The line of the night has to go to Damian Lillard, who powered the Trail Blazers to a 105-95 win over the Mavericks with 42 points on 12-of-18 shooting (13-of-14 from the charity stripe), four assists, four boards, five triples and just one turnover in 37 minutes of action. The Thrillard show is something to behold, and he ended his night with a sterling 86.9 true shooting percentage to go with his 31.1 usage rate. He’s come out this year with guns blazing, pumping out top-8 value in standard leagues behind averages of 34.2 points, 5.7 boards, 4.5 assists, 3.0 triples and just 2.8 turnovers per game while connecting on 52.3 percent of his shot attempts. Now do I expect him to keep up this sort of ridiculous production? The law of averages would say no, as Lillard is a career 42.8 percent shooter, but he has bumped up his usage rate to 33.3 this year and I don’t see that inevitable cold stretch resulting in a major drop off in production. Lillard seems to always find a way to make a meaningful impact on the box score, he consistently plays through injuries, and he’s firmly put himself in the MVP discussion during his age-26 season. Yeah, he’s going be fun to own this year.
Mike Conley did all he could for the Grizzlies during Friday’s 99-88 loss to the Clippers, tallying 30 points, 10 assists, seven 3-pointers, two boards, one steal and two blocks through 37 minutes of floor time. Conley’s usage rate has spiked to 27.4 through the first five games of the 2016-17 season (up from 23.1 the previous year), and it’s looking like head coach David Fizdale is making an effort to get Memphis’ $153 million man more involved in the offense. Sure, Conley’s usage could slip once Chandler Parsons (knee surgery, planning to play Tuesday) gets fully up to speed, but he’s still going to be a primary piece to the puzzle in Memphis. He’s also only averaging 0.4 steals through Memphis’ first five games, and with a career-average of 1.5 steals per game, that number is sure to rise as we delve further into the year. The expected uptick in steals should help sustain his value when Parsons chips away at his touches on offense.
On the other end of the floor, Chris Paul went bonkers with 27 points, 11 assists, four boards, six steals, one 3-pointer, two blocks and just one turnover through 33 minutes of action. CP3 is criminally underrated (draft day ADP of 9.8), but he’s rewarding all those savvy owners that stole him on draft day with top-5 production on the year. He’s still in his prime at 31 years old, and shouldn’t have any trouble putting forth another incredible season in Los Angeles.
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Devin Booker popped off for a career-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting (9-of-9 FTs), to go with four boards, three 3-pointers, three assists and six turnovers in 41 minutes of action during Friday’s 112-111 overtime win over the Pelicans. The 20-year-old won’t be this good on most nights, but his usage rate has jumped to 27.8 this season, so it’s clear that he’s going to have nothing but opportunity under head coach Earl Watson. Yes, shooting percentages and turnovers will very likely limit Booker’s upside, but he can also explode like this on any given night, making him a worthwhile asset to own in all leagues.
Tyson Chandler also had a nice game, putting up an 18-board, 12-point double-double, although as per usual he didn’t block any shots and failed to record a single steal. The lack of production on the defensive end makes Chandler little more than a rebounding specialist in standard leagues, and the Suns’ 1-4 record on the year would suggest that Alex Len will eventually chip away at his minutes once player development becomes more important than wins in Phoenix. For what it’s worth, Len only managed to produce four points and 10 boards in 15 minutes off the bench, without registering a single block, so owners in standard leagues can watch this situation develop from the waiver wire.
Dwyane Wade scored a season-high 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting to go with 10 boards, five triples, one assist and three turnovers in a 117-104 losing effort to the Knicks on Friday. Wade actually managed to make it through 74 games last season, so there are probably some fantasy GMs in your league that have completely forgotten about the injury riddled seasons Wade experienced from 2013-2015. I, however, have not, and I’m not at all confident that the soon-to-be 35-year-old can have another healthy season. It is therefore my recommendation to sell-high, and to do it now.
Klay Thompson couldn’t seem to hit anything during the Dubs 117-97 loss to the Lakers, going just 4-of-18 from the field on his way to 10 points, three boards, one assist, two steals, one block, two triples and four turnovers in 38 minutes. So what’s going on with Klay? It’s hard to tell. Through the first six games of the year, 26.3 percent of his shots are of the wide-open variety, which is a fairly significant increase from the previous season in which just 17.7 percent of his shot attempts could be considered wide-open. In fact, it seems like the only shots that Klay has been able to make this season have been the tightly contested ones (he owns a 56.3 effective field goal percentage on tightly contested shots, compared to his 25.8 effective field goal percentage on open looks). That’s a weird stat, and it only gets weirder considering how en fuego Thompson was throughout the preseason, although this would not be the first example of an All-Star caliber player having troubles adjusting to a Superteam build (see: Chris Bosh). Thompson’s shots don’t appear to be particularly out of rhythm, and the way he’s getting those looks is very similar to last year, so the inconsistency here is somewhat mystery/somewhat the affect of no longer being the No. 2 option. That being said, I just can’t imagine Thompson finishing the year with a 38.4 shooting percentage, so I do feel there is some room to buy-low here; he’s a career 41.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc and has only managed to convert on 19.6 percent of those attempts this season. Also keep in mind that Thompson got off to a sluggish start last year, but ended up finishing the season with top-20 value. He probably won’t be able to reach top-20 value this year, but top-40 should be easily attainable.
On the Radar
Terrence Jones looked excellent in the starting unit during Friday’s 112-111 overtime loss to the Suns, racking up 19 points (9-of-14 FGs, 0-of-4 FTs), seven boards, six assists, one steal, one triple, four swats and just one turnover in 28 minutes of action. The talent has always been there for Jones, but staying on the floor and earning meaningful minutes has been an issue for him over the past few years. Alvin Gentry did elect to leave Jones on the bench for the entirety of the overtime period, which was a strange move considering that he was playing really well and the end result was yet another loss for New Orleans, but Gentry did semi-acknowledge the mistake during his post-game interview saying that he’ll “evaluate himself.” The reality here is that Jones is a far superior option to Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca or Dante Cunningham, and he’s an excellent fit in Gentry’s offense, so (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) he’s looking like a must-own guy moving forward. Go out and get him, and hope that Gentry realizes what he has.
Isaiah Whitehead got the start at point guard for Brooklyn with Jeremy Lin (hamstring) out and Randy Foye (hamstring) picking up a DNP-CD, and he ended his night with eight points, two boards, three assists, two steals, one block and three turnovers in 23 minutes. However, Sean Kilpatrick was the main minutes getter sans Lin and Foye, racking up 19 points, four boards, four assists, two steals, two triples and two turnovers in 33 minutes, and it looks like he’ll have a sizeable role with Brooklyn as Lin spends the next two weeks on the sidelines. Whitehead will have a ton of opportunity over the next few weeks, but he’ll likely struggle with efficiency and turnovers, making him a more attractive add in points leagues. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was already playing well prior to this outing, owning averages of 17.0 points, 4.2 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.0 triples per contest on the year, so he’s worth a look in standard leagues if those numbers are appealing to you.
Trevor Booker produced his third double-double of the season on Friday with 12 points, 13 boards, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one turnover in 28 minutes. He’s the only reliable power forward in Brooklyn, so his minutes will be safe and he’s someone to consider swooping up in standard leagues as he’s begun the 2016-17 season with averages of 8.8 points, 9.5 boards, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.
J.J. Barea earned another start Friday night with Andrew Bogut (personal) unavailable, and he kept right on chugging along with 23 points (7-of-17 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), six assists, five triples and three turnovers in 30 minutes. Dirk Nowitzki only made it through 16 minutes before tapping out due to his sore Achilles, and Rick Carlisle acknowledged after the game that Dirk will be out for “a while,” so Barea could be starting in Dallas for the foreseeable future. He’s currently produced top-55 value on the year in standard 9-cat leagues with averages of 16.4 points, 5.2 assists, 2.4 treys and just 1.8 turnovers per game on 38.1 percent shooting, so go ahead and give him a look if you’re in need of some guard stats.
Lou Williams notched 20 points off the bench during Friday’s 117-97 upset over the Warriors, to go with four assists, two boards, two 3-pointers, three steals, one block and two turnovers in 26 minutes. Williams cleared has Luke Walton’s trust as he continues to close out games for the Lakers, and he’s been putting up sneaky mid-round value on the year with averages of 15.5 points, 3.8 assists, 2.0 treys and 1.7 steals (career-high) per contest on 47.6 percent shooting. He’s worth owning everywhere while he’s this hot.
Patty Mills predictably took Tony Parker’s (sore right knee) spot in the starting five on Friday night, and helped the Spurs to a 100-86 win over the Jazz with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, four 3-pointers and one turnover in 30 minutes. Parker is going to miss at least the next week of action, so Mills is someone to consider swooping up if you’re in search of some points and triples.
Tyler Johnson’s incredible start to the 2016-17 season continued on Friday night, as he came off the Miami bench for 16 points, four boards, two assists, four 3-pointers, three steals, two blocks and one turnover in 30 minutes. Believe it or not, through the first five games of the year, Johnson has established himself as a top-20 asset in standard 9-cat leagues with averages of 15.4 points, 4.0 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.6 triples and just 1.0 turnover per game on 52.8 percent shooting. No, I don’t think this kind of production is sustainable as his value could take a hit once Josh Richardson gets fully up to speed, but at the same time, Miami didn’t give him that massive four-year, $50 million extension for him to just sit on the bench. He’s worth swooping up just about everywhere to see how long he can keep this up.
Josh Richardson (knee) made his regular-season debut Friday night, missing all four of his shots in 12 minutes off the bench and ending his night with just one steal, one rebound and two turnovers to his credit. He’s going to be brought along slowly, but is worth a standard league look if you’ve got someone to cut, considering he’ll have every opportunity to usurp Dion Waiters for the starting two-spot in Miami.
Chandler Parsons (right knee surgery) is expected to make his regular-season debut Tuesday vs. the Nuggets. That means that he’ll be sitting out Sunday’s game against the Trail Blazers, but with his return right around the corner, he shouldn’t be on the waiver wire in any league. Once he gets back in action, James Ennis will more than likely return to the bench, and Zach Randolph’s playing time could take a hit.
Lance Thomas (sprained left ankle) sat out Friday’s 117-104 win over the Bulls, which resulted in Courtney Lee logging 41 minutes to go with 17 points, four assists, two boards, one triple and zero turnovers. If Thomas can’t give it a go Saturday vs. Utah, Lee will likely again be playing major minutes for the Knicks.
Andre Bogut missed Friday’s matchup with the Blazers due to a personal matter, and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bucks. With Bogut unavailable, head coach Rick Carlisle went with a small-ball starting five of Deron Williams, J.J. Barea, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki, but Dirk left the game after just 16 minutes of action due to soreness in his Achilles, which resulted in Dwight Powell earning 23 minutes off the bench. The Mavs have already said that they’ll be shutting Nowitzki down for “a while,” so Powell, Barea and Salah Mejri should be looking at expanded roles moving forward with Barea offering the most upside. The Mavs have opened up the year 0-5, so don’t expect Nowitzki to be rushed back into action. In a shallow league, you could consider the 38-year-old a cut-candidate.
DeMarre Carroll reportedly left Friday’s game to change his shoes after 20 ineffective minutes, but he never returned to the game after that, spending the final 16 minutes of action watching from the sidelines. Carroll is shooting just 33.3 percent from the field this year, and it’s unclear if he was benched for ineffective play or if his surgically repaired knee is acting up. For now, he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against Sacramento, and if he’s out, Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross would likely pick up a majority of his minutes.
John Wall (rest) will not play Saturday vs. Orlando. Tomas Satoransky logged a season-high 22 minutes off the bench Friday night, finishing with four points, three boards, one assist and three turnovers, and there’s a chance he could find himself in the starting unit on Saturday with Wall resting. He could be worth a punt in DFS, but it’ll be Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris doing the heavy lifting on offense while Wall watches from the sidelines.
Patrick McCaw (ankle) sat out Friday’s loss to the Lakers, but he’s hopeful to get back on the court for Monday night’s matchup with New Orleans. However, he’s not a fantasy factor in any setting.
Gregg Popovich revealed on Friday that Tony Parker (sore right knee) will be sidelined for the next “week or so,” so Patty Mills will be the starting point guard in San Antonio moving forward. Parker already wasn’t worth owning prior to the injury, with forgettable averages of 5.5 points and 4.0 assists a night, so switching him out for Mills makes sense to me.