It was an action-packed night in the Association, with eight games on the docket. Boogie, Brow, and Jrue thrashed the Cavs in New Orleans. Russell Westbrook did what Russell Westbrook does. Ben Simmons stuffed the stat sheet once again. Dre Drummond dominated the paint in L.A.
For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here.
DeMarcus Cousins started off the season playing at an incredibly high level, yet somehow manages to improve his production on a nearly nightly basis. Coming off a monster 41-point, 23-rebound effort on Thursday vs. the Kings, DMC was back in business on Saturday. He recorded his first triple-double of the season, tallying 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, to go along with three steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cousins is the first player in nearly 50 years, and just the fourth player in NBA history, to have a 40/20 game and triple-double in back-to-back games. The other three players in this exclusive club are Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson. Over the Pelicans last three contests, Boogie is averaging 36.3 points, 16.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.6 three-pointers. Fantasy owners simply can’t ask for more.
Oh, by the way, there is another pretty decent big man in New Orleans. Anthony Davis was everywhere on Saturday night. He finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two steals, three blocks, two 3-pointers and no turnovers. There was an injury scare in the fourth quarter, but AD returned shortly and looked completely healthy. As long as he can avoid a bite from the injury bug, Davis will continue to produce jaw-dropping lines.
Jrue Holiday seemed determined to remind everyone that it’s not just the Pelicans frontcourt that is capable of displaying dominance. Holiday poured in a season-high 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting and chipped in seven assists, four rebounds and four 3-pointers in New Orleans' impressive win over the Cavs.
Cleveland has underperformed terribly of late, got blown out by the Pelicans on Saturday, and have now lost three of their last four games. Kevin Love looked to be one of the only Cavalier locked in against New Orleans. Loved scored 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and knocked down five 3-pointers in 27 minutes.
Ho hum, another triple-double for Russell Westbrook, who finished with 12 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds in just 28 minutes in Saturday’s blowout victory over the Bulls. In the process, Russ became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double against all 29 other teams in the league. It was also the 22nd game since 2010 in which Westbrook had at least 12 points, 12 boards and 12 dimes in the same contest. James Harden has nine such games over that same span, and no other player in the league has more than three “triple dozens.” In fact, the rest of the NBA has a total of 19 such games combined! In addition, Saturday was the 30th time Westbrook’s career in which he notched a trip-dub before the start of the fourth quarter. To put that in context, there are only 11 players in the history of the league who have recorded more than 30 triple-double in their entire careers. (Michael Jordan had 28.) It’s also noteworthy to point out that Russ committed only two turnovers on Saturday. He came into the contest averaging 6.2 turnovers.
Someone should tell Ben Simmons that it’s not supposed to be this easy for a rookie, especially one that missed the entire 2016-17 season. Big Ben was back at again on Saturday, stuffing the stat sheet with 23 points (on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor and 3-of-4 from the line), seven rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block. Per Elias, Simmons joins Oscar Robertson as just the second player in NBA history with at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in each of the first six games of his pro career. And, according to Basketball-Reference, Simmons is the first rookie with at least 14/7/7 in four straight games since Allen Iverson in 1996. This kid is the real deal.
Devin Booker was locked in on Saturday, almost carrying the Suns to a win in Portland. Booker scored a season-high 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with six rebounds, six assists and four 3-pointers. It was his final game as a 20-year old, as Booker turns 21 on Monday.
Andre Drummond dominated the paint in Detroit’s victory over the Clippers, totaling 15 points (on 7-of-10 shooting), 17 rebounds, two steals and a season-high three blocks. According to StatMuse, Drummond has 90 games of at least 15 points and 15 boards since he came into the league, 25 more than any other player in that span.
On the Radar:
We discussed the dominance of the Pelicans Big Three above, but E'Twaun Moore also played an important role in their win on Saturday. He scored a career-high 24 points and added two rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 28 minutes. However, Moore will have a tough time replicating this performance, as he will be, at best, the fourth option on offense most nights.
Kyrie Irving took over in the closing moments in Saturday’s win over the Heat. Kyrie scored nine of his 24 points in final 2:03 of the fourth quarter and shouted “This is what I do!” after a 3-pointer helped seal the win for the C’s. Irving added four rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers. Kyrie has a total of 128 points through the first six games of the season. According to Elias, the only players in Celtics history with more points than Irving in their first six games for the team were Kevin Garnett (131 in 2007) and Ray Allen (130, also in 2007).
Jayson Tatum was Boston’s second-leading scorer on Saturday. He poured in 20 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) with five rebounds and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Arguably the impressive aspect of Tatum’s production over the first two weeks of his NBA career has been his remarkable efficiency. The rookie is now shooting 50.9 percent from the field, including 50.0 percent from 3-point territory, and 86.2 percent from the charity stripe. Congrats to those that drafted Tatum, especially those folks that play in keeper leagues.
Harrison Barnes poured in a game-high 25 points on Saturday and nailed a career-high seven 3-pointers. He also chipped in four rebounds and a steal. Coming into Saturday, Barnes has never made more than five triples in a game.
Wesley Matthews had another solid game, tallying 19 points, six boards, two assists, three steals and three 3-pointers. He has now at least 16 points and at least three treys in four straight contests.
Lauri Markkanen continued the strong start to his rookie campaign by scoring 15 points and pulling down eight rebounds on Saturday night. Markkanen also knocked down three more triples. Lauri has made a total of 15 treys over his first five career games, setting a new NBA record (the previous record was 13).
Joel Embiid had 23 points nine rebounds, four assists, and three treys across a season-high 29 minutes in the Sixers win over the Mavs. He did commit seven turnovers and had to have X-rays on his hand after the game, but the results were negative. Embiid should be ready to rock next week.
Chandler Parsons showed glimpses of his former self on Saturday, pouring in a game-high 24 points. It was the first time he scored more than eight points this season and the first time he scored more than 14 in a Grizzlies uniform. Parsons made eight treys but brought little else to table (one board, one assist, one steal). Remarkably, the Grizz beat the Rockets by 14 points despite the fact that none of their starters scored in double-figures.
Damian Lillard scored 25 points with seven rebounds, nine assists and three 3-pointers on Saturday. Dame was just 7-of-21 from the floor in this one and has been a bit inaccurate of late (30.4 percent over his last three games), but continues to rack up copious counting stats.
Ricky Rubio posted a season-high in points (21) and rebounds (seven) on Saturday. Over his six seasons in Minnesota, Rubio had never averaged more than 11.1 points or 0.8 treys per game. Rubio is now averaging 15.0 points and 1.5 triples through his first six games with the Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell scored a career-high 22 points and chipped in three rebounds, three steals, two assists and three treys in 27 minutes off the bench in Utah’s victory over the Lakers. Mitchell came into this game shooting a putrid 25.0 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from downtown. However, he was on 9-of-16 from the field in this one, including 3-of-6 from deep. Mitchell is simply too good of a shooter to continue to post those poor percentages. His upside makes him worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues.
Blake Griffin struggled from the field (5-of-18) on Saturday but finished with a solid line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two triples.
Reggie Jackson had 15 points, seven dimes, four rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and four turnovers in 32 minutes.
J.J. Redick (back) was unable to practice on Friday and did not play Saturday vs. the Mavs. Redick has dealt with nagging back issues previously in his career. We’ll see if this lingers or J.J. is back in action early next week. The Sixers next game is Monday in Houston.
Richaun Holmes (left wrist fracture) remains sidelined and will miss at least the next two games (Monday at Dallas and Wednesday at Houston), but the Sixers announced that he underwent a scheduled reevaluation and had been cleared to participate in practice with limitations. He'll be reevaluated again next Thursday to determine his progress. Holmes inching his way back to full health is likely one of the reasons why Philadelphia has increased their efforts to trade Jahlil Okafor. If Okafor is still on the squad by the time Holmes is ready to play, the Sixers will have four quality centers on their 15-man roster, with Holmes, Okafor and Amir Johnson backing up Joel Embiid.
Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness) is not traveling with the team to Dallas or Houston in order to continue his current physiotherapy program in Philadelphia. Wednesday’s game in Houston will be the fourth consecutive game Fultz misses. This situation has been handled poorly from the very beginning, and we still don’t have much clarity. Hopefully, Fultz’s shoulder responds well to treatment and rest. We should have a better feel for the situation when we get a full medical update next week… T.J. McConnell was solid again on Saturday, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, eight assists and one 3-pointer in 31 minutes off the bench. McConnell should continue to see extended playing time with Fultz on the shelf.
Meyers Leonard (right ankle) has been diagnosed with a lateral sprain and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. X-Rays taken were negative for a fracture, but an MRI taken Friday revealed ligament damage. He had played a total of just 17 minutes over two games this season, so there isn’t much of a fantasy impact as a result of his extended absence.
Eric Gordon (illness) was a surprise scratch on Saturday. It was announced before the game that he was dealing with a stomach virus and was unable to suit up. Houston’s next game is Monday vs. the Sixers. We should have an update by Monday morning on Gordon’s availability for that contest.
Trevor Ariza (sprained left foot) started out the day as doubtful, was then upgraded to questionable and eventually ended up playing in Memphis on Saturday night. He started and tallied 10 points, seven boards, five assists and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes. He also seemed to avoid any setbacks and should be ready to handle his typical allotment of minutes moving forward.
Nene (Achilles) returned to the Rockets lineup on Saturday. He finished with four points and one rebound in 15 minutes.
Chris Paul (bruised left knee) is still without a timetable for his return. CP3 told reporters that he is making progress but admitted that he has “no clue” as to when he might return to game action. Coach Mike D'Antoni said the Rockets plan to have Paul's knee reevaluated next week when the team returns to Houston.
Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) was ruled out of Saturday’s contest on Friday. He has now missed four consecutive games after initially sustaining the injury back on opening night. The Heat have provided little information in the way of an update, leaving us to speculate on a possible timetable for Hassan's return. Coach Erik Spoelstra did say that although Whiteside is “doing more,” he is not yet ready to practice. That would suggest that Whiteside is doubtful for Miami’s next game, which is Monday vs. Minnesota. Hopefully, we’ll get a medical update early next week… Bam Adebayo started at center on Saturday and notched six points, three rebounds, one steal and one block in 24 minutes.
Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) returned to action on Saturday night and played well in 23 minutes off the bench. Wade scored 15 points with four assists, two steals and one 3-pointer. The Cavs play again on Sunday, and coach Ty Lue may look to limit Wade’s minutes on the second night of a back-to-back.
Derrick Rose (ankle) was unable to suit up on Saturday. It was the fourth straight game he has missed since landing awkwardly on his ankle after a hard fall in Milwaukee last Friday. Rose was able to do some work at shootaround Saturday morning and is considered day-to-day. The Cavs play the Knicks on Sunday, so you know Rose would love to get back in the lineup in hopes of lighting up his former team. We’ll see if the doctors clear him and allow him to get back on the floor… Iman Shumpert replaced Rose in the starting lineup on Saturday. Shump was relatively quiet, finishing with five points, two rebounds, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer in 19 minutes.
Injury Notes for Sunday’s Games:
Myles Turner (concussion, sore neck) has been ruled out of Sunday's matchup vs. the Spurs. This will be the fourth straight game he has missed. Recovering from a brain injury such as a concussion is often difficult. The NBA has a protocol in place to make sure players receive as much protection as possible. A player must first be free of concussion-related symptoms while at rest before moving on to the next stage of the process, which is having a doctor to clear them for exertion. Per the NBA mandate: Once he is free of symptoms, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion - from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills - while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one... Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists over his last three games, is expected to remain in the starting lineup with Turner sidelined.
Ersan Ilyasova (knee) will not play against Milwaukee on Sunday. Mike Muscala has started in place of Ilyasova during Ersan’s recent absences, but John Collins is the more attractive fantasy option. Collins per-36 minutes averages are impressive (20.5 points and 13.7 rebounds) and it should only be a matter of time before he starts seeing his playing time climb.
George Hill (rest) will sit out Sunday’s game against the Wizards. Hill has struggled mightily of late, averaging just 4.0 points (on 21.4 percent shooting), 2.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 26.0 minutes per contest. Hopefully, a day off will allow to regroup and get back on track. As far as Sunday is concerned, give me all the shares of De'Aaron Fox available. I plan on loading up on Fox in DFS tournament and cash games. Fox has been in a timeshare with Hill but is still averaging 14.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 26.8 minutes. Expect Fox to log over 30 minutes in his first pro start and rack up impressive all-around numbers.
Zach Randolph (rest) also won’t play on Sunday. Skal Labissiere will likely replace Randolph in the starting lineup and is another enticing DFS option. Labissiere has scored in double-figures in each of the Kings last three contests and recorded a double-double (12 points and 10 boards) when he started and logged 33 minutes on opening night. Willie Cauley-Stein might also see an uptick in minutes.
DeMarre Carroll (ankle soreness) is listed as questionable and Quincy Acy (left groin strain) will not play against the Nuggets on Sunday. Rookie Jarrett Allen should soak up the minutes Acy abandons. If Carroll is unable to suit up, Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe would likely be the biggest beneficiaries.