What a night! I watched the Cubs win the World Series on my satellite provider’s app on my phone. We left town with the game on in the car at the start, watched it throughout a concert (STRFKR) in Atlanta, and were still watching it as we pulled back into town some five hours later. Epic. And if you have a chance to see the aforementioned band, do it. They’re not only really good, but fantasy hoops junkies, as well. This was the first night of their tour, so if you see them, tell ‘em Dr. A sent you.
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It was a busy 10-game night, so let’s hit the relevant fantasy stories from each one.
Lakers 123, Hawks 116 – D’Angelo Russell bounced back for a big game and a win in Atlanta, producing at least one stat in every category along the way. Timofey Mozgov is out with an eye injury so 18-year-old Ivica Zubac started at center, but the big man to pay attention to for L.A. is Larry Nance Jr., who is now averaging 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over his last two games. And don’t sleep on Lou Williams, who had 18 last night and has scored at least 12 points in four of his last five. He’s going to be a hot waiver-wire pickup this weekend. The Baby Lakers improved to 2-3 with the win (wink: BMac).
Atlanta got a strong game from Dwight Howard, who exacted some revenge against his former team with 31 points and 11 rebounds, hitting 12-of-16 shots and 7-of-10 free throws. The other starters were all pretty quiet, including Paul Millsap, while Tim Hardaway Jr. went off for 26 points, five 3-pointers and 8-of-10 shooting in 21 minutes. Of course, by the time you get him back in your lineup, he’ll probably disappear again.
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Otto Porter Jr. came through in a big way with 23 points and 13 boards on 11-of-13 shooting. It was easily his best game of the season and he’s scored in double figures in all four games and is averaging 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals thus far. Marcin Gortat and John Wall double-doubled, and the Wizards’ bench was invisible.
Hornets 109, Sixers 93 – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had six points, 13 rebounds, three steals and a block, and has played two good games and two bad ones. Expect a mixed bag if you pick him up. Cody Zeller is starting for Roy Hibbert (knee) and had 13 points, one rebound and one block. Hibbert should be back soon, so Zeller doesn’t look like a great add, especially given the lack of stats. In fact, Frank Kaminsky (14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 3-pointers) is probably a better option.
For the Sixers, Dario Saric had 14 points, seven boards and two 3-pointers (make sure he wasn’t dropped in your league) and Sergio Rodriguez added 10 points, five dimes, a block and three 3-pointers. He should be owned across the board. Here’s where things get complicated. Robert Covington hit just 2-of-9 shots for six points, two steals and two 3-pointers, and is now 2-of-20 with six points over his last three games. Cut him if you want, but I still bet he bounces back and has a good season. Joel Embiid was out for a maintenance day and Jahlil Okafor was back in after one of his own. However, Richaun Holmes got the start and had 11 points, three boards and a block in 12 minutes. Okafor came off the bench and played 24 minutes, finishing with 12 points, five boards and a steal. Embiid should be back in the next one and I really don’t like Okafor in Philly. If you feel like you have to cut him, I’m not going to be mad at you. Ersan Ilyasova was going to “play a lot” according to his coach before the game, and he got 23 minutes to finish with 14 points, three boards, two assists and two 3-pointers on 5-of-12 shooting. He actually led the Sixers in scoring tonight and is worth a watchful eye until we figure out exactly what his role will be on his new team. Hollis Thompson, who went off with 22 points, seven boards and four 3-pointers on Tuesday, fell back to earth with four points, five rebounds and no 3-pointers. He is who he is, and it’s entirely possible Tuesday ends up being his best game of the season.
Nets 109, Pistons 101 – Please don’t try to ask me to figure out Brook Lopez, who went crazy with 34 points, four 3-pointers, 11 rebounds, a steal and a block last night. He’s been benched, sat out on Saturday, and managed just 13 points and two rebounds on Monday. No one saw Wednesday’s explosion and I have no idea where he goes from here. Coach Kenny Atkinson seems focused on limiting Bro-Lo’s minutes and trying to keep him healthy, which means his minutes are going to be a point of contention for fantasy owners all season long. Jeremy Lin went down with a hamstring injury and didn’t return to the game. He was on fire, so this is a big fantasy blow. Backup Isaiah Whitehead, who had five points, four boards, four assists and five turnovers, could be the man for the rest of the week. Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench and went off for 24 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and four 3-pointers, and has scored between 13 and 24 points in every game thus far. He should be picked up if still available, especially if you’re fond of steals and threes.
Marcus Morris is killing it to start the season and had 23 points, three steals and three more 3-pointers in the surprising loss. Morris has hit double figures in all five games and is racking up steals, threes and boards with solid shooting along the way. Ditto for Tobias Harris. Andre Drummond didn’t have it last night, hitting just 3-of-9 shots for six points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Surprisingly, he’s really struggled with his field goal shooting in three of his first five games this season. I doubt that will last. He was benched for the fourth quarter last night, but he’s going to be fine.
Rockets 118, Knicks 99 – Clint Capela was 0-for-3 from the line and didn’t block a shot and is now 2-of-11 from the stripe. He started the season off with a bang, but has been pretty quiet over his last four games. I’m guessing he’ll get it going sooner than later, except from the line. He’s always going to be the worst free throw shooter in the room. James Harden had 30 points and 15 dimes, and could lead the league in both scoring and assists (he’s 4th and 1st as of now). Eric Gordon had 21 points and four 3-pointers, and looks fantastic. He and Harden make a good pair and Gordon has scored at least 14 points with two 3-pointers in every game thus far. If he stays healthy he could end up being the No. 1 steal of fantasy drafts this year. Montrezl Harrell hit 8-of-11 shots for 17 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and three blocks in 27 minutes off the bench. The 17 points tied his career high and he was playing the role of Nene tonight, who was out for rest. With Capela struggling and unable to hit free throws, Harrell’s role could grow, but he had played a grand total of four minutes coming in and still doesn’t have a real role. I’m not touching him unless we see this again in the next one.
The Knicks saw Kristaps Porzingis miss all four of his shots and score just three points, but he’s fine. And why he only got for shots is something you can bet is being addressed as I write this. Joakim Noah started, played 18 minutes and had zero points, zero blocks, two rebounds and four assists. If I owned him, I would have cut him by now. And the only thing worth noting off the Knicks’ bench, as usual, was that Brandon Jennings made a little bit of noise. If you own Rose, think about handcuffing Jennings to him.
Grizzlies 89, Pelicans 83 OT – Despite how well Anthony Davis has been playing, the Pelicans are still somehow winless. JaMychal Green had 21 points, six boards, a steal and three 3-pointers on 9-of-12 shooting in another start, and is a must-own player. James Ennis had 16 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers, and is a guy I picked up in several leagues a few days ago. He should be locked in until Chandler Parsons (knee) is ready. Marc Gasol was back in action after a day of rest but hit just 3-of-18 shots for eight points, 11 boards, six dimes, two steals and three blocks. That’s a rock-solid line if you pretend like he didn’t take a shot tonight. He’ll be OK assuming the Grizzlies let him play. Mike Conley was back with 20 points, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, and Tony Allen started and hit 1-of-8 shots. He’s now 3-of-15 on the season and has three steals and zero blocks. No thanks.
Anthony Davis proved he is human by hitting just 3-of-13 shots for 10 points, seven boards, two steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer, easily his worst game of the season. But at least he’s healthy. Terrence Jones, who didn’t even play in the last one, got 28 minutes off the bench for seven points, nine boards and two blocks, while starter Dante Cunningham didn’t score. Solomon Hill, who had 18 points, six boards, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers on Tuesday, played 11 minutes and missed both of his shots last night. I have no idea what Alvin Gentry is doing, and I’m not sure he does, either. And red-hot Tim Frazier played 15 minutes and had four points and two dimes as the Pelicans fell to 0-5. Langston Galloway and Buddy Hield scored 18 points in 30-plus minutes, and Lance Stephenson hit 9-of-15 shots for 21 points, four boards, six assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 45 minutes, but I don’t think you can trust any of those three while playing for Gentry. This has mutiny written all over it. I’d still recommend holding the starters (Frazier, E’Twaun Moore) over Galloway, Hield and Stephenson for now, but this is definitely a rotation to keep a close eye on going forward. Lastly, there’s talk that Jrue Holiday (personal) could be back in the next couple weeks, which I sort of predicted in various places. It’s time to pick him up!
Celtics 107, Bulls 100 – Amir Johnson went off for 23 points, six boards, three steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers, and Jae Crowder suffered an ankle injury tonight, while Al Horford has a concussion. Pick him up, as Crowder and Horford are likely to miss a handful of games. Marcus Smart played 34 minutes off the bench in his season debut and had seven points, five boards, five assists, a steal, a block and six TOs on 2-of-8 shooting. If you’re holding Terry Rozier, or another underperformer, drop them for Smart. Also keep an eye on Jonas Jerebko (22 minutes, 6 & 6) with Crowder and Horford injured.
Nikola Mirotic came off the Bulls’ bench for 17 points, six rebounds, a block and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes, and it’s time to pick him up.
Jazz 97, Mavericks 81 – Rudy Gobert had 12 points, 12 boards, two steals and three blocks, and is rolling. Rodney Hood scored 22 and is a strong play, at least until Gordon Hayward returns from his hand injury, and George Hill is one of the steals of your draft. He went off again with 25 points, six boards, four assists and four more 3-pointers. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Trey Lyles didn’t score in 23 minutes, while Derrick Favors struggled again as he tries to recover from his knee injury.
Suns 118, Blazers 115 OT – Devin Booker returned for 15 points, two steals, a 3-pointer and a few boards and assists. He played 39 minutes and here’s to hoping his toe’s OK. T.J. Warren should be owned everywhere and had 27 points, seven boards, two steals and a block, Tyson Chandler ripped down 18 rebounds and a block, and Eric Bledsoe scored 20 in the win and hit the game-winner. Alex Len (18 & 6, 3 blocks) and Brandon Knight (16 points) were both solid off the Suns’ bench, so keep an eye on them.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were both nice, while Meyers Leonard (12 & 5), Evan Turner (double-double) and Allen Crabbe (14 points, two 3-pointers) were all solid off the bench, but Crabbe is the only one I want on my fantasy team right now. Keep a close eye on Turner though.
Thunder 85, Clippers 83 – Russell Westbrook missed all seven of his 3-point attempts and committed 10 turnovers, but he had 35 points, six boards, five dimes and three steals, and the Thunder won to stay undefeated. OKC is still a very good basketball team. Victor Oladipo’s slow start continues, as he hit just 3-of-11 shots for nine points, five boards and one assist. Yes, it’s frustrating, but I’m keeping the faith and sticking with him. He has to be better soon. Steven Adams couldn’t get it going against DeAndre Jordan and hit just 1-of-3 shots for two points, 11 rebounds and no blocks. Stick with him. It’s hard to believe the Thunder won with only Westy in double-figures scoring, but it happened.
Blake Griffin cooled off with 14 points, nine boards, five assists, two steals and a block, hitting just 7-of-21 shots and missing both his 3-pointers and all three free throw attempts. He just had an off night. DeAndre Jordan was quiet with eight points, six boards and three blocks in 32 minutes, and Chris Paul just missed a triple-double with 15-11-9, six steals and two 3-pointers. J.J. Redick’s struggles continued with eight points and two 3-pointers on 3-of-12 shooting, but I still think he gets it turned around. Marreese Speights had 14 points and a 3-pointer in just 16 minutes, but he’s not trustworthy getting so few minutes.
And there you have it. Congratulations Chicago and your Cubs!!