This has already been a tough week for injuries around the NBA, but we got some of the worst news of the NBA season Thursday morning when the Bucks revealed that Jabari Parker tore his left ACL during Wednesday’s game vs. the Heat. Yes, this is the same injury to the same knee that he hurt during his rookie season. Parker was quickly becoming one of the most promising young stars in the NBA and was averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.3 treys and 0.4 blocks on 49.0 percent from the field. His absence will be a massive blow to both the Bucks and his unlucky fantasy owners and I hope and pray that he makes another full recovery.
With Khris Middleton being eased back into action, Malcolm Brogdon, Michael Beasley and Mirza Teletovic will all get a chance to step up, but this is the Bucks we are talking about and we’re not going to have an idea of what the rotation will look like until Friday’s game vs. the Lakers. If you’re looking to make an add here, it’s best to use a wait-and-see approach. Anyways, let’s move on to Thursday’s action. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter by clicking here!
Rockets 107, Hornets 95
The Rockets were missing Eric Gordon (back) tonight, but they still attempted 40 3-pointers for the 27th time this season — 10 more than any other team has in franchise history. That’s just ridiculous and fantasy owners are loving it! As for Gordon, he didn’t even go through shootaround and could miss more time considering he missed two games in late January with this same issue. Sam Dekker has stepped up in the past with Gordon out, but he flopped tonight with four points, two rebounds, two assists and a block. Patrick Beverley looks like the big winner in the short term, as he finished with 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, three triples and three steals.
James Harden led them to their third straight win with 30 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block and nine turnovers, but he’s going to get his regardless of Gordon’s status. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 14 points and a couple treys, while Trevor Ariza racked up 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and three triples in 42 minutes. With Nene (shoulder) out, both Clint Capela (11 points, seven rebounds, three steals) and Montrezl Harrell (15 points, four rebounds) had solid nights, but Capela is the only center worth owning here.
Outside of Nicolas Batum (15 points, 10 assists, eight boards, two triples), the Hornets didn’t get much production from the rest of their studs as Kemba Walker was held to 14 points with six turnovers, while Marvin Williams had 12 points, seven boards and a triple. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed nine rebounds and added four assists, two blocks and a steal, but he doesn’t take 3-pointers and has little to no offensive game. Cody Zeller (quad) returned from a seven-game absence, but only lasted 22 minutes before tweaking his injury again. We don’t know the severity, but expect him to miss some time. Frank Kaminsky is back on the radar despite a quiet night with nine points and three rebounds, as he averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 triples in his two starts at center this season.
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Thunder 118, Cavaliers 109
Russell Westbrook recorded his 26th triple-double of the season in Thursday’s win over the Cavs, racking up 29 points with 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four steals and two 3-pointers. Expect fireworks from Westy as Kevin Durant comes to OKC for the first time as a Warrior on Saturday. Victor Oladipo finally broke out of his slump and scored 23 points with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, while Steven Adams erupted for 20 points with 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks. While Adams has seen a nice bump in value with Enes Kanter (arm) out several weeks, Andre Roberson is also trending up and had another solid game with eight points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 41 minutes. Roberson has played 36+ minutes in three straight with averages of 11.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 turnover in that span. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Playing their fourth game in six nights, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all expected to be rested, but they played anyways and coach Tyronn Lue’s plan backfired. Irving scored a team-high 28 points in the loss with four assists, four triples and six turnovers, while LeBron James and Kevin Love weren’t quite as impressive, scoring a combined 33 points. James’ fantasy owners were warned about a reduced workload prior to the season, but that hasn’t happened at all as LBJ is averaging two more minutes per game than he did last season and is tied with Kyle Lowry (37.7) for most MPG. Coach Lue said that LBJ has been “bull headed” about his playing time, but the maintenance days are eventually going to come.
Kyle Korver cooled off with eight points and two triples one night after exploding for 29 points and eight triples, so he’s merely just a 3-point specialist since he brings literally nothing else to the table. Tristan Thompson added 10 points, five rebounds and a block, while new signee Derrick Williams scored 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting in 22 minutes. Williams is going to get a ton of easy looks in Cleveland, but there are too many mouths to feed right now for him to hold consistent value.
76ers 112, Magic 111
T.J. McConnell hit his second game-winning shot of the season on Thursday, snapping a five-game losing streak for Philly. He finished with eight points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals, and while he won’t be a league winner if you picked him up, he’s worth owning as a nice source of assists and steals. According to Joel Embiid’s Twitter account, McConnell also might be the clutchest player in NBA history…
Anyways, Jahlil Okafor had a nightmare game with just seven points and three turnovers, while Nerlens Noel bounced back with 10 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks and steals. Okafor and Noel have been trading big games with Joel Embiid (knee) out, but Noel is the one you want to own going forward. Ersan Ilyasova finished 4-of-16 from the field, but he was on the only starter to hit double-digit points with 16 points. Dario Saric had arguably the best game of his season against the team that originally drafted him, as he poured in a career-high 24 points with eight rebounds, one assist, three steals and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. The Homie had just scored 20 points against the Spurs the previous night, so it’s time to take a flier on him. The 76ers appear to be back in tank mode based on how cautious they are being with Embiid, so that bodes really well for Saric’s outlook.
In a surprise move, C.J. Watson replaced Elfrid Payton in the starting lineup because coach Frank Vogel said he’s been his best defensive point guard. The plan expectedly backfired, as T.J. McConnell hit the game-winner over Watson. He finished with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal, five turnovers and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes, but I’m not adding him in most formats and I expect him to return to the bench sooner rather than later. As for Payton, he’s trending in the wrong direction but is still a hold because the Magic will eventually realize that they have no shot at a playoff berth. Payton finished with 15 points, one rebound, three assists and one steal.
Nikola Vucevic (21 points, 11 rebounds), Evan Fournier (24 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, three triples) and Serge Ibaka (16 points, three rebounds, four blocks, two 3-pointers) are the only safe bets for production in Orlando this season, but it sounds like Vucevic and Ibaka could both be moved before the deadline — Ibaka can walk as a free agent this summer and Vucevic is on the block because the Magic broke the bank to sign Bismack Biyombo. With Aaron Gordon day-to-day with a bone bruise in his right foot, Mario Hezonja flopped in a start with three points in 18 minutes, confirming that Vogel still has no interest in developing him.
Mavericks 112, Jazz 105
Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals on Thursday, and he hit the game-tying jumper to send this one to overtime. Harrison Barnes took over from there and was phenomenal in overtime, finishing with 31 points with four rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. Apparently Mark Cuban wasn’t lying when he said the Mavs wouldn’t tank, as Dallas is 10-5 over their last 15 games. That certainly helps Nowitzki’s outlook, but I’m still looking to sell high here. That also helps veteran SG Wes Matthews who finished with 15 points, six boards, five assists and one triple.
Yogi Ferrell has cooled off a bit and finished with nine points, four rebounds, five assists, four steals and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes, but he’s had some really nice moments and it sounds like Deron Williams (toe) is going to be out until the All-Star break. Seth Curry had another nice game and it doesn’t look his shoulder is going to be an issue, as he finished with 16 points, five boards, four assists and a triple.
George Hill got the night off to rest, so Dante Exum started and was a disaster, finishing with five points and four turnovers in 18 minutes. He’s way too raw on offense to help fantasy owners. Derrick Favors is still as mobile as a mailbox right now and finished with six points on 2-of-9 shooting with 10 rebounds, so be cautious about buying low on the oft-injured big man. The good news is he played 33 minutes, so maybe he can get it going after the break. Gordon Hayward (36 points with four triples) and Rudy Gobert (15 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks) both pulled their weight tonight, while Joe Ingles added 16 points off the bench with five assists and four triples. Ingles was much more involved with Hill out, but he’s not an add considering he scored a combined 16 points in his previous four games.
Celtics 120, Blazers 111
Jae Crowder (personal) was away from the team tending to a family issue, so Marcus Smart drew the start and racked up 18 points with six rebounds, five assists and five steals. He can’t shoot to save his life, but hit a fluky 8-of-13 shots in the win. The story is always the same with Smart, as he’s worth owning if you can put up with his terrible FG percentage. Jaylen Brown was arguably just as impressive, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and two triples in 33 minutes. It’s not clear when Crowder will return, but with Avery Bradley (Achilles) likely out until the All-Star break, both Smart and Brown are on the radar as pickups.
Isaiah Thomas had an off night and shot just 11-of-26 from the field, but he still scored 34 points with four assists and a couple treys. Harden and Westbrook are the frontrunners for the MVP Award, but Thomas should at least be in the discussion. Al Horford added 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, one block and a triple.
C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 48 points in the loss, while Al-Farouq Aminu posted a monster line of 26 points, five boards and three triples. He was averaging 9.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 triples in his previous five games, and while he’s worth owning, don’t overreact here. Evan Turner (hand) is going to miss the next 5-6 weeks, so that puts Moe Harkless back on the standard-league radar. He was a little quiet tonight with four points in 23 minutes, but salvaged his line with three blocks and two steals. He averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.9 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.2 triples earlier this season as a starter, so don’t let tonight’s line discourage you. Allen Crabbe added 12 points in 30 minutes with two triples, but he’s more of a deep-league guy.