Damian Lillard Blazers – Lillard was basically playing at a fantasy MVP level before getting hurt and looks poised to miss a few more games with his groin injury. But the Blazers have played well without him and now sit just 2.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West. That’s the best news and it looks like the battle for that final spot is going to come down to about five teams, including the Grizzlies, Blazers, Pelicans and Spurs, while the Suns and Kings are still somehow in the hunt, sitting just 4.5 games back. The Blazers won’t rush Lillard back until he’s fully healthy and risk of aggravation is gone, but once it happens, he should pick up right where he left off. And owners without an IR available might be getting antsy while waiting for him.
Ja Morant Grizzlies – Morant recently lost Jaren Jackson Jr. to a sprained left knee and then lost Brandon Clarke on Monday night with a hip injury. We don’t know how serious Clarke’s injury is, but JJJ is going to miss some time. The Grizzlies have lost three straight at the worst time of the season and while Morant’s shooting and scoring have been fine for the most part, other parts of his game have disappeared. On the three straight losses he’s averaging just 2.0 assists, 0.7 rebounds, 0.0 steals and 0.0 3-pointers while turning the ball over 4.0 times per game. The Grizzlies are in the fight of their life for the playoffs with the Pelicans and Blazers coming on strong so Morant simply has to play better. And while I am concerned about just who he’s going to pass it to, as well as whether or not they can make a shot, I expect him to take matters into his own hands soon and start putting up monster numbers across the board.
Kristaps Porzingis Mavs – After sitting out Saturday’s game at Atlanta for load management Porzingis hit just 5-of-14 shots and 1-of-8 3-pointers in Monday’s win over the Wolves. Porzingis and Luka Doncic are still learning how to play together and I’m guessing Luka has more missed games in his future after landing on the foot of James Johnson last night and aggravating his right ankle injury. We’ve seen Porzingis dominate when Luka’s been injured, but even if he continues to play through the ankle problem, the two should start playing well together as they prepare for the playoffs. And Porzingis should be better than he was on Monday on most nights going forward.
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Andre Drummond & Larry Nance Cavs – The Cavs are messing with Andre Drummond, apparently not even running plays for him (see Tuesday’s Daily Dose) while his minutes and production have taken a big hit in Cleveland. Nance is coming off the bench on nights when Kevin Love decides to play. Love’s the No. 1 shutdown candidate in the league and Nance will be a must-own player once it happens. And Drummond, even without getting plays called for him, simply has to be better than he’s been since being shipped to Cleveland. My guess is Drummond owners are getting desperate, creating an interesting buy-low scenario. Nance was solid off the bench last night with 16 points and eight boards and should be even better once Love is out of the picture.
Dejounte Murray Spurs – Murray is coming off a zero-point performance on 0-for-7 shooting in a loss to the Thunder on Sunday which will be followed up by a two-game week when most of the rest of the league plays four times. Prior to Murray’s awful Sunday he’d scored 23 and 25 points in his previous two games and was averaging 19.8 points on 60 percent shooting in his previous four games. The schedule opens up again for the Spurs next week and while guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan scare me as far as shutting down goes, Murray’s young enough that he could finish the season on a tear.
Gorgui Dieng & Brandon Clarke Grizzlies – Clarke should have been the big winner with Jaren Jackson Jr. going down, but he hurt his hip on Monday and we’re still waiting to find out the details on the injury. Meanwhile, Dieng has been feasting, Dieng had 14 points, 10 boards and four blocks on Monday after going for 14 points and 10 boards on Friday, as well. Clarke will still be a fun player to own when healthy, but Dieng suddenly feels like a must-own player.
Kyle Kuzma Lakers – Kuzma hasn’t been doing a whole lot, averaging 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 3-pointers in February, but the Lakers have gone 7-1 during the month and now have a 5.0 game lead over the No. 2. Nuggets in the West. Assuming they continue to grow that lead, guys like Anthony Davis and LeBron James almost have to start getting some time off once the playoff chase is over. And if that happens, Kuzma should be the guy to go crazy in the fantasy playoffs.
Mitchell Robinson Knicks – Robinson is averaging 8.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.1 blocks in February and is coming off a 10-point, 8-rebound, 5-block night on Monday. He also had four blocks on Friday and might finally be ready to get going. Of course, it would help if the Knicks could find someone within the organization to suggest starting Robinson over Taj Gibson, but at least their owner fronts a smokin’ rock band.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Delon Wright, Seth Curry Mavs – Jalen Brunson’s right shoulder will keep him out for at least four more games and Luka Doncic tweaked his right ankle yet again on Monday. All three of these guys are going to see a bump, even if Luka continues to play, and all three looked good on Monday night against the Wolves. Hardaway led the Mavs in scoring with 23 points and three 3-pointers and should already be owned, Curry started and had 19 points and five triples in 25 minutes, and Wright quietly had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 22 minutes.
Aaron Holiday Pacers – Jeremy Lamb (knee surgery) is out for the season and Victor Oladipo can’t seem to get healthy or fully back on track. That means Holiday is going to get a bump and could be about to go on a tear. He started on Sunday and had 14 points, four rebounds, six assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 32 minutes and could be a fixture in the starting five for the rest of the season. Holiday’s only nine percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and looks like he should be a hot pickup between now and the weekend, especially if he plays well against the Hornets tonight.
LaMarcus Aldridge & DeMar DeRozan Spurs – The Spurs brutal rodeo road trip is mercifully over, but they go right back on the road for a three-game trip after three straight home games against Dallas, Orlando and Indiana. The road games are at Charlotte, Brooklyn and Cleveland, which is helpful, but San Antonio is now 3.5 games out of the No. 8 seed after losing nine of their last 13 games with the Blazers and Pelicans also standing in their way. DeRozan’s back injury is allowing him to play again, but he hasn’t scored more than 18 points in any of his previous three games, and 34-year-old Aldridge had just eight points in 21 minutes on Sunday. They don’t look like a playoff team and while the Grizzlies are spiraling downward, the Blazers and Pelicans are on a sweet run. If the Spurs fall too much further behind the No. 8 seed, I’m afraid Gregg Popovich is going to start giving the veterans more nights off than any of us want to see.
Ricky Rubio Suns – Rubio went nuts on Monday with a monster line of 22 points, six boards, 11 assists, a season-high seven steals and two 3-pointers in a revenge game against the Jazz. He admitted after the game that he was playing with extra motivation against his former team and he’s been rolling at first-round value over the past few weeks. Even though the Suns are still alive in the playoff hunt, they’re not going to make it and Rubio has nowhere to go but down. He’s not a must-sell player, but his value is likely at its peak right now.
Aaron Gordon Magic – Gordon had one of his best games ever on Monday with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers on Monday. Over his last four games he’s averaging 22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers after being robbed again in the dunk contest. Maybe he’s finally ready to keep doing this for the rest of the season, but he’s still Aaron Gordon and the chances of him taking a step back appear to be pretty high. Like Rubio, his value likely won’t be higher this season than it is right now.
Kevin Love Cavs – Love returned from his Achilles injury on Monday and had 17 points, 14 rebounds, four dimes, two blocks and two triples despite hitting just 4-of-13 shots. He’s the No. 1 shutdown candidate in the league and it won’t take much of an injury for him to shut it down for the rest of the season. And even if he does play it out, he’s going to get plenty of nights off along the way.
Tristan Thompson Cavs – Thompson has scored in double figures in four straight games and double-doubled in two of them. You have to think that Andre Drummond will eventually get it going in Cleveland and they have no reason not to play Larry Nance big minutes going forward. My guess is Thompson has peaked over his last four games and now might be the right time to move him. And prior to his four-game hot streak he scored 7, 6, 2 and 5 points in his previous four and only scored more than seven points in one of his previous seven games.