Kyrie Irving needed just 25 minutes to score 30 points (9-of-15 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs) during Friday’s easy 118-103 win over the Magic, adding four rebounds, three assists, two triples, one steal and one turnover. He’s been an absolute monster over the past four with averages of 32.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.0 trey-bombs, 1.3 steals and 2.3 turnovers per contest on 64.8 percent shooting from the field and 86.7 percent from the line which has been good enough for top-3 status in 9-cat leagues. Obviously, the sky-high FG% isn’t sustainable, but it’s clear that he’ll be an elite asset this season.
Dumpster Fire in Phoenix
The dumpster fire in Phoenix continued on Friday as they were blown out by the Pelicans to the tune of 24 points, and at no point was the game at all close. Greg Monroe replaced the struggling Marquese Chriss (two points, four rebounds, one block, 14 minutes) in the starting five, but finished scoreless through 12 minutes of action, recording a meager four rebounds, one assist and two turnovers. Alex Len grabbed 12 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench to go with two block and five points, while Tyson Chandler finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, one steal and one turnover through 28 minutes as a starter. The big man rotation in Phoenix is a mess, and Len is probably the only guy worth owning out of this group.
Tyler Ulis scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with one 3-pointer, two assists, two steals and one turnover over 26 minutes as a starter, and he’s been playing relatively well as of late with averages of 10.7 points, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 turnovers per game on 46.2 percent shooting, but he continues to only see his playing time in the mid-20s as he’s locked into a timeshare situation with Mike James. Ulis is the PG to own in Phoenix, but he’s basically nothing more than a low-end guy in deep leagues.
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Stepping Up in Denver
Nikola Jokic nearly triple-doubled during Friday’s 104-92 win over the Grizzlies, racking up 28 points (11-of-17 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), 13 rebounds, eight assists, two 3-pointers, one steal and five turnovers in 36 minutes. He’s seen his usage rate rise to 25.2 since Paul Millsap (wrist) hit the sidelines, and he should continue to see some increased playmaking responsibilities and scoring opportunities with Millsap out indefinitely. Jamal Murray had a nice bounce-back game following Wednesday’s eight-point, 24-minute outing, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting to go with six rebounds, one 3-pointer, four assists, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 37 minutes; he too will be stepping it up sans Millsap.
Kenneth Faried went from a DNP-CD on Wednesday, to a 31-minute starter on Friday, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one block and one turnover, and he should be in-and-out of the starting lineup moving forward. However, I think his minutes will be too inconsistent to rely on him in standard 12-team leagues.
On the Radar
Jarrett Allen earned a career-high 24 minutes off the bench during Friday’s narrow loss to the Blazers, registering nine points on 3-of-10 shooting (3-of-4 from the stripe) to go with eight boards, one assist, two steals and one block. Head coach Kenny Atkinson said after the game that Allen’s minutes will continue to rise “if he keeps playing well,” and with the Nets essentially shutting down Timofey Mozgov for rest right now, Trevor Booker is basically the only guy currently ahead of him on the depth chart. He has played very well in limited minutes this season and given Brooklyn’s options at the five-spot, it should only be a matter of time until he finds himself in the starting five. He’s a high-upside stash for his ability to rack up the defensive stats.
Jarrett Jack handed out a season-high 14 dimes through 33 minutes as a starter on Friday, adding 10 points, four boards, one 3-pointer and two turnovers. He rarely offers much outside of the assist category, but with 6.2 dimes per contest as a starter this season, he has some low-end value in deep leagues as an assists-specialist.
Courtney Lee scored a season-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) during Friday’s loss, to go with two triples, four rebounds, two assists, one block and zero turnovers in 37 minutes. He’s been en fuego over the past seven with averages of 15.4 points, 2.1 triples, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and just 0.7 turnovers per contest on 53.9 percent shooting, which has been good enough for top-30 value in 9-cat leagues. The sky-high FG% isn’t sustainable, and Lee could see his minutes start to decline towards the second half of the year, but he’s worth owning everywhere while he’s playing this good.
Marco Belinelli hit a clutch 3-pointer late to steal the deal for Atlanta during Friday’s 116-104 victory, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go with two rebounds, five assists, three trey-bombs and one steal in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s actually been a sneaky mid-round guy on the year with averages of 12.2 points, 2.2 triples, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.0 turnover per game on 42.0 percent shooting, so he’s worth a look for anyone seeking a boost in the 3-point category.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams played well during Friday’s one-point loss to the Cavs, with MKG tallying 17 points (7-of-15 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), five rebounds and one assist in 37 minutes and Williams registering 17 points (5-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five 3-pointers, eight rebounds and one assist in 29 minutes. Kidd-Gilchrist got off to a slow start this season due to personal reasons, but he’s been averaging 34.1 minutes a night over the past four and while the numbers haven’t been spectacular, he is clearly trending up. Williams tends to play significantly better with MKG on the court, and he’s been a top-70 player over the past four with averages of 10.3 points, 2.3 triples, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 swats and just 0.3 turnovers per contest on 40.0 percent shooting. Both these guys are worth owning in most 12-team leagues.
Norman Powell provided a nice spark off the bench on Friday, scoring 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with one 3-pointer, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 27 minutes. He’s been solid over the past two since returning from the hip issue, owning averages of 13.5 points, 2.0 triples, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 0.5 blocks per contest on 50.0 percent shooting while rocking a 23.5 usage rate. He might be better served with the second unit as he’s better able to assert himself in the offense, and his ability to offer owners a triple, steal and block makes him an enticing grab in deep leagues.
Fred VanVleet earned a season-high 29 minutes off the bench, going 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe on his way to 16 points, five rebounds, four assists, two triples, two steals and zero turnovers. He’s really stepped it up since Delon Wright (shoulder) hit the sidelines, churning out averages of 10.0 points, 3.3 assists, 1.5 triples, 1.0 steal and just 1.5 turnovers per contest on 45.5 percent shooting, which has been good enough for late-round value in 9-cat leagues. He’s a solid low-end guy to own in deep leagues.
Jonathon Simmons scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting (1-of-2 from the line) to go with one 3-pointer, three rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 24 minutes off the bench. He started the second half over Evan Fournier and head coach Frank Vogel has been hinting that he’s considering tweaking his starting five, so Simmons could soon find himself starting in Orlando, particularly with Terrence Ross playing horribly. He’s trending up and is worth a look in most leagues.
Lance Stephenson helped the Pacers to a 107-104 win over Toronto on Friday, scoring a season-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with seven boards, four triples and five turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench. Born Ready has been up-and-down all year long, and that trend will likely continue, but with Victor Oladipo exiting the game with a bruised knee he could be in line for a start on Saturday vs. Boston which would put him on the radar as a low-end streamer or punt play in DFS.
JaMychal Green was a perfect 9-of-9 from the field on Friday, recording 21 points, two 3-pointers, three rebounds and one assist through 32 minutes of action. It’s incredibly unlikely he’ll hit 100 percent of his shots again this season, but he’s locked in as Memphis’ starting four-man and at the very least he should be able to carve out some low-end value in 9-cat leagues. Give him a look.
Terry Rozier notched a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting (2-of-3 from the line) during Friday’s easy win over Orlando, adding five trey-bombs, six boards, two assists and one steal in 30 minutes off the bench. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he’s been a steady low-end asset on the year behind averages of 9.5 points, 1.7 triples, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and just 0.8 turnovers per game on 35.9 percent shooting. Jaylen Brown (personal) might miss Saturday’s game in Indiana, which would give Rozier a good shot of again flirting with close to 30 minutes. He’s worth a look in deep leagues.
J.R. Smith busted out of his shooting slump on Friday, scoring 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go with three 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist, three steals and one turnover in 36 minutes. With Derrick Rose (hate basketball), Isaiah Thomas (hip) and Iman Shumpert (knee) on the sidelines, Smith should continue to earn heavy minutes in Cleveland, so he’s someone to think about as a 3-point specialist in deep leagues.
Kyle Korver drained another three triples in 25 minutes off the bench on his way to 13 points and one rebound. He’s been hitting 2.5 trey-bombs a night on 48.2 percent shooting, giving him some low-end appeal in deep leagues as a 3-point specialist.
Wayne Ellington delivered six 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench on his way to 21 points, three rebounds, one assist and one turnover. He’s been en fuego over the past three with averages of 17.0 points and 5.0 triples per contest on 57.1 percent shooting, none of which is sustainable, but the Heat are one of six teams playing on Sunday and he might be able to keep that hot streak alive with a matchup against the Bulls, giving him some appeal as a 3-point streamer.
Willy Hernangomez was able to earn 18 minutes off the bench sans Kanter, and he ended his evening with six points, seven rebounds, one assist, one block and two turnovers. If Kanter can’t play Saturday, Hernangomez could be someone to think about as a low-end streamer in deep leagues.
Nicolas Batum (elbow) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Spurs. Jeremy Lamb started in his place and put up 11 points (4-of-15 FG, 2-of-3 FT), seven boards, seven assists, one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 35 minutes. If Batum can’t give it a go on Saturday, Lamb could be someone to consider throwing out there as a punt play in daily leagues.
Victor Oladipo exited Friday’s game late with a bruised knee and did not return, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready to go in time for Saturday’s game against the Celtics. He had a knee-to-knee collision against Kyle Lowry on a drive to the hoop, and while he was able to walk off the court without much of a limp, this is the sort of thing that could swell up overnight. If he can’t play Saturday, Lance Stephenson could enter the starting five and there would be more minutes available for Cory Joseph. Darren Collison would also spend more time running the offense.
Eric Gordon (calf) and Ryan Anderson (illness) were back at practice on Friday and are expected to play Saturday vs. the Knicks. Anderson’s return will shift P.J. Tucker back to the second unit, and there won’t be quite as many minutes available for Luc Mbah a Moute.
John Wall (left knee soreness) skipped Friday’s practice and had an MRI, the results of which have not yet been made public. Wall does have a history with knee issues, and it is slightly concerning that he required an MRI, but I wouldn’t panic prior to knowing those results. He also tends to fight through injuries for as long as he possibly can, so as long as he’s capable of walking and not in need of a surgical procedure, I’d expect him to continue to play through the pain. That said, if he’s required to sport business attire for Saturday’s game against Portland, Tim Frazier would draw the start and he’d be someone to consider as a low-end streamer or punt play in DFS, while Bradley Beal would be tasked with the heavy lifting on offense.
Jeff Teague (right Achilles soreness) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Suns. With him out, Aaron Brooks drew the start, although he was benched at halftime in favor of Tyus Jones and finished with just one 3-pointer, one rebound and two assists in 13 minutes. Jones, on the other hand, produced eight points, six dimes, six rebounds, two triples, four steals and three turnovers in 33 minutes, so he could be someone to think about streaming or punting in daily leagues if Teague misses Sunday’s game. Nemanja Bjelica (foot) also did not play Friday and he too should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Phoenix.
Kevin Durant (ankle) and Draymond Green (rest) sat out Friday’s game against the Bulls, but they should be back in action on Saturday night for a matchup with the Pelicans. Jordan Bell was impressive in a fill-in start sans Green, racking up seven points, six boards, four assists, two steals, six blocks and one turnover in 26 minutes, but he’ll likely return to being a negligible part of the rotation with Green and Durant active on Saturday.
Derrick Rose (tired of being hurt) is away from the team and contemplating his basketball future. It’s not the first time he’s done this, and it’s tough to judge him considering all the surgeries he’s had over the years; maybe being able to walk at 80 is something he cares about.
Paul Millsap (wrist) is still talking to doctors going through all his options as he attempts to avoid surgery. I doubt he’ll be able to avoid going under the knife (Julius Randle #toostrong), but his owners should just keep hanging on until we official word and a timetable (likely 2-3 months if it’s surgery).
Trevor Booker (ankle) returned from a one-game absence and produced 10 points, eight boards, two assists and one block in 20 minutes. He’s an okay low-end guy in deep leagues, but I’m not high on him.
Marcus Morris will be rested Saturday vs. the Pacers, which will likely shift Aron Baynes back to the starting five. Jaylen Brown may not play Saturday if he’s not able to make it to Indiana in time after attending to a funeral of one of his friends. If he’s out, Marcus Smart would get the start and there would be more minutes available for Terry Rozier in the second unit.
Enes Kanter (back) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Houston. Kyle O’Quinn drew the start in his place and finished with two points, six boards, two assists, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 23 minutes. Obviously, O’Quinn didn’t play very well, so if Kanter can’t give it a go on Saturday, perhaps Willy Hernangomez will be able to see his minutes eclipse the 20-minute mark.
Jared Dudley (knee) returned from a six-game absence on Friday, recording one rebound in six minutes off the bench. He’s irrelevant.
Zach LaVine (knee) has been doing windmill dunks during 3-on-3 sessions and is on track to make it back to the court by mid-December. He’s one of the better stashes out there.
David Nwaba (ankle) is not close and remains without an official timetable to return. With both LaVine and Nwaba on the sidelines, Denzel Valentine will continue to start and he’s a low-end option in deep leagues for those seeking a boost in 3-point shooting.
C.J. Miles (wife had a baby) did not play Friday and should be considered doubtful for Saturday’s game vs. Atlanta.
Brandan Wright (groin) missed his third game in a row on Friday and should be considered doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Nets. Wayne Selden (quad) also didn’t play Friday, and he’ll likely be spending Sunday’s game on the sidelines as well.
Jonathan Isaac (ankle) did not play Friday and should be considered doubtful for Saturday’s game in Philly.
Omer Asik (illness) made his regular-season debut during Friday’s blowout win in Phoenix, finishing with six points and one rebound in 11 minutes off the bench. As long as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are healthy, Asik won’t be worth owning anywhere.