Sunday's make for a great day of hoops. On this particular Sunday, we saw stars get red-hot, while a few stars couldn't buy a bucket. A few teams shot horribly as a whole. It felt like multiple guys made their case for MVP with their individual performances, which is why this season has been so exciting. We genuinely have no idea who is going to take home the award or win the NBA finals. So, without further ado, let's dive into this 11-game slate!
Knicks 110, Clippers 102
RJ Barrett started off the day with a 28/14/6 stat line that had him fall one rebound shy of tying his career-high. It seems as though the Knicks go as RJ goes. In the three games before this, he averaged 17.3 points on 35/28/53 shooting splits with 4.3 turnovers per game. They lost all three games. In the three games before that, he averaged 29.7 points on 53/56/82 shooting splits. They won all three games. It was nice to see him get back on track. Kemba Walker was a late scratch, so Alec Burks got the starting nod at point guard. Tom Thibodeau has consistently gone to him as a starting point guard this year, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Immanuel Quickley mirrored his minutes, which is something to keep note of moving forward in games without Kemba, which it’s safe to assume he’ll miss more games. Mitchell Robinson left the game early with an ankle injury. He said he’ll be fine on Twitter, so he may not miss any time. However, if he does, Nerlens Noel is the clear add. He played all but six minutes that Robinson wasn’t on the floor and put up eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and one block. The six minutes that neither were on the floor were filled by Taj Gibson, who miraculously came away with one rebound and four fouls in those minutes. Cam Reddish made his Knicks debut, finishing with two points and two rebounds in five minutes. We’ll see if that’ll change moving forward.
Reggie Jackson has been on fire as of late. Over the last four games, he’s averaged 24.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. He’s been streaky this year, but when he’s in the groove, the Clippers can’t afford to go away from him with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sidelined until who knows when. Tyronn Lue runs three big men in his rotation between Ivica Zubac, Serge Ibaka, and Isaiah Hartenstein. Zubac is the starter and plays the most minutes, which allowed him to have a 17/14 line with three blocks in only 29 minutes. However, Lue tries to avoid having any of them on the court at the same time, which has been evident over the past two games. This really limits the potential fantasy value of Hartenstein and Ibaka, despite them both being solid fantasy options at different times throughout the season. Luke Kennard had his best shooting performance since returning from league protocols, finishing with 14 points on four 3-pointers. Brandon Boston Jr. has been hit or miss this season, but he finished with 13 points in this one.
Celtics 116, Wizards 87
It was only a matter of time for Jayson Tatum, right? After shooting 0-for-17 from deep over the course of three games, Tatum got back on track by hitting a career-high nine 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 51 points to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists. He had 31 by halftime and 48 at the end of the third quarter. He did all of this in 33 minutes and only turned the ball over once. If you have him on your roster, congratulations! Hopefully, this will be the start of a tear for him, considering how underwhelming he’s been at times this season. Jaylen Brown didn’t have his best shooting performance (5-of-18 FGs), which limited his fantasy output. However, he did hit four 3-pointers and gathered 10 rebounds. Plus, when Tatum is that hot, it’s okay for Brown to have an off night. Marcus Smart returned from a six-game absence and put up an 11/4/6 line with four steals. He was also a team-best +36. Smart’s return sent Dennis Schroder back to the bench, where he put up 7/2/5 in 22 minutes. Not quite the numbers he had been putting up as a starter, which should be expected. Payton Pritchard and Romeo Langford had been receiving decent minutes and playing well, but Schroder’s return to the bench cut into their opportunity, and they combined to play a total of 12 minutes. Aaron Nesmith returned from a two-game absence and played four minutes.
Bradley Beal may have been the only Wizard starter that didn’t put up a dreadful line. He had a line of 19/5/7 with two steals. While it wasn’t the output you’d like from him, it wasn’t as bad as other guys. Spencer Dinwiddie had a line of 4/5/5/1/2 while shooting 1-for-12 from the field and 0-for-7 from deep. He’s shot the ball well this month, so expect a bounce back performance from him. Deni Avdija had one of the few good performances on the team with a 13/7 line on 6-of-9 shooting. Wes Unseld Jr. has a plethora of bigs to choose from. It’s a luxury for the team, but it makes it tough for fantasy managers. Daniel Gafford is the starter, but played only 11 minutes. He’s averaged 10.8 minutes over the last five games. Thomas Bryant got the most minutes with 22 off the bench and out up a line of 11/4/1/2/1. Rui Hachimura played 19 minutes off the bench with a 7/7/2 line. Montrezl Harrell only played seven minutes off the bench. It’s hard to justify starting any Wizards big men until one of them is getting consistent minutes.
Magic 114, Bulls 95
The former Michigan players really got it done for the Magic. Mo Wagner scored 23 points in 25 minutes while shooting 9-of-13 from the floor. He played so well that the Magic opted to just roll with him and leave Mo Bamba on the bench. Bamba started the game, but picked up four fouls while only playing seven minutes. Franz Wagner put up an 18/4/5/1/1 line in 38 minutes. The Wagner brothers are the more well-known former Wolverines on the roster, but there is a third that also played well. Ignas Brazdeikis scored a season-high 11 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Wendell Carter Jr. returned to the starting lineup with Gary Harris out and finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in 28 minutes. Jalen Suggs has been overshadowed by how well other rookies in this class have played, but he’s been looking like the top-5 pick that he was supposed to be since returning from the thumb injury. Over the last six games he’s averaged 14.8/5.5/5.5 with 1.3 steals per game. Oh, and he does this. Chuma Okeke had a solid performance off the bench with a 11/7/4/1/2 line. Over the past month, he’s been the best Magic player in 9-cat formats.
In a game his team lost by 19, DeMar DeRozan made arguably his strongest case for MVP. How did he do that? Well, he played 38 minutes and was the only Chicago Bull to finish with a positive +/- at +3. That means in the ten minutes he was off the floor, they were outscored by 22 points by the Magic, who have the worst record in the league. This is all without Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, and Zach LaVine. The Bulls are still fighting for the top seed out East. Oh, and DeRozan’s numbers from this game don’t hurt his case either. He finished with a line of 41/5/3 with two steals on 15-of-21 shooting and 11-of-13 on free throws. He’s been playing out of his mind all season. He likely won’t really be strongly considered for MVP, he deserves to be in the running. Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have been solid fill-ins for the Bulls. White finished with 22 points in 35 minutes, while Dosunmu had seven points and five rebounds in 40 minutes. It wasn’t the best night for the pair, but they’re going to see plenty of opportunities moving forward without Caruso and Ball for six-to-eight weeks minimum. Nikola Vucevic struggled against his former team, shooting 4-of-19 from the floor with five turnovers before fouling out. He’s not shooting as bad as he was at the beginning of the season, and he did still put up a 13/13 line, which gave him his third straight double-double. The Bulls need him to score now more than ever, so hopefully he’s up to the task next time. They may have reinforcements coming, as there’s a chance LaVine returns for Monday’s game against the Thunder.
Trail Blazers 114, Raptors 105
C.J. McCollum put up a 19/10/6 line to help guide the Blazers to victory, which gave him his season-high in rebounds. If you’re punting free throws, McCollum has provided third round value since he returned from a month long absence with a collapsed lung. Jusuf Nurkic had a well-rounded line with 11/11/2/1/2. However, he was abysmal from the free throw line, shooting 1-for-5 from the stripe. Punting free throws over the past two weeks would jump Nurkic from 10th round value to 3rd round value. Anfernee Simons struggled compared to the numbers he had been putting up, finishing with 19 points and a season-high 6 turnovers. Hold steady to Simons. He’s been the dominant ball handler but is now splitting touches with McCollum. The Raptors also have a lot of good defenders on their team. As the season continues on, Simons should be fine. Nassir Little contributed a full line of 19/7/3/1/1. He has been dealing with a knee contusion, but it didn’t seem to bother him. Robert Covington, of course, also put up a complete line with 9/5/5/2/2. He’s provided 3rd round value over the past month, with most of that coming from his steals and blocks. Ben McLemore has been hit or miss, but was a hit in this one, shooting 5-of-7 from deep. He really only provides threes, but has been reliable over the past eight games, outside of an 0-for-7 performance.
Pascal Siakam is having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging career-highs in rebounds, assists, and steals. He put up a 28/8/5/1/1 line in this game. Most of the other Raptors struggled with their shot. Fred VanVleet had a line of 19/5/8/5/1, despite shooting 6-of-19 from the floor. The five steals were a season high. Scottie Barnes put up a line of 9/6/6/1/2, but shot 3-of-14 from the floor. OG Anunoby had a line of 11/8/5/3/2. That helps in a lot of categories, but shooting 4-of-15 from the floor hurts a lot. Gary Trent Jr. scored 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting. It’s hard to win when you shoot 39.8% from the floor as a team and only hit 33% of your 54 3-point attempts. Chris Boucher did have a solid game off the bench with 11 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks, and he even shot the ball well by hitting four of his seven shot attempts. It was an off-night overall for the team, and they should bounce back.
Heat 113, Lakers 107
Jimmy Butler passed LeBron James as the Heat’s franchise leader in triple-doubles (10) while playing against the King, so that’s pretty cool. Butler finished with a line of 20/10/12/2/1 and only one turnover in 39 minutes. Duncan Robinson has been pretty bad at home this season, but played well in this one. He finished with 25 points and hit six 3-pointers. In his previous four home games, Robinson had scored a combined 19 points while only hitting five 3-pointers. Bam Adebayo has been providing 2nd round value since returning from injury, and that continued with him posting a 14/8/5/1/1 line. The main knock has been his turnovers, and he had five in this game before fouling out. Caleb Martin has been excellent for the Heat lately, providing 6th round value over the past two weeks. He chipped in 15 points in this game. While it may have had something to do with how small the Lakers play, it’s been interesting to see what the Heat have done with their backups behind Bam since his return. Dewayne Dedmon only played eight minutes, and Omer Yurtseven received another DNP- Coach’s Decision. Yurtseven was a rebounding sensation, recording double digit rebounds in 14 straight games, including a four-game stretch where he had at least 16 rebounds in each. Now, he’s played a total of seven minutes over the last four games.
I feel like I’m typing this every week, but what LeBron James is doing at his age shouldn’t happen. He played 40 minutes tonight and had 33 points and 11 rebounds. It wasn’t his best performance from deep (1-for-8 on 3PTs), but he shot 12-of-22 from the floor. He also scored at least 26 points for the 17th straight game. I mean, this is ridiculous. Russell Westbrook said that he felt last game was a turning point, and it looks like it may have been. He posted very Westbrook-esque numbers with a 24/9/9 line. He’s still limited by turnovers and 3-pointers, but it’s nice to see him playing well. Avery Bradley scored 15 points and hit four 3-pointers. Carmelo Anthony added 11 points off the bench. Really, there’s not a ton of consistent fantasy value to be found outside of LeBron until Anthony Davis finally returns, which seems like it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Hawks 113, Hornets 91
If you’re basing it off win streaks, the Hawks are the hottest team in the East right now, having just won their fourth straight. It’s been quite the momentum shift for Trae Young and the Hawks after such a disappointing first half of the season. Young tied his career-high with eight 3-pointers that contributed to his 30-point performance. Over the past three games, he’s shot 18-for-36 from deep. He only had four assists, which is far below his season average, but he did only turn it over twice, which is also low for him. De'Andre Hunter has been on a tear since returning from a two-month absence after wrist surgery. He posted a 20/2/1/3/1 line before leaving the game early after being hit on a dunk attempt by Kelly Oubre. Delon Wright had a season-high four steals off the bench. Clint Capela got the start at center and only played 26 minutes again. Once he’s fully back healthy, he should get back to posting top tier rebounding and block numbers. John Collins had a very quiet game, only shooting the ball five times. Early on, the Hawks were using him similarly to how the Warriors use Draymond Green. Trae got JC the ball around the free throw line after he was double teamed on the pick ‘n roll, which allowed Collins to create. He ended up finishing with five assists, which was his second best assist output of the season and could be a sign of things to come.
It’s hard to win games when you shoot the ball as poorly as the Hornets did from beyond the arc. They missed all 16 of their first half 3-point attempts and finished 4-of-36 from deep. LaMelo Ball shot 0-for-8 from deep. Terry Rozier shot 0-for-6 from deep. Miles Bridges and James Bouknight each shot 0-for-4 from deep. And Kelly Oubre Jr. shot 1-for-9 on 3-pointers. Ball posted a 19/6/4 line, and Rozier had a line of 7/5/7 with three steals. P.J. Washington had a solid performance off the bench with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and he shot 2-for-4 on 3-pointers. Ish Smith posted the only positive +/- with a +7 in 14 minutes. It’s a fair assessment to say that this was an off-night for the Hornets, and they should bounce back quickly.
76ers 115, Spurs 109
How good has Joel Embiid been? His 38/12/6 line continued his dominant month, in which he has averaged a 33.4/10.4/4.8 line with 1.3 blocks in 31.6 minutes per game. If it wasn’t for how good Nikola Jokic has been playing out West, Embiid could be running away with the MVP race. He’s really improved as a facilitator out of the post, mostly because he’s had to with no Ben Simmons in the lineup. Here’s an example of the types of passes Embiid makes now. He’s also seeing the game a few steps ahead, as shown in this play that leads to an assist for him. With all the injuries to guys like Seth Curry, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, and Shake Milton, he’s doing this with a lot of new faces compared to the team that had the best record in the East last season. Tobias Harris has been solid for the Sixers, and he posted an 18/11/5 line in this game. He’s posted 4th round numbers over the past three weeks. Tyrese Maxey has been playing an insane amount of minutes for Philly lately, playing in 88 of a possible 96 minutes over the past two games. He’s generally a low turnover guy, but he had four in this game while putting up a line of 18/4/6. He’s now turned it over six times over the past seven games. Furkan Korkmaz broke out of a shooting slump and scored 17 points while hitting three 3-pointers. He had scored in single digits in six consecutive games before this.
Dejounte Murray continues to be the most under appreciated player in the NBA this season. He fell one rebound shy of third consecutive triple-double with a 19/9/12 line. He’s tied with Russell Westbrook for second in the league with nine triple-doubles. He’s had four games where he’s come up just one stat short of a triple-double. He’s averaged 19.3/8.5/8.9 with two steals this season. If the Spurs weren’t stuck at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, he’d be getting more All-Star consideration. He’s posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals and deserves consideration for the Most Improved Player award. Jakob Poeltl posted his second-highest scoring output of the season with 25 points and 10 rebounds and tied his season-high with four blocks. He also shot 3-for-4 from the free throw line, which is a massive W for a guy that’s shooting 42.6% from the line this season. Derrick White had an off-night shooting the ball (4-for-15) but still posted a 10/7/9 line. Keldon Johnson scored 17 points on an efficient 5-for-7 from the floor. Devin Vassell added 15 points off the bench. If it weren’t for his nine point performance last time out, Vassell would have scored in double figures in all 10 games since the calendar turned to 2022. Unfortunately, he didn’t add any stocks, though he can usually be relied on for them. Lonnie Walker IV also chipped in 14 points off the bench.
Mavericks 104, Grizzlies 91
Dallas has only lost two games since 2022 began, and Luka Doncic is the biggest reason for it. The Mavs beat the Grizzlies for the second time in nine days, and Luka was excellent in both. In this game, he had a 37/11/9/3/1 line. If you’re punting turnovers, he’s been a stud for you. He’s also inventing new tricks, as he may be the first basketball player to perfect the curve ball. Kristaps Porzingis had a monster game in 26 minutes before fouling out. He had 15 points, eight rebounds, and a season-high six blocks. Dorian Finney-Smith added nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks, while Maxi Kleber chipped in seven points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks. Both guys had well-rounded games and contributed across the board in category leagues. Dallas has held their opponents under 50% shooting from the floor in 23 straight games. Just something to note.
Ja Morant shot the ball a career-high 31 times in this game. He’s been extra aggressive offensively over the last three games, which has led to some monster stat lines. He had 35 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in this game. He turned it over seven times, and it wasn’t his most efficient game, but he’s had to be more assertive with Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, and Tyus Jones all sidelined. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s kryptonite seems to be playing against Dallas. He’s shot a combined 8-for-31 over their past two matchups. He finished with 10 points and four rebounds in 35 minutes this time around. John Konchar got his third straight start and gathered 10 rebounds. Steven Adams had 11 rebounds in 31 minutes, but only contributed five points. De'Anthony Melton had a solid performance off the bench with a line of 12/6/5/3/1, but shot an inefficient 5-for-16 from the field. Really, it seems like this is going to be the Ja Morant show until they get healthier, which is always fun to watch.
Nuggets 117, Pistons 111
It speaks volumes about Nikola Jokic when a 34/9/8/2/1 stat line seems like an underwhelming performance for him. The Joker fell just short of his fifth consecutive triple double. He’s been far and away the most complete asset in fantasy basketball this season and has played like the MVP so far. There’s so many guys having incredible seasons that should be considered, but none have been doing what Jokic is doing. He’s top-10 in points, rebounds, and assists. He leads the league in field goals made but is tied for 19th in field goals attempted. Statistic after statistic shows just how dominant he’s been. Will Barton was considered questionable with a hamstring injury but played through it and had an excellent game. He only played 27 minutes, but contributed 14 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Bryn Forbes added 12 points off the bench. He was brought in to add scoring off the bench, and he has done that. If you’re looking for 3-pointers, he can help, but don’t expect much else from a fantasy perspective. DeMarcus Cousins made his Nuggets debut. He had two points on one-for-seven shooting to go along with six rebounds and four fouls in 12 minutes. It seems like he may play a similar role to Andre Drummond in Philadelphia: come in to give the star big a breather and grab a ton of rebounds in a little over 10 minutes. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to provide much fantasy value in Denver. Zeke Nnaji scored 12 points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
Cade Cunningham has been posting numbers you expect from star rookies. Pretty good all-around, but poor shooting percentages and turnover numbers. So, if you’re punting field goal percentage and turnovers, Cade has played at third round value for you. Which makes it easier to look at the 18/5/8/1/1 line and look away from the six turnovers. Cade was one of four Pistons to score exactly 18 points in this game. Cory Joseph also scored 18 while shooting 7-for-9 from the floor with six assists. Isaiah Stewart scored 18 on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting night before fouling out. Trey Lyles was the fourth Piston to score 18, and he scored his off the bench. Killian Hayes returned from a two-game absence with a hip injury. He came off the bench and posted an 8/3/5 line while tying his season-high with two blocks. Saddiq Bey contributed an 11/7/3 line. He’s still a great source of 3-pointers, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing him on a tear like we did a few weeks ago.
Timberwolves 136, Nets 125
Before Anthony Edwards left the game after banging knees with Day'Ron Sharpe, the Timberwolves’ Big Three was showing out. Ant Man finished with 25 points, four assists, two steals, and four 3-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns put up a full line with 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and two 3-pointers. D'Angelo Russell added in a double-double with 23 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. This is basically what the team envisions on the offensive end of the floor every night. They’re expected to carry the load offensively, and when all of them do that, it makes for a great show. Jarred Vanderbilt continued to make his case to be on one of the All-Defensive teams. He had nine points and nine rebounds on only three shot attempts while swiping a season-high five steals. Jaden McDaniels was the other starter to score in double figures. He chipped in 14 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes. Off the bench, Jaylen Nowell and Taurean Prince contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, with Prince making all six of his field goal attempts. Naz Reid only played 14 minutes, but posted a complete line of 4/5/1/1/3. Despite only playing 16.3 minutes per game this month, Reid has still contributed 1.5 blocks per game.
After James Harden wasn’t quite sure exactly what his role on this team was supposed to be earlier this season, it seems he’s discovered it. He’s the primary facilitator, and he’s good at it. He had 13 assists for the Nets, while adding in 13 points and five rebounds. Unfortunately, he struggled with his efficiency in this game, shooting 4-of-13 from the floor and turning it over six times. But that’s basically what you expect from him. If you punt field goal percentage and turnovers, you’re golden. Kyrie Irving tied his season-high with 30 points and produced about what you expect from him. A lot of points, efficient shooting (11-of-20 FGs), some rebounds and assists (six boards, five dimes), and a steal. The way he’s had basically no rust to shake off has been impressive, but it just exemplifies how good he is at what he does. After starting off the new year slow, Patty Mills seems to be getting back to what he was doing early in the season. He had 21 points and five 3-pointers in this game. He can help ease the pain of not having Kevin Durant, though obviously nobody could come close to making up for his production. Kessler Edwards added 15 points and five rebounds. Cam Thomas shrugged off a few poor nights by scoring 11 points in 15 minutes.
Warriors 94, Jazz 92
This can’t be the same Stephen Curry that we saw at the beginning of the season. The Warriors may have come away victorious, but Curry had one of the worst shooting performances of his career, hitting only one of his 13 3-point attempts and shooting 5-for-20 from the floor. It’s felt like Curry has been in a slump for a while now, so hopefully he can turn it around soon. Jordan Poole is a must-start whenever Klay Thompson is out, as was the case in this game. Poole had a team-high 20 points, hit four 3-pointers, and had this disgusting move. Andrew Wiggins struggled with his shot (like almost everyone in this game), but still came away with 14 points and three stocks. Otto Porter has been starting in place of Draymond Green, and contributed 13 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. It appears the Jonathan Kuminga experiment may be over for Steve Kerr, as he played only eight minutes. He’s still a guy to stash for later this year or in dynasty leagues, but the short-term value isn’t there.
This game really couldn’t have gone worse for the Jazz. They couldn’t steal a road win in Golden State despite the greatest shooter ever having one of the worst shooting nights of his life, and both Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic suffered injuries. Bogdanovic suffered what is being diagnosed as a knee contusion and was able to finish the game, but may be out Monday in Phoenix. Gobert strained his left calf and missed the final two minutes of this game. They’re already playing without Donovan Mitchell, and they don’t want to be missing their top three scorers when they head to Phoenix. Eric Paschall finished the game in Gobert’s place, and he was the only post player to come off the bench for Utah in this game. Before the injuries, Bogdanovic had 21 points and eight rebounds, while Gobert posted another double-double with 12 points and 18 rebounds. Rudy Gay contributed 16 points and four 3-pointers off the bench. Trent Forrest swiped a career-best four steals in 19 minutes off the bench. The injury report for Monday’s game against the Suns will be very telling and could open up a lot of opportunities to stream guys that don’t normally see many minutes.