Monday was a four-game night to kick off the new week in slow fashion. We had some nice performances, some injury news and some lackluster basketball. And if you’re looking for guys to pick up this morning, you might want to start with the Kings, as they still have four more games this week despite playing last night.
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Bulls 118, Nets 88 – The Bulls destroyed the Nets on Monday by putting seven players in double-digit scoring. Jimmy Butler led the way with 22 points and a nice line, although he didn’t have a steal or block, Nikola Mirotic had 16 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and four 3-pointers off the bench (make sure he’s not available), and Isaiah Canaan added 15 points, six dimes, a steal and three 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench. Canaan’s line was nice, but is more of a garbage-time special than a pickup alert. However, Michael Carter-Williams also went down with a knee injury, so Canaan should at least be the backup to Rajon Rondo until MCW is back. Just keep an eye on Canaan.
Mirotic would be a lot more fun to own if Taj Gibson wasn’t around. Gibson had a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, hit 7-of-9 shots and added a steal and a block. He’s off to a great start, averaging nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds on 21-of-33 shooting through three games. Dwyane Wade hit just 5-of-13 shots and a 3-pointer for 12 points, a full stat line and five turnovers, while Doug McDermott also scored 12 points with three boards, three assists and zero 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench. Rajon Rondo rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points, four boards, four assists, two steals and a block. Robin Lopez was the big loser here, scoring four points with five boards and two blocks on 1-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He’s yet to have a breakout game, but did look much better in his two previous games. He’ll be fine. And Bobby Portis played just four minutes in a blowout, so get ready for the ‘Free Bobby Portis’ campaign to kick up again soon. But there’s not much reason to hold him after this disaster. On the flip side, Cristiano Felicio played 23 minutes and had four points and seven boards.
The Nets were pretty bad tonight, despite the return of Brook Lopez from a night of rest. He played just 22 minutes and had 13 points, two rebounds and a block. I don’t even know what to tell you to do with Bro-Lo. You can’t trade him, as his value’s too low, and you can’t really trust him in your lineup. If things don’t improve soon he could become a cut candidate, but I’m hopeful it doesn’t get to that point. Trevor Booker cooled off with a season-low five points but did add eight boards and three steals in just 19 minutes. He had double-doubled in his previous two games. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a disaster, hitting just 1-of-7 shots for two points, three boards, three assists and a block in 30 minutes. I was not high on RHJ coming in, mainly because I don’t think he can shoot or score. And I like for my fantasy players to do that. Look for him to start showing up on waiver wires soon.
Jeremy Lin was solid with 14 points, four assists, four steals and a 3-pointer, and is must-own, Bojan Bogdanovic hit 5-of-11 shots and two 3-pointers for 15 points, three boards and an assist. He didn’t have a steal or block, but is playing well enough to be owned in all formats. Sean Kilpatrick hit just 3-of-13 shots and missed all six of his 3-pointers, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds and a steal. He’s been playing very well and should bounce back for the Nets. Don’t panic if you picked him up. Lastly, Justin Hamilton tweaked an ankle but played through it and appears to be OK. But he was 0-for-4 with zero points and seven rebounds in just 17 minutes, and takes a hit with Lopez back for the Nets.
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Hawks 106, Kings 95 – The Hawks are off to a 3-0 start and got another solid, all-around line from Paul Millsap, who said after the game that he was going to have his minutes monitored closely in order for him to be able to go all-out every night. He’s off to a hot start, but hit just 5-of-14 shots last night. Dwight Howard double-doubled with four blocks and missed 12 free throws, and there’s just no way to overcome his poor free throw shooting in fantasy because he shoots so many of them. Having said that, it looks like he’s going to have a big season in Atlanta. Kyle Korver had a season-high 17 points with six 3-pointers and is averaging 16 points and five 3-pointers over his last two games. He says he’s going to have a big year and I’m starting to believe him. Dennis Schroder hit just 5-of-17 shots for 17 points, five assists and two 3-pointers, and owners are just going to have to live with the poor shooting I’m afraid. And while Kent Bazemore has yet to breakout, he did have a season-high 11 points, a 3-pointer and three steals last night. Hang in there with him until he figures it out. Mike Muscala was hot coming in, but didn’t have a steal or block and finished with 10 points and just three rebounds in 20 minutes. Hopefully he bounces back in the next one. And Tim Hardaway Jr. struggled on 2-of-6 shooting and played just 13 minutes. I’ve dropped him for guys like Kilpatrick and James Ennis. Lastly, keep an eye on Thabo Sefolosha, who had four points, six boards, three assists and four steals in 24 minutes. He’s averaging 9.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.3 steals through three games, making him worth a look if you want to cut THJ or someone else.
The Kings play five games this week and are already looking a bit tired after starting the season on a back-to-back. They’ve got four games left after this one and are now 2-2 after losing in Atlanta. Rudy Gay hit 8-of-13 shots and a 3-pointer for 22 points, three boards, five assists and two steals in 31 minutes. We were down on him coming in, but he’s playing very well and looks happy. DeMarcus Cousins hit just 6-of-16 shots and a 3-pointer to finish with 14 points, 12 boards and a block. He nearly fouled out and committed four turnovers, and is going to be tired tonight against Hassan Whiteside and the Heat. I’m fading him in DFS, but the five games are nice in weekly leagues. Boogie got his second technical of the year for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands on Saturday. He’s already just 14 T’s away from a suspension. Ty Lawson was quiet and has four more games until Darren Collison returns from a suspension, which means you can keep Lawson in your lineup for the rest of the this week. Garrett Temple played a couple more minutes than Lawson last night, but Lawson is still the guy you want as long as he’s starting. Arron Afflalo had nine points, a steal and three 3-pointers, but hitting threes is about all he does. Kosta Koufos started at PF again and had four points, eight boards, two steals and two blocks, making him worth a watch list in your league. Matt Barnes had four 3-pointers, five rebounds, three assists and a steal to go along with 14 points, and he looks like a solid pickup with four more games this week. Barnes is averaging 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.8 3-pointers, and I really should have had him in my Waiver Wired column on Sunday. And Ben McLemore had 12 points and a 3-pointer, and is another guy you can pick up if you’re hunting for games. But he doesn’t do much besides score, and he’s not exactly consistent at doing that.
Raptors 105, Nuggets 102 – DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points, but didn’t hit a three or do much else besides shooting it well and grabbing five boards. He is who he is. Kyle Lowry had 29 points, five boards, seven assists, three steals and a 3-pointer, and Jonas Valanciunas just missed a double-double with 12 points, nine boards and a block in 31 minutes. He had his hands full with the Denver bigs, but more on them later. DeMarre Carroll still hasn’t figured it out, but did hit a couple three to go with his 10 points, and Pascal Siakiam is a starter only in name, lasting just 15 minutes and scoring two points. Patrick Patterson is worth keeping an eye on, as he played 33 minutes and had three points, seven rebounds, a steal and five blocks. Don’t get too excited though, as he hadn’t blocked a shot in his previous two games and hasn’t scored more than five points in any of his three games. The rest of the Raptors bench was uninspiring, although Cory Joseph at least played 24 minutes and scored six points. And Norman Powell only saw two minutes off the bench.
Finally, a fun box score to break down! The Nuggets got double-digit scoring from all five starters, as well as Jameer Nelson off the bench. Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton and Emmanuel Mudiay all scored 16 points. Gallinari’s line was pretty empty except for two 3-pointers and he hit just 3-of-11 shots (and 8-of-8 free throws). Barton hit 5-of-7 shots and two 3-pointers and added four boards and three assists. However, he also went down late with a left ankle sprain that looked painful and it’s possible he could miss time. Gary Harris, who’s yet to play this season, is questionable for Thursday’s game and it’s possible that he could start in that one over Barton, assuming his groin injury allows him to play. If Harris was dropped in your league, think about grabbing him quickly. Mudiay hit 6-of-17 shots and a 3-pointer and added six boards, four assists and a steal in the loss. Center Jusuf Nurkic went off yet again, racking up 13 points, 18 rebounds, a steal and five blocks on 5-of-13 shooting. He also hit just 3-of-7 free throws, but the guy is now averaging 16.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through three games. He’s only shooting 63 percent from the line and he’s taking 6.3 a game, which is a concern, but as long as he’s producing like this, who cares? And PF Nikola Jokic hit 6-of-9 shots for 12 points and four boards in 22 minutes. He’s underperforming initial expectations, but keep in mind he went off for 23 points, 17 boards, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer on Saturday. Just hang in there with him through the ups and downs. Wilson Chandler played 31 minutes off the bench and hit 2-of-7 shots and a 3-pointer for nine points and three boards, and could be in line for more run if Barton’s out. Nelson hit 5-of-9 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points, but added just one assist and one steal. And good ol’ Kenneth Faried played just 15 minutes and had six points, five rebounds and a block. He needs one of the two starting big men to go down, or he’s simply not startable in fantasy.
Clippers 116, Suns 98 – Blake Griffin was the definition of efficiency last night for the 3-0 Clippers racking up 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, a block and a 3-pointer on just SEVEN shots. He was 12-of-14 from the free throw line and his turnaround in free throw percentage over the last three years is nothing short of amazing. Chris Paul added 24 points, five boards, eight assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, and DeAndre Jordan played through a thumb injury and racked up 19 points, 11 rebounds, a steal and two blocks on 8-of-10 shooting. He hit just 3-of-6 free throws, but as long as his volume isn’t Dwight-like, you should be OK. J.J. Redick finally hit double digits with 13 points, a 3-pointer and a steal, but he’s been pretty disappointing thus far. And I’m not even going to mention Luc Mbah a Moute. Jamal Crawford had 14 points and zero 3-pointers (and two steals) in 27 minutes off the bench, and Austin Rivers had eight points and one assist in 24 minutes. This game was pretty close until the Clippers blew it open late.
The Suns got 18 points, two 3-pointers and nothing else from Brandon Knight, who started for injured Devin Booker, who is day-to-day with a toe injury. Knight was a popular DFS play due to Booker’s injury, but his lack of anything but points wasn’t great. T.J. Warren stayed sort of hot with 15 points, four rebounds and a steal on 6-of-14 shooting in 29 minutes, while Tyson Chandler played just 18 minutes, and starter Jared Dudley played 19 minutes. Dudley had five points, five boards and two steals, and Chandler had four points and seven boards before fouling out. Both players were in foul trouble all night against the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe played 32 minutes and hit 5-of-14 shots for 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Suns didn’t have a block tonight and only hit five 3-pointers. P.J. Tucker played 27 minutes off the bench for seven points, six boards, two steals and a 3-pointer, and Alex Len hit 4-of-13 shots for a season-high 13 points, five rebounds and a steal in 25 minutes. The Suns are a hot mess, but Warren, Bledsoe and Booker are must-starts when healthy, while Knight could become relevant if Booker’s going to miss time. Chandler’s a serviceable starting center, but can’t score, and Len is nothing more than his backup. Phoenix is one of the least fantasy-friendly teams in the league.
Ricky Rubio is the dreaded ‘out indefinitely’ with a sprained right elbow. My guess is Zach LaVine is the big winner here, while Kris Dunn may end up starting in his absence. If you need a point guard and have someone to drop, picking up Dunn might be worth the move.