It’s laughable to look back and see some people drafting Nerlens Noel before Andre Drummond, but A.D. has been making his opposition look silly all season long. In that regard, it’s nothing new for the big man and simply business as usual.
Drummond’s quadruple-overtime spectacle was the highlight of a 12-game Friday night that packed more punches than a classic Mike Tyson fight.
New York @ Philadelphia: Knicks 107, Sixers 97
Arron Afflalo: 22 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 3PM, 9-of-13 FGs
Kyle O’Quinn: 10 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl, 3 TO, 3-of-5 FGs
Kristaps Porzingis: 8 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl, 3 blk, 3-of-9 FGs
Jerami Grant: 8 pts, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2-of-8 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs
Robert Covington: 3 pts, 4 reb, 1 TO, 1 3PM, 1-of-5 FGs
Carmelo Anthony’s new (versatile) game seems like it’s going to stay, and that’s good news for his fantasy value going forward. Kristaps Porzingis has now scored 20-plus points just once in December, and that includes an average of just 7.2 points over his last five. It’s a good thing he’s producing defensively considering the rookie has failed to shoot better than 36.5% during that stretch, but now is not the time to sell low.
Despite Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel combining for 28 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks on 13-of-21 shooting, the Sixers managed to make just six of 24 3-point attempts as well as 17 of 30 free throws, so that’s a quick formula to negate an efficient overall mark of 48.1% from the field. Beyond that, the only thing you need to know is that it’s not a good thing when your fictitious alter ego carries more value than your actual persona. Sorry, Nik Stauskas. Sauce Castillo moves on.
Portland @ Orlando: Magic 102, Blazers 94
C.J. McCollum: 29 pts, 6 ast, 2 stl, 2 TO, 3 3PM, 11-of-19 FGs
Tobias Harris: 25 pts, 12 reb, 3 stl, 9-of-13 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs
Nikola Vucevic: 25 pts, 11 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk, 1 TO, 12-of-22 FGs
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Evan Fournier: 2 pts, 4 ast, 2 stl, 1-of-7 FGs
Evan Fournier dislocating a finger on his non-shooting hand doesn’t give him an excuse for this pathetic effort, and it’s another step backward for a player who has fallen off the face of the Earth in recent weeks. The sell-high window has expired, and Fournier is no longer playing the same role he was for Orlando earlier in the season. Elfrid Payton, who unlike Fournier has found his place in Scott Skiles’ system, tweaked his left ankle in the win, but it’s not considered serious and said after the game he expected to be ready to roll going forward.
Both Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris beat up a Blazers frontcourt that those in DFS should always take advantage of, and oppositely, Meyers Leonard (4 points, 7 rebounds) is enjoying as much impact as a ghost on your fantasy roster. With Damian Lillard struggling with his efficiency having shot under 40% in four his of his last five games, C.J. McCollum has been bringing it over that stretch, shooting 47% or better in five of his last six while averaging 23.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 triples. Translated: C.J. is spitting hot fire right now.
Brooklyn @ Indiana: Pacers 104, Nets 97
Jarrett Jack: 26 pts, 9 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk, 3 TO, 3 3PM, 8-of-15 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs
Bojan Bogdanovic: 5 pts, 2 ast, 2 TO, 1 3PM, 2-of-7 FGs
Monta Ellis: 2 pts, 5 ast, 2 stl, 1 TO, 1-of-8 FGs
George Hill: 9 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 1 TO, 3 3PM, 3-of-11 FGs
Monta Ellis (knee) probably would have been better served to sit out than play through his soreness considering his dud, and although it’s been a rough season for Ellis, he had averaged 18.0 points, 3.3 steals and 2.3 triples over his previous four contests. I still think Ellis will be better, and he’s being sold off rosters at bargain bin prices during the holiday season.
Both Ian Mahinmi (10 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block, 5-of-7 FGs) and Jordan Hill (14 points, 11 rebounds, 5-of-9 FGs) remain on the fringe of fantasy value, but each would become much more appealing if either were forced to miss time. Jarrett Jack, who came into this one with a double-double in two of his last three, almost stacked a triple-decker with his stat-stuffing effort, and the only potential dent to his value will come if traded as Jack’s without competition for minutes.
Atlanta @ Boston: Hawks 109, Celtics 101
Paul Millsap: 20 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 3 TO, 6-of-13 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs
Al Horford: 21 pts, 10 reb, 1 stl, 3 blk, 3 TO, 10-of-19 FGs
Dennis Schroder: 22 pts, 5 ast, 4 stl, 2 3PM, 8-of-15 FGs
Jae Crowder: 24 pts, 10 reb, 3 TO, 3 3PM, 8-of-13 FGs
Isaiah Thomas: 29 pts, 6 ast, 2 stl, 5 TO, 3 3PM, 6-of-13 FGs, 14-of-15 FTs
Jeff Teague: 6 pts, 6 ast, 2 TO, 1-of-6 FGs
Avery Bradley: 4 pts, 2 TO, 2-of-8 FGs
There’s something happening in Atlanta, where Dennis Schroder’s role has begun to grow at the expense of Jeff Teague. Over the last three games, Schroder is averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 assists, 3.7 steals and 2.0 triples on 48.6% shooting, while Teague checks in with just 10.3 points, 4.7 assists and a triple on a lousy 33%. Teague has seen his minutes decrease in three straight games while Schroder’s have steadily trended upward, and I’d be picking him up wherever he remains available.
It’s hard to believe Jae Crowder was a UDFA in far too many leagues, but nobody is doubting his ability to sustain the production now. Isaiah Thomas—who will remain in the starting lineup when Marcus Smart returns—should be on his way to the All-Star game, while Paul Millsap and Al Horford should both be joining him, as well. Avery Bradley (nine points, 4-of-16 FGs) has really struggled over his last two games, but he’s faced two tough matchups in Detroit (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and Atlanta (Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore). He’ll be fine.
Detroit @ Chicago: Pistons 147, Bulls 144 (4OT)
Pau Gasol: 30 pts, 15 reb, 5 ast, 5 blk, 1 TO, 10-of-23 FGs, 10-of-12 FTs
Jimmy Butler: 43 pts (career high), 8 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk, 14-of-29 FGs, 14-of-16 FTs
Derrick Rose: 34 pts, 4 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl, 4 TO, 14-of-34 FGs
Andre Drummond: 33 pts (career high), 21 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk, 2 TO, 14-of-25 FGs
Reggie Jackson: 31 pts, 6 reb, 13 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 12-of-27 FGs
Nikola Mirotic: 5 pts, 5 reb, 1-of-6 FGs
Doug McDermott: 2 pts, 1-of-3 FGs
To say it’s troubling that Nikola Mirotic played 24 minutes in a four-OT game would be an understatement. You’re holding onto Mirotic where you have him because you shouldn’t even ask if he’s a drop candidate, and I wouldn’t be afraid to buy low, either. Even more troubling is Chicago losing a game where Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose combine to score 107 points, but that’s what happens when Taj Gibson (14 points, 12 boards, two blocks) is the only other player with 10 or more points.
I’ve run out of superlatives for Andre Drummond, and to put up this kind of effort in a game where every move mattered speaks volumes about the player the UConn product is becoming. Reggie Jackson has played very well over his last five games, averaging 26.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.2 triples on 45.9% shooting…that’s the player Stan Van Gundy gave a max contract to last offseason. Although Drummond and Jackson (rightfully) get most of the Motor City Press, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has really come on strong over his last handful of games, averaging 19.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.2 3-pointers.
Toronto @ Miami: Raptors 108, Heat 94
DeMar DeRozan: 30 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 3 TO, 10-of-17 FGs, 10-of-13 FTs
Kyle Lowry: 21 pts, 3 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 1 TO, 8-of-18 FGs
Terrence Ross: 17 pts, 1 stl, 2 blk, 5 3PM, 6-of-9 FGs
Hassan Whiteside: 8 pts, 13 reb, 5 blk, 4-of-6 FGs
Goran Dragic: 18 pts, 5 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 8-of-13 FGs
Gerald Green: 20 pts, 1 stl, 5 3PM, 7-of-15 FGs
Goran Dragic is on the cusp of sustaining a much better version of what we’ve seen so far, and if you’re ever going to invest this season, the time to do so is now. Hassan Whiteside’s five blocks were his most swats since he sent five away on December 5, and it’s a good sign to see the big man averaging 12.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over his last three contests. It’s tough to leave Dwyane Wade (21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 8-of-16 FGs) out, but with eight turnovers and without a steal, block or three-pointer, we’ve seen better games from Wade before and it won’t be long before we see another.
Kyle Lowry has received most of the headlines this season, but it’s DeMar DeRozan’s improvement that’s been arguably more impressive. The Raptors won the Chris Bosh Bowl with five different guys in double figures, including Luis Scola (20 points, 9-of-16 FGs) and James Johnson (13 points, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 3-pointer), who replaced Terrence Ross in the starting lineup. As usual, Johnson’s prominence should be short lived with both Jonas Valanciunas (hand) and DeMarre Carroll (knee) visiting the doctor next week with their eyes on a return shortly thereafter.
Sacramento @ Minnesota: Timberwolves 99, Kings 95
DeMarcus Cousins: 24 pts, 11 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk, 5 TO, 11-of-25 FGs
Rajon Rondo: 11 pts, 4 reb, 13 ast, 3 stl, 2 TO, 4-of-8 FGs
Andrew Wiggins: 32 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast, 4 TO, 11-of-20 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs
Ricky Rubio: 12 pts, 7 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 3 TO, 2 3PM, 3-of-10 FGs
Zach LaVine: 8 pts, 4 TO, 4-of-11 FGs
Rajon Rondo’s first game back on the floor since his suspension was statistically productive, but both he and DeMarcus Cousins would gladly trade individual numbers for wins. You know what you’re getting with Sacramento in terms of fantasy production with Rudy Gay (20 points, 5 boards, two triples) and Omri Casspi locked into big minutes at the forward spots, and Darren Collison is really the only Sacramento reserve worth rostering in standard fantasy formats.
Andrew Wiggins’ shift back to shooting guard is going to do great things for his fantasy value, and he’s a player I expect much better things from than we’ve seen to date. While Wiggins’ defensive production has sagged off, that will be much more palatable once his offensive game is delivering consistently. In his last three games, Wiggins is averaging 26.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 47.5% shooting. I’ve come all the way around on Gorgui Dieng now that Sam Mitchell will play him alongside Towns, something he absolutely refused to do to begin the season. Don’t look now, but Ricky Rubio has now put together three very good games in a row despite an inability to shoot the basketball: 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.7 3-pointers with just 1.7 turnovers.
Los Angeles (C) @ San Antonio: Spurs 115, Clippers 107
Tony Parker: 21 pts, 3 ast, 3 3PM, 1 TO, 8-of-15 FGs
LaMarcus Aldridge: 26 pts, 13 reb, 1 blk, 11-of-18 FGs
Blake Griffin: 25 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 3PM, 1 TO, 10-of-19 FGs
DeAndre Jordan: 16 pts, 17 reb, 2 blk, 4-of-6 FGs, 8-of-20 FTs
Chris Paul: 27 pts, 10 ast, 3 stl, 2 3PM, 2 TO, 8-of-14 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs
Jamal Crawford: 0 pts, 3 ast, 0-of-3 FGs
It says everything about Kawhi Leonard that 19 points and nine rebounds is a disappointing game, but that’s life as a top-three fantasy option. LaMarcus Aldridge now has two games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in his last five, and Aldridge has started to look a lot more comfortable in his new home. In a reduced role, Tony Parker has been so much better than anyone is giving him credit for being, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll finish as anything but one of the better draft day bargains.
Chris Paul has 10 or more assists in three of his last four after reaching double-digit dimes just once from Thanksgiving until December 9, and he’s really been playing an impressive brand of basketball of late. After early-season injury struggles, CP3 looks ready to get back on track. DeAndre Jordan’s huge game left 12 points at the foul line and was forced to sit when the Spurs turned to the intentional foul game, but that’s what you signed up for upon drafting him. So long as Paul and J.J. Redick are healthy, there is no reason to have Jamal Crawford anywhere near your fantasy team. His best chance at coming into sustainable value is by getting traded.
Memphis @ Dallas: Mavericks 97, Grizzlies 88
Matt Barnes: 11 pts, 5 reb, 4 stl, 3 blk, 1 TO, 4-of-9 FGs
Zaza Pachulia: 10 pts, 18 reb, 1 stl, 4-of-12 FGs
Chandler Parsons: 16 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 2 3PM, 5-of-10 FGs
Wesley Matthews: 0 pts, 3 ast, 2 stl, 0-of-4 FGs
Deron Williams: 14 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 5 TO, 3-of-8 FGs
Jeff Green: 2 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 0-of-7 FGs
I know Zach Randolph isn’t setting the world aflame, but Jeff Green is still Jeff Green the last time I checked, and that was confirmed on Friday when he went MIA in a scoreless effort. Mike Conley (20 points, four assists), Marc Gasol (16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) and Matt Barnes are the only reliable sources of fantasy value on a Grizzlies team scrapping for some kind of direction, but this is a roster—one still without Tony Allen (knee), who is out indefinitely—that needs to hit the reset button.
Inarguably Chandler Parsons’ best game of the season, the 31.5 minutes played is the most important number, especially after Parsons dealt with a health scare earlier in the week…I’d still rather have Wesley Matthews over Parsons for the long haul. Both Deron Williams and Raymond Felton (eight points, six dimes, two triples) left something to be desired, but Dirk Nowitzki’s 20-burger—his first in five games—was enough to make up for the lack of action in the backcourt. I’d sell on both D-Will and Felton in a heartbeat when presented the right offer, and I’d use both as trade bait in any kind of deal.
Denver @ Utah: Jazz 97, Nuggets 88
Jameer Nelson: 15 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2 TO, 5-of-8 FGs
Gordon Hayward: 26 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 4 3PM, 2 TO, 8-of-17 FGs
Derrick Favors: 7 pts, 9 reb, 1 stl, 2-of-8 FGs
Alec Burks: 8 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl, 3-of-7 FGs
Kenneth Faried: 8 pts, 7 reb, 2 TO, 4-of-11 FGs
Utah can’t wait to get Rudy Gobert (knee) back in the lineup, and Derrick Favors must especially be anticipating The Stifle Tower’s return. I’m much more willing to wait on Rodney Hood’s (12 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) flower to bloom than I am on Alec Burks (8 points, 4 rebounds), who played just 17.5 minutes off the bench behind Raul Neto.
The only Denver starter not to hit double figures was Kenneth Faried, but Denver shot just 39.2% as a team and nobody was exactly lighting it up. Will Barton paced the team with 16 points, while Joffrey Lauvergne (12 points, 13 rebounds, two triples, 5-of-12 FGs, 27 minutes) and Nikola Jokic (7 points, 10 rebounds, 21 minutes) continue to battle for minutes ahead of Jusuf Nurkic’s (knee) return. Jameer Nelson has played well in Emmanuel Mudiay’s absence, and I’m not simply cutting the veteran PG where I have him when the rookie returns. Mudiay isn’t a fantasy asset outside of points leagues, and even then it’s not a pretty picture.
Milwaukee @ Golden State: Warriors 121, Bucks 112
Draymond Green: 21 pts, 9 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl, 2 3PM, 2 TO, 7-of-15 FGs
Stephen Curry: 26 pts, 10 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 2 3PM, 6 TO, 7-of-14 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs
Klay Thompson: 27 pts, 3 reb, 1 stl, 3 blk, 2 3PM, 8-of-16 FGs, 1 TO, 9-of-10 FTs
Festus Ezeli: 14 pts, 10 reb, 2 stl, 1 TO, 6-of-8 FGs
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 20 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast, 1 blk, 3 TO, 9-of-17 FGs
Greg Monroe: 10 pts, 13 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 3 TO, 5-of-11 FGs
Michael Carter-Williams: 24 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 9-of-18 FGs
O.J. Mayo: 12 pts, 3 reb, 4 ast, 2 TO
Andre Iguodala: 3 pts, 2 ast, 1-of-5 FGs
The fake beef between these two teams was old before this game started, and it smelled like it was rotting by the time it was over.
Michael Carter-Williams continues to thrive after being reinserted into the starting lineup, and he should be deployed in all leagues while things are going this well. If not now, when? Greg Monroe (knee) nearly dropped a triple-double in his return to the lineup, and he’s been among the steadiest producers all season long. O.J. Mayo (12 points, three rebounds, four assists) shifted to the bench so Giannis Antetokounmpo could get back with the starting five, and this is the look Milwaukee ought to have stick around for a while as the current alignment makes the most sense.
Both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were a rebound and two assists (combined) away from each having a triple-double, and when Klay Thompson scores 27 points on 50% shooting, that’s going to make the Warriors a nearly impossible team to beat. Anyone still questioning what Draymond does should watch the tape, check the box score and familiarize themselves with the evolution. With one of the best backup centers in the game at their disposal in Festus Ezeli, who took over for an injured Andrew Bogut (back spasms), the Dubs received an additional boost of energy on a night where Andre Iguodala struggled to spark anything on the floor.
New Orleans @ Phoenix: Suns 104, Pelicans 88
Anthony Davis: 16 pts, 12 reb, 2 stl, 3 blk, 4 TO, 5-of-12 FGs
Eric Bledsoe: 29 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 6 TO, 12-of-17 FGs
Alex Len: 19 pts, 13 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk, 1 TO, 8-of-11 FGs
Ryan Anderson: 3 pts, 3 TO, 0-of-3 FGs
Tyson Chandler: 3 pts, 7 reb, 1 blk, 2 TO, 1-of-2 FGs
Brandon Knight: 10 pts. 3 ast, 5 TO, 4-of-11 FGs
When you see the discrepancy in the performance between Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, you can see why it’s hard to just expunge the former from the roster because the latter has returned from his hamstring injury…this game was also a good sample of what Eric Bledsoe has been doing all season, and there is no way he should be involved in any trade offers to remove him from your team. Jon Leuer (12 points, 10 rebounds, 6-of-12 FGs) has been solid if unspectacular since sliding into the starting five, while Markieff Morris has become an afterthought.
If New Orleans could add one go-to scorer capable of supporting Anthony Davis on a consistent basis would go a long way toward really improving the Pelicans, and Eric Gordon (15 points, 2-of-11 FGs) isn’t the answer. Ryan Anderson, who may or may not be trade bait, did nothing to enhance his value with as many points as turnovers, and his fantasy value may actually be worse off if dealt depending on where he could land.