We’re just days away from the first-ever pandemic All-Star Game and at this point in the season, all 30 teams are just trying to avoid any major injury setbacks while also giving their already-injured players extra time to recover.
Christian Wood (ankle), Kevin Love (calf), Kevin Durant (hamstring) and many more players should be back on the floor following the break while Grizzlies fans anxiously await some encouraging news on the status of Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee).
There are so many banged-up players out right now but with no games scheduled from Friday till next Wednesday, the entire NBA will benefit from the mid-season rest period.
And to all those dealing with COVID-related issues, get well soon.
Here’s my starting five for the week.
Shake Milton - Philly forward Tobias Harris has missed the last two games with a knee issue. And while Doc Rivers is hopeful that Harris will return on Wednesday, the Sixers have a back-to-back before the All-Star break and it wouldn’t be surprising if the nine-year veteran is on a minutes restriction or sits one of the two games. Enter Shake Milton. The Sixers backup point guard was acting different on Monday night, scoring 26 points with four rebounds and four assists in a win vs. the Pacers. He went 9-of-14 from the floor, making three 3-pointers and all five of his free throws in a team-high 30 minutes off the bench. It was his first 20-point outing in six weeks, but even if Harris is back in the lineup, Milton will get minutes as the team’s sixth man. And Joel Embiid playing on a sprained ankle, there’s a chance he could rest on either Wednesday or Thursday, too. Shake is only rostered in 16% of Yahoo leagues and is worth a streamer in deep leagues this week.
De’Anthony Melton - The Grizzlies have two more games before the All-Star break starting with a road matchup against the Wizards Tuesday followed by a homestand vs. the Bucks Thursday. Grayson Allen has already been ruled out with a concussion and Kyle Anderson (illness) is questionable, so Melton could be in store for another solid night. In his last two games, the 22-year-old guard has combined to score 30 points while adding six rebounds, seven assists, four steals, a block and just three turnovers. He’s made 11-of-20 shots and three 3-pointers in a total of 46 minutes and should arguably be getting more playing time moving forward. Available in 90% of Yahoo leagues, Melton can get his own bucket and create for others, and his current 20 minutes per game isn’t enough if we’re being real. The North Hollywood native can hoop and hopefully, we'll see more of him in these next two contests.
Malik Monk - Shaq might not know who Malik Monk is but you should. Monk has been on a bucket-getting barrage during the past two weeks and it’s not getting talked about enough. The former Kentucky Wildcat has scored 19, 21, 25, 29 and 20 points in his last five games with Devonte’ Graham (knee) sidelined, providing the Hornets with a consistent scoring punch off the bench. Monk has notched at least 20 points in five of his last seven games and has knocked down 20 3-pointers during the stretch as well. That being said, Charlotte plays Minnesota on Wednesday night in what will be the team’s last game before the break. But it’s unlikely that Graham will suit up as the Hornets will probably be cautious with his knee injury. This means Monk can eat for at least one more game so snag the shooting guard off waivers if you’re in need of scoring and 3-pointers.
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Justin Patton - Things are getting thin around here with guys dropping like flies, so yes, I’m suggesting you take a look at Justin Patton if you’re in a deep league and are salivating for healthy players. On Monday night against the Cavs, the former first-round pick scored six points with six rebounds, an assist, three steals and two blocks. It’s not a lot, but it’s not nothing either, and the Patton could be worth a flier in Rockets’ meeting with the Nets on Wednesday. He’s started each of the last two games as Christian Wood (ankle) remains out and DeMarcus Cousins is now a free agent. On Sunday night vs. Memphis, he posted a 10/5/2 line in 26 minutes and has swatted a total of seven shots in his last four games. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Nuff said.
De’Andre Jordan - Jeff Green missed Monday’s game with a shoulder injury that’s hampered him on-and-off for the past week. And with Brooklyn scheduled for a back-to-back slate on Wednesday/Thursday, De’Andre Jordan could be the biggest beneficiary. He replaced Green in the starting lineup vs. the Spurs, finishing with eight points, 13 boards, five assists and three blocks in 35 minutes. The veteran center has appeared in the starting lineup in 25 of his 34 games this season and in his last three starts, he’s averaging 8.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 55% from the floor. Assuming Green sits at least one of the Nets’ final two games before the break, and even if he doesn’t, Jordan is a great pick-up given his recent play.