Super Bowl Sunday is usually a light day in the NBA, as the league gets its games out of the way early in the afternoon. There were five games played on this Sunday, but there was news away from the court as well. The Hawks announced that they will be without a key starter for at least the next two weeks, while the Knicks and Pistons completed a trade that reunites a former MVP with the coach that he enjoyed his best years with. Below is a look at what happened on Sunday, beginning with the Hawks.
Heat 109, Knicks 103
Jazz 103, Pacers 95
Hornets 119, Wizards 97
Suns 100, Celtics 91
Kings 113, Clippers 110
Hawks’ Hunter to undergo knee surgery: De’Andre Hunter has missed each of Atlanta’s last four games due to a right knee injury, and on Sunday it was learned that the issue was a bit more serious than originally anticipated. Hunter will undergo surgery on his right meniscus, and the plan at this point is to re-evaluate him in two weeks' time. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that he will be able to return to game action at that point, so fantasy managers need to consider Hunter to be out indefinitely.
He’s been very good this season when it comes to fantasy basketball, providing top-50 value in 9-cat formats while sitting just outside of that range in 8-cat. The question now: which Hawks stands to see their opportunities increase with Hunter sidelined? And there’s more than one possibility, beginning with Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish. Huerter is a top-100 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, but he’s rostered in just 56% of Yahoo leagues. Reddish hasn’t been nearly as productive (or consistent), and his rostered percentage is down at 40%.
Danilo Gallinari was on a minutes restriction (25, to be exact) Saturday night, so we’ll see how long that lasts with Hunter sidelined. Huerter is the best bet of the three at this point. Our Jared Johnson will dive deeper into the impact of Hunter’s absence in his column Monday afternoon.
Reunited and it feels so good? Knicks acquire D-Rose: Derrick Rose is headed back to the Big Apple, as the Knicks acquired him from the Pistons in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and a future second-round draft pick. Let’s begin with the “easy” part of this deal, which is Smith getting a much-needed change of scenery. He wasn’t playing in New York, and even volunteered to join the franchise’s G-League affiliate in the Orlando bubble for that very reason. Minutes may not be an issue for DSJ in the Motor City, however, as the Pistons don’t offer much in the way of depth at the point.
Delon Wright has been starting for the injured Killian Hayes, and if he isn’t rostered in all leagues by now that will change in the very near future. Wright, who’s rostered in 64% of Yahoo leagues, sits within the top-100 in both 8- and 9-cat formats for the season. He’s a must-play, regardless of format. But behind Wright, Detroit has Saben Lee and Frank Jackson, with the former playing six minutes in Saturday’s double-overtime loss to the Lakers and the latter being a DNP-CD. It may take Smith a little time to get up to speed on the Pistons’ playbook, but the path to meaningful playing time for him is clearer in Detroit than it was in New York.
As for Rose, this was an interesting move by the Knicks to say the least. While this does reunite him with Tom Thibodeau, he joins a roster that doesn’t lack for veteran guards. Elfrid Payton is starting at the point, while Alec Burks and Austin Rivers can be used in combo guard roles. But the biggest concern, especially when looking to the future in New York, is what this could do to Immanuel Quickley’s growth. While he has been one of the league’s best rookies, Quickley played a total of 26 minutes in the Knicks’ games against Portland and Miami this weekend.
Quickley isn’t going to fall completely out of the rotation, and it’s possible that the arrival of Rose won’t impact his minutes at all. But it’s more than fair for some to be concerned about what could happen. Who loses out here? Burks has been the most consistent of the Knicks’ veteran guards when it comes to fantasy production, while Rivers has cooled off considerably in recent weeks. Something else worth considering: with the Knicks using cap space to acquire Rose, they have the ability to move him ahead of the March 25 deadline.
Clippers’ George (foot) remains without a timetable: Paul George missed his second straight game Sunday due to a bone edema in his right foot, and there is still no timeline regarding a recovery. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue had no answers when asked on Friday, simply wishing the All-Star guard “a speedy recovery.” According to Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register, Bulls forward Otto Porter played just 14 games last season after being sidelined with a left foot fracture that was originally declared to be a “continued bone edema.” George could be back soon, or he could be out for an extended period of time. No one seems to know for sure, but he should be stashed in you IR spot either way.
As for which Clippers will be in line to see their minutes/opportunities increase, Luke Kennard started for the second straight game on Sunday. He struggled in the home loss to the Kings, posting a line of eight points (3-of-8 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), one rebound, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer in just 19 minutes. His struggles freed up a few minutes for Terance Mann, who played 26 and finished with a 6/6/3/2 line. Lou Williams, who will continue to come off the bench, is also worth watching. In 29 minutes, he put up 23 points (6-of-16 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs), five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one 3-pointer.
Of those three Williams, who’s currently rostered in 42% of Yahoo leagues, is the best choice, even though he’s coming off the bench. Kennard, rostered in 14% of Yahoo leagues, is worth considering in deeper leagues but he hasn’t done enough to merit being grabbed off of the waiver wire without giving it any thought. Mann should be left alone, unless the Clippers are hit hard by injuries on the wings in the coming days.
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Ingles starts for injured Conley: Utah was without Mike Conley (hamstring) for Sunday’s game against the Pacers, which meant a move back into the starting lineup for Joe Ingles. He struggled with his shot, going 3-of-10 from the field (1-of-6 3-pointers), but finished with a line of seven points, nine rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes. I wouldn’t read too much into the veteran guard’s poor shooting, as over the last two weeks is shooting 51.8% from the field and 47.4% from three. The Jazz were playing their third game in four days, and the early afternoon start did them no favors, either. Ingles should have his legs back on Tuesday when Utah hosts Boston.
Rostered in 41% of Yahoo leagues, he’s providing 12th-round value in 8-cat formats and 13th-round value in 9-cat. Ingles’ value will be a bit higher should Conley have to miss more time, but fantasy managers may not get to benefit much as Utah only plays three times this coming week (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday). Donovan Mitchell was just 9-of-25 from the field in Sunday’s win, but he played much better than that one stat would lead some to believe. And the overall line of 27 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, one steal and four 3-pointers is one that many fantasy managers will take. No Conley means more time initiating the offense for Mitchell, and the result on Sunday was him matching his career-high in assists.
Ball, Rozier out play Wizards backcourt in blowout win: Charlotte was without Devonte' Graham, who missed Sunday’s game due to a strained left groin. As a result James Borrego went with LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier as his starting guards, and both played well in the Hornets’ beating of the Wizards. Ball finished with 17 points (7-of-17 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), seven rebounds, five assists, one steal, three 3-pointers and one turnover, while Rozier posted a line of 26 points (9-of-14 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), three rebounds, four assists, one block, five 3-pointers and one turnover. Over the last week, Ball has been a top-40 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and so long as he keeps the turnovers in check the rookie won’t lack for playing time.
Borrego started all three guards in Friday’s loss to the Jazz, but that was with P.J. Washington sitting out with a sprained right foot. Washington returned to the lineup Sunday but struggled with his shot, going 1-of-7 from the field and tallying three points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes. What happens once Graham is cleared to play remains to be seen, but it’s going to be very tough to put Ball back on the bench given how well he’s played recently.
Wizards’ Len starts but plays just eight minutes: Scott Brooks made a change to his starting lineup, with Alex Len replacing Robin Lopez at the center position. The Wizards have a knack for getting off to slow starts, so the hope was that having a more offensively inclined pivot would help address this issue. Well, Len played just eight minutes and finished with two points, one rebound, one assist and one blocked shot. The sense of urgency that was present Friday night wasn’t there on Sunday, and as a result Len was a spectator of most of the game.
Lopez played 23 minutes, scoring 14 points to go along with five rebounds, one steal and four turnovers, and Moritz Wagner (two points, four rebounds and one block) played 17. Bet on Lopez being back in the starting lineup for Monday’s game in Chicago, but none of the Wizards’ centers inspire much confidence when it comes to using them in a fantasy lineup. Something else to watch is the playing time of starting forwards Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura, who played 15 and 23 minutes respectively on Sunday.
Both have struggled defensively, and those issues led to Brooks having a film session with those two on Saturday. Whatever was conveyed during that meeting obviously didn’t stick. Neither Avdija nor Hachimura offer much in the way of fantasy value right now, and it should be noted that both missed extended periods of time due to the league’s health and safety protocols. But if those two can’t get better defensively, and quickly, they stand to lose playing time as Brooks looks for answers on that end of the floor.
Celtics’ Edwards struggles in rare start: Whether it was because of his play in Friday’s win over the Clippers, or Boston’s need to go a bit smaller, Carsen Edwards was in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Suns. Unfortunately for the second-year guard he had a tough day at the office, playing 17 minutes and accounting for just two points (1-of-6 FGs), one rebound and one steal. Daniel Theis, who moved to the bench, had a much better day as he was responsible for 12 points (5-of-9 FGs), six rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes off the bench.
Rostered in 53% of Yahoo leagues, he’s providing late-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Theis hasn’t been a dominant center by any stretch of the imagination, but he has given a bit more offensively than Tristan Thompson. Thompson grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds Sunday, while also accounting for six points, two assists and one steal. Robert Williams, who’s providing 10th-round value in 9-cat, played just 10 minutes. Even with the potential, the Time Lord is a tough play due to his inconsistent playing time. He’s played 19, 15 and 10 minutes in Boston’s last three games.
Lastly, Boston really needs Kemba Walker to snap out of his current slump. He was 4-of-20 from the field in Sunday’s loss, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 33 minutes (he was 0-of-9 inside of the arc). Walker’s shooting just 33.3% from the field over the last week, which is a big reason why he sits well outside of the top-100 in both 8- and 9-cat formats during this stretch. On days like this, with Jaylen Brown (knee) and Marcus Smart (calf) both sidelined, Jayson Tatum is left to do even more of the heavy lifting offensively.
Brown was able to lift some weights and go through an individual workout prior to the game, with Brad Stevens speaking positively about the strides that the All-Star hopeful has made in his recovery. But there still isn’t a timetable for Brown’s return to game action. The Celtics have four games this week, beginning with Tuesday’s game against the Jazz, and that includes a Thursday/Friday back-to-back at home.
Nunn starts, while Herro remains in reserve role: The Heat were without Goran Dragic for Sunday’s game against the Knicks, as he is sidelined due to a strained left hip flexor. Dragic is also dealing with a left ankle injury, but it was the hip flexor issue that was listed on the box score. Instead of Tyler Herro, it was Kendrick Nunn who replaced Dragic in the starting lineup, and both played well in the Heat’s six-point victory. Nunn shot 6-of-11 from the field, tallying 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Herro played 32 minutes, accumulating 16 points (7-of-13 FGs), six rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers.
Over the last week Nunn has been the more productive fantasy player, providing top-100 value in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Three-point production and rebounding have been the reasons why, as he’s averaging 3.0 3-pointers and 6.0 rebounds during this stretch. By comparison, Herro is accounting for 1.5 3-pointers and 4.5 rebounds per. Nunn is currently rostered in just 31% of Yahoo leagues, so he’s lurking on more than a few waiver wires.
Some Notable Stat Lines
De'Aaron Fox: 36 points (15-of-25 FGs, 4-of-8 FTs), four rebounds, seven assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes vs. the Clippers.
Bam Adebayo: 24 points (10-of-17 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block in 39 minutes vs. New York.
Devin Booker: 18 points (7-of-16 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), seven rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes vs. Boston.
Bradley Beal: 31 points (11-of-22 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), six rebounds and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes vs. Charlotte.
Julius Randle: 26 points (10-of-18 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), 13 rebounds, seven assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes vs. Miami.