It was another tough day for injuries with Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle), Gordon Hayward (finger) and Jrue Holiday (toe) all out just to name a few, but at least we got some good news on the health of Draymond Green after he tweaked his ankle in the win over Utah. There were a lot of rotation changes on Thursday including Kenneth Faried’s demotion to the doghouse, and there’s also a couple decent fantasy pickups around the league for you to consider. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!
Wizards 92, Nuggets 85
John Wall was coming off a career-high 52-point effort against the Magic on Tuesday, but cooled off with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting despite the dream matchup against Jameer Nelson. Bradley Beal carried the Wizards in the comeback win with 26 points, five assists and four treys, and he’s been on a tear for a few weeks now — he’s hit at least three triples in 10 out of last 11 games (he hit two in the other one). Please stay healthy, Mr. Beal. Otto Porter added nine points, three steals and a full line, while Markieff Morris scored 15 points with four assists and three rebounds. The only real disappointment for Washington was Marcin Gortat (four points, seven rebounds), as this was his second game in a row with single-digit points.
Emmanuel Mudiay was ruled out after pre-game warmups with a mysterious ankle issue, but it was speculated that he would’ve been benched for Jameer Nelson anyways. Nelson ended up starting and scored 10 points with eight assists in 36 minutes, while Darrell Arthur replaced Kenneth Faried (DNP-CD) in the starting five and scored six points in 20 minutes. Nelson is worth a short-term look in standard leagues because Mudiay has been awful, but Arthur is not.
As for Faried, he’s in the doghouse now and his owners should be ready to move on. He’s the player most likely to be traded out of Denver before the deadline, so maybe he can come back to life later in the season. Jusuf Nurkic may have saved his starting job with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds in 21 minutes, but Nikola Jokic outplayed him again with 17 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and one block in 28 minutes. Both players are per-minute studs and a timeshare doesn’t hurt them too much, but Jokic is setting himself up for a monster finish to the year. Nurkic is still a hold and it helps that Faried is out of the rotation.
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76ers 99, Pelicans 88
A well-rested Joel Embiid returned on Thursday to lead the 76ers, scoring 14 points with seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and four blocks in just 27 minutes. He missed all five of his triples, but the upside here is just ridiculous. If he makes it through the full season unscathed, he will be in the conversation as a first-round pick next season. Ersan Ilyasova is one of the hottest players in the East right now and scored 23 points with eight rebounds, four assists and two triples, but it’s always a good idea to sell high on veterans who play for tanking teams. Robert Covington returned from a knee sprain and the 76ers surprisingly didn’t ease him back into action, giving him 31 minutes. He had seven points with a full line on 3-of-9 shooting, so make sure he’s owned unless you’re not cool with the subpar FG percentage.
Sergio Rodriguez bounced back with a nice line of 16 points, eight assists and four triples, but lines like this will be few and far between. Dario Saric had his fourth serviceable game in a row with 13 points and five rebounds and looks like a nice pickup. Jahlil Okafor (illness) should be back any day now, and the 76ers got some more good news on Thursday when Brett Brown hinted that Nerlens Noel (knee) could make his debut as soon as Saturday vs. Detroit. The frontcourt is crowded enough already, but there’s a good chance Noel is traded to a better situation.
The Pelicans were without Jrue Holiday (turf toe) and E’Twaun Moore (toe) Thursday, and Anthony Davis’ 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks weren’t enough as his team lost their fourth straight game. Davis’ outlook would be so much better for the rest of the season if his team was competitive in the West, but that’s not the case right now and that’s why I’m looking to sell. Tim Frazier had his sixth underwhelming game in a row and is on the verge of becoming a drop candidate, while Buddy Hield (six points) continues to look lost out there. Tyreke Evans (knee, calf) has been ruled out for at least the next two games and Holiday and Moore are both day-to-day, making Langston Galloway an interesting short-term pickup — he’s scored a combined 45 points and nine triples over his last two games. Pretty fluky, but worth a shot if you have a roster spot.
Grizzlies 88, Blazers 86
Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies to their fifth straight win on Thursday, racking up 36 points, nine rebounds, two assists and four treys in 34 minutes. He’s scored 25 or more points in four out of his last five and his 3-point shot has boosted his ceiling in fantasy. He’s returning third-round value in standard leagues and just needs to stay healthy, as the heavy minutes he’s been logging is a concern. JaMychal Green scored six points with 18 (!) rebounds, two assists and one steal and continues to be a fun asset to own, while Tony Allen posted a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double with a pair of steals. Allen’s upside is low, but someone has to produce with half the team on the injury report.
Andrew Harrison’s nightmare stretch continued and standard-league owners can feel free to move on, as it looks like Toney Douglas may have earned a larger role after scoring 11 points with three dimes in 27 minutes. Douglas is a capable veteran and had some sneaky value late in the 2015-16 season with New Orleans, so he should be on your radar. Troy Daniels had his second quiet game in a row with five points on 2-of-12 shooting, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he saw 32 minutes. Still, you should be able to do better.
Moe Harkless (ankle) is day-to-day but wasn’t able to give it a go Thursday. He’s returning top-60 value in 9-cat leagues, so don’t make the mistake of dropping him, especially with Al-Farouq Aminu (five points, 11 rebounds, two steals) tweaking his back. If we learn that Harkless will miss more time, Evan Turner looks like the player to target after he started and scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and two dimes in 30 minutes. Meyers Leonard did replace Ed Davis in the starting five, but it’s likely just a matchup move and Leonard flopped with zero points in 17 minutes while Davis double-doubled in 18 minutes.
Raptors 124, Wolves 110
DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points with eight rebounds and five assists, while his buddy Kyle Lowry added 25 points, 11 assists and five triples. It’s not a surprise when those two studs go off, but the Raptors have to be relieved that Jonas Valanciunas snapped out of his funk with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes. He scored a combined 18 points in his previous four games, but it’s safe to assume that his ankle wasn’t 100 percent at the time. DeMarre Carroll scored 10 points with five rebounds, two steals and two treys, but he will not play on Friday vs. Boston for the second night of a back-to-back set. Norman Powell should get the start and posted averages of 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.5 triples in four previous fill-in starts this season.
Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine combined for 54 points in the loss, with Wiggins adding six rebounds and LaVine dishing out six assists. The Wolves have lost nine out of their last 11 games and you have to wonder how much longer they will wait before trading Ricky Rubio. The Spaniard is having a miserable season and finished with seven points with three assists in 29 minutes. There is some buy-low appeal here though, as a trade should help his value. Karl-Anthony Towns added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Bulls 95, Spurs 91
The Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak despite a quiet performance from Jimmy Butler who finished with 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting. He was stranded on Kawhi Leonard’s Island all night and had scored 20 or more points in his previous 15 games, so he gets a pass here. Rajon Rondo finally got it going again with 12 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals and should be fine as long as he doesn’t throw anymore towels at the coaching staff. Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Bulls, but a rest day could be in his future with a back-to-back set coming up on Dec. 15. Doug McDermott (concussion) returned from a lengthy absence and scored eight points with a triple in 26 minutes, but he’s not an add in standard leagues for now.
Pau Gasol didn’t have a memorable “revenge game” with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block, but at least the minutes (31) were there. LaMarcus Aldridge’s up-and-down season continued with just 10 points and six rebounds, but he did rack up four blocks in the loss. He was a monster after the break last season, so his owners just need to stand pat. Tony Parker played through his knee issue and scored eight points in 24 minutes, but Patty Mills (16 points, four treys) is still way more valuable to fantasy owners. Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points with eight rebounds and five assists, while Danny Green helped owners with the money stats with three triples and three steals.
Warriors 106, Jazz 99
The Warriors were expected to rest a player or two on Thursday, but only Shaun Livingston was held out of action. The Warriors have already played three times this week and have another back-to-back set on Saturday and Sunday, so the owners of Kevin Durant (21 points, 11 rebounds), Stephen Curry (26 points, three triples), Klay Thompson (10 points, six rebounds) and Draymond Green (13 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, four steals) shouldn’t be surprised if they get a maintenance day. Green actually tweaked his ankle and was forced to go the locker room, but he was available to return and both Steve Kerr and Green said after the game that it won’t be a concern moving forward.
Rodney Hood (hamstring) and George Hill (toe) were both out Thursday, but it was a slight surprise that Gordon Hayward (finger) was also unavailable. X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day, but it’s slightly concerning that he tweaked the same finger that sidelined him for the first six games of the season. Rudy Gobert has been incredible for a few weeks now and posted another monster game with 20 points and 17 rebounds, while Joe Ingles had one of the flukiest lines of the night with 21 points off the bench. If Hood and Hayward miss more time, I still think Joe Johnson (13 points, two treys) is the better pickup, and I’m also giving Shelvin Mack a long look if Hill continues to miss time. Mack had 19 points and five assists and has way more upside that Dante Exum (two points, five assists)