Down Goes Curry
Stephen Curry underwent surgery to repair the second metacarpal on his left (non-shooting) hand on Friday and he’ll miss at least the next three months of action. Brutal.
He’s not even going to be re-evaluated until three months from now, so it’s quite possible his absence will extend beyond that three-month window, making him an extremely tough guy to hang onto in leagues that don’t offer an IR-spot. I’d say in a best-case scenario he’ll be able to return sometime in February before the All-Star break, but I’d say it’s more likely that we don’t see Steph again until after the break in late-February. Given that the Dubs have opened their season 1-5 and have looked hopeless for the most part, I think Curry will take his time getting back, as it’s possible this club may tank for a high draft pick. The playoffs seem infinitely out of reach for this suddenly young Dubs team, so even once Curry does come back, he’ll be in danger of receiving lots of random rest.
So, who benefits with Curry on the sidelines?
D’Angelo Russell showed us on Friday night that he’s ready to ball out, scoring a team-high 30 points on 9-of-24 shooting (9-of-10 from the stripe) to go with eight assists, three triples, three rebounds, one block and just one turnover in 33 minutes. Russell’s usage had been at 24.9 in his four games prior to Curry going down, but with Curry in street clothes, D’Lo saw his usage spike 39.0, so he’ll clearly have the greenest of green lights moving forward. Steve Kerr was even staggering Russell’s minutes with Draymond in order to give him complete control of the offense, so he’s going to be the primary beneficiary here.
As for Draymond, he wasn’t all that great, going 2-of-7 from the field on his way to six points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two 3-pointers, one steal and one turnover in 34 minutes. He’s clearly going to have the rock in his hands a ton, but the players around him don’t really suit his skill set. Green’s top assist targets last year were Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, all guys who can be absolutely deadly in the catch-and-shoot; but now he’ll be targeting D’Lo, Poole and Glenn Robinson III for his assists. That’s quite the drop-off in talent, and if Green continues to score in the single digits without tallying elite defensive statistics, his value is going to suffer. Unfortunately, he revealed after Friday's game that he's dealing with a ligament issue in his left index finger, so there's a very real chance he'll need to sit out Saturday's game against the Hornets. I wouldn't be shocked to see him take some time off now, and he's going to be a huge shutdown risk down the stretch, so I'd look to sell him where I could.
Jordan Poole, who had been a bit reckless with his shot selection through his first four games, did a much better job of picking his spots on Friday night and finished with 20 points (7-of-13 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four triples, one assist and one turnover through 29 minutes as a starter. The Dubs need Poole’s shooting, so he’ll likely be starting until Curry gets back, but it’s unlikely he’ll shoot such a high percentage on most nights. While the scoring and triples were solid, Poole’s stat line was rather empty, and that’s going to be an issue for him. He’s worth a look after Friday’s performance (23.4 usage), but I would set expectations low.
Alec Burks (14 points, two triples, one rebound in 16 minutes) and Damion Lee (16 points, two treys, four boards, two assists, one steal, two turnovers in 25 minutes) will also have some increased opportunity while Curry is out, and both of these guys will be worth monitoring. Burks' stat lines tend to be empty and he’s struggled to stay healthy over the years, and Lee hasn’t done much to this point in his career, but basically anyone in a Dubs jersey capable of hitting a 3 is going to have ample opportunity moving forward. Just keep your eye on these two.
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Signs of Life
Otto Porter finally had a good game on Friday, scoring 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 from the line) to go with three 3-pointers, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 31 minutes. Porter got off to an atrocious start this season, but he’s started to turn it around over the past two games and has seen his usage rate rise to 20.4 (up from 16.5), which is right where it was at last year during his top-25, post-break run with Chicago last season. Porter isn’t a stranger to slow starts, but hopefully, this is a sign that he’s ready to get going.
Eric Bledsoe hit over 50% of his shots for the first time this season during Friday’s easy win over the Magic, scoring 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with six rebounds, six assists, two 3-pointers, one steal and one turnover in 27 minutes. In his four games prior to Friday’s outburst, Bledsoe had been averaging a mere 10.5 points on 36.4% shooting, but it was only going to be a matter of time until the 45.4% career shooter busted out of his shooting funk. Moving forward, It should only get better for Bledsoe owners.
Rudy Gobert put up a 15-point, 16-rebound double-double in a narrow loss to the Kings, adding one steal, two blocks and three turnovers across 38 minutes. Gobert wasn’t all that great in his first three games of the season, but he’s started to hit the gas over the past three with averages of 14.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.7 swats and 3.0 turnovers per game on 70.6% shooting from the field and 70.4% from the stripe. The turnovers aren’t great, but he’s never averaged more than 1.9 over a season, so I’d expect those to come down and if he can continue to hit his freethrows at a reasonable clip he could be in for a monster season.
Danuel House Jr.’s hot start continued on Friday, as he hit 6-of-10 shots on his way to 15 points, five rebounds, three 3-pointers, one steal, one block and one turnover through 32 minutes as a starter. He’s been absolutely crushing it through his first five games of the year with averages of 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 triples, 0.8 steals, 1.0 block and just 0.6 turnovers per game, which has been good enough for fourth-round value in 9-cat leagues. He is an absolute, must-own player right now.
Taurean Prince scored 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting (3-of-4 from the line) in a 123-116 win over the Rockets, adding 12 rebounds (career-high), six triples, one assist, one steal, one block and one turnover across 34 minutes. He hasn’t been all that efficient in his first five games with his 41.7 FG%, but he’s hitting career-highs across the board and has been a sneaky mid-round guy with averages of 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 3.0 triples, 1.0 steal, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 turnovers per game. Make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.
Despite dealing with some knee tendinitis, Marcus Morris came through with 29 points (8-of-17 FG, 8-of-11 FT), nine rebounds, five 3-pointers, three assists, two steals and one turnover through 39 minutes of floor time. He’s shooting just 37.7% from the field through his first five games with the Knicks but has still managed to churn out top 70 value in 9-cate leagues behind averages of 16.2 points, 2.2 treys, 5.3 boards, 1.3 steals, 1.0 block and 1.8 turnovers per game. Morris has never averaged more than 0.8 steals over an entire season, so I’d expect that number to go down, but he’s worth owning in most leagues while he’s this hot.
Frank Ntilikina finally made his way into the starting lineup and scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting to go with two 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and one turnover in 38 minutes. If Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Dennis Smith Jr. (personal) are out again on Sunday, Ntilikina will be someone to consider streaming.
Goga Bitadze looked great in his first game earning meaningful minutes, scoring 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting (3-of-4 from the line) to go with nine rebounds, one 3-pointer, four blocks and two turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench. He’s going to have the opportunity to flirt with minutes in the mid-20s while Myles Turner (ankle, week-to-week) is out, so he’s worth a look if you need a big. Just know that his value will have a shelf life, as it’ll be tough for him to get meaningful minutes once Turner is back, but he should be a solid guy to own for the next few weeks or so. T.J. Leaf got the start at power forward but was invisible in his eight minutes of play, so Bitadze is clearly the guy to own here.
Justin Holiday scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting to go with two 3-pointers, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one turnover in 23 minutes off the bench. He’s going to be more involved while Turner is out, so he could have some low-end value in deep leagues with his steals and 3-point shooting.
Jordan Clarkson went 6-of-12 from the field and 7-of-7 from the stripe on his way to 20 points, two rebounds, five assists, one 3-pointer, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 27 minutes off the bench. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he’s flirting with top-100 value on the year in 9-cat leagues with averages of 15.2 points, 2.8 assists, 1.2 triples, 1.0 steal and 1.2 turnovers per game on 45.1% shooting from the field and 92.3% from the stripe. Give him a look if those numbers are appealing.
Luke Kennard scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with three 3-pointers, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes. He’s been flirting with top-80 value through the first six games of the year behind averages of 15.2 points, 2.8 treys, 3.7 dimes and just 1.0 turnover per game on 45.3% shooting from the field and 88.9% from the stripe.
Luka Doncic hit the back of his head on Dwight Howard’s chin so hard that it opened up a cut, and while he played through it, he was clearly dazed and out of sorts towards the end of Friday’s game. I’d expect him to be forced into the league-mandated concussion protocol testing, and it’s possible he’ll need to miss Sunday’s game in Cleveland. If that’s the case, Delon Wright would likely return to the starting unit, and Kristaps Porzingis’ usage would go up dramatically.
Mitchell Robinson sprained his left ring finger during Friday’s game, but played through it and finished with six points, six rebounds, two blocks and one turnover in just 16 minutes. Robinson hasn’t gotten off to the best start this season, but he’s still sending away 2.2 shots a night despite only averaging 18.1 minutes a game, so it can really only go up from here. He’s a great buy-low target.
Kyle Kuzma (foot) came off the bench in his regular-season debut and hit 3-of-8 shots on his way to nine points, three rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 19 minutes. Some rust was to be expected in his first game back, and he’ll likely be working under a 15-20 minute limit for the next week or so, but he should be able to score enough points to warrant ownership in most leagues.
Blake Griffin (hamstring, knee) remained on the sidelines for Friday’s game, although he did travel with the team on their road trip and was seen getting in some work at shootaround and was moving around fine. He’ll be back sooner rather than later this month, and once he is back, Christian Wood will lose most of his appeal.
Reggie Jackson (back) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Nets.
Enes Kanter (knee) and Robert Williams (hip) did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Tuesday. If they’re out again, Daniel Theis will get another start and would be worth a look as a streamer or DFS punt play.
Derrick Favors (sore right knee) is being listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Thunder. If he’s out again, Jahlil Okafor will get another start and there will be more minutes available for Jaxson Hayes.
Steven Adams (knee) is questionable for Saturday’s game, while Nerlens Noel (foot) is probable. If Adams is out again, Noel will be a viable DFS option after putting up 15 points, 14 boards, two assists, one steal, one block and three turnovers in his previous start.
Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) did not practice Friday and is questionable for Saturday’s game against the 76ers.
Dejounte Murray (load management) was rested on Friday, but he’ll be fine for the Spurs next game against the Lakers on Sunday.
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Dennis Smith Jr. (personal) did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Sacramento. If they’re out again, Frank Ntilikina could get another start.
Mo Bamba (load management) did not play Friday, but he’ll be out there for Saturday’s game against the Nuggets. However, he’s going to be rested in back-to-backs this season and will have a minutes cap, so he’s not a great asset in most settings.
Ed Davis exited Friday’s game with a lower left leg contusion and did not return, finishing with one rebound and nothing else across eight minutes. He should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Clippers.
Harri Giles (knee) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in New York.
Rajon Rondo (calf) did not play Friday and he’ll sit out the remaining two games on the Lakers’ road trip. Leave him on the wire.
Michael Carter-Williams (hip) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday.
Matthew Dellavedova (personal) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Mavericks.