Tuesday’s six-game night brought us a little bit of everything, like surprising stars, some disturbing duds, Aaron Gordon and DeMarcus Cousins explosions and, unfortunately, another Anthony Davis injury. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Blazers 103, Pelicans 93 – Damian Lillard didn’t make his first shot until the third quarter after starting 0-for-9 but finished with 13 points and seven assists on 3-of-16 shooting. Not many players can shoot it that poorly and salvage a line, but Dame can. He also made his 3,000th career shot. Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless both struggled and while they’re not killing it this season, they’re generally worth owning in most 12-teamers. But if you need to drop someone, they might be on the radar if it means getting a hot free agent. Jusuf Nurkic was disappointing yet again, playing just 20 minutes and finishing with 12 points, seven boards and a block. He should be held in all leagues. C.J. McCollum got it done with 23 points and four 3-pointers, Ed Davis posted the 50th double-double of his career off the bench with 12 points, 10 boards and a block, and Caleb Swanigan made an appearance with five points, eight boards and a block after a DNP and nine-minute game. Just keep an eye on both of them if you’re in a deep league – especially Davis. He’s quietly averaging 8.8 points, 9.3 boards and a block thus far. Evan Turner hit just 4-of-12 shots but still had 13 points, seven boards, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. He’s playing well enough to be used in 12-team leagues right now. Pat Connaughton hit a couple threes for eight points and six boards. He’s another guy with deep-league potential and has played 21 minutes per game over his last three. The Blazers won their 17th straight home opener last night, an NBA record.
Anthony Davis went down with a left knee injury after getting it banged a couple times by Moe Harkless and Damian Lillard, and lasted just six minutes. Replays showed potential for meniscus damage, but thankfully his MRI reportedly came back clean and he’s day-to-day with swelling and knee soreness, but no structural damage. We’ll know more on Wednesday, but if he’s going to miss time, both Dante Cunningham and Cheick Diallo will get some extra run. However, it’s hard to imagine them being worth adding in standard 12-team leagues. DeMarcus Cousins went off without Davis, racking up a season-high 39 points, 13 rebounds, a steal, three blocks and three 3-pointers. He’s double-doubled in all four games with at least 22 points and 10 boards in each of them. Jrue Holiday hit just 5-of-14 shots but still filled the stat sheet. He’s off to a slow start, but the signs are pointing to him getting it going. Jameer Nelson is getting run for the Pelicans, but isn’t a guy I’m looking at in 12-team leagues. Let’s just be thankful that Davis’ injury doesn’t appear to be too serious.
Magic 125, Nets 121 – Holy Aaron Gordon!! My guy went off for a career night with 41 points, 5-of-5 3-pointers, 14-of-18 from the floor, 14 rebounds and two assists. Yeah, he didn’t have a steal or a block, but who cares? I own him in 10 leagues and couldn’t be happier about it. Evan Fournier caught fire to hit 9-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for a season-high 28 points, six boards, four dimes and three steals. He’s thriving with Elfrid Payton (hamstring) hurt and looks like a mid-round value. D.J. Augustin, starting for Payton at PG, did it again with 19 points, six assists, three steals and a 3-pointer. I own him in a lot of leagues, but he obviously will become a cut candidate once Payton is back in action. Ride him until it happens. Nikola Vucevic had 12 points, nine boards and three blocks, and Jonathon Simmons had 12 points despite the return of Gordon.
The Nets starters are simply a blast to watch. DeMarre Carroll is relevant again and had 17 points, six boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers (thanks, coach Atkinson!), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points and a full stat line on 6-of-8 shooting, D’Angelo Russell went off for 29 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals and four 3-pointers, and Caris LeVert added 15 points, eight boards, five assists and two 3-pointers in the loss. Trevor Booker cooled off with seven points and eight boards and may start to struggle with RHJ playing so well, not to mention the Jarrett Allen train that’s coming. Allen had just five points, three boards, a steal and a block in 15 minutes, but those minutes should start to rise. Allen Crabbe was disappointing with six points and a bummer line, but it was because his shot wasn’t falling (2-of-11). If you’ve been torn between LeVert and Crabbe, go with LeVert, with the starting job giving him the edge. Spencer Dinwiddie has been hot, but he had just six points and four assists tonight. I think I’m done with him in DFS for a while. Timofey Mozgov started and played 17 minutes for nine points, five boards, a block and a 3-pointer, but it’s only a matter of time before Allen overtakes him (hopefully).
Celtics 110, Knicks 89 – Jaylen Brown went off for 23 points, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block on 9-of-16 shooting, Jason Tatum had 22 points, two assists, four steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers on 9-of-15 shooting in another start, and Al Horford filled it up with 13 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a block and two 3-pointers. Kyrie Irving’s struggles continued with 20 points and seven dimes on 5-of-13 shooting, but I still think he’s about to go beast mode on the league any day now. Brown should already be owned in all leagues and Tatum should join him after tonight’s big line. If Tatum’s still available, find a way to pick him up. I find it hard to believe that Marcus Morris (knee) will return and ruin Tatum, and he’s been fun to watch. It’s just too bad the Celtics can’t play the lowly Knicks every night. Terry Rozier came off the bench and hit just 2-of-7 shots, but they were both 3-pointers and he added six boards, six dimes and two steals in the win. He might take a hit once Marcus Smart (ankle) is back, but with Gordon Hayward’s season over, Rozier is still worth owning in all leagues.
The Knicks were a disaster, as Kristaps Porzingis hit just 3-of-14 shots for 12 points and five boards, and Tim Hardaway’s struggles continued with six points on 2-of-11 shooting. They’re both going to get it worked out, but I’ll admit I’m concerned about Hardaway’s early struggles. He’s shooting just 24 percent from the floor thus far, but he’s too good a player to struggle for much longer. I know it’s tempting to dump him and you can do so at your own peril, but I’d recommend trying to ride the storm out. Enes Kanter was great with 16 points, a season-high 19 boards and a block, and Willy Hernangomez is now an afterthought. Willy did play 11 minutes in garbage time and hit 5-of-6 shots for 12 points, one rebound and two steals, but this was a blowout. Ramon Sessions is starting at point guard but had just eight points, seven dimes and three steals, while Courtney Lee had a pedestrian 13 points, a 3-pointer, three assists and a steal on 6-of-10 shooting. The only Knicks I want a part of right now are Porzingis, Hardaway and Kanter.
Pacers 130, Wolves 107 – Victor Oladipo went crazy with 28 points (for the second straight game) and a full stat line on 11-of-16 shooting, and it’s clear he’s loving life without Russell Westbrook. Darren Collison, who you likely got late in your draft, stayed hot with 15 points and a season-high 16 dimes, Domantas Sabonis, starting for Myles Turner (concussion) went off again for 15 points, 11 boards and five assists on 7-of-7 shooting, and Bojan Bogdanovic added a season-high 19 points, five rebounds and a 3-pointer on 9-of-12 shooting. Sabonis is a great DFS option (and in standard leagues) as long as Turner is out, but hopefully he’s close to a return. Thaddeus Young was the odd man out, hitting 4-of-6 shots for nine points, four rebounds, a steal and two blocks. I like Young, but if I had to cut a player to get a hot free agent and he was my best option, I’d probably make the move. The Pacers are loaded with forwards that can play. The starters shot an incredible 71 percent from the floor in a blowout over the Wolves. Cory Joseph caught fire off the bench too, adding a season-high 21 points, five boards, two assists, three steals and five 3-pointers on 8-of-11 shooting. We all know Joseph can play, but this was a garbage-time special and he should struggle as long as Collison and Oladipo are rolling.
Jimmy Butler was a late scratch with an illness and the Wolves struggled without him. Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague (no revenge game here) and Andrew Wiggins combined for just 15 points on 7-of-20 shooting, which is hard to believe. They’ll all bounce back. Shabazz Muhammad started for Butler and had 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while Nemanja Bjelica came off the bench to catch fire for a season-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four 3-pointers, a steal and a block. I love him, but he’s got to share minutes with Taj Gibson, which isn’t ideal. He still belongs on waivers, as this was inspired by the absence of Butler and garbage time. Karl-Anthony Towns was awesome with 28 points, seven boards and two blocks on 12-of-17 shooting, but he was the only starter to show up. Jamal Crawford hit 5-of-15 shots off the bench, but hit four threes and four free throws to finish with 18 points, nine dimes and two steals. But keep in mind Butler was out and there was garbage time involved. I’m not interested. And if you’re still holding Gorgui Dieng, you might want to throw in the towel. He’s basically only backing up Towns and had six points in 13 minutes. Yuck.
Cavaliers 119, Bulls 112 – LeBron James started at point guard (yes, point guard) and had 34 points, 13 assists, three steals and four 3-pointers, Kevin Love had 20 & 12 and Jeff Green came off the bench for 16 points and a 3-pointer. Ignore Green, ride James and Love, and hope that Jae Crowder can get it going. He started and played 31 minutes, but had just 11 points, two rebounds and three 3-pointers. J.R. Smith started and played 32 minutes despite a sore back, but hit just 1-of-8 shots for three points. I’m not interested, starting or not. Dwyane Wade played just 19 minutes in his first game off the bench and had 11 points, three boards, four assists, a steal and a block on 5-of-7 shooting, but I’m not sure he’s even worth owning these days. I know I don’t own him and am not out on the wire looking for him.
Justin Holiday’s the real deal and led the Bulls with 25 points, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, while rookie Lauri Markkanen hit 7-of-12 shots and five 3-pointers for 19 points, eight assists and a block. Holiday should be owned in all leagues, while Markkanen is the first NBA player in history to hit at least 10 3-pointers in his first three games and is a fantastic beneficiary of the fight between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic. Pick him up, as he might have earned the starting PF job the rest of the way. Jerian Grant started at point guard again and double-doubled with 12 points, six boards, 10 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. Unfortunately for him (and me, as an owner), Kris Dunn is nearing a return from a hand injury. Grant will probably still start and can hold some value, but Grant was a lot more attractive as a solo point-guard act in Chicago.
Clippers 102, Jazz 84 – With Patrick Beverley up top and DeAndre Jordan down low, the Clippers might have the most underrated defense in the league. They rolled the Jazz as Beverley went off for 19 points, four boards, five dimes, three steals, a block, four 3-pointers and seven turnovers on 7-of-14 shooting. Welcome to L.A.! Blake Griffin scored 22 with a fun stat line, Austin Rivers started for Milos Teodosic (foot), who might be out for a long while, and had 16 points, a steal and two 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting. If you’re looking for deep-league help, Rivers is worth a look right now, as I don’t think we’ll see Teodosic for a long time. Danilo Gallinari had 14 points, six boards and three steals on 5-of-11 shooting, and Jordan added 11 points, 18 boards, two steals and no blocks. The blocks are coming. The Clippers bench was really quiet despite the blowout, and Lou Williams is a tough own right now. He only got 19 minutes last night.
The Jazz were awful and were led by rookie Donovan Mitchell, who hit 7-of-20 shots and three 3-pointers for 19 points, two rebounds, one assist and a steal in 30 minutes. He did score 15 points in the fourth quarter after a rough start, but keep in mind that Rodney Hood will come back from his calf injury to hurt Mitchell. I cut Mitchell in a few leagues and still don’t feel too bad about it. Yet. Joe Ingles was sick all day after getting a visit from Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo a couple months early and only scored three points in 18 minutes. He’s been hot, so just hold onto him until his stomach’s feeling better. Props to him for gutting it out after being unable to keep food down for the previous 24 hours. Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio were quiet and Derrick Favors was awful, finishing with just six points and three rebounds. I don’t own him anywhere after last season, but he’ll obviously be better than this on most nights. Thabo Sefolosha somehow double-doubled in garbage time, but there’s no reason to think about picking him up.
Wednesday will give us a 10-game slate, so get ready for another fun, and hopefully, injury-free night of hoops.