We all knew ‘load management’ was going to be a thing this year, but I’m not sure anyone saw the PED suspensions and early slew of long-term injuries coming. I’m not sure when ankle sprains and leg issues automatically earned a three-week injury tag, but that seems to be where we are. I hope the NBA gets this all figured out soon because, as almost all of you know by now, trying to manage a fantasy lineup in this environment is not only extremely difficult, but it’s also not all that much fun. Just ask any owner of the following players, who all made injury news on Monday night before the late games had even started.
Brandon Ingram – Ingram was one of the first casualties of the night, getting a late scratch around 7:30 p.m. due to a sore right knee. An MRI is coming and owners will have to cross their fingers.
De’Aaron Fox – A Grade 3 ankle sprain will keep him out at least three weeks. Horrible news and we don’t have a ton of faith in Cory Joseph to hold it down, but he’s worth a flier if you’ve got an open spot.
Stephen Curry – Said his broken left hand will be reevaluated in three months, will require another procedure to have a pin removed, and that he wants to play again this season to gain some chemistry with the young kids on the roster. I’m still not holding him anywhere.
Gordon Hayward – Will miss six weeks after left hand surgery.
Josh Hart left Monday’s game with an issue and Luka Doncic took an elbow to the mouth and was bleeding, but they were both able to finish their games with no issues. Oh, and just as the Raptors game started OG Anunoby took an elbow from Kawhi Leonard, was bleeding, and went to the locker room never to return. And Nick Nurse almost lost his mind but avoided being thrown out. Anunoby will see a specialist on Tuesday. Additionally, Landry Shamet injured his left ankle, was helped to the locker room for the Clippers, will have an MRI and was seen on crutches after the game.
Wolves 120, Pistons 114 – Andrew Wiggins scored 33 with another whopper of a stat line and looks like one of the league’s most improved players. There were thoughts that Jimmy Butler was stymieing his development when he was in Minnesota and it sure looks that way now. If you drafted him congratulations are in order. He’s a beast right now. Robert Covington struggled again, and I am glad I didn’t take a flier on him. He’ll get it turned around, but he’s also very streaky and I think he’s going to be a potential headache all season long. Jeff Teague (illness) and Shabazz Napier (hammy) were out again and Josh Okogie started in Teague’s place over Jarrett Culver. Okogie was 0-for-4 for two points and zero assists in 25 minutes, while Culver had seven points, two boards, two assists and a 3-pointer in 23 minutes. Gorgui Dieng somehow had nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals and a block in 17 minutes and is back in the rotation. No need to grab him, but I’m bummed I didn’t start him in my 30-team league. Jake Layman had a season-high 16 points with two boards, one assist, two steals, a block and four 3-pointers. Put him on your radar.
For the Pistons, Blake Griffin (hamstring) made his debut with 19 points, seven boards, six assists and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes. He’ll be iffy for Tuesday and looked gassed at times Monday, but also looked pretty good despite the rust. Derrick Rose (hamstring) was also back, hitting 3-of-13 shots for six points, five dimes, two steals and a block. He’s also iffy for Tuesday after missing four straight games. Andre Drummond struggled early with foul trouble but salvaged another solid night and Luke Kennard stayed red hot with 25 points, seven boards, two assists, a steal and four 3-pointers. He’s scored at least 24 in four of his last five games and deserves to be owned in most leagues, even though Griffin and Rose may eventually slow him down. Tony Snell started and scored 16 with four 3-pointers and Langston Galloway added 18 points and four triples for Detroit. That’s seven straight double-digit scoring games for Galloway, whom I trust more than Snell. And Bruce Brown went back to the bench and played just 14 minutes. He needs for Rose to be in street clothes to have value.
Celtics 116, Mavericks 106 – Kemba Walker was awesome in the fourth quarter and finished with a 29-5-5 line with a block and eight 3-pointers. Hopefully his whiplash situation isn’t a big deal. The Celtics have now won eight straight games and handed Dallas their first road loss of the year. Jaylen Brown started and had 25 points, 11 boards, three assists and two 3-pointers, and looks like the big winner with Gordon Hayward’s broken hand. Marcus Smart added 17 points, six assists and four 3-pointers, and Daniel Theis had 11 points, five boards, three assists, a steal and a block, making him worth a deep-league look. Jayson Tatum joined Mav Kristaps Porzingis in a horrible shooting night, hitting just 1-of-18 shots for five points. Clearly, there’s still nothing to worry about here. Enes Kanter (knee) returned but played just six minutes, while Theis and Robert Williams both played much bigger minutes and much better than Kanter. I’d rather stash Williams than deal with Kanter right now. Brad Wannamaker and Javonte Green both played well off the bench and both are worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues with Hayward out.
The Mavs were led, once again, by my guy Luka Doncic who had 34 points, six boards, nine assists, three 3-pointers and just one turnover on 11-of-21 shooting and hit 9-of-10 free throws. He’s a joy to watch and is simply must-see TV if you like basketball. I’m going to watch the Mavs every night. Maxi Kleber hit four triples for 15 points, eight boards, two assists and a block but couldn’t make a shot late when the Mavs needed him. Kristaps Porzingis was awful, hitting 1-of-11 shots in 20 minutes after resting on Saturday. He’ll be fine. Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson were both solid off the bench and Powell is worth owning if you’ve lost a big man lately. And Delon Wright and Tim Hardaway Jr. both scored nine points in the loss. They’re both worth keeping an eye on but are very risky plays in 12-team leagues. You can probably do better off your waiver wire.
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Grizzlies 113, Spurs 109 – The Grizzlies beat the Spurs, who have now lost four of their last five and five of their last seven games. Jaren Jackson Jr. blew up for the second straight game, this time for 24 points, six boards, five assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Maybe he’s finally ready to start doing this on a nightly basis. Dillon Brooks bounced back with 21 points, three assists, two steals and a 3-pointer and looks like a strong four-game play this week, Jonas Valanciunas had a 18-12-2 block night, and Jae Crowder had eight points, 10 boards, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in another start. He was also an intriguing play with four games in Week 4. Ja Morant (rest) returned but hit just 2-of-12 shots for nine points and three dimes in a forgettable game. He’ll be fine and this is a buy-low opportunity. Brandon Clarke also returned from rest for 14 points, eight boards and two 3-pointers in 18 minutes. I’m guessing Clarke’s minutes will be a little better than this on most nights.
It was Tony Parker night at San Antonio but the Spurs let him down. Rudy Gay was their best performer and as I said before, they’ve lost four of their last five games and don’t look very good. And outside of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, they’re all pretty tough to trust. Dejounte Murray’s hot start is over and he hit 1-of-3 shots for a 4-6-4-1-1 line in just 19 minutes. Maybe Gregg Popovich didn’t want him going off on TP’s night, but I’m going to stick with Murray either way.
Rockets 122, Pelicans 114 – James Harden went nuts again with 39 points and a monster line, Russell Westbrook had a 26-5-4-4 line with six turnovers and Clint Capela added 11 points, 20 rebounds, a steal and two blocks in the win. P.J. Tucker was OK with 10 points, seven rebounds and a 3-pointer, while Danuel House left early with a back contusion. Hopefully he’s OK, as I’ve got him in a ton of lineups. If he’s going to miss time both Ben McLemore and Eric Gordon would benefit. McLemore started the second half in his stead but hit just 1-of-4 shots for four points in 19 minutes, while Gordon came through with 17 points and four triples in 30 minutes. Gordon’s the guy you want if House is going to miss time.
The Pelicans lost Brandon Ingram (knee) just before tipoff and Josh Hart started in his place. Hart had a 19-4-4-2 line with four 3-pointers and is the pickup if Ingram’s going to miss time. J.J. Redick led the way with 24 points, three assists and seven 3-pointers after scoring 22 in his previous game. Maybe he’s finally ready to get his season going and he would also get a boost if Ingram is out. Jrue Holiday hit just 6-of-21 shots and missed all seven of his 3-pointers, but came through with 18 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, a steal and a block. He’s still not clicking on all cylinders, but at least had a nice counting stats line tonight. He’s another buy-low guy. Derrick Favors had his second straight double-double with 13 points, 12 boards, three assists and two steals on 6-of-8 shooting. He was somehow able to run with the Rockets, which was encouraging to see. Kenrich Williams made another start with eight points, 11 boards, two assists and two 3-pointers and is playing well enough to be given consideration in both DFS and 12-man leagues, especially if Ingram is out. Jahlil Okafor had 14 points and five boards in 16 minutes off the bench, but he’ll need Favors to go down with an injury to be reliable enough to plug into most lineups.
Clippers 98, Raptors 88 – Kawhi Leonard didn’t make a shot until the second half and finished just 2-of-11 from the floor, but still had 12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals, but also had a career-high nine turnovers in the win against his former team. This was a defensive battle and the only question remaining is whether Mr. Load Management will sit on Wednesday @ Houston or Thursday @ New Orleans. But don’t be mistaken - he’ll sit in one of them. Lou Williams had 21 points off the bench, Patrick Patterson hit four 3-pointers for 12 points in the starting lineup, and JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell both double-doubled off the bench. As I mentioned earlier, Landry Shamet left with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. Ivica Zubac added six points, nine boards, a steal and a block, but he’s tough to use with Harrell playing so many minutes off the pine. Patrick Beverley had six points, two assists, a steal and a season-high 12 boards, and has been worth owning in most leagues.
For the Raptors, they lost OG Anunoby after he got poked in the eye and he’ll see a specialist on Tuesday, which is not all that promising. Pascal Siakam double-doubled, Norm Powell scored 15 in 37 minutes and Fred VanVleet hit just 6-of-20 shots and a 3-pointer for 14 points, eight assists and three steals. Chris Boucher stayed hot with 13 points, six boards, a steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench and should benefit some if Anunoby misses time. He’s a hot pickup right now, especially after this line. Go get him. VanVleet is a must-own player and Powell is also a nice add with Kyle Lowry out indefinitely after suffering a thumb injury on Friday. Serge Ibaka (right ankle) is out indefinitely, which also helps Boucher and Marc Gasol (8-5-5-1-2-2 in 33 minutes). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played a season-high 29 minutes and had nine points and nine boards, and will also be worth a look if OG is going to miss time.
Jazz 122, Warriors 108 – The Jazz got big lines from Rudy Gobert (double-double, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 11-of-12 shooting), Mike Conley (22 & 7) and Donovan Mitchell (23-8-6 and five 3-pointers), while Joe Ingles came off the bench with 11 points, seven assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. He’s been really rough thus far, but the skills are still there. He should eventually get going.
For the Warriors, Draymond Green (finger) graced us with his presence but then got tossed after 22 minutes for arguing with the officials. I’m afraid t’s going to be a long year for his owners. D’Angelo Russell, the only Warrior you can trust, had 33 points, eight dimes, a steal and five 3-pionters, while Jordan Poole and Marquese Chriss each scored 11, and Alec Burks had 10 points and two 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. Burks was hot, but the low minutes were concerning. Glenn Robinson and Willie Cauley-Stein started and while G-Rob was quiet, WCS did have eight points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block in 26 minutes. He’s worth a look as long as he’s healthy. Eric Paschall (hip) was back and had eight points, six boards and two steals, but takes a hit anytime Green is playing. Almost every Warrior is worth a look in fantasy right now and I’d rank them as follows: Russell, Green, Robinson, Poole, WCS, Burks, Paschall, Damion Lee, Chriss and Ky Bowman.
There’s your injury-fest breakdown after a six-game Monday. Hopefully the rest of the week goes a little bit better on the injury front.