There was supposed to be 13 games on Wednesday night, but we had to settle for 10 due to COVID-19 rearing its ugly head again. There's still a ton of fantasy takeaways to digest, including several pickups from the waiver-wire that I quite like. Let's dose, and if you have questions for me you can find me on Twitter here!
Magic 107, Knicks 89
Michael Carter-Williams has emerged as a hot pickup in Orlando, but had an off night in this one with a 6/7/2 line on 2-of-8 shooting with one steal. However, he still reached 30 minutes, and he put up 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 dimes and 0.5 triples in his two previous games. With Cole Anthony out through the break, MCW has at least a couple weeks of streaming appeal, and probably longer.
Evan Fournier returned tonight after his second lengthy absence related to his ailing back, posting a 19/3/3 line on 8-of-15 shooting with three triples. He was moving pretty well and even had a rare dunk, joking with Aaron Gordon that he’ll avenge him during the dunk competition (link).
If he can stay healthy, he’s going to have enormous upside for the shorthanded Magic, as he has a per-36 line of 23.0 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 triples with Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon off the court. I still think he’s moved at some point though, and Josh Robbins of The Athletic recently speculated that as well as Fournier has an expiring contract and is unlikely to be in Orlando’s future plans.
Mo Bamba is on my watch lists with the Magic sitting at 11-18, but his minutes are still too low to make a move. The Magic would need to trade Nikola Vucevic for Bamba to really emerge, and there’s been no indication of that yet.
Nerlens Noel had a 6/9/1 line with one steal, but failed to block a shot after swatting a total of 11 in his previous four. He’s averaging roughly 30 minutes since Mitchell Robinson (hand) went down and will have a 4-6 week window of mid-round value.
Julius Randle had a 25/7/3 line with three triples, and at this point it would be a crime if he doesn’t make the All-Star team. Alec Burks has been missing for weeks and is a clear drop, and I’m not too interested in holding Derrick Rose or Immanuel Quickley as long as Elfrid Payton is the starter. The minutes and production will just be too volatile.
76ers 118, Rockets 113
Joel Embiid (back) returned from a one-game absence and nearly triple-doubled with a 31/11/9 line with two steals, a block and a triple. He was nowhere close to 100 percent and wasn’t moving around well, saying after the game that it’s been an issue since his fall on Jan. 27th vs. the Lakers. “It was pretty tight, but I just wanted to make sure we got the win,” he said. “That’s all that matters.” Sporadic DNPs for load management will be par for the course, but when he plays he has established himself as a top-5, maybe top-3 fantasy player with 33+ points in seven of his last eight.
Seth Curry, who struggled with some post-COVID symptoms, appears 100 percent now after racking up 25 points with five dimes, two steals and three triples. He had more upside tonight with Ben Simmons (flu) on the shelf, but keep in mind that Seth was on a top-50 pace in 9-cat before he got sick. Tobias Harris also picked up some of the slack with a monster 24/15/5 line with two blocks, one steal and one triple and is on pace for a top-25 finish, and it was Mattise Thybulle and not Tyrese Maxey (12 minutes) who got the fill-in start, racking up four steals and one block in 31 minutes. When Thybulle gets an ounce of offense, he’s going to be fun in fantasy someday. As for Maxey, I’m not sure why Doc Rivers has soured on him so quickly.
DeMarcus Cousins had a 19/8/4 line for the Rockets with two steals, two blocks and four triples for one of his best games of the season, and his window for value is still wide open with Christian Wood (ankle) still a “while” away from returning. John Wall bounced back from a 2-point first half to finish with a 28/7/3 line with two steals and two triples, and he’s still enjoying a nice boost without Victor Oladipo (foot) as he has a 34% usage with Dipo off the court.
I like Danuel House a bit as a streamer, but would much rather have Jae’Sean Tate right now, an undrafted rookie who has seen minutes at four different positions for Houston. He had a 19/6/4 line with three steals and a triple vs. Philly, and over his last six games he’s putting up top-75 9-cat numbers of 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 triples.
Hawks 122, Celtics 114
Jayson Tatum has been in an awful slump, coming into tonight shooting an abysmal 34.9% from the field in his previous six games. Tatum admitted that COVID-19 took a toll on his conditioning and said he’s struggled to breathe properly at times, but the only thing he can do is give it more time (Jay King of The Athletic has a great piece about this). He did seem much better tonight with 35 points (11-of-21 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs), six assists, six rebounds, two steals and three triples, so let’s hope the worst is behind him.
Robert Williams is the player I’m watching as a potential pickup in Boston with Daniel Theis (finger) out, as he had a strong 8/8/2 line in 20 minutes on Tuesday with five(!) steals on perfect shooting. He played 19 minutes on Wednesday, finishing with a 8/3/1 line with two blocks in 19 minutes. With the Celtics sitting at 14-14 and in need of a shakeup, the calls for Williams to get more playing time at the expense of Tristan Thompson are getting louder by the day.
Cam Reddish was coming off two positive games with 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 triples, starting to show signs of the upside we saw in the second half of his rookie season. He had a 13/6/3 line with two steals and a triple tonight, so it looks he’s gearing up for a big run. I’d be looking to add wherever possible. Clint Capela and John Collins combined for 44 points, and with how well they’ve looked together on defense I have a hard time believing that they would move Collins for an offer that includes a high lottery pick according to Shams Charania. Trae Young was the star of this game though, erupting for 40 points, eight dimes and four triples as he became the 5th player in NBA history to record at least 15 career 40-point games at the age of 22. He’s looking more and more like the borderline first-rounder we all expected him to be during draft season.
Wizards 130, Nuggets 128
Bradley Beal paced the Wizards with a 25/10/4 line and Russell Westbrook triple-doubled with a 12/13/12 line for their third straight win, proving that miracles do exist. The Wizards are still just 9-17 on the season, and like I’ve been saying for months, I’m still expecting a blockbuster trade to happen and my top two guesses for destinations would be Miami and Denver.
Moe Wagner started again and was pulled after three minutes, and I’m beyond over this revolving-door center rotation in Washington. If one of Wagner, Robin Lopez or Alex Len gets some separation, then I’ll reconsider. Davis Bertans was the talk of the town tonight though, earning back his Latvian Laser nickname with 35 points and nine triples! He was coming off an 18-point game with five triples too, so it looks like he’s ready to be the player we saw last season when he put up top-60 numbers in 9-cat with 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 dimes and 3.7 triples.
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Jamal Murray looks ready to right the ship with a 35/9/6 line to go with five triples, and a lot of his struggles are due to him simply not being healthy. Nikola Jokic is still the No. 1 player in fantasy and I don’t think that changes, posting a 33/9/7 line with two steals and three triples. Michael Porter Jr. bounced back after his scoreless dud with a 14/7/1 line with two steals, a block and two triples, and with Paul Millsap looking at a multi-game absence, I think MPJ can start looking like the early-rounder we saw at the beginning of the season.
JaMychal Green is going to be a serviceable streamer for as long as Millsap is out, scoring nine points with 10 rebounds, two assists, two triples and four blocks in 30 minutes. He had a disastrous final minute though with some costly mistakes, but knowing Malone he'll blame MPJ for Green fouling a 3-point shooter.
Pacers 134, Wolves 128
Domantas Sabonis had one of the lines of his season with 36/17/10 with three steals, as he and Malcolm Brogdon (32/9/7) combined for 68 points which is their most ever. Jeremy Lamb has had his ups and downs, but is still on pace for mid-round value as he has such a fantasy-friendly game as an efficient shooter with low turnovers. He had a 18/8/1 line with two triples and I have him as a top-80ish player going forward.
I’m pretty bullish on Ricky Rubio with D’Angelo Russell (knee surgery) out several weeks, and even wrote about him as a buy low option for season pass subscribers on Wednesday. Historically, he’s known for closing out seasons strong, and while this has been his worst start by a mile, let’s hope that’s the case once again. Rubio averages 10.0 dimes per 36 when Russell is off the court, but only shoots 34% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc in a 502-minute sample size. Those percentages are bound to come up, and tonight he took a big step, hitting 6-of-13 shots for 20 points with 13 assists, three rebounds, one steal and three triples. Giddy up.
Malik Beasley was late to practice and came off the bench for punishment (he still had 31 points and his fantasy value is safe), so Jaden McDaniels made his first career start and had 11 points, four rebounds, one assist and three blocks. I wrote about him extensively in the Waiver Wired column and have compared him to a young Jonathan Isaac, so be prepared to add if his minutes keep rising. Naz Reid had another flash-in-the-pan performance with a 18/9/3 line with one steal, three blocks and two triples, and we’ll be sure to see plenty of him later in the season when the Wolves dial back Karl-Anthony Towns -- KAT said after the game that his wrist was still bothering him. "It still is what it is. It's still not recovered whatsoever." As someone who has a ton of KAT shares in fantasy leagues, I’m extremely nervous about his rest-of-season outlook with the Wolves looking to keep their top-3 protected pick.
If Jarred Vanderbilt continues to start for the Wolves, I’d recommend adding in all category leagues despite his quiet line this evening. He won’t score much and he has no jumper outside the paint, but that will keep his FG% high and we know what he can put up dimes, boards, steals and blocks in bunches. During a stretch from Jan. 18th to Jan. 31st when he was getting consistent minutes, Vanderbilt put up 7th-round value in 9-cat in 24 minutes with 9.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks on 61.5% from the field.
Bulls 105, Pistons 102
Coby White was benched for a stretch of this game for poor play, but he’s lucky that guys like Denzel Valentine and Tomas Satoransky didn’t fare much better. I’d be a little nervous if White was on my fantasy team, as his lack of playmaking has offset his impressive scoring ability and that’s why the Bulls have been linked to Lonzo Ball.
Wendell Carter Jr. had a strong game with 18 points (7-of-9 FGs), three boards, a steal and two blocks, but can he string together several good games in a row and finally live up to the hype? Time will tell but I’m not sold on him as a mid-rounder yet. Zach LaVine solidified his case as an All-Star in this epic comeback with a 37/5/5 line with three steals and four triples, and to put into perspective just how good he’s been, only two players in NBA history have averaged 28/5/5 on 50/40/80 shooting for a whole season and LaVine is on pace to join Stephen Curry and Larry Bird (h/t to StatMuse for the awesome stat).
Patrick Williams had a 15/5/2 line with one steal, block and triple, and while I think he has all the tools to be a two-way star one day, he’s going to be a borderline top-100 player this season due to some inconsistency that is obviously common among rookies.
Jerami Grant had 43 points and four triples, and while I’ve gotten a lot of questions about potentially selling high on the potential All-Star due to Detroit’s inevitable tank, I don’t think it’s necessary because it’s not really Dwane Casey’s style. A rest game or two down the stretch? Sure. A shutdown? No chance.
Saddiq Bey was the main reason why fantasy managers tuned in tonight though, as he’s been flying off waiver wires everywhere. He’s going to be the starter going forward with the Pistons using smaller lineups, and he had a decent night with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one triple in 32 minutes on just seven shots. The attempts will go up, and he also has a per-36 line of 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 dimes, 1.2 steals and 3.0 triples with Blake Griffin off the court (421-minute sample size). Young players with upside on tanking teams are always instant pickups in my opinion, and they hit more often than not.
Blazers 126, Pelicans 124
Damian Lillard isn’t getting enough respect in the MVP conversation and played like he was making a point in this one, racking up 43 points, 16(!) assists and seven triples. He’s been one of the most reliable players in fantasy for the past half decade and you got to give him props for playing at less than 100 percent. Gary Trent Jr. had 23 points with five triples and has been on a top-80 run in 9-cat over the last two weeks, and even when C.J. McCollum (foot) returns soon, I expect the Blazers to find a way to get this young stud minutes near 30.
Derrick Jones Jr. posted his second good game in a row with a 13/7/3 line with a pair of blocks and steals, so maybe I wasn’t totally crazy by making him a sleeper of mine last season in Miami. He’s trending up on my watch list for his ability to rack up defensive stats. Robert Covington looks like he’s ready to go on a run too, and even though the offense hasn’t completely come around, he’s still been a first-round value(!) over his last three games with 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 3.3 blocks and 2.7 triples. Truly absurd numbers, but that’s why the fantasy community is in love with him.
Zion Williamson continued his quest for world dominance with a 36/6/4 line with two steals and a triple on 12-of-18 shooting, and with the Pelicans running more pick-and-roll sets for him he has turned into a fantasy superstar. Lonzo Ball is playing like he really wants to get traded or like he really wants to stay with a few very good weeks, but I can’t decide which one it is.
Willy Hernangomez is now on waiver-wire alert for the Pelicans, as Steven Adams sprained his ankle and was unable to return. Willy had 11 points and 17 rebounds and is a great per-minute fantasy player, so watch this situation closely or go ahead and add if you’re desperate for a big man.
Grizzlies 122, Thunder 113
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned and looked like he never left with 22 points, and Theo Maledon is worth scooping back up with an impressive line of 14/5/2 with two steals and four triples. Isaiah Roby is always worth streaming whenever Al Horford rests, and if Horford is traded later this season look out!
The only bad part about SGA and Theo returning is that it’s time to let Kenrich Williams and Justin Jackson go as streamers, though I’d be willing to wait one more game for Hamidou Diallo in a deeper league.
Darius Bazley is one of the most polarizing players in the fantasy community but has really turned things around with 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.3 triples over his last three. He has future superstar written all over him.
Kyle Anderson gifted his fantasy managers the ultimate sell-high opportunity, posting an epic 20/5/5 line with five steals and two triples. Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) is apparently participating in most of practice these days and a return is on the horizon, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the frontcourt rotation plays out. Grayson Allen had 22 points with six triples, four rebounds, three assists and one steal, but as a De’Anthony Melton (shoulder) superfan I’m legally not allowed to add him. You can, but just know that what we’re seeing now is most likely a fluke. Ja Morant triple-doubled with a 15/12/11 line, and you better believe he’s excited about getting JJJ back soon with the Grizzlies keeping their head above water in the playoff chase.
Warriors 120, Heat 112
Draymond Green was a late scratch with “ankle soreness” which allowed Kent Bazemore to shine off the bench with 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and four triples. I have him in a 30-deep dynasty league as my worst player so you better believe I was floored when I saw his final line. We’re obviously not adding here, assuming Draymond is day-to-day and with James Wiseman due back soon.
Stephen Curry had an “off night” with 25/11/7 on 8-of-25 shooting, but is still on pace to match his MVP season in 2016. Kelly Oubre continues to reward his patient fantasy manager who stuck with him during the bad times, dropping 23 points with eight rebounds, two assists, three steals and four triples in 44 minutes. This is who he is.
Bam Adebayo (24/7/5 with two blocks) and Jimmy Butler (13/12/11 with three steals and one triple) did everything they could for Miami, while Tyler Herro struggled from the field (3-of-15 FGs) but managed to pull down 15 rebounds with 11 points, four dimes, three blocks and two triples. He’s usually an “empty” player outside of points, dimes and triples, so this was cool to see. Kelly Olynyk can’t make up his mind if he’s going to be really good or completely invisible, and it’s no wonder the Heat are rumored to be looking for an upgrade at the four. A potential Blake Griffin buyout could interest Pat Riley.
Jazz 114, Clippers 96
Mike Conley (hamstring) missed his sixth game for the Jazz, but it sounds like he’ll be back any day now. Joe Ingles (14/5/3 with three triples) has shined in his absence, but will go back to being a borderline top-100 player when Conley is cleared. Jordan Clarkson had an off shooting night but getting 23 shot attempts is telling of just how confident the Sixth Man of the Year candidate is, and his role won’t necessarily change when Conley returns. Rudy Gobert had a typical night with 23 points and 20 rebounds with a steal and a block, and he’s a big reason why the Jazz are the hottest team in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell added a 24/7/7 line with four steals, a block and two triples, as he’s starting to resemble the superstar we witnessed in the bubble.
The Clippers are still missing half their roster and put together one of the least inspiring lineups of the season tonight, so feel free to look the other way here. I am enjoying this Lou Williams run though, as he’s been putting up top-70 numbers in 9-cat over the last two weeks and that will be the case until Paul George comes back which could be a while.