The last regular season Saturday Rotoworld Dose of 2016 has arrived. We’ve made it, and congratulations are in order to anyone still playing.
For everyone else: It’s all about getting a taste of what the next go-around could look like, and Giannis Antetokounmpo sure appears to be a top-12 fantasy selection. We’ve got guys in Philly giving shouts to Sam Hinkie, John Wall on shutdown watch, Cole Aldrich doing his best DeAndre Jordan and the Motor City revving its engine for the first time since 2009.
Off the court, Brandon Knight’s campaign ended early for the second straight year in Phoenix, and the Suns are going to have to make some tough calls this summer with Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Knight all currently in the mix.
Miami @ Orlando: Magic 112, Heat 109
Duds: Andrew Nicholson
The Biggest Takeaway(s): It would be an upset if Josh Richardson, the 2015 version of Jordan Clarkson, didn’t make an All-Rookie roster. Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton all went big in a game Victor Oladipo (concussion) was knocked out of, and Andrew Nicholson was a DNP-CD in a game sans Aaron Gordon (concussion) because Scott Skiles reads Rotoworld and wants to torture us all. Both Oladipo and Gordon are on shutdown watch with three games left on the schedule, and their absence would benefit the aforementioned triplet of players as well as potentially Mario Hezonja. Hey, at least C.J. Watson and Ersan Ilyasova played a combined 53 minutes, right?
New York @ Philadelphia: Knicks 109, Sixers 102
The Biggest Takeaway(s): Robin Lopez did everything except make his free throws, and he’s now swatted away a game-changing 15 shots over the last seven days. Maybe he’s trying to carry the family name with brother Brook done for the season; whatever the explanation, we’ll gladly take it. With no upside and plenty of potential downside to the situation, I’d be surprised to see Kristaps Porzingis (shoulder) again this year, which means Derrick Williams should stay plenty relevant. Don’t look now, but Sasha Vujacic is averaging 17.7 points, 4.0 boards, 3.0 dimes, 1.3 steals and 3.7 treys on 61.3% shooting in his last three games, while Arron Afflalo continues to be an absolute non-factor. Jerian Grant had arguably his best game as a pro tying his career high with 16 points, and as mentioned last week, I prefer him to Langston Galloway both in reality and in fantasy.
It’s only appropriate that Sam Hinkie’s prized (free agent) pupil in Robert Covington stood out in the game after his resignation, dropping a career-high 30 points (seven triples, 11 rebounds) as a tribute to his former boss. Nerlens Noel also chipped in a stat-stuffing double-double as an ode to the man who drafted him, while the consistently inconsistent Nik Stauskas tipped his hat to the man who traded for him by producing a favorable line and should get one last opportunity to sauce his plate with Isaiah Canaan’s (torn labrum) campaign over. Despite his surprisingly good play, Carl Landry (back) isn’t worth holstering through any DNPs.
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Brooklyn @ Charlotte: Hornets 113, Nets 99
The Biggest Takeaway(s): T-Rob (16&17) is looking like T-Rex with six straight double-doubles, averaging 15.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals over that stretch. The downside: He’s Andre Drummond at the FT line, going 12-for-35 (34.3%) in his last six. Intriguing rookie Chris McCullough is worth a look if you’re chasing steals, racking up eight of them in the last two games.
Milwaukee @ Boston: Celtics 124, Bucks 109
The Biggest Takeaway(s): That’s now two straight games of 40-plus minutes for Rashad Vaughn, whose development is a clear priority for a Bucks team going nowhere. Launching 29 shots (17 3PA) during that stretch, the first-round pick is averaging 11.0 points, 2.5 steals, 2.0 3PM and a block on 31% shooting. Even though Khris Middleton “might” play on Sunday, I can’t afford to wait on a maybe when I’m trying to go to the dance. For what it’s worth: It’s hard to see how a marginalized Greg Monroe will desire a return to Milwaukee next season. No Boston starter played more than 25 minutes, clearing the way for Tyler Zeller to go off for a career-high 26 points and four blocks while Kelly Olynyk posted a surprisingly productive line, but neither is a recommended pickup with the Celtics at full strength. Evan Turner (eye) returned with four points, four boards, nine dimes, a steal and a block over 31.5 minutes in a matchup where Jae Crowder picked up three fouls in the first quarter and played 14 minutes as a result. Expect New England’s Soup Man to be better on Saturday vs. Atlanta.
Washington @ Detroit: Pistons 112, Wizards 99
The Biggest Takeaway(s): John Wall (knee) carried the Wizards as far as he could, but expect him to be shut down now that Washington has been eliminated from the playoffs. Ramon Sessions (12 points, six dimes) would benefit if Wall sits, but I can’t say enough about Wall—a bona fide superstar and first-round fantasy pick—who doesn’t get the national credit he deserves. Reggie Jackson—whom I’ve been (rightfully) very critical of lately—picked a good time to have his best game in a month, finishing with 39 points, nine dimes and four triples on 14-of-20 shooting. It’s the first time Jackson has connected on at least half of his shots since March 12, the first time he’s made at least four threes since February 21 and the first time the Pistons are going to the playoffs since 2009.
Indiana @ Toronto: Raptors 111, Pacers 98
The Biggest Takeaway(s): The Pacers should’ve been heading to the playoffs on a night Toronto rested Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll and Luis Scola, but the Pacers collectively disappointed led by Paul George coming up small in a moment where his fantasy teams needed big things. Playing in all 82 games is a noble quest, but there’s no doubt it’s had an impact on George’s production at times this year. Of Toronto’s “secondary stars,” Norman Powell—who dropped a career-high 27 points and went to the free throw line 19 times—is the only one I’d be flirting with given the Raptors are locked into the two seed and could feed Carroll and/or DeRozan additional rest if desired. Delon Wright added a career-high 19 points while Cory Joseph was perfect from the floor, going for 18 points and nine dimes in the process. CoJo may have one more start in him if the Raptors rest Lowry again.
Los Angeles (L) @ New Orleans: Pelicans 110, Lakers 102
The Biggest Takeaway(s): D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson combined for 58 points and eight triples on 19-of-31 (61.3%) from the field, but the post-Kobe Bryant Lakers backcourt of the future needs to have more than two assists and flash better sustained efficiency if the pairing is going to eventually flourish as expected. Next year is the real evaluation period in Los Angeles, where everyone—except perhaps Byron Scott—can move without fear of operating in Bryant’s shadow. How’s the Roy Hibbert rejuvenation project going for the Lakers, you ask? Continuing to serve the same purpose as a traffic cone in the lane, Hibbert allowed Alexis Ajinca to go off for a career best in points (28) and rebounds (15). To his credit, Ajinca has played well of late and deserves a longer look in most leagues right now after averaging 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 1.5 blocks on 61.7% shooting in his last four contests. Omer Asik update: He hasn’t made a basket in April and his contract remains one of the worst in the NBA. You’re welcome.
Memphis @ Dallas: Mavs 103, Grizzlies 93
The Biggest Takeaway(s): Nobody should be waiting on Deron Williams, and it’s going to be difficult to hold J.J. Barea—who departed after eight minutes with a strained groin—unless we get a very favorable update earlier than later. That means it’s Raymond Felton’s (11 points, six boards, 14 dimes) time to shine, so somebody better get the birthday cupcakes ready. Despite Justin Anderson’s fat line (19 points, 10 boards, three blocks, three triples), there should be better pickups available with difficult matchups ahead vs. the Clippers, Jazz and Spurs. As for Wesley Matthews, he is what he is and has been this season: a 3-point and steals specialist. This was a bad matchup for JaMychal Green, Zach Randolph and any big man not named Dirk Nowitzki, but Matt Barnes’ versatility continues to shine with averages of 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 triples on 39.5% shooting over his last three games. Barnes, who has hit on at least 45% of his shots in just five games since the All-Star Break, is best suited for those punting the field goal percentage category. Dave Joerger may rest some guys in Saturday’s game vs. Golden State, so keep that in mind before making any evaluations regarding add/drop decisions.
San Antonio @ Denver: Nuggets 102, Spurs 98
The Biggest Takeaway(s): In a potential preview of next season, Nikola Jokic (eight points, 15 boards, four dimes, one steal, one block) and Jusuf Nurkic (21 points, nine boards, two steals, two blocks) gave the Nuggets plenty to think about as Denver tries to reshape its roster. Add that to a growing Emmanuel Mudiay, an improving Gary Harris and assets to work with, and suddenly Denver becomes a very interesting team to watch moving forward. It sounds like the plan is to see as much as the Jokic-Nurkic pairing as possible with Kenneth Faried watching from the sidelines. Sorry, Joffrey Lauvergne. The Spurs rested their starting lineup minus Tim Duncan—likely because Duncan previously missed time with a knee injury—but David West was the only reserve to really take advantage of extended minutes, rewarding those who used him in DFS with 17 points, seven boards and five blocks. There are no pickups to be found here.
Los Angeles (C) @ Utah: Clippers 102, Jazz 99 (OT)
The Biggest Takeaway(s): Jamal Crawford was a clear DFS must-play with Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin all resting, but Cole Aldrich’s big night left the larger impression considering he went off for 21 points, 18 rebounds, five steals and a block vs. Rudy Gobert, who managed just seven points and seven boards without a single swat. You would’ve thought those lines were reversed considering the competition on both sides, but it’s been that kind of year for Gobert. Anytime DJA sits, Aldrich is worth playing. Paul Pierce had arguably his most productive game as a Clipper with 18 points, four triples and three steals (five TO), but he’s not worth a roster spot in any format. This was a big loss for Utah’s playoff positioning, so don’t expect any rest for Gordon Hayward—who has scored 20-plus in four of his last five—or Derrick Favors, who got back to his defensive ways with more blocks on Friday (four) than he had in his previous six games combined (three). Shelvin Mack—who I can confirm is still Shelvin Mack—has turned back into a pumpkin at exactly the wrong time, averaging 11.7 points, 4.3 boards and 3.0 assists on 42.9% from the floor. It was nice to see Alec Burks (fibula) back on the floor with 11 points in 13 efficient minutes, but he won’t be fantasy relevant until (at least) next season.