Lakers get their backcourt back
Lonzo Ball saw just 26 minutes as a starter with Rajon Rondo (hand) back in the rotation on Friday and finished with 12 points, two 3-pointers, five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. Ball had been averaging 31.8 minutes a night over the past 17 games with Rondo on the sidelines, so the minutes dip in a close game was thoroughly disappointing. It looks like he’s back to being locked in a timeshare, so hopefully, you were able to sell-high during his recent hot streak. As long as Rondo is healthy, it’ll be tough for Ball to be anything more than a late-round asset in fantasy hoops.
Meanwhile, Josh Hart saw just 20 minutes off the bench with Brandon Ingram back in the starting lineup, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope only managed to play 15 minutes off the bench and Lance Stephenson picked up a DNP-CD. Neither Hart nor KCP did anything worth writing about, and with the Lakers’ backcourt back intact, they simply won’t be earning enough floor time to make an impact in fantasy hoops.
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On a positive note, Kyle Kuzma stayed hot despite Ingram’s return, producing 23 points (8-of-15 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), three 3-pointers, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and zero turnovers through 37 minutes. His assists will likely come down with Ingram and Rondo back, but it’s encouraging that he still saw heavy minutes and his usage didn’t take much of a hit.
1 in 5.5 million
Lauri Markkanen bounced back in a big way following Wednesday’s six-shot, eight-point performance, scoring a season-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting (4-of-4 from the stripe) to go with six rebounds, four 3-pointers, three assists, one block and two turnovers through 37 minutes. With Bobby Portis (ankle) and Zach LaVine (ankle) out of commission for the next 2-4 weeks, Markkanen should see heavy minutes and a ton of shots falling his way, so owners can expect a lot of big lines moving forward. The dude is a straight up stud, and I’m confident he’ll be able to establish himself as a top-40 player his sophomore season. Congrats if you snagged him at a discount on draft day.
On the Radar
Fred VanVleet got another start on Friday with Kyle Lowry (thigh) on the sidelines and put up 14 points (6-of-10 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), five rebounds, eight dimes, one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and zero turnovers across 38 minutes. He should get another start on Saturday with Lowry unlikely to get out there, and with Kawhi Leonard (rest) taking the night off, FVV will see a lot of shots falling his way. Per NBAwowy.com, with Lowry, Leonard, Serge Ibaka (knee), Danny Green (knee) and Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) off the floor, VanVleet’s usage spikes to 30.2. Through eight starts this season, VanVleet has come through with averages of 13.1 points, 5.9 dimes, 2.0 treys, 1.1 steals and just 1.3 turnovers per contest on 47.1% shooting.
OG Anunoby started at the four-spot on Friday with Pascal Siakam sliding over to center, and scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with eight rebounds, three 3-pointers, one block and one turnover in 22 minutes. If Green and Ibaka are out again on Saturday, he’ll be someone to think about streaming in deep leagues.
Delon Wright produced eight points (3-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block across 33 minutes in a spot-start on Friday. Wright has a knack for racking up the defensive stats, so he’ll be another guy to consider streaming on Saturday if he sticks with the starting unit.
Reggie Bullock went 4-of-9 from the field on his way to 11 points, three triples, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and tow turnovers in 37 minutes. He’s been absolutely en fuego since returning from the ankle injury, posting averages of 20.8 points, 2.8 boards, 1.5 dimes and a whopping 4.8 trey-bombs on 54.5% shooting over his past four outings. There’s no way he’ll be able to keep shooting at such a high percentage, but he’ll be a reliable source of points and triples and should be owned in far more than just 36% of Yahoo! Leagues. Give him a look.
Marvin Williams dropped in a career-high seven triples to go with a season-high 24 points on his way to six rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and two turnovers across 32 minutes during Friday’s win over the Pistons. He wasn’t even worth owning over the first few months of the year, but he’s really come alive through the month of December with averages of 12.9 points, 6.0 boards, 2.9 triples, 0.9 steals and just 0.4 turnovers per contest on 47.9% shooting. He’s a notoriously slow starter, but the No. 2 overall pick from the 2005 draft has gotten back into his groove and is worth a look in most leagues.
Rodoins Kurucs netted a career-high 24 points (6-of-11 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs) in another start sans Allen Crabbe (knee), to go with four triples, three rebounds, one steal, one block and zero turnovers across 34 minutes. Since entering the starting unit, Kurucs has come through with averages of 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 triples, 1.0 assist and just 0.6 turnovers per game on 52.8% shooting from the field and 88.9% from the stripe, and with how well he’s played, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he held onto his starting spot upon Crabbe’s return. He’s not really must-own in shallower formats, but he’s a worthwhile asset in deeper leagues, so it’s somewhat absurd that he’s currently only owned in 3% of Yahoo! Leagues.
Kevin Huerter scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with two treys, one rebound, one assist, one steal, one block and three turnovers across 34 minutes. Since Taurean Prince (ankle) went down, Huerter has seen his role expanded and has come through with averages of 12.4 points, 2.4 dimes, 2.6 triples, 1.1 steals, 0.7 swats and 2.4 turnovers per contest on 47.6% shooting from the field and 90% from the charity stripe, which has been good enough for top-100 value in 9-cat leagues. While his value will likely take a hit once Prince gets back (likely shortly after Christmas), he’s a guy that should also see solid minutes down the stretch on this rebuilding Hawks’ team. He’s worth a look in most leagues.
Marcus Smart ripped away another two steals on his way to eight points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and zero turnovers through 29 minutes as a starter. As per usual, he didn’t shoot the ball well, going 2-of-8 from the field (4-of-4 from the stripe), but his steals (3.0) have been elite through the month of December and he’s also been dishing out 4.2 dimes over that nine-game stretch while only committing 1.2 turnovers. Smart will hurt your FG% and he’s not the most consistent scorer, but the gaudy steals totals makes him worth owning.
Jaylen Brown busted out of his shooting funk on Friday, going 8-of-14 from the field (but unfortunately 2-of-7 from the stripe) on his way to 21 points, three 3-pointers, seven rebounds, two assists, four steals and zero turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench. He’s been very hit-or-miss this season, but he could be someone to think about streaming on Sunday if Marcus Morris (knee) is out again.
Bryn Forbes scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-5 from the line) to go with three 3-pointers, four rebounds, seven assists, one block and one turnover across 30 minutes during Friday’s easy win over the Timberwolves. He’s been shooting the lights out over the past two games, connecting on a ridiculous 70% of his shots to go with averages of 19.5 points, 3.0 triples, 4.0 boards, 3.5 dimes and 1.5 turnovers per game. No, that sky-high percentage is in no way sustainable, but he’ll be a guy to consider streaming on Saturday with an uptempo matchup against the Rockets.
Jae Crowder hit 6-of-9 shots on his way to 16 points, four 3-pointers, one rebound, one steal and one turnover in 24 minutes off the bench. He’s been on a roll over the past three games with averages of 16.0 points, 7.3 boards, 4.0 triples, 1.0 assist and 1.0 turnover per game on 50% shooting, so make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.
Garrett Temple went 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the stripe on his way to 17 points, three 3-pointers, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and three turnovers in 38 minutes. After a series of single-digit scoring outings to open up the month of December, Temple has gotten things back on track over the past five games with averages of 12.6 points, 2.4 boards, 1.8 treys, 1.6 steals, 1.2 swats and just 1.0 turnover per game on 53.3% shooting, which has him flirting with top-60 value in 9-cat leagues. He’s gone through a few rough patches this season, but the triples (1.6) and steals (1.2) have kept his value afloat, and there isn’t really anyone on the roster to challenge him for minutes. He’s not the most attractive asset in fantasy hoops, but he’s doing enough to warrant ownership in deep leagues.
Rajon Rondo (hand) returned from a month-long layoff on Friday and recorded eight points (3-of-10 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), four rebounds, nine assists and two turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench. He has a pretty low ceiling, but his 6.7 dimes per game give him some low-end value in deep leagues as an assist-specialist.
Ivica Zubac got the start with JaVale McGee (illness) out and Tyson Chandler under the weather and registered his sixth-career double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one turnover across 32 minutes. The talent has always been there for Zubac, but it’s been a struggle for him to find quality minutes in Los Angeles. The illness shouldn’t keep McGee out too much longer, but if he sits again on Sunday against the Grizzlies, Zubac will be a popular DFS target.
Matthew Dellavedova (knee) was back in action following a one-game absence, scoring eight points on 3-of-5 shooting (1-of-2 from the line) to go with one 3-pointer, one rebound, six assists and one turnover in 18 minutes off the bench. Since returning to Cleveland, he’s managed to contribute averages of 11.2 points, 4.8 assists, 2.0 triples and 1.5 turnovers per game on 57.1% shooting, giving him some low-end appeal as a dimes-specialist in deep leagues.
Jeff Teague (ankle) will miss at least the next 7-10 days of action. While not the best news for Teague owners, the positive spin here is that Teague had been seriously struggling as he fought through the pain with this ankle issue, and him sitting out to get things right should be a net positive for his fantasy value. I fully expect him to be back to early-round status once he’s up to speed again, so savvy GMs should view this as a prime, buy-low opportunity.
Derrick Rose exited Friday’s game with left ankle soreness and did not return, finishing with just four points on 1-of-8 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with two boards, a block and one turnover in 16 minutes. He should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in OKC, and if he’s out, Tyus Jones would make for a very attractive DFS option or deep league streamer as he’d likely get the start and earn the lion’s share of PG minutes for the Wolves.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there’s “optimism” that Chris Paul will “only” need to miss 2-3 weeks with his most recent hamstring injury, but with an MRI confirming a Grade 2 strain, I’d consider that timetable overly optimistic. The Houston Chronicle reported a 2-4 week timetable, and I’d expect him to be closer to that four-week mark, considering this is his second left hamstring injury of the year. James Harden will be in monster-mode while he’s out, and there will be more minutes available for Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker. Technically, Brandon Knight will see more opportunity with CP3 on the sidelines, but he acknowledged on Friday that it’s still “very, very early” for him after being sidelined for over a year, so I wouldn’t expect much from him.
Kris Dunn rolled his ankle on Friday, but played through it and finished with 12 points (4-of-14 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), eight boards, seven dimes, two steals and two turnovers in 36 minutes. The Bulls will travel to Cleveland for a game on Sunday, which could exacerbate the ankle issue and cause it to swell up a bit, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him hit the sidelines for a team that isn’t necessarily all that invested in winning. If he is forced to the sidelines, Shaquille Harrison would likely get the start and there would be more minutes available for Antonio Blakeney. Owners will want to double-check his status ahead of Sunday’s tip.
Cameron Payne (calf) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday.
Brandon Ingram (ankle) replaced Josh Hart in the starting unit in his return from a seven-game absence and came through with 18 points (6-of-14 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes. He should be fine for Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies.
JaVale McGee (illness) missed his third straight game on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday.
Julius Randle (ankle) posted 21 points (9-of-15 FGs, 3-of-5 FTs), eight rebounds, two assists, one block and three turnovers through 34 minutes as a starter in his return from a one-game absence. The ankle was a complete non-issue, so it would be shocking to see him sit on Sunday in Sacramento.
Nikola Mirotic (ankle) missed his fourth straight game on Friday and he should be considered doubtful for Sunday’s game in Sacramento.
Will Barton (hip) still has not been able to go through a full practice, so it seems unlikely that we’ll see him back in action by December. The Nuggets keep it close to the vest with their injured players, so we won’t really have an idea on where he is until he’s on the cusp of a return. Still, I imagine he’ll be back sometime in January, so he’s worth stashing everywhere.
John Wall (illness) and Markieff Morris (illness) did not practice Friday and are questionable for Saturday’s game against the Suns. If they’re unable to give it a go, Tomas Satoransky would likely get the start while Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green would get all the run they could handle.
Marcus Morris (knee) missed his second game in a row on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Hornets.
Justise Winslow (ankle) did not practice Friday and is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Bucks.
Dion Waiters (foot) got through a full practice on Friday without limitations, so after a handful more of those, he should be ready to make his season debut. However, he’ll be brought along slowly and it’s tough to see him getting the type of usage he needs to put up relevant stat lines in fantasy hoops.
Serge Ibaka (knee), Kyle Lowry (thigh) and Danny Green (knee) did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Saturday’s matchup with the 76ers. Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright and OG Anunoby started in their place on Friday, and that could again be the case on Saturday.
Kawhi Leonard (rest) will not suit up for Saturday’s game in Philly. The good news is that the Raptors won’t have another back-to-back set until mid-January (16-17).
Allen Crabbe (knee) missed his fifth straight game on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Suns.
Ersan Ilyasova underwent nose surgery on Friday and he’s expected to miss roughly the next 10 days of action.
Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) saw five minutes off the bench in his return from a five-game absence, but he didn’t do anything worth writing about. Even with Al Horford (knee) and Aron Baynes (hand) sidelined, the Dancing Bear can’t be considered a viable target in most settings.
Jabari Parker (illness) missed his third consecutive game on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist) is doubtful for Saturday’s game, and most likely won’t play given Rick Carlisle’s recent comments indicating he didn’t expect to have DSJ available for the road trip. If he’s out again, Jalen Brunson will earn another start, Luka Doncic will spend more time running the offense, and J.J. Barea will have the chance for extended minutes.
Iman Shumpert (personal, hip) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (foot) were back in action on Friday, with Shump contributing 11 points (3-of-7 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), two 3-pointers, one assist and one steal across 21 minutes as a starter; and Bogdanovic tallying 14 points (3-of-9 FGs, 5-of-8 FTs), three 3-pointers, one rebound, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 27 minutes off the bench.
Tyreke Evans (knee) returned to the sidelines on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Wizards. He’s been awful this season and shouldn’t be owned in most leagues.
Jonathon Simmons (ankle) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Heat.