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Mondays are often busy, but this Monday's eight-game slate was possibly the most entertaining night we've had so far this season, and for many different reasons.
Furkan Korkmaz is on a heater
Furkan Korkmaz has been getting some extra run with guys like Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and now Joel Embiid (health and safety protocols) all out for the near future, and he’s sure making the most of it. Korkmaz followed up a 25-point, seven-triple explosion on Saturday with 19 points, three boards, two assists, one steal and five more three-pointers on Monday evening, and he has to be a must-start guy for as long as these guys are out. They’ll be back shortly, but even with just one of them sidelined (Joel Embiid entered protocols Monday morning), he should still have some value. The bad news is that his 76ers fell to the Knicks to give Philly just their third loss of the year, but this was to be expected considering they’re missing so many key guys. Danny Green returned and did his usual with two steals, three blocks and two treys in an inefficient effort and Andre Drummond went nuts for a 14-point, 25-rebound double-double with two blocks and is a no-brainer fantasy starter while Embiid is out. Georges Niang and Shake Milton scored 15 and 10 off the bench, respectively, but with not much else, and they’re going to get less and less attractive when this team starts getting healthy. Keep riding with starters Seth Curry (14/4/6 with a steal and two triples) and especially Tyrese Maxey (16/9/5/2/1 with three 3-pointers and zero turnovers), but hopefully Doc Rivers cuts back on Maxey’s minutes at some point (39 tonight and 42.7 minutes per game over his last three contests) so that he stays fresh and productive.
The Knicks are now 7-4 thanks to a big night from Julius Randle, who tallied 31 points (12-of-25 FG) with 12 boards, three assists, one steal, five triples and three turnovers in 36 minutes, and you know the drill with him by now - he’s an awesome top-25 guy but sometimes has shaky shooting with lack of defensive stats. Nothing else shocking really happened on the NY side, as R.J. Barrett double-doubled but shot 6-of-20 from the floor, Kemba Walker scored just eight and is on the Struggle Bus with 17 combined points over his last three on 7-of-28 shooting and Nerlens Noel appeared to injure his knee yet again (a different knee, however) and made it through just 12 minutes before exiting with six points and two boards. Noel just needs to stay healthy and play 20 minutes to have value, so hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Bulls spoil KD’s monster night in blowout win
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine combined for 52 points on 20-of-37 shooting in a dominant 118-95 win over the championship-favorite Brooklyn Nets, and these two guys are just not messing around. DeRozan has actually been a bit better than LaVine with top-15 value coming in, while Zach is just inside the top-30, but they’re coexisting so incredibly well that everything they did in the offseason looks to be working out nicely. Nikola Vucevic continued his struggles from the field and shot 5-of-14 on Monday night, but per usual filled it up with an 11/13/5/1/3 line with one trey and just one turnover. His 37.8% shooting so far this season is a far cry from his career 49.4% mark, and his career-low of 45.0% was in his 2011-2012 rookie season in Philadelphia, so the numbers say he’s bound to turn it around and improve upon his barely top-70 status. Lonzo Ball (11/4/3 with three treys, no defensive stats) has had a fairly quiet November after a phenomenal start to the year, but he’s still stealing and hitting a ton of threes which have propelled him to an ADP-busting top-45 value. Javonte Green had his first truly productive game as a starter with 11 points, seven boards and three steals in 29 minutes, but I’m not running to the wire to grab him yet. Rookie Ayo Dosunmu scored a season-high 15 points with seven rebounds, but similar to Green, I’m not in a rush to pick him up and he’s just worth monitoring right now.
Kevin Durant’s torrid start to the season continued on Monday to the tune of 38 points on 13-of-24 shooting (9-of-9 from the line), 10 boards, four assists, three treys and two turnovers in 35 minutes. He’s incredible and just keeps doing things that seven-footers shouldn’t be able to do, and was the No. 8 guy in fantasy before this eruption. It was LaMarcus Aldridge’s turn to pop off after a couple of decent Blake Griffin games (BG was invisible tonight), and LMA had 19 points, seven boards, a steal, two blocks and one triple in 23 minutes off the bench. Figuring out if/when to deploy Aldridge is really just a coin flip these days. James Harden hasn’t been fantastic and got Alex Caruso’d in this one, hitting just four of his 11 shots for a 14/8/5/1/1 line, but there’s still room for him to improve upon his top-20 rank.
Ja, Grizzlies take down Wolves in OT in early Game of the Year candidate
Calling this game a “thriller” is honestly an understatement, as it had all the elements to make it one of the most entertaining games of the early season. Who else but Ja Morant led the way with 33 points (10-of-24 FG, 10-of-12 FT), six boards, eight assists, one steal, one block, three triples and three turnovers in 41 minutes, which included a massive dunk and clutch trey in the last minute of regulation in a time where the Grizzlies ended up needing all the points they could get. King Ja has made improvements literally everywhere except for the turnovers (4.1 per game, the only reason he’s just inside the top-50), and he just looks like he has an extra sense of urgency. Jaren Jackson Jr. ended up fouling out but overcame a slow start to finish with 14 points, eight boards, a steal, three blocks and two triples in 32 minutes, and he’ll officially get going very soon especially given that coach Jenkins said he may play more center. Yes please. Brandon Clarke came out of nowhere and went nuts for 20 points, nine boards and a swat off the bench, but he had 27 total points on the year before this, so once again just something to keep an eye on in case he starts playing more PF with JJJ at the five. Steven Adams (three points, three boards) could be a fantasy loser here. Kyle Anderson had his best all-around game so far with a 12/9/7 line with a block, while De’Anthony Melton continued to scoff at his preseason ADP with a 19/3/3/2/1 line with three treys. Melton isn’t going anywhere and Dillon Brooks may not even start when he returns, so hold on tight.
D’Angelo Russell returned from a two-game absence and went off for 30 points with six treys and a full line, but it was Karl-Anthony Towns (25/13/3/1/2 with three 3-pointers) who got the headline because of this absolutely ludicrous buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime. Sure, at the end of the day, it didn’t matter, but KAT’s fantasy managers are meowing away at his top-5 fantasy value. Beast. Anthony Edwards was somehow Minnesota’s third best player on Monday but had 27 points (9-of-22 FG), five boards, three assists, three steals, four treys and four giveaways in 43 minutes, and he’s just outside the top-50 and should sneak into there any day now. Patrick Beverley started even with Russell back and had a low-end 9/3/4/1/2 line in 29 minutes, and Jaden McDaniels had 11 points with seven boards but isn’t doing enough to warrant rostering anywhere except very deep leagues.
Jalen Brunson isn’t going away
Jalen Brunson just isn’t going anywhere even with this Dallas team mostly healthy, as he yet again played 30+ minutes off the bench for 17 points, four boards, six assists and a steal, and while he isn’t getting many defensive stats, he looks like one of the waiver wire heroes early on. Luka Doncic had a relatively quiet 25/5/5 night with a steal, a block, two triples and five turnovers in 33 minutes for a very Luka-like line, Tim Hardaway Jr. dropped in 17 of his own on a very un-THJ-like 88.8 eFG% and Kristaps Porzingis was fine with 12 points, eight boards, a block and three triples but struggled with his shot. Don’t look now, but the Mavs are 7-3 and are looking good and just about fully healthy too, but their next five games are fairly challenging (@ Chicago, @ San Antonio, vs. Denver and @ Phoenix twice,) so we’ll see if they can keep it going.
Poor New Orleans. They’re 1-10 now and haven’t been good, but at least they have fantasy assets unlike last year’s tanking Thunder squad. Brandon Ingram missed his fifth straight game with a hip issue but his return could be as soon as Wednesday vs. OKC. Josh Hart has enjoyed Ingram being sidelined, and this was especially the case on Monday as Hart went for a season-high 22 points (8-of-13 shooting) with six boards, five dimes, a steal, a triple and three turnovers in 38 minutes, and I don’t think he’s an immediate drop even when Ingram comes back. Garrett Temple (12/6/3 with three steals), however, probably is, so be prepared to cut him if you’ve been streaming him for a bit. Jonas Valanciunas notched his ninth straight double-double, seven of which were 20-10 games, ending Monday’s loss with 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Keep enjoying the big man’s top-15 production, but as I’ve said, keep an eye on Zion Williamson’s eventual return and maybe try to sell-high, but not anytime soon. Nickeil Alexander-Walker somewhat got it going with 18 points on 8-of-20 shooting with four dimes, two threes and a steal, and he’s been struggling with his shot but is still helping enough in other areas.
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Denver dominates Miami, but not before Joker goes full WWE
Nikola Jokic led the way in a convincing win against a pretty hot Miami Heat team, triple-doubling with an incredible line of 25 points (10-of-14 FG, 5-of-8 FT). 15 boards, 10 dimes, two steals, two blocks, two turnovers and one nasty body slam of Markieff Morris, and the Joker was rightfully ejected and will almost surely be facing a suspension. Morris’ foul was a absolutely a cheap shot and he was also appropriately ejected, but Jokic went all in on the Heat forward and Markieff was on the floor and in a good amount of pain, so we’ll monitor him. Keep an eye on Jokic’s status and think about adding JaMychal Green in case he starts a game or so for Jokic the wrestler. Super surprise top-70 guy Will Barton matched Jokic’s team high in points and also pitched in five rebounds, six dimes, a steal and a career-high tying seven triples in 35 minutes, and assuming they didn’t miss out big elsewhere, managers with Barton shares are probably doing quite well early on. Jeff Green got the start for Michael Porter Jr. (back, out for “foreseeable future”) and will probably continue doing so, but he was so-so with 13 points, two boards, a triple and nothing else. Aaron Gordon should be better than his 10/7/3 line on Monday with more shots coming his way sans MPJ, so make sure he’s in your lineup for a little while.
Jimmy Butler was phenomenal with 31 points (10-of-18 FG, 9-of-11 FT), five boards, eight assists, one block, two triples and just one turnover in 38 minutes, but this isn’t news and he’s a legitimate MVP candidate right now. Bam Adebayo had a cheap and inefficient 10-point, 10-rebound double-double with little else, and it’s safe to say he got Joker’d (but not in the way Markieff did). Duncan Robinson had 13 with four treys, Kyle Lowry was a disaster and somehow didn’t even score in 37 minutes and Tyler Herro had just his second quiet game of the season with an 11/3/5 line on 3-of-12 shooting. Both he and Lowry are bound to turn it around in a better matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Cam eases the Payne as Suns nearly blow 24-point lead
The Suns came out with a win on Monday, but they made their fans sweat as they turned a 24-point third-quarter lead into a game that went down to the final seconds with a final score of 109-104 (this made Suns -3 bettors sweat more than they needed to as well). Cameron Payne was the unsung hero in his second game back after a five-game absence due to a hamstring strain and went for 24 points, four boards, three assists, one steal, four treys and four turnovers in 22 bench minutes. He has the upside and Chris Paul (16/3/5 with three steals and two triples) saw just 26 minutes in what looked like was going to be a blowout, so Payne made the most of it and should be on your radar at least. Devin Booker (18/9/6, two steals, two triples, five turnovers in 32 minutes) and 9-cat phenom Mikal Bridges (16/2/1/2/2, one three, zero turnovers in 35 minutes) both had full lines, while JaVale McGee (6/7/4/1/2) and Frank Kaminsky (10 points, five boards, one steal, one block) were both decent and have some streaming appeal while Deandre Ayton (bruised right leg) is sidelined.
The Kings really fought in this one but ultimately came up short and now sit below .500 at 5-6, with De’Aaron Fox leading the way with 25 points (8-of-19 FG, 7-of-11 FT), four rebounds, five assists, three steals, three blocks, one 3-pointer and five turnovers in 35 minutes, and this perfectly exemplifies the good and bad of Fox’s fantasy game so far, with the bad being the reason he’s barely a top-200 guy right now. Put those buy-low offers in while you can, because he won’t end the season shooting sub-40 percent from the floor. Harrison Barnes continued to shatter expectations with 26 points (83.3 eFG%), six boards, two assists, one steal, one triple and an unfortunate six turnovers in 36 minutes, and he’s a surprise top-20 guy that hasn’t slowed down yet. Richaun Holmes was quiet with seven points and eight boards with a block and Buddy Hield started for Tyrese Haliburton (back) but wasn’t great with 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting with six boards, three treys and a block. Davion Mitchell (12/6/2 with two threes and no defensive stats) and Terence Davis (13 points, three triples) both got a little extra burn with Hali sidelined, but neither went off in a way that shows they’re automatic streaming options when Tyrese sits.
Stephen Curry. That’s it.
If you exclude his five-game 2019-2020 season, Stephen Curry came into Monday’s matchup with the Hawks shooting a career-low 42.0%, with his 37.4% from range also being a career low excluding his injury-plagued season two years ago. Well, he’s fine, in case you thought he wasn’t. The game was close at halftime, and then Steph happened as he scored 23 points in that frame alone and finished with 50 points (14-of-28 FG, 9-of-19 3PT FG, 13-of-13 FT), seven rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, one block and just two turnovers in 35 minutes of a 127-113 win to keep his Dubs at an NBA-best 9-1 record. It was just mesmerizing stuff and it’s crazy that we’ve seen performances like this dozens of times before from the best shooter the game has ever seen. If you played Steph in DFS, he got you an absurd 83.4 fantasy points, and you probably cashed out. Obviously, none of the other Warriors were spectacular as they took a backseat to the Steph show: Draymond Green had a 4/7/9 line with two steals, Jordan Poole had 16 points, four boards, four dimes, two steals and three triples in an inefficient showing, Andrew Wiggins had 13 with little else and Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee both scored 11 off the bench.
Atlanta doesn’t look like the same team we saw in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, but they have plenty of time to turn it around and I doubt anyone will want to play a No. 8 seeded Atlanta team that runs this deep. Trae Young was great with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting with three boards, nine assists, one steal, four triples and four turnovers in 32 minutes, and this was just the second time he made more than half of his shots in 11 games so far. Trae is still getting plenty of dimes but his lack of steals (0.8 per game), shooting (42.3%) and turnovers (3.5 per game, all stats taking Monday’s line into consideration) hurt one-third of your team’s categories, so make sure you’re excellent in the other six if you have Trae. John Collins is playing through a sore left foot and had 19 points (all in the first half, thanks Steph) with six boards and two treys in 31 minutes, while Bogdan Bogdanovic looked much better with an efficient 17 points and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter both scored 11 but can’t be trusted on a nightly basis, while Cam Reddish (three points in 13 minutes) isn’t far behind as his rollercoaster of a season carries on. Clint Capela had just two points with six rebounds and a block in 23 minutes, but fell victim to the usual Warriors small-ball and will be fine.
Carmelo barely comes out the superior Melo in OT win
Carmelo Anthony is one of the great stories of the season so far, as the future Hall of Famer poured in 29 points with seven threes in 35 minutes off the bench. He also got a steal and a block, which is not uncommon these days for Melo, and he’s still a top-50 fantasy asset. He’s awesome. Anthony Davis also had a huge night in what was basically a must-win for this struggling Lakers team, filling the box score with 32 points (13-of-25 FG, 6-of-8 FT), 12 rebounds, four assists, three steals, five blocks and four turnovers in 44 minutes, and it’s no secret that he’s a beast and has No. 1 overall upside especially when LeBron James (abs) is out, which could be longer than the initial week timeline he was given. AD also reportedly threw up at the end of the third quarter, which was either because his stomach bug is still lingering or because he had the epiphany that Russell Westbrook is his starting point guard. Brodie continues to be Brodie and had a 17/12/14 triple-double with three steals and seven turnovers, and was of course inefficient at a 5-of-15 clip and had a net rating of minus-17 in this one. He’s much, much better suited for points leagues, but you know the drill with him after all these years. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points with eight boards and Dwight Howard had four points with nine boards, but neither guy is worth rostering, and Rajon Rondo was a plus-20 in just 12 minutes with eight dimes and a huge spark, and is maybe worth a look if you need assists while Bron heals up.
Basically all of the Hornets’ starters went off as their bench totaled just 16 of the team’s 123 points. LaMelo Ball notched his second career triple-double and went nuts for 29 points (11-of-22 shooting), a career-high 15 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, one block, three triples and three turnovers in 40 minutes, and this is why his ADP coming into the season was so lofty. Terry Rozier scored a team and season-high 29 points and is starting to get back on track, Mason Plumlee had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double before fouling out, Gordon Hayward had an efficient 21/6/3 line with two treys but turned it over four times and Miles Bridges was quiet for his standards but hit a clutch three at the end of regulation to finish his evening with 19 points (6-of-18 FG), eight boards, two assists, two steals, three 3-pointers and four turnovers in 43 minutes.