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Basketball Daily Dose

Big Game James Harden drops 40 on Spurs

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: October 17, 2019, 7:37 am ET

The NBA’s regular season is inching closer by the days and minutes, and my draft season is in full swing. I was involved in three drafts at one time on Wednesday, and in a span of an hour I drafted Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Caris LeVert, which was kind of exciting. Unfortunately, I missed out on Morant in my 30-team league. I was stuck with the 16thpick and ended up taking Zion with that pick (uncharacteristic for me, but I had to try it), and hoped to get Morant on the way back, for the ultimate rookie experiment. But Ja went 30th, and my next two picks ended up being Caris LeVert and Dejounte Murray. Now I have to find a center and a small forward with my next two picks, and the pickings will be slim. I’ve got a Rick Kamla/Lisa Ann draft tonight, which should be fun, while the 30-team and UBC points drafts will continue to roll on throughout the day on Thursday. I’ll let you know how it all works out. 

As for the preseason, it’s winding down and we’re starting to get a feel for what the regular season might look like. Here are some highlights of what you might have missed while waiting out the rain delay/postponement for the Astros-Yankees game. Shout out to the old people from Colorado who insisted we put the baseball game on at Johnny B’s last night, even though I assured them it was rained out. I tried to tell them that the Hawks vs. Knicks was the only thing on TV worth watching, but they didn’t believe me and we ended up watching most of Game 3 again. 

I’m going to hit Wednesday’s highlights here. For news on Terrance Ferguson’s minor car accident and D.J. Wilson’s hamstring, among other things, be sure to hit the Rotoworld News Feed before you draft your squad. And better yet, hook up the Rotoworld NBA Draft Guide for rankings, tiers and a ton of information to help you with your draft. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!

The Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe is iffy for opening night with a rib injury but went through some non-contact practice on Wednesday. This makes me a little nervous, but he will hopefully be fine by the time the season starts. 

OKC’s Steven Adams tweaked his shoulder last night but returned to the game. He had a shoulder issue last season and is on the trade block until further notice. If you draft Adams, you should probably also stash Nerlens Noel with your last pick. 

For the Pistons, PG Tim Frazier went off with 15 points, 12 assists, two 3-pointers, a steal and a block in 35 minutes. To no one’s surprise, Derrick Rose was resting and Reggie Jackson was out with lower back soreness. This is just a reminder that Frazier can play, but the three-headed point guard situation in Detroit is going to be a mess, no matter who is starting. 

Markieff Morris played through his bronchitis and scored 17 points, but Blake Griffin was out with a sore hamstring. As long as Griffin is healthy, Morris will struggle to offer much fantasy value. 

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges, one of Rotoworld’s darlings this year, hit just 3-of-9 shots and came into Wednesday’s game shooing just 35.4 percent and averaging 8.5 points. I still think he’ll get it going when the games start counting and his poor preseason performance should help allow him to be available later in drafts. Terry Rozier got the night off to nurse a sore knee and Devonte’ Graham started in his place, but Rozier will be ready to rock and roll on opening night. I’ve become a real fan of drafting Rozier once the stud PGs are off the board. 

James Harden dropped 40 points in Wednesday’s exhibition, which is ridiculous. He hit 13-of-27 shots with seven 3-pointers, 10 rebounds and seven dimes in just 34 minutes. If you were worried about the arrival of Russell Westbrook hurting Harden, think again. As for Westbrook, he struggled with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting with eight turnovers. He’ll be fine, and get the kinks worked out, but there’s a reason he’s falling into the second round in fantasy drafts. There was also news last night about Westbrook having a “couple of dislocated fingers” on his right (shooting) hand, which is not great news. He’s playing through it, but I’m not drafting Westy in the first round. 

My man Dejounte Murray lit up the Rockets for 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, a steal, two 3-pointers and zero turnovers. Gregg Popovich loves him, and I do too. Jakob Poeltl had 16 points, three boards, five dimes, a steal and a block, and remains an intriguing option once most of the fantasy centers are off the board this week. If you need a cheap center, Poeltl is probably your guy. 

Memphis SF Dillon Brooks went off for 30 points, a steal and five 3-pointers last night. We’ve seen him do this before, even when the games count, but he’s never been able to put up consistent production. He scored 23 points in the third quarter, and he’s simply a deep league late flier, as well as someone to keep an eye on once the games start counting. Tyus Jones played well again with 16 points, five boards, four assists, a steal and no turnovers, but rookie sensation Ja Morant was resting. If you draft Morant in a deep league, Jones is a serious handcuff prospect. 

OKC’s Danilo Gallinari went off again with a 16 & 10 double-double with three 3-pointers in 25 minutes. He’s instant offense on this team and if he can stay healthy, I think he’s going to be a fantasy stud. I like drafting him in the fifth round. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 17 points, five boards, three assists, a block and just two turnovers in 28 minutes. He’s fun, and you can probably flip a coin between him and Caris LeVert this season, although I still like LeVert a little more. I target both of them in rounds 4-5 this season. 

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For the Knicks, my guy Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t feeling it against the Hawks, hitting just 1-of-5 shots for four points and three assists in 21 minutes and a start on Wednesday. There are a lot of capable point guards in New York (Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina) and it’s probably going to be messy chasing them all this season. Julius Randle kept it rolling with 20 points, eight boards, a steal two blocks and a 3-pointer against the Hawks. He’s probably being drafted too early (Round 4), but he’s going to have a big role in New York. Mitchell Robinson was quiet with four points, five boards, a steal and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench, but I'm not ready to give up on him. I still think he's going to be a monster but I probably wouldn't draft him until the fourth round or so, which is different than how I was feeling in August. 

For the Hawks, rookie De’Andre Hunter stepped up with 15 points, two boards, two assists and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. He’s going to play a lot of minutes for the Hawks and will have some big games but might not be the most reliable fantasy starter for the first half of the season. I still like burning a late draft pick on him. Trae Young looked great with 23 points, five boards, nine dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer last night. He also didn’t have a turnover, and I love going Trae/Luka when I have the 10-12 pick late in drafts. 

Portland center Hassan Whiteside stepped on Damian Lillard’s foot and tweaked his left ankle, which was already a bit wonky. He’ll be questionable for the opener, but my guess is he’ll be out there. Whiteside should be a monster until Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg) is ready to play this season, and I like drafting him once the stud centers are off the board. Damian Lillard had 25 points and C.J. McCollum scored 28 points for the Blazers and they remain one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA. Lillard is the ultimate No. 8 pick in fantasy, while McCollum should be available in the fourth round in most drafts. 

For the Jazz, Mike Conley scored 20 points with two assists and a steal in 27 minutes and should be primed for a big season in Utah, replacing Ricky Rubio as the starter. Bojan Bogdanovic missed all nine of his shots to finish with one point. He’s had a quiet preseason and expects to see a limited role in the offense, meaning he’s nothing more than a last-round flier at this point. But I could see him emerging mid-season. 

For the Kings, Marvin Bagley went off with 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting, adding 14 boards, three steals and a block to his line in 28 minutes. He’s blocking shots and shooting 3-pointers and looks primed for a big season. Don’t be afraid to draft him this year. Yogi Ferrell went off with 24 points and five triples last night, but De’Aaron Fox and a bunch of starters were resting. Ferrell’s always good for lines like this when the starters are sitting, but I wouldn’t waste a draft pick on him for now. 

For the Warriors, D’Angelo Russell went off for 23 points, three boards and three assists as Stephen Curry got the night off to rest. I love DAR this season with Klay Thompson’s torn ACL, although Curry is going to lead the offense. I’m not afraid of drafting Russell once the big-named point guards are off the board. Marquese Chriss had eight points, four boards and a 3-pointer in 25 minutes last night and the Warriors are banged up. But I’m still not jumping on the Chriss bandwagon, as he’s let me down too many times over the years. Just keep an eye on him once the games start counting.  

For the Lakers, JaVale McGee racked up 12 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block in 18 minutes and a start. Dwight Howard’s arrival in L.A. is going to hurt McGee, but JaVale is blocking 2.5 shots in just 16.5 minutes this preseason. If you need blocks late, McGee is worth a look, while Howard is also worth a late look in drafts. Anthony Davis played through his right thumb injury and had eight points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and a steal in 28 minutes. It wasn’t the best AD line we’ve ever seen, but the good news is that he was out there. Draft away in the Top 5 and pray that he stays healthy. LeBron James shook off the political fallout and had 18 points, four boards, 11 assists and a steal in 25 minutes. LeBron and AD have nice chemistry and the Lakers are going to be fun to watch this season, if nothing else. I haven’t drafted LeBron in a single league this year, but it’s quite possible he could have a chip on his shoulder and challenge for another MVP award. 

Good luck in your drafts!

 

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-20 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.