Oh my, he’s on fire!
Despite only having seven players available for Friday’s game, Damian Lillard nearly powered the Trail Blazers to a win over the Jazz with 42 points on 16-of-30 shooting (2-of-3 from the line) to go with eight trey-bombs, six rebounds, six assists, one steal, two blocks and four turnovers through 43 minutes of floor time. Unfortunately for Portland, the refs blew an obvious call with 11.2 seconds left, as Rudy Gobert clearly goaltended Lillard’s game-tying layup – and with the Trail Blazers out of timeouts they were unable to review the play. It was a terrible missed call, and with Portland fighting for the No. 8 seed out West, such a decision could have postseason consequences. I sincerely hope that Portland doesn’t miss the postseason by a single game, although Dame seems determined to not let that happen. Since Thrillard’s 61-point, 11-triple MLK Day explosion, he’s been the No. 1 player in fantasy hoops with insane averages of 42.4 points, 6.8 triples, 5.9 boards, 9.6 dimes, 1.0 steal and 3.2 turnovers per contest on 51.9% shooting from the field and 92.2% from the stripe. He’s also shooting 71.4% from 35-39 feet this season; Logo Lillard has arrived.
On the other end of the floor, Mike Conley had his third consecutive non-terrible game, scoring 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting (4-of-4 from the line) to go with two 3-pointers, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and one turnover across 31 minutes. It only took him 50 games to get here, but over the past three he’s been flirting with top-50 value behind averages of 20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.7 triples, 1.0 steal and 1.3 turnovers per game on 45.7% shooting from the field and 80% from the line. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity that Conley was struggling so mightily to begin the season, he was simply missing a lot of shots he had traditionally made throughout his career, and the only real difference now is that those shots are finally falling. He’s been converting on a much more respectable 60% of his shots around the basket (up from a woeful 48.9%), and he’s been red-hot from distance, drilling 52.4% of his 3-point attempts. It’s only three games of what has been a long, dreadful season, but he finally looks comfortable with his new teammates and is back to being 100% healthy after dealing with a brutal hamstring injury. Hopefully, this is a sign that he’s ready to really start rolling.
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It’s Wood, singular, no "s"
Christian Wood double-doubled in his first start following the Andre Drummond trade, scoring 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting (4-of-6 from the line) to go with 12 rebounds, three triples, five assists and one turnover in 35 minutes. Duane Casey spoke of Wood’s need to seize the opportunity during his pregame media availability, saying: "The OMG moments are gone and now it's real. You don't have someone to fall back on. It's time to step in. This is for our young guys to grow up, to be responsible, be pros, do what you're supposed to do and do your job." Wood did not disappoint, and it looks like he will pay dividends to all those who were patient enough to stash him ahead of the deadline.
The Wave Papi Revolution
Kelly Oubre dropped in a career-high 39 points on 14-of-19 shooting during the Suns’ 127-91 thrashing of the Rockets, adding seven triples, nine boards, one steal, two swats and two turnovers through 36 minutes of action. A lot of people were giving me smack for regularly drafting Oubre in the fifth round on draft day, but he’s been a steady top-40 option this season with averages of 19.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 triples, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.6 turnovers per game on 46% shooting. I’m so happy he wasn’t traded.
Marvin Williams reached a buyout agreement with the Hornets and promptly agreed to a new deal with the Bucks. He’ll add some frontcourt depth to Milwaukee, but he’s well past his days of relevancy in fantasy hoops.
Mikal Bridges kept his hot streak going, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-3 from the stripe) to go with two 3-pointers, four rebounds, two assists, four steals, one block and zero turnovers through 31 minutes of floor time. He’s been a sneaky mid-round guy over the past month with averages of 9.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 triples, 1.7 steals, 1.0 block and 1.2 turnovers per game on 50.9% shooting, and while I do think he’ll take a bit of a hit once Aron Baynes (hip) and Dario Saric (ankle) make their way back to the court, he still should be owned in most leagues while he’s playing this well. It’ll also be in Phoenix’s interest to force feed him minutes down the stretch, particularly once they’re mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
Ish Smith got the start in Washington’s first game following the Isaiah Thomas trade and produced 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds, six assists, two triples, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 30 minutes. He should be able to hold onto that starting spot while Shabazz Napier familiarizes himself with the Wizards’ system, so he could have some low-end value as a dimes and steals specialist as we head into the All-Star break.
Shabazz Napier looked good in his D.C. debut, earning 19 minutes off the bench on his way to 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with four 3-pointers, three rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and two turnovers. I wouldn’t rule out him eventually overtaking Smith for the starting point guard slot, so he’s worth a speculative add if you need a PG.
De’Anthony Melton saw 23 minutes off the bench in Memphis’ first game following the Jae Crowder trade, and while he struggled from the field (1-of-9 FG), he salvaged his stat line by snatching away a career-high five steals to go with four points, two rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers. He’s still stuck in a reserve role behind Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks, but he should see his minutes in the mid-20s more frequently (assuming Dion Waiters doesn’t play much) now that some more minutes have opened for him at the three-spot, which should be enough floor time for him to hold value due to his elite steals numbers.
Tyus Jones hit 6-of-13 shots on his way to 13 points, seven assists, one 3-pointer, one rebound, two steals and zero turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench. He’s been in a nice groove over the past five games with averages of 13.4 points, 4.4 assists, 1.4 triples, 1.0 steal and just 0.4 turnovers per game on 62.5% shooting, so he could make for a solid streamer on Sunday with a favorable matchup vs. the Wizards.
Brandon Goodwin came off the bench for 21 points (7-of-15 FG, 4-of-4 FT), three 3-pointers, two rebounds, four assists, one block and four turnovers across 28 minutes. He got some extended run with Trae Young (ankle), DeAndre Bembry (hand) and Cam Reddish (concussion) all unavailable for Friday’s game, but if those guys are out again on Sunday, Goodwin could be someone to consider as a deep league streamer.
Terence Davis netted 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with three 3-pointers, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and one turnover in 25 minutes off the bench. Kyle Lowry exited the game with a whiplash injury and is unlikely to play on Saturday, so Davis might be able to flirt with minutes in the 30s with Norman Powell (finger) still out. He’s on the radar as a possible deep league streamer.
OG Anunoby, who was scoreless across 28 minutes on Wednesday, bounced back on Friday with 16 points (5-of-8 FG, 3-of-4 FT), three triples, three rebounds, five steals and one turnover across 28 minutes in a win over the Pacers. He’s been woefully inconsistent this season, but maybe this is a sign that he’s ready to start rolling again, and he’ll have some increased opportunity on Saturday with K. Low likely to sit that one out. He’s someone to consider grabbing if you need some help in the steals department.
Justin Holiday scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with four rebounds, two 3-pointers, one assist, three swats and zero turnovers in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s been a top-60 player over the past month with averages of 10.2 points, 2.4 treys, 3.4 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block and just 0.4 turnovers per game on 51% shooting, and he could be looking at minutes in the 30s on Saturday with Victor Oladipo (rest) out and Doug McDermott (elbow) potentially joining him on the sidelines.
Tim Hardaway Jr. went 6-of-14 from the field and 5-of-6 from the stripe on his way to 19 points, two 3-pointers, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two turnovers in 35 minutes. The shooting percentages aren’t always pretty, but over the past month, THJ has been doing enough with the points (15.5) and triples (2.7) to warrant ownership in most leagues. He’s a much more attractive target in points settings, though.
Seth Curry (knee) returned from a two-game absence and scored 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting (4-of-4 from the line) to go with four 3-pointers, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and three turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench. He’s on the radar as a points and triples specialist with Luka Doncic (ankle) on the sidelines.
Jalen Brunson scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting (2-of-2 from the line), to go with one 3-pointer, four rebounds, four assists and two turnovers in 31 minutes. He has at least one more start coming his way (potentially three if Luka Doncic sits through the All-Star break), so he’s worth owning in most leagues.
Thon Maker started in Detroit’s first game of the Drummond-less era and finished with 19 points (7-of-12 FG, 3-of-5 FT), seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists, one steal and one turnover in 34 minutes. The 19 points fell just four points shy of matching his previous career-high, although he has a history of following up solid outings with a series of duds and will eventually need to compete with John Henson for minutes, so he’s more like someone to put on your watchlist.
Bruce Brown went just 1-of-9 from the field (2-of-2 from the line) for four points, but he rounded out his stat line with six rebounds, one assist, five steals, one block and four turnovers across 33 minutes. He’s been in a bad shooting rut over the past three games, but he should continue to start and see heavy minutes through the break with Derrick Rose and Svi out, so he’s someone to think about grabbing if you need some steals and dimes.