If there's one player that I've added and dropped more than anyone else in my lifetime, it has to be John Henson. We have a love-hate relationship, but I'm on his hype train again with Greg Monroe (calf) set to miss some time. This could go very badly and I'm bracing myself for another heartbreak, especially since Henson is now on most of fantasy rosters on the night before Halloween. In addition to Henson going bonkers on Sunday, Domantas Sabonis turned in one of the lines of the year, Jamal Murray and Tim Hardaway Jr. decided to score again, and we finally heard some good news regarding Myles Turner. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Domantas Sabonis continues to impress
The second-year forward just had the game of his life on Sunday, scoring a career-high 22 points vs. the Spurs on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting with 12 boards, two assists, one steal, one block, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 33 minutes. This wasn’t just a one-game fluke either, as Sabonis had season averages of 11.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists prior to Sunday. He doesn’t get many defensive stats and is shooting 65.2 percent from the free throw line, but there’s still a lot to like here.
Some will say that Sabonis is just taking advantage of Myles Turner’s (concussion) absence and that he’ll be back on the waiver wire once the star PF returns, and while that may be true, coach Nate McMillan’s comments about using Sabonis next to Turner going forward raised some eyebrows. "I certainly see those two guys playing together," McMillan said. "It gives us some size, it gives us some versatility," McMillan said. "We're big, but we still have the speed and athleticism to defend and run our sets. I look forward to getting to that as much as possible.”
Sabonis is not only a better rebounder and shooter than Thaddeus Young, he’s also a young player with upside on a rebuilding roster. As for Young, he has a player option for $13.7 million next season that he will surely decline in search for a long-term deal. In fact, I think there’s a really good chance that Young is traded before the deadline. So, while there’s no guarantee that Sabonis will hold onto value when Turner is back, I think he’s worth picking up until we find out.
Myles Turner nearing a return?
I wrote a lot about Turner in my Week Ahead column, but Pacers coach Nate McMillan can gave us some additional details on Sunday. The team officially announced that Turner has been placed in the concussion protocol, and coach McMillan confirmed that his star big man is "feeling a little better.” His status for Tuesday’s game vs. the Kings is up in the air, but it’s more likely that Turner would return later in the week — the Pacers have three more games in Week 3 against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the 76ers on Friday and the Knicks on Sunday. Once cleared, I think Turner will be a top-10 fantasy player this season and he showed why in the opener with 21 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in 34 minutes.
Jamal Murray (finally) breaks out
Murray was a popular fantasy sleeper this season and I had him on two out of 10 fantasy teams, but after I pulled the plug on him in one league, of course he decided to wake up with 26 points on 8-of-14 FGs and 8-of-8 FTs with two 3-pointers, five assists, two boards, one steal and one block in 31 minutes against the Nets on Sunday. As encouraging as this line was, it’s important to have some context — the Nets have allowed the sixth most fantasy points to point guards this season, and they play at the second fastest pace in the NBA which may have attributed to his success. With that said, Murray may have his confidence back and he has a great chance to have another big game against the Knicks on Monday, but I can’t confidently say that he will be a stud going forward after he shot 28.8 percent from the field in the first games of the season.
D’Angelo Russell’s knee a concern?
After an amazing start to the season, D’Angelo Russell hasn’t been the same since sitting out against the Cavaliers on Oct. 25 with a knee sprain. He’s averaging just 13.5 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 triples and 4.0 turnovers on 40.9 percent shooting over his last two games with zero steals or blocks, and he also played just 21 minutes per game in that span. However, Russell refused to place the blame on his knee and indicated that he just needs to get his rhythm back. Coach Kenny Atkinson believes it has something to do with rhythm as well and indicated that his knee is going to be just fine. “We wouldn’t put him out there if he wasn’t 100 percent,” Atkinson said. “Our medical team and him, we do this collaboratively. He’s fine.” If you can get D Russ at a discount, go for it because I think he’ll be a top-40 player the rest of the way once he gets back into a groove.
Khris Middleton shows up
I had Khris Middleton as my “buy-low player of the week” in my Week Ahead column on Saturday, so hopefully some of you were able to take advantage. After an eerily quiet start to the season, Middleton showed up with a bang on Sunday, dropping 27 points with nine assists, seven rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Middleton has demonstrated that he can be an early-round fantasy producer in the past, and I’m confident that he can do it again in his age-26 season. His owners will sleep well tonight.
Frank Ntilikina showing signs
I was super high on the French PG coming out of the draft and my stance hasn’t changed. Sure he’s had some injury concerns already, but he’s shown in limited minutes that he could become a two-way stud in this league. His play has also caught the attention of the Knicks’ franchise player. "I like how he came in the game and didn't force anything," Porzingis said of Ntilikina’s home debut vs. Brooklyn. "He had a good pace and controlled the team. Being 19 years old, he's great at doing that. ... Going forward, he's going to be able to get triple-doubles. That's what type of player he is.”
After starting the season third on the depth chart, Ntilikina is already the primary backup behind Jarrett Jack and it won’t be long before he leapfrogs the veteran as well. While I’m not ready to throw him into fantasy lineups just yet, he’s worth watching very closely going forward.
Willy Hernangomez still buried on the bench
After getting a little bit of run in his last two games, Hernangomez was a DNP-CD on Sunday vs. Cleveland. He’s considered one of New York’s four building blocks along with Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr., so coach Jeff Hornacek’s refusal to play him is borderline insane. When asked about the rotation, Knicks president Steve Mills said he will leave it up to Hornacek when it comes to who plays.
“We don’t tell Jeff who to play. Jeff understands our strategy as a whole and wants these guys to develop,” Mills said. “At the end of the day, we tell the players and we tell Jeff that you got to earn your minutes. Willy [Hernangomez] understands that and Willy’s done a really good job over the last week understanding what he has to do. He’s definitely stepped it up in practice. This is part of Willy’s development. He’s a guy that’s going to be with us for the next three years. We got a lot of time to work with him, and he’s going to be a part of who we are.” I had to give up on stashing Hernangomez in a few leagues, but his time will come and I’m definitely going to keep him at the top of my watch list.
THJ was limited by an ankle injury at the start of the season, so maybe that explains his brutal shooting slump — he was shooting 26.5 percent in his first four games. However, he finally got it going on Sunday in a huge win over the Cavaliers, notching 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 7-of-8 from the line with five 3-pointers, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals in 41 minutes. There’s a good chance he was dropped by an impatient owner in your league, so make sure to use your top waiver-wire priority if that’s the case. I’m not expecting this type of production obviously, but I do think he can be a top-75 player in standard 9-cat leagues going forward.
Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) is out indefinitely
The 76ers announced on Sunday that Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely with "soreness and scapular muscle imbalance.” He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated in three weeks, but that doesn’t mean he will be cleared at that point. He’s obviously safe to drop in re-draft formats for the time being (if you don’t have an I.R. slot), and this is an embarrassing moment for the 76ers for letting him play through this issue in the first place.
Greg Monroe (calf) out two weeks
Prior to Sunday’s game vs. the Hawks, Bucks coach Jason Kidd said that Monroe will miss two weeks due to soreness in his left calf. Monroe wasn’t playing particularly well at the start of the season, but it’s unclear how long this calf issue has been bothering him. Monroe was playing just 15.8 minutes per game prior to this report, so it’s safe for fantasy owners to move on. The Bucks used a two-man rotation at center in Monroe’s absence, and it was John Henson who emerged as the big winner with 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks in 28 minutes. As for Maker, he was a bust with three points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a triple in 20 minutes. Henson has been a fantasy tease in the past because he’s super inconsistent and coach Kidd’s rotations can change at a moment’s notice, but he’s absolutely worth an add if you’re targeting blocks and boards.