After seeing Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Nerlens Noel, Pau Gasol, James Harden and Russell Westbrook go off on a Friday night where stars stole the show around the NBA, I’d be remiss if I didn’t dedicate some digital ink to the man, the myth and the legend: Josh McRoberts—better known as The McBob. After shocking the world and flirting with a triple-double on Friday, McRoberts responded with a three by three—as in three points, three boards and three dimes—a vivid illustration of what kind of real value he offers to your fantasy team even with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in street clothes.
We got it all like Monta Ellis on a 14-game Friday night, so the NBA decided to slow its roll, serving up a four-pack slate for Saturday’s main course. We watched Jabari Parker’s maturation continue, the Dennis Schroder crowd get live, Hassan Whiteside leave his enormous mark and Draymond Green serve as the major key to unlocking a new Warriors win streak.
Milwaukee @ Atlanta: Bucks 117, Hawks 109 (2OT)
Atlanta’s uneven season hasn’t prevented Paul Millsap evolving into a full-fledged fantasy star, and like he’s done routinely, P-Money delivered another versatile, stat-stuffing line on Saturday with 27 points, 11 boards, six dimes, a steal, two blocks and two triples. Regardless of how the Hawks finish the season, Millsap’s elite fantasy standing isn’t at risk. The same can be said for Al Horford, who just missed a double-double with 17 points, nine boards, a steal and three blocks without turning the ball over. Kyle Korver’s mini-resurgence isn’t getting enough attention, and now that he’s found his shot again, Korver has averaged 13.2 points, 2.8 triples and 2.0 steals on 51% from the floor across his last five outings…He should be much better down the stretch compared to what we’ve previously seen from him this year.
Jeff Teague has played much better of late, but a right wrist injury limited him to just 18 minutes in an underwhelming showing as he watched Dennis Schroder explode for 25 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, a block and three triples (five turnovers) on 10-of-19 from the field. Schroder should be rostered in almost every format regardless of Teague’s health, and although the Wake Forest product insisted he was fine after the loss, Schroder would be a no-brainer must-own, must-start player if Teague misses time.
Jabari Parker’s evolution has been an underappreciated storyline in a disappointing Bucks season, but he’s going to start getting more national attention after a career-high 28 points. With averages of 22.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 turnovers on 54.9% shooting over his last three contests, there is no doubt that Parker’s game is better suited for reality than fantasy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t fun to watch. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a big night with 19 points, 12 boards, three dimes and two blocks in just 38 minutes, but his evening could have been much grander if he didn’t foul out of the game before the first overtime even started.
Playing starter’s minutes off the bench, Michael Carter-Williams and Greg Monroe combined for 41 points, 21 rebounds, six assists and four blocks with just a single turnover, but MCW is an obvious sell-high guy. Although the Syracuse product actually started the second half, he’s still splitting minutes with O.J. Mayo (9 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast, 5 stl) with Jerryd Bayless (ankle) sidelined, and Jason Kidd has already shown a previous inclination to play Mayo and Bayless when all three guards are healthy. Khris Middleton’s shot has gone MIA, and I don’t mean that it took a trip to South Beach. Despite the current struggles, K-Midz is still producing across the box score and chipping in with key contributions from beyond the arc and on defense. Contemplating the idea of selling low is a loser’s mentality. We’re here to win.
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Washington @ Miami: Heat 114, Wizards 94
Playing their third game in three nights, it would be a lot easier to chalk Washington’s loss up to the schedule if a shorthanded Miami club wasn’t playing in the second of a back-to-back set sans Wade and Bosh.
When Jared Dudley is the high scorer on your side, not a lot has gone right. Despite Dudley’s solid 16-point effort, he barely got more playing time than Markieff Morris, who battled foul trouble and was in just his second game with his new team. In other words: With a shrinking role and a capped long-term outlook, you should have already moved on from the veteran swingman. Marcin Gortat failed to record a block, but his consistency has been impressive and he had yet another double-double on Saturday with 14&13 on 50% from the field…He’s going to be on a lot of fantasy rosters that enjoy success down the stretch, and Gortat faces absolutely no challenge for his minutes.
After flirting with a triple-double in each of the last two nights, John Wall ran out of gas in the blowout loss with just 12 points on 5-of-17 from the field. He’s allowed to post a dud every once in a while given the load Washington asks him to carry, and there is nothing to worry about moving forward. Washington surprisingly allowed Bradley Beal (leg) to play in all three games this week, and those with The Panda need to track his health closely. The Wizards have two back-to-back sets in the next ten days, so Beal—whose value is on the rise—may be limited to a bench role through the end of February.
Simply stated, there is nobody else in the league like Hassan Whiteside. With 25 points and 23 rebounds in just 29.5 minutes off the bench in his return from a suspension, Whiteside is primed for a big finish to the season for a Heat team that needs him to be a dominant force every night. Playing for his next deal and auditioning for the rest of the NBA to see, Miami is going to lean on Whiteside with Bosh’s return uncertain.
No longer just waiver wire fodder, Luol Deng is responding to a bigger role in style. After an enormous 30&11 on Friday, Deng came right back with 27&10 on Saturday. Selling high makes sense with Wade (knee) only day-to-day, as Deng will lose touches when Flash, Whiteside and Goran Dragic share the court alongside him. It’s not a surprise nor coincidence that Dragic—who nearly triple-doubled with a season-high 24 points, seven boards and eight assists (no turnovers)—has thrived without Wade in the lineup, but selling high isn’t recommended given the realistic ROI paired with the Heat’s renewed commitment to breathing hot fire into The Dragon.
New York @ Minnesota: Knicks 103, Timberwolves 95
You could spin Carmelo Anthony’s heavy workload on back-to-back nights in either direction, but the reality is he’s shown a commitment to staying on the court for as long as his surgically-repaired knee allows. The good news is that Melo has made 20-of-39 (51.3%) from the field since the All-Star Break, averaging 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 3-pointers over those two games. But it’s hard to envision another GM giving up what you would need in a trade in order to consider a move, so those with Anthony have to hold on with the hope that the Knicks stay in the race and Melo remains active. One night after getting bested by his twin brother Brook, Robin Lopez took out his frustrations on Karl-Anthony Towns, dropping an enormous double-double with 26 points and 16 boards to pair with three blocks. The only blemish was Lopez’s five turnovers, but nobody is complaining after a tidy 11-of-14 performance from the floor. He’s not the sexiest big man of the bunch, but RoLo has had a very strong February—his best stretch of the season—and has exceeded 30 minutes of action in six of eight games this month.
A six-point stinker snapped Kristaps Porzingis’ streak of four straight in double figures, but this is likely the last time KP6 sits extended time in order to learn a lesson. Expect him to bounce back with authority vs. the Raptors on Monday before a tough game vs. Myles Turner and the Pacers on Wednesday.
One night after receiving a DNP-CD, Tayshaun Prince was back with the first five as part of Sam Mitchell’s asinine plan to rotate starts between the veteran and Zach LaVine. While LaVine played 32.5 minutes and finished with 14 points, five boards and three assists, the playing time isn’t the issue when it comes to diagnosing the problem. In a season about player development, there is plenty of incentive to start LaVine in each game the rest of the way, and there is even less reason for Prince to be sniffing anywhere near 20 minutes like he did on Saturday. Hopefully, Prince’s role continues to shrink so Shabazz Muhammad (20 pts, 8-of-11 FGs) can get some consistent run, but Bazz is best suited for points leagues unless he gets more playing time at power forward like he did on Saturday. If that happens, Gorgui Dieng will be impacted since GD isn’t taking minutes away from Karl-Anthony Towns. For now, it’s just something to watch.
Towns and Dieng each had their respective double-double streak snapped in the loss, but Towns got the best of Porzingis in the battle of the NBA’s future with 24 points, eight boards, four assists, a steal and three blocks without a single turnover in his 41.5 minutes. Towns has consistently shown more promise this year than Anthony Davis ever did at the same stage, and The Big KAT will use the rest of his rookie year to solidify his stock as a first-round fantasy pick entering next season.
Andrew Wiggins takes an unfair amount of criticism for a soon to be 21-year-old superstar in blossom, and he’s now averaging 23.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks over his last three contests. He’s well on his way to being elite at both ends of the floor, and I think Wiggins is one of the more undervalued assets in keeper and dynasty formats. A third-year explosion is firmly in focus if and when he puts it all together.
Golden State @ Los Angeles: Warriors 115, Clippers 112
Duds: Jeff Green
How high has Stephen Curry raised the bar? Going for 23 points, nine dimes, three steals and three triples gets you on the studs list if you’re almost any other player, but that’s a rather ordinary night in the kitchen for Chef Curry, who will soon be cooking on an entirely new level with back-to-back MVP awards.
How good is Draymond Green? Starting at center in place of Andrew Bogut (Achilles) vs. DeAndre Jordan, the human Swiss Army Knife recorded his 11th triple-double of the season with 18 points, 11 boards and 10 dimes on 9-of-14 shooting. Although Green didn’t kick in any threes or defensive stats, he’s truly a one-of-a-kind player who is helping to anchor more than a few rosters that will ultimately contend for a title. After being called overrated and overpaid, Green is making his new $80-plus million deal look like an absolute steal.
Between Green again popping off and Klay Thompson’s 30-burger, the Warriors were able to stave off their first two-game losing streak of the season. Thompson came into the win struggling with his shot in February, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by his effort on Saturday (11-of-22 FGs, 4-of-9 3PM) and he should have no issue being a top-20 player moving forward.
In the non-Curry division, Chris Paul has thrown his oversized hat into the MVP ring with his impressive play since Blake Griffin went down, and CP3 again looks ready to finish the regular season with great strength given Griffin (hand) still faces an uncertain timeline to return. DeAndre Jordan’s big night was predictable as soon as Bogut was ruled out, and DJ didn’t disappoint with a monstrous 16 points, 21 boards, two steals and two blocks in the loss. Jordan has now grabbed at least 15 boards in four straight games, averaging 14.5 points, 18.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.3 blocks over that span of time.
In fantasy terms, Jeff Green is not going to be the same player in Los Angeles that he was in Memphis, and that was evident immediately in an uneventful 20-minute debut. Doc Rivers is familiar with his former player so that won’t be an issue, but Green just isn’t going to be asked to score like he was with the Grizzlies, and he just doesn’t do enough elsewhere in order to translate to sustainable value.