Offense isn’t the Issue
Russell Westbrook was in MVP-form during Friday’s 124-116 win over the Suns, exploding for 43 points on 16-of-25 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, eight assists, two 3-pointers, one steal, one block and five turnovers in 40 minutes of floor time. He also went 9-of-11 from the charity stripe to give him a sterling 72.1 true shooting percentage on the evening to accompany his relatively modest 33.3 usage rate, and he’s predictably been incredible over the past two games with matchups against the Mavericks and Suns, posting averages of 36.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 7.5 dimes, 1.0 3-pointer, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block and of course, 7.0 turnovers per contest on 54.0% shooting. Russell Westbrook, good at basketball.
Devin Booker also had a fine offensive outing, tallying 39 points, six boards, six trey-bombs, eight assists, one block and five turnovers across 39 minutes. There wasn’t much OKC could do to stop him, as he finished 16-of-28 from the field, 6-of-10 from distance and 1-of-1 from the charity stripe, but Mr. Triple Double was simply too much for Phoenix.
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Hurray for Forced Comparisons!
Dennis Smith Jr. finally had a relatively efficient outing on Friday, scoring 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting (5-of-8 from the stripe) to go with two triples, three assists, one rebound, one steal and one turnover in 34 minutes. DSJ was one of the more hyped up guys heading into draft day, and it’s pretty much safe to say that he hasn’t lived up to those lofty preseason expectations, but I still like what I’ve seen from him on the whole (bouncy, fearless, hustle). Shooting percentages will likely remain an issue to close out the year, but the good news is that his minutes have been trending towards the mid-30s lately, and the Mavericks have every reason to turn him loose towards this second half of the season. I’m not much a fan of forcing comparisons, but I do see a lot of resemblance between DSJ’s game and Russell Westbrook’s rookie year numbers.
My point is, that while DSJ’s rookie season has been somewhat disappointing, he’s got a lot of career left, he still oozes with potential and I’ll be happy to take him with a late-round pick next year.
Crazy Eyes Headed for the Starting Five
Bobby Portis helped Chicago pull out the W over Dallas on Friday, scoring 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting (2-of-4 from the line) to go with five rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists and two turnovers in 34 minutes off the bench. Head coach Fred Hoiberg said after the game that Portis will start for the next five games, which will shift Cristiano Felicio back to the second unit, and that’s a trend that could hold for the remainder of the season. Portis should be able to flirt with minutes in the 30-35 range as a starter, so this is excellent news for Crazy Eye’s rest-of-season outlook. Per-36 minutes this season, Portis owns averages of 22.0 points, 11.0 boards, 2.8 dimes, 1.7 trey-bombs and 1.0 steal per contest.
He’s Alive!!!.... Maybe…
Robert Covington connected on 50% of his shots for the first time since early February during Friday’s 110-99 victory over the Hornets, scoring 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting (4-of-4 from the stripe) to go with five boards, two triples, two assists, three steals and one turnover in 35 minutes. RoCo had basically been really bad since Christmas, and I’m not willing to say he’s completely turned the corner after one good game against the No. 24 ranked team in terms of defensive efficiency against the power forward position, but he did seem more confident with his shot and it was also encouraging to see his minutes in the mid-30s despite the arrival of Ersan Ilyasova. He also tends to be a strong second-half finisher, so hopefully, this is a sign of what’s to come.
On the Radar
Frank Kaminsky kept his hot streak alive on Friday, finishing with 19 points (5-of-12 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), four boards, three dimes, three triples and one turnover across 27 minutes. He’s been flirting with mid-round value over the past five games with averages of 16.4 points, 4.0 boards, 2.0 assists, 2.8 trey-bombs and just 0.4 turnovers per game on 50.0% shooting from the field and 80.0% from the charity stripe. He’s also been knocking down a ridiculous 56.0% of his 3-point attempts over that five-game span, which obviously isn’t sustainable, but he’s worth a look in most leagues while he’s this hot.
Nerlens Noel was solid on the defensive end on Friday, recording two steals and two swats on his way to six rounds, one assist and two turnovers in 15 scoreless minutes off the bench. While he missed all three of his field goal attempts, he did show some nice hustle throughout the game and did a good job of battling for the boards, which hopefully will translate to more minutes going forward. He has a lot of incentive to try and endear himself to his coach over this final stretch of the season, as he’s playing for a contract and needs minutes to up his value, but Dwight Powell’s sudden emergence does complicate the situation considering the two have yet to share the floor. Noel hasn’t done a whole lot since getting back to the court with averages of 2.0 points, 4.5 boards, 1.0 assist, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 turnovers per game on 28.6% shooting, so at the moment he can only be viewed as a low-end, shot blocking specialist in deep leagues. That said, Noel’s ability to rack up the defensive stats does grant him some upside, and if he could manage to consistently get minutes in the mid-20s he could certainly produce some low-end value in standard leagues.
Reggie Bullock scored 21 points on 7-of-21 shooting (3-of-4 from the line) to go with four 3-pointers, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and two turnovers in 41 minutes. If you need help in the 3-point department, Bullock is your guy.
D.J. Augustin went 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe on his way to 20 points, five rebounds, nine assists, four 3-pointers and three turnovers in 41 minutes. He won’t be that efficient on most nights, but DJA is locked in as Orlando’s starting point guard and is a fine low-end PG to own in standard leagues.
Taurean Prince scored 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting to go with five triples, three boards, one assist, four steals and five turnovers in 31 minutes. He’s been getting his numbers over the past month, although extremely inefficiently (37.1% shooting), so he’s a far more attractive asset in points leagues where percentages are irrelevant.
David Nwaba notched his second double-double of the season with 10 points (4-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), 11 boards, five dimes, three steals, one block and two turnovers through 33 minutes as a starter. He’s been playing surprisingly well since entering the starting five, posting averages of 12.4 points, 8.2 boards, 2.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 triple, 0.6 swats and 1.4 turnovers per contest on 61.0% shooting from the field. He’s only missed two of his 3-point attempts over that five-game span, connecting on an unsustainable 62.5% of his long-range bombs, so there’s just no way the scoring and sky-high FG% will hold; but he should be a steady source of hustle stats for deep league owners as long as he’s starting.
Jakob Poeltl swatted away another three shots in 22 minutes off the bench on Friday on his way to six points, three rebounds and one turnover. Over the past five games, he’s put forth averages of 9.0 points, 5.2 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 2.8 swats per contest, so at the moment, he’s worth owning as a shot blocking specialist in deep leagues.
Lance Stephenson scored 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting to go with three rebounds, one 3-pointer, three assists, two steals and one turnover in 26 minutes off the bench. Born Ready can be hit-or-miss, but he’ll continue to see some increased opportunity for however long Darren Collison (knee) is out, which puts him on the radar in deep leagues.
Tomas Satoransky netted 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with six boards, eight assists, two 3-pointers and an uncharacteristic six turnovers through 35 minutes of floor time. Turnovers typically aren’t an issue for Satoransky, and he’s been a sneaky top-50 asset for a month now with averages of 11.7 points, 5.9 dimes, 1.2 steals, 1.3 triples and 2.0 turnovers per game on 60.0% shooting from the field and he’s yet to miss a free throw attempt over that 13-game span. Until John Wall (knee) gets back, Satoransky should be owned everywhere.
Mario Chalmers got the start with Andrew Harrison (wrist) unavailable on Friday and finished with 12 points (3-of-9 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), six assists, two 3-pointers, one rebound, one steal, two blocks and three turnovers in 34 minutes. The Grizzlies will be hurting for offense on Saturday with Marc Gasol scheduled for a rest day, and they could realistically enter that game with just nine healthy bodies and one healthy point guard, so Rio might be someone to consider streaming. Ben McLemore scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with two triples, three boards, two assists, four steals and one block through 30 minutes as a starter, Jarell Martin finished with 16 points (8-of-12 FGs), seven boards, one assist, one steal and three turnovers in 28 minutes, and Dillon Brooks ended his evening with 13 points, one triple, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers across 33 minutes; essentially all these guys will be streamer options on Saturday; but I’d say Chalmers technically offers the most upside. Memphis has been such a disastrous dumpster fire this year…
Alex Len sent away a season-high six swats in just 22 minutes as a starter on Friday to go with seven points (3-of-5 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), eight rebounds, one assist and one turnover in a narrow loss to the Thunder. Tyson Chandler (neck) could be back as soon as Sunday, and as I’ve said before, Len is consistently inconsistent; but there’s no denying his upside. After the career-high-tying six-swat performance, he’s worth a look in most leagues. I just wouldn’t cut anyone with long-term upside to nab him.
Trey Burke registered 12 points, one rebound, two assists, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in just 19 minutes off the bench on Friday. He’s been doing a nice job in the scoring department since the break with averages of 20.5 points, 5.3 assists, 1.8 treys, 0.8 steals and 1.3 turnovers per game on 52.2% shooting from the field and 83.3% from the stripe, and he’s in a good position for minutes in New York. Burke could fall off at a moment’s notice, but he’s played well enough as of late to warrant a roster spot in deep leagues.
Nemanja Bjelica played all but three minutes of Friday’s loss to Utah, finishing with 12 points (3-of-8 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), two 3-pointers, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two turnovers. He’s been a sneaky mid-round asset ever since Jimmy Butler (knee) hit the sidelines with averages of 10.0 points, 7.5 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.3 triples, 1.5 steals and 1.3 turnovers per game on 48.4% shooting, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.
An MRI revealed a non-displaced fracture in Danilo Gallinari’s right (shooting) hand, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Classic Rooster. He was putting up top-25 value prior to going down, but with the fantasy playoffs just a few weeks away (or already starting in some leagues) the timing of this injury puts Gallinari owners in a precarious position. I own him in one league where the waiver wire is thin and I have a bye for Week 1, so I’m keeping him for now, but I wouldn’t be doing the same if I were fighting for a playoff spot. He has difference maker potential but simply hasn’t been able to stay on the court this season (or most of his career for that matter).
Stephen Curry tweaked his right ankle during Friday’s win over Atlanta, and while he initially played through it and looked fine, the Dubs eventually pulled him in what appeared to be a precautionary move against the worst team in the league. Golden State won’t play again until Tuesday, but with that game coming against the Nets, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two-time MVP take the night off despite him saying he didn’t anticipate missing any time. Curry’s absence would result in either Shaun Livingston or Patrick McCaw getting the start, and there would be more shots for guys like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) is doubtful for Saturday’s game vs. the Lakers, whereas Pau Gasol (knee) is questionable. If both these guys sit, the Spurs could opt to open with a Joffrey Lauvergne-Davis Bertans starting frontcourt, and there will be more shots and minutes for Rudy Gay.
John Wall (knee) will miss at least another 2-4 weeks of action. The reports have been positive thus far, suggesting he’s ahead of schedule, but the Wizards will obviously be cautious bringing him back, with Wall being healthy for a deep playoff run being the primary goal. That said, he has a shot of making it back in time for the fantasy playoffs, so if you’re doing well in the standings, he could be someone to consider stashing; particularly if you’re in a situation where you’d have a bye week. Tomas Satoransky’s value will most likely fall off a cliff upon Wall’s return.
Josh Hart underwent successful surgery to repair his broken left hand on Friday, and he’s expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks of action. There’s a good chance we won’t see him again this season, so he’s a cut candidate just about everywhere. With Hart unavailable, the Lakers should roll out the Lonzo Ball-Isaiah Thomas lineup more often, and there will be more minutes available for guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
Brandon Ingram (hip) is hopeful that he’ll be able to play Saturday vs. the Spurs.
Moe Harkless (knee) said he thinks he’ll be “fine” for Saturday’s game against the Thunder, but he’s officially listed as questionable.
Jonathan Isaac (ankle) returned from a two-month absence on Friday, finishing with one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and zero turnovers in 15 minutes off the bench. I don’t think he’ll be worth owning in most leagues this season, but his return to the court could mess with Mario Hezonja’s playing time.
Ryan Anderson (hip) will miss Saturday’s game against the Celtics, which will translate to more minutes for P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. Brandan Wright (knee) is also out for that one, but he’s not a large part of the rotation anyway.
Neither Wayne Ellington (quad) nor Tyler Johnson (quad) were able to practice on Friday and they are doubtful to play Saturday vs. Detroit. If they’re out, Dwyane Wade will be the primary beneficiary.
Tony Snell (thigh) missed his second game in a row on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the 76ers.
Wayne Selden (knee) returned from a six-game absence but finished with just one triple, three boards and two assists in 10 minutes off the bench. Leave him on the wire.
Andrew Harrison (wrist), Tyreke Evans (ribs), Chandler Parsons (knee), Deyonta Davis (ankle) and JaMychal Green (illness) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Orlando. With all those guys unavailable, Memphis rolled out a starting five featuring Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin and Marc Gasol; Gasol is going to be rested on Saturday so the Grizzlies might only have eight healthy players for that one.
T.J. Warren (tailbone) returned from a one-game absence on Friday and put up 19 points (8-of-17 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), four boards, one assist, one block and two turnovers in 42 minutes. He’s fine. With Warren back in action, Josh Jackson shifted back to the second unit, but he still came through with 19 points (8-of-15 FGs, 2-of-5 FTs), five boards, four dimes, one triple, two steals and one turnover in 26 minutes off the bench. Jackson should see nothing but opportunity over this second half of the season, and he’s quickly established himself as a must-own guy.
Shaun Livingston was rested on Friday, but he’ll be back out there on Tuesday against the Nets.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hamstring) returned from a one-game absence, posting nine points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and three turnovers through 31 minutes as a starter. Treveon Graham returned to the second unit with MKG back in action and was invisible. Neither of these guys should be owned in most leagues.
Cody Zeller (knee) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Toronto.
OG Anunoby (ankle) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Hornets.