Well, there was a lot more drama on a three-game Sunday than I was expecting, as Marc Gasol had a meltdown, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a nasty ankle roll and Chandler Parsons played a career-high 13 seconds before hurting his knee again. For fantasy advice or questions, find me on Twitter here!
Heat 100, Bulls 93
After missing Saturday’s practice due to left knee soreness, Hassan Whiteside gave it a go on Sunday with 11 points, 10 rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes. He didn’t seem quite right and the trainers were looking at him on the bench, and while Kelly Olynyk played down the stretch over Whiteside, coach Erik Spoelstra said it wasn’t injury related and that he was just riding the hot hand. Whiteside did miss five games earlier this season with a bone bruise in the same knee, so this is something his owners should keep an eye on with four games on the schedule this week.
Speaking of Olynyk, he had his second decent game in a row with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and a triple in 27 minutes, so give him a look as a Whiteside insurance policy or if you need a low-end streaming option since the Heat are one of 11 teams with four games in Week 7. Goran Dragic (24 points, three assists and four 3-pointers) is still rolling with three straight games of 20+ points, while Dion Waiters flopped with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. Waiters is only hitting 33.3 percent of his shots over his last five and that includes a scoreless 0-of-10 dud on Nov. 19, but he’s still a big part of the offense and is worth holding in most cases.
I’m sure to get a lot of Josh Richardson questions after yet another dud, as he failed to score on five shots in 24 minutes with two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. He’s in a brutal shooting slump right now, but he offers early-round upside when his shot is falling. Don’t drop him, but put him on your bench until he heats up. With that said, I’m biased because he won me a lot of fantasy leagues last season when he averaged 15.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 2.3 steals and 2.8 triples in the final six games.
Wayne Ellington is on a heater right now and had another big game on Sunday with 19 points and five 3-pointers in 30 minutes. He’s now averaging 17.5 points, 1.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 5.0(!) triples over his last four games, putting him firmly on the pickup radar. He’s gone on streaks like this before only to disappear from view shortly after, but give him a look while he’s hot. Fantasy dynamo James Johnson had a 15-6-7 line off the bench with two steals and two blocks and is still returning mid-round value, while Tyler Johnson got back on track after a three-point dud with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, two steals and two triples.
Unlike the Heat, there wasn’t much to see regarding the Bulls. Denzel Valentine is a must-own player and had 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, one steal and four triples, and while it will be interesting to see what happens with his role when Zach LaVine (knee) returns in mid-December, just pick him up and worry about that later. Lauri Markkanen had another double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and three 3-pointers, and his job is going to be safe all season. Justin Holiday continues to be a hit-or-miss fantasy option, racking up 15 points but hitting just 5-of-14 shots to go with a full line. For the record, I’ll think he’ll take a bigger hit than Valentine when LaVine gets back.
Jerian Grant had another fluky scoring outburst with 24 points after going off for 21 points in garbage time vs. the Warriors, but I’d rather have my wife manage my fantasy teams than add Grant to my rosters — she still thinks Kobe Bryant is playing… Kris Dunn had another dud on Sunday with two points (0-of-6 shooting), four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 24 minutes, and while he was benched down the stretch, coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed that he’ll continue to be the starting PG. With an awesome matchup coming up against the Suns, I’d give him another chance.
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Wolves 119, Suns 108
After attempting under 14 shots per game in five straight contests, the Wolves finally realized that they have one of the most offensively talented big men in the NBA in Karl-Anthony Towns. He finished 12-of-26 from the field for 32 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one block and a pair of triples, and it’s lines like these that his owners were expecting when they drafted him inside the top five. Coach Tom Thibodeau has never been an offensive mastermind, but it’s not rocket science to throw the rock to one of the best centers in the NBA as much as possible.
Jimmy Butler has been heating up after a slow start to the season and dropped 25 points with five assists, four boards and three steals, and I still think he can be a top-20 guy in fantasy despite sharing touches with KAT and Andrew Wiggins (21 points, five rebounds, four assists, four triples, one steal and one block). Gorgui Dieng showed that he still has a pulse with 11 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes with Nemanja Bjelica (foot) out again, but Thibodeau is apparently still Taj Gibson’s agent which makes him the better big to own for now.
Jeff Teague missed his second straight game with right Achilles soreness, opening the door for Tyus Jones to have one of the best games of his career. He finished with nine points, one 3-pointer, four rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and a career-high seven steals in 39 minutes. Teague decided to sit out again after testing his injury out in warmups, but he’s day-to-day and was probably being cautious since they were playing against a G-League team. Unless I get word that Teague will miss more time, Jones is more of a speculative pickup for now.
For the second straight game, the Suns started Greg Monroe next to Tyson Chandler and it didn’t go well… I know, shocker right? I’m not sure if coach Jay Triano is making these calls or the front office, but whoever it is has no idea what they’re doing. Showcasing them for a trade is one thing, but playing them over their young talent when they are bound for the bottom of the lottery makes no sense. Monroe was a -21 in his 17 minutes with eight points, five boards and two assists and I still think he’ll be bought out, so he doesn’t have much fantasy appeal to me. Chandler is still holding onto low-end value for now and had 12 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes, but Alex Len (DNP-CD) will be the center to own when it’s all said and done. What a mess.
Marquese Chriss has been my biggest miss of the season, though he did have a decent 16-minute shift with seven points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and a triple. The upside is there, but it could be a while before I trust him in fantasy lineups again. Dragan Bender had nine points, three triples and a steal in 21 minutes, and he’s a name to watch as we approach the new year.
Devin Booker (right big toe inflammation) sat this one out, but the injury sounds minor and I’d expect him back next game. Troy Daniels had a solid game with 13 points and three triples off the bench, but I’m only looking to add in deeper formats if Booker misses another game. If you need 3-pointers, a guy like Wayne Ellington is a safer bet. Mike James was the biggest winner with Booker out, scoring 26 points on 10-of-20 shots with seven assists. He’s had some monster games and some really bad duds this season, and prior to Sunday, Tyler Ulis (four points, four assists) was running away with the PG job. This could be a value-killing timeshare for a while.
Nets 98, Grizzlies 88
The Nets snapped a three-game losing streak, but their bad luck continued with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leaving the game with a sprained ankle after nine minutes never to return. RHJ didn’t speak to the media to my knowledge, but it looked like a nasty sprain and I could see him missing time, especially since the Nets are super cautious. Allen Crabbe missed this game with a back issue and it’s unclear if he will miss more time, but with those two guys hobbled, that puts Joe Harris (13 points, six rebounds, four 3-pointers, one assist and one block in 37 minutes) and Caris LeVert (nine points, three assists, four steals and one triple in 29 minutes) firmly on the map. With that said, the Nets only have three games in Week 7, so they are just low-end pickups.
DeMarre Carroll continued his surprising season with 24 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 35 minutes, and he’ll likely be playing more PF if RHJ misses time. Trevor Booker is the center to own in Brooklyn right now and had 16 points (6-of-10 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 31 minutes, but keep an eye on Jarrett Allen. The rookie was a bust with just 11 minutes, but he was coming on strong prior to Sunday and I love his shot-blocking upside.
Spencer Dinwiddie hit just 2-of-10 shots and 4-of-6 free throws, but also had nine points, seven assists, two blocks, two rebounds and one 3-pointer. The Nets will find a way to keep him on the floor when D’Angelo Russell (knee) comes back, so he could be worth owning the rest of the way.
The Grizzlies have lost eight games in a row, but coach David Fizdale threw gas on the fire when he benched Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter despite Memphis closing the gap down the stretch. "I mean, anyone wouldn't like it, right? You don't put Mike [Conley] back in? I'm sure they wouldn't do it to Mike,” a heated Gasol said. “I don't know. It's just the way it is. You have to deal with it. But I'm not just going to lay down and take it.” Gasol said over the offseason that he would need to re-evaluate things if Memphis didn’t take a step forward this season, and it’s hard to see them turning things around when you look at their upcoming schedule — their next four games are against the Spurs twice, Cavaliers and Wolves.
As I said in my “Week Ahead” column on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Grizzlies trade Gasol and his owners should seriously consider trading him before things get even uglier. If you’re a Conley owner, this should make you nervous as well because he isn’t going to have much incentive to play down the stretch if the Grizzlies start tanking.
To make matters worse, Chandler Parsons tweaked his troublesome right knee and didn’t return after 12 minutes. There’s no word on the severity and Parsons was getting shots up at the half, so hopefully they were just being cautious. This just adds to the case that he’s not worth stashing, though.
JaMychal Green continues to provide some nice low-end value with a 11-7-2 line with one triple, while Tyreke Evans kept his foot on the gas with 18 points (5-of-15 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), six boards, three assists and two 3-pointers. Mario Chalmers posted a three-point dud in 19 minutes, but coach Fizdale said he was just giving the veteran a little extra rest. He'll continue to have decent value until Conley comes back.