Despite three postponements, there were still plenty of exciting performances on Sunday, including Saddiq Bey’s continued emergence, the Chicago Bulls’ first game in eight days, and the return of Devin Booker. Damian Lillard spoiled Dillon Brooks' career night, Buddy Hield went nuclear, and Minnesota won without Anthony Edwards.
Pistons 100, Heat 90
Saddiq Bey helped Detroit end their 14-game losing streak by scoring 26 points on 7-for-10 shooting (3-for-6 from deep) and collected four rebounds and two assists with zero turnovers in 36 minutes. This was his third straight 20-point performance, and he’s been excellent in Jerami Grant’s absence. He’s providing top-15 value over the past week and is rostered in only 67% of Yahoo! leagues. Cade Cunningham only took four shots in 31 minutes, but finished with 10 assists and two steals before fouling out. It was a strange game for him, but the Pistons winning is also strange. Don’t expect either to continue. Isaiah Stewart collected 14 rebounds and continues to be an excellent source of boards, but not much else. Hamidou Diallo continues to start, but he doesn’t provide a ton of fantasy value. He’s averaged 11.5 points as a starter, but doesn’t shoot 3-pointers or free throws well. Frank Jackson has been a stellar option off the bench for the Pistons. However, he’s not a great option for your fantasy team, because he doesn’t do much besides score. Trey Lyles had two blocks and a steal in 18 minutes, but before this game, he only had a block and two steals in the month of December. As long as Grant is out, Cunningham and Bey are the only two players worth a look outside of deeper leagues.
P.J. Tucker went down with a knee injury, which just adds to the list of injured Heat players. Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Markieff Morris, Caleb Martin, and Victor Oladipo were already on the injury report. Max Strus had a nice game off the bench with 24 points on 7-for-16 shooting (4-of-11 on triples) and four rebounds in 34 minutes. That follows up his 32-point performance on Friday. With all the injuries, the Heat may have found a temporary bench scorer that is available in 96% of Yahoo! leagues. Omer Yurtseven backed up Dewayne Dedmon (11 points, five rebounds in 27 minutes) and provided 12 rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. He’s backing up Adebayo’s replacement in the starting lineup, so he won’t get a ton of opportunity once Bam is back. However, that is back-to-back 12 rebound performances for the rookie. Aside from that, the Heat shot horribly. Kyle Lowry shot 3-for-12 (2-for-9 from deep, 11-of-16 on free throws) to finish with 19 points and 10 assists. He’ll be just fine moving forward. Duncan Robinson won’t shoot 2-for-10 from deep every game. He just won’t. Gabe Vincent shot 3-for-11 (1-for-6 on 3-pointers). The Heat only scored 90 points and lost to the Pistons, both of which reflected in their fantasy output.
Trail Blazers 105, Grizzlies 100
Norman Powell finished with 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting. He continues to be an excellent scoring option for the Blazers, while also providing enough other stats to dish out top-80 value over the past two weeks. Larry Nance Jr. finished with two points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, two steals, and no turnovers in 29 minutes. Just a nice all-around game for him, but not something he’ll continue to do. Despite his vertical, he’s not much of a shot blocker. Damian Lillard finished with 32 points and has been playing at the level that we all expected at the beginning of the season. You can live with the turnovers and below-average shooting percentages when he’s providing top-30 value over the past two weeks. Robert Covington continues to be a defensive menace. He had four blocks and a steal and is averaging 2.6 blocks and 2.2 steals since he started coming off the bench five games ago. Nassir Little had 12 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and a block in 36 minutes. He hasn’t been much of a scorer since Dame returned, but he has carved out a nice starting role and provides defensive stats.
This is only the Grizzlies’ second loss since Ja Morant went down nine games ago, but they seem optimistic that he’ll be back soon. The man who has stepped up in Morant’s absence is Dillon Brooks, who scored a career-high 37 points on 12-of-25 shooting. He’s now scored 20 or more in five straight games, which is a career-high for him too. Jaren Jackson Jr. only played 20 minutes before fouling out. Foul trouble has plagued him throughout his career, which keeps him from being the fantasy star that he should be. He’s only given out top-90 production over the past two weeks. Desmond Bane has been the best Grizzly in fantasy while Morant has been out. He struggled tonight with only nine points on 4-of-12 shooting and 1-of-8 from deep, but he still chipped in two rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block in 33 minutes. He’s been excellent lately, producing at a top-40 level over the past two weeks, and should rebound well next game. Kyle Anderson had four steals off the bench and has had at least three steals in four of his past five games. If he can continue to produce at this level, he’ll be a nice defensive specialist for fantasy managers.
Kings 121, Spurs 114
The Kings have six players and their head coach Alvin Gentry in the league’s health and safety protocols, but still managed to win this one. Buddy Hield scored 18 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter in his second consecutive start. He shot 10-for-18 and 7-for-9 from deep. It was an efficient, effective game for Hield, but this may just end up being an audition for another team. With the recent reports that Hield is available, the Kings are thrilled with his performance. So are fantasy GMs. Tyrese Haliburton tied his career high with 11 assists to go with 27 points and two steals in 37 minutes. He has provided top-10 value over the past two weeks and has been the best King for fantasy managers to roster. Damian Jones had a career game with 23 points (9-for-15 shooting, 2-for-2 on triples), eight rebounds, and two blocks in 19 minutes off the bench. With the Kings so thin due to injuries, Jones may have earned himself some more minutes next game. Chimezie Metu had nine points, six rebounds, and four steals in 31 minutes. With Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, and Marvin Bagley all out, Metu should continue to be a starter for the time being.
Dejounte Murray once again continued to plead his case for the Most Improved Player award. He had 25 points (11-for-17 shooting) seven rebounds, and nine assists in 35 minutes. He’s always a triple-double threat and has provided top-20 value this season. Jakob Poeltl had eight rebounds, two steals, and a block in 34 minutes. He has now had a steal in four straight games and two blocks in three of his last four games. Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker IV were excellent scoring options off the bench, scoring 18 points and 19 points, respectively. Forbes doesn’t do much else aside from shoot, but Walker has done enough else to provide top-150 value over the past two weeks. Derrick White had a down game with five points, two assists, and a rebound in 25 minutes. White has provided top-30 value over the past two weeks and should be fine moving forward. Devin Vassell got the spot start with Doug McDermott sidelined with a toothache. He had 11 points, two rebounds, one assist, and a block in 28 minutes. Not a stellar game for him, but Gregg Popovich choosing to start Vassell at power forward, despite being listed as a shooting guard, shows his belief in him.
Bulls 115, Lakers 110
DeMar DeRozan played for the first time in two weeks and scored 38 points on 11-of-24 shooting (16-for-17 from the free throw line) to lead the Bulls to victory. This was the Bulls’ first time playing in eight days after having two games postponed due to health and safety protocols. He also had six assists, and four rebounds in 34 minutes. Despite the extended absence, DeRozan looked right at home, closing out the game late. Javonte Green played for the first time since December 2nd and had nine points, six rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in 35 minutes. He has provided some nice defensive stats, but his production should go back down once Chicago is fully healthy again. Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. The eight days off seemed to have helped him out after he acknowledged that he had no answer for his slump. Lonzo Ball had 19 points (7-of-15 shooting, 3-of-9 from deep), four rebounds, and four assists with only one turnover in 38 minutes. His efficient play has allowed him to produce at a top-40 level over the past month. Alex Caruso made the Lakers miss having him on their team with his 17 points, nine rebounds, and two assists in 38 minutes. Coby White returned after not playing since November while in protocols. He hasn’t gotten the minutes he’s gotten in previous seasons with the additions of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. He won’t be a great fantasy option despite his return.
LeBron James shined with 31 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and two blocks in 39 minutes. King James has been excellent all season, but may step up his rebounding with Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard sidelined. Howard is one of six Lakers in league protocols, with head coach Frank Vogel also joining them. Russell Westbrook, who had nine tonight, should also see a rebounding boost. Westbrook also had 20 points and eight assists in 38 minutes. He’s learned to take more of a backseat role with LeBron on the court, but they’ll need him to step up in AD’s absence. Isaiah Thomas got the start in his second game of the season, finishing with 13 points. He won’t provide much else with Westbrook and LeBron as the primary ball handlers, but he can definitely shoot and score the ball with the best of them. Carmelo Anthony had 21 points, two steals, and two blocks off the bench. The defensive stats likely won’t continue at that level, but he’s the only bench scoring the Lakers have right now. He has provided top-80 value over the past week and is rostered in only 58% of Yahoo! leagues. Trevor Ariza made his season debut, but only had three points, two assists, and a rebound in 15 minutes.
Timberwolves 111, Mavericks 105
Anthony Edwards missed his second straight game while in league protocols, but the T-Wolves still came out on top. Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He’s been providing top-15 value over the past two weeks. He’s scored at least 20 points in 11 straight games while also hitting a season-high 11 free throws. D'Angelo Russell had 22 points while shooting 4-of-7 from deep, but didn’t contribute much else from a fantasy perspective. He did, however, continue his campaign for Jaylen Nowell to get more playing time. Nowell had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting (2-of-2 on triples) and collected four rebounds and three assists without turning it over in 18 minutes off the bench. Nowell has scored in double figures in consecutive games, but isn’t really contributing for fantasy GMs yet. If you trust DLo, you may want to snag this guy. Patrick Beverley stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal in 31 minutes. He is one of two glue guys in the starting lineup that do a bit of everything so the main scorers can do what they’re best at. Jarred Vanderbilt is his counterpart in the post. He had six points, 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block in 38 minutes. Beverley is providing top-90 value over the past month, while Vanderbilt has contributed top-40 value over the past month. Beverley is rostered in 31% of Yahoo! leagues, and Vanderbilt is rostered in 65%. I think we’ve made it clear how we feel about these guys this season. Now it’s on you to make sure they’re not on your wire.
Luka Doncic missed his fourth consecutive game with an ankle injury, but Dallas got hit by the injury bug again with Kristaps Porzingis injuring his foot. KP had 13 points, three rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in 23 minutes before exiting. Maxi Kleber stepped up off the bench and contributed 14 rebounds in 31 minutes. Kleber could step into the starting power forward role if Porzingis misses more time and is only rostered in 9% of Yahoo! leagues. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a game-high 28 points (10-of-19 shooting, 4-of-13 on triples) to go along with six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block in 41 minutes. THJ started in place of Reggie Bullock (protocols) and took advantage of his opportunity. With the way things are going for this depleted Mavs team, THJ could be a steal. He’s provided top-30 value over the past week and is rostered in only 67% of Yahoo! leagues. Dorian Finney-Smith scored a season-high 23 points and has provided top-80 value over the past two weeks. Jalen Brunson tied his season-high with 11 assists and scored 18 points. Sterling Brown returned after missing six games with a foot injury. Really, Dallas is looking for offense wherever they can find it. THJ and Dorian Finney-Smith seem like some sleeper pickups with how many injuries the team is facing.
Suns 137, Hornets 106
This was a true beatdown from the beginning, with the Suns outscoring Charlotte 37-15 in the first quarter. Devin Booker returned from a seven-game absence and was one of nine Suns’ players to score in double figures. He had 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 26 minutes. This was a great game for Book to get back into the swing of things. Chris Paul fell just short of a double-double with 14 points and nine assists. Deandre Ayton had 15 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks in 24 minutes. Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder scored 16 points and 14 points, respectively. Bridges played exactly 30 minutes and was the only starter to play at least 30 minutes. The starters should be fine moving forward, even if some stats were down due to limited minutes. They won’t beat every time like they did tonight. JaVale McGee had a standout performance off the bench, scoring 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting with seven rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in 16 minutes. He’s providing top-85 value over the past two weeks and is rostered in only 33% of Yahoo! leagues. Pick him up! Landry Shamet scored 15 points despite his return to the bench with Booker back. Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson also scored in double figures, with Payne adding six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block. Dominant performances from a team like this one skew stats, but it’s a good sign for the team moving forward.
Miles Bridges was one of the few bright spots for Charlotte, scoring 26 points on an efficient 10-of-16 from the floor with five rebounds and two steals. He’s continued to prove that he should be an All-Star and has provided top-40 value over the past month. Nick Richards only played nine minutes, but had four points (2-of-2 shooting), a rebound, an assist, two steals, and three blocks. Per 36, that’s eight steals and 12 blocks. Not half bad. LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier combined to shoot 4-of-22 from the floor and 1-of-11 from deep. That’s pretty bad. Ball did contribute in other ways, like stars do. He had 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block to go with his nine points in 25 minutes. Kelly Oubre Jr. (18 points), P.J. Washington (13 points), and Jalen McDaniels (10 points) did score in double figures off the bench, but for the most part, this is a game the Hornets are looking to move past. Quickly.