Mike Conley (transverse process fracture in vertebrae) got back on the court following a nine-game absence and resumed his spot in the starting five, putting up eight points (2-of-7 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), six assists, three boards, two steals, one block and three turnovers through 29 minutes of action. From a physical standpoint he looked just fine, and owners can expect the efficiency to start trending upwards once he gets his legs back under him. With Conley back, Andrew Harrison returned to the bench and he finished the game with 11 points, one rebound, one assist, two blocks and two turnovers in 19 minutes. If you grabbed Harrison for his short-term appeal in Conley’s absence, now would be the time to move on.
Dwight Howard produced another big-time, double-double during Friday’s 125-121 win over the Raptors, connecting on 10 of his 13 shot attempts and going 7-of-10 from the charity stripe on his way to 27 points, 15 boards, one assist, one turnover and zero steals or blocks in 34 minutes. While the lack of defensive statistics is slightly frustrating, it’s hard for owners to complain when he’s churning out lines like this. He looks completely revitalized in Atlanta, and when you discount his typically horrific free throw shooting, D12 has been a top-20 guy this year. Kyle Korver also had a solid showing in 23 minutes off the bench, knocking down a season-high six trey-bombs on his way to 19 points, three boards, one assist and one turnover. Korver has actually been markedly better as a reserve for the Hawks, owning averages of 12.4 points, 3.2 triples, 2.4 assists and just 0.6 turnovers on 48.8 percent shooting, which has been good enough for top-60 value in standard 9-cat leagues. Korver may have been dropped after a sluggish start and bench demotion, so go peep your waiver wire to make sure he’s not available.
Giannis Antetokounmpo just missed a triple-double during Friday’s blowout win over the Bulls, racking up 22 points (8-of-13 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), seven rebounds, 11 dimes, three steals, one block and as an added bonus, two trey-bombs. The kid just turned 22, and he’s currently ranked No. 3 overall in 9-cat leagues with ridiculous averages of 22.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.1 steals, 2.0 blocks and 3.2 turnovers per game on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 76.5 percent from the stripe. To put these insane stats in perspective, since defensive statistics were introduced as a recorded stat during the 1973-74 season, literally no one has ever averaged at least 2.0 steals, 2.0 swats and 6.0 dimes per contest. The Greek Freak abuses the box score on a nightly basis, and he’s only going to continue to get better. Crazy.
Nikola Mirotic picked up his second straight DNP-CD, which probably had something to do with his unexcused absence from shootaround. He’s been awful this year and is a cut-candidate in standard leagues.
John Wall lit up the Pistons during Friday’s 122-108 blowout victory, going 8-of-14 from the field and 9-of-12 from the charity stripe on his way to 29 points, 11 assists, two boards, three steals, four 3-pointers and zero turnovers in 35 minutes. Despite undergoing surgery to both of his knees this offseason, and despite his 4.4 turnovers a night, Wall is currently producing top-15 value in standard 9-cat leagues; and when you remove turnovers from the equation he catapults to No. 6 overall.
On the Radar
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 14 points in another start on Friday, adding three assists, three steals, one rebound, one 3-pointer and three turnovers in 36 minutes. Head coach Mike Budenholzer said prior to the matchup that Hardaway would remain in the starting five for at least two more games with Kent Bazemore (knee) being eased back into things, so he’ll earn another start Saturday against the Hornets and Monday vs. the Thunder. Unfortunately, he scored those 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting, and while he’s been averaging 13.0 points, 1.7 triples and 1.2 steals over the past six, he’s also turning over the rock 2.0 times a night and only connecting on 38.4 percent of his shots, thus limiting his value to points leagues.
Thabo Sefolosha continued to rack up the defensive stats, recording two blocks and one steal to go with eight boards, one assist, three turnovers and four points on 2-of-6 shooting in 28 minutes. Since entering the starting five, Sefolosha has been a top-50 guy with averages of 9.0 points, 3.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 turnover and an elite 2.0 steals per contest on 44.2 percent shooting, so he should be owned in more than 25 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. Swoop him up if you need help with some defensive stats.
Nick Young scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting during Friday’s win over the 76ers, adding two 3-pointers, one board, two assists, one steal, one block and zero turnovers in 21 minutes. Uncle P rarely contributes much to the box score outside of points and triples, but he’s also connecting on a career-high 44.6 percent of his shot attempts and when you partner that with his 0.7 turnovers per contest, you have a late-round guy in standard 9-cat leagues. He’s worth owning if you need some 3-point help.
Larry Nance showed up all over the box score while logging a season-high 34 minutes off the bench, tallying 11 boards, one assist, one steal, two blocks, three turnovers and four points on 2-of-3 shooting. He’s been a sneaky top-85 guy in 9-cat leagues this season with his minimal turnovers (0.8), high shooting percentage (58.5) and 1.2 steals per game, and his ability to contribute across the board makes him an enticing deep league prospect.
Garrett Temple buried three more triples over 37 minutes as a starter sans Rudy Gay (hip), on his way to 17 points, six boards, four assists, two steals and two turnovers. He’s been crushing it over the past six games, flirting with top-50 value in standard leagues behind averages of 11.9 points, 2.3 trey-bombs, 2.1 dimes and 1.3 steals per game on 53.8 percent shooting, and while the sky-high field goal percentage obviously is unsustainable; he’s been doing enough to at least justify a speculative add in deep leagues.
Kosta Koufos produced a 16-point, 13-board double-double to go with two assists, three blocks and one turnover in 30 minutes, although the heavy minutes were likely a result of the matchup and not necessarily a trend. I’ll need to see him do this again before recommending him as an add in most settings, but he’s got my attention.
Tony Allen kept his hot streak alive despite the return of Mike Conley (back), racking up 16 points, nine boards, one assist, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 34 minutes. He’s been a top-55 option over the past few weeks, largely due to his elite 2.3 steals per contest, and he needs to be owned in more than just 26 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.
Jon Leuer followed up Wednesday’s 19-point outburst with another solid stat line during Friday’s blowout loss to the Wizards, scoring 17 on 8-of-12 shooting to go with seven boards, five assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and one turnover in 31 minutes. Leuer is little more than a late-round guy, and he could completely fall off at a moment’s notice, but he’s worth owning while he’s this hot. Just don’t drop a long-term prospect to nab him.
Victor Oladipo (wrist) did not practice on Friday and is in danger of missing Saturday’s game against the Suns. He’s going to be re-evaluated after Saturday’s shootaround and is likely headed for a game-time call, but if he’s out again, Jerami Grant will have another opportunity to start with Anthony Morrow and Semaj Christon earning extended run off the bench. Enes Kanter should also be a bit more involved offensively, and Russell Westbrook’s usage could eclipse 40.
Anthony Davis exited Friday’s blowout loss to the Rockets with a lower left leg contusion, and while he did get back out there for a few minutes during the third quarter, he ultimately tapped out after 23 minutes of action ending his night with 19 points, five boards, three assists and one turnover. He’s basically dealing with a bruised leg, and while he was spotted limping out of the arena, Alvin Gentry proclaimed during his post-game interview that Davis could have returned if the Pelicans weren’t getting blown out. I’m going to consider Mr. Glass questionable for Sunday’s game in San Antonio, and if he is forced to the sidelines, Terrence Jones would benefit most as he’d more than likely move into the starting five. Additionally, guys like Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway would be asked to step it up on the offensive end.
Isaiah Thomas (groin) returned from a four-game absence and racked up 26 points (9-of-20 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), three boards, two triples, five dimes and two turnovers in 35 minutes. The heavy minutes and usage rate (33.9) would suggest that he’s completely recovered from the groin injury, so there’s no reason to expect him to miss Sunday’s game in Miami. Thomas’ return resulted in Marcus Smart moving back to the bench, where he put up five points, seven boards, five assists and three turnovers in 24 minutes. Smart’s value is obviously going to take a major hit with IT4 back in action, and his awful shooting (37.2 percent from the field and 64.0 percent from the stripe) makes him tough to own outside of points leagues. If you picked up Smart for his short-term appeal sans Thomas, now might be the time to send him back to the wire.
Rudy Gay (hip) spent his second straight game on the sidelines, which allowed Garrett Temple to earn another start with Matt Barnes logging extended minutes off the bench. Gay is an obvious trade candidate, so he won’t be playing at less than 100 percent, thus putting him in danger of missing Sunday’s game in Dallas. If he’s out again, Temple should continue to log major minutes as a starter with DeMarcus Cousins dominating the offense.
Ben McLemore (quad) returned from a one-game absence and started, but only produced eight points, one triple, two steals and one turnover over 16 minutes. Even with Gay on the sidelines, McLemore is not a viable target in most settings.
Kemba Walker (personal) missed Friday’s loss to the Celtics, which resulted in Ramon Sessions moving into the starting five and putting up 13 points (5-of-16 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), six boards, six assists, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 32 minutes. Walker is expected to rejoin the team in Atlanta for Saturday’s game against the Hawks, so whatever he’s dealing with is likely only going to cost him one game. Sessions isn’t a great pickup.
Derrick Rose (back) participated during Friday’s practice and said he’s hopeful to play Saturday vs. the Nuggets. If he is able to get out there, Brandon Jennings’ value will take a hit with the move back to the bench.
Nikola Vucevic (back) returned from a three-game absence and helped the Magic to a 118-111 win over the Nets with 21 points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals, three blocks and one turnover in 31 minutes. With Vucevic back in the rotation, Bismack Biyombo’s minutes fell back to the mid-20s, and he ended his night with six points, seven boards, two assists and three blocks. Orlando’s awkward roster construction is hurting one the Magic’s building blocks in Aaron Gordon, and it’s going to take a trade to alleviate this situation.
Nerlens Noel (ankle) hit 1-of-4 shots over eight minutes following a one-game stint on the sidelines, and he ended his night with two points, five boards and a block. Owning Noel is purely about upside right now, as he’s shown in the past that he can go prolonged stints operating with a top-20 evaluation in standard 9-cat leagues, but that won’t be happening while he fights for minutes in Philly’s overly crowded frontcourt. However, a trade of Noel seems likely as he’s in a contract year and has been openly critical of the 76ers’ franchise, so he’s worth stashing just about everywhere despite the lack of production.
Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) missed his second consecutive game on Friday, which allowed Austin Rivers to log 34 minutes in another start. However, Rivers predictably wasn’t able to live up to the hype following Wednesday’s 25-point outburst, hitting just 2-of-6 shots on his way to seven points, two 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist and one turnover.
Chandler Parsons (knee) did not suit up for Friday’s surprising loss to the Kings, but there’s a chance he could return to action Sunday vs. the Jazz. He’s had a horrible year thus far, but he’s also a guy with top-40 upside. Make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.
Tarik Black (ankle) logged three minutes off the bench in his return from a five-game absence, racking up more fouls (3) than any other statistic (one board, one turnover). He’s obviously not a fantasy option in any setting.
Gerald Green (sore left hip) did not play Friday and is irrelevant in fantasy hoops.
Tim Frazier (right wrist) returned from a one-game stint on the sidelines, registering nine points, four boards, two 3-pointers, five assists and zero turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench. He was originally expected to miss 7-10 days with the injury to his shooting hand, but apparently he’s just going to tough it out. Frazier has survived the return of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans thus far, so he’s worth holding onto until the wheels fall off.
Solomon Hill missed Friday’s blank to the Rockets due to the birth of his first child, but he should be back in action Sunday vs. the Spurs.
Tyreke Evans (rest) did not suit up on Friday, but he’ll be back in action Sunday vs. San Antonio. He’s not going to play in back-to-back sets for the foreseeable future, and will more than likely be working with a strict minutes limit, but he offers enough upside to warrant a stash in most leagues.
Jeremy Lin (back) returned from a one-game absence on Friday, scoring 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with three boards, three assists, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 20 minutes. He’s played well every time he’s been on the court this season, and if he could just manage to stay healthy, he could certainly have a career-year as a top-60 asset in standard 9-cat leagues. Hopefully he’ll see closer to 30 minutes Sunday in Philadelphia.
Tyler Johnson (illness) missed Friday’s loss to the Clippers, and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Celtics. If he’s out again his minutes will be divvied up between Goran Dragic, Rodney McGruder and Josh Richardson with Dragic offering the most upside and McGruder essentially being a non-option.
Michael Beasley (foot) spent his second game in a row on the sidelines Friday night, which is irrelevant news in fantasy hoops.
Jason Smith tweaked his right hamstring during the second quarter of Friday’s win over the Pistons and did not return, ending his night with four points on 2-of-2 shooting. If Smith is forced to miss time, Andrew Nicholson would likely eat up most of his minutes, which doesn’t mean much.
Hollis Thompson (sore right knee) sat out Friday’s loss to the Lakers and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Nets.
Chris “Birdman” Anderson tore the ACL in his right knee, and that could be a career ender for the 38-year-old.