It’s hard to compete with all the action that we saw on Wednesday with big performances from James Harden, Anthony Davis, Myles Turner and Jusuf Nurkic, but Thursday night was a lot of fun as well. So what did we learn on this four-game slate? Dwyane Wade and Blake Griffin taking 3-pointers is a thing now, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard are legitimate MVP candidates, Dwight Howard is happy to be out of Houston and the Clippers vs. the Blazers is becoming one of the best new rivalries out West. For NBA news and fantasy advice, you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Editor's Note: If you're playing on FanDuel, you need to be following our friends RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week on Twitter. It's the best way to stay on top of daily strategy and breaking news. Give them a follow and gain an edge in your DFS games.
Hawks 114, Wizards 99
You think Dwight Howard is happy to be back home? It sure looked like it on Thursday, as he dominated the glass with 19 rebounds while adding 11 points, two assists, one steal and three blocks in 30 minutes. To top it off, he hit 3-of-4 from the line. The bounce back could be legit, but relying on a 30-year-old big with a bad back and knees could be dangerous. Paul Millsap is arguably the best PF in the East and looked the part on Thursday, notching 28 points with seven rebounds, six assists, one block and three treys. He’s a top-10 player in standard leagues and the knee scare during the preseason doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an issue at all. Consider yourself blessed if you grabbed him in the second round.
Dennis Schroder just agreed to a four-year, $70 million deal on Wednesday, but never really got it going vs. the Wizards. He hit 6-of-12 shots to finish with 14 points and a pair of assists and steals, and it’s slightly concerning that he only played 25 minutes. I’m not his biggest fan, but his owners shouldn’t be panicking. His backup, Malcolm Delaney, had four points and five dimes in 20 minutes. Tim Hardaway Jr. was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, scoring 21 points and three treys in 23 minutes, outplaying Kyle Korver (five points) in the process. I’d still rather own Korver for now, but this is a position battle worth watching. Kent Bazemore (seven points on 1-of-7 shooting) will be much better than this on most nights while Thabo Sefolosha gets the award for the flukiest line of the night, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and one trey in 22 minutes. Holy cow.
John Wall proved why I was so worried about him entering the season, as he shot just 3-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over five times. He still had 12 points, 10 assists and four steals, but his efficiency has been an issue since the All-Star break last season. Coming off two knee surgeries, Wall’s owners could be in for a bumpy ride. Bradley Beal only played 24 minutes and had 13 points with four assists, but it’s because he got into some foul trouble. His owners will be happy as long as he’s healthy.
Marcin Gortat was boring with just four points, 11 rebounds and a block, while Otto Porter had an efficient line of 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with six rebounds and a pair of steals. Coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t commit to Porter as the starter a couple months ago, but he’s now firmly ahead of second-year forward Kelly Oubre (five points in 22 minutes). The fantasy star of the night for the Wizards was Markieff Morris, hitting 9-of-18 shots to finish with 22 points, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks, one steal and two 3-pointers. As long as Morris doesn’t have a meltdown and throw a towel at his head coach like last season, he should return mid-round value if he keeps hitting his treys.
Bulls 105, Celtics 99
Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade combined for 46 points and hit four treys apiece to lead the Bulls past Boston on Thursday. We knew Wade wanted to expand his range this season, but I’m keeping my expectations in check considering he’s a career 28.3 percent shooter from deep. Butler filled it up seven rebounds, three dimes and a couple steals, and I’m still comfortable calling him a top-20 player the rest of the way. Early indications are that Rajon Rondo will lose a bit of value in Chicago, and he didn’t exactly light it up on Tuesday with four points on 1-of-9 shooting. He did have nine assists, six rebounds and two steals because that’s just what he does, but his efficiency is a buzzkill.
Taj Gibson (18 points, 10 rebounds) will hold low-end value as long he continues to start, while Robin Lopez’s (eight points, eight rebounds) owners can expect more from him on most nights. I’m done trying to predict what Nikola Mirotic is going to do next. After looking like a poor man’s Kyle Singler in the preseason, Mirotic is suddenly relevant again after going for 15 points, nine rebounds and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. If you have ever owned Ersan Ilyasova, expect similar up and downs from Mirotic.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points, four assists, two steals and three treys, while Al Horford got into some early foul trouble and finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, five dimes and a block. Avery Bradley (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Jae Crowder (14 points, six rebounds) continue to look like excellent value picks, and I’m confident that both players will have top-50 seasons in standard leagues. Amir Johnson was benched for Tyler Zeller at the half, but you can’t trust any bigs in Boston other than Horford. Rookie Jaylen Brown (eight points) has impressed and his stock is on the rise in dynasty leagues, while preseason star Terry Rozier (eight points, four assists, two steals, two treys) is worth a look in deeper leagues, at least until Marcus Smart (ankle) returns.
Spurs 102, Kings 94
Kawhi Leonard hit a cold-blooded jumper with 30 seconds left in regulation to lead the Spurs past the Kings. Coming off a career-high 35-point outing, Leonard stayed hot with 30 points in this one, adding five steals, five assists and a triple. He’s a top-5 player in fantasy and reality and I’ve run out of things to say about him. Apparently DeMarcus Cousins has also run out of things to say about him. "That dude's good man. He's (bleeping) good.... He's good. He's really good." Thanks Boogie.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points with five rebounds, but Jonathon Simmons slowed down with just five points in 18 minutes after going for 20 points and three treys in the season opener. If you picked him up, give him another chance since the Spurs have two more games this week.
Now let’s talk about Pau Gasol. After playing just 18 minutes in the opener, he was quiet once again with seven points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. The matchup with DeMarcus Cousins had a lot to do with the low minutes, and the Spurs had no choice but to stick with Dewayne Dedmon who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks off the bench. Gasol will eventually figure things out, but there’s no way he matches his top-20 finish in standard leagues from last season. Still, there’s some buy-low appeal here.
As for the Kings, you have to give them some credit. Outmatched at every position except center, they gave the Spurs a run for their money and could’ve pulled out the win if it wasn’t for a miserable 14-point third quarter. DeMarcus Cousins was special with 37 points, 16 rebounds and three treys, while Rudy Gay added 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Gay will eventually be traded which is a little worrying, so his owners will just be hoping that he ends up in an ideal situation such as Miami.
Ty Lawson looked solid again with seven points, nine assists and one steal, and he will get at least six more starts until Darren Collison returns from his suspension. It’s not a guarantee that Lawson will lose his starting role because he has been pretty decent, but if you own him it’s not a bad idea to gauge his trade value around your league. Other than the four guys I mentioned, the Kings are a fantasy wasteland.
Clippers 114, Blazers 106
If you were braver than me and took a gamble on Blake Griffin this season, it looks like it could really pay off. He was phenomenal on Thursday with 27 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and a 3-pointer, yes a 3-pointer. He’s going to be taking a lot of them this season which raises his ceiling in fantasy, but now he just needs to prove that his mysterious quad issue from last season was a fluke. Let’s also hope he doesn’t punch a member of the training staff…
Chris Paul might be 31, but he’s poised for another monster season and doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. I was consistently grabbing CP3 at the end of the first round in a lot of drafts and couldn’t be more excited about that. He had 27 points, five assists and three treys. DeAndre Jordan (six points, 12 rebounds) had a meltdown at the free throw line where he hit just 2-of-10 attempts, but his owners knew what they were getting into. Jamal Crawford added 15 points off the bench, but he’s usually a hit-or-miss option.
Moe Harkless was eerily quiet in the opener, but responded in a big way tonight with 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one trey in 32 minutes. He should be locked in as the starting SF after this performance and we know he can put up numbers like we saw down the stretch last season, so he’s worth a look if you have something to drop. The problem for Harkless is that the Blazers could use a hot-hand approach with the SF minutes and give Allen Crabbe (10 points) and Evan Turner (four points) extra burn on any given night.
Damian Lillard continued his bid for the MVP award with another dominant performance, racking up 29 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two treys. Not bad for a guy who was consistently going in the second round of drafts. Mason Plumlee bounced back with a really nice showing, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, four dimes and three blocks. He’s going to post some duds in Portland’s loaded frontcourt, but he’s absolutely worth owning in standard leagues. C.J. McCollum added 16 points, two dimes and three steals.