Line of the Night
Anthony Davis busted loose for 39 points on 12-of-21 shooting in a 136-113 win over Portland, adding nine rebounds, two triples, two assists, two steals, three blocks and three turnovers in 32 minutes. He leads the league in total blocks (60) and is also drilling a career-high 1.1 treys per game to go with 26.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.3 turnovers a night on 49.4% shooting from the field and 86.3% from the stripe, which has him flirting with the No. 1 spot in fantasy hoops. Oh, and the Lakers are 20-3 and AD continues to play through a shoulder injury, which should be the norm as long as the Lakers are competitive.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Cavs have signaled to the league that they are willing to listen to offers for Kevin Love, and things should start to heat up on that front beginning on Dec. 15; when players who signed new contracts this offseason are eligible to be traded (roughly 40% of the league). Love is capable of helping a contending team, and the 5-16 Cavs would likely be happy to shed some cap space, so unloading Love and the $28.9 million owed to him this season would help them accomplish that goal.
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It’s unclear where he might wind up, and while a trade to a contender may somewhat hurt his value, it would help his overall rest-of-season outlook as it would greatly reduce the risk of him getting shutdown down the stretch. If Love is dealt, Larry Nance will benefit.
Take This For Data: 34.6 Winning Percentage
The Knicks finally decided to put an end to the ridiculous experiment that David Fizdale was running in New York and gave him the ax on Friday, ending his tenure with the Knickerbockers with a record of 21-83 (he’s 71-134 over his career). It’s tough to blame everything on Fizdale considering he was presiding over a roster featuring 372 power forwards and 47 point guards, but the Knicks were off to their worst start in franchise history and coming off eight straight losses (losing by a total of 81 points in those final two games), so it was simply time for a change.
Despite Fizdale constantly imploring his team to push the tempo, the ranked 27th in pace, and to put it in the most charitable way possible, his substitution patterns were… interesting? He had three starting point guards to choose from, but on multiple occasions, went with none of them and starting Taj Gibson over franchise cornerstone Mitchell Robinson probably didn’t sit all that well with management. Sure, Robinson can get in his own way with foul trouble, but it doesn’t make much sense to deny him the opportunity to learn (from a starting position) when you’re the worst team in the league. I can’t imagine he’ll remain with the reserves under the new regime, and I could see both Bobby Portis and Gibson playing less in order to truly develop Robinson. Robinson owners should be overjoyed.
It’ll be interesting to see who emerges as the starting point guard under the new head coach, but if they’re serious about pushing the pace, Dennis Smith Jr. is a guy who you figure will gain some value. And if they can push the tempo, that’s something that will help Julius Randle, who is one of the best transition scorers in the league.
The only person I could see potentially losing here would be Marcus Morris, who has been the No. 1 minutes getter on the team (32.7), despite the majority of the lineups he was in posting a negative net rating. If the new coach wants to give some more developmental minutes to Kevin Knox (No. 9 overall selection last year), or incorporate Wayne Ellington more into the rotation, that will likely come at the expense of Morris.
Moritz Wagner shined in his second straight start, scoring 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting (4-of-4 from the stripe) to go with nine rebounds, one 3-pointer, one assist, two steals and two turnovers across 31 minutes. He’s now the de facto five-man in D.C. with Thomas Bryant (stress reaction in foot) and Ian Mahinmi (Achilles) out, so he’ll be getting all the run he can handle moving forward. Wagner was already offering top-100 value on the season prior to Bryant’s injury, but I could see him jumping into the top-50 equation in a starting role. His per-36 numbers of 21.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.9 triples, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game give us a glimpse of his upside (although he’s although averaging 7.1 fouls and 4.1 turnovers with those per-35 numbers), and he has to be owned everywhere at this point (yet he sits at just 35% ownership in Yahoo! Leagues as I write this). Stress reactions can be tricky injuries, and the Wizards are very familiar, as this is the same injury that derailed the early years of Bradley Beal’s career; so expect extreme caution.
I don’t expect Bryant back in three weeks, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a few months here, but that’s just speculation on my part. For now, Bryant owners should wait for something more definitive.
Ish Smith got another start sans Isaiah Thomas (calf) and hit 6-of-11 shots on his way to 15 points, two 3-pointers, two rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one turnover across 32 minutes. If IT2 can’t give it a go on Sunday against the Clippers, Smith will be someone to think about as a potential streamer.
Kent Bazemore started the second half of Friday’s game with Rodney Hood (Achilles) leaving the game (and season) for good early and finished with 10 points (3-of-9 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), two rebounds, one 3-pointer and three turnovers across 25 minutes. He’s likely going to be starting the rest of the way with Hood done for the year, so he’s worth a look in most leagues. In his previous two starts this season, Bazemore registered averages of 12.5 points, 6.5 boards, 2.0 triples, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 turnovers per game on 38.1% shooting.
Kris Dunn scored nine points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with one 3-pointer, four rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block and one turnover through 29 minutes as a starter. Since entering the starting lineup, Dunn has come through with averages of 8.3 points, 1.0 triple, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and just 1.3 turnovers per game on 42.3% shooting, which has him hovering around top-100 value in 9-cat leagues. He’s been generating elite steals numbers all year, so he’s worth a look if you’re deficient in that category.
Jeff Teague returned to the starting lineup with Andrew Wiggins (thumb) unavailable and went off for 32 points (12-of-17 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), five rebounds, four triples nine dimes, two steals and four turnovers across 41 minutes in an overtime loss to the Thunder. He was coming off a three-point stinker, so there’s a chance he was cut in your league; make sure he’s not on the wire. I imagine he’ll return to a reserve role (and assist-specialist status) once Wiggins gets back, but he also could be traded at some point and find himself in a more favorable situation, making him a reasonable guy to stash even through some lackluster production.
Glenn Robinson III netted 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with two 3-pointers, seven rebounds, two steals and two turnovers in 34 minutes. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he is putting up late-round value on the season with averages of 11.8 points, 4.5 boards, 1.3 treys, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 turnovers per game on 45.9% shooting.
Rodney Hood tore his left Achilles just eight minutes into Friday’s game and that will assuredly put an end to his 2018-19 campaign. It’s really unfortunate because Hood was having a great year in Portland with averages of 11.5 points, 1.8 triples, 3.5 boards, 1.6 assists, 0.8 steals and just 1.0 turnover per game on 50.9% shooting (49.3% from beyond the arc) and 77.8% from the stripe in 30.5 minutes a night, but at this point, he’s safe to drop everyone outside of deep dynasty leagues. Kent Bazemore started the second half of Friday’s game, which is a trend I’d expect to continue with Mario Hezonja and Anfernee Simons seeing some increased opportunity with the second unit.
Kyrie Irving (shoulder) missed his 11th consecutive game on Friday and considering that he’s still being limited to non-contact work, I doubt he’ll play on Sunday against the Nuggets. The Nets tend to be a rather clandestine team when it comes to injuries, so we likely won’t get another real update on Irving until he’s either just about to play or just about to undergo surgery, and it’s tough to say which direction he’s headed. According to the chief surgeon at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, Dr. Andrew S. Rokito (someone who has not personally consulted with Irving), shoulder impingements typically indicates a long-standing, chronic issue with the rotator cuff. “He could have a rotator cuff injury which could be just tendinitis and inflammation all the way up to a partial tear.” He may need to miss another few weeks, and while I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to avoid surgery, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely given Irving’s injury history. I can’t recommend cutting him with such little information, but I also don’t see this as a buy-low opportunity – unless you’re trading away someone truly useless. Spencer Dinwiddie will continue to play like a top-40 player until Irving gets back, so hopefully, you drafted him after taking Irving with an early-round pick.
Caris LeVert (thumb) just completed Week-3 of his initial 4-6 week timetable, so he’s worth picking up in most leagues at this point. Because he’s only dealing with a thumb issue, he should have been able to keep his conditioning up while he was out, so he should be ready to hit the ground running once he comes back and could be headed for some big nights if he beats Irving back to the court.
David Griffin acknowledged that Zion Williamson (knee) will most likely sit out back-to-back sets this season, but didn’t offer an update on Zion’s potential return date. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 21 and was given a loose 6-8 week timetable, and he’s currently teetering towards the start of Week-7. The Pelicans being bad doesn’t give Williamson much incentive to rush back, and the Pelicans will obviously be treating him with kid gloves this season, but I do think we’ll see him make his debut in December. Dec. 16 will mark the completion of Week-8, but with the Pelicans next two games coming as a back-to-back, I doubt he’ll play in either of those. Instead, I’d say it’s quite possible that Williamson will make his NBA debut on Dec. 20 against the Warriors. Get in your buy-low offers while you still can.
Marcus Smart (abdomen) was back in the starting lineup following a one-game absence and hit 4-of-5 shots on his way to nine points, one 3-pointer, two rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 28 minutes. Grant Williams, who started the previous game sans Smart, logged just three minutes off the bench with Smart back in action.
Gordon Hayward, who will complete Week-4 of his 6-week timetable on Monday, is expected to practice with the Celtics on Sunday, so there’s a chance he’ll be able to beat his initial timetable. Hayward said early on that once the bones in his hand heal playing will just be a matter of pain tolerance, so if he gets through a full-contact practice on Sunday without issue, we’ll know he’s close. I’d say it’s unlikely he’d be cleared for Monday’s game after just one practice, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit out Dec. 11’s game with it being the first of a back-to-back, but I could see him getting out there for the Dec. 12 game vs. Philly with the Celtics having five days off after that one. However, if he chooses to skip the back-to-back, the Celtics next game in Dallas on Dec. 18 would line up almost perfectly with the 6-week timeline.
Joel Embiid (hip) and Josh Richardson (hamstring) will not play on Saturday against the Cavs, which will result in Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford doing more on offense with Kurkan Korkmaz and possibly Matisse Thybulle both getting starts. I think Embiid’s absence has more to do with this being the frontend of a back-to-back set against the 5-16 Cavs, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him back out there for Sunday’s game against the Raptors. J-Rich will miss his fifth consecutive game on Saturday, but I could see him returning for a matchup against the Raptors, who currently sit just 0.5 games ahead of Philly in the standings.
Stephen Curry underwent a standard procedure on Friday to have the pins removed from his first operation, and he remains on track to be re-evaluated in February. I don’t think we’ll see him again until after the All-Star break, and while there have been whispers of him potentially not coming back, I’m just not buying that. I think back-to-back sets will be an issue, and I could see him missing a lot of random games in April, but I do expect him to be a difference-maker in March. It would be absurd for a broken hand to cost a superstar an entire season – even if they are tanking.
Otto Porter’s follow up MRI on Wednesday revealed that he hasn’t made much progress from the left foot bone bruise, so he’ll have his foot immobilized for a brief period and will be re-evaluated in another two weeks. Bone bruises aren’t season-ending injuries, but they are quite painful and the only cure is prolonged rest. He’ll miss at least another few weeks, which will allow Kris Dunn to continue to start (assuming he doesn’t get Boylen’d). There’s nothing wrong with tucking away Porter in an IR-spot, but if he’s occupying an active roster spot and you’re struggling, I’d think about cutting him; particularly in shallower formats.
Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) didn’t play Friday, but there might not be a spot for him in the rotation once he’s cleared with Dunn playing well.
Marvin Bagley (thumb) did not play Friday, but he was fully cleared for contact on Thursday, so he should be able to get back out there after he gets through a few practices. The Kings next two games come as a back-to-back, so I doubt he’ll play in either of those with no time to practice, but maybe he’ll be able to get back out there for Wednesday’s home game against the Thunder. He shouldn’t have to deal with much of a minutes limit, as he should have been able to keep his conditioning in check with this just being a thumb issue, so Nemanja Bjelica’s fantasy clock is ticking.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) returned from a one-game absence and posted nine points, four rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and one turnover in 22 minutes off the bench. He should be fine for Sunday’s game, but owners may just want to double-check with it being the first of a back-to-back.
Nikola Vucevic (ankle) has progressed to light jogging and the next step will be for him to start getting up some jumpers. He’s about 2.5 weeks removed from the ankle injury and is making progress, but with him still being this limited, I doubt he’ll return by the four-week mark (Dec. 18). We’ll know he’s close once he’s cleared for contact, but it’s possible we won’t see him until late-December if that. Khem Birch and Mo Bamba will continue to pick up the slack in his absence.