Line of the Night
Out of all the impressive performances that occurred during Friday’s 10-game slate, Isaiah Thomas’ career-high 52-point scoring binge stands out as the most impressive. Thomas shot a ridiculous 15-of-26 from the field, and was a perfect 13-of-13 from the charity stripe, ending his evening with a sterling 82.0 true shooting percentage to accompany his 43.2 usage rate, and he even added a career-high nine triples to his stat line for good measure. It was only 10 days ago that Thomas set his initial career-high at 44, so to say that he’s having a brilliant season would be just a bit of an understatement. Amongst guards, Thomas ranks within the top-10 in offensive rating, assist-to-turnover ratio and he sits at the No. 6 spot in true shooting percentage at 60.6. He’s been an early-round stud all year long, and after surpassing his initial career-high outing on Friday night, he jumped into the top-15 equation in standard 9-cat leagues. Shout out to Allen Iverson, because there’s a new little dude causing a ruckus on the basketball court. It's common practice to point out that Stephen Curry is one of the most underpaid players in the league at roughly $12.1 million annually, but the next time you hear someone make such a statement, let them know that Isaiah Thomas (an All-Star and the leading scorer on the third-best team out East) is scheduled to make just $6.6 million this season, meaning that there will be 154 other players this year that will bank more than IT4. Crazy.
On the Radar
Josh Richardson stuffed the stat sheet during Friday’s narrow loss to the Celtics, scoring 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go with six boards, eight assists, four steals, two blocks, two 3-pointers and three turnovers in 35 minutes. Richardson had a horrendous start to the year as he missed all of training camp and the early portion of the season with a partially torn MCL, and then once he got back to the court he immediately sprained his right ankle and right (shooting) wrist, and all these ailments obviously affected his play. However, over the past three, Richardson has flashed his upside with averages of 20.3 points, 5.0 boards, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block, 2.3 trey-bombs and just 1.3 turnovers per game on 53.2 percent shooting, so it’s probably safe to say he’s put those injuries behind him. The Heat are going nowhere fast with a record of 10-24, which is good news for Richardson as his development is going to become a major priority for Miami down the stretch, so his arrow is pointing up in a big way. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but after three very successful outings, I’m going to deem him must-own in all settings until he proves otherwise.
James Johnson bounced back from Thursday’s six-point dud, going 8-of-13 from the field and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe on his way to 22 points, four triples, three rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and five turnovers in just 24 minutes off the bench. He’s earned himself a steady mid-20 role in the rotation, and while he won’t be scoring quite like this one most nights, his ability to bring a little bit of everything to the stat sheet (with an elite helping of defensive stats) makes him worthy of a standard league roster spot.
Malcolm Brogdon earned his first career start with Matthew Dellavedova (hamstring) on the sidelines, and he did not disappoint, scoring 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with four boards, four assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes. Dellavedova’s odds of suiting up for Saturday’s game against the Bulls aren’t looking great, so Brogdon will likely be earning another start on Saturday’s six-game night, so he’s worth a look if you’ve got someone to cut.
Michael Carter-Williams started over Rajon Rondo during the second half of Friday’s loss to the Pacers and put up 12 points (4-of-10 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), eight rebounds, one 3-pointer, one assist, one block and two turnovers in 27 minutes. Rondo was only on the court for 10 minutes in this one, and he gave an apathetic response regarding the benching after the game, simply saying, “It’s not life and death. Life is too short to be unhappy. It’s part of if.” This was the second time this week that Rondo road the pine during crunch time, and interestingly, Fred Hoiberg said he didn’t know who he would start Saturday vs. the Bucks. MCW isn’t the most exciting guy to own, but he could be worth a prospective pickup in deep leagues with the potential to draw the start in a revenge game against Milwaukee.
Cristian Felicio double-doubled in 22 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting (4-of-5 from the stripe) to go with 12 boards, two assists, one steal and zero turnovers. Fred Hoiberg is still trying to find his fourth-quarter guys, and Felicio held his own while closing out the game, but I’m going to need to see a repeat performance before recommending him as an add in most leagues. Prior to this outing, Felicio had done a whole lot of nothing, and he’s still going to have to battle for minutes in Chicago’s overly crowded frontcourt.
Tyreke Evans had another productive game off the Pelicans’ bench during their 104-92 win over the Knicks, going 5-of-11 from the field and 4-of-4 from the stripe on his way to 16 points, five boards, four assists, two treys and one turnover in just 18 minutes of action. That’s two noteworthy performances (while logging limited minutes) in a row for Evans, and as a guy with mid-round upside and the ability to bring a little bit of everything to the stat sheet, he needs to be owned everywhere now that he’s finally trending up.
Montrezl Harrell had a career-night during the Rockets’ 140-116 smashing of the Clippers, scoring a career-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting (9-of-11 freebies) to go with three boards, three assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes off the bench. Since Clint Capela (knee) hit the sidelines, Harrell has emerged as a late-round talent in standard leagues with averages of 15.3 points, 4.0 boards and 1.2 swats per contest on 66.1 percent shooting from the field and 69.2 percent from the stripe. Capela’s looking at least another three weeks on the sidelines, so Harrell figures to be a steady fixture in the rotation moving forward, and he’s looking like a must-own guy moving forward. If you ignore the poor free throw shooting, Harrell jumps to the mid-round equation over that six-game span, so he’s even more valuable to owners punting FTs.
Caris LeVert had the best game of his young career, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with two triples, three boards, two steals and one assist in 24 minutes off the bench. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has spoken glowingly of LeVert whenever presented with the opportunity, and if Jeremy Lin (hamstring) is forced into another lengthy absence, LeVert’s development could be accelerated. He’s still not quite there as a standard league pickup, but owners in deep leagues should watch him closely, as he could be a fun guy to own after the All-Star break.
Marreese Speights drained another two triples in 20 minutes off the bench to go with 15 points, seven boards, two blocks and one turnover. He’s been a steady late-round guy since Blake Griffin went down, owning averages of 12.0 points, 4.3 boards, 2.0 trey-bombs and just 0.7 turnovers per game on 49.2 percent shooting during that seven-game span, so go ahead and give him a look if you’re seeking a boost in the 3-point category.
T.J. McConnell drew the start sans Sergio Rodriguez (ankle) and had a nice showing with 17 points (6-of-12 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), two boards, eight dimes, three 3-pointers and two turnovers in 36 minutes. The severity of Rodriguez’ ankle injury is currently unclear, but McConnell was playing well in limited minutes before Rodriguez went down, so he could emerge with some standard league value as the last standing point guard on the roster if Sergio is forced to miss any time. McConnell is on the radar as a deep league assist specialist.
Dario Saric took advantage of some increased opportunity with Jahlil Okafor (rest, hamstring), Gerald Henderson (hip), Richaun Holmes (concussion) and Sergio Rodriguez (ankle) all on the sidelines on Friday night, and racked up a double-double with 13 points, 11 boards, five assists and one turnover in 28 minutes. That's three solid outings in a row for the Croatian rookie, so he could be someone to consider swooping up in deep leagues.
Andrew Bogut (rest) did not play on the second leg of a back-to-back set on Friday, but he should be back in action Tuesday vs. Washington.
Courtney Lee (wrist) spent his second consecutive game on the sidelines, which allowed Sasha Vujacic to earn another start, but he didn’t do much with the increased opportunity ending his evening with just three points, two boards, two assists, one triple, one steal and one block in 22 minutes. Meanwhile, Justin Holiday posted a sneaky low-end line with eight points, seven boards, four assists, one 3-pointer and one block in 28 minutes off the bench, so if Lee is forced into an extended absence, it’s looking like Holiday will be the primary beneficiary.
Joe Harris (hip) missed his second game in a row on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against Utah.
Hassan Whiteside got poked in the eye during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and did not return, ending his night with 11 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one turnover in 32 minutes. I’d be shocked if the injury forced him to spend any additional time on the sidelines.
Bradley Beal (right ankle) did not play Friday, which allowed rookie Sheldon McClellan to earn his third career start and he responded with eight points (2-of-6 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), one 3-pointer, one rebound, two assists, one steal and one turnover in 24 minutes. However, it was Trey Burke who emerged as the primary beneficiary sans Beal, erupting for a season-high 27 points on a scotching 10-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with two boards, two assists, five triples, two steals and two turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench. Now, Beal did go through his warmups, and X-rays came back negative, so he could be back in action as soon as Monday’s game against the Rockets. In other words, Burke isn’t a great pickup despite this terrific outing, as there’s no way he can replicate that sort of efficiency and a nightly basis.
Chris Paul (hamstring, rest) did not play the first game of the Clippers’ back-to-back set on Friday, but he should be back out there Saturday vs. OKC. Austin Rivers drew the start in his place, but got ejected after just 15 minutes of action for making contact with an official, finishing the game with just nine points, one 3-pointer, three assists and one rebound. With CP3 out and Rivers gone for most of the game, Raymond Felton was forced to log 31 minutes off the bench and he responded with 26 points, four triples, five boards, eight dimes, one steal and five turnovers. It was a solid stat line from Felton, but with Paul more than likely to get back on the court for Saturday’s game, there’s no reason to swoop up Felton in any setting.
J.J. Redick (hamstring) returned from a two-game stint on the sidelines and produced eight points, two 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist and one turnover in 25 minutes. He plays much better running alongside Chris Paul, so owners can expect a bounce-back performance on Saturday.
Wes Johnson went down with an ankle injury during Friday’s loss to the Rockets, and he’s being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. the Thunder. If he’s out, his minutes will be divvied up between Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and Alan Anderson.
Damian Lillard (ankle) spent his third straight game on the sidelines, which gave Allen Crabbe another start, and through 33 minutes of action he tallied 11 points, one 3-pointer, one rebound, one assist, two steals and one turnover. While Crabbe has been starting in Lillard’s absence, it’s C.J. McCollum who is the primary beneficiary here.
Patrick Patterson (knee) is questionable to play Saturday vs. the Lakers.
Matthew Dellavedova (hamstring) and Rashad Vaughn (ankle) did not play Friday, and both these guys should be considered questionable for Saturday’s matchup with the Bulls. If they’re out, Malcolm Brogdon should again get the call to start.
Reggie Bullock (knee) is about two weeks away from getting back to the court. He’s also irrelevant in fantasy hoops.
Mirza Teletovic (concussion) returned from a two-game absence and put up eight points, three rebounds, one assist, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in 19 minutes off the bench. He’s not going to be much of a factor in fantasy hoops while the Bucks are healthy.
Patrick McCaw (illness) did not play Friday, but his playing status is irrelevant in fantasy hoops anyway.
Marco Belinelli (ankle) is doubtful to play Saturday vs. the Cavs. If he’s out, Jeremy Lamb will continue to flirt with minutes in the mid-20s off the bench while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will see his fourth-quarter minutes unimpeded.
Kawhi Leonard (gastroenteritis) missed his second game in a row on Friday which resulted in Kyle “Slow-Mo” Anderson earning another start and putting up four points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 28 minutes. Jonathan Simmons, however, was the true primary beneficiary sans Leonard, tallying 19 points, three rebounds, two assists, two 3-pointer, two blocks and one turnover in 30 minutes off the bench. It seems unlikely that Leonard will miss three straight games with this stomach bug, but if he is out again Sunday vs. Atlanta, Simmons is the guy you’ll want to consider throwing out there as a DFS punt play.
Avery Bradley (illness) did not play Friday, which allowed Marcus Smart to return to the starting five, and he put up six points (1-of-6 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), four boards, two assists, two steals and one turnover in 34 minutes. The Celtics are off until Tuesday vs. Utah, so chances are this will only be a one-game absence for Bradley.
Mike Conley (toe) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Kings. He’s spent the past two games on the sidelines with the toe issue, which has resulted in rookie Andrew Harrison logging major minutes as a starter with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph running the show on offense. If Conley is out again, it’ll be more of the same.
Goran Dragic (back) sat out Friday’s loss to the Celtics, which allowed Rodney McGruder to return to the starting five, although he didn’t do much in his 29 minutes. On the other hand, James Johnson, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson all saw an uptick in usage, and these are the guys that will be benefitting most if Dragic is forced to miss any additional time.
Marcus Morris (knee) sat out Friday’s loss to the Hawks, which allowed Tobias Harris to move back into the starting five where he produced 14 points, five boards, two assists, two triples, one block and one turnover in 38 minutes. Unfortunately, Harris’ usage rate dipped to 18.2 in this one, and in general, he’s had a higher usage rate with the second unit (25.2) than with the starters (21.5), so you could make the case that he’s better served coming off the bench. However, before Morris was ruled out, Stan Van Gundy said that he would bring Harris back into the first unit by sending Morris to the bench, so Morris could be looking at a reserve role upon his return.
Jahlil Okafor (hamstring, rest) sat out Friday’s game, but chances are he’ll be able to return to the court for Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves.
Rudy Gay (hip) and Aaron Afflalo (elbow) are being listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies. Afflalo has missed two straight with the elbow issue, while Gay has missed seven of his last eight with the hip injury, and after Gay was unable to practice on Friday things aren’t looking great with regards to his chances for suiting up on Saturday. If both these guys are out, Garrett Temple will be forced into heavy minutes and DeMarcus Cousins will continue to operate with a Russell Westbrook-like usage rate.
Dirk Nowitzki (illness, rest) started at center following a one-game stint on the sidelines, but went just 3-of-12 from the field (5-of-5 from the line) on his way to 11 points, five boards, one assist, one block and three turnovers in 23 minutes. This was the most minutes that Nowitzki had played since returning from the month long layoff, so perhaps his playing time can approach the high-20s with a matchup against the Wizards on Tuesday.
Patrick Beverley (thigh) returned from a one-game absence and put up 15 points, two triples, seven boards, three assist, one steal and zero turnovers in 33 minutes. He should be just fine for Saturday’s game against the Knicks.
Sergio Rodriguez (ankle) and Gerald Henderson (hip) did not play Friday, and both these guys should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves. If they’re out again, T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas will have another opportunity to start.