James Harden produced his 11th 40+ point performance of the season during Sunday’s 118-110 win over OKC, going 12-of-25 from the field and 12-of-14 from the stripe for 41 points, four boards, nine assists, three steals, five triples, one block and five turnovers in 43 minutes. He dominated the second-half, posting a gaudy usage rate of 37.3, and his 11th 40-plus-point gem put him just one 40-point performance away from tying Moses Malone’s record for the most in a single-season in Rockets’ history. In 8-cat leagues, Harden has been fantasy basketball’s No. 2 overall option over the past month with ridiculous averages of 30.3 points, 6.2 boards, 8.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.5 triples and 0.6 swats per contest on 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 85.2 percent from the charity stripe.
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Karl-Anthony Towns went HAM against the Mavs, ripping down a career-high 21 boards to go with 11 points, nine assists, one steal, three blocks and six turnovers through 44 minutes of work. KAT became the fourth-youngest player in 30 years to pull down at least 20 rebounds, and he’s obviously going to take home Rookie of the Year honors this year. Since the 1983-84 season, only two other players have compiled averages of at least 18.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting at least 54.6 percent from the floor during their rookie year: Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal.
Stephen Curry helped the Warriors’ to their 68th regular-season win on Sunday, tallying 39 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block, four turnovers and nine triples (of course) in 35 minutes. Draymond Green was also phenomenal, recording his 12th triple-double of the season with 22 points, 10 boards, 10 assists, two steals, three swats and just one turnover in 35 minutes. The Warriors need to win four out of their next five games to set the record for the best regular-season in NBA history, so it would be very surprising to see one of the Dubs studs take a night off during this final stretch of the 2015-16 season.
Tim Frazier had himself a career-game off the Pelicans bench on Sunday, registering 19 points (career-high), 13 assists (career-high), three steals, two boards, two triples and zero turnovers in 37 minutes. New Orleans has zero other options to run the point, so Frazier should be logging heavy minutes moving forward for the debilitated Pelicans. He’s worth owning everywhere.
Kemba Walker went to work against the Cavs on Sunday, scoring 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting (10-of-11 from the stripe), with six rebounds, seven assists, one 3-pointer, four steals, one block and four turnovers in 41 minutes. Nicolas Batum (left knee strain) exited the game during the third quarter and did not return, and if he’s forced to miss any additional time, Walker will be asked to carry a heavy load on offense. During the second-half sans Batum, Walker posted an impressive usage rate of 36.8.
Giannis Antetokounmpo did Giannis Antetokounmpo things on Sunday with 34 points, five boards, nine assists, one steal, one block, one 3-pointer and four turnovers in 43 minutes. I’ll be taking him in the second-round next season.
Rodney Hood kept the good times rolling with 18 points, seven assists, two boards, two steals, two swats, six triples and just two turnovers in 35 minutes. He’s been a top-40 player over the past week.
The Nets announced that both Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young will be shut down for the final six games of the season. Thomas Robinson and Henry Sims supplanted the pair in the starting five on Sunday, and while Sims played more minutes (30), Robinson posted the better stat line with 11 points, 15 boards and two turnovers in 27 minutes. Sims had an okay night, putting up 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting with seven boards, one assist, one steal and two turnovers, but consistency tends to be an issue for him, so I wouldn’t exactly be rushing to the waiver wire to add him despite the increased opportunity. The other young bigs on the roster didn’t do much with Chris McCullough tallying six points, five boards and one turnover in 21 minutes, and Willie Reed registering a measly five points and seven boards in 18 minutes. The Nets want to get an extended look at the younger guys on the roster for the final stretch of the season, so Robinson, Sims, McCullough and Reed should be looking at quality minutes moving forward, with Robinson being the most attractive pickup out of the group. Over the past four games, Robinson has produced averages of 13.3 points, 12.8 boards, 1.8 steals, 0.3 swats and 2.0 turnovers per game on 52.3 percent shooting from the field and 31.8 percent shooting from the charity stripe.
Sean Kilpatrick also figures to benefit sans BroLo and Young, as he’s now one of the few guys on the team that can be relied upon for offensive production, although he basically only scores and hits triples which limits his appeal to deeper leagues. He scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting Sunday to go with three boards, three trey-bombs and four turnovers. That’s more or less what you can expect moving forward.
Markel Brown had his second straight productive performance on Sunday, registering 12 points, two triples, one rebound, one assist and four turnovers in 19 minutes. The talent is there, but the inconsistency makes him an unappealing add in standard leagues. Over the past five, he has put forth averages of 10.4 points, 2.6 boards, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.8 turnovers on 47.6 percent shooting. That’s only been good enough for seventeenth-round value in standard 9-cat leagues.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is obviously one of the young studs that Brooklyn wants to get an extended look at, but they’re also going to be cautious with his minutes. He put up eight points, two boards, one steal, one turnover and two blocks on Sunday, but the minutes cap limits his value to deeper leagues as a defensive specialist.
Blake Griffin (hand, quad) returned to action on Sunday, supplanting Wes Johnson in the starting five, and scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting to go with five boards, and four assists in 25 minutes. It was his first game back following a 45-game absence, and he predictably looked rusty and his conditioning wasn’t quite there. Doc Rivers said that he’ll be “very careful” with Blake moving forward, and that he’ll likely rest him at least once during the final six games of the season for Los Angeles. Looking at the schedule, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see him miss at least one game of the Clippers’ upcoming back-to-back set with the Lakers, if not both. An active Griffin is worth owning in all leagues, but those that swoop him up should temper their expectations as a minutes limit will hold his value in check. Jeff Green, Wes Johnson and Luc Mbah a Moute were predictable no-shows with Griffin active, and none of those guys are worth owning in most leagues now that Blake has returned to the court.
Khris Middleton (strained left thigh) was an extremely late scratch on Sunday, which resulted in Damien Inglis moving into the starting five where he went scoreless through nine minutes of play. It’s tough to ever tell what’s going on with the injuries in Milwaukee, but with the Bucks playing for Ping-Pong balls, there’s no incentive to play Middleton at less than 100 percent. Owners should consider him questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Cavs.
Donald Sloan (illness) sat out Sunday’s loss to New Orleans, and should be considered questionable for Wednesday’s game in Washington. He’s not worth owning anywhere.
Jerryd Bayless (knee) did not play Sunday and he may be done for the year. Rashad Vaughn, Tyler Ennis and Greivis Vasquez will continue to benefit in his absence with Ennis offering the most upside out of the group.
Andre Iguodala (ankle) did not play on Sunday, but he’s hopeful to return to action sometime next week. He’s not worth owning in most leagues.
Festus Ezeli (knee) returned from a 31-game absence on Sunday and started for the injured Andrew Bogut (ribs), but he failed to do much during his nine minutes on the court. He’s going to be brought along slowly, so he’s not worth owning in any league at this juncture in the fantasy season.
Hollis Thompson (illness) is expected to play Tuesday vs. New Orleans. If you’re seeking some production in triples, steals and rebounds, give Thompson a look.
Deron Williams (sports hernia) sat out Sunday’s game and is currently without a timetable to return. J.J. Barea has been amazing in his absence, so if you’re a Williams owner, swapping him out for Barea makes sense to me.
Raymond Felton (groin) returned from a one-game absence on Sunday, but hit just 1-of-6 shots for two points, three boards, three assists, three turnovers and a block in 18 minutes. Felton is going to be seeing some increased opportunity with Williams out indefinitely, but his production is too sporadic to depend upon in standard settings. Barea is the better point guard to own in Dallas.
Al Jefferson (quad) did not play on Sunday, which resulted in Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes logging extended minutes off the bench. Neither guy did much, however, and Jefferson’s injury seems relatively minor. There’s not a pickup here.
Jon Leuer (ankle) did not play on Sunday, and is not worth owning in most leagues.
Kent Bazemore said that his left wrist is sore, but he doesn’t anticipate missing any time. He took a few very hard spills on Friday, but with the Hawks off until Tuesday, he has plenty of time to recover.
Kyrie Irving (ankle) did not play on Sunday and head coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn’t sure if Irving would need to sit out any additional games. Cleveland pretty much has the No. 1 seed out East locked up, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cleveland exercise extreme caution with their star-guard during their upcoming back-to-back set. Consider him questionable for Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee and look for Matthew Dellavedova to start if he’s out.
Taj Gibson (fractured ribs) did not play on Sunday and should be considered doubtful for Tuesday’s game in Memphis. Bobby Portis drew the start in his absence, but only managed to play 13 ineffective minutes. Nikola Mirotic, however, was solid in his 35 minutes off the bench, recording 19 points, six boards, three 3-pointers, three assists and one turnover. Mirotic was horrendously inconsistent for much of the season, but he’s been a steady fifth-round stud in 9-cat leagues over his past five games with averages of 17.2 points, 4.6 boards, 2.0 assists, 3.6 triples and just 1.2 turnovers per game on 45.0 percent shooting.
Derrick Rose (elbow) did not play Sunday and should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. the Grizzlies. E’Twaun Moore drew the start in his absence and posted six points on 3-of-7 shooting to go with three assists, two boards, three steals and one turnover in 27 minutes.
DeAndre Jordan tweaked his right ankle on Sunday, but played through it and put up 12 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, two steals and three swats in 35 minutes. Jordan is one of the most durable players in the league, and nothing is suggesting that a minor ankle tweak will force him to the sidelines.
Derrick Favors (knee) returned from a one-game stint on the sidelines on Sunday, and posted 17 points, two boards, three assists, two steals and one turnover in his 28 minutes of action. He’ll be fine moving forward.
Victor Oladipo (ankle) started and played 39 minutes on Sunday, putting up 22 points, seven boards, two assists, three steals, one block and zero turnovers. The heavy minute total suggests he’ll be good to go for Wednesday’s game against the Pistons.
Jose Calderon (quad) did not play on Sunday, and could be done for the year. Jerian Grant should be the Knicks starting point guard for the final games of the season, and Langston Galloway figures to earn around quality minutes off the bench. I'm not high on either guy, but if I'm forced to choose, I'll go with Galloway.
Carmelo Anthony (rest) sat out Sunday’s game, which resulted in Cleanthony Early moving into the starting five and posting two points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in 17 minutes. He went 2-of-2 from the stripe but missed all six of his attempts from the field, and he’s obviously not a fantasy option in most leagues. Kurt Rambis said that the rest day for Melo would be a “one-time thing,” so owners can plan on having him available for Wednesday’s game vs. Charlotte.
Kristaps Porzingis (shoulder) did not play on Sunday, but said he’s hopeful he can return for New York’s final three games. That means he’ll likely miss Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, which gives him a maximum of two games played next week. He’s a cut candidate in all re-draft leagues. Derrick Williams has been starting in his absence, and over the past three he has compiled averages of 14.3 points, 5.0 boards, 1.7 assists and 1.7 triples per contest on 51.7 percent shooting. Give Williams a look if those numbers appeal to you.
Avery Bradley (personal) missed Sunday’s game vs. the Lakers, but he should be good to go Wednesday vs. New Orleans.
Jae Crowder (rest) returned form a one-game absence and predictably went off against the hapless Lakers, scoring 22 points with five boards, four assists, two 3-pointers, two turnovers and an elite five steals in 31 minutes. The Celtics do have a back-to-back set coming up next week, Friday vs. Milwaukee and Saturday vs. Atlanta, so his owners will need to be on red alert for a potential rest day.
Brandan Wright (knee) is without a timetable to return and belongs on the waiver wire everywhere.
Brandon Knight (groin) did not play on Sunday, and could very well be shut down for Phoenix’s five remaining games. Ronnie Price has been starting, but it’s been Devin Booker acting as the primary beneficiary sans Knight as he’s been forced to do more ball handling on offense.
Paul George tweaked his left ankle during Sunday’s win over the Knicks, but played through it, and finished the game with 20 points, nine boards, two treys, one assist, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 29 minutes. With the Pacers fighting for their playoff lives, I wouldn’t expect the injury to cost PG-13 any time.
Games Played Weeks 24 & 25