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Week 8 is already here, and the season will be one-third of the way through by the time it’s over. It feels like we just started, but that seems to be how it always goes, so be sure to take each and every night of NBA basketball and enjoy it to the fullest. 10 games on Monday, a busy one per usual, so let’s go.
SGA comes up on top in duel with Cade Cunningham
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed his last “game” (the one his team lost by an NBA-worst 73 points to the Grizzlies) due to entering concussion protocols but looked just fine in the Thunder’s first win in nine games, scoring 30 points (9-of-19 FGs) with a career-high 13 assists, two rebounds, two blocks and two turnovers in 37 minutes. Last time he was active, SGA went nuts for 39 points and his shot is falling more often lately, which could be huge for him given his career-low 41.4% shooting from the floor. Keep in mind that he’s never shot worse than 47% in any of his three previous seasons, so he’s starting to get back to his efficient and productive self. Luguentz Dort gets a ton of praise too as he drained five 3-pointers for 28 points, two boards, two steals and two blocks in 37 minutes. He failed to hit the 20-point mark in his three games before this too, so this is just what his managers wanted to see. Josh Giddey returned after missing two games and had 12 points with five assists and somehow no rebounds, but he’s still so fun and went 5-of-6 in this one, while other starter Darius Bazley had just seven points but also eight boards, two steals and three blocks in his 29 minutes. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl started but played just 18 minutes and didn’t do much in a start, but he’s flashed plenty of good things and I still like stashing him, and Derrick Favors returned to action but I conversely will not be stashing him, and happily so.
Cade Cunningham had another career-high effort behind 28 points (11-of-24 FGs), 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, six 3-pointers and six turnovers in 36 minutes, becoming the first Pistons rookie to ever post a 20/10/5 line with five threes. He’s one of the only exciting things about this team that now has a 4-19 record, and his value will rely heavily on his ability to hit his shots more frequently. Jerami Grant posted a 20/6/5 line with a pair or blocks, which is very standard for him, and Isaiah Stewart had four points with nine rebounds and three blocks coming off of two straight double-doubles, and I’m still one of the few who believes that the best is yet to come for him.
Joel Embiid goes beast mode in OT win over Hornets
Holy Joel Embiid. He hasn’t been his best by any means but made his managers very proud in a 127-124 OT win over the Hornets, going for a season-high 43 points (15-of-20 FGs, 12-of-14 FTs), seven assists, one steal, one trey and three turnovers in 41 minutes. It’s lines like these that justify spending a first or second-round pick on him, but there’s no arguing how frustrating his abundance of games in street clothes can be, but he feasted tonight and there’s no way around that. Tobias Harris was a fairly distant afterthought but still had an incredible 21/11/4/1/2 line with a pair of threes with just one turnover and his improvement in the two defensive categories could push him closer to his ADP, and Shake Milton was fine with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a block in 35 minutes of a start for Tyrese Maxey (illness). These three were somehow the only 76ers in double figures despite a high-scoring total, including just 30 total points from Seth Curry, Danny Green, Georges Niang and Furkan Korkmaz.
The Hornets have been hit by these health and safety protocols really hard lately, as Ish Smith entered them today to join LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels to explain an eight-man rotation (half of which played at least 42 minutes) in the narrow loss. Kelly Oubre is making the most of all these guys being out and continued doing just that on Monday, scoring a team-high 35 points with five rebounds, three assists, four steals, one block and six 3-pointers, and paid off for anyone who smartly utilized him in their DFS lineups. He was red hot even before Charlotte starting getting more depleted by the day, so make sure he’s starting until further notice. No one else scored more than 16 points as Oubre was simply sizzling, but P.J. Washington posted a full 16/8/4/1/3 line off the bench but went just 6-of-17 from the field, with Miles Bridges (16/6/6) and Gordon Hayward (12/5/9) both posting solid lines even though they shot 11-of-35 as a duo.
Bradley Beal gets back on track but Wiz still fall to IND
Bradley Beal came in shooting 37.1% (26-of-70) in his four games before Monday’s 116-110 loss to the Pacers, but bounced back nicely to begin the week with 34 points (12-of-19 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs) with two boards, four assists, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 39 minutes. It’s been a rough season for Beal early on as he's sitting below a 43% shooting mark, but the real issue with him is that he’s attempting the eighth most shots in the league on a per-game basis, so it’s hurting teams far more due to the volume. The rest of the Wizards were a bit boring, with Kyle Kuzma recording a 14/4/2/1/1 line with two treys, Daniel Gafford going blockless but with 14 points and eight boards and Aaron Holiday scoring 11 points with five dimes and three steals in a start for Spencer Dinwiddie (just rest).
The Pacers needed this win badly after dropping four straight prior to this one, and Domantas Sabonis made sure they didn’t make it five by going for 30 points (11-of-15 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block and three turnovers in 36 minutes, and it’s a shame he’s not blocking shots or hitting a ton of threes (just 0.3 and 0.8 per game, respectively) because he’s been spectacular just about everywhere else. Caris LeVert was second in scoring with 19 points and also one steal and three blocks, but he’s been more of a score-only guy to begin the season with Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon (17/6/8 in 36 minutes) hogging the majority of the counting stats. Myles Turner decided to not be an offensive threat in his 30 minutes for just five points and seven boards but at least he had four swats, Chris Duarte had 13 points with five rebounds and four steals and even Oshae Brissett made some noise, nearly matching Turner’s minutes total with 29 of them while totaling 12 points, eight boards and three triples. Duarte has reached double figures in scoring in seven straight now and is stealing the ball but isn't doing a whole lot else, and we know what Brissett can do when given the run so make sure he’s on your watch list and to be the first to pick him up if Turner ever goes down.
Grizzlies win fifth straight without trailing in any of them
You read that right. The Memphis Grizzlies are on a five-game winning streak and have not trailed in any of those five games, making it the first time in 14 years since a team put together such a streak. They don’t even have Ja Morant either, which makes it more impressive, but Tyus Jones (14 points, seven assists, no steals) has been filling in nicely while virtually everyone else is stepping up. Dillon Brooks scored a team-high tying 21 points with a career-high tying eight dimes, also adding three triples and two steals, but of course he hit only 8-of-21 field goals, and Desmond Bane shared scoring honors with Brooks behind a full 21/8/2/2/1 line with three 3-pointers as well. Bane is rostered in just 72% of Yahoo! leagues at the moment, which is borderline ludicrous given how good he’s been all year, with or without Ja and Brooks, so please go get him if you can. Steven Adams double-doubled for the second straight game with 17 points, 16 rebounds, one steal and one block, and while the 5-of-9 mark from the line does hurt, he helped fantasy teams far more than he hurt them. Jaren Jackson Jr. shot 6-of-16 for a 14/3/1/1/2 line with two 3-pointers, and this is the worst he’s played in a while, and it wasn’t even that bad.
On top of the 105-90 loss, the Heat lost Jimmy Butler in the third quarter of the game after re-aggravating his tailbone injury, playing just 25 minutes before exiting with a 10/5/4 line with three steals. It would be surprising to not see him on the injury report ahead of Wednesday’s matchup with the Bucks, and while he may miss that one, it would be a brutal blow if it’s anything extensive. Tyler Herro led the way in the loss with 25 points in 29 minutes in his normal bench role, and he has a shot to start if Jimmy can’t suit up next time. Kyle Lowry posted a nice 17/4/8/1/1 line and gets a boost without Butler, Dewayne Dedmon wasn’t great in his 21 minutes but is coming off of a double-double (hold him) and no other Miami player was overly fantasy-friendly in a 90-point effort.
Bulls starters carry the squad to win
Both the Bulls and the Nuggets are rather shorthanded at the moment, with DeMar DeRozan one of the most recent to enter health and safety protocols Monday morning, leaving a decent void left to be filled. It’s safe to say it was filled rather nicely, as new temporary starters Ayo Dosunmu (first NBA start) and Derrick Jones Jr. made plenty of impact. The former had a handful of career highs, going for 11 points, six rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and three turnovers in a team-high 42 minutes, and the fact that the coaching staff trusts him enough to play that much speaks for itself. I don’t mind snagging him up off the wire for the next few games while DeRozan and Alex Caruso (hamstring, evaluated in one week) are sidelined. DJJ scored 12 points with nine boards and a triple and could also be worth a look, and Zach LaVine could feast without DeRozan and did just that with 32 points (13-of-23 FGs), three boards, eight dimes, one steal, three triples and three turnovers in his 39 minutes of action. Nikola Vucevic sadly looked like early-season Vuc with a 8-of-24 mark from the field, but was otherwise nice with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double with two assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Lonzo Ball looks to be the biggest beneficiary of all of the absences in a small sample size, as he also went for 20 points and 10 boards while chipping in four each in the assists, blocks and triples categories.
All five Denver starters scored between 14 and 19 points and while it was a well-balanced effort, it wasn’t quite enough. Nikola Jokic had one of the more ugly triple-doubles he’s accumulated with a 17/12/15 line on 6-of-17 shooting, also tacking on two steals, one trey and three turnovers in 36 minutes. I’ll let the poor shooting slide, I guess. Jeff Green (who started, but Denver has two J. Greens on the ESPN box score so it can’t hurt to double check) double-doubled for 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds with a block and a triple, and it was nice to see him play pretty well with Jokic in there but he’s hit or miss. Monte Morris was on the better end of the scoring threshold with a team high in points with a 19/4/7 line with a steal and three triples, as was Will Barton with 19 points (8-of-20 FGs), Aaron Gordon had a boring 18 points with six rebounds but is worth starting from here on out and the other J. Green (JaMychal) and the rest of the Denver bench did a whole lot of nothing, combining for 10 points in 63 minutes.
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Warriors make win over Magic look easy
I’ll be interrupting my usual analysis formatting with a quick bit about this one, as the Warriors and Magic have almost inverse records (20-4, 5-20) and the Dubs won by 31. Steph Curry had 31 points with three boards, eight assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers (one of which was a near-half-court bomb to beat the first-quarter buzzer), and Andrew Wiggins hit a career-high eight 3-pointers for 28 points with little else (but who cares if he hit eight trey-bombs). Mo Bamba may have fallen victim to the GSW small-ball ways and played just 18 minutes with the two blocks being the only good part, Wendell Carter Jr. double-doubled, Franz Wagner kept impressing with a 15/4/6 line with three steals and R.J. Hampton scored 16 off the bench but had almost nothing else besides six turnovers in 23 minutes. Bamba will be fine, WCJ and Wagner are exceeding expectations and Hampton reached double figures for the first time in his last seven games. The Warriors are good at basketball and the Magic are not. Moving on.
Triple 27s for Giannis
In a 112-104 win over the Cavaliers on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points in 27 minutes on his 27th birthday to give the Bucks their 10th win in the last 11 games. Amazing. He added 12 rebounds with two assists and a block while making all three of his triples and having efficient nights from both the field and the line, and his resume at just 27 years of age is pretty unbelievable. It’s also worth noting that he showed no rust after sitting out two games prior with a calf issue, but I’m pretty sure he’s okay. Khris Middleton (21/3/8, no defensive stats for the second straight game) and Jrue Holiday (20/7/8/2/1 with a pair of threes and five turnovers) joined the 20-point club with Giannis, and Bobby Portis hauled in another 16 rebounds with 10 points and three dimes in 31 minutes. Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen combined for 18 points and five threes, and I’d start to worry about both of them a bit since usual starter Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) is now with the G-League affiliate, so tamper your expectations with those two value picks given Donte’s return pretty soon.
It’s about time Darius Garland returned to this planet, as he shot just 3-of-12 from the floor for 10 points, three rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer and four turnovers in 35 minutes, but he’s coming off two 30-point games and has been playing out of his mind overall, so don’t fret. Jarrett Allen went 10-of-12 for 25 points with nine boards and two swats, and simply because he’s blocking shots lately, he’s moved into top-35 conversation over the past week even before factoring this one in. Lauri Markkanen netted 20 points with seven boards, four treys and a block and actually hit his shots, Evan Mobley was kind of quiet with a 12-point, six-board showing with a steal and a triple, and the somehow resurging Kevin Love keeps making noise and notched 15 points with five rebounds off the pine.
MIN gets a taste of TLC
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hit a new career-high seven triples in another start, finishing with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting overall in 38 minutes of a win over the Timberwolves. Atlanta was without Cam Reddish (wrist), Solomon Hill (hamstring) and of course De’Andre Hunter (wrist surgery) and TLC has been far more involved because of all of this, but this seems like more of a once-in-a-blue-moon situation rather than an immediate pick up, so I’m not really planning to bother with him. Trae Young posted a full 29/7/11 line with a pair of steals but did hurt you where he sometimes does with five turnovers and a 7-of-18 shooting clip (11-of-13 freebies though), but the blemishes were not anything we haven’t seen before. Danilo Gallinari had his third straight productive game with 20 points in 24 minutes, also adding five boards, two assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers and has to be rostered at least for right now while he’s doing stuff like this, and Clint Capela had a somewhat weird but effective (per usual) 9/16/4/1/4 line, and the fact that he racked up just a smidge under 40 fantasy points while scoring just nine real points is pretty cool.
D’Angelo Russell is battling an ankle issue and sat out this time around, leaving a spot for Leandro
Barbosa Bolmaro to start. He was drafted in 2020 but is getting his first NBA action this season, but he scored just two points with three boards and steal in 18 minutes (ignore him, of course). Malik Beasley was the real winner with D’Lo sitting out, and even though he still came off the bench, he went for 24 points with five rebounds, three dimes and six 3-pointers and is worth a stream or DFS play if Russell can’t suit up for the game against the Jazz on Wednesday. Karl-Anthony Towns kept chugging along with a 31/16/6 line with a block and four treys, Anthony Edwards struggled from the field but kept the defense coming with a 20/1/7/3/2 performance and Jarred Vanderbilt hauled in 13 boards and of course just six points and is absolutely worth rostering even though he's not a scorer.
Chris Paul still isn’t aging
Chris “Point God” Paul looks like he’s 21 years old most nights despite being a 36-year-old veteran, and he continued to show why he’s a second-round fantasy asset behind 21 points, three rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block, two triples and three giveaways in 35 minutes of Monday's four-point win. He becomes the sole leader of this team when Devin Booker (hamstring) doesn’t suit up, and he’s had a role like this for so many years that there’s no reason we should be surprised by his excellence even in his 17th season. Jae Crowder scored a season-high 19 points with six boards and four triples but it rarely gets as good as this for him and Deandre Ayton had a 14/9/4 showing but five turnovers and just one block, with his backup JaVale McGee continuing his pretty wild per-minute production for 13 points and seven boards in only 13 minutes. Cam Johnson and Landry Shamet scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, but Johnson had the far more usable fantasy line with three rebounds, three dimes, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers to his name in 29 minutes, and I have no issue utilizing him for however long Book is out.
Oh look, Dejounte Murray went off again. The ADP destroyer recorded 17 points on 7-of-12 from the field, six rebounds, 14 assists, two steals, two triples and four turnovers in 34 minutes, and if it wasn’t previously apparent, things are clicking on all cylinders for him and he has quickly become one of the most fun fantasy players to roster. Derrick White had an off night (I was a poet and I didn’t know it) with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting with no defensive stats, but he’s found his stride lately so I’m comfortable giving him a pass, while Jakob Poeltl had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double and didn’t shoot any free throws, which is great news. Doug McDermott, Bryn Forbes and Keldon Johnson all scored 13-15 points and normally I’m not too interested in them, but wouldn’t mind deploying in the short-term given that San Antonio is the only team playing five games this week (Johnson has some season-long appeal, just by the way, but not so much the others).
Paul George snaps out of mini-slump
A two-game shooting slump for Paul George is only worth pointing out because of how good he’s been lately, and after shooting a combined 12-of-41 in his last two, PG-13 sank half of his shots for a 21/4/8 line with four steals and four turnovers in 39 minutes on Monday, and I wasn’t ever too worried about him for this reason. This box score was pretty well-balanced like some others tonight, but the only defensive stats in the starting lineup besides George’s steals and Ivica Zubac’s three blocks and one steal (just five points) were Marcus Morris’ two steals. The younger Morris twin (by seven minutes, as if he hasn't heard the end of that) also scored 17 points with four assists and three triples and is officially worth a look after combining for 59 points over his last three. Reggie Jackson had a very inefficient 16/6/6 line, Luke Kennard scored 15 himself with three triples and there was even a Brandon Boston Jr. sighting with 13 points in 20 minutes (both of which led the bench unit), and while may not be this season, BBJ could very well be a fantasy target sooner rather than later in the right situation.
Portland got 60 total points from both Norman Powell and Jusuf Nurkic with Damian Lillard (abdomen) and CJ McCollum (rib) not suiting up, but still managed to choke this one away, losing by 12 after being down just three to begin the fourth and final period. Jusuf Nurkic finally sent out a Nurk Alert with a season-high 31 points, adding five rebounds and swat, but the 6-of-10 mark from the line wasn’t great and I’m hoping this gets the suddenly Blockless Monster going (0.6 swats per game from a seven-footer is not ideal). Norman Powell also season-high’d with 29 points (10-of-24 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs) with five boards, one assist and two makes from range and automatically becomes the go-to guy whenever the main backcourt duo isn't in action, so note this if they both miss again. Tony Snell started for CJ but, what do you know, he did basically nothing, and he’s not even worth a DFS punt-play. Dennis Smith Jr. is starting for Dame and had a nice (and efficient, yet again, believe it or not) showing with a 13/6/7/1/1 line in 39 minutes, but the seven turnovers were far from ideal. If Robert Covington ever scored he’d be awesome but he had just two points in a weird 2/10/1/3/2 line and is clinging on for dear life to13th-round value.
It’ll be a fairly chill Tuesday but with some nice matchups, as the Nets will visit the Mavs, the Knicks will try and stop Dejounte Murray in San Antonio and the Lakers and Celtics will face off in Staples Center (saying that while I can) in one of the great rivalries across all sports. Wednesday will be a different story, as 26 of the 30 teams face off in 13 games, so even though Tuesday is slow, Wednesday will be quite the opposite.