Between the injuries and inefficient production, it’s getting harder and harder to find a spot for Kobe Bryant on your fantasy roster. That’s the reality of the situation in the Black Mamba’s final chapter, and with the Lakers believed to be emphasizing player development in the second half of the season, Kobe’s arrow is pointing down at the tail end of a career that has always been aimed in the upward direction.
Ben Wallace can apparently still play defense from the stands since he was able to protect his house and send the Golden State Warriors home as losers, John Wall is a man on fire and Rudy Gobert had the night everyone with The Stifle Tower has been waiting for in a romp over the Lakers.
Milwaukee @ Charlotte: Bucks 105, Hornets 92
Michael Carter-Williams predictably saw a lesser workload with Jerryd Bayless (ankle) returning after a six-game absence, and he’s going to have to produce across the board like he did on Saturday (9 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk) to justify his inability to contribute a jump shot of any kind. With a healthy Bayless, Carter-Williams’ ceiling is limited at best, and O.J. Mayo’s (hamstring) return won’t help elevate MCW. Jabari Parker (15 pts, 7-of-9 FG) has now connected on better than 50% of his shots in four of his last five games, but he still hasn’t hit a three all season and is more attractive in a points league where his one-cat game plays better.
Khris Middleton’s early season inconsistency is clearly a thing of the past, and he’s now scored 20 or more points in six of his last seven games…Calling him a top-50 fantasy player would be an insult to his real value. Giannis Antetokounmpo (14 pts, 11 reb, 3 blk) looks like someone ready to turn his monstrous potential into regular nightmares for the opposition, while Greg Monroe’s been worth the price for both the Bucks and fantasy GM’s as he establishes his Moose Crossing in Milwaukee.
Tired and a little beat up on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hornets got disappointing efforts from everyone—including Kemba Walker (12 pts, 6 ast, 2 stl, 4-of-14 FG) and Nicolas Batum (6 pts, 9 ast, 2-of-10 FG)—except for Marvin Williams, who continues to defy the odds with his ability to be a consistent fantasy contributor. Williams’ minutes are worth watching considering he’s been trending in the wrong direction and Frank Kaminsky’s (29.5 minutes) role is growing, but 14 points, seven boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers is a solid Saturday night. Walker (L ankle), Batum (L elbow) and Jeremy Lin (ankle) all played through injuries, but Jeremy Lamb’s sprained right toe kept him sidelined once again.
*Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. Play now.*
Brooklyn @ Atlanta: Hawks 114, Nets 86
The revenge game nobody was waiting for from Joe Johnson shockingly didn’t happen, and the Nets were a complete disaster from a fantasy perspective outside of Thaddeus Young. The veteran forward finished with 18 points, seven boards, two steals and a block on 8-of-12 shooting, and there’s no reason he can’t continue to flirt with top-50 fantasy value all season no matter how bad it gets in Brooklyn. Donald Sloan (12 assists) is a low-end point guard at best, and after another underwhelming game, it’s time to move on from the Shane Larkin experiment if you haven’t already.
Nobody on Brooklyn’s roster was capable of slowing down Paul Millsap, who marched his way to another huge game with 21 points, six boards, three dimes, a steal, a block and a triple on 8-of-13 shooting. He’s been an absolute gem this season, and that’s a trend that should hold true for the full campaign. Kent Bazemore got back on track with 15 points and a triple threat with three boards, three assists and three 3-pointers without a single turnover, and Jeff Teague (12 pts, 7 ast, 4-of-8 FG, minus-2) was once again outplayed by his backup Dennis Schroder (15 pts, 6 reb, 10 ast, 3 stl, 2 3PM), and Nintendo has now averaged 12.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 triples over his last five games. Even when Schroder was inexplicably sitting on the bench behind Shelvin Mack, he should have never been cut in your league.
Golden State @ Detroit: Pistons 113, Warriors 95
Harrison Barnes’ first start didn’t go exactly as planned with five points, three boards and two assists on 2-of-11 from the floor, but it wasn’t Golden State’s evening on Ben Wallace night in Detroit. Outside of Stephen Curry splashing it down from everywhere—including a ridiculous triple from Detroit’s midcourt logo—en route to 38 points, seven 3-pointers, seven boards, five dimes and two steals on 13-of-26 shooting, it was a struggle for the rest of the Warriors. Klay Thompson kicked in 24 points and six boards with not much else, and while Draymond Green’s return to Michigan may have included some nerves considering he made just 1-of-7 shots, even a bad night for D.G. involves him producing across the box score: five points, five boards, nine dimes, a steal and two blocks. As good as Green has been this season, I got a question on Twitter this week asking if someone should trade Kevin Durant for him. The answer to that—emphatically—is no.
They say it takes a complete effort to knock off the best team in basketball, and that’s exactly what the Pistons gave the Warriors on a good night to take the underdog. Marcus Morris had one of his best games of the season with 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks, and he’s now played back-to-back games with 40 minutes of playing time. Ersan Ilyasova’s nightly lines won’t blow you away, but Saturday’s game (10 pts, 8 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk, 2 3PM) is a good illustration of the type of versatility Ghostface Ilya can haunt your opposition with when he’s playing well. Over his last four, Ilyasova has averaged 13.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, a steal, 0.8 blocks, 1.8 3-pointers and just a single turnover. Get some.
With 14 points, 21 rebounds, one steal and three blocks, the only thing Andre Drummond could’ve done better as a homage to Ben Wallace was shoot a better percentage (6-of-20 FG) from the field… those with AD won’t be complaining too much, but his bad shooting night takes some of the sizzle out of his steak. Reggie Jackson had his first game without a turnover since November 27, adding 20 points, eight assists and a steal, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope—who came into Saturday’s game averaging 16.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.5 triples on 47.8% shooting in January—proceeded to go off for 20 points, five boards, three steals with a block on 9-of-16 from the field. Brandon Jennings (L ankle) was forced to leave after just eight minutes of action.
Portland @ Philadelphia: Sixers 114, Blazers 89
No Jerami Grant (calf), no Nik Stauskas (L shoulder contusion), no problem. Jahlil Okafor’s big double-double (25 pts, 10 reb, 12-of-16 FG) was accompanied without any defensive stats, but Nerlens Noel’s (4 pts, 8 reb, 4 stl, 4 blk) 4x4 game provided the 76ers with all of the interior activity they needed. Without Stauskas, seldom-used Isaiah Canaan was dusted off the bench for 14 points, four dimes, four boards, a steal, a block and two triples in a spot start, but he doesn’t belong on rosters in standard formats. Richaun Holmes (17 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk, 5-of-9 FG) has a game that would lend itself well to fantasy, but the minutes are going to be inconsistent at best. I sound like a broken record, but I hope you didn’t drop Robert Covington (16 pts, four 3PM) from your squad…RoCo is showing signs of life, averaging 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, a steal and 3.7 triples over his last three games. He has difference-maker potential.
Over his last five games, Ish Smith is averaging 20.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.0 dimes, two steals and a 3-pointer on 46.8% shooting. He’s been a marvelous fantasy story to follow this season.
Portland probably wants to flush this loss down the toilet, and nothing good is going to happen when Damian Lillard (14 pts, 4-of-18 FG) and C.J. McCollum (13 pts, 6-of-18 FG) combine for 27 points on 36 shots. Since McCollum had to ride the bench due to a coach’s error that kept him in active, he’s really struggled, averaging just 13.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 triples on a morose 33.3% shooting.
Put another way: When Meyers Leonard (14 pts, 7 reb) and Mason Plumlee (12 pts, 4 reb, 2 blk) are your most statistically productive players, there really isn’t much to take away from this one. Leonard has been one of the biggest busts of the season, and it’s insane to see guys like Will Barton, Jae Crowder and Kristaps Porzingis with lower ADP’s.
Boston @ Washington: Celtics 119, Wizards 117
I haven’t heard anyone call for Isaiah Thomas to hit the bench in a while, and maybe that’s because IT is an All-Star in both fantasy and reality. Including 15-of-16 from the foul line, Thomas exploded for 32 points, four boards, five dimes, a steal and five 3-pointers, though he did turn it over seven times. Coming off his first career triple-double, Marcus Smart (13 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast) took a backseat to Jae Crowder (22 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast, 2 3PM, 0 TO, 9-of-18 FG) and Jared Sullinger (14 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 6-of-10 FG), but it is very encouraging to see Smart, Thomas and Avery Bradley all log at least 24 minutes with Evan Turner also playing 28.5 minutes in this one. Kelly Olynyk (11 pts, 3 reb, 1 blk) is as attractive to drop some nights as he is to pick up others, so let someone else in your league deal with the headache his man-bun causes.
On a night of a back-to-back set where the Wizards were down Bradley Beal (rest), Otto Porter (hip), Drew Gooden (calf) and Kris Humphries (knee), John Wall did everything he could for a team that has called his number all season. Wall did the Dougie all over the court with 36 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, seven steals, a block and six turnovers on 12-of-25 shooting—including 11-of-13 from the free throw line—and changed the direction of head-to-head fantasy matchups in the process. Wall’s MRI this week revealed a Grade 1 (minor) strain of his left VMO muscle, but clearly it isn’t impacting his production. It’s scary to think how productive he could be if he wasn’t dealing with so many aches and pains.
The Wizards also got Marcin Gortat (knee) back after a week on the sidelines, and he wasted no time getting back in the mix with 18 points, 11 boards, a steal and two blocks (9-of-14 FG) in 36.5 minutes while playing without restrictions. Beal (leg) will be in the lineup vs. Portland, while Porter said before the game his injury is not serious and could be back as early as Monday, as well.
New York @ Memphis: Grizzlies 103, Knicks 95
Suiting up without Carmelo Anthony (ankle), Langston Galloway got the start and responded with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five dimes with just a single turnover on 4-of-11 shooting. Despite Saturday’s game, Galloway remains waiver wire fodder. Kristaps Porzingis (shoulder) had an efficient game with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and just one turnover, but he added just four boards, two dimes and two steals in his 28.5 minutes. You would have liked to see KP6 do a little more without Anthony on the floor, but that just speaks to how high the bar has been raised for a rookie who was deemed a “project” before entering the NBA.
Derrick Williams played his third straight game of at least 25 minutes, averaging 19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 54.1% shooting, but he’s not someone I’m adding onto my team. Meanwhile, Kevin Seraphin left the loss with a bruised rib (X-rays negative), so his potential absence would open more minutes for Kyle O’Quinn, but Saturday was just the first time since December 26 that KOQ has played 20-plus minutes.
Robin Lopez and the Knicks had no answer for Marc Gasol, who got whatever he wanted with 27 points, eight boards, three dimes and three blocks on 15-of-29 shooting, including a 7-of-8 performance at the free throw line. After struggling mightily, Gasol has turned it all the way up over his last three games, averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.0 blocks on nearly 50% (31-of-64) from the floor. His hot streak is good news for a team still missing Mike Conley (Achilles), who remains without an official timetable to return. For as long as Conley is sidelined—and it sounds like it could be for a while longer—Mario Chalmers (12 pts, 8 ast) is going to keep holding value. The Grizzlies play on Monday, Thursday and Saturday next week.
In a game that was too much about Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes, the latter was an afterthought off the bench before scoring his only two points to put the game away, adding nine boards and five assists in 26 minutes.
Los Angeles (L) @ Utah: Jazz 109, Lakers 82
After scoring 74 points vs. Utah a week ago, the Lakers raised the bar with a whopping 82 on Saturday. The most notable takeaway is Kobe Bryant (R Achilles) again forced him from the game after just a single half for the second time in three games, and although he’s ruled out shutting it down, it’s hard to imagine him not missing some time in the very near future, and his status is definitely up in the air for Sunday vs. Houston. Kobe’s going to have to survive a serious grind to make it to the end of the year. Larry Nance Jr. (sore R knee) lasted just three minutes and he’s already doubtful for Sunday’s game, as well. He’s expected to get an MRI, and if forced to miss time, Julius Randle (6 pts, 6 reb, 1 stl, 2 blk, 3-of-10 FG) will step into a larger role with Ryan Kelly’s headband (7 pts, 5 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk) possibly entering the rotation…Yikes.
Lou Williams (20 pts, 7-of-8 FT) again did his damage from the line on a night his shot wasn’t dropping, and only Anthony Brown and Tarik Black hit better than half their shots on a night where the Lakers shot 34.4% as a team.
Derrick Favors (back, hip) missed his 13th straight game and isn’t showing the signs of improvement Utah had hoped for, and with Trevor Booker (concussion) out of the lineup, rookie Trey Lyles has really started to take advantage of an opportunity. Locked into a solid role in the starting lineup, Lyles has really come on over his last three games, averaging 17.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 3-pointers on a scorching 66.7% shooting. He’s a fascinating long-term talent, and his dynasty arrow is undoubtedly pointing in the upward direction. As Lyles now knows and Rudy Gobert’s 18 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks can tell you, the Lakers are a good team to bust out against when looking to find the rhythm…Gobert’s buy-low window is now slammed shut. Both Rodney Hood (14 pts, 5 reb, 4 3PM) and Gordon Hayward (14 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl) contributed very usable lines, but it was the Gobert and Lyles show starring on Saturday’s Hollywood stage.
Sacramento @ Los Angeles (C): Kings 110, Clippers 103
Even though the Clippers were down Blake Griffin (quad) and DeAndre Jordan (illness), this was a good road win for a Kings team that needed it. With six different players scoring in double figures for Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins flirted with a triple-double and led the way with 19 points, 13 boards, six dimes and two blocks with five turnovers. He’s matchup-proof, and the only thing that can slow him down is an injury. Rudy Gay (18 pts, 7 reb, 2 blk) has been producing a nice under-the-radar season for the Kings, but Rajon Rondo’s impact has been a lot more obvious in the box score and he stood out again on Saturday with 13 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and two steals. Darren Collison (17 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast) played well in his homecoming, while Omri Casspi (17 pts, 4 reb, 5 3-pointers) had his first good game since we flipped the calendar to January.
Cole Aldrich rewarded anyone who started him in a DFS format with 19 points, 10 boards, two steals and three blocks, but don’t go chasing those waterfalls in season-long formats…Chris Paul’s tougher than expected night (15 pts, 7 ast, 4 TO, 5 fouls) is a big reason why the Clippers struggled here, and although J.J. Redick (22 pts, 5 3PM) and Jamal Crawford (20 pts, 3 3PM) were lighting it up from distance, the three-headed monster of Aldrich, Redick and Crawford wasn’t enough to stop the Kings from breathing hot fire into Los Angeles’ castle.