Donovan Mitchell joins a long list of stars on the sidelines, Anthony Davis missed another game because he's Anthony Davis and De'Aaron Fox and Joel Embiid treated us to some monstrous fantasy lines on the day after Halloween. Let's dose!
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Donovan Mitchell goes down
Donovan Mitchell is the latest star shooting guard forced to the sidelines with a hamstring injury, joining James Harden and Devin Booker. Like we saw with those two guys and many times before, hamstring injuries can linger depending on the severity and teams usually take a cautious approach. An MRI came back negative on Mitchell’s hammy, but the Jazz went ahead and ruled him out for Friday’s game. There’s no official diagnosis yet, but the last update was that he just had some tightness. For now, it’s completely up in the air if Mitchell will be back in time for Saturday vs. Denver.
So what should Mitchell owners do? Look no further than his replacement, Dante Exum. I wrote extensively about Exum in the Draft Guide, with one of my bold predictions being that Exum would breakout as a top waiver-wire add this season. Hey, I said bold right? In all seriousness, Exum was once a liability on offense, but that is a thing of the past. In 2017-18, James Harden and Damian Lillard were the only guards who produced at or above Dante’s level in usage (USG), assist percentage (AST%), free throw attempt rate (FTA Rate), and True Shooting! Yeah, the dude is legit.
This season he’s been used a combo guard behind Ricky Rubio and Mitchell, but with Mitchell out and Alex Burks (hand) doubtful, Exum has a legitimate shot at 30+ minutes. He has per-36 minute averages of 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.5 steals (that’s a bit fluky and will improve), 0.5 blocks and 1.4 triples, and he’s fourth on the Jazz in net rating. The Jazz play three games from Friday-Monday, so this is a great time to take a flier on him in case Mitchell’s injury lingers. The best-case scenario here is that Exum showcases his talent and forces coach Quin Snyder to use more 3-guard lineups like he hinted at in the preseason. In case you can’t tell, I’m excited to see how this unfolds.
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Jaylen Brown dealing with a foot injury
A foot injury sidelined Jaylen Brown for Thursday’s game, and the wing seems to think he’s dealing with plantar fasciitis. He said the pain surfaced last week, so maybe that explains his slow start to the season. There’s no official diagnosis yet and Brown was simply speculating, but he will meet with a specialist to get a better idea. For now, he should be considered day-to-day because he did go through warmups on Thursday.
Marcus Morris (24 minutes), Terry Rozier (26) and Marcus Smart (28) could all see an uptick in minutes/production while Brown is out, with Rozier being my preferred choice even though Morris has had the hot hand lately. Rozier has hit just 4-of-15 from the field in his last two games, but it’s hard to forget what he did last season and it’s just a matter of time before he heats up. He’s also getting minutes alongside Kyrie Irving, so he still has a path to value even though Kyrie is healthy and in a rhythm (finally).
The Brow returned from a two-game absence on Wednesday only to sit out on Thursday vs. the Blazers. The Pelicans initially called him doubtful and he was warming up with the team up until tip-off, so that confirms that they were just playing it safe. If you’ve followEd Davis’ career closely, this has been a common occurrence. He’s the best player in fantasy basketball by a mile, but DNPs just come with the territory. I’m expecting him to be back on Saturday vs. the Spurs, especially with the Pelicans losing their fourth straight after a 4-0 start.
And if I’m wrong and Davis misses another, DFS players know what to do — Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic are going to eat like they always do. Holiday had a 17-point, 10-assist double-double vs. Portland, Mirotic had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Randle went bonkers with 29 points, six rebounds and three dimes on 9-of-16 shots.
Lines of the Night:
Giannis Antetokounmpo- Returned from a concussion, scoring 33 points (13-of-22 FGs, 7-of-11 FTs) with 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and four turnovers in 36 minutes. He’s now grabbed 11 rebounds in 6 out of 7 games and has scored at least 30 points three times. The only reason he’s not blowing the lids off fantasy leagues is because of his efficiency from the line (70.9%) and a career-high 4.9 turnovers per game. Once he reels those in, I have no doubt he’ll be producing top-5 value.
Kyrie Irving- Dropped 28 points (10-of-20 FGs) with three rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, one steal, and six 3-pointers in 33 minutes against the Bucks. He’s coming off a 31-point game vs. the Pistons, and suddenly his 3-point game last week feels like a distant memory. Congrats if you bought low, but just keep in mind that he’s not going to be immune to duds on one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
Damian Lillard- Just another day at the office for Dame with 26 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes vs. the Pelicans. He’s averaging a career-high 29.1 points and is ranked 7th in 9-category leagues, and based on what he’s shown us since the All-Star break last season, he can definitely sustain this pace.
Julius Randle- As mentioned earlier, he scored 29 points with six rebounds, three assists and one steal in 26 minutes and is basically free money in daily leagues whenever Anthony Davis sits. It’s a small sample size, but Randle’s usage rate jumps from 24.2 to 30.7 with AD off the court.
De’Aaron Fox- He has the line of the night and it’s not close apart from The Process. Fox became the youngest player ever to record 30+ points, 15+ assists and 10+ rebounds with his final tally coming in at 31 points, 15 dimes, 10 rebounds, three triples and one steal. Normally an anchor to your FG% and FT%, Fox also hit 9-of-13 shots and 10-of-11 free throws. This line catapulted him into the top-75 for standard fantasy leagues, and with the Kings running at the second fastest pace in the NBA, I like Fox’s chances of staying in that range.
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Buddy Hield- He’s on fire right and just had his best game with a season-high 27 points with five rebounds, six assists, one block, two steals and five 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Hield was one of my favorite sleepers this season and he’s on pace to crush his ADP with a legitimate shot at top 50-75 value.
Jeremy Lin- He scored a season-high 23 points with one rebound, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes, but the boxscore doesn’t tell the whole story as 13 of his points came in garbage time. I’ll need to see Lin step up before the game is decided.
Juan Hernangomez- The third-year forward came out of nowhere to score a season-high 23 points with four rebounds, two blocks, one steal and five 3-pointers in 29 minutes. This comes after a DNP-CD in his previous game, but maybe he earns more minutes over a quiet Torrey Craig going forward. There’s a window of opportunity while Will Barton is out, but I’m not ready to add Hernangomez just yet.
Joel Embiid- He’s going to make a strong push for the MVP Award if he keeps this up. Embiid had a season-high 41 points (16-of-32 FGs, 6-of-9 FTs) with 13 rebounds, one assist, four blocks, and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes, and he already has more 30/10 games this year (6) than he did last year (5). Hat tip to my colleague @legsanity for that one.
Robert Covington- Want to know why he’s the 19th ranked player in 9-cat leagues? Steals, blocks and triples. He had 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four steals, three blocks and two triples on Thursday and continues to be a stat-stuffing machine.
Russell Westbrook- He scored 29 points with 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals. This is considered a boring line for Westy which goes to show just how good he is. His knee is fine, obviously.
Quick Glance at the Waiver-Wire:
Malik Monk scored 21 points with two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 23 minutes against the Thunder, his second 20-point game in a row. He has eight 3-pointers in that span, but the rest of his stat set leaves a lot to be desired with minimal assists, rebounds and defensive stats. He’s just a streamer while Jeremy Lamb is healthy, but should get more run later in the season.
Alex Abrines scored a career-high 25 points with two rebounds and five 3-pointers in 30 minutes against the Hornets, but scored a combined 11 points in his previous four. Terrance Ferguson has been a disaster and the Thunder are bringing Hamidou Diallo along slowly even though he’s been a bright spot, but this line for Abrines seems way too fluky for me.
Jerami Grant- He’s still starting and is averaging 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals over his last five. Grant is a nice guy to have on the end of your bench, but I wouldn’t hesitate to drop him for someone with more upside.
Al-Farouq Aminu- He posted a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double with two triples and block, but barely made any noise before Thursday with 7.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.9 triples. We’ve seen Aminu go on hot streaks before, so just keep an eye on him.
Zach Collins- He finally had a quiet night because of foul trouble, but he was still productive in 17 minutes with nine points, one assist, one rebound and two triples. He’s the 48th ranked player in 9-category leagues despite playing under 22 minutes a night. His low ownership rate is a crime.
E’Twaun Moore- Has an efficient stat set which is why he’s flirting with top-75 value right now. Posted 19 points with a pair of triples and change vs. the Blazers.
Boban Marjanovic- Coach Doc Rivers has already lied to us once about Boban’s role, and the Clippers go away from him in certain matchups. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights, as Boban was their only answer to Joel Embiid as he racked up 15 points with 11 rebounds and three blocks. If he had a guaranteed role I’d be all over him in fantasy leagues.
DeAndre Bembry- Had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and one block and is flirting with 3.0 dimes per game this season with other solid counting stats as Atlanta’s sixth man. Just beware of his awful shooting percentages.
Collin Sexton- George Hill is either going to be benched, traded or both. I would expect Sexton to make starts before the new year. Had 12 points on Thursday with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one triple.