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Pascal Siakam makes his season debut

Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Sunday was a busy day in the NBA, with nine games on the slate. Today’s Daily Dose will dig into each contest, including a Cavaliers backup putting on a show at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” and the Raptors welcoming back a key starter. We’ll begin north of the border, where there was also a welcome development regarding one of the Nets’ starts.

Nets 116, Raptors 103

The big fantasy news here was that Pascal Siakam made his season debut after undergoing offseason surgery on his left shoulder. While Spicy P was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, he was on a minutes restriction. Siakam played 25 minutes, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer. Siakam shot just 5-of-12 from the field, but for there to be some early rust is understandable. Toronto will play three games this week but two are part of a back-to-back (Tuesday/Wednesday vs. Boston and Philadelphia), so don’t be surprised if Siakam is held out of one.

Siakam’s return meant that Precious Achiuwa was with the reserves, and he had a good afternoon. Playing 27 minutes, the second-year forward/center put up 13 points, eight rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer. Achiuwa’s fantasy value isn’t particularly high, but his move to the bench to accommodate the return of Siakam may be bad news for Chris Boucher. Boucher played just nine minutes Sunday, which moves him to a total of 16 over the last two games. We’re at the point where fantasy managers will have to give up on the hope that Boucher cashes in on his perceived upside. He’s currently rostered in 60% of Yahoo leagues, which is way too high.

The return of Siakam will impact Toronto’s entire rotation, which comes as no surprise. OG Anunoby had a tough day from deep, shooting 1-of-6, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. He usually provides defensive production, so Anunoby putting up blanks in steals and blocks isn’t too concerning. And Scottie Barnes (8/7/4/5) established a new career-high with the five steals. For the rookie to preserve his fantasy value with Siakam back, he’ll need to be consistent in the defensive stats. Barnes is averaging 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks per game, so he should be fine.

Brooklyn didn’t offer up any fantasy surprises, but it was good to see James Harden get rolling in the fourth quarter. He scored 16 points in the final frame, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three 3-pointers, with just two turnovers. Harden was 3-of-10 from deep, so there are still some issues to work through there, but he was 10-of-20 from the field overall on the day. As a fantasy manager you’ll take that, especially with the low turnover count. Kevin Durant (31/7/7 with three 3-pointers and 7-turnovers) led the way, while Blake Griffin (14/11/3 with four 3-pointers) and Bruce Brown (12/4/2/2) posted solid lines.

With Nicolas Claxton (illness) sidelined, Griffin, Brown and LaMarcus Aldridge have benefitted the most among the Nets’ remaining frontcourt options. Griffin (14% rostered in Yahoo leagues) and Brown (7%) are both there for the taking in many leagues, but the issue for the latter is that he only has shooting guard eligibility. Despite the Nets using him primarily as a forward.

Magic 107, Jazz 100

For those of us who refused to buy into Cole Anthony during fantasy draft season, it’s time to admit that a mistake was made. He had another big night Sunday, putting up a line of 33 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Rostered in 85% of Yahoo leagues, Anthony is currently providing second-round value in 9-cat formats according to Basketball Monster. The skeptics may be at a point where they’ll look to sell high, and that’s understandable. But Anthony’s run may not be a fluke. Top-25 good? Maybe, maybe not. However, given how well he’s played, a top-100 season is a more than realistic expectation.

Wendell Carter Jr. (22/15/6/0/1 with four 3-pointers), Mo Bamba (9/7/1/2/4 with one 3-pointer) and Franz Wagner (10/4/4/1) have also been good to start the season, with all three ranking in the top-100 in 9-cat (Bamba’s within the top-40). The eventual return of Jonathan Isaac will certainly impact how Jamahl Mosley doles out the minutes in the frontcourt, but he remains without a timeline. Until more is learned regarding when Isaac will play, Carter Jr., Bamba and Wagner are all safe as far as their fantasy value is concerned. With the latter currently boasting a rostered percentage of 66% (Yahoo), he may be lurking on some waiver wires in more competitive leagues.

Utah played this one without Mike Conley Jr., who was held out due to this being the second game of a back-to-back for the Jazz. That meant a spot start for Joe Ingles, who did not give fantasy managers much from a production standpoint. He finished with five points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal and one 3-pointer, shooting 2-of-9 from the field. Ingles, who’s rostered in 51% of Yahoo leagues, ranks outside of the top-150 in 9-cat formats. There isn’t much reason to roster him in standard leagues, even with the prospect of Ingles being next in line to start whenever Conley or Donovan Mitchell (21/7/7 with two 3-pointers) is sidelined. This isn’t a situation like the Joel Embiid/Andre Drummond one in Philadelphia.

Rudy Gobert (21/15/1/3/4) gave fantasy manager a robust line, while also shooting 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. He’s up to 68.4% from the line on the season, and while that isn’t a great number, by Gobert’s standards we’ll take it. Gobert has shot 68% just once in his NBA career (68.2% in 2017-18), so it’s fair to wonder if his current run is sustainable. But even if it isn’t Gobert offers too much across the board for managers to be too concerned about the free throw percentage.

Also, Royce O’Neale should be rostered in more than 28% of Yahoo leagues, as he currently is. Providing eighth-round value in 9-cat, he posted a line of 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. O’Neale hitting double figures in points on a consistent basis would certainly boost his fantasy profile, but why wait? He’s productive enough in other areas to make up for the lack of scoring.

Cavaliers 126, Knicks 109

Madison Square Garden has seen some exemplary performances over the years, and we can add Ricky Rubio to that illustrious list. He made the most of his 31 minutes, lighting up the Knicks to the tune of 31 points (13-of-19 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), three rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and eight 3-pointers (on nine attempts). Rubio’s first miss from deep didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter, when he put up an attempt to beat the shot clock. Rostered in 61% of Yahoo leagues he’s been good all season long, providing eighth-round value in 9-cat formats. And with Collin Sexton (8/1/4) playing just 13 minutes due to a left knee injury (which was determined to be a torn meniscus Monday afternoon), Rubio’s fantasy value receives a boost. If he’s still available in your league, do not hesitate to pick him up.

Moving to two of Cleveland’s younger players, Jarrett Allen (18/17/4/2) and Evan Mobley (26/9/5/1/1 with two 3-pointers) thoroughly outplayed the Knicks frontcourt. Both Cavaliers bigs are approaching top-50 status, and in the case of Mobley, he’s going to be special. It’s safe to say that he’s further along in his development as a face-up big than some anticipated. The eventual returns of Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love (health and safety protocols) won’t impact Allen or Mobley at all; both were playing more than 30 minutes per game when Markkanen and Love were available. Cedi Osman (2/5/2/0/1) missed all five of his field goal attempts, but he still offers some short-term streaming value in deep leagues for as long as the Cavaliers are shorthanded at the forward spots.

New York was without its starting point guard, with Kemba Walker being sidelined for injury management reasons. Him sitting out one half of back-to-backs was the expectation entering this season, so most fantasy managers were not surprised. But it should be noted that Tom Thibodeau said prior to the game that there’s no guarantee that Walker will play Monday night in Philadelphia. Derrick Rose (17/1/5/1 with one 3-pointer) had another solid performance, but it wasn’t enough as most the Knicks’ starters struggled. Julius Randle (19/7/7/1/1 with one 3-pointer) shot 7-of-17 from the field, while RJ Barrett (6/3/1) was benched for most of the fourth quarter.

Rose, should he be available, Immanuel Quickley (12/1/5/1 with two 3-pointers) and Obi Toppin (11/2/1) are all worth keeping in mind for Monday’s action. The latter two were big reasons why the Knicks were able to pull within striking distance of the Clippers after being outscored by a 33-18 margin in the third quarter. Also worth keeping an eye on is how Thibodeau distributes the minutes at center. Mitchell Robinson (8/7/1/0/5) played just 17 minutes, as he was pulled due to a mistake on the defensive end, with Nerlens Noel (5/6/0/3/3) playing 30. With both having missed most (or all, in the case of Noel) of the preseason, there may be some minutes available to Taj Gibson Monday night.

Wizards 101, Bucks 94

Milwaukee began Sunday’s game with three of its usual starters, as Jrue Holiday was back with the first unit after coming off the bench in his return to action Friday night. His line (14/5/4/1 with two 3-pointers) wasn’t the best, as Holiday shot 6-of-16 from the field, but he did play 30 minutes without any issues (he averaged 32.1 mpg last season). Holiday’s return to the starting lineup pushed Pat Connaughton to the bench, and he played 29 minutes. Connaughton finished with seven points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals and two 3-pointers, but his fantasy value takes a serious hit when he comes off the bench.

There was another change to the starting lineup, as the Bucks needed to account for the presence of Daniel Gafford in the middle. Bobby Portis replaced Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and he put up a nice line (13/13/2/4/2 with one 3-pointer) despite shooting 6-of-17 from the field. Rostered in 49% of Yahoo leagues, Portis has to be added in all leagues, especially with Brook Lopez still sidelined due to a sore back. Antetokounmpo played just six minutes, and is an automatic drop if you still have him rostered. Grayson Allen (19/1/2/4 with three 3-pointers) is a top-50 player in 9-cat, and is worth picking up with Khris Middleton (health and safety protocols) expected to miss at last two more games.

For Washington, Bradley Beal bounced back after putting up a quiet 17 points in Friday’s blowout of the Grizzlies. The extra rest picked up in that game paid off Sunday, as Beal played 37 minutes and ran up a line of 30 points, five rebounds, eight assists, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers. The six turnovers were suboptimal, and that category (4.0 turnovers per game on the season) is what has kept him down as far as 9-cat is concerned. Providing third-round value in 9-cat, Beal is a second-round (top-20, in fact) player in 8-cat. If he can get the turnover average closer to three per, that would really help as far as Beal’s fantasy value is concerned.

Gafford (11/8/0/0/2) and Montrezl Harrell (15/4/1/1/1) have both proven to be valuable big men regardless of fantasy format, while Kyle Kuzma (15/10/5/0/1 with three 3-pointers) shot a solid 6-of-11 from the field. Kuzma’s issue, as far as fantasy is concerned, has been the field goal percentage (now up to 41.9%). While rostered in 82% of Yahoo leagues, he’s only providing late-round value in most leagues. Spencer Dinwiddie (6/2/4 with two 3-pointers) had some foul trouble to deal with and had a difficult night overall, but he’s still a top-100 player. The question is whether or not he can stay there, as Dinwiddie was not been a top-100 player in any of his prior six NBA seasons.

Lastly Deni Avdija (3/9/4/1/2 with one 3-pointer) posted a full line, but managers should wait for him to string together a few solid performances before making a move.

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Pacers 94, Kings 91

Indiana was once again without Malcolm Brogdon, who sat for the second consecutive game due to a non-COVID illness. That meant another start for T.J. McConnell, who rose to the challenge. He scored five points in the game’s final four minutes, finishing with a line of 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 33 minutes. Even when coming off the bench McConnell can be a valuable fantasy option in deep leagues; it’s just that as a starter, he has standard league value. Indiana is off until Wednesday night (Denver), so it’s possible that Brogdon will be cleared to return for that one. If so, then McConnell’s fantasy value takes a noticeable hit.

Caris LeVert (22/6/1/1/1 with one 3-pointer) has played 31 minutes or more in each of his last three games, a sign that he’s good to go as far as taking on his usual workload is concerned. The field goal (38.9) and free throw (62.5) percentages are low when compared to LeVert’s career numbers (43.4 and 73.0), but I’d bet on him turning things around at some point. Domantas Sabonis (17/10/1/3) and Myles Turner (12/15/3/1/5 with two 3-pointers) both posted double-doubles, and the latter is a top-20 player in 9-cat. That’s where Turner was during an injury-riddled 2020-21 season, so this comes as no surprise. Jeremy Lamb made his return, but played just six minutes. There’s no reason why he should be rostered in any league, regardless of format.

There were no real surprises on the Kings side of things, as De’Aaron Fox (17/3/2/3 with one 3-pointer) shot 7-of-19 from the field and Harrison Barnes (22/4/5/2 with one 3-pointer) posted another solid line. Rookie Davion Mitchell is an interesting case, as he continues to struggle with his shot (1-of-7 Sunday) but has managed to contribute in other areas. In addition to his two points, Mitchell accounted for three rebounds, six assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 28 minutes. Is he worth adding right now? No, and with Mitchell being rostered in 30% of Yahoo leagues, managers can afford to hold off. However, due to the production in areas other than scoring, he is worth tracking.

Thunder 99, Spurs 94

Mark Daigneault made a change to his starting lineup for this one, with rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl replacing veteran Derrick Favors. Robinson-Earl had a decent night, accounting for 13 points, four rebounds, one assist, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes. Favors played 12 minutes (2/5/1/2) off the bench, while fellow reserve Mike Muscala went off. In just 14 minutes, he tallied 20 points, four rebounds, two blocks and three 3-pointers. The issue with the Thunder, outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (14/8/9/1/1 with one 3-pointer in 36 minutes), is that you really can’t figure out who to trust fantasy-wise.

Robinson-Earl is worth tracking, in order to prepare for what may happen if the Thunder fall out of the playoff picture early (as many expect). But that’s about it for him, while Muscala and Favors are in spots where their minutes may vary from one game to the next. Outside of SGA, only Josh Giddey (7/7/4 with one 3-pointer) is worth rostering in standard leagues. Darius Bazley (11/11/4/1/1 with one 3-pointer) is worth a look in deep leagues, but the production has not been consistent.

San Antonio remains without Jakob Poeltl (health and safety protocols), and Drew Eubanks has been tabbed to fill the void. He had a very good game on Sunday, shooting 7-of-8 from the field and finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 22 minutes. Rostered in just 6% of Yahoo leagues, Eubanks is averaging 9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.3 blocks over his last three games. If you’re in need of a center in the short-term, Eubanks is worth taking a flier on. Thaddeus Young (10/8/3/1/1), who has center eligibility in Yahoo leagues, is also worthy of a look, despite his coming off the bench.

Derrick White had a rough night in Oklahoma City, shooting 0-of-10 from the field and going scoreless, with three rebounds, five assists, one steal and one blocked shot. He’s shot a combined 4-of-24 in San Antonio’s last two games, but fantasy managers should not panic sell here. Despite shooting 38.9% from the field, White is still providing eighth-round value in 9-cat leagues. Hold onto him, unless you’re able to pick up a more consistent (and proven) scorer in return. Devin Vassell (6/4/3/0/1), another Spurs reserve who’s been a popular fantasy option in recent weeks, was just 3-of-12 from the field, while Lonnie Walker (15/2/2/1 with three 3-pointers) had a decent night. I’d argue that Vassell offers a bit more with regard to all-around upside, but Walker isn’t a terrible option, either.

Warriors 120, Rockets 107

Houston was down two veterans in Eric Gordon (right groin) and Danuel House (right foot; could be back Wednesday), with those absences freeing up more minutes for some of the team’s younger players. Jae’Sean Tate (21 points, 10 rebounds and two 3-pointers) was able to play 33 minutes in his starting role, while Armoni Brooks (7/2/1/2 with one 3-pointer) and Josh Christopher (2/3/2/1) picked up more playing time off the bench. Tate is already rostered in 65% of Yahoo leagues, and that percentage should increase in the coming days. Neither Brooks nor Christopher is worth adding, regardless of league.

The development of even greater importance for the Rockets was the early exit of Kevin Porter Jr. (11/1/7 with one 3-pointer), who departed due to a left thigh contusion. A player that many managers reached for in drafts, KPJ hasn’t played to those expectations thus far. However, due to his place within the Rockets rotation, those who have Porter rostered should hold onto him. Houston is off until Wednesday, so KPJ will have a couple day to rest up before the team’s next game.

Christian Wood (4/1/1/4) was just 2-of-5 from the field, and has attempted a total of 16 shots in the Rockets’ last two games. That isn’t enough for Wood, who expressed some frustration with his lack of shots prior to Sunday’s game. That’s something to keep an eye on when the Rockets host the Pistons Wednesday night. With a couple days to go back to the drawing board, hopefully Stephen Silas will find a way to get his best offensive player more opportunities to make plays on offense.

The only change to the Warriors rotation was Andre Iguodala sitting due to a sore left hip. This was the first game of a back-to-back for Golden State, so it made sense for them to rest Iguodala. Whether or not he plays against the Hawks has yet to be determined. Speaking of rest, Stephen Curry (20/3/2/3 with four 3-pointers) and Draymond Green (6/8/9/1/1) played 27 and 22 minutes, respectively. Both should, at the very least, approach their average in minutes Monday night.

Jordan Poole (25/4/5/1 with two 3-pointers) continues to perform well, and he is currently a fifth-round player in 9-cat. He’s already rostered in 81% of Yahoo leagues, so he should not be available in competitive leagues. Reserves Otto Porter (15/9/1/2/1 with five 3-pointers) and Gary Payton II (10/3/3/4) had good nights, and are worthy of deep-league consideration. However, neither is a player who qualifies as a “must-add” in standard leagues.

Clippers 120, Hornets 106

The big news for the Clippers on Sunday was that Serge Ibaka (one rebound, one assist and one blocked shot) made his long-awaited return to action after undergoing back surgery in June. He was on a minutes restriction, playing just eight minutes, so his full impact on the center rotation isn’t known just yet. Starter Ivica Zubac (14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks) played 28 minutes and Isaiah Hartenstein (nine points, three rebounds, and one steal) played 11, with both putting forth solid performances despite losing out on some playing time due to Ibaka’s return. The veteran pivot, whose communication will be key for a second unit that is pretty quiet on the defensive end, felt good after Sunday’s win.

“Now, I think the most important thing is for me to be patient,” Ibaka said after the game. “I’ll try to dig in with my teammates. It’s gonna come. It’s the first game in almost a year. But I’m healthy, I’m back and I’m in good shape.”

In time both Zubac and Hartenstein stand to lose out on playing time here, with the latter likely being impacted more. While Hartenstein hasn’t been on the fantasy radar, Zubac has provided late-round value in 8- and 9-cat formats. Paul George (20/9/8/0/1 with two 3-pointers) made some history on Sunday, becoming the seventh active player to have tallied at least 14,500 points, 4,500 rebounds and 2,500 assists in his career. Unfortunately he also committed eight turnovers, pushing his total up to 22 over the last three games, but PG-13 remains a top-5 player in 9-cat formats. With George averaging 4.8 turnovers per game, that shows just how good he’s been to this point in the season.

Reserves Luka Kennard (18/2/3/1 with six 3-pointers) and Terance Mann (17/10/3 with two 3-pointers) should both have much higher rostered percentages than they currently do, with Kennard at 23 percent and Mann 29. Kennard is a top-100 player, and both are playing at least 27 minutes per game. And Nicolas Batum (16/6/1/3/1 with four 3-pointers) is rostered in just 44% of Yahoo leagues, which is way too low given his production. He was a solid fantasy option last season, and that was with Marcus Morris (who’s currently out due to a knee injury) figuring prominently in the rotation.

Eric Bledsoe (7/5/2/2 with one 3-pointer), on the other hand, should not be rostered in 31% of Yahoo leagues, even if he is in the starting lineup. Unless you’re in a deep league, there isn’t much reason to roster Bledsoe given how much he’s cooled off since the first week of the season.

Charlotte’s major rotation shift was the addition of Nick Richards, who is playing due to the hyperextended elbow suffered by P.J. Washington. Richard played 13 minutes, scoring six points (3-of-3 FGs) and grabbing two rebounds. There’s no need to consider rostering him, as James Borrego remains committed to fielding a small lineup at times, even with Washington sidelined. Mason Plumlee (2/6/4/2) played 25 minutes, and while neither Hornets big man was all that productive, Charlotte being a minus-17 without a true center on the court (in just over ten minutes) is ultimately what cost them the game.

LaMelo Ball (21/7/3/3 with two 3-pointers) said after the game that he believed he was re-inserted into the game in the fourth quarter a bit too late, but the Clippers’ 22-0 run occurred while he was on the court. Ball’s minutes (and when he’s subbed out) are worth keeping an eye on Monday night, as the Hornets face the Lakers at Staples Center. Both he and Miles Bridges (21/4/6/1/1 with two 3-pointers) have been top-10 players in 9-cat this season, while Gordon Hayward (15 points, seven rebounds and two 3-pointers) is ranked just outside of the top-75.

Lastly, in the short-term Cody Martin (8/3/2/3 with two 3-pointers in 30 minutes) should have a higher rostered percentage (21% in Yahoo leagues) than he currently does. He’s played at least 25 minutes in three of the last four games, and that stands to be the case for as long as Washington remains sidelined. Martin is currently providing top-100 value in 9-cat formats.