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Mavericks 115, Spurs 104
Before we even get into this recap, we of course have to start with LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs and Aldridge “mutually agreed” to split ways just a couple hours before tip-off, and the veteran is expected to seek out trades with San Antonio’s blessing.
"He's done everything we've asked," coach Gregg Popovich said. "At this point, we'd just like to do something that will work for him as much for our club, because he deserves that."
Aldridge is on an expiring contract with a $24M salary, so finding a suitable trade is not going to be easy, especially when you factor in his declining play -- his scoring average is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski did report that the Spurs “are engaged on several fronts with potential trades for Aldridge and believe they can find a deal,” but if they fail to move him by the deadline, a buyout would be imminent and contenders would be clamoring to grab him on a minimum deal. It’s pretty clear that Aldridge’s best days are behind him, so wherever he lands I can’t say with confidence that he would be a top-100 player in fantasy.
I was planning to add Trey Lyles in a few spots with this news because he had a really nice five-game stretch before the break, so of course he only played seven minutes tonight. Just keep an eye on him. Jakob Poeltl is the real winner here, and don’t stress out about his lackluster line of six points and five rebounds in 32 minutes. The workload is right where we want it, and the production has been very solid in recent weeks with Poeltl ranking 76th in 9-cat over the last month with 7.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.7 dimes, 0.9 steals and 2.0 triples. The defensive stats are going to be glorious.
Dejounte Murray had a rare off night with an 11/5/3 line, Keldon Johnson (12 points, four rebounds and two triples) is slowly ramping up after recovering from COVID and will be a mid-rounder in no time , and the buy-low window for Derrick White is still wide open as he had just six points on 1-of-8 shooting. So why am I so bullish on Derrick White? We’ve seen the early-round upside last season, and the Spurs are using him alongside Murray which they refused to do for so long. Better days are ahead, and let’s not forget, before he missed all that time due to protocols he had 25 points, four assists, two rebounds, four steals and four triples in his last game.
DeMar DeRozan was one of the few bright spots for the Spurs, posting a 30-point, 11-dime line with four steals and a triple. And just because the Spurs are moving Aldridge doesn’t mean the same is true for DeRozan who is also on an expiring contract, as it’s almost a lock that they will keep him around -- his playmaking optimizes all their young talent and Popovich is very fond of him. ESPN’s Zach Lowe tossed out the Nuggets as a potential suitor for DeRozan, but added that it’s more likely the Spurs hold onto him and re-sign him this summer.
Luka Doncic led the Mavs with a 22/12/12 line with two triples, so it was just another day in the office for someone who will be at the top of the NBA in no time. Kristaps Porzingis looked refreshed after the break with some serious lift in his legs, going off for 28 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and two triples. When he’s healthy and in rhythm, there’s no doubt that he’s a first-round talent in fantasy basketball.
The rest of Dallas is pretty boring in fantasy these days, though I have been streaming Maxi Kleber in some leagues with decent success. Over his last three games, he’s inside the top-50 of 9-cat leagues with 10.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 1.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 triples. He’s the best fit next to Porzingis so I think the minutes hold, unless of course the Mavs make a splash at the deadline. How many times have we heard that they are looking for a third star?
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Grizzlies 127, Wizards 112
Jonas Valanciunas was the headliner for Memphis, going bonkers for 29 points, 20 rebounds, three assists and four blocks in 32 minutes. This was the most aggressive he’s been all season as evidenced by this play (link), and fantasy managers are just hoping this becomes the norm because he’s been underwhelming for most of the season -- he came into the night as an 8th-round value in 9-cat leagues, mainly due to a steep drop in blocks. He managed a top-50 finish last season, so we know he has it in him.
Ja Morant had a 21/10/6 line, controlling the game from start to finish and toying with the Wizards with this flashy Rondo-esque dime (link) . With the Grizzlies in 9th out West, they are in the sweet spot for fantasy managers and we can expect a monster finish from the rising star as he tries to sneak his team into the playoffs. Desmond Bane had a fluky line with 20 points, four boards and five triples, and while I’m a fan of the rookie, he’s too inconsistent for my taste, as he’s been held to four points in four of his last eight games.
Kyle Anderson added a 13/5/3 line with a triple in 23 minutes, and while he’s been one of the best players for fantasy in Memphis, I’d be looking to sell high before we get wind of a Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) return. Speaking of JJJ, we’re getting the usual non-updates from Memphis, with coach Taylor Jenkins saying he looks forward to him “ending the season with us.” Ok then… We’re all still assuming he’s back at some point in March, but no one knows for sure and Memphis’ lack of transparency doesn’t help.
Justise Winslow had a 9/6/4 line in 22 minutes with a block, and I’m not so sure why the coaching staff is so enamored with him. He was 4-of-13 from the field which brings him down to 36% on the season, so do yourself a favor and ignore him unless you’re punting FG%. Speaking of poor coaching decisions, De’Anthony Melton only played 18 minutes, though foul trouble was partly to blame. He still managed to post an 11/3/2 line with a pair of steals and one triple to appease fantasy managers, and we’re still left to wonder if he’ll ever truly be set free under Jenkins. He was putting up early-round numbers of 14.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.8 triples in 21.9 minutes of his previous four games, so you better believe I’m holding onto him despite the low workload.
Dillon Brooks only attempted seven shots which was the upset of the century, sparing his fantasy managers’ FG% in the process. I was a huge Brandon Clarke supporter last season but it just hasn’t clicked for him this season and things are going to be tricky for him when JJJ returns. Does Clarke or Kyle Anderson lose more value? I’d lean towards Clarke.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with a 21/5/3 line with three steals, a block and a triple, but only shot 6-of-22 from the field. The Wizards have actually been somewhat competitive lately and the Beal rumors have quieted down, but don’t be fooled, there are going to teams calling the front office nonstop as we approach the March 25th deadline. I’d say it’s 50/50 that he’s moved with Miami being the most frequently mentioned suitor.
Russell Westbrook added a 20/10/5 line with three steals and his value hinges on how competitive the Wizards will be in the East. If the losses start piling up again, we’re going to see the return of the restrictions and DNPs. Davis Bertans added 13 points and three triples and is the third and final Wizard that is worth rostering in standard leagues, but keep a close eye on Deni Avdija in the event of a Beal trade. The rookie had a 13/6/1 line with one steal and three triples, and he’s shown flashes of some really intriguing upside when the usage is there.