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What Sunday's schedule lacked in volume, it made up for with sheer drama. Specifically, what happened during the third quarter of the game between the Lakers and Pistons. There's likely to be at least one suspension in the aftermath of that dispute, which you can read about below. Also discussed in the Daily Dose are the absences of Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic, and a concerning update on one of Denver's other young stars.
Clippers 97, Mavericks 91
The Clippers moved one step closer to a full rotation on Sunday, as Serge Ibaka (back) was back in action. The veteran center came off the bench, playing 12 minutes and accounting for six points four rebounds and one steal. Ibaka's minutes are sure to increase as he continues to get his footing from a conditioning standpoint, which is likely to be bad news for Isaiah Hartenstein. He played just five minutes off the bench, while starter Ivica Zubac (16 points, 10 rebounds) tallied 27. Zubac's fantasy value is safe, while the few managers who still have Hartenstein rostered need to change that.
Also back for the Clippers was Justise Winslow (personal reasons), who played 10 minutes and accounted for four rebounds and one assist. His presence will not have an impact as far as fantasy basketball is concerned. Paul George (29/4/6/1 with three 3-pointers) produced a solid line, but it is a bit concerning that he tallied more turnovers (six) in this game than free throw attempts in his last three games combined (two). We've seen George hit double digits in free throw attempts multiple times this season, so he should be able to figure things out in due time.
Reggie Jackson (23/2/4 with four 3-pointers) still isn't a top-100 player, but managers who have him (77% rostered in Yahoo leagues) should remain patient. Amir Coffey (3/5/2 with one 3-pointer in 25 minutes) made another spot start for Nicolas Batum (health and safety protocols), and was relatively quiet. Not the most encouraging line but, with Batum expected to miss 7-10 days, Coffey is worth the risk as a streaming option in deep leagues.
Dallas was once again without Luka Doncic (left ankle/knee) but, following the game, Jason Kidd said that he hopes to have he All-Star point guard on the practice court Monday. If that happens, then there's a chance that Doncic will be available for the rematch Tuesday night. This impacts the entire Mavericks rotation, but most especially Jalen Brunson. He had another solid outing Sunday, recording a line of 20 points, four rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes. Having scored 17 points or more in five straight and six of his last seven games, Brunson was in a good place even before Doncic went down. Fantasy managers who have Brunson rostered have two choices: either hold onto him, or look to sell high before Doncic is cleared to play.
Kristaps Porzingis (25/8/2/0/2) shot 10-of-18 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, as he continues to play well with Doncic sidelined. Over the last three games, KP is averaging 23.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 3-pointers and 1.0 turnovers per while shooting 49.1% from the field. He's been a top-15 player in 9-cat formats per Basketball Monster, more than living up to his Yahoo ADP (48). So long as Porzingis can stay healthy, those who have him rostered will have nothing to complain about.
Dallas also welcomed back a member of its usual rotation, as Maxi Kleber (left oblique) returned to action. He played 20 minutes off the bench, accounting for five points, four rebounds, one blocked shot and one 3-pointer. Kleber's availability not only impacts the minutes that Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein get to play, but also the amount of time that Porzingis spends at the center position. Powell played 19 minutes, Cauley-Stein 10, and Boban Marjanovic three. Neither Cauley-Stein nor Marjanovic should be rostered with Kleber back, and he's also a better fantasy option than Powell.
Lakers 121, Pistons 116
This was the game of the day, and not only from a competitiveness standpoint. During the third quarter LeBron James (10/1/5 with one 3-pointer in 21 minutes) caught Isaiah Stewart (4/1/1/0/1 in 19 minutes) with a shot to the face, touching off a near-brawl. Both players were ejected, with Stewart attempting to get to James on multiple occasions as officials, players and coaches did their best to keep the situation from escalating any further. Obviously both will be punished by the league, with Stewart possibly getting a longer suspension due to his continued pursuit of James.
How would possible bans impact both teams? In the case of Detroit, they're already shorthanded in the post with Kelly Olynyk (knee) still sidelined. Trey Lyles (seven points, two rebounds and one 3-pointer) played 11 minutes off the bench, and the Pistons had to play small for extended periods of time. Detroit will play four games next week, the last being the rematch in Los Angeles, so Lyles may not lack for playing time, depending upon what the league office decides. Luka Garza (DNP-CD) could also get some run, but there's no need to even consider streaming him.
The Lakers are in a better spot when it comes to accounting for a possible James suspension. Talen Horton-Tucker (8/6/3/1 in 33 minutes) and Carmelo Anthony (18 points, two rebounds, two blocks and five 3-pointers) are both available, while Anthony Davis (30/10/6/4/5) is more than capable of assuming the role of top scoring option. The keys for him are simple: stay healthy, and stay consistent. AD was dominant on both ends of the floor as the Lakers mounted their rally, and that will need to be the case moving forward.
Russell Westbrook (26/9/10/2 with one 3-pointer) fell one rebound shy of a triple-double, while committing just three turnovers. He still isn't a top-100 player, but over the last two weeks Westbrook has provided 9th-round value in 9-cat formats. DeAndre Jordan (6/9/1/0/1) started and played 13 minutes in the middle, with Dwight Howard (13 points, five rebounds and two 3-pointers) getting 13 minutes off the bench. While Jordan has been the better fantasy player, Howard is the one who's been in the rotation on a more consistent basis. I wouldn't roster either one, but it's understandable that deep league managers would consider the two veteran centers.
One of the positives for Detroit was the play of Cade Cunningham (13/12/10/2 with one 3-pointer), who recorded his first career triple-double. He didn't shoot the ball well, going 6-of-21 from the field, but the overall impact can't be ignored. Jerami Grant (36/4/3/1 with five 3-pointers) went off, and at one point in the second quarter he hit a 3-pointer on four straight possessions. With Stewart possibly missing time and Killian Hayes (left thumb) sidelined, Grant will have to do even more offensively.
Cory Joseph (5/4/7/1 with one 3-pointer in 39 minutes) started for the injured Hayes, while Hamidou Diallo (17/6/1/2/1 with one 3-pointer) and Frank Jackson (15/2/0/0/3 with three 3-pointers) were both productive off the bench. Joseph is worth streaming, especially if Hayes has to miss more time, while Jackson is simply a player worth keeping an eye on in the short-term.
Bulls 109, Knicks 103
Chicago received some good news ahead of Sunday's game, as it was announced that Nikola Vucevic (health and safety protocols) has cleared quarantine. He was on the bench with his teammates, but there's still work to be done before Vucevic's conditioning is where it needs to be. Tony Bradley (seven points, four rebounds in 18 minutes) made another spot start, but the Bulls went small for most of this one. Derrick Jones Jr. (eight points, seven rebounds and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes) and Alize Johnson (four minutes) both saw time as the small-ball center, and that will be the case for as long as Vucevic remains out of the lineup. None are mandatory pickups, with two (Jones and Johnson) not having center eligibility in Yahoo leagues.
DeMar DeRozan (31/6/5/2 with two 3-pointers) and Zach LaVine (21/6/4/1/1) led the way offensively, while Coby White (14 points, two assists and three 3-pointers) snapped out of the slump that he'd been mired in since his season debut. After playing no more than 11 minutes in any of his first three appearances, White played 21 Sunday night. Managers who may wonder what this could do to rookie Ayo Dosunmu can relax, as he played 20 minutes and finished with five points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer. His spot in the rotation appears to be safe, but there's no denying the fact that Dosunmu is going to take a hit with regard to his usage.
New York, which saw four of its five starters struggle to get much done offensively, was down two centers. Mitchell Robinson (concussion) and Taj Gibson (groin) were sidelined, leaving Nerlens Noel as the only big that Tom Thibodeau was willing to trust. Noel, who landed in early foul trouble, played 26 minutes and finished with six points, five rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Injuries have limited Noel to six games, making it difficult for fantasy managers to truly capitalize on his fantasy value. He's still a top-100 player in 9-cat, but is rostered in just 55% of Yahoo leagues. The problem: New York only plays three games next week, including a Friday/Saturday back-to-back.
Julius Randle (34/10/3 with one 3-pointer) was the only Knicks starter in double figures, while RJ Barrett (9/15/2/1/1) produced a full line but shot 2-of-12 from the field. Both players were banged up in this one, with Randle banging knees with Coby White and Barrett hurting his left hand. Both players remained in the game, but keep an eye on the injury report ahead of Tuesday's game against the Lakers. Kemba Walker (7/2/4/0/1 with one 3-pointer in 18 minutes) is still rostered in 78% of Yahoo leagues, which is way too high given the production. His backup, Derrick Rose (9/2/3/1/3 with one 3-pointer), is rostered in just 58% of Yahoo leagues despite threatening top-100 status in 9-cat.
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Suns 126, Nuggets 97
Denver was once again without Nikola Jokic (right wrist), and Michael Malone made another change to his starting lineup. Jeff Green (19 points, three rebounds and one 3-pointer) and JaMychal Green (14/8/4 with two 3-pointers) started, with Austin Rivers (10/1/3/1/1 with two 3-pointers) coming off the bench. Neither Green is worth streaming, especially with the Nuggets having just two games to play this week (Tuesday and Friday). Aaron Gordon was solid, tallying 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 30 minutes.
He's a better fantasy option when Jokic sits, but Gordon has proven to be a solid option when the Joker is available. Had he not gotten ejected, Gordon would have been on his way to an even line than what he wound up with. Lastly, Bones Hyland played just two minutes before leaving due to an ankle injury that has been an issue recently. After a nice run, Hyland hasn't been consistent enough to merit his being rostered in deep leagues.
Making matters even worse for Denver was the fact that, after the game, it was reported by the Denver Post that Michael Porter Jr. (back) is dealing with a nerve issue that could jeopardize his season. He's out indefinitely due to the unspecified back injury, and does not have a timeline for return. Given the surgeries that Porter underwent before playing an NBA game, it makes sense that the Nuggets would want to exercise caution. If MPJ is unable to return this season that changes everything for Denver, which is still without Jamal Murray (ACL). Per the report, Porter will have a week or so to show improvement before the Nuggets consider other treatment options, including surgery.
Prior to this one, Phoenix announced that Frank Kaminsky (right knee) will be out indefinitely due to a stress reaction. This was originally deemed to be a case of soreness, so the issue proved to be more severe than the team realized. Kaminsky's fantasy value was diminished when Deandre Ayton (21/8/1/1/2) made his return to the lineup, with JaVale McGee (10 points, four rebounds) backing him up. With the injury, the few remaining holdouts can go through with the process of dropping Kaminsky onto their league's waiver wire.
The eye-opener as far as the Suns were concerned is the line posted by Cameron Johnson. In 23 minutes off the bench, he put up 22 points (9-of-15 FGs), one rebound, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers. Johnson did not miss a shot inside of the arc going 5-of-5 on 2-pointers, as he established a new season-high for points. However, while this was a very good game for Johnson, fantasy managers should not rush to pick him up. One night does not change the fact that Johnson is in a tough spot rotation-wise, with Mikal Bridges (8/6/4/1 with one 3-pointer) and Jae Crowder (15/4/1 with two 3-pointers) starting ahead of him.
Warriors 119, Raptors 104
Stephen Curry (12/2/8/1 with one 3-pointer) had a rough night shooting the basketball, as he was 2-of-10 from the field. But it didn't matter, thanks in large part to the tandem of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. Poole pumped in 33 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and eight 3-pointers (tying a career-high), while Wiggins accounted for 32 points, six rebounds, three assists, one block and six 3-pointers. Toronto devoted much of its attention to Curry, and while they did manage to make things difficult for him, that freed up Poole and Wiggins to fo their damage.
Both stand to be impacted by the return of Klay Thompson (Achilles; could be back before Christmas), but there may not be that big of a drop in production/fantasy value. Poole is worth selling high on, as he is providing 6th-round value in 9-cat. Wiggins hasn't been as prolific, but he may be the more likely of the two to remain in the starting lineup due to his ability to take on a variety of assignments on the defensive end of the floor.
Otto Porter (left foot) and Nemanja Bjelica (left rib) were both available after being listed on the afternoon injury report, with the former finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and five 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench. The absences of Andre Iguodala (right knee) Gary Payton II (hernia injury recovery) ensured that Porter would get good minutes, and he took advantage. This changes nothing as far as his fantasy value is concerned, however; there's no need to grab Porter off of your league's waiver wire.
Bjelica played just four minutes off the bench, so it's fair to wonder just how healthy he is. Either way, he isn't a player worth rostering, regardless of league. Kevon Looney (7/10/4/2/2) posted a full line in 26 minutes, but he did leave the game due to an injury. He's worth grabbing in deep leagues as long as the Warriors remain without James Wiseman, but that is Looney's fantasy ceiling.
Toronto was once again without OG Anunoby (left hip), which meant another start for Khem Birch. Birch played 22 minutes, accounting for seven points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocked shots. He split the minutes at center with Precious Achuiwa, who recorded a line of 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes. The concern here is that one of those two could fall completely out of the rotation once Anunoby is cleared to play. Chris Boucher (10 points, five rebounds and one 3-pointer) played just 14 minutes, which is disappointing given how this game played out. Neither Boucher nor Birch should be rostered at this point.