After last night’s 12-game Dose (that kept me up, literally, all night, and nearly killed me), I’m pretty psyched for this two-gamer. Chris Paul went down, James Harden went nuts and Luka Doncic did whatever he wanted on national TV. Hello, world.
Heat 101, Rockets 99 – The Heat got a big win against the Rockets and we saw some of the beneficiaries of the Goran Dragic knee surgery, that will keep him out for the next two months. Tyler Johnson, who was iffy with a migraine, was able to start and racked up 19 points, four rebounds, zero assists and steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 6-of-10 shooting in the win. He’s the biggest winner sans Dragic, and while the zero dimes and steals weren’t what we were looking for, he had an efficient game, only committed two turnovers and played 32 minutes. He’s now a must-own player in my opinion. Justise Winslow sat this one out with a sprained ankle, and it will be interesting to see if it’s Winslow or Johnson starting once he’s healthy again. Either way, I still like Johnson’s coming opportunity, even if he ends up not starting.
Hit me on Twitter right here!
Derrick Jones Jr. is the other big winner in the Dragic saga, and I’ve been touting him pretty hard in Waiver Wired, the Waiver Wired podcast, and my live chat. DJJ had 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 3-of-8 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench. He’s been hot for five games or so, and is another guy I think should now be owned in most leagues. He also played the final 13 minutes in a tight game, which is another great sign.
Josh Richardson appears to be out of his funk after scoring between 18 and 22 points in his last three games, all of which the Heat have won. He had 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four 3-pointers on Thursday night, hitting 9-of-19 shots in 38 minutes. He’s been bothered with a hip injury, but looked great last night and should have the ball in his hands a ton with Dragic out. I actually got some (ridiculous) questions about dropping him over the past week, but it’s a silly notion. I don’t care how small your league is… Josh Richardson is a must-own player, with or without Dragic.
Rodney McGruder is another possible Dragic beneficiary, but hit just 1-of-5 shots (a 3-pointer) for five points and not much else. Just keep an eye on him for now, but he’s still not a must-own. Dwyane Wade might also step up over the next two months, but he was quiet last night with 10 points and three assists on 4-of-17 shooting. But hey, at least he played.
Hassan Whiteside had nine points, 17 rebounds and two steals, but hit just 1-of-4 free throws and played just 24 minutes. He doesn’t play much, if at all, in the fourth quarter, and is probably the worst free throw shooter in the league. Kelly Olynyk (7 points, 9 rebounds, one 3-pointer) and James Johnson (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) were underwhelming, but Olynyk has been a strong player to own for most the season, while Johnson just can’t seem to get it going. And Bam Adebayo hit just 1-of-5 shots for three points and nine boards in the win. As long as Whiteside and Olynyk are healthy, Bam’s going to be a roller coaster ride.
Editor’s Note: If you love Fantasy Basketball, you have to be playing on DRAFT. It's daily fantasy basketball snake drafts instead of salary caps. They take minutes to complete, and there's even auction drafts! No more setting lineups or constantly worrying about pros, just draft and win! Right now DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers an exclusive FREE entry into a real money draft when you make your first deposit! Here's the link!
For the Rockets, the news of the night was Chris Paul leaving early with a hamstring injury. He’s going to miss “some time,” according to Mike D’Antoni, which will benefit James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green (who could start), Brandon Knight, and Danuel House. Tough break for owners of CP3, who I’m guessing is going to miss 10-14 days, but I’m not a real doctor.
It’s almost unimaginable that Harden could be any better than he has been, but I think it’s going to happen. He had 35 points, six rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, six 3-pointers and just three turnovers last night. He hit just 7-of-23 shots, but is averaging 39.8 (let’s just call it 40) points, 7.4 rebounds, 9.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 4.6 3-pointers on 48 percent shooting over his last five games. Fire.
Eric Gordon had 20 points, three boards, three assists and five 3-pointers, P.J. Tucker had 14 points, seven boards and three 3-pointers, and Clint Capela had six points, 14 boards, a steal and a block in the loss. Danuel House had 10 points and two 3-pointers off the bench, and Gerald Green, who started the second half for CP3, hit just 2-of-7 shots and one 3-pointer for five points, six boards and a steal. In addition to Harden about to go into video-game mode, Gordon should probably be owned, now’s a good time to grab Tucker, and Gerald Green should be a decent deep-league add.
Clippers 125, Mavericks 121 – Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 32 points with six boards, four assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 11-of-16 shooting as the Clippers snapped a four-game losing streak. Is it time to stop talking/wondering about the thing everyone talks about with Gallinari, which I’m not even going to mention? He’s having a career year, has only missed one game, and single-handedly won the game for the Clips tonight. If I own him, I’m just hanging on until the wheels fall off. Tobias Harris struggled, hitting 4-of-12 shots, but still came through with a 16-9-5-1 line, and hit 8-of-8 free throws, and Montrezl Harrell’s Return to Relevance Tour continued with 18 points, six boards, four assists and two blocks on 9-of-13 shooting. Avery Bradley is back to being Awful Bradley, and I don’t know how someone can play so many minutes, and be so bad. But he somehow gets it done on the regular. Lou Williams went off for 26 points, eight assists, a 3-pointer and hit 9-of-12 shots in one of his best games of the season. And thusly, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played just 19 minutes and didn’t do much, and I’m guessing that guys are going to be dropping him tomorrow. If it happens, I think you should pick him up if you have someone to drop. SGA had 24 points in 38 minutes on Monday, but has been a roller coaster ride of late. I still love him. But not as much as I love…
Mavs’ rookie Luka ‘freakin’ Doncic. He had his coming out party on TNT last night, scoring a career-high 32 points with four rebounds, five assists, four steals and three 3-pointers, and hit 10-of-20 shots and 9-of-13 free throws, doing everything in his young power to try to help the Mavs win. He didn’t get the win, but his full arsenal was on display, and it was painful to watch, as a Hawks fan. They drafted him at No. 3, then traded him for Trae Young two minutes later. Doncic looks like he’s been in the NBA for eight years. And I love him.
Editor's Note: Looking for an edge when it comes to fantasy hoops? Our new NBA DFS Toolkit has a Lineup Optimizer, Customizable Projections, Next Man Up tool and more for FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo! And for season-long, the NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, Pickups of the Day and more.
DeAndre Jordan went off for 11 points and 22 rebounds against his former team, but didn’t have a block, and hit 3-of-4 free throws. I haven’t had a chance to mention it yet this season, but his free throw shooting, in my opinion, might be the top story in fantasy hoops this year. We are 31 games into the season and DAJ is still shooting 74 percent from the free throw line. Dude is a career 46 percent shooter, and we’ve seen a ton of players say they’re going to improve their free throw shooting, but outside of Blake Griffin (who’s turnaround is miniscule compared to what DAJ has done), is the only one I recall really making it happen. It’s a huge boom for Jordan’s fantasy value and his form and confidence look amazing. Congrats to you, DAJ. It’s a remarkable turnaround. Now start blocking some more shots, please. Jordan has posted zero blocks in four of his last five games.
Harrison Barnes had 16 points and three 3-pointers, but is still struggling with his shot (6-of-14), while starters Jalen Brunson and Wesley Matthews were both quiet tonight. Dennis Smith Jr. is going to miss more time with his wrist injury (see below), allowing J.J. Barea to get loose for 19 points, three rebounds, eight assists and a 3-pointer on 8-of-15 shooting in 27 minutes. With DSJ likely out for at least three more games, JJB’s a solid grab right now. Devin Harris had 13 points and a couple 3-pointers, but I have no faith in him.
NBA News & Notes
Bobby Portis is expected to miss two to four weeks with a sprained right ankle for the Bulls, and given the tank, I’m guessing we won’t see him for a month. That should mean big things for Lauri Markkanen, while it could also force exiled Jabari Parker back into action. Parker’s not a must-own player with this news, but he should at least be on your ‘watch closely’ list.
Brandon Ingram is expected to play for the Lakers on Friday after missing a few weeks with a sprained left ankle. Rajon Rondo (hand) might also be back for that one, and that could negatively impact Lonzo Ball.
Dennis Smith Jr. sounds unlikely to play for Dallas in his next three games due to his wrist injury. J.J. Barea should be the main beneficiary, while Jalen Brunson should continue to start. I think Barea should be owned for as long as DSJ is out.
Kyle Lowry’s not expected to play for the Raptors on Friday or Saturday due to a thigh injury. Fred VanVleet’s the guy to use in Lowry’s absence, which will be five straight games if he misses the weekend.
Allen Crabbe will miss his fifth straight game for the Nets on Friday with a sore right knee, and he’s probably not worth the headache that comes with owning him.
Nikola Mirotic is doubtful for the Pelicans on Friday with his ankle injury and hasn’t played since Dec. 10. Anthony Davis and Julius Randle should be able to do whatever they want for as long as he’s out, although Randle (ankle) is iffy for Friday, and Davis has been dealing with an illness, and is also iffy. My guess is they’ll both play.