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Raptors 137, Wizards 115
We have to start with Norman Powell, as he’s one of the hottest players in the NBA right now, ranking 11th in 9-cat over the last two weeks before this gem of a line. He had 28 points, seven rebounds, four dimes, two steals and three triples, and with how well he’s playing he’s pretty much going to force Nick Nurse to keep playing him 30+ minutes when OG Anunoby (calf) returns in the near future. Powell was a top-65 player last season, so it’s nice to see that he’s back and better than ever.
Chris Boucher, or should I say Nick Nurse, made us sweat for a few games when he refused to give the big man his fair share of minutes, but the buy-low window is closed once again. He went off for a 16/17 double-double with a pair of blocks and one triple in 24 minutes and is now averaging 18.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.0 dimes, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 triples in 23 minutes over his last four games. If Nurse stops pulling the rug out from under him, he’ll be in early-round territory the rest of the way even if his minutes stick in the mid-20s. There are only a handful of players in the NBA with his per-minute upside.
Kyle Lowry erased any fears about his back spasms, putting up a 21/5/4 line with five triples, two steals and a block in 33 minutes. The Raptors have won five of their last six games, tabling the Lowry trade talk for now.
Alex Len, a former Raptors legend, is starting to generate some buzz in Washington as their new starting center. He had 11 points (5-of-6 FGs) with five boards and a block and is putting up top-85 numbers over his last five in just 20 minutes with 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 0.6 steals and 1.8 blocks with great percentages. With Moritz Wagner still in the doghouse, Len’s only competition is Robin Lopez at the moment.
The Wizards are now 6-16 and the Bradley Beal trade rumors are ramping up, so be ready to stash Deni Avdija. The rookie had a 9/7/3 line with a pair of triples in 27 minutes, and he has a per-36 line of 16.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 dimes, 3.3 steals (fluky) and 2.8 triples with Beal off the court. He’s going to be a fun tank commander down the stretch. Rui Hachimura also had a great night for the Wizards with a 15/7/3 line with a steal and a triple, but we have a two-year sample size to work with and he just doesn't offer enough upside for me in the non-scoring columns.
Clippers 119, Wolves 112
Jaden McDaniels caught my eye once again, and while the rookie has mostly player power forward, he got some minutes as a SF today alongside Jarred Vanderbilt which is definitely not nothing (having multiple paths to minutes is the key). He came into Wednesday swatting 1.5 shots per 36 minutes and added to that tonight with four blocks, 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and two triples — he’s one of my favorite dynasty stashes for a reason, and don’t rule out the young stud jumping onto the standard-league radar before too long.
Karl-Anthony Towns made his long-awaited return for a Wolves team that entered Wednesday at just 6-18 on the season. KAT looked like his usual self too, finishing with a 18/10/3 line with one steal and two triples. He’s scary good and is the No. 2 ranked player in 9-cat on a per-game basis, so the only question is just how shady the Wolves are going to be with him down the stretch if keeping their top-3 protected pick truly is the goal.
Malik Beasley had zero points at half, but finished with 21 points and four triples.... In a 100+ minute sample entering Wednesday, Beasley’s points per 36 were up by over 5 points alongside KAT and his shooting percentages were through the roof too, so KAT isn’t going to slow down one of the hottest shooters in the West. Naz Reid (23 points on 9-of-13 FGs) had a monster night and even spent some time alongside KAT, but only played a total of 20 minutes and is going to have a tough time staying above water in standard leagues. Jarred Vanderbilt, one of my favorite waiver-wire pickups of the last month, played just 16 minutes and is nearing drop territory with Ryan Saunders completely mishandling his minutes. Such a shame.
As for the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard is borderline unfair now that load management is no longer holding him back, making him a top-3 player the rest of the way. Add in the usage bump without Paul George and he may make a push for No. 1. He had a 36/8/5 line with two steals, one block and five triples.
Lou Williams is also making a ton of noise these days, scoring 27 points with five rebounds, four dimes, two steals and two triples in this one after averaging 18.7 points, 4.7 dimes, 1.3 steals and 2.0 triples in his previous three. He averages 21.3 points, 7.0 dimes, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 dimes and 2.3 triples per 36 with George off the court, and George currently doesn’t have a timetable to return. Patrick Beverley returned but is only worth a look in punt-point builds, and I’m not convinced that Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson or Marcus Morris can breach the top-100 in 9-cat even without George.
Mavericks 118, Hawks 117
Luka Doncic triple-doubled with a 28/10/10 line, he’s still hitting his free throws and the Mavs have won three straight, and with his team fighting for a playoff spot lines like these are going to be the norm. He just needs to fend off fatigue which has hampered him the last two seasons. Kristaps Porzingis was in foul trouble so don’t freak out about the low minutes, and I’m not overreacting to Jalen Brunson’s 21-point outburst which will surely end up being an outlier -- he had three points in his previous game and it’s too hard to rely on any Maverick not named Luka, KP or Tim Hardaway Jr.
Danilo Gallinari had his minutes limit lifted to 30 and that’s exactly how many he saw, so despite his 2-of-12 shooting line for 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and one triple, this is your chance to buy low wherever possible. Coach Lloyd Pierce said he’d eventually like to get Gallo over 30 minutes consistently and there’s a huge opportunity here with no De’Andre Hunter (knee surgery). This is a player with per-game finishes of 64, 28, 82, 46 and 44 in his previous five seasons, so the upside is massive.
Cam Reddish is still failing to take advantage of the extra touches, so I’m still waiting to pounce once he gets it going. The upside he showed us in the second half of his rookie season is hard to let go of. John Collins and Trae Young no longer hate each other and it shows, as Collins has been a top-25 player over the last two weeks and Trae just dropped a ridiculous 25/15/7 line with one steal, one block and four triples. His duels with Luka are becoming the stuff of legends.
Kevin Huerter, who is only rostered in 63% of leagues, is everything I wanted Cam to be lately, scoring 23 points with eight boards, three dimes and four triples. Hunter was doing a lot more playmaking than many realize before the injury, and so far it’s been Huerter picking up the slack. He’s 59th in 9-cat over the last two weeks and is showing no signs of slowing.
Nets 104, Pacers 94
Kyrie Irving had a truly insane line with 35 points, eight assists, four boards, two blocks, one steal and two triples, going 8-of-17 from the field and 17-of-17 from the line… It’s a shame that he disappeared for two weeks because on a per-game basis he’s the No. 6 ranked player in 9-cat. Health is always the only concern and at this point he’s only had a minor finger issue.
James Harden had a boring line by his standards with 19/11/5 with a triple, and DeAndre Jordan produced one of his best lines of the season with 12 points, 13 rebounds, one assist and three blocks. He’s not the same defender he used to be but I like his chances of holding off Noah Vonleh and Norvel Pelle.
Jeremy Lamb has cooled off for the Pacers and had a 3-point dud, yet he’s still on pace for top-60 numbers in 9-cat. His hot start bought him some slack for duds like this and under no circumstance would I consider dropping him. T.J. McConnell continues to be a great waiver-wire pickup for the Pacers, posting a 13/7/4 line with a triple in 26 minutes. Over the last two weeks, he’s been a great two-category specialist with 8.3 dimes and 1.4 steals.
Grizzlies 130, Hornets 114
Terry Rozier did everything he could for the Hornets, racking up 34 points with six triples, and while he may not sustain a top-40 pace in 9-cat, he should easily stick in the top-75 since coach James Borrego is adamant about keeping his top three guards on the floor as much as possible. Devonte’ Graham could miss a couple more games with the Hornets being super cautious, and LaMelo Ball leads all rookies in total points, rebounds, and assists and should be an early-round stud for the rest of his career. He’s that good already.
Kyle Anderson led the Grizzlies with 24 points, six triples, three dimes and a block, but his fantasy value surely has an expiration date when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns sometime in March (I think?). Brandon Clarke (right calf soreness) has been out, so that explains the recent hot stretch for Slo-Mo.
Grayson Allen had 18 points for the Grizzlies which means Taylor Jenkins will have an excuse to not play the better player in De’Anthony Melton (shoulder) when he returns, and Dillon Brooks had his second good game in a row which means he’ll be inspired to take 25 shots early in the shot clock next game. It’s an important reminder that Brooks ranks outside the top-150 in 9-cat for a reason and you don’t want to have him in your lineup when he goes 2-of-20 from the field.
Desmond Bane is still in streaming territory for the Grizzlies, posting a 18/2/1 line with two steals and four triples. Bane and Melton are very fun in fantasy when the minutes are there but I’d like them so much more if Jenkins wasn’t so obsessed with Brooks and Allen.
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Bulls 129, Pelicans 116
Zach LaVine surely solidified his case for the All-Star game, dropping an absurd 46 points on 17-of-25 shots with seven boards, four assists and nine triples. He’s 16th in 9-cat and is well on pace for his best ever fantasy season. Coby White and LaVine became the first pair of teammates to ever hit 8+ threes each in the same game, with White adding 30 points and seven dimes. There’s been a lot of talk about the Bulls looking for their PG of the future via trade or the next draft, so credit to White for blocking out the noise. I still think he’s going to be better off as a sixth man in the future, but with his work ethic he could easily prove me wrong.
Denzel Valentine has been a beast over the last week and has become one of my favorite pickups. He had a 16/3/2 line with four triples in this one and Billy Donovan really seems to like him unlike the previous coaching staff. Plus, the front office is high on him too as they chose him over Kris Dunn. Over his last five games, Valentine is putting up top-80 numbers of 14.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.2 triples.
Zion Williamson has been flirting with first-round value in punt-FT% or punt-3 builds in recent weeks, with his playmaking being the x-factor. His pick-and-roll possessions have tripled lately, and he’s averaging nearly 5 dimes per game over the last two weeks.
Lonzo Ball has been unconscious since the trade rumors started, scoring 21 points with seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and four triples. The confidence is back and I think It’d be a mistake for the Pelicans to move him now with how well he’s clicking with Zion.
Dynasty league managers should be giddy if you have Kira Lewis Jr. on your roster, as he has all the makings of a future star. He had a 14/4/2 line with two triples and two steals for his third straight game with 19+ minutes, gaining ground on a struggling Eric Bledsoe. The Pelicans are 11-13 and may be sellers at the deadline, so re-draft managers should be monitoring him and Nickeil Alexander-Walker closely. NAW is losing steam though.
Nuggets 133, Cavaliers 95
Paul Millsap found a time machine and went off for a 22-point game with four rebounds, three dimes, two steals, one block and two triples, but this will end up being an outlier and he’s still just a 12th-round value on the season. A matchup with the Cavaliers may be just what Doctor Malone ordered for Michael Porter Jr., as he broke a streak of three straight games with single-digit points. He had a 19/5/2 line with two steals, two blocks and four triples, showcasing just how absurd his upside is. As much of a headache as he’s been, he’s still No. 30 for per-game value in 9-cat and Malone seems to be coming around on him. "I thought Michael played a complete basketball game. We know he's going to bounce back. He's too good of a player. He's too talented."
There’s not much to take away from the Cavaliers in this absolute blowout, but hey, at least the Cavaliers are still open to using Jarrett Allen and Andre Drummond together. The question is, will they still do that when Kevin Love returns any day now? My guess is no.
Suns 125, Bucks 124
Donte DiVincenzo is rewarding all the managers who held on during his brutal slump. He’s enjoying a nice bump with Jrue Holiday (protocols) in quarantine, posting a 10/6/3 line with two steals and two triples in 31 minutes. Coming into this game, he was posting top-60 numbers in his last four with 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 dimes, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.5 triples, making his money with the peripheral stats.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had one of the lines of the season with 47 points, 11 rebounds, five dimes and one steal, going 15-of-22 from the field and a surprising 17-of-21 from the line. Before this game, Giannis was sitting at 61.6% on 9.7 attempts per game. Yikes.
Frank Kaminsky played like Michael Jordan was scouting his draft class with a 14/8/8 line with two triples, and the Suns are going to stick with a double-big lineup for the time being. I can’t wrap my head around Kaminsky being an add, but it’s 2021 and anything can happen. I’d like to see one more good game before adding in a 12-teamer.
Chris Paul returned from what was most likely just a rest day, a wise move for the Suns as CP3 was playing a ridiculous number of minutes. He had one of his best lines of the season with 25 points, seven dimes, two steals, a block and four triples, so the fresh legs obviously helped. Devin Booker has looked like a new man since his hamstring strain and has scored 30+ points in back-to-back games. This is the player I expected when I drafted him with an early-second round pick in several leagues.
Lakers 114, Thunder 113
Anthony Davis missed his second game for the Lakers but coach Frank Vogel confirmed that the team is just being cautious. Davis has been racking up DNPs this season and can’t hit free throws anymore apparently, so he’s been a disappointment so far. Hopefully he’s just on cruise control and picks it up soon.
Kyle Kuzma fared well in a spot start with a 15/9/1 line with one steal and one triple in 39 minutes, but doesn’t have enough upside to stay on standard-league rosters when AD gets clearance. Talen Horton-Tucker was on my watch list after a few good games but couldn’t get much going in this one with four points on 2-of-8 shooting. The young stud has showcased some impressive multi-category upside and I’m extremely high on his potential.
The Thunder are still in shambles in terms of injuries with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee) suffering a slight setback, but he should be back soon. Hamidou Diallo is still a must-start player and had 15/13/5 line with two blocks, showing us some pretty fun upside with some reps as the lead ball-handler. Diallo is likely already scooped up in your leagues, but check your wire for Kenrich Williams. He had a career-high 24 points on 11-of-14 shots with six rebounds, two assists, three steals and two triples, so it’s going to be hard for the Thunder to keep him off the floor even when they get SGA and Theo Maledon back. Kenrich being able to play multiple positions should help as well. “I've been talking about [Kenrich] since I got here,” Al Horford said. “He impressed me early on. He's mature beyond his years. Whatever you need from him, he does it all."