Depending on your league format, the fantasy playoffs are either just around the corner or already here, so it’s officially time to buckle up. Making the right adds/drops is becoming more and more important as the weeks fly by, and plenty of no-names are going to (and have already started to) emerge as guys that can help your team going forward. This Monday was relatively light with seven games, but there was some really incredible fantasy going on.
King Ja, ladies and gentlemen. In a 118-105 win over the Spurs on Monday, Ja Morant scored both a career-high and franchise-high 52 points on a ridiculous 22-of-30 shooting mark. He made all four of his triples and while he only had seven boards, two dimes and four turnovers otherwise, no one is going to mind. He also basically ended Jakob Poeltl’s career with this dunk that is not only the dunk of the year but the best dunk of Ja’s career, which is really saying something for the high flyer. Oh, and then he did this, just a casual alley-oop shot from QB1 Steven Adams with 0.4 seconds left in the half to extend the Grizzlies’ lead to 10 points. He’s just a bad, bad man, and while he may not win the MVP this year, I’d be shocked if he didn’t win it very soon assuming this incredible Grizzlies squad stays mostly intact. The only other Grizzlies to hit double figures were not ones you’d expect, as the pair was Tyus Jones (13 points in 19 minutes) and De’Anthony Melton (15/6/1/1/1 in 24 minutes), but when your teammate has a 50-ball, the lower-than-usual scoring from other guys is to be expected. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane were both very quiet for reasons stated in the preceding sentence, while Steven Adams (4/14/5/2/3) and Kyle Anderson (9/9/6 with a block) were still useful despite not scoring a ton.
There’s nothing too exciting on the Spurs’ side of the box score as everyone looked more or less like they usually do. Lonnie Walker is most notable and he’s taken full advantage of the departure of Derrick White, as he scored another 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting to bring him to three straight games with at least that many points, including 17 points in six straight. It’d be nice if he did anything else besides score and hit triples, but if you just need some extra scoring output, feel free to pick him up. Dejounte Murray shot 8-of-20 for a 21/3/8/3/1 line (before getting ejected very late) which is kind of lackluster for his standards, Jakob Poeltl had a full 16/10/4/2/1 double-double, Devin Vassell was fine with a 10/4/5 line with a steal and is a hold going forward and Keldon Johnson finally cooled down a bit with 10 points (4-of-15 FGs), eight rebounds, two steals and one block in 30 minutes, but he was bound for a so-so showing after being in second-round territory over his last six games.
Markelle Fultz looks great in first action in nearly 14 months
After missing well over a year with a left ACL tear, Markelle Fultz played 16 minutes of Orlando’s 119-103 win over the Magic and looked really great with 10 points (5-of-7 FGs), two rebounds, six assists and one turnover in a 119-103 win over the Pacers on Monday. He was supposed to play minutes in the teens and the team stuck with that, and that’s not a bad stat line with everything taken into consideration. It is definitely promising for fantasy purposes, but they are going to be easing him back into things very slowly and this 16-20 minute restriction could hold for some time. He might be worth picking up if he plays minutes in the mid-20s at some point, but there may be no reason for Orlando to do that, so just throw him on your watch list. Cole Anthony went just 3-of-14 from the field for a 11/3/3 line with a triple in 29 minutes, which is four minutes below his season average, and there’s no questioning that Fultz’s return may force him into lower minutes. Anthony won’t be this bad most nights, but a slight dip may be in store for the sophomore guard who has had a really fun season thus far. Other guard Jalen Suggs wasn’t affected by Fultz at all as he posted an efficient 14-point, 10-assist double-double with three boards, two steals, two 3-pointers and two giveaways in 27 minutes, but it’s also just the second time in Suggs’ last 13 games in which he made at least half his shots (5-of-9 on Monday), so just expect some poor shooting with nice counting stats going forward like we’re used to by now. Wendell Carter Jr. recorded his fifth straight double-double and his 27th of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one trey and three turnovers, and he didn’t have any defensive stats but at least he shot 8-of-10 from the floor and has been ballin’ for some time now with sixth-round value over the past month. Mo Bamba came to life and was the third Magic player to double-double with 15 points, 10 boards, one steal, one block and one triple, and the most noteworthy of all was his 30 minutes played. Make sure he wasn’t dropped in your league and just hope the high minutes can stay if you roster him. Franz Wagner was fine with a 15/2/3 line on 6-of-10 shooting with a pair of steals and R.J. Hampton (12 points in 17 minutes) and Gary Harris (11 points in 20 minutes) hit double figures off the bench, but they’re fine to leave on the wire unless you need a dash of steals and threes from Harris.
Rookie Chris Duarte aggravated his left big toe injury and scored just seven points in 15 minutes before being forced to exit, but it’s likely just a day-to-day thing and he could play in Wednesday’s rematch with the Magic, but just check back to make sure. Tyrese Haliburton was fantastic with a 23/5/7 line with two steals, three 3-pointers and unfortunately six turnovers, but besides the giveaways, everything looked great as always as he shot 7-of-13 from the floor and made all six of his freebies. Most of the other Pacers were pretty quiet, but Jalen Smith got the start and was on his way to a big night before getting two technicals and therefore an ejection, and he finished his 25 minutes with 14 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers. Even when coming off the bench at times, Smith has cranked out seventh-round value over the past two weeks, which will take a large hit once Myles Turner (foot) returns, but who knows when that’ll be. Isaiah Jackson played just 18 minutes due to foul trouble and only managed six points, five rebounds, two assists, two swats and three turnovers, but he’s been good and you can just shake this one off. The same can be said about Oshae Brissett (6/6/2 with a block) as long as you can stomach some bad shooting nights, and Goga Bitadze (11/3/2 with two blocks in 21 minutes) even made some noise but is probably the least attractive option of the big men, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have big nights. Buddy Hield hit 7-of-13 field goals just like his backcourt partner and scored 18 points with six dimes and three triples in 34 minutes, and Duane Washington Jr. (11 points, two threes in 26 minutes) got some extra run with Malcolm Brogdon (right Achilles) not playing, as always, but there’s no need to think about adding him.
D’Lo stays hot in win over Cavs
D’Angelo Russell stayed hot in Monday’s 127-122 win over the Cavaliers, hitting 8-of-17 shots for a team-high 25 points to go with four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and four turnovers in 35 minutes. Since D’Lo’s 2-of-11 showing against the Raptors right before the break, he’s put up averages of 27.7 points on 56.0% shooting, 5.0 dimes and 3.0 triples per game in his last three games, but knowing him, he’s probably due for a dud pretty soon so just beware. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns both shot 7-of-13 from the field for 17 points, and their lines look oddly similar, with Ant-Man having the edge due to his four steals among his 17/4/4/4/0 effort, with KAT going for 17/4/3/1/1 in 34 minutes. Patrick Beverley’s defensive excellence just keeps going as he tallied one steal and blocked three shots to go with 11 points (4-of-8 FGs), two rebounds, three triples and just one turnover in 29 minutes to round out a low-end but still very nice 9-cat showing. Jarred Vanderbilt scored eight points with nine boards, two assists and a block in 27 minutes, and while he’s been trending in the wrong direction, as long as the minutes are there (they weren’t on Friday, for what it’s worth), he’ll be worth holding onto and I think some more steals are coming. Jaden McDaniels is trending in the opposite direction and has actually been awesome, as he needed just 18 minutes for his 17 points and career-high five 3-pointers. There’s no denying that Vanderbilt’s negative movement is directly related to McDaniels’ upward trajectory, and maybe they get in a situation where they’ll both be worth holding onto, assuming Vando does indeed pick it back up. Taurean Prince scored 15 points in 20 minutes off the pine in a revenge game scenario, but he isn’t a fantasy option.
Kevin Love’s time machine still works, as he scored a game-high 26 points on 50% shooting in just 26 minutes, adding five rebounds, four assists, one steal, five 3-pointers and two turnovers off the bench. He needed this too after scoring just four points in each of his last two games, but the increase in playing time in comparison to those two obviously helped his line. Unless he ever starts playing minutes in the teens, which I highly doubt, keep rolling with him. Cedi Osman was also impressive off the bench with 21 points, five dimes and five 3-pointers, and he’s one of the many Cavs that are going to benefit without guys like Darius Garland (back, without a clear timetable), Caris LeVert (foot) and Rajon Rondo (toe) for the near future, so he could be someone to utilize for a few games. The same goes for Brandon Goodwin, who’s the Cavs’ starting point guard right now, and he impressed with a 17/4/12 line with two each in the triples and steals categories to notch his first ever 2x2, and he’s definitely worth deploying right now and is still rostered in only 7% of Yahoo! leagues as I type this. Evan Mobley had a 15/10 double-double with four assists and two swats and All-Star Jarrett Allen made all but one of his 10 shots for 21 points, eight boards and one block, but Lauri Markkanen didn’t fare nearly as well with 10 points (2-of-7 FGs), four rebounds, and five turnovers in 35 minutes. Markkanen will be fine and has been really impressive overall since returning from a right ankle injury, and Love’s huge night probably disallowed him from doing as much as usual.
Scottie Barnes can’t miss in win over Nets
Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes went bonkers in a 36-point win over the Nets, tying his career high with 28 points to go with a massive line also including a career-high 16 rebounds, four assists, a career-high tying five steals, one block, one 3-pointer and five turnovers across 34 minutes. Even better, he went 12-of-14 from the field and made his first 11 shots and the Nets had no answer for him, and this line probably helped you win some money if you used him in DFS on Monday. Precious Achiuwa scored at least 20 points off the bench for the second straight game with exactly 20 on 8-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes. The important parts about this are that 1) the Raptors are still without O.G. Anunoby (right hand) and 2) the Raptors are the only team in the league with five games this week. It may be too late in weekly lineup settings since the week has commenced, but if you’re in a league where lineups are set daily, don’t hesitate to grab him since he still has four more games to go. Malachi Flynn started for Fred VanVleet (knee) and actually looked awesome with an efficient 18/4/5 effort with two steals and three triples without turning it over. FVV could be back soon and totally ruin Flynn’s fun, but if VanVleet is out again on Tuesday, Flynn could be worth streaming. Gary Trent Jr. scored just 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting but at least added five assists and five steals, while Pascal Siakam similarly struggled with his shot with a 2-of-14 clip but had a usable 8/3/6/3/2 line in his 30 minutes, and they’re both incredibly safe to deploy each time they play. Thaddeus Young made some noise yet again with a 11/3/1/1/1 line in only 15 minutes and has looked pretty good since joining the Raps, and he was playing minutes in the 20s coming in so he could be worth scooping up as someone that’s in a much better spot than he was in San Antonio.
The 133-97 score is somewhat explained by the absence of Kyrie Irving (home game), but the Nets didn’t look very good at all. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way in scoring with 15 points, but added just three rebounds, one assist and one triple in his 20 minutes, while starting center Andre Drummond didn’t do much in his 16 minutes, which is the opposite of what’s been happening lately. Drummond did seem to tweak his knee early on and this game wasn’t ever really too close, so they were probably being cautious with him, and hopefully he doesn’t wind up on the injury report for Tuesday’s rematch. Bruce Brown was serviceable again with a 14/6/1/1/1 line, Seth Curry scored 11 points with a pair of triples and Cam Thomas scored 14 points with four boards but that’s all she wrote for Brooklyn on this occasion.
Giannis and Bobby Portis highlight Bucks’ victory over Hornets
This week did not start off too nicely with all these blowouts, and there will be more before this article is finished. Milwaukee took care of Charlotte with ease in a 130-106 win over Charlotte, and it’s the same Bucks getting it done. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a huge 26/16/6/4/2 line with three turnovers, and even more impressive than his 6-of-10 shooting form the floor, he made all 14 of his shots from the charity stripe to really check all the boxes on Monday. Bobby Portis followed up Saturday’s career-high eight-triple performance on Saturday by hitting four more of them on Monday for 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. Jrue Holiday joined the 20-point club with 21 of his own to go with six rebounds and eight assists, and while neither he or Portis got any steals or blocks, it was because Giannis hogged them all as he was the only starter to get any. Weird, but remember, it was a blowout and no one on Milwaukee’s side played over 29 minutes. Khris Middleton struggled with his shot with 5-of-16 shooting for a 19/4/3 line with three triples, and Grayson Allen played just 18 minutes but still scored 11 points with three treys. Allen’s minutes and production are trending in the wrong direction and at this point in the season, he’s fine to let go unless you really need threes.
LaMelo Ball led the way for the Hornets in a disappointing effort all around with 24 points on 50% from the floor, but added just four boards with two assists, one steal, four triples and three turnovers in 30 minutes. Other guards Terry Rozier (17/4/8 with two steals) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (17/7/4 with three triples and a steal) both did quite well, and with Oubre’s success sadly came P.J. Washington’s subpar 13/4/2 performance with nothing else besides his three treys. I still prefer Washington over Oubre overall as he’s been a sneaky good sixth-round asset over his past six games coming in, and even more impressive, he was that productive while not even averaging double figures in scoring. He’s absolutely a hold, and if you still have another day or two to buy low on him, it’s worth a shot. Miles Bridges was very quiet with 14 points, three boards, three 3-pointers and that’s it, while Mason Plumlee posted a 3/5/2/1/1 night and looks to be trending down again, which surprises no one.
De’Aaron Fox outduels SGA in a Kings victory
De’Aaron Fox is crushing it right now and kept his foot on the gas with a team-high 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting, chipping in four rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one block, one 3-pointer and just one turnover in 41 minutes of a 131-110 win over the Thunder. The departure of Tyrese Haliburton has made him look like a totally different player both in real life and for your fantasy team, and he’s poised for a strong finished after scoring at least 20 points in his last eight outings. Trey Lyles got the start for Richaun Holmes (back, drop him if you haven’t yet) and scored a random 24 points with six boards and two dimes in 31 minutes but this was likely matchup-based, and Harrison Barnes did his thing with 23 points (6-of-12 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs), five rebounds, two assists, two steals, one triple and two turnovers in 34 minutes and is far less of a shutdown risk, which is good news. Domantas Sabonis only missed one of his eight shots for a full 14/16/7 line with a steal, but he did turn it over a career-high tying eight times due to a lot of pretty decent OKC double teams and traps. Davion Mitchell hasn’t looked good recently as he had an efficient 13 points but added just one assist, one steal and one triple in his 21 minutes, and at this point, I’d probably rather roll with Donte DiVincenzo (14/5/4 with four triples and one steal) for the time being if I had to pick from the two.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may get lost in the shuffle since he plays for the Thunder, but he has been an absolute machine since coming out of the break with a healed right ankle. He went bonkers for a game-high 37 points, and he nearly triple-doubled too with 10 assists, seven rebounds, three steals, three 3-pointers and five turnovers in 33 minutes. Josh Giddey missed this one again with right hip soreness, and coach Mark Daigneault said on Monday that he "it could be a minute, it's not a day-to-day thing.” This has tank written all over it but if it’s legitimate, hopefully he’s back soon, and there would be nothing for Thunder-like than to have to sit their 19-year-old rookie so they don’t win too many games. If you roster SGA, in a way, you hope they keep Giddey out and be cautious with him as he’s clearly a mad man without him. Aleksej Pokusevski is trending up again and even though he shot just 4-of-12 from the field, he was nice with a 9/8/5/2/2 showing with a three-pointer, and don’t be surprised if Poku ends up being one of the many random heroes when fantasy playoffs come around. Tre Mann was quiet with a 11/3/4 line but could be worth an add with Giddey apparently not all too close, and Darius Bazley and Isaiah Roby both scored eight points with three combined steals/blocks, with the former being the only guy to consider for your team right now (Roby has been better, but I don’t trust him yet). Aaron Wiggins re-injured his right ankle and played just nine minutes before leaving the game, which could help Poku even more if he misses some time, and Vlat Krecji (10/5/2 with a steal, started the second half for Wiggins) and Olivier Sarr (12 points in 26 minutes) both reached double figures in the scoring column, but no thanks.
Gabe Vincent leads all Heat starters with 20 points
Gabe Vincent was the unlikely hero in Miami’s 112-99 victory over Chicago, as he started and scored 20 points (7-of-13 FGs) with two rebounds, three assists, four 3-pointers and no turnovers in a team-high 33 minutes. Vincent is really just in play whenever Kyle Lowry (personal) sits out, and even when Lowry is playing, he’ll have some high scoring outputs but it’s nothing consistent. Bam Adebayo blocked two more shots in an efficient and full 15/7/5/2/2 line, and that’s now five straight games with multiple blocks for someone not even averaging one swat per game on the season. More where that came from, please. Tyler Herro shared team-high honors with Vincent, also scoring 20 points to go with six rebounds, five assists, one trey and two turnovers in 30 minutes. He’s hot again and scored at least 20 for the third straight game, all of which he hit at least half his shots. Some other stats would be nice, but Monday’s line was just fine for Herro despite not getting any defensive stats. Jimmy Butler struggled to the tune of 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting (7-of-10 FTs) but also had seven rebounds, four assists, four steals (all in the first quarter) and two giveaways in 29 minutes, and it’s nice that he got some extra rest in a game where the final score didn’t dictate how one-sided it was. Most of the non-Herro Miami bench can be ignored, but Max Strus (13 points, two assists, one steal, one block, three triples), like Vincent, could be in play whenever Lowry is out too.
DeMar DeRozan was human in this one, finally. I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen, but he finally struggled with just 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting to end his streak of scoring at least 31 points at 10 games. The good news is that the shooting percentage wasn’t that awful and he chipped in with seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and three turnovers in 34 minutes. Ayo Dosunmu also had a full line including 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, four rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, two 3-pointers and three turnovers in a team-high 36 minutes. He’s going to have his rookie duds but the fact that he led the whole team in minutes is huge for him, and he’s going to be relevant for a while longer. Zach LaVine hit half of his 16 shots for 22 points, four rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes, and Nikola Vucevic was far more boring than usual with a 14/7/2 line with a steal but this was still usable. Javonte Green (4/3/0/1/1 in 21 minutes) and Coby White (9/4/6 with three triples) weren’t very good but they’re usually better, and that pair along with Ayo all get a bump in value with Alex Caruso (wrist) and Lonzo Ball (knee) still not ready to suit up.