James Harden led his Rockets to a 102-99 win over the Thunder Friday night, scoring a team-high 21 points on 6-of-23 shooting (7-of-8 from the stripe) and just missing a triple-double with 12 assists, nine boards, two triples, two steals and eight turnovers in 37 minutes. Russell Westbrook may be the current frontrunner in the MVP race with his nightly triple-doubles, but Harden is right there behind him, and from a fantasy perspective he’s having the better season with averages of 28.2 points, 7.7 boards, 11.5 dimes (career-high), 1.5 steals and 2.9 triples per contest on 44.1 percent shooting from the field and 84.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Speaking of Westbrook, he became just the fourth player in NBA history to rack up seven straight triple-doubles during Friday’s loss to the Rockets, joining the elite company of Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. He did it by scoring a game-high 27 points (8-of-25 FGs, 11-of-12 FTs) to go with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and an unfortunate eight turnovers in 36 minutes. Westbrook is having a historic season, and if he can keep his streak going for just three more games, he’ll edge out Chamberlain for the most consecutive triple-doubles in NBA history with 10. Steven Adams also had a solid game, scoring a career-high 24 points to go with 10 boards, one assist, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 29 minutes. This was Adams’ first career 20-10 game, and he’s been producing top-70 value on the year with averages of 11.3 points, 7.7 boards, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game on 57.0 percent shooting from the field and a career-high 77.0 percent from the stripe. Prior to this season, Adams hadn’t shot better than 58.2 percent from the free throw line, so the massive uptick in free throw percentage this season has certainly been impressive. Maybe DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond should start asking their shooting coach to punch them in the stomach during practice.
Dennis Schroder helped the Hawks overcome a 20-point deficit during Friday’s 114-110 win over the Bucks, scoring a career-high 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting to go with three boards, four assists, one steal, one block, four triples and seven turnovers in 40 minutes. He also drained all five of his freebies, giving him a sterling true shooting percentage of 77.8 to accompany his 29.2 usage rate, and he’s been en fuego over the past two weeks pumping out top-40 value in standard 9-cat leagues with averages of 20.6 points, 7.4 dimes, 1.0 steal, 1.4 treys and 3.3 turnovers per game on 50.4 percent shooting. It’ll be interesting to see if Schroder can keep up his efficient shooting, but I wouldn’t count on it. Throughout his career he’s been consistently inconsistent, so I would be looking to sell high right now as his current production feels very much like his ceiling.
Paul Millsap was equally impressive during the comeback win, posting a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double to go with six assists, one steal, one 3-pointer, three blocks, one steal and one turnover in 39 minutes. He’s been a top-20 stud since returning from the hip injury, and it’s looking like he’ll continue to trend in this upward direction. Congrats if you bought low.
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Jabari Parker scored a team-high 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting (2-of-4 from the line) to go with four boards, four assists, three steals, three 3-pointers and two turnovers in 39 minutes. Leading up to the 2014 NBA draft many experts viewed Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker as a sort of 1A and 1B situation, with neither guy being an obvious option to go No. 1 overall, but through three years of NBA experience Parker is beginning to look like the better player. While Wiggins definitely has the edge on offense, Parker just seems to be a more well-rounded player, and he’s significantly better on defense with a defensive win share of 2.9 this season compared to Wiggins’ 0.6. In terms of fantasy hoops this just isn’t a debate with Parker producing top-60 value on the year and Wiggins currently ranking well outside the top-150.
Andre Drummond had his second 20-20 game in a row (and third of the season) during Friday’s 117-90 beatdown of the Timberwolves, scoring a game-high 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting (2-of-4 from the stripe) to go with 22 rebounds, one block and one turnover in just 28 minutes. When you punt away the free throw category, Drummond is jettisoned into a top-10 evaluation in 9-cat leagues.
Kyle Lowry shredded Boston’s defense during Friday’s 101-94 win over the Celtics, racking up 34 points, seven boards, two assists, three steals, four triples and just one turnover in 36 minutes. He went 9-of-18 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line, giving him a solid 71.7 true shooting percentage on the evening to go with his 30.9 usage rate. Lowry has been riding one of the hottest hot streaks of his career over the past seven games, ranking No. 1 overall in standard 9-cat leagues during that span with 25.3 points, 7.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers and a ridiculously unsustainable 4.6 triples a night on 59.6 percent shooting. The sky-high field goal percentage is not sustainable, nor are the copious helping of triples, so Lowry owners may want to pursue some sell-high avenues. That being said he was a first-round stud last season and his season-long averages this year are pretty much on par with what he was doing last year, so it doesn’t look like he’s going to see much of a drop off in production at all during his age-30 season.
Carmelo Anthony became just the fifth active NBA player with 23,000+ career points during Friday’s 103-100 win over the Kings, racking up 33 points, seven boards, four assists, one steal, one block, three triples and two turnovers in 36 minutes. He’s been a top-40 guy on the year, and he should improve as we get deeper into the season.
Lou Williams did all he could to lead the Lakers to victory, but it ultimately was not enough despite his 35 points, five boards, two assists, six trey-bombs, one steal and two turnovers in 35 minutes. Williams has been nothing short of incredible over the past four games, owning unsustainable averages of 34.3 points, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 3.3 turnovers and 4.4 triples per contest on 52.6 percent shooting. He’s scored 137 points off the bench during that four-game span, which is the most points recorded off the bench in four consecutive outings since “starts” were introduced as a category in 1970. Sell high or enjoy the ride.
On the Radar
Salah Mejri drew the start Friday night with Andrew Bogut (knee) and Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) on the sidelines, and he produced six points on 3-of-4 shooting to go with five boards, four steals and one block in 27 minutes. Meanwhile, Dwight Powell earned 21 minutes off the bench and put up 14 points, five boards, one assist and one turnover. Bogut is going to be out for at least the next two weeks, and Nowitzki remains without an official timetable to return, so both these guys can be considered speculative adds with Powell having more standard league appeal.
C.J. Miles got hot in 28 minutes off the bench, draining six triples on 6-of-9 shooting on his way to 18 points, four boards, one assist, two steals and zero turnovers. Miles had been quite in his previous three games as he was slowly worked back into things following the knee issue, but when given the minutes, he’s been solid more often than not this season. In fact, he’s been flirting with top-50 value in 9-cat leagues this season with averages of 12.4 points, 2.3 triples and a mere 0.5 turnovers per game on 49.0 percent shooting, so go ahead and give him a look if he was dropped during the injury.
Andre Roberson seems to be perpetually on my on the radar list, and I get it; he’s pretty boring. But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I really think he should be owned in more than 14 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. He’s been a sneaky late-round prospect in 9-cat leagues on the year with averages of 0.9 triples, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks and just 0.6 turnovers per game on 46.9 percent shooting. I’d say he’s must-own in roto-leagues, and he’s at the very least a solid streamer option in standard leagues when you’re in a pinch for some defensive stats.
Thabo Sefolosha is another boring, yet solid guy to own (particularly in 9-cat leagues). He registered eight points, six boards, four dimes, two steals, two blocks and one turnover in 29 minutes of action Friday night, and he’s actually been a top-50 guy since sliding into the starting five three games ago, owning averages of 8.0 points, 3.7 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and just 0.3 turnovers per contest. He’s never going to help in the points department, but his elite contribution to the steals category partnered with a trickle of dimes and blocks (and essentially no turnovers) makes him a worthwhile asset in standard settings.
Alex Len posted a big 14-point, 13-board double-double in 34 minutes off the bench during Friday’s win over the Lakers to go with five swats, two assists and just one turnover. Marquese Chriss got into some early foul trouble, and Len capitalized on the opportunity, making it tough for head coach Earl Watson to pull him out of the game. He actually played nine minutes alongside Tyson Chandler, and that lineup posted a net rating of 67.9, although we’ve seen Len post these kinds of lines before only to follow them up with a series of duds. Also, while the Chandler-Len duo managed to post a positive net rating against the Lakers, that frontcourt combo owned a negative net rating of -18.3 through 126 shares minutes last season, so I’d definitely like to see Len do this again before recommending him as an add outside of deep leagues.
Tim Hardaway Jr. got things back on track Friday night after posting a seven-point dud on Wednesday, tallying 18 points, four boards, four assists, one steal, three 3-pointers, and three turnovers in 31 minutes. Unfortunately he went 6-of-17 from the field and 3-of-5 from the charity stripe, giving him a gross 46.9 true shooting percentage, and with Kent Bazemore (rest, knee) likely to return to the starting five on Tuesday, Hardaway isn’t a strong add in most settings. Just keep an eye on him.
D'Angelo Russell (knee) said he felt great after he participated in all of the Lakers’ non-contact drills on Friday, and seems like there’s a decent chance he’ll be able to get back to the court for either Sunday’s game against the Knicks or Monday’s game vs. the Kings. When he does get back, Jordan Clarkson will head back to the bench, and Marcelo Huertas will likely fall out of the rotation entirely. Lou Williams has been en fuego lately, and while his usage will suffer a minor hit with the return of Russell, his value shouldn’t suffer all that much (he was still pumping out top-50 value prior to Russell’s stint on the sidelines).
Nick Young (calf) participated during Friday’s shootaround and he’s hopeful that he can return to action Monday vs. the Kings. Luke Walton said he wants Young to go through a full practice before he’s cleared for games, so Young’s participation level at the Lakers next practice will give us a good idea of how likely Uncle P is to take the court on Monday night. Once he gets back, Brandon Ingram could return to the bench, and guys like Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams would lose some touches on offense.
Ian Mahinmi (knee) will miss at least the next week of action. Leave him on the wire.
Seth Curry (knee) returned from a four-game absence and put up four points (2-of-8 FGs, 0-of-1 FTs), six assist, one steal and two turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench. His value isn’t great right now with Deron Williams and Devin Harris healthy, but as we all know, it’s only a matter of time until both those guys hit the sidelines. The Other Curry is more of a deep league stash at the moment, but you could also make a case for stowing him away in standard settings.
Kevin Love played through back spasms and produced a 28-point, 15-board double-double with three triples, three assists, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 31 minutes. He's fine.
J.R. Smith (knee) missed his second game in a row on Friday, and with averages of just 7.8 points, 2.3 triples and 1.5 steals per game on 31.1 percent shooting this year, he’s a cut-candidate in standard leagues.
Josh Richardson (ankle) flew out to Cleveland to rejoin Miami for Friday’s game against the Cavs, and while he did not play, he did go through shootaround and there’s a chance he could return to action Saturday vs. the Bulls. Erik Spoelstra acknowledged that Richardson will have a minutes limit upon his return, but with Dion Waiters (groin) and Justise Winslow (wrist) hurting, Richardson’s offensive opportunities should be plentiful. He hasn’t played well this season, but he presents enough upside to warrant a speculative add in standard settings.
Jeremy Lin (hamstring) will miss Saturday's game against the Spurs. If you've held on this long, there's no reason to change course. He has reportedly progressed to going through 1-on-1 work; so there's that.
Derrick Rose (back) missed Friday's win over the Kings but said he could return to action Sunday vs. the Lakers. If he is able to get back out there, Brandon Jennings will return to being a non-factor in standard leagues operating as the Sixth Man in New York.
Nikola Vucevic suffered a lower back injury during the second half of Friday’s blowout loss to the Hornets and did not return, ending his night with just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting (1-of-2 freebies) four boards, two assists and one steal in 23 minutes. Bismack Biyombo also tweaked his left shoulder Friday night, and he’ll be re-evaluated prior to Saturday’s game vs. the Nuggets. If both those guys are out, Frank Vogel will have to get creative with his lineups, and we’ll likely see a lot of small ball groups featuring Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon with Stephen Zimmerman having the opportunity to get into the rotation. However, I think the most likely scenario that plays out here is that Vucevic will sit and Biyombo will earn some extended minutes going up against Denver’s more traditional frontcourt.
Jrue Holiday (toe) and E'Twaun Moore (toe) are doubtful to play Saturday vs. the Clippers. If they're both out, Alvin Gentry will likely stick with his Tim Frazier, Buddy Hield starting backcourt with Langston Galloway (eye) earning some significant run off the bench.
Blake Griffin (sore right knee) will be a game-time call for Saturday night's game against the Pelicans. If he’s out, Brandon Bass could earn the spot-start, and we’d see guys like Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford being asked to step it up on the offensive end. DeAndre Jordan would also be more likely to post a 20-20 line sans Blake.
Moe Harkless (ankle) is probable to play Saturday vs. the Pacers. He missed Thursday’s loss to Memphis, but it’s looking like the ankle issue will only end up costing him one-game on the sidelines. Evan Turner will head back to the bench upon Harkless’ return, and Jake Layman will fall out of the rotation entirely.
Al-Farouq Aminu (back) is questionable for Saturday night, and if he’s out, Meyers Leonard and Ed Davis will pick up most of his minutes. Aminu has been connecting a mere 26.6 percent of his shot attempts this season, so he's not worth holding onto outside of deep points leagues.
Troy Daniels (illness) and Vince Carter (hip) are questionable to play Saturday vs. the Warriors, and if both those guys are out, the Grizzlies would come into the game with just Tony Allen and Troy Williams as the only healthy wings in Memphis.
Grizzlies' GM Chris Wallace said that Mike Conley (back) could return sometime "in the near future," which is just about the vaguest update ever. What we do know is that Conley’s ability to play is essentially going to be a matter of pain tolerance, and he’s one of the toughest dudes in the league (he only missed a total of 10 days after suffering a facial fracture during Memphis’ 2015 playoff run). Another thing worth pointing out is that both Cam Newton and Tony Romo were able to return from essentially this same injury in just two weeks, so Conley beating his initial 6-8 week timetable isn’t completely out of the realm of reality. He’s currently on the verge of completing Week-2, and while he could spend at least a few more weeks on the shelf, he has way too much upside to leave on the waiver wire in most settings.
Brad Stevens said that Isaiah Thomas (groin) could miss the next 10-14 days of action, which makes sense because groin injuries (like hamstring injuries) can be particularly troublesome for NBA players to overcome. With Boston’s go-to scorer out of commission, Avery Bradley and Al Horford will be doing the heavy lifting on offense with Marcus Smart starting at the one. Terry Rozier will also be looking at a role in the mid-20s sans Thomas, so he’s on the radar as a potential speculative add in deep leagues.
DeMarre Carroll rested on Friday, but he'll be back in action on Monday vs. Milwaukee.
T.J. Warren (head) will return to practice on Saturday, so he’s getting very close to a return and should be owned everywhere. Prior to going down, Warren was a top-50 producer with averages of 17.7 points, 4.3 boards and 1.9 steals per game on 45.8 percent shooting. Get in your buy-low offers while you still can.