five more shots and arguably more importantly went 6-of-11 from the field for his 14 points and also had five boards, and Steven Adams’ two points were the most boring part of his randomly fun 2/10/6/2/1 line. He is also a freakishly strong human, if you weren’t aware. Brandon Clarke has to be rostered right now and he fared very well again with 15 points (7-of-8 FGs), seven boards, two dimes and two steals in 20 minutes despite returning to the bench, and Tyus Jones had 11 points with eight assists in his 20 minutes. Heading over to the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan scored a pretty empty 24 points and Nikola Vucevic filled it up but shot 2-of-13 from the field, but all eyes are on Ayo Dosunmu. He went bonkers for 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five steals and two blocks in 38 minutes of a start, and he’s officially in must-roster territory for as long as Zach LaVine is out (which may not be long, but go get him anyway and see what happens).
- The most remarkable thing about the Hawks 121-114 victory over the Bucks is the fact that the Hawks won their first home game since November 22, and did so against the defending champs. Trae Young shot 7-of-17 from the field but made all 14 of his free throws for a 30/4/11 line with a steal and two treys, while John Collins had the Hawks’ other double-double with a 16/12 night with three blocks and three triples. Onyeka Okongwu started over Gorgui Dieng with Clint Capela (left ankle) sidelined, and he looked fantastic with 12 points, eight boards, three assists, one steal and three blocks in 36 minutes, and he’s looking like a must-stream guy when he’s starting and Capela is injured. Kevin Huerter recorded a randomly full 13/8/3/2/1 line and Danilo Gallinari was huge late and scored 16 points but isn’t the best fantasy asset, especially since De’Andre Hunter (20/9, go get him) is back and playing superb basketball. As for Milwaukee, they blew yet another lead in the fourth and lost that period by 12 points, but the box score looks just like it often does lately. Jrue Holiday (ankle) is still out, so Giannis Antetokounmpo (27/6/6/1/1 with five turnovers) and Khris Middleton (season-high 34 points along with 34/7/4/2/2 but eight turnovers) feasted just like they’ve been doing. Bobby Portis double-doubled, of course, Grayson Allen returned to single-digit scoring and Pat Connaughton scored 14 points with six boards and four threes, but that’s his first double-digit scoring affair of 2022.
- The Mavs barely held on to beat the Thunder by a final score of 104-102, and again I say, this Thunder team does not quit. Luka Doncic had a 20/11/12 triple-double with three steals and three blocks, but he hit just four of his 17 shots but at least went 12-of-14 on freebies. He notched his fifth triple-double of the season and the 41st of his career, and there are plenty more to come, so that’s barely news these days. Jalen Brunson continued to thrive with a 14/5/8 line with a pair of steals, but he also struggled with a 5-of-13 shooting clip, and Kristaps Porzingis tallied a 13/8/1/1/4 line in just 28 minutes, with the low playing time due to sitting out the last four minutes of the game after some words post-posterization courtesy of SGA. Dorian Finney-Smith had a 18/10 double-double with two steals and four threes, Tim Hardaway Jr. needed 14 shots to score 12 points and that’s all for Dallas. The OKC list is even shorter, as it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who carried the team with his 34 points (11-of-18 FGs, 11-of-12 FTs), six rebounds, five dimes, two steals, one triple and two turnovers, and he’s so fun to watch when he gets it going. Lu Dort had a 18/7/2/1/1 line with a pair of threes and he gets some credit for Luka’s horrid shooting effort, and Josh Giddey had a 10/6/5 line with a steal and a pair of threes, and the uptick in triples lately is huge for his fantasy value.
- The Lakers somehow beat the Jazz to end a three-game losing streak, and Stanley Johnson gets all the credit. He came up huge in the fourth quarter to ultimately pull away and finished with 15 points (10 straight points in the fourth), five rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks, one triple and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes . I don’t think this will be a trend that continues, but he’s at least making me pay attention to him in the first game of his third 10-day contract with L.A. and there’s no denying he was a massive part of a much-needed Lakers victory. LeBron James was LeBron James with a 25/7/7/1/1 line but struggled slightly with a 9-of-20 mark from the field and sadly a 4-of-8 mark from the line, while Russell Westbrook’s 15/8/3 wasn’t inspirational, but he had this monster dunk on Rudy Gobert and an and-one bucket late that were really important. Malik Monk scored 14 with seven boards, one steal and two threes, Talen Horton-Tucker scored 11 with a block and that’s it and Dwight Howard grabbed eight rebounds with five stocks but can’t be relied on for a consistent source of those things. Utah fell apart and couldn’t hit anything in the fourth quarter, a frame in which they scored just 17 points, and their 26.1% mark from range did not help matters. Donovan Mitchell posted a 13/8/7/1/1 line but hist just 6-of-19 field goals, while Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 11 points on 3-of-22 shooting. Mike Conley (20 points, five 3-pointers) and Rudy Gobert (19/16 with one steal, three blocks) were both really good, but Gobert could’ve had 40 if his team found him in the post against a mostly center-less Lakers squad.