Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward and Joel Embiid headlined a massive 10-game slate on Wednesday with some monster stat lines, we had a significant injury to Markelle Fultz and some minor knocks to Russell Westbrook and De’Aaron Fox, and the waiver wire suddenly looks appetizing again with some under-the-radar names you should consider adding. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here! Let’s Dose!
Markelle Fultz out for the season
The Magic, who are already without Jonathan Isaac (torn ACL) this season, just lost another rising star to injury. Markelle Fultz tore the left ACL in his knee on Wednesday night, ending his season and putting his status for the beginning of 2021-22 in jeopardy. This is a gut punch for a player who was in the midst of a breakout season with 14.3 points, 6.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.6 triples on 40% from the field. Fultz worked tirelessly to overcome the scapular muscle imbalance he had back with the 76ers, shedding the “bust” label in the process. I expect him to attack his rehab with a similar mindset and can’t wait to see him back on the court sometime next season.
With Fultz’s season over, the Magic will now turn to Cole Anthony, the 15th overall pick and now starting PG by default -- Michael Carter-Williams remains out with a foot injury. Anthony had eight points, four rebounds, three assists and a block with three turnovers in 32 minutes Wednesday, yet another underwhelming stat line for the rookie. He’s going to be a popular pickup off the waiver wire tonight, but I probably won’t be one of them. Anthony only hit 38% of his shots in college and has had similar issues in the NBA, hitting just 30% in eight games with 8.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 dimes, 0.4 steals, 0.3 blocks and 0.5 triples.
I could be wrong here, and if you need a point guard I’m fine with you taking a flier, I just wouldn’t be on board with you burning a top waiver-wire priority to get him. He does have a 23.0 usage rate without Fultz this season which is very encouraging if you don’t mind a hit to your FG%, so if he figures out how to score efficiently at this level he could be a lot of fun down the stretch. For now, I’m simply advising you to temper expectations.
Stars of the Night:
Bradley Beal did his best Stephen Curry impersonation Wednesday, going for 60 points, seven rebounds, five dimes, one steal and seven triples in a 141-136 loss to Philly. Beal, a first-rounder in 9-cat last season, usually was drafted towards the middle to end of the second round in drafts this year because of the Russell Westbrook narrative. He’s outperforming expectations early though, as his usage rate is actually 1% higher this season and his scoring has spiked even more with 34.3 points per game. He certainly looks like a first-rounder to me, but the only concern here is how much longer he’ll be playing for the Wizards if they don’t turn their season around -- the Wizards are 2-6 and Beal said before the season his No. 1 priority is to play for a winner. With Giannis Antetokounmpo going nowhere, Beal will be the most sought-after name in the NBA.
Joel Embiid is now the 5th ranked player in 9-cat leagues after posting a whopper of a stat line on Wednesday night vs. Washington. He had 38 points, eight rebounds, five dimes, three steals, three blocks and three triples, becoming the first Sixer with a 35/5/5/3/3 game since Julius Erving in 1983 (h/t StatMuse). The question is and has always been, can he do it for the entire course of a season? Embiid already has one DNP to his name this season that happened on a back-to-back, so it will be very interesting to see if he’s a full go vs. the Nets on Thursday after playing 37 minutes tonight.
Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball were both special for the Hornets this evening, with Hayward scoring a career-high 44 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and four triples. This bumps Hayward into the top-25 of 9-cat leagues, putting him on pace for his best ever season (he was the No. 32 ranked player in 2016-17). None of this is surprising when you look at the numbers he used to put up with the Jazz.
Ball has been the talk of the town in Charlotte though, and for good reason. A lot of people were already shouting “BUST” after his scoreless debut, but he has the look of a future superstar lately. Over his last four games, Ball has been playing at a 6th-round level in 9-cat with 14.0 points, 6.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.3 triples and 1.8 turnovers in 27.9 minutes. Sure he’s only hitting 38% from the field and 68% from the line, but once he finds his rhythm there is some scary upside here.
“I have no idea what he’s going to do when he touches the ball,” coach James Boreggo said. “His teammates don’t know and the opponents don’t know. He's special. He ignites us.” The calls for more playing time are getting louder and louder and it’s just a matter of time before he’s handed the keys full time.
Darius Bazley had his best game as a pro on Wednesday, racking up 20 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three triples in 34 minutes. He had a little rough patch after his strong season opener, but has now played well in three straight with 18.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.7 triples.
He’s still learning,” coach Mark Daigneault said. “He’s smoothing his game out. He’s learning how to become a consistent player. He gave us a big time boost tonight.” Bazley is crushing it as one of the best sleepers in fantasy basketball, as he’s on pace for a top-75 finish despite an ADP of 140. Why so many people slept on a 6-9 forward who moves and handles like a guard is beyond me.
Kawhi Leonard would’ve made this list even if he was scoreless tonight simply for playing in his first back-to-back since April of 2017. Ty Lue said that Kawhi told him and the medical staff that he was feeling good and wanted to play in back-to-backs this season, and I’m just wondering why he couldn’t HAVE TOLD US THIS BEFORE WE DRAFTED.
Oh well, this is a huge win for Kawhi’s fantasy managers if it holds, and that’s a big if. Kawhi has ranked inside the top-7 of 9-cat leagues five times in his career (per-game basis), and taking some DNPs out of the equation would lock him in as an early first rounder.
Jerami Grant couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean during the preseason which scared some fantasy managers away, but now he’s one of the hottest players in the East! He had 31 points Wednesday and hasn’t scored fewer than 22 points over his last seven. He’s getting a whopping 18.9 shots per game which is more than double the attempts he got in Denver, and there’s no reason to think he can’t sustain a FG% of 44.4. Grant is flirting with top-25 numbers in 9-cat of 24.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 blocks, 0.9 steals and 2.6 triples. With the obvious lack of talent around him, those shots aren’t going away.
The Knicks are 5-3 and coach Tom Thibodeau is getting the most out of Julius Randle who had 30 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists! This brings his season averages up to 23.2 points, 12.0 rebounds, 7.4 dimes and 1.4 triples. He’s not going to generate many steals or blocks, but my goodness was I way off the mark on his fantasy value this season. Don’t bother selling high because I don’t think you’ll get a fair return based on previous misconceptions, but instead enjoy the ride for however long it lasts.
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De’Aaron Fox left Wednesday’s game with a right hamstring injury and wasn’t able to return. The Kings did say it was due to “tightness” and I haven’t heard anything about a strain, so let’s hope this is a day-to-day issue. As we all know, hamstring injuries are not something to mess with as it’s so easy to aggravate them. I’m not salty at all about missing half my senior season of college soccer with a hamstring strain a half decade ago, can you tell?
Anyways, Tyrese Haliburton looks more than capable of running things for Sacramento if Fox misses time, but we’ll get to him in a minute. And no, Cory Joseph is not an add. He has never been and will never be relevant in fantasy basketball.
Russell Westbrook dislocated a finger on his right hand and the Wizards did not have an update after the game. Westbrook himself said he was in pain and that he had “no idea” if he would miss time, but signed off by saying he would be alright. The Wizards do have a back-to-back set coming up and Westy still sits in one game of those, so it would make sense for that DNP to be on Friday with this news. Be ready to stream both Deni Avdija (had an 11/7/3/3/3 line the last time Westbrook sat) and Raul Neto (averaging 17.0 points and 3.5 dimes as a fill-in starter)
Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle late in Wednesday’s game, but all indications are that it’s not a big deal. "He told me it's not serious,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He'll come in tomorrow and get treatment." Luckily, the Warriors are off Thursday so I think there’s a pretty strong chance Curry is good to go for Friday’s rematch vs. the Clippers as long as it doesn’t swell up too much overnight.
If you’re wondering why Hassan Whiteside is out of the rotation, go watch what Richaun Holmes did to the Bulls Wednesday. Holmes piled up 24 points on 10-of-11 FGs, eight rebounds, five dimes and one steal.
Robert Williams (26% rostered)- Only 15 minutes tonight, but had eight points, four boards, one steal and one block with a perfect shooting line. He’s ranked 68th in 9-cat in 16 minutes per game. Can you imagine what will happen if Brad Stevens starts playing him more.
Tyrese Haliburton (47%)- He’d be closer to 75% if he hadn’t missed time with a wrist scare. Haliburton ran the Sacramento offense with ease Wednesday, hitting a huge 3-pointer to seal the deal vs. Chicago. Incredibly, he’s on pace for top-50 numbers in 9-cat as a rookie, averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 dimes, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.2 triples. He’s the real deal and looks like the perfect player to pair with Fox in the long run. Good bye, Buddy Hield?
Bobby Portis (34%)- Bobby Portis is having his best year but no one seems to be talking about it. He’s getting 23.5 minutes per game and is putting up 6th(!) round numbers in 9-cat with 11.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.9 triples with good percentages. With the Bucks blowing everybody out and looking to manage the minutes of their studs, I actually think these numbers are sustainable. As long as the Bucks don’t bring back Nikola Mirotic I don’t see things going south here.
Austin Rivers (5%)- He had a season-high 23 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 32 minutes, all while Immanuel Quickley played just five minutes. Just Thibs being Thibs. I like Rivers quite a bit but I’m not calling him a must-roster player until I see what his role looks like when Alec Burks (ankle) gets back.
Justin Holiday (16%)- Holiday isn’t going to score 20 points every night, but he’s also legit and has been a sneaky fantasy asset in the past. Remember his Chicago days? In the last two weeks, Holiday is a top-70 player with 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 triples.
Kelly Olynyk (25%)- We need to take him more seriously, as coach Erik Spoelstra seems happy for once with his current rotation. Olynyk ranks 62nd in 9-cat over the last two weeks with 11.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 dimes, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 steals and 2.8 triples.