There were just four games on Thursday’s schedule, and some of the NBA’s best players were out due to injury. Philadelphia was without both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for its game against the Knicks, and the Lakers (LeBron James) and Kings (De'Aaron Fox) were missing their leading playmakers. Those absences opened up additional opportunities for others, with Tobias Harris being one of the players that took advantage.
76ers 115, Knicks 106 — With Embiid (left shoulder sprain) joining Simmons (back) on the sidelines, Glenn Robinson III moved into the starting lineup for Thursday’s game. He played 21 minutes, finishing with four points, three rebounds and two assists. Prior to the game an interview was released in which Robinson said that his role in Philadelphia wasn’t explained to him, something that Brett Brown denied when asked before Thursday’s game. The Embiid injury has opened the door for Robinson, and unfortunately for him he didn’t take advantage against the lowly Knicks. That fifth spot is one where Brown can rotate a number of players depending upon the matchups until Embiid makes his way back to the lineup. Kyle O'Quinn is back in the rotation, and in 14 minutes he accounted for three points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Unless there’s a dire need for rebounds, he isn’t worth a look in most leagues.
With Philadelphia’s two headliners sidelined that means even more touches for Harris and Al Horford (15/7/9/1/1 with four 3-pointers in 34 minutes), with the former posting a line of 34 points (14-of-21 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Shake Milton had a good night, posting a line of 19 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers (on five attempts) in 32 minutes. He’s a clear add in standard leagues with Simmons out, as he’s currently rostered in just 13 percent of Yahoo leagues. Josh Richardson (11/7/3/1/2) and Furkan Korkmaz (11/1/2 with one three-pointer in 26 minutes) also scored in double figures, while Alec Burks (7/4/2) shot 2-of-10 from the field. Korkmaz is worth a look, as the absences of Embiid and Simmons free up additional shots.
Taj Gibson was held out due to back spasms, and Bobby Portis moved into the starting lineup as a result, finishing with seven points, one rebound and one three-pointer in 22 minutes. Neither one should be rostered at this point in the season, and hopefully Mitchell Robinson will consistently approach (and even surpass) the 30-minute mark as New York plays out the string. Robinson played 32 minutes off the bench, scoring six points (3-of-3 FGs) with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocked shots. The next step is to get him more looks offensively, as he hasn’t reached double figures in shot attempts since New Year’s Day (11-of-11 vs. Portland).
Julius Randle (30/10/5 with two 3-pointers) and Elfrid Payton (18/6/12) led the way offensively, with Moe Harkless (17/4/2 with five 3-pointers) and RJ Barrett (15/6/5) also scoring in double figures. This was Harkless’ best game in a Knick uniform, as he hit those five 3-pointers (a career-high) in a seven-minute stretch during the third quarter. He’s worth picking up in deeper leagues, as he’s rostered in just three percent of Yahoo leagues, but that’s his ceiling right now. Dennis Smith Jr. left the game after playing just seven minutes due to concussion-like symptoms, which freed up some playing time for Allonzo Trier (6/1/1 in 10 minutes). Trier isn’t a player worth adding, as he’s been out of the rotation for much of this season.
Pacers 106, Blazers 100 — Victor Oladipo made his return to the lineup after missing the two games prior due to back soreness, playing 26 minutes and accounting for 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer. Aaron Holiday’s fantasy value takes a hit with Oladipo back, as he played 14 minutes off the bench and finished with six points, three rebounds and one steal. I’m still rolling with Justin Holiday in the aftermath of Jeremy Lamb being lost for the season, and he tallied 11 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench Thursday night. Over the last two weeks he’s provided seventh-round value in nine-cat formats, and yet he’s rostered in just 16 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Domantas Sabonis (20/11/4/1) led the way offensively for the Pacers, with Malcolm Brogdon (17/6/8/1 with one three-pointer), T.J. Warren (15 points, five rebounds, two steals, one block and one three-pointer) and Myles Turner (14 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures. Over the last two weeks Turner is averaging 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game, with those numbers being a big reason why he’s provided third-round value in nine-cat over that stretch despite scoring just 8.8 points per game.
C.J. McCollum (28/3/8 with three 3-pointers) and Gary Trent Jr. (20 points, five rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers) led Portland offensively, with the latter being an eighth-round player in nine-cat over the last two weeks. Trent is rostered in just six percent of Yahoo leagues, and he’s a worthwhile pickup for as long as Damian Lillard (groin) remains sidelined. Hassan Whiteside added 18 points, 16 rebounds, one steal and four blocked shots in 35 minutes, with Carmelo Anthony (12/7/1/1/1) also scoring in double figures. Trevor Ariza (8/1/4/1 with two 3-pointers) didn’t have his best night, as he shot 3-of-10 from the field, but he remains a player worth holding onto due to his production in non-scoring categories.
On the injury front, there is still no timeline for a return for Jusuf Nurkic, who is still working his way back from the broken leg that he suffered last season. Portland is still targeting a March return for Zach Collins (left shoulder), who went through a weight training workout on Wednesday. I wouldn’t expect either to have much of an impact in fantasy right away, but the addition of those two would be helpful as Portland looks to grab the eighth seed in the West.
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Thunder 112, Kings 108 — Danilo Gallinari (24 points, six rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (20/3/3 with one block and one three-pointer in 38 minutes) led the way for Oklahoma City, as the Thunder erased a 19-point deficit to beat the Kings. Gallinari and SGA were two of the team’s six double-digit scorers on the night, with Chris Paul (17/4/7/2 with one three-pointer) and Steven Adams (15/7/1) combining to shoot 13-of-20 from the field. Dennis Schroder (13/5/7 with one three-pointer) and Nerlens Noel (10/7/1/1/2) chipped in with solid efforts off the bench.
Beyond those six you’re scraping the barrel for fantasy value, as neither Luguentz Dort (six points, one steal and one three-pointer) nor Abdel Nader (7/2/1 with one three-pointer) are worth rostering. The dame can be said for Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo, who combined to shoot 0-of-5 from the field and went scoreless.
Sacramento was without its starting point guard, as Fox was sidelined due to abdominal tightness. Cory Joseph received the nod to replace him in the lineup, and in 35 minutes he racked up six points, two rebounds, 11 assists and three steals. Fox said that he hopes to be able to play Friday night in Memphis, but if he can’t go Joseph would be a nice short-term pickup for the assists and steals. Anything more than that would he a bonus. Yogi Ferrell moved up in the rotation, but didn’t provide enough to make himself a player worth considering should Fox have to miss another game.
Harry Giles (19/8/1) had his best game of the season from a scoring standpoint, with fellow frontcourt players Harrison Barnes (21/3/5 with one three-pointer), Nemanja Bjelica (18/9/2 with four 3-pointers) and Alex Len (11 points, 11 rebounds and one block) also scoring in double figures. Giles and Len are both worth a look, as they offer up some positional versatility (eligible at both power forward and center in Yahoo leagues). Buddy Hield knocked down five 3-pointers, scoring 15 points to go along with one rebound, two assists, two steals and one block in 26 minutes, and Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a line of 11 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes.
Lakers 116, Warriors 86 — Golden State trailed by just two points at the half, but with Draymond Green (2/1/4/1) having been ejected after playing just 10 minutes it was only a matter of time until they were run out of their own building. Sure enough that’s what happened, as the Lakers outscored the Warriors 40-17 in the third quarter with Anthony Davis (23/6/1/2/2 with one three-pointer) leading the way. The visitors were without the aforementioned James (groin), which meant a spot start for Rajon Rondo. And he played well, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and tallying 12 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals in 26 minutes. Should James not be able to return to the lineup Saturday night in Memphis, Rondo is the one to pick up.
He was one of three starters to score 12 points on the night, with JaVale McGee (12/6/1/1) and Avery Bradley (12/1/2/1 with two 3-pointers) being the others. James’ absence also meant more opportunities for Kyle Kuzma, who in 29 minutes off the bench as responsible for 18 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one three-pointer. He also turned the ball over a team-high four times, losing a couple points on his DFS line as a result. Dwight Howard had a very good night, as he played 24 minutes and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocked shots. Since he also has eligibility at power forward, Howard is worth a look in deeper leagues if there’s a need for rebounds and blocked shots.
Green’s early exit freed up even more playing time for Eric Paschall, who led the Warriors with 23 points (7-of-14 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs) off the bench. In his 27 minutes the rookie forward also tallied three rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer, and his fantasy value should only increase for the remainder of this season. Jordan Poole (16/1/8 with two 3-pointers) is in a similar spot, and over the last two weeks he’s averaging 16.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 three-pointers per game. Poole briefly left the game during the third quarter after tweaking his ankle, but he was able to return. The rookie guard’s fantasy value will take a hit whenever Stephen Curry (left wrist) is healthy enough to return, but it’s worth noting that former MVP’s injury timetable will be re-evaluated on Friday.
He could be back on Sunday, but he could also miss more time as he continues to recover from an injury that includes lingering nerve damage. Curry’s trainer said that it could be up to a year before he’s fully healed. Damion Lee (15/6/4 with four 3-pointers) and Ky Bowman (11/3/2/2/1 with one three-pointer) also scored in double figures, with the latter (who also committed seven turnovers) leaving the game late after spraining his ankle. Bowman will undergo an MRI on Friday, and the expectation is that he will miss some time beginning with Saturday's game in Phoenix. Andrew Wiggins (back) was a late scratch, which moved Dragan Bender into the starting lineup alongside former Suns teammate Marquese Chriss. Neither was all that effective, with Bender accounting for four points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals, and Chriss four points, seven rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot. While Chriss is worth rostering, Bender is not.
Friday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Minnesota at Orlando, 7 PM
Brooklyn at Atlanta, 7:30 PM
Charlotte at Toronto, 7:30 PM
Dallas at Miami, 8 PM
Sacramento at Memphis, 8 PM
Oklahoma City at Milwaukee, 8 PM
Cleveland at New Orleans, 8 PM
Detroit at Phoenix, 9 PM
Washington at Utah, 9 PM
Denver at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM