Monday’s schedule wasn’t as eventful as Sunday’s, as there were only five games and no one was beaten like they stole something. But there was noteworthy news on the injury front, as Brooklyn lost Spencer Dinwiddie to a partially torn ACL and Memphis’ Ja Morant suffered a serious ankle sprain. Add in impressive showings from Nikola Jokic, Gary Trent Jr. and Trae Young, and there was no lack of entertainment Monday night.
Hawks 128, Pistons 120
Grizzlies116, Nets 111 (OT)
Jazz 110, Thunder 109
Nuggets 124, Clippers 111
Blazers 115, Lakers 107
Nets forced to play without three starters: The big injury news for Brooklyn was the announcement that Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a partially torn ACL during Sunday’s loss to the Hornets. He is scheduled to undergo surgery next week, and the expectation is that Dinwiddie will miss the remainder of this season. Ultimately Steve Nash was left to account for the absence of three starters, as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were given the night off with this being the second game of a back-to-back. With that being the case, there isn’t much to go off of when determining who will step into the void left by Dinwiddie.
Caris LeVert, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Taurean Prince moved into the starting lineup, and while Prince struggled (going into “feels like leather” mode from the opening tip and missing your first five shots isn’t good for business) the other two spot starters played well. LeVert shot 12-of-29 from the field, finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, 11 assists, five steals and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes, while TLC played 40 minutes and posted a 21/6/2/2/1 line with three 3-pointers. I think LeVert’s fantasy value would take a hit if he were to replace Dinwiddie in the starting lineup, as he would be third in the pecking order behind Durant and Irving from a playmaking standpoint.
Luwawu-Cabarrot likely holds the advantage over the other options at Steve Nash’s disposal due to his defensive ability, with Landry Shamet (5/1/1/3 with one 3-pointer in 24 minutes) also worth considering. Neither is a must-have in any fantasy format, but based upon his play Monday night TLC can be a fill-in option on nights when Brooklyn rests its two main guns. Tyler Johnson was a DNP-CD, which doesn’t bode well for him when it comes to cracking the rotation with Dinwiddie out.
Memphis watches its star point guard go down: While Brooklyn began Monday’s game shorthanded, Memphis lost its most important player during the second quarter. Ja Morant rolled his left ankle after challenging a Luwawu-Cabarrot jump shot, and the pain was bad enough that he required the use of a wheelchair to get back to the locker room. The good news is that X-rays on Morant’s ankle came back negative; more will be known about his status moving forward after he undergoes an MRI on Tuesday. No Morant moves Tyus Jones up from the bench, but he isn’t the Grizzlies player that you should be looking to pick up.
The answer to that question is Kyle Anderson, who hit the 20-point mark for the second straight game. In 37 minutes Monday night, he accounted for 28 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers, shooting 9-of-17 from the field (4-of-8 on 3-pointers). Anderson is now 7-of-20 from three this season, a noteworthy development for a player who’s averaging 0.2 made 3-pointers per game for his career. Even if Jones starts, Anderson stands to be thrust into the playmaker role more often than he is when playing next to Morant. Slo Mo is currently rostered in just 41% of Yahoo leagues, despite providing fifth-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats. That number needs to increase.
Nuggets’ Murray banged up, while Jokic dominates: Jamal Murray posted a solid stat line in his 31 minutes on the court Monday, tallying 21 points, five rebounds, two assists, one block and four 3-pointers against the Rockets. But it wasn’t easy, as he had to leave the game for a bit due to a head injury. Luckily Murray was able to return to the game, so there shouldn’t be any lingering issues. The real star for Denver was Nikola Jokic, who put up a line of 19 points, 12 rebounds, 18 assists (a career-high), three steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. The Joker, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is just the second player in NBA history to accrue at least 70 points and 40 assists through his team’s first three games (Guy Rodgers in 1966-67). A center as the league assist champion? Don’t rule out the possibility.
Monte Morris had a good night off the bench, scoring 12 points with four rebounds, five assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. The splitting of the second unit point guard duties between he and rookie Facundo Campazzo hasn’t come to fruition just yet, with Campazzo playing just five minutes Monday night. If you’re holding out in hopes of that dynamic changing in the near future, don’t. Neither is a must-have in any fantasy format, but Morris could have some value in time. And there needs to be an investigation into why Bol Bol is currently rostered in 5% of Yahoo leagues.
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Capela, Rondo make their Hawks debuts: Atlanta was finally able to call upon Clint Capela, who was acquired from the Rockets back in February, for the first time Monday night. Coming off of soreness in his Achilles, the veteran center was on a limit of 20 minutes or so in his Hawks debut. He played exactly 20 minutes, finishing with seven points, nine rebounds, one assist and two blocked shots. The players most impacted by Capela’s return Monday were rookie Nathan Knight, who picked up a DNP-CD after scoring 14 points in nine minutes on Saturday, and Bruno Fernando. Fernando played just 11 minutes on Monday, and like Knight he isn’t a worthwhile option in any fantasy format.
What I’m watching at this point is John Collins’ production, as he has gotten off to a slow start (by his established fantasy standards) to this season. In 26 foul-plagued minutes, he accounted for 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and one 3-pointer. Collins has played no more than 27 minutes in Atlanta’s first three games, after averaging a career-high 33.2 minutes per game last season. That “contract year” bump hasn’t come just yet, but keep the faith. If you can find an impatient competitor in your league who’s willing to sell low on Collins, it would be a good idea to take advantage.
Rajon Rondo, who was a DNP-CD on Saturday after being held out as he fulfilled the NBA’s medical protocol requirements, played 15 minutes and tallied 12 points, eight assists, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers. He looked like “Bubble Rondo,” but with Trae Young running the show Rondo’s value to the Hawks’ rotation far outweighs what he brings to the table fantasy-wise. Atlanta played without Danilo Gallinari, who was a late scratch due to a foot injury. The second unit shots were pretty evenly distributed without Gallinari, as Rondo, Solomon Hill, Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic all finished with at least eight attempts.
Griffin, Rose absences lead to lineup shuffling for Detroit: Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose were given Monday off for rest reasons, and while Rose isn’t a starter the absences meant that two chances were made. Josh Jackson and Saddiq Bey joined Killian Hayes, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee in the starting lineup, with Delon Wright moving to the bench to fill Rose’s backup point guard role. Wright continued his solid start to the season, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes. Wright is the best fantasy point guard on the Pistons roster, even with Hayes being the starter.
Jackson shot 11-of-19 from the field, finishing with a 27/4/2/1/1 line with three 3-pointers, and Grant (27/6/1/1 block with three 3-pointers) also had a good night. Jackson has been a top-75 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats to start the season, and he’s rostered in just 15% of Yahoo leagues. While his career to this point makes the former lottery pick a tough player to trust, it would not be a bad idea to pick Jackson up, especially in deeper leagues. Bey shot 3-of-11 from the field, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes. The returns of Griffin and Rose will hamper his fantasy value significantly, as the rookie played just six minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Cavaliers. Leave Bey on the waiver wire.
Bogdanovic, Conley play well as Jazz rally: More than nine months ago the 2019-20 season came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19, with the Jazz preparing to play the Thunder in Oklahoma City on March 11. Utah was back in town Monday night, and thanks in part to the play of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley the Jazz rallied for a one-point victory. Bogdanovic (23/3/1/2 with five 3-pointers) shot 8-of-17 from the field while Conley (20/10/9/1/1 with two 3-pointers) made eight of his 15 attempts.
Conley looks more comfortable now than he did at any point last season, which makes sense given the fact that it was his first season in Utah. And Bogdanovic is healthy after undergoing wrist surgery during the summer and not playing in the bubble. Both should be top-100 players all season long. Donovan Mitchell (20/2/5/1 with two 3-pointers) shot just 8-of-23 from the field, but there isn’t much to be concerned about there. He’s still scoring 20 points per game, and as he gets better acclimated to initiating the offense Mitchell’s shooting percentages should improve.
Dort’s looking like a Most Improved Player candidate: While Thunder guard Luguentz Dort was a valuable contributor last season, especially on the defensive end of the floor, his poor shooting proved to be costly in the team’s first-round loss to the Rockets. Houston practically dared him to shoot, and more often than not Dort failed to come through. He clearly put in the work during the offseason, as the second-year guard has been shooting the ball much better to start this season. Monday night Dort shot 9-of-11 from the field (5-of-7 3-pointers), finishing the loss to Utah with 26 points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals in 32 minutes. He’s made six of his 11 3-point attempts in Oklahoma City’s first two games.
Not sure Dort continues to shoot it at this rate all season long, but it’s obvious that he’s made strides. He’s currently rostered in just 26% of Yahoo leagues, a bit low given the Thunder’s lack of respected scoring options. Even if he “can’t” shoot, Dort isn’t going to lack for opportunities to prove otherwise. Thus far, he has done just that. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (23/3/7/1/1 with one 3-pointer) shot just 1-of-7 from three, but the over-all line makes up for that, and George Hill (14/5/4/2) made the most of his 25 minutes on the court. Rostered in just 27% of Yahoo leagues, Hill is providing top-50 value in 9-cat through the regular season’s first week.
Harden does more heavy lifting in losing effort: Houston remains shorthanded due to multiple players needing to clear COVID-19 protocols, leaving Stephen Silas with nine available players. James Harden and Christian Wood once again led the way offensively in Monday’s loss to the Nuggets, with the former shooting 10-of-16 from the field. Harden posted a 34/6/8/1 line with five 3-pointers and five turnovers, while Wood added 23 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers.
If there was a negative for Wood it was the rebound total, but that isn’t a major concern due to his racking up 13 in Saturday’s loss to Portland. Both Harden and Wood are top-20 in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and that shouldn’t change once John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are cleared to play. Sterling Brown (12/4/2/1 with two 3-pointers in 31 minutes) had a good game off the bench, but he doesn’t doesn’t offer much fantasy-wise due in large part to timing. Houston stands to get a few of the quarantined players back on Thursday, which will likely knock Brown back down in the pecking order.
Melo sits, and Trent Jr. torches the Lakers: Portland played Monday’s game without Carmelo Anthony, who was held out due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols. That was great news for fantasy players who have Gary Trent Jr., who went off to the tune of seven 3-pointers in the Blazers’ win over the Lakers. He played 24 minutes off the bench, shooting 10-of-14 from the field (7-of-11 3-pointers) and finishing with 28 points, three rebounds and one assist. While Anthony is certainly valued by the Blazers, it’s fair to wonder if his presence could potentially stunt the growth of Trent Jr.
This isn’t the bubble, where Portland had room for both due to their limited numbers on the wings. Rodney Hood is healthy, and Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington (both starters) need their minutes as well. It’s unknown when Anthony will be cleared to return, but the longer he’s out the better that is for Trent Jr. He’s currently rostered in just 9% of Yahoo leagues, but there’s still late-round value to be had even in standard leagues.
LeBron, Davis play but Caruso forced to sit: The Lakers had their two franchise players available for the second game of a back-to-back, with Anthony Davis (13/10/5/1 in 38 minutes) good to go after missing Sunday’s win due to a calf issue. LeBron James (29/9/6/2/1 with three 3-pointers), who re-aggravated a left ankle sprain Sunday night, was available and played 36 minutes in Monday’s loss to Portland. However reserve guard Alex Caruso, who was originally listed on the injury report due to a hand injury, wasn’t available for COVID-19 protocol reasons. That’s certainly interesting, and it remains to be seen just how much time he will have to miss.
Talen Horton-Tucker played 10 minutes off the bench, scoring six points with two rebounds and one steal. Even if Caruso has to miss an extended period of time, THT isn’t worth rostering in any format. His time may come eventually, but not now. Dennis Schroder (24/4/4/1 with one 3-pointer and two turnovers) is just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat, due in large part to his turnover tally (10 in four games). This isn’t a major issue for those playing in leagues where assist-to-turnover ratio is the ninth category, as Schroder has 22 assists, but it would be nice to see him get the miscues under control.
Kyle Kuzma moved back to the bench and struggled, shooting 2-of-9 and finishing with six points, one block, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in 23 minutes. Kuzma can be a decent supplementary option in standard leagues. But if you somehow wound up with him as one of your marquee players in the frontcourt, that’s not good.
Some Noteworthy Stat Lines
Trae Young: Young finished Atlanta’s win over Detroit with 29 points, three rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Included in that was a 15-of-15 night from the foul line, and Young has now scored 42 points from the charity stripe through three games. Last season, he averaged 8.0 points from the foul line per game. Young will have turnover issues on occasion due to how much he handles the ball, but more trips to the line can help cover for that in fantasy. If he can stay in double figures in points from the foul line, Young should be a top-10 player at minimum.
Rudy Gobert: 12 points (6-of-8 FGs), 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and four blocks in 37 minutes against the Thunder. Gobert made some big defensive plays down the stretch, and he’s been a top-25 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats through the first week of the season. He isn’t on the level of Jokic or Joel Embiid when it comes to the center position, but Gobert is next in line.
Damian Lillard and Enes Kanter: Lillard shot 10-of-16 from the field, finishing with 31 points, four rebounds, five assists, one block and five 3-pointers. Another routine night for him. As for Kanter, he tallied 12 points, 14 rebounds and one assist in 27 minutes off the bench. He’s been a top-100 player during the season’s first week, ranking higher than starting center Jusuf Nurkic (10/12/3/1 in 26 minutes). With Zach Collins sidelined for the foreseeable future, Kanter is a worthwhile pickup for fantasy players in need of a boost in the rebounding department. He’s currently rostered in just 18% of Yahoo leagues.
Bogdan Bogdanovic: Bogdanovic is one of the highest-paid reserves in the NBA, but that may be a good thing when it comes to his fantasy value. He played 30 minutes off the bench Monday, tallying 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, one block and five 3-pointers. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.0 3-pointers per game coming off the bench (two games), while in his lone start Bogdanovic finished with seven points, nine rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer.
Dillon Brooks: Brooks played well to finish the preseason, and he’s gotten off to a solid start to the regular season. He accounted for 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes Monday night. Brooks, who averaged 0.9 steals per game last season, has racked up seven steals in Memphis’ first three games. Having finished last season well outside of the top-100, Brooks is threatening top-50 status in both 8- and 9-cat formats to begin the 2020-21 campaign and the steals are a big reason why.