When everyone knows who you are, it’s hard to live in the spotlight. It must be tough to be Zach Randolph—AKA Z-Bo Capone—right now with his role being marginalized on a team he’s previously served as the on-court backbone of, but his descent is undeniable, and the Grizzlies had to do something in order to save their season—and the future.
Los Angeles (L) @ Oklahoma City: Thunder 118, Lakers 78
Lou Williams: 20 pts, 3 stl, 1 TO, 4 3PM, 5-of-11 FGs
Kevin Durant: 22 pts, 8 reb, 2 TO, 3 3PM, 7-of-13 FGs
Enes Kanter: 19 pts, 14 reb, 1 blk, 1 TO, 8-of-13 FGs
Roy Hibbert: 2 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk, 1 TO, 1-of-3 FGs
Julius Randle: 2 pts, 7 reb, 5 TO, 1-of-7 FGs
After being a part of a 40-point blowout win where Kobe Bryant (shoulder) sat and watched from the sidelines, Kevin Durant is definitely headed to Los Angeles in free agency this offseason. Because someone will inevitably take that sentence seriously, let me be clear: It’s authored in sarcasm font.
Durant and Enes Kanter led the way for OKC, but there isn’t much to take away from this game that you didn’t already know. The Lakers are a team to target in DFS contests, Los Angeles can’t defend opposing bigs (Steven Adams had 10 points and 7 rebounds on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting) and the Lakers only reliable scorer when Kobe isn’t in their lineup is Lou Williams, who came into Saturday’s contest averaging 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 dimes, 1.0 steals and 1.8 triples on 50% shooting as a starter.
While benching D’Angelo Russell (12 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast, 2 TO) isn’t the answer, the logic of staggering his and Bryant’s minutes at least makes sense. What doesn’t add up is why Julius Randle continues to come off the bench behind Larry Nance, and playing a kid who is supposed to be the future of your franchise limited minutes in a non-competitive season is a short and long-term losing formula.
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Charlotte @ Washington: Wizards 109, Hornets 101
Nicolas Batum: 14 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 4 TO, 5-of-12 FGs
Jeremy Lin: 15 pts, 6 reb, 7 ast, 3 TO, 2 3PM, 6-of-14 FGs
Jared Dudley: 19 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 3 3PM, 7-of-10 FGs
John Wall: 27 pts, 4 reb, 12 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 8 TO, 2 3PM, 10-of-21 FGs
Garrett Temple: 21 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 1 TO, 2 3PM, 7-of-9 FGs
Jeremy Lamb: 9 pts, 4 reb, 4-of-8 FGs
John Wall is a one-man show when Washington is without Bradley Beal (leg), and that was taken to a new level without Otto Porter (thigh) available on Saturday. It doesn’t matter how many times Wall turns the ball over—he’s now got 17 in his last three games—he’s an absolute stud in any and every fantasy format. It’s going to trade off between Garrett Temple, Ramon Sessions and Gary Neal trio as to who steps up without Beal available, and Temple got hot—like both Sessions and Neal have recently—which meant he was the lucky winner with a career-high 21 points. It’s a situation to avoid unless in very deep leagues, and even then I’d explore other options.
Jared Dudley got loose against a Charlotte frontcourt that’s not known for its defense, but Dudley also received extra run because Beal and Porter were out. If you can sell high(ish) on Dudley Do Right before he goes wrong, I’m all about that move.
Few wanted to believe in Marvin Williams’ ability to sustain his production, but nine points, nine rebounds, a steal, a block and a three will work despite the 4-of-14 shooting. Williams is still locked into big minutes, and his versatility between either forward position will keep him very relevant even after Al Jefferson (calf, suspension) returns and Steve Clifford has to find new ways to get Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky their minutes. It’s now been two very solid performances in a row for Jeremy Lin, while Jeremy Lamb’s role (11.5 minutes) just isn’t what it was earlier in the season when he provided very real standard league value.
Chicago @ New York: Knicks 107, Bulls 91
Joakim Noah: 21 pts, 10 reb, 1 stl, 1 TO, 9-of-16 FGs
Bobby Portis: 20 pts, 11 reb, 2 stl, 3 TO, 2 3PM, 8-of-18 FGs
Carmelo Anthony: 27 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 12-of-20 FGs
Arron Afflalo: 18 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 1 TO, 8-of-14 FGs
Taj Gibson: 6 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 3-of-4 FGs
Jimmy Butler: 12 pts, 5 ast, 1 stl, 1 TO, 4-of-11 FGs
Derrick Rose: 6 pts, 2 reb, 2 TO, 3-of-10 FGs
Nikola Mirotic: 2 pts, 3 reb, 3 TO, 1-of-8 FGs
Kristaps Porzingis: 10 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 4-of-9 FGs
If you’re reading this it’s too late…to pick up Bobby Portis. The #FreeBobbyPortis movement is in full effect after a Saturday night explosion without Pau Gasol (rest) in the lineup, and Fred Hoiberg is really going to have a tough time figuring out his frontcourt rotation now. Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic—who appears to be struggling with his confidence since his recent demotion but could begin to get minutes at small forward—would look like the odd men out with Gasol, Joakim Noah and Portis all needing to play, but injuries or other unforeseen issues could complicate this clouded picture even more.
Right knee soreness forced Doug McDermott from Saturday’s game, and that’s at least a mild long-term concern considering Dougie McBuckets had meniscus surgery on that knee last season and dealt with swelling after the game. With Mike Dunleavy (back) still out of the lineup, Tony Snell is going to have to remain in the rotation, and it’s likely that Jimmy Butler—who called out Fred Hoiberg for the need to coach harder after Saturday’s loss—spends more time at the 3 in addition to Mirotic possibly playing there, as well. The bad games for Butler and Derrick Rose could have been spotted a mile away after each played 50-plus minutes in a quadruple-OT loss to Detroit.
Kristaps Porzingis is struggling (I like the idea of buying low now), but Carmelo Anthony is thriving and playing some of his better ball of the season. Over his last four contests, Anthony is staying mellow with averages of 25.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 steals and a 3-pointer on exactly 50% from the field. Arron Afflalo (18 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 8-of-14 FGs) is also playing well, but his inability to add anything except scoring leaves him best suited for points leagues.
Allow me to re-introduce you to Kyle O’Quinn, the forgotten man who is averaging 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks over his last four games. It’s a small, tiny step back toward relevancy, but Robin Lopez’s role is shrinking and O’Quinn’s game is very fantasy friendly.
Los Angeles (C) @ Houston: Rockets 107, Clippers 97
Blake Griffin: 22 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 9-of-13 FGs
DeAndre Jordan: 16 pts, 11 reb, 4 blk, 1 TO, 6-of-7 FGs, 4-of-12 FTs
Chris Paul: 12 pts, 10 ast, 7 stl, 2 TO, 2 3PM, 3-of-13 FGs
Trevor Ariza: 17 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 3 3PM, 7-of-11 FGs
Dwight Howard: 22 pts, 14 reb, 2 blk, 2 TO, 8-of-11 FGs
Jamal Crawford: 4 pts, 1 blk, 1 TO, 1-of-8 FGs
Patrick Beverley: 7 pts, 5 reb, 4 TO, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2 3PM, 2-of-7 FGs
There was an actual basketball game played in between the two teams taking turns hacking DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard in order to send them to the free throw line, and it resulted in another disappointing Clippers loss. Shooting 39.5%—including 28.9% from deep—just isn’t going to get it done, and as soon as it looked the Clippers might be ready to turn a corner, more questions have begun to pop up about the long-term ceiling of this group.
CP3’s seven steals are going to get a ton of attention, but Blake Griffin again showed why people should be calling him the best player on his team. DeAndre Jordan’s now an impressive 12-of-32 from the foul line over his last two games…To put that into perspective, Andre Drummond has connected on 8-of-20 over the same stretch. With Austin Rivers (ankle) needing help off the court and likely to miss time, the Clippers are going to have to rely even more on Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson and Pablo Prigioni, and that’s not a good thing considering how those three have worked in the second unit this year.
Away from the charity stripe, Howard was simply marvelous in what was a dominant 26.5 minutes on the floor. After a complete dud vs. Sacramento on December 15, Howard is averaging 19.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over his last two contests. James Harden will be discussed at length because he keeps putting up the numbers, but an inefficient double-double (18 pts, 11 ast) with five turnovers leads me to prefer the night Trevor Ariza enjoyed, and like Harden, nobody is coming after T.A.’s minutes on a team that’s a fantasy fun factory.
Indiana @ Memphis: Grizzlies 96, Pacers 84
Jordan Hill: 11 pts, 13 reb, 2 stl, 1 TO, 5-of-10 FGs
Matt Barnes: 15 pts, 10 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 3 TO, 3 3PM, 6-of-14 FGs
Marc Gasol: 19 pts, 12 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 9-of-18 FGs
Mike Conley: 20 pts, 4 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl, 1 TO, 6-of-16 FGs
C.J. Miles: 0 pts, 3 reb, 3 TO, 0-of-9 FGs
Zach Randolph: 6 pts, 2 reb, 3-of-4 FGs
Of those players who actually saw playing time, the only member of the Grizzlies to play fewer minutes than Zach Randolph was JaMychal Green. Randolph’s 14.5 minutes underscore his rapidly declining fantasy value, and you can’t even trade Z-Bo right now if he’s on your roster. He’s now got single digit points in three of his last four games, and it may get even worse before it gets better. It’s going to be hard to move on from Randolph because he’s become synonymous with the Grizzlies’ extinct identity, but a trade may be in the best interests of both parties. It’s the only path back to fantasy relevance for Randolph.
Since getting more space to operate beneath the basket, Marc Gasol has started to put up the numbers that made him a third-round selection. Matt Barnes could wind up challenging Will Barton for waiver wire gem of the year if he continues to play like he has since being inserted into the starting five, and it’s a great sign to see him log another 39 minutes despite five fouls. Dave Joerger is going to ride Barnes, so there is no format in which Barnes should be floating on the wire.
Paul George led the Pacers with 29 points, but he needed 22 shots to do it and turned the ball over seven more times. After playing like an MVP candidate through the first five-to-six weeks of the season, George is enduring his first mini-slide of the young campaign. If a stretch like this deters you from having PG-13 on the roster, you don’t deserve to have him on your team. C.J. Miles’ donut was the real difference in this one, and it was just a bad night for a guy who has exceeded expectations all season.