Tuesday’s NBA schedule included three games in which the winning team (Portland, Detroit and Sacramento) erased double-digit second half deficits, but the big news came on the injury front. Anthony Davis left the Lakers’ win over the Knicks late in the third quarter after taking a hard fall while attempting to block a Julius Randle shot.
Injuries & Headlines
Anthony Davis departs with a bruised sacrum (lower back area) — As noted above Davis took a very hard fall during the third quarter of the Lakers' 117-87 beating of the Knicks. Up to that point he played 28 minutes, finishing with five points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocked shots. While Davis has been banged up at different points this season, most notably having to deal with a lingering right shoulder issue, he has only missed two of the Lakers’ 37 games. Davis is unlikely to travel with the team for its two-game road swing in Dallas (Friday) and Oklahoma City (Saturday), and that increases the value of Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma played 20 minutes against the Knicks, shooting 6-of-11 from the field and finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. Kuzma should be rostered in standard leagues, and he’ll also be an attractive DFS option this weekend. The other option at power forward would be Jared Dudley, but he’s isn’t much of a scorer and starting him would leave the Lakers’ first five lacking when it comes to capable scoring options. Dudley played just the final four minutes on Tuesday’s win, and a move to the starting lineup wouldn’t suddenly make him a viable fantasy option. Leave him on the waiver wire.
Blake Griffin undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery — Pistons forward Blake Griffin, who had not appeared in a game since December 28, underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Tuesday and has been ruled out indefinitely. Whether or not he’ll be able to return before season’s end remains to be seen, but with the wording “extended rehabilitation period” being used by the Pistons it’s fair to assume that he’ll be out for a while. His absence opens up a spot in the starting lineup, which for the last four games has been filled by rookie Sekou Doumbouya. While the middle game in that stretch against the Warriors offered up a respite of sorts for Doumbouya, having to deal with the Clippers (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) and Lakers (LeBron James) during that five-game road trip was a “trial by fire” for the rookie.
Many, myself included, have been banging the drum for Christian Wood to be rostered in more leagues. But at this point Doumbouya is the better choice, as he entered Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers averaging 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.7 three-pointers per over his last three games. In Tuesday’s 115-113 win over the Cavs, Doumbouya posted a line of 15 points, two rebounds, and three steals in 33 minutes. Wood played 13 minutes off the bench, accounting for six points, six rebounds and one three-pointer.
Tristan Thompson (illness) returns, while Dante Exum (illness) sits — Thompson was back in the starting lineup for Cleveland’s 115-113 loss to the Pistons, playing 32 minutes and accounting for eight points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. While it remains to be seen what the Cavs will do — if anything — ahead of the trade deadline, Thompson’s ability as a rebounder and shot-blocker makes him a valuable center in most formats. His return meant fewer minutes for Ante Zizic, who played 15 minutes and posted a line of five points, nine rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot. The absence of Larry Nance Jr. (left knee soreness) has opened up some minutes on the second unit, but not enough to make Zizic a factor fantasy-wise when Cleveland’s other key frontcourt contributors are available.
Two days after he went off for a career-high 28 points against the Timberwolves, Exum (illness) was unable to play Tuesday night. With Kevin Porter Jr. (left knee sprain) also out, Brandon Knight found himself in the rotation after playing well Sunday night. He played 24 minutes against the Pistons, scoring 13 points with two rebounds, five assists, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. Knight’s assist total equaled the combined number put up by starting guards Collin Sexton (20 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer) and Darius Garland (14 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers). Given Cleveland’s desire to develop Sexton and Garland, it’s going to be tough for Knight to have enough of an impact to make him worth grabbing off the waiver wire. But he had a good night on Tuesday.
Fred VanVleet (right hamstring) expected to miss time — Prior to Toronto’s 101-99 loss to Portland, it was announced that Fred VanVleet was out with a strained right hamstring. And this doesn’t appear to be an injury that he’ll be able to return to after sitting out just one game, so add him to the list of injured Raptors. As a result Patrick McCaw made another start, tallying six points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 36 minutes. McCaw’s versatility makes him the best option of the Raptors who will continue to fill in on the perimeter, but his value is going to come in statistical categories other than points. Also factoring into the rotation was Matt Thomas (finger), who played 15 minutes in his first action since November 23.
Thomas, known primarily for his perimeter shooting ability, shot 2-of-6 from three and finished with eight points and six rebounds. Given Toronto’s need for scoring on that depleted second unit, Thomas could eventually provide value in deeper leagues where there’s a need for three-pointers. But that time isn’t now, so feel free to leave him on the waiver wire. Rookie Oshae Brissett is worth tracking in the short-term, as he accounted for 12 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes. He made the most of his opportunity, and may have done enough Tuesday night to earn more minutes moving forward.
C.J. McCollum (upper respiratory illness) makes his return — After missing Sunday’s loss to the Heat, McCollum was healthy enough to start Tuesday night. He played 35 minutes but struggled to get going offensively, shooting 5-of-19 from the field and finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, six assists and one steal. Portland’s five-game road trip concludes Thursday night against the Timberwolves, and hopefully McCollum will be even closer to full strength. Even with Tuesday’s shooting numbers, he should be started against the Timberwolves.
McCollum’s return meant Anfernee Simons was back with the reserves, but he didn’t lack for playing time. In 30 minutes the second-year guard was responsible for 12 points (4-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. Starter Kent Bazemore played 26 minutes, shooting 3-of-10 from the field and finishing with seven points, two rebounds, two steals and one three-pointer. Over the last two weeks both have been outside of the top-200 in both eight- and nine-category formats, so there isn’t a pressing need to roster either in most leagues.
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Dennis Smith Jr. (strained left oblique) and Marcus Morris (strained neck) both out — The Knicks were once again without Smith Jr., who hasn’t appeared in a game since he injured his oblique two days before Christmas in a loss to the Wizards. As a result the Knicks’ rotation at the point is down to two players: starter Elfrid Payton, who made his return after missing Sunday’s loss to the Clippers due to the birth of his child, and backup Frank Ntilikina. In Tuesday’s 30-point loss to the Lakers, Payton played 30 minutes and Ntilikina 14. The former posted a line of 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block and five turnovers, while the latter supplemented the effort with seven points, one rebounds, two assists, one three-pointer and two turnovers. Payton is the better option of the two in most leagues, unless there’s a dire need for defensive stats and Ntilikina didn’t accumulate any steals or blocks against the Lakers.
Also sidelined for the Knicks was Marcus Morris, who sat due to a strained neck suffered on Sunday. Reggie Bullock filled the resulting void in the starting lineup, playing 27 minutes and finishing with seven points, two assists, two steals and one three-pointer. Wayne Ellington saw some action off the bench after being a DNP-CD against the Clippers, assuming Bullock’s role as the second unit’s perimeter shooter and finishing with three points, one rebound, one assist, two steals and one three-pointer in 15 minutes. While Bullock has some value given his standing within the Knicks rotation, neither Ellington nor Kevin Knox should be rostered. Knox continues to struggle with his shot, shooting 1-of-7 Tuesday night, and he’s a non-factor at this point.
Bobby Portis ejected for Flagrant 2 in second quarter — Portis played just six minutes Tuesday night, thanks to the Flagrant 2 foul he committed during the second quarter. Instead of challenging Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s layup attempt he took a wild swipe and drilled KCP in the head, and the decision was an easy one for the referees to make. Portis doesn’t offer much value in most leagues, so his ejection didn’t have much of an impact fantasy-wise. Now we wait to see if he’ll either be fined by the league or suspended.
Caldwell-Pope would eventually return to the game late in the third quarter. While he did clear the Lakers’ concussion protocol, scoring 15 points with one rebound, one steal and three 3-pointers, KCP’s head injury is something to be mindful of for the remainder of the week. Should he be fine moving forward the Lakers will have one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters at their disposal, as Caldwell-Pope entered Tuesday shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the arc with an average of 1.4 made 3-pointers per game.
Richaun Holmes (right shoulder) sits out — One night after injuring his right shoulder during Monday’s win over the Warriors, Holmes traveled with the team to Phoenix for Tuesday’s 114-103 win over the Suns. But he was unable to play, which resulted in Harry Giles starting alongside Nemanja Bjelica (19 points, seven rebounds, one assist, three steals and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes). Giles played 16 minutes, scoring eight points with eight rebounds and one steal. The bigger development in this was the return of Dewayne Dedmon, who was out of the rotation and recently made news for requesting to be traded.
Appearing in his first game since December 26, Dedmon played a season-high 32 minutes and finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer. It isn’t often that a player who was out of the rotation for non-injury/suspension reasons immediately has value, but that may be the case for Dedmon. While Giles started, he hasn’t played more than 17 minutes in a game this season and has struggled with injuries since suffering his first ACL tear as a high school junior. As a result Dedmon, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will have to log more minutes until Holmes returns to full strength. While it is a gamble, picking up Dedmon for the short term is worth considering.
Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) out Wednesday — Wendell Carter Jr. has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. New Orleans after he suffered a sprained right ankle during Monday’s loss to Dallas. That opens up playing time for Daniel Gafford, who’s listed as probable due to the sprained left ankle that he suffered just minutes before Carter went down. The rookie power forward (he was able to return shortly after injuring his ankle) played 25 minutes Monday, posting a line of 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. It would be wise to pick up Gafford, even if Carter is sidelined for just one game. Luke Kornet will likely re-enter the rotation, but Gafford is the more valuable option.
Tuesday’s Standouts & Other Numbers
— Kevin Love had an interesting Tuesday, as it began with his apologizing for recent on-court behaviors that he described as “childish.” While Cleveland was unable to hang on to beat Detroit, losing by two, Love had one of his best games of the season. After sitting out Sunday’s loss to the Timberwolves since it was the second game of a back-to-back, Love played 36 minutes and posted a line of 30 points (12-of-15 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and four 3-pointers. What the future holds for him remains to be seen, as skill-wise he would certainly be of value to a title contender but the salary may be a bit too high for many of those teams.
— Andre Drummond posted his sixth 20/20 game of the season, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line to score 23 points with 20 rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocked shots in 38 minutes. Drummond’s name has also been mentioned in trade rumors, and his salary is far more palatable than Love’s since he can opt out of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. With Tuesday’s win the Pistons are three games out of eighth in the East, but making a run at that spot without the aforementioned Griffin will be tough. Tony Snell added 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the field.
— LeBron James (illness) did not participate in pregame shootaround, but he was good to go come tip-off. He shot 9-of-19 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line, scoring 31 points with five rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and six 3-pointers (on 12 attempts) in 31 minutes. Over the last two weeks James has been a top-15 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, providing first round value in eight-cat. Seventeen years in, and outside of last season’s groin injury he’s shown no signs of slowing down.
Avery Bradley (12 points, one rebound, one steal and two 3-pointers) and Danny Green (11 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, while Dwight Howard (eight points, 13 rebounds, one steal, five blocks and one three-pointer) and Rajon Rondo (eight points, three rebounds, 10 assists and one steal) were productive off the bench.
— Carmelo Anthony was excellent Tuesday night, shooting 10-of-17 from the field and 3-of-3 from the foul line to score 28 points with seven rebounds, one assist, two steals and five 3-pointers (on eight attempts) in 37 minutes. And he determined the outcome of Portland’s game in Toronto, with his 17-footer in the final seconds giving the Trail Blazers the two-point victory. Damian Lillard, who took a Chris Boucher elbow to the side of the head during the first quarter but still played 37 minutes, added 20 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers, while Hassan Whiteside posted a line of 14 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and seven blocked shots.
— Oklahoma City’s backcourt tandem of Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander combined to score 50 of the Thunder’s 111 points in an overtime win over the Nets. Paul shot 9-of-15 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line, finishing with 28 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Gilgeous-Alexander added 22 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 39 minutes, with Dennis Schroder chipping in with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes off the bench.
Over the last month both CP3 and SGA have been top-50 players in both eight- and nine-category formats. And Schroder has been a top-100 player in eight-cat and just outside of that threshold in nine-cat during the same stretch of games. The play of these three, and how they work together, is a big reason why Oklahoma City is 15-5 in its last 20 games.
— Brooklyn’s starting backcourt of Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris combined to shoot 9-of-33 from the field (1-of-13 3-pointers) in the Nets’ loss to the Thunder, but Taurean Prince and Caris LeVert had solid nights at the office. Prince shot 5-of-10 from three, scoring a team-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. Over the last two weeks he’s provided 10th-round value in eight-cat formats, and 12th-round value in nine-cat. Not great, but it will certainly play in most standard leagues.
LeVert, who was held out of Monday’s loss to the Magic in Orlando (injury management), finished with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench. His minutes are still being managed for the time being, and once LeVert returns to the starting lineup his value should be back to where it was before he injured his right thumb.
— Three Grizzlies starters scored at least 21 points in Memphis’ 119-112 win over Minnesota, with Dillon Brooks leading the way. Brooks shot 11-of-20 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line, scoring 28 points with three rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. After ending December in a bit of a shooting slump, Brooks is averaging 18.7 points and 4.7 three-pointers per in his last four games. And he’s shot 46.7 percent from three in those games. Brooks’ value comes from points and three-pointers, and he appears to be back on track after a tough end to 2019.
Ja Morant added 25 points, four rebounds, seven assists and one steal, and Jaren Jackson Jr. posted a solid line of 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks and four 3-pointers. And Jackson is the first player in NBA history to account for at least three 3-pointers and three blocked shots in three consecutive games. Over the last two weeks, the second-year power forward has been a first-round player in nine-category formats, and a second-rounder in eight-cat.
— Jarrett Culver had the best night of his career to date in Minnesota’s loss. The rookie guard shot 8-of-11 from the field, finishing with a career-high 24 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Culver has hovered in that top-100 area over the last two weeks, ranking 97th in eight-cat and 103rd in nine-cat during that stretch. Jeff Teague added 18 points, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench, outperforming starting point guard Shabazz Napier (six points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 25 minutes). Napier remains the more valuable of the two, as he’s been a top-100 player over the last two weeks.
Robert Covington tallied 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes, with Andrew Wiggins (15/4/2 with one block and three 3-pointers), Gorgui Dieng (11/2/4/1 with one three-pointer) and Naz Reid (10/5/1 with one three-pointer) also scoring in double figures for the Timberwolves. With Karl-Anthony Towns (sprained left knee) still sidelined, Dieng should be rostered in all leagues. He’ll be of value until KAT is back to full strength.
— De'Aaron Fox served as the catalyst in Sacramento’s comeback win over the Suns, scoring 27 points with four rebounds, six assists, one steal, one blocked shot and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, making nine of his 21 field goal attempts (1-of-6 3-pointers), but he both made big plays for himself and set up teammates as Sacramento came back from 21 down to win. Buddy Hield added 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes, with he and Harrison Barnes watching a decent chunk of the Kings’ comeback from the bench.
With Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle soreness) out Trevor Ariza saw more action, playing 31 minutes and scoring 15 points with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Ariza’s a solid option, especially in deeper leagues, for as long as Bogdanovic is sidelined. Cory Joseph added 10 points, one rebound, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes.
— Devin Booker extended his run of 30-point games to seven, shooting 12-of-21 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line and tallying 34 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Over the last two weeks he’s been a first-round player in both eight- and nine-category formats. Deandre Ayton added 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 37 minutes, shooting a solid 10-of-14 from the field.
Ayton has been a top-50 player in both eight- and nine-category formats over the last week, starting alongside Aron Baynes (five points, seven rebounds and one three-pointer) in three of the four games that Phoenix has played. While this lineup hasn’t cut into Ayton’s value the same can’t be said for Baynes, who should be placed on the waiver wire if you’re still hanging onto him. Kelly Oubre played 37 minutes, scoring 17 points with six rebounds, one assist, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes. There’s no questioning his value, as he’s been a top-50 player in both eight- and nine-cat formats this season.
Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Toronto at Charlotte, 7 PM
Miami at Indiana, 7 PM
San Antonio at Boston, 7 PM
Washington at Orlando, 7 PM
Denver at Dallas, 7:30 PM
Houston at Atlanta, 7:30 PM
Chicago at New Orleans, 8 PM
New York at Utah, 9 PM
Milwaukee at Golden State, 10 PM