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Saturday Dose

Dose: Keys To The Kingdom

by Ethan Norof
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It’s officially trade season in the NBA, but the line to buy rumors is still forming at the cash register considering the current selection on the floor. The Los Angeles Clippers aren’t selling low on Blake Griffin, the Boston Celtics aren’t going to cash in their Brooklyn paper to acquire a declining Dwight Howard and Thaddeus Young for Brandon Jennings is a swap that you’d have a tough time pulling off in a video game with the override code active. 

 

On a Friday night filled with 10 games, we had In-N-Out mania with 2x2s and 3x3s all over the NBA.

 

Indiana @ Atlanta: Hawks 102, Pacers 96

 

Studs

 

Paul George, Lavoy Allen, Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, Al Horford

 

Duds

 

Jordan Hill, Monta Ellis, Kyle Korver

 

The Pacers wasted a gem of a game from Paul George (31 pts, 9 reb, 6 ast, 7 3PM, 11-of-21 FG) on a night where he really didn’t get any help from anyone except Lavoy Allen, whose performance off the bench (13 pts, 14 reb) limited the amount of time rookie Myles Turner saw on the floor. It’s critical to exercise perspective on Turner, a 19-year-old rookie who has already exceeded expectations for his inaugural campaign…Do not drop him in any format. Again starting for Ian Mahinmi, Jordan Hill flopped worse than a fish out of water with more turnovers (five) than points scored (three). Over his last four games, Monta Ellis has more turnovers (19) than assists (17), but at least he’s averaging 17.0 points and 2.3 triples through his struggles. There’s no need to sell low.

 

Atlanta needed this win, and their leaders responded with Paul Millsap and Al Horford combining for 45 points on 60% from the field. Millsap added two steals, four blocks and three triples, while Horford flashed his versatility grabbing seven boards, dishing six dimes and adding a triple of his own. Kent Bazemore’s breakout continued with a season-high eight assists (15 pts, 3 stl, 2 3PM), and although Jeff Teague has been better of late, you may want to reconsider an investment opportunity given Teague averaged 13.5 points, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 3-pointers after the All-Star break in 2015. Those numbers are right in line with what he’s doing currently in a year where many—myself included—have called him a disappointment.

 

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Los Angeles (C) @ Orlando: Clippers 107, Magic 93

 

Studs

 

DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford

 

Duds

 

Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton

 

DeAndre Jordan has been a monster over his last three games, averaging 15.7 points, 17.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks on 77.3% shooting. So long as Blake Griffin—who had a second procedure on his broken hand Friday—remains out of the lineup, DJ’s fantasy owners will channel their inner Lil’ Wayne when celebrating over having the big man on the roster. Even a bad game for Chris Paul (six turnovers) carries a good fantasy line, and CP3 is going to lead the way without Griffin available. As unlikely as it is, J.J. Redick (20 pts, four 3PM) is having a career season at age 31, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He was a sell-high candidate when Griffin’s return appeared imminent, but BG’s longer than expected absence has changed the landscape.

 

It’s a good thing that Jamal Crawford is starting to come on with 20-plus points in four of his last five and his last three consecutive contests, because Austin Rivers (hand) and Pablo Prigioni (facial contusion) could be looking at multi-game absences. That means more Lance Stephenson, who popped off for 13 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting in extended run on Friday. Wesley Johnson’s versatile skill set has always been intriguing, and he’s getting every opportunity to contribute with Griffin out. A poor shooting night can still result in good things (5 pts, 5 reb, 4 blk) for Johnson, and he should be rostered in all leagues with at least 12 teams. 

 

It was a tough night for Orlando, and it wasn’t just because youngsters Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton failed to show up. Payton has now scored 10 or fewer points in four straight and five of his last six, failing to connect on at least 30% of his shots in any of his last three. There are real questions about Payton’s ceiling—in reality and fantasy—so long as he’s without a reliable jumper and playing alongside Oladipo, as both players need the ball in their hands to thrive. A victim of friendly fire, Tobias Harris went to the locker room in the beginning of the fourth quarter after Oladipo caught him with an elbow, knocking T12 out for the game and possibly longer. Harris received stitches above his left eye, and if he’s forced to miss time, Mario Hezonja, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon would all benefit. Of those three, Fournier was the only one to do anything of note on Friday, tallying 16 points, six boards, three assists and two triples. It’s also worth noting Fournier played 32 minutes, the most action he’s seen since January 25. 

 

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Philadelphia @ Washington: Wizards 106, Sixers 94

 

Studs

 

Marcin Gortat, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan

 

Duds

 

Otto Porter, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington

 

It was a welcome sight in Washington as Bradley Beal got back into the starting lineup for the first time since returning from his leg injury, scoring 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting on a night where John Wall went off for 18 points, 13 boards, 10 dimes, two steals and a block (three triples) on 7-of-13 from the field. Marcin Gortat must’ve been excited to see Jahlil Okafor opposite him when the game began, and the Polish Hammer banged on Philly all night to the tune of 21 points and 13 boards without Nene (calf) and Kris Humphries (knee) available. Otto Porter (hip, back) can say he’s 100% healthy, but his recent play tells a different and concerning story.  Over his last five games, Porter is averaging just 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.6 3-pointers.

 

Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel started together in the frontcourt as the Sixers try to figure out what works, but Noel’s playing time (33.5 min), performance (9 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 4 blk) and plus-minus (even) blew Okafor (9 pts, 4 reb, 21 min, minus-27) out of the water. Ish Smith—who provided a very nice 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block despite shooting 11-of-25 from the floor—has shown obvious chemistry with Noel, but Okafor has struggled, has seen 25 minutes or fewer in three straight and hasn’t had a double-digit rebound game since January 16. Isaiah Canaan, Hollis Thompson and Jerami Grant got extra run on a night where Robert Covington didn’t hit a shot and went scoreless in the process, but don’t even think about dropping RoCo after one stinker. You already know what happened last time someone in your league did that.

 

Miami @ Charlotte: Heat 98, Hornets 95

 

Studs

 

Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker

 

Duds

 

Luol Deng, Gerald Green, Jeremy Lin

 

Amare Stoudemire remains in the starting lineup for now, but Hassan Whiteside’s oblique clearly isn’t an issue as the big man logged another triple-double with blocks, registering trip-10s across the board…Expect Whiteside to rejoin the starting five as early as Sunday vs. DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers. Whiteside’s performance overshadowed a near trip-dub from Goran Dragic, who delivered his best game of 2016 with 12 points, eight boards, nine assists and two steals without a single turnover. You’re not going to get a return you like for The Dragon, so Gogi is still a hold and should be better in the NBA’s unofficial second half. Dwyane Wade’s decision to switch trainers this offseason may have flown under the radar, but it’s a story worth emphasizing now as Wade keeps defying the expectations others have foolishly set for him.

 

Kemba Walker’s sore left knee didn’t limit his production as the All-Star snub returned from a one-game absence with 20 points, five boards, six assists, two steals and four triples, and for a previously banged-up Hornets team, it was very encouraging to see Nicolas Batum log 39 big minutes en route to 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and four triples on 7-of-12 shooting. It was Batum’s best game in three weeks, a promising sign that we may be able to move on from his troublesome toe injury. Despite Charlotte’s improving health, Marvin Williams’ playing time and production (27 pts, 12-of-17 FG, 32.5 min) are both still very real and quite spectacular. Unlike previous go-arounds, Williams has been impressively consistent and is currently contending for a spot as one of the best value picks of the year. It’s going to be very hard for Jeremy Lin to offer sustainable production with his team’s health improving, and the guard is now averaging just 10 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 32.4% shooting. That includes a spot start for Walker when Lin went off for 24 points, five boards and eight assists.  

 

Boston @ Cleveland: Celtics 104, Cavs 103

 

Studs

 

Evan Turner, LeBron James, J.R. Smith

 

Duds

 

Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Love

 

That’s two straight bad losses for Cleveland, and Friday’s last-second loss is exacerbated by the fact that Kevin Love departed after just 21.5 minutes, 10 points and five rebounds due to a left thigh bruise. Love was able to walk off under his own power, but he had a “noticeable limp” and was ruled out pretty quickly following his exit. If Love has to miss time, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert would be asked to do more, but it would really just put an even bigger onus on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who combined for 49 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the defeat. Shumpert’s 34.5 minutes represented a season-high, and although he had eight boards, three dimes, five steals and a block on a night his shot wouldn’t fall, he’s not a strong speculative pickup. I’m not a J.R. Smith fan for fantasy purposes, and if you’ve been thinking about moving him, doing so after he’s hit 13 triples over his last three games would be a good time to execute the move.

 

Avery Bradley’s game-winner will lead highlight packages, but the three-headed monster that is the Celtics’ backcourt struggled to find the bottom of the basket with Isaiah Thomas—who briefly left to get his ankle re-taped—Marcus Smart and Bradley combining to connect on just 13-of-36 shooting. Between that and Jae Crowder (ankle) feeling like he was playing on one leg, Evan Turner got extended run and finished with a huge line of 19 points, 12 rebounds and six dimes. Turner has played well over his last three, averaging 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and a block…Use him while he’s hot, but don’t be afraid to drop him when he’s not. Jared Sullinger (12, pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 3 blk) continues to be productive in limited run, and his success is bad news for the Kelly Olynyk crowd. KO was knocked out of the rotation on Friday, playing just 12 minutes behind guys like Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko…Olynyk is nowhere near a must-own player. Boston has won eight of its last nine, and Dwight Howard is the last thing this team needs right now.

 

Sacramento @ Brooklyn: Nets 128, Kings 119

 

Studs

 

DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic

 

Duds

 

Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Marco Belinelli, Omri Casspi

 

DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (toe) continue to post fat fantasy lines, and that might be the only thing that doesn’t change for a Kings team that (again) needs something to give. A massive triple-double (24 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast, 4 3PM) from Cousins paired with a 15x15 double-double for Rondo wasn’t enough, and it would be stunning if Sacramento wasn’t active entering the trade deadline given the team’s uneven effort, uncertain future and George Karl’s status teetering in the win. Regardless of what occurs, the fantasy stocks of Cousins and Rondo should remain stable.

 

As if the internal turmoil wasn’t enough, Rudy Gay sprained his left ankle and was unable to play after trying to return to the game. Day-to-day moving forward, Omri Casspi, Willie Cauley-Stein—who exited with a calf issue of his own—and Darren Collison—who got hot for 25 points on nine shots—would all benefit with Casspi likely rejoining the starting lineup. That could be just what Casspi needs to get going again, because Marco Belinelli is going to stick with the first unit through for at least the next four games.

 

When Joe Johnson has 20 points at halftime in 2016, something has gone terribly wrong. Finishing with 27 points, six boards, 11 assists and five triples on 11-of-16 shooting, Johnson’s flashback Friday included two steals, a block and six turnovers…The veteran should be rostered in all formats. I’m not a fan of selling low on Thaddeus Young, who had a near triple-double (14 pts, 14 reb, 7 ast) was a big reason why the Nets won. Outside of a brief foot scare, Brook Lopez (26 pts, 12 reb) has been cash money all season, and that’s not going to change so long as he’s healthy. Some call it a timeshare, but Donald Sloan (17 pts, 4 3PM) is running circles around Shane Larkin, who had as many points as turnovers (three). Bojan Bogdanovic caught fire for seven triples and 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench on a night where Wayne Ellington went cold, but neither player is worth a roster spot in standard formats.  

 

Memphis @ New York: Grizzlies 91, Knicks 85

 

Studs

 

Kristaps Porzingis, Jose Calderon

 

Duds

 

Langston Galloway, Arron Afflalo, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Courtney Lee

 

The only Memphis player to exceed 12 points was Jeff Green, so that should tell you all you need to know about how exciting the Grizzlies’ box score was for fantasy purposes. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 20 points and 11 boards, while the starting backcourt of Mike Conley (8 pts, 9 ast) and Courtney Lee combined to shoot 3-of-15 from the floor. Z-Bo and Gasol should be much better going into the break with cushy matchups vs. Dallas, Portland and Brooklyn. Aside from Green’s 16 (nearly empty) points, Matt Barnes played through a hamstring injury to drop 12 points, seven boards, a steal, a block and two triples on Derek Fisher’s team. Barnes should be on rosters in leagues with at least 12 teams, but Mario Chalmers—who was ejected for a Flagrant-2 foul—does not warrant your attention.

 

In a game where the Knicks couldn’t crack 40% from the field, it comes as no surprise that Carmelo Anthony (sore left knee) was out of the lineup. Although Melo’s MRI returned clean, it’s concerning that he’s had recurring soreness in his surgically-repaired knee…This is something Anthony has to learn to deal with for the rest of his career, and it may very well limit his fantasy potential as a result.

 

With Kristaps Porzingis as the focal point, KP6 did his best Hassan Whiteside impression, dropping 17 points, 10 boards and six blocks with three triples. Porzingis is already a special talent, and his fantasy ceiling is fun to think about for those fortunate enough to have him in keeper and/or dynasty formats. Langston Galloway got back into the starting five with Arron Afflalo sliding over to the three, but it was Jose Calderon who was second on the team in shot attempts, scoring 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, fie assists and three triples…It’s the first time Calderon has scored in double figures since January 13 vs. Brooklyn.

 

Chicago @ Denver: Nuggets 115, Bulls 110

 

Studs

 

Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Jokic, Will Barton

 

Duds

 

Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, E’Twaun Moore, Bobby Portis

 

Pau Gasol can’t currently catch passes with his injured left hand, and now the Bulls are holding their breath over a left knee injury that forced Jimmy Butler to leave the court in a wheelchair. Butler will have an MRI on Saturday, and assuming he has to miss time, Derrick Rose would go back to running the offense with Gasol as the clear co-captain, with guys like Mike Dunleavy—who is expected to make his season debut on Saturday—E’Twaun Moore, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott being asked to step up. There is some optimism that Butler could be back before the All-Star game, but the MRI will tell us what we need to know. If Gasol’s hand becomes an ongoing issue, Taj Gibson (18 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk) and Rose will have their hands full. It’s discouraging that Bobby Portis failed to make an impact without Gasol in the lineup, and there isn’t real incentive to stash BP in redraft formats unless you’re in a deep league. Rose is averaging 25.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.5 steals over his last two games, but a transition back to Alpha Dog in the offense is likely to impact that production.

 

The Nuggets hung 21 on Chicago in the fourth quarter, and Danilo Gallinari’s assault from the free throw line continued in the comeback win with a perfect 18-of-18 performance…Gallo finished with a game-high 33 points on a tidy 7-of-12 shooting, and he looks poised to deliver another big post-All-Star break performance. The empty double-doubles from Kenneth Faried are no longer a talking point with Nikola Jokic absolutely balling in a starting role. The rookie had 14 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two triples and is now averaging 16.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks and a triple over his last five games. In retrospect, stashing Jusuf Nurkic—who is now playing fewer minutes than Joffrey Lauvergne—in favor of a speculative Jokic addition looks like a bad mistake for those who didn’t believe in his stardom.

 

Gary Harris is still playing big minutes, but Will Barton promises to soon start eating into his minutes once again. Despite the value Harris has recently provided, most GMs should be able to do better when fishing for help on the waiver wire. In one of his better games as a pro, Emmanuel Mudiay’s line of 22 points, five assists, two steals and two blocks looks really good until you see the 5-of-11 performance at the foul line. There is no denying Mudiay has been much improved since returning from his ankle injury, and the psychological impact of Jameer Nelson’s (wrist) absence shouldn’t be understated. 

 

Milwaukee @ Utah: Jazz 84, Bucks 81

 

Studs

 

Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood

 

Duds

 

Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton

 

This was a pretty ugly game on both sides, so we’re not going to spend a lot of time here. Khris Middleton had more turnovers (nine) than boards and assists combined, but he’s been awesome and will be fine. Michael Carter-Williams is losing playing time to Jerryd Bayless, and O.J. Mayo’s (hamstring) expected Tuesday return isn’t going to help MCW’s stock rise. John Henson (back) hasn’t played since January 26, and it’s unclear when he may return, meaning Miles Plumlee—who was ejected for an elbow to Joe Ingles’ head—will stick in the rotation.

 

This is the type of rim protection Utah envisioned when smartly dealing away Enes Kanter in order for Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert to thrive together. Combined, the big men went off for 26 points, 23 rebounds, seven steals and eight blocks in a four-point win. The window to purchase Favors at a discount has slammed shut. Rodney Hood leading the team in scoring with 23 points (three triples) is a great sign for his second-half outlook, especially when he gets more minutes and more shots than Gordon Hayward

 

San Antonio @ Dallas: Spurs 116, Mavs 90

 

Studs

 

LaMarcus Aldridge

 

Duds

 

The Dallas Starting Five, Boban Marjanovic’s Playing Time

 

LaMarcus Aldridge enjoyed his return home to Dallas, and his Spurs team spanked his hometown Mavs in order to celebrate the occasion. Still without Tim Duncan (knee) in the lineup, Aldridge went for 14 points, 10 boards, two steals and two blocks, while Kawhi Leonard scored 23 efficient points but failed to provide anything defensively. No other Spurs player scored in double figures except for Patty Mills, but this was a blowout and there is no real takeaway beyond what we already knew: Mills, Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson will get more minutes without Manu Ginobili available.

 

Deron Williams played through his right hip contusion, but maybe he shouldn’t have given his underwhelming play. Considering Devin Harris is dealing with nerve issues in his big left toe, he’s likely out through the All-Star Break if not for longer. In the interim, J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton will each pick up extra time. Maybe Chandler Parsons should spend more time earning it instead of talking about it, because he simply has too many poor games for this nonsense to be a constant point of discussion. Wesley Matthews’ value is deceiving, and you can get what he brings elsewhere. He’s one of the more overrated fantasy assets due to his contributions in threes and steals. And just for fun: Zaza Pachulia was ejected from this game. That’s how frustrated the Mavs were. 

Ethan Norof
Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.