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Basketball Daily Dose

The Wizards are back ... finally

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: January 25, 2021, 9:32 am ET

Sunday’s NBA schedule was short a game, as the Grizzlies (who were scheduled to host Sacramento) remain on hiatus due to contact tracing measures limiting the team’s roster. Among the 14 teams that did play on Sunday were the Washington Wizards, who were back after being sidelined for two weeks. That’s where we will begin Monday’s Daily Dose, which also includes notes on OG Anunoby, Kemba Walker and Paul George.

Sunday’s Results
Raptors 107, Pacers 102
Clippers 108, Thunder 100
Celtics 141, Cavaliers 103
Hornets 107, Magic 104
Spurs 121, Wizards 101
Bucks 129, Hawks 115
Trail Blazers 116, Knicks 113

 

Westbrook, Wizards return from two-week hiatus: The Wizards made their long-awaited return to game action in San Antonio. The roster was still depleted, as players such as Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr. weren’t available for health and safety protocol reasons. In total Scott Brooks had ten players to work with, one being Russell Westbrook. Due to a quad injury Westbrook had not appeared in a game since January 8, three days before the Wizards were forced to shut things down. As one would expect he was rusty Sunday night, shooting 3-of-11 from the field and finishing with nine points, eight rebounds, six assists, four turnovers and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes.

"He’s gonna play better. We’re gonna have to go through that with him,” Brooks said after the game when asked about Westbrook. “He’s gonna get in a rhythm. It’s gonna take some time."

Due to the team’s limited roster, Alex Len played 21 minutes in his Wizards debut while Garrison Mathews played 35 minutes off the bench. Len finished with 11 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer, taking up the majority of the minutes available behind starter Robin Lopez. Jordan Bell, who’s on a 10-day contract, played just three minutes. Len isn’t worth picking up right now, but it would be worthwhile to keep tabs on him for as long as the Wizards’ roster remains limited.

Bradley Beal led the way with 31 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers, shooting just 13-of-29 from the field. He didn’t look too sharp during the first half, which was more than understandable. And Beal was rather blunt in evaluating his performance following the game.

Anunoby continues to shine for Raptors: Toronto was down two starters for Sunday’s game against the Pacers, with Kyle Lowry being ruled out due to a toe injury and Pascal Siakam swelling in his knee. Norman Powell, who started for Lowry Friday night, made another start while Stanley Johnson filled in for Siakam. While Johnson (three points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 31 minutes) doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, the same can’t be said for Powell. Two days after scoring 23 in a win over the Heat, he tallied 20 points (7-of-18 FGs, 4-of-7 FTs), two rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes Sunday afternoon. With the Raptors and Pacers set to play again Monday night, Powell is an obvious choice should Lowry have to miss another game.

However, for as well as Powell has played he isn’t Toronto’s hottest player when it comes to fantasy basketball. That would be OG Anunoby, who posted a line of 30 points (9-of-16 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs), eight rebounds, one assist, five steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 40 minutes. Over the last week he’s been a top-10 player in 9-cat formats, while ranking just outside of that threshold in 8-cat. While no Siakam meant even more scoring opportunities for Anunoby, it’s important to note that he’s been a top-40 player all season long. He’s rostered in 87% of Yahoo leagues, so at this point any fantasy managers interested in Anunoby will have to work the trade market.

Kemba ruled out for Monday night: Boston will be down one starter for Monday’s game against the Bulls in Chicago, but another is expected to return. Kemba Walker, who played 24 minutes and put up 21 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in Sunday’s blowout win over Cleveland, has already been ruled out for rest reasons. Given the amount of time he missed in order to rehab a knee that had been bothering him since his UConn days, it comes as no surprise that Walker won’t be playing in both ends of a back-to-back just yet.

So who replaces him in the starting lineup Monday night? There’s a good chance that it will be Jayson Tatum, who was with the team on Sunday and is listed as probable. Tatum has not appeared in a game since January 8 due to a case COVID-19, so he will likely be on a minutes limit if cleared to play. Carsen Edwards (18/5/1/1 with two 3-pointers in 19 minutes) and Aaron Nesmith (11/6/1 with three 3-pointers in 17 minutes) were among the reserves who received rotation minutes on Sunday, but neither is worth rostering in any league format. The same can’t be said for Daniel Theis, who posted a solid 17/6/1/2/2 line with one 3-pointer in 24 minutes.

His fantasy value is much higher than that of Tristan Thompson, who grabbed 12 rebounds but had another rough scoring night. Why he continues to start over Robert Williams (9/6/1/3 blocks in 15 minutes) is a question that many have been asking for quite some time now. Williams has been a top-75 player in 9-cat, but he’s rostered in just 19% of Yahoo leagues due in large part to injuries and his place within the Celtics rotation. We’ll see if Brad Stevens makes any changes to the interior rotation in the near future, but keep an eye on the Time Lord.

Pacers’ Turner for DPOY?: Indiana power forward/center Myles Turner had a much better go of it Sunday afternoon than teammate Domantas Sabonis did on both ends of the floor. Toronto was able to use the aforementioned Johnson and Anunoby on the latter for most of the game, with the combination of speed and strength leading to Sabonis shooting just 1-of-10 from the field and finishing with 10 points (8-of-8 FTs), 19 rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes. Turner was much better, putting up 25 points, four rebounds, one assists, three steals, six blocks and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes.

For the season he’s providing first-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and while it is still early Turner certainly merits strong consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s averaging 4.1 blocks and 1.5 steals per game, and playing alongside Sabonis has meant more time spent on the perimeter defending more mobile frontcourt players. Again, it’s still early. But at this rate, Turner looks to be well on his way to winning the award for the first time in his career.

Clippers lose Beverley during home win: Tyronn Lue’s team was already down one rotation player entering Sunday’s game against the Thunder, as Marcus Morris was ruled out due to a non-COVID illness. During the victory the West’s hottest team had two more health issues to deal with, as Patrick Beverley did not play at all during the second half due to a sore knee and Paul George was held out for the final four-plus minutes due to his hamstring tightening up. Beverley’s absence meant rotation minutes for Reggie Jackson, who did not play at all during the first half.

Praised by Lue on multiple occasions for his professionalism, Jackson played 20 minutes and finished with 14 points, one assist and two 3-pointers. The other seven Clippers reserves to see action combined to score 18 points, with Ivica Zubac responsible for ten (to go along with 11 rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 24 minutes). The aforementioned George was able to play 33 minutes but he struggled, finishing with 11 points (4-of-13 FGs), five rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers.

The players to watch should Beverley and/or George not be available for Tuesday’s game against the Hawks would be Jackson and Luke Kennard, with the latter likely getting moved into the starting lineup. Neither has been much of an asset fantasy-wise, with Kennard averaging 10.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.3 steals and 1.7 3-pointers per game in three prior starts.

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Gordon (hip/back) sits for Orlando: The Magic were without one of their most trusted playmakers Sunday night, as Aaron Gordon was ruled out due to soreness in his hip and back. In recent games he had been used more as a point forward, serving as Orlando’s primary playmaker whenever starting point guard Cole Anthony needed a breather. With Gordon sidelined Jordan Bone was back in the rotation, tallying eight points, one rebound, one assist ad two 3-pointers in 15 minutes. Bone isn’t worth rostering, regardless of league format.

As for who replaced Gordon in the starting lineup, that would be Gary Clark. He played 35 minutes, accounting for 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers. At best, Clark is a deep-league streaming option whenever Gordon is sidelined due to injury. The aforementioned Anthony, who is rostered in 32% of Yahoo leagues, is certainly worth grabbing off of the waiver wire if he’s available in your league. In 33 minutes Sunday he accounted for 14 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. Over the last week, Anthony has provided ninth-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats.

Biyombo starts in the middle for Charlotte: On Saturday, Hornets coach James Borrego did not sound as if he was dead set on the rotation at the center position. Cody Zeller, in his first game back from a wrist injury, started Friday night with Bismack Biyombo serving as the backup and P.J. Washington getting a few minutes at the five as well. For Sunday’s game it was Biyombo who started, playing 25 minutes to Zeller’s 15. Biyombo finished the game with two points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot, while Zeller tallied four points, seven rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot.

Washington, who played eight of his 32 minutes at the five, was responsible for nine points, three rebounds, one assist, three steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer. P.J. has been a top-100 player this season, and should be rostered in more than 79% of Yahoo leagues. Biyombo sits well outside of the top-200, while Zeller hasn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value during his three regular season appearances. Zeller being the better offensive option gives him an edge in the value department, but not by much. There isn’t much reasons to roster either one.

And for those who are suddenly on the “LaMelo Ball Minutes Watch,” he played 28 minutes and accounted for 11 points, five rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two 3-pointers and four turnovers. Ball played just 17 in Friday’s loss to the Bulls, and was on the receiving end of some criticism from coach James Borrego. He played better Sunday night, and his plus/minus of plus-15 was tops on the team.

Young, Capela sidelined for Hawks: Atlanta was down two starters for Sunday’s loss in Milwaukee, as Trae Young (back) and Clint Capela (hand) were both ruled out. Rajon Rondo and Onyeka Okongwu were their replacements, with the latter making the first start of his NBA career. For those who may have taken the DFS plunge with either, this wasn’t a great night. That being said there were positives, most notably Okongwu’s production on the defensive end. While the rookie grabbed just two rebounds, the three blocks and one steal in 16 minutes of action was nice to see. As for Rondo, he was responsible for a team-high seven assists in his 30 minutes on the floor.

Atlanta returns to action Tuesday night when the Clippers visit, and neither Rondo nor Okongwu merits consideration when it comes to standard leagues. But they’d be worth a look in deeper formats should Young and Capela be forced to miss another game. De'Andre Hunter (33/4/4/1 with two 3-pointers in 42 minutes) and John Collins (30/7/3 with six 3-pointers in 37 minutes) combined to attempt 40 shots, taking full advantage of the extra opportunities sent their way due to the absences mentioned above. Hunter sits just outside of the top-50 in both 8- and 9-cat formats for the season, providing sixth-round value in the former and fifth-round value in the latter.

Quickley puts up career-high point total: Even though Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau went on record last week with his explanation why Elfrid Payton remained the team’s starting point guard, that hasn’t stopped many from wondering why rookie Immanuel Quickley isn’t in that spot. Look for the critics to get even louder now, as the rookie had a career night in Sunday’s loss in Portland. He played 24 minutes off the bench, scoring a career-high 31 points (9-of-18 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs) to go along with three rebounds, four assists, five 3-pointers and just one turnover. The minutes at that point were an even split, with Payton tallying eight points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one turnover in his 24 minutes.

With regard to fantasy basketball Quickley has proven to be the more valuable player, sitting just inside of the top-200 while Payton isn’t even a top-250 player in 9-cat. That being said, Payton (51%) is rostered in a much higher percentage of Yahoo leagues than Quickley (23%). New York has one game remaining on its road trip, Tuesday against the red-hot Jazz, so a change may not happen right away. But Thibodeau’s hand may be forced eventually, as the rookie has (statistically speaking) outplayed the vet.

With Reggie Bullock (neck) sidelined Alec Burks moved into the starting lineup, and he had a productive night. Burks shot 6-of-9 from the field, accounting for 18 points, four rebounds, one assist, three steals and five 3-pointers in 27 minutes. For the season he’s providing sixth-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and he missed 12 games due to a sprained ankle. Burks is rostered in 53% of Yahoo leagues, and he’s worth picking up even when Bullock is cleared to return given the Knicks’ lack of consistent scoring options.

Austin Rivers (Achilles) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) were both active, with Rivers (three points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and one 3-pointers) playing 29 minutes while Ntilikina was a DNP-CD. Rivers is rostered in 5% of Yahoo leagues, and he doesn't offer much in the way of fantasy appeal with the aforementioned Burks back to full strength. 

Some Notable Stat Lines

Jaylen Brown: 33 points (13-of-20 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers in 19 minutes vs. Cleveland. Brown is the first player to score more than 30 points while playing fewer than 20 minutes in league history.

Gordon Hayward: 39 points (15-of-25 FGs, 4-of-8 FTs), nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers in 38 minutes vs. Orlando.

Damian Lillard: 39 points (11-of-17 FGs, 11-of-11 FTs), five rebounds, eight assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 35 minutes vs. New York.

Kawhi Leonard: 34 points (14-of-24 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), nine rebounds, eight assists and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes vs. Oklahoma City.

Dejounte Murray: 11 points (5-of-13 FGs), 11 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 31 minutes vs. Washington.

Anfernee Simons: 16 points (6-of-9 FGs), three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 23 minutes vs. New York.

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.