A very busy start to Week 12 of the NBA, and after this week is over, we'll be just about halfway through the season. Wild stuff, but without further ado, here we Dose.
Joel Embiid notches third career triple-double
Joel Embiid notched the third triple-double of his career in an easy 133-113 victory over the Rockets on Monday, totaling 31 points (12-of-20 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), 15 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, two blocks, one 3-pointer and six turnovers in just 30 minutes, and he tied his career high of consecutive 30-point games with four of such a case, so it’s safe to say he’s been ballin’ and really just needs to stay healthy.. Furkan Korkmaz got the start for Tyrese Maxey (just entered health and safety protocols) and took full advantage with a 24/11/6 line with three triples, one steal and no turnovers on 8-of-14 shooting, and he’s worth a look if he continues to start but this will be the best case scenario for him. Seth Curry (15/5/5 with three 3-pointers) and Tobias Harris (14/6/6 with a block) were both fine, and Isaiah Joe really impressed off the bench by hitting a career-high five 3-pointers on his way to a career-high tying 18 points, and while he’s fun, Philly won’t play Houston every night.
The Rockets lost their eighth straight game with this blowout and after a nice stretch earlier, they’re back to being pretty miserable. At least Garrison Mathews is back after spending four games in protocols, and he returned in fashion with 23 points (6-of-10 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), seven rebounds, four 3-pointers and one turnover in 30 minutes, and this was really nice to see after some pre-protocol struggles and I think he has to be rostered in most leagues. Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood were both suspended for participating in a heated argument and refusing to listen to coach Silas, respectively, and Jalen Green was supposed to benefit pretty heftily but did no such thing with just 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting with little else. There will be plenty of growing pains with the rook but he’s too talented to not play a ton and he’s been better lately, so hang in there if you can exercise some patience. Of the other three starters, Jae’Sean Tate did his low-key stat-stuffing with a 14/3/5/1/2 evening with no turnovers but missed all four of his treys, Eric Gordon hit three treys for a more boring 14/3/3 line with a steal and Daniel Theis (started for Wood) flopped with seven points and nine boards and for some reason attempted seven threes (made one). Tate is the only one I consider worth rostering of this trio. David Nwaba hasn’t been bad and was nice with a 12/3/4/1/1 showing with two treys, K.J. Martin scored 11 points with eight rebounds and Josh Christopher scored 13 with two boards, four dimes and three steals. It’s really hard to tell which guy is going to do well on this team, and I’ve said it in previous pieces, but I have no issue completely ignoring this whole Houston roster altogether.
Kyle Kuzma has been incredible over his last four and had his best one in that stretch in Monday’s 124-121 win over the Hornets, finalizing his night with a season-high 36 points (13-of-26 FGs), 14 rebounds, six assists, one steal, six 3-pointers and five turnovers in 41 minutes, and he hit four of his threes in the fourth quarter and really helped his team pull away from a relentless opponent. This gem brings his averages over the last four to 28 points on 55% shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 threes per game, and there’s no denying his top-75 value over the past week, but this seems like a very clear sell-high moment for a guy barely ranked inside the top-150 on the year. Bradley Beal was fantastic too with a 35/7/8 line with one block, three 3-pointers and four turnovers in 43 minutes, and he pleased his managers everywhere with an 11-of-22 mark from the field and 10-of-11 clip from the foul line. Daniel Gafford has also been phenomenal and posted a 15/11 double-double on 6-of-7 shooting, while of course blocking three shots, and he’s looked like a different player over his last four with Montrezl Harrell in protocols. Davis Bertans scored 14 with four threes and Cory Kispert scored 12 with two threes, while both also adding exactly four rebounds and an assist, but I have minimal interest in either guy.
Charlotte really fought in this one but dropped a spot in the standings because of the loss (Washington took their place) and now sit in the eighth seed in the East. Three guys scored at least 20 points with Gordon Hayward leading in scoring with 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting, adding eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Terry Rozier was right behind him with a likewise efficient 25/5/3 line with three steals and five triples and the third member of the 20-point party was Miles Bridges with a massive 23/14/4/4/1 line with two treys and just one turnover. Bridges is the preferred guy out of these three but they’re all returning mid-round value, but first-round value sophomore LaMelo Ball flopped a bit with a 18/4/2 night on just 8-of-21 shooting with two triples and two turnovers, but he’s fine. Otherwise, Mason Plumlee notched a semi-good 8/7/7 line with a pair of blocks while the bench did a whole lot of nothing besides Jalen McDaniels’ two steals and two blocks (Kelly Oubre scored seven points in 12 minutes, and while his minutes have trended down in a hurry, just be patient for the time being).
Identical to Joel Embiid, Ja Morant has scored at least 30 points for the fourth straight game (all wins too) and did so most recently in a win over Brooklyn on Monday with 36 points (14-of-22 shooting), six rebounds, eight assists, two 3-pointers and three turnovers in 34 minutes. He had an electric third quarter and is just a walking highlight reel these days, and while you could nitpick at his lack of defensive stats and 6-of-10 clip from the line, most of his managers should still be rather pleased with him. Desmond Bane continues to be elite as he popped off for 29 points (12-of-23 FGs), eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, five 3-pointers and two turnovers 37 minutes, and I could not be more impressed with him. Not a ton else going on otherwise, but Brandon Clarke (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists) impressed with Jaren Jackson Jr. (five points on 2-of-12 shooting, but at least a steal and three blocks) struggling, Tyus Jones posted a 12/5/5 line with a steal in just 19 minutes and is just a borderline hold as long as Ja is active, and Jarrett Culver played 30 minutes off the bench for 12 points, three steals and two triples but he’s not the most fantasy-friendly guy.
James Harden finally cooled off with 19/4/8/1/1 line on 5-of-14 shooting (7-of-8 freebies) after scoring at least 30 in four straight (three of which were triple doubles), and Kevin Durant showed out on the defensive end with three each in the steals and blocks departments to go with 26 points, three rebounds, six assists and two triples. The bad news is that the duo combined to shoot just 13-of-38 from the field but they aren’t guys you should worry about. Nic Claxton scored 11 with two steals and a block, Bruce Brown came out of nowhere with a 10/7/5/4/2 line (not buying it) and Patty Mills had one assist and one turnover in 30 minutes, and that’s it (for DFS people, that’s 0.017 fantasy points per minute, oh my). He also may take a massive hit with the news that Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut against the Pacers on Wednesday, and while I worry about Patty and a couple other Nets, I’m not worried about Durant or Harden - they’ll all get their fair share of fun.
Saddiq Bey impresses again in win over… Bucks?
Yes, the Pistons beat a nearly fully healthy Bucks team by nine points (115-106), and Saddiq Bey and Josh Jackson get a ton of the credit. Bey has been unconscious lately and kept it going with career highs in both points (34) and 3-pointers made (eight), also adding eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and just a single turnover in 39 minutes. He just scored a career high of 32 on December 29 and eclipsed this mark just five days later with big lines sprinkled throughout, so if he keeps this pace up in any way, he could be a league-winning caliber player. Bey’s averages over his last nine games come out to 25.0 points (44.3% shooting), 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks and 3.7 tripes per game, good enough for second-round value, so hold on tight if you were patient. Jackson scored a season-high 24 points with five boards, two dimes and five 3-pointers, but don’t feel the need to pick him up since this was random and he hadn’t hit double digits in scoring since November 13. Rookie Cade Cunningham returned after missing four games (protocols) and was really good with an efficient 19/4/7 effort with a block and three makes from range, and Hamidou Diallo followed up his eruption two nights prior with a usable 11/9/5 line with a steal.
The Bucks were the Bucks, but Khris Middleton’s modest 10/6/2 line on 3-of-10 shooting is semi-worrisome since he missed last game with a personal issue, so hopefully he’s fine and he turns it around. Giannis Antetokounmpo went for 31 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and a steal, which becomes even more standard for the Greek Freak when you factor in the shooting marks (11-of-21 FGs, 9-of-13 FTs), and Jrue Holiday popped off for a 29/5/5 showing with two steals and four treys in 35 minutes. Bobby Portis had a boring 12/14 double-double, but that’s about all she wrote for Milwaukee.
Poole goes off with Steph struggling, Jimmy Butler goes down… again
Despite a nightmarish showing by Stephen Curry on Monday, this resilient Warriors team still came up on top in a 115-108 win over the Heat. Curry scored in single digits for the first time since October 2019, finishing with just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting, three rebounds, 10 assists, one block, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 32 minutes. Everything else but the shooting was fine and it was just an off night, don’t worry. Jordan Poole gets the headline in this one with a game-high 32 points (12-of-17 shooting) to go with two rebounds, five assists, five 3-pointers and one turnover in 26 minutes. He must’ve heard that Klay Thompson could be returning as soon as Sunday (it’s looking likely) and balled out to show Steve Kerr that he belongs in the rotation regardless, but I’m not sure that was ever in doubt. He’s been way too good to just abandon completely, and there’s no way Kerr or this team doesn’t know that, so don’t panic-drop him upon Klay’s return even though he will inevitably take a hit. Draymond Green continued to do everything but score behind his 5/8/13/1/4 effort, and it speaks volumes that he accumulated 47.1 fantasy points while only scoring five real points. Andrew Wiggins had an efficient 22 points with six rebounds, four assists, two steals, two triples and three turnovers while Gary Payton scored 14 points with five boards and four steals, but like Poole, we should expect these guys to take a bit of a hit with Klay coming back, with the majority of my concern being with Payton.
Jimmy Butler went down with a right ankle injury in the third quarter and didn’t return, and it was clear that he was in a good amount of pain as he needed help to get to the locker room. It’s also worth noting that this is the same ankle that kept him out for three games earlier this season, and this man just can’t seem to stay healthy. He finished with a 22/5/3 line with two 3-pointers and it’s a shame that he can’t stay on the floor, but per usual, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and basically all other Heat wings get a slight boost assuming Jimmy misses time. Lowry turned the ball over eight times and hit just four of his 13 shots, but did fill it up via a 16/6/11 line with a steal and two 3-pointers, while Herro didn’t shoot it well either with a 7-of-23 clip for 18 points, three rebounds, four assists, one block, four treys and three turnovers in 42 minutes. Caleb Martin nearly double-doubled with an efficient and full 19/9/1/2/1 effort with three 3-pointers and two turnovers, and he is definitely worth picking back up speculatively assuming Butler misses some games. Omer Yurtseven only scored five points but dominated the glass with 17 rebounds, also chipping in two assists and two steals in 33 minutes, and at the very worst he’s a rebounding specialist right now but the scoring has been there in the past.
What a game. Trae Young went absolutely nuts (more soon, of course) but Anfernee Simons wasn’t too shabby himself, exploding for a new career high of 43 points (13-of-21 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), also adding eight 3-pointers, three rebounds, seven assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes of a 136-131 win over the Hawks. At just 22 years of age, he’s the youngest Blazer with a 40-point game in franchise history, and in a game with Damian Lillard (abdomen) and C.J. McCollum (lung) sidelined, he took full advantage. He wasn’t doing too hot coming in and has been struggling lately, but this should help his confidence in a huge way even when Dame comes back. Jusuf Nurkic did very well too in a return from protocols (four games out) and posted a 21/12/5 line with a steal (no blocks, of course) on 8-of-18 shooting. He’s been pretty disappointing and didn’t even come in as a top-100 player, so I’m just hoping for the best at this point, with Monday’s line being promising. Norman Powell was awesome with 26/6/4 line with four steals and two threes on 9-of-13 shooting, while Nassir Little decided to have one of his good games with 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes (he’s a rollercoaster but should be rostered). Robert Covington had four steals and Ben McLemore had 10 points, but otherwise no one did much.
Trae Young joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (three times) as the only players ever with a game of at least 55 points and 10 dimes, and Trae did even more in Monday’s high-scoring affair with a career-high 56 points (17-of-26 FGs, 15-of-15 FTs), four rebounds, 14 assists, seven 3-pointers and four turnovers in 37 minutes. I can’t imagine the feeling of putting up those types of numbers and walking away a loser, and while I hate to say it, at least the loss doesn’t affect your fantasy team. Even more, Young had 41/14 through three quarters of play, joining James Harden as the only player in 25 years to go for at least 40 and 10 through the first three quarters of play. Unreal stuff. Given Trae scored nearly 43% of the Hawks points, it makes sense that there were only two other guys in double figures, with Clint Capela having the second most fantasy-friendly line, sinking all 10 of his shots (2-of-5 FTs) for a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double with a steal. The 22 points are his most since his 23/17 game on November 26 (which was a season high), and the scoring is getting back on track after going for 18 points in each of his last two games before this one. Kevin Huerter returned from a lengthy six-game stretch spent in protocols and fared very well with 18 points (8-of-16 FGs), two boards, two assists and two treys in 37 minutes, so the workload was nice but he’s really just a guy for threes, and it helped his case that Bogdan Bogdanovic is still in protocols.
The remaining four games didn’t have any shocking/superstar performances per se, and therefore not as much analysis, so I’ll quickly break them down below.
Bulls 102, Magic 98
The Magic fought hard but the Bulls ended up winning their eighth straight, their longest winning streak in nearly a decade.
- DeMar DeRozan - 29 points with little else. Shot 11-of-24 from the field and a very uncharacteristic 7-of-13 from the line, but he’s been insane and he probably missed the free throws on purpose so he had a better chance at hitting a third straight game-winner.
- Zach LaVine - 27 points (8-of-19 FGs), four triples, also little else besides a steal. Still a stud.
- Nikola Vucevic - 13/17/1/2/2, back to his old ways with 5-of-13 shooting but has been better there, so maybe just an off night.
- Lonzo Ball - 3/7/7 with a steal. Could be some quarantine rust.
- Franz Wagner - 22/5/3 on 8-of-13 shooting with a trey and a steal. This rookie class is absolutely loaded and he’s helping that case immensely. If you’re unfamiliar with him as of now, you won’t be very soon.
- Wendell Carter Jr. - 21/10/4 also with a trey and a steal. He’s been really impressive lately, and I won’t take that away from him, but that could be due to the struggles of…
- Mo Bamba - three points, seven rebounds in 23 minutes. Bamba has not looked right since returning from protocols, but I’m not too worried about him and view this as a nice buy-low opportunity.
- Gary Harris - 19/1/1/2/1 with five triples. I’m not a fan of utilizing older guys on young/rebuilding teams, but he’s been too good to not be rostered basically everywhere.
- Terrence Ross - 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. If you were expecting another efficient outburst from Ross, look up volatile in the dictionary and his picture will come up.
Jazz 115, Pelicans 104
- Donovan Mitchell - 29/2/5/3/1 line with five threes on 11-of-19 shooting. He had five turnovers but who cares when he’s efficient and the steals are there, just like they’ve been all season. Beast.
- Mike Conley - 22/8/7 with four 3-pointers and a block. One of the more boring top-75 fantasy players but will stay there because of big games like this here and there.
- Bojan Bogdanovic - 21 points (8-of-17 FGs), five threes. He’s just a points/triples guy.
- Rudy Gobert - 10/18 with two steals and two blocks. He’s as consistent as they come.
- Jonas Valanciunas - 25 points, nine rebounds, three triples in return to action after spending one game in protocols. With Zion possibly not even playing this season, you can halt on the JV sell-high offers until we get a more concrete timetable for Zion.
- Brandon Ingram - 10/4/7 with a block on 3-of-18 shooting. Ugly, but shake it off and move on.
- Josh Hart - 15/9/4 with a block and two treys. Such sneaky value and creeping in on top-75 status.
- Herb Jones - 11/5/1/4/1 with Ingram and Hart back, should still be rostered for upside in defensive stats alone.
Mavericks 103, Nuggets 89
The Nuggets scoring really comes and goes, including scoring 89 points in two of the last three but 124 in the third, but at least they’re getting some guys back. Meanwhile, the Mavs roster is still COVID-riddled but got their third straight win on Monday evening.
- Luka Doncic - 21/8/15 with four steals. The 15 dimes tied his season high and this was much better than his first game back after missing nearly a month of basketball with an ankle issue and in protocols. He did shoot just 7-of-18 from the field but at least only turned it over three times, and regardless, his fantasy managers have to be pleased that their counting stats are sure to rise back up.
- Dwight Powell - 15 points, three rebounds, one steal in 27 minutes. He’ll also benefit with KP out but Kleber is the target.
- Jalen Brunson - 13/3/4 with two steals and two triples but on 4-of-14 shooting. So far, 12.5 points, 5.5 dimes and 1.5 steals per game in the two since Luka returned, so the days of 20+ points per game are probably over but he still has a nice role.
- Nikola Jokic - 27 points (11-of-18 FGs), 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals, one triple and three turnovers in 35 minutes. He makes it easy on us writers because he’s always good and we can only rave about him so much. Thanks, Joker.
- Will Barton - 12/4/6 with a steal on 4-of-12 shooting. Two straight quiet games for him but he’s been the second best Nugget and it’s not particularly close.
- Aaron Gordon - 15/7/2 with two steals, one 3-pointer and three turnovers. He’s not even a top-150 guy on the season and hasn’t been good lately, but if he can at least get the defensive stats up, that’d be very helpful.
Timberwolves 122, Clippers 104
A 38-point second quarter helped the Wolves pull away and never really look back, and they did this without D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns (return to competition conditioning).
- Anthony Edwards - 28 points (11-of-17 shooting), two rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, five 3-pointers and four turnovers in 33 minutes. A very nice bounce back on the second night of a back-to-back, the first in which he turned it over eight times and didn’t shoot it well. He could be a third-rounder by the end of the season.
- Naz Reid - 13/6/1/1/1 line. Almost always worth deploying whenever KAT is out of action, but otherwise you probably don’t have to bother.
- Patrick Beverley - 11 points (3-of-10 shooting), three rebounds, a career-high tying 12 assists, two steals, one turnover in just 21 minutes. He’s been solid without D’Lo but you may want to reconsider when he returns, but feel free to monitor for a few games first.
- Taurean Prince - 17/4/3/2/1 with two treys. He was playing fine pre-garbage time, but this is still fluky, so you can ignore.
- Serge Ibaka - 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one block, two 3-pointers, two turnovers in 20 minutes. Please don’t pick him up.
- Xavier Moon - 13/4/4 with four steals and a block. Garbage time special again, disregard.