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While there was some bad news on the injury front Friday night, there were also some positives. Neither Portland nor Utah was in action, but both can expect to get some key contributors back in the coming days. C.J. McCollum, who was sidelined due to a collapsed lung and the birth of his first child, is expected to be back in action for Monday's game against the Magic. With Damian Lillard having undergone abdominal surgery recently, McCollum's return will give the Blazers a much-needed boost. Anfernee Simons' fantasy value is safe, but there won't be much use in streaming Dennis Smith Jr. once McCollum returns. Ben McLemore will also take a hit, and he'll drop completely off the fantasy radar once Norman Powell (protocols) gets cleared.
Staying in the Northwest Division, Rudy Gobert and Rudy Gay were back at practice after missing time due to health and safety protocols. With Hassan Whiteside and Udoka Azubuike still in protocols, Gobert and Gay will essentially be the team's center rotation for the time being. According to Cleaning the Glass, Gay has logged 17% of his minutes this season at the center position, which is a career-high. While his offensive efficiency (114.4 points per 100 possessions) is solid, there have been significant issues on the defensive end (127.3 points/100 possessions). Maybe Eric Paschall continues to pick up rotation minutes with the Jazz still being shorthanded, but his opportunities will decrease by a significant amount. Unless Gobert and Gay are both on minutes limits in their first game back (Sunday vs. Denver), there's no need to hold onto Paschall.
With those notes taken care of, let's get into Friday's nine-game slate.
Magic 116, Hornets 109
Once again shorthanded in the frontcourt, Orlando welcomed back point guard Jalen Suggs Friday night. Magic coach Jamahl Mosley chose to bring the rookie off the bench, and in 22 minutes he accounted for 12 points (5-of-8 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one 3-pointer. Suggs' shooting from the field was a positive sign, as it was a right (shooting) thumb fracture that kept him sidelined. Gary Harris (18/2/2/2 with four 3-pointers), who should be a popular name as the trade deadline approaches, has provided 8th-round value over the last two weeks according to Basketball Monster. He's rostered in 36% of Yahoo lineups, likely a byproduct of his production for the season as a whole (16th-round value). Fantasy managers in need of a quick fix on the perimeter should consider Harris, especially with Orlando being scheduled to play four games next week.
The Magic were once again without the injured Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba, resulting in Chuma Okeke and Robin Lopez remaining in the starting lineup. Okeke (6/10/0/2/1 with two 3-pointers) shot 2-of-6 from the field, and he's been a 10th-round player over the last two weeks. The same goes for Lopez, who chipped in with a line of 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 20 minutes. The big star for the Magic in this victory was Moritz Wagner, who in 28 minutes off the bench scored 26 points (11-of-17 FGs) to go along with four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, and four 3-pointers. It would be silly to even roll the dice on Wagner as a low-cost DFS filler, but it was nice to see him step up in Charlotte.
Charlotte was once again without Kelly Oubre (protocols), and his absence has freed up additional minutes for Cody Martin. In 23 minutes, he accounted for four points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one blocked shot. The scoring wasn't great, with Martin shooting 1-of-4 from the field and 2-of-3 from the foul line, but you'll take the production in the other categories. Rostered in 16% of Yahoo leagues, Martin has been a deep-round player over the last two weeks. And with Charlotte off until Monday, it probably isn't worth the effort to pick Martin up, even though he'll have four games to play next week.
Terry Rozier (19/8/6/1/1 with four 3-pointers) had a rough night shooting the ball, as he was 6-of-23 from the field (4-of-15 3-pointers). Given the fact that he entered the game shooting 50% from the field over the last two weeks, the hot shooting had to stop at some point. LaMelo Ball (23/4/8/3 with three 3-pointers) and Miles Bridges (20/3/3/0/2 with two 3-pointers) led the way offensively, while Mason Plumlee (10/10/2/1) logged his fourth double-double of the season (and first since November 17).
Pistons 103, Raptors 87
It was a rough night in the Motor City for the Raptors, who were down one starter and lost another during the first quarter. Gary Trent Jr. was held out due to swelling in his left ankle, and Khem Birch played just four minutes before exiting with a broken nose. Birch will undergo surgery in Toronto, so it's safe to rule him out for Saturday's game in Milwaukee. As for the remainder of the Raptors' five-game trip (Monday/Wednesday/Friday vs. Miami, Dallas, and Washington), we'll have to wait and see. Chris Boucher (10/6/0/1 with one 3-pointer) and Precious Achiuwa (4/8/0/0/1) played 25 minutes apiece in Detroit, and of those two the former offers a higher fantasy upside.
Boucher is rostered in 75% of Yahoo leagues, so it's going to be very difficult to add him at this point. Achiuwa, on the other hand, is at 11%. He's ranked outside of the top-250 in 9-cat over the last two weeks, so unless you've got a big on your bench that's failed to produce, there isn't much to be gained in streaming Achiuwa.
Another injury note for the Raptors was the return of Scottie Barnes, who was back in action after sitting out Tuesday's loss to the Suns. He played 33 minutes, posting a line of eight points (4-of-13 FGs), seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Following the game, Barnes said that while his knee is getting better, he still doesn't feel as explosive as he normally is. With that in mind, don't be surprised if he's held out Saturday night. Also, Barnes noted that the tendinitis in his knee flared up while he was out due to COVID-19 and impacted him on Friday. That's something to remember moving forward.
Fred VanVleet (24/5/10/2 with six 3-pointers), Pascal Siakam (23/11/4/0/1 with one 3-pointer), and OG Anunoby (16/3/2 with three 3-pointers) all played at least 37 minutes, with VanVleet logging 42 and Siakam 41. It feels like we'll get a heavy dose of players such as Boucher, Achiuwa, and Yuta Watanabe in the second half of this back-to-back on Saturday night.
Detroit welcomed back Cory Joseph, who played 26 minutes off the bench and tallied nine points, four rebounds, four assists, and two 3-pointers. With Frank Jackson (conditioning) still sidelined, Joseph won't have much trouble hitting the twenties in minutes played. Trey Lyles (21/7/1/2/2 in 33 minutes), who's rostered in 19% of Yahoo leagues, has been a 10th-round player over the last two weeks. That isn't great, but you'll certainly take that from a backup center. That being said, the increase in minutes Friday night was due to Isaiah Stewart getting into early foul trouble and only playing 15 minutes.
Cade Cunningham (18/7/5/1 with one 3-pointer) and Hamidou Diallo (18/6/0/2/1) both shot better than 50% from the field, with the latter continuing to play well. Diallo has been a top-75 player over the last two weeks, yet is still rostered in just 46% of Yahoo leagues. He should be rostered for as long as Jerami Grant is sidelined, and Diallo could also have value beyond that. Grant has been one of the most popular names in early trade rumors, and his ability to help a playoff team could net the Pistons a handsome return if they decide to move him ahead of next month's deadline.
Suns 112, Pacers 94
Indiana was once again without Malcolm Brogdon, who sat after aggravating the Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him for 10 out of 11 games prior to his return Wednesday night. Keifer Sykes (four points, two rebounds in 18 minutes) started but did not offer much in the way of fantasy value. The biggest beneficiary when Brogdon sits at this point is Caris LeVert, who dished out nine assists to go along with 20 points, five rebounds, one steal, and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes. There isn't anyone worth adding at this point, and that includes Lance Stephenson. He played just 10 minutes in this one, accounting for five points (1-of-6 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), three rebounds, and one 3-pointer.
Justin Holiday (25/2/4/2/3 with seven 3-pointers) had one of his best games of the season, but fantasy managers should wait to see more before taking the plunge here. Holiday is currently rostered in just 25% of Yahoo leagues. Lastly, a "free Myles Turner" campaign may need to be started. In 28 minutes he tallied five points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots, shooting 2-of-9 from the field. The rebounding and defensive production ensure that Turner will be a player of value, but his offensive growth feels stunted with this team. It's been reported that multiple teams have expressed interest in acquiring Turner, and at this point, a change of scenery may be what he (and those who have him rostered) needs.
Nothing out of the ordinary for the Suns rotation-wise, as Devin Booker (35/4/3/0/1 with six 3-pointers), Deandre Ayton (27/12/1/2/1 with one 3-pointer), and Chris Paul (12/3/9/2/1) led the way. If there's a concern here it's the play of Mikal Bridges (4/4/2 in 30 minutes), who shot 1-of-6 from the field. Over the last two weeks, he's been a 13th-round player in 9-cat, a far cry from what we're used to getting from him. No need to drop him in standard leagues, of course, but managers in shallower leagues may want to begin researching alternatives, in case Bridges is unable to snap out of his current slump soon.
76ers 111, Celtics 99
Prior to this one, Doc Rivers provided updates on the injured Shake Milton and Danny Green, and neither appears to be all that close to a return. Milton has been out since Jan. 3 due to a lower back contusion, and he's still having trouble moving. As for Green, he's been dealing with multiple issues, including the hip injury that he suffered Wednesday night. Green hasn't offered much fantasy-wise when healthy, and the 76ers have a ready-made replacement for him in Matisse Thybulle (more on him below). As for Milton, his absence has left the 76ers without a true backup for Tyrese Maxey (23/0/5/1 with five 3-pointers).
"Backs are backs and it seems like this is a pretty significant–not surgical–but he’s still really struggling," Rivers said of Milton. "I don’t really foresee him back any time soon. The fact that I probably can beat him in a race today tells me that he’s a long way away."
With Milton sidelined, Seth Curry (17/2/7/1/1 with five 3-pointers) has effectively served as the lead guard when Maxey needs a breather. It also helps that, while they aren't point guards, Joel Embiid (25/13/6/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and Tobias Harris (17/9/2/1 with one 3-pointer) can also help facilitate things offensively. Going back to Thybulle (8/4/1/5/2 with one 3-pointer), he had to exit Friday's game during the fourth quarter due to a sore right shoulder. He took a hard fall on a dunk attempt, as he was pushed in the back by Dennis Schroder, but the young wing was able to remain in the game for the time being. Philadelphia visits Miami on Saturday, so that's something to be mindful of when putting together your lineups. Georges Niang would see an increase in playing time if Thybulle sits, and Isaiah Joe may be able to pick up credible rotation minutes.
The aforementioned Schroder was back in the starting lineup for the Celtics, who were once again without the injured Marcus Smart. And Dennis had a rough night, missing all six of his field-goal attempts and scoring one point with two rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. The days of Schroder being an automatic play when in the starting lineup appear to be over, as he's ranked outside of the top-200 in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks. Payton Pritchard (17/3/4/1 with three 3-pointers in 24 minutes) was more effective, even before the outcome was no longer in doubt. Al Horford (5/2/2/0/1 with one 3-pointer in 17 minutes) continues to struggle, and fantasy managers would be wise to kick the tires on a possible trade. You may be able to convince someone to buy low here.
Warriors 138, Bulls 96
This game took a turn for the worst less than four minutes in, as Zach LaVine exited the game due to a left knee injury. The initial reports were that the injury, which was of the non-contact variety, isn't believed to be serious. LaVine will undergo an MRI on Saturday, so you can rule him out for that night's game in Boston at the very least. With that being the case, DeMar DeRozan's already high usage stands to increase, while Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu would be in line for more playing time. White (20 points on 9-of-17 FGs) is rostered in 49% of Yahoo leagues, so he'll be tougher to find on waiver wires than the 1% rostered Dosunmu (scoreless on 0-of-5 FGs). White is clearly the better fantasy option, and worth grabbing while we await LaVine's MRI results.
Also, Chicago remains without Alex Caruso, who is still working to improve his conditioning after missing time due to both a foot injury and health and safety protocols. The expectation is that he'll miss Chicago's next two games (at Boston, at Memphis on Monday), with there being an eye towards Wednesday's home matchup with Cleveland as the night on which Caruso will make his return. That would likely shift Troy Brown Jr. to the bench after he started for the injured Derrick Jones Jr. (knee) on Friday. There was no need to stream Brown heading into this one, and he showed fantasy managers exactly why that was the case with three assists, one rebound, and nothing else (scoreless on three shot attempts).
Golden State blew the doors off of the Bulls despite being down multiple rotation players, including Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. While this was a rest day for Thompson, who played 20 minutes in Thursday's loss to the Bucks, Green did not travel with the team for this three-game road trip due to a calf injury. While it's a long shot that he'll join the Warriors for Sunday's game against Minnesota, the hope is that Green will be available for Tuesday's matchup with the Pistons. That's the first of seven straight games that Golden State will play at home.
With Gary Payton II (ankle) also sidelined, Otto Porter (9/7/6/5 with one 3-pointer in 19 minutes) filled the void in the starting lineup that was originally left by Green. Porter, who's rostered in 26% of Yahoo leagues, is pretty much an automatic play when inserted into the starting lineup. He didn't offer much scoring-wise in Friday's rout, but the rebounds/assists/steals were good to see. Stephen Curry (19/2/2/1 with four 3-pointers) shot the ball reasonably well, while Jordan Poole (22/1/5 with five 3-pointers) and Andrew Wiggins (21/4/6 with three 3-pointers) were both productive. Curry hurt his right hand on a hard fall during the first half but continued to play.
But the eye-opening line of the night belonged to rookie Jonathan Kuminga, who scored a career-high 25 points (10-of-12 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs) with three rebounds, three assists, one steal, three blocks, and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Earning consistent playing time has proven to be difficult thus far, and with good reason, given Golden State's combination of talent/experience at the forward spots. But, at the very least, Kuminga showed that he deserves playing time whenever the Warriors are shorthanded. Keep an eye on him.
Heat 124, Hawks 118
Miami received a lot of good news ahead of their comeback win over the Hawks. The team welcomed back Jimmy Butler, who missed three games due to a sprained ankle. Butler (23/3/10/2/1) was back in the starting lineup and played 33 minutes, looking rather sharp as he made big plays down the stretch. His return decimated Gabe Vincent (zero stats in six minutes) and it's time to cut Vincent for a hot free agent if you haven't already.
Dewayne Dedmon (12 points, eight rebounds in 14 minutes) came off Miami's bench for the second consecutive game. That preserved the fantasy value of Omer Yurtseven, who accounted for 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 28 minutes. The other piece of good news: the reporting that Bam Adebayo is expected to make his return on Monday when the Heat host the Raptors. The question: which reserve big is hurt more fantasy-wise: Yurtseven or Dedmon?
Dedmon is the more experienced of the two, but Yurtseven has hit double figures in rebounds in 13 straight games, tallying a double-double in seven of those outings. Both will clearly take a hit once Adebayo returns, but will there be room for both in the rotation? That's something fantasy managers to debate on Sunday, however, as the Heat host the 76ers Saturday night. Yurtseven is safe to play in most leagues for one more night.
Tyler Herro (24/2/3 with four 3-pointers) had a good night off the bench, while Max Strus (16/1/1/0/1 with four 3-pointers) made the most of his 20 minutes on the floor. He appears to have taken over the role that once belonged to Duncan Robinson (0/2/2 in 18 minutes), with Strus providing 7th-round value over the last two weeks. He's averaging 4.5 3-pointers per game during this stretch, so fantasy managers in need of production in that area should consider picking Strus up.
Moving over to Atlanta, Nate McMillan made two changes to his starting lineup after getting blown out by the Heat on Wednesday night. De'Andre Hunter (20/0/2/0/3 with three 3-pointers) and Gorgui Dieng (2/4/0/1/1) were with the first five, with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (3/3/1 with one 3-pointer) and Onyeka Okongwu (5/6/1/1/2) dropping to the bench. Hunter starting comes as no surprise, and he looked considerably sharper than he did in his first game back two nights prior. Luwawu-Cabarrot didn't offer much as far as fantasy value is concerned when Hunter was out, so this demotion changes nothing. As for the center position, neither Dieng nor Okongwu feel like players worth streaming with Clint Capela (ankle) sidelined. Of the two, Okongwu has higher upside and can at least rack up defensive stats in a hurry.
Kevin Huerter (16/4/2 with two 3-pointers in 27 minutes) had a solid night off the bench, and his fantasy prospects improved the moment that the Cam Reddish trade was announced. Huerter's in a spot where he can provide solid value despite being in a reserve role.
Cavaliers 114, Spurs 109
Isaac Okoro (6/1/1 in 16 minutes) returned to action for the Cavaliers, but J.B. Bickerstaff did not change his starting lineup. That was good news for Lamar Stevens (8/6/2/1), who logged 31 minutes in the win over the Spurs. That being said, things could change once Okoro is cleared to take on a heavier workload. Stevens wasn't worth rostering in most leagues before his 23-point explosion the other night, and the argument for ignoring him is only strengthened by Okoro's return. Darius Garland (32/4/8/1/1 with four 3-pointers) continues to make a case that he should be an All-Star, and the same can be said for Jarrett Allen (17/16/2/1).
San Antonio's rotation was a bit more interesting as far as fantasy is concerned, as Keldon Johnson (18/5/2 with four 3-pointers) and Doug McDermott (9/2/0/1 with three 3-pointers) were back in the starting lineup. And it was more of the same from both. Johnson shot the ball well but once again failed to offer much outside of points and 3-pointers, while McDermott struggled with his shot (0-of-7 on 2-pointers) and turned the ball over four times. While the former is capable of providing some value, the latter should be left alone in most leagues.
Devin Vassell (10/5/0/2 with two 3-pointers) replaced Lonnie Walker IV (11 points, six assists) in the starting lineup, which is a positive development in the short-term for managers who have the former rostered. However, this will likely change once Derrick White is cleared to return. Until that time comes, we'll hold out hope that Gregg Popovich will leave Vassell with the starters, and instead move McDermott to the bench. And Dejounte Murray missed out on yet another triple-double, finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes.
Mavericks 112, Grizzlies 85
The NBA's longest active winning streak came to an end Friday night, as the Mavericks smoked a Grizzlies team that had won 11 games in a row. Luka Doncic (27/11/10) recorded his fourth triple-double of the season, with Jalen Brunson (15/5/9/5), Tim Hardaway Jr. (16/2/2/1 with three 3-pointers), and Marquese Chriss (15/6/1 with one 3-pointer) among Dallas' six other double-digit scorers.
Also worth noting here is that the Mavericks are hoping that Kristaps Porzingis will clear health and safety protocols on Saturday. That would be the first step towards getting him back on the court, but managers should expect for there to be a conditioning period of some sort. Even if he's cleared Saturday, Porzingis is not expected to be available for upcoming games against the Magic (Saturday) and Thunder (Monday). This means that starters Dwight Powell 13/5/3) and Maxi Kleber (3/7/1/0/1 with one 3-pointer) will have the opportunity to provide some deep-league value, and the same can be said for the aforementioned Chriss. Kleber is the best option of the three, and he's rostered in 19% of Yahoo leagues.
The bad news for Memphis is that their streak came to an end. The good news? They're one man closer to a full rotation, as Steven Adams (protocols) was available to play on Friday. He came off the bench, playing 21 minutes and recording a line of six points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocked shots. He played well, considering the circumstances. Jaren Jackson Jr., who flourished as the lone big man on the court when Adams was sidelined, did not. Shooting 4-of-14 from the field (0-of-6 3-pointers), he tallied eight points, eight rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot in 27 minutes.
We'll see if the Grizzlies stick with that split for Monday's game against the Bulls, but it's worth noting that Chicago will bring a credible center to the table in Nikola Vucevic. While Adams can be a justified hold when starting, that isn't the case if he comes off the bench, even with the line that he produced Friday night. Also, Brandon Clarke (9/1/1/1/2 with two 3-pointers) replaced Kyle Anderson (12/5/1 with two 3-pointers) in the starting lineup. Clarke has provided 6th-round value over the last two weeks and is rostered in 46% of Yahoo leagues. He's worth picking up, especially with the Grizzlies set to play four games next week. Anderson is in "drop" territory at this point, as is De'Anthony Melton (2/2/1 in 11 minutes). Ja Morant (19/5/8/2 with one 3-pointer) struggled with turnovers, racking up eight. That isn't a common occurrence for him, so fantasy managers who have him rostered should not be too concerned.
Kings 126, Rockets 114
Sacramento was once again shorthanded in the post, with Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson both ruled out. So the Kings went with two power forwards, starting Chimezie Metu (7/2/0/1 with one 3-pointer) and Marvin Bagley (26/13/1/0/2). Metu's certainly had his moments over the last few weeks, but nights like this make it difficult to justify going all-in with him as far as fantasy is concerned. As for Bagley, the Kings' decision to fire Luke Walton gave him a new lease on life. He's still a bit inconsistent as far as fantasy value is concerned, and it's likely too late to pick Bagley up due to the Kings' schedule. Sacramento hosts Houston again on Sunday, then will only play two games next week.
De'Aaron Fox (27/6/8/2 with two 3-pointers), Buddy Hield (19/6/1/1 with four 3-pointers), Harrison Barnes (16/9/6 with two 3-pointers), and Terence Davis (14/0/1/2/1 with three 3-pointers) all scored in double figures, with Fox and Hield in the midst of solid runs. While Fox has been a 9th-round player over the last two weeks, Hield is providing 5th-round value.
Something that has been commonplace this season, especially for those who play DFS, is that opposing centers have consistently put up quality stat lines against the Kings. And that has been the case whether the aforementioned Holmes plays or not. Feel free to add Christian Wood to that list, as he recorded a line of 26 points, eight rebounds, two steals, one block, and four 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Jae'Sean Tate was even better, finishing with a full line of 17 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block, and one 3-pointer in 31 minutes. Tate has lost a bit of the luster that he had from a fantasy standpoint earlier this season, but he remains a player worth rostering in standard leagues. Also worth noting here is the return of Alperen Sengun, who played 14 minutes and accounted for nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot. While there isn't much reason to roster the rookie in standard leagues right now, that will likely change at the trade deadline.
Kevin Porter Jr. (16/7/8/2 with one 3-pointer) and Eric Gordon (16/3/1 with four 3-pointers) scored in double figures, with the latter being a player whose name is likely to come up in trade conversations ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline. For now, Gordon is a player worth holding if you already have him rostered. As for KPJ, he shot 1-of-7 from three Friday night, and the production outside of points, rebounds, and assists remains an issue. Especially when combined with the fact that he is an inefficient scorer. Hopefully, he and Jalen Green (11/1/2/4 with one 3-pointer) can turn things around in that regard at some point this season.