It’s the takeover, the break’s over. Apparently firing David Blatt may have been the right decision after all, inspiring the recent play of LeBron James and company.
With the Cavs winning their last five games, I have no reasonable doubt that the Big 3 will fail to continue this trend after the All-Star Break. Despite heavy minutes and an up-tempo pace, James has unfinished business on his quest to win his third ring, and this style of play is the blueprint from the successes of his Miami Heat teams.
Maybe this is all a convoluted way of saying the Ruler’s back, but King James and the Cavs look rejuvenated under new coach Tyronn Lue, attacking the opposing defense and getting to the foul line. Playing 43 minutes in an overtime contest, James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block while shooting 9-22 from the field. Although shooting 4-8 from the foul line is more Drummond-like than MVP level, just remember everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days.
Kyrie Irving – With Lue directing his ball handlers to attack the basket, Irving has responded with 3 straight 20+ point outings, including last night’s 25 point, 7 assist, and 3 rebound performance. Irving’s 3-point shot hasn’t been there this year as he’s returning from injury, but if Uncle Drew continues to aggressively find his own shot while creating opportunities for his teammates, he will continue to provide excellent value (and manufacture great sneakers) for fantasy owners.
Kevin Love – Arguably the biggest beneficiary of the new coaching hire, Love is starting to play like a bona fide All-Star over the past week. With 3 20-point scoring outputs in his previous 3 games, the streak was snapped last night with 19 points to accompany 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals while shooting 2-5 from deep.
Myles Turner – Starting once again at center, it’s looking like Myles has finally Turner-ed the corner to becoming a valuable fantasy asset. 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 1 assist in 37 minutes of action in another solid outing for one of the most popular pre-season breakout candidates.
Paul George – Not the best night for George, adding another chapter to his recent up-and-down stretch of play. Failing to score 20 points in his previous two games, George finished with 11 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals against a tough matchup last night.
George Hill – Quietly one of the more stable and underrated players in all of fantasy basketball, Hill keeps adding to the box score every night, and last night was no exception. With 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals to accompany 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc, Hill’s box score makes fantasy owners forget about his awful hair dye, if only for a moment.
Andre Drummond – Big double-double last night for the big man last night, in addition to saving Branding Jennings poor decision on this play. 21 points, 18 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 steal while shooting 10-15 from the field, and Drummond can do no wrong once again.
Reggie Jackson – Despite shooting 3-6 from deep, Jackson finished with a lackluster 8-20 performance from the field. However with 19 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds, Jackson did more than enough to contribute for fantasy owners last night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – I’ve been writing about his breakout for weeks, and I’m not sure how much longer I can get away with that before it’s an accepted fact that Caldwell-Pope is a viable fantasy option. Scoring double-digits in 14 of his last 16 games, and seeing over 30 minutes per game in every single contest in 2016, Caldwell-Pope’s buy low days are officially over. With 16 points and 5 rebounds, this versatility was lacking, but he’s finally trending in the right direction.
Brook Lopez – In case we all forgot within the last week, Brook Lopez can still get buckets with 27 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.
Shane Larkin – In the never-ending battle of which Brooklyn point guard is currently the least terrible, Larkin pulled ahead on the heels of a 8 point, 14 assist, 6 rebound, and 1 steal performance.
Chandler Parsons – Speaking of second-half breakout candidates, Parsons is officially high on the list after recording his second double-double of the season with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists, on 7-14 shooting. Parson appears fully recovered from his knee injury and with Dallas playing well offensively, the forward should be able to capitalize on all of his opportunities after the All-Star Break.
Zaza Pachulia – 4 points and 13 boards is officially the new definition of “team player.”
Dirk Nowitzki – Coming off a missed game for rest, Nowitzki scored 18 points in addition to a modest 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. While Dirk may be regretting one questionable decision, his 10-11 performance from the foul line reminded fantasy owners he can still knock down an open shot, regardless of his appearance.
Jeff Teague – In what I’m assuming is a “Please don’t trade me to Utah” statement game, Teague poured in 32 points to accompany 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal on 12-15 shooting. For his fantasy value, it’s certainly tough to estimate with the possibility of an impending trade. At this point, it’s best to hold Teague and re-evaluate as more information becomes available.
Dennis Schroder – In what I’m assuming is a “I’m just trying to do the best for the team, but on the low, I’m trying to steal your job” performance, Schroder finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in just 16 minutes of action. Barring a trade, his minutes will stay in the low 20s, limiting his value, but Schroder is a worthy add/buy low candidate for any owner with an open roster spot. If a Teague trade materializes, Schroder inherits the starting spot and has the potential to immediately become one of the better fantasy basketball point guards. The verdict of the “To trade or not to trade” saga will be resolved in the next three weeks, so at worst, Schroder becomes the worst player on your bench while Teague balls out and stays in Atlanta.
Mike Conley – The veteran point guard has been a steady source of assists over the past week with at least 6 in his last 5 games, but everything else has been extremely hit or miss during that span as well. Last night was a well-rounded Conley effort with 17 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal on an efficient 5-7 shooting from the field.
Zach Randolph – Starting at power forward last night, Z-Bo had a throwback performance with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 1 assist on 10-15 shooting.
Anthony Davis – Is it possible that 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block feels underwhelming?
Norris Cole – Starting in place of the injured Tyreke Evans once again, Cole continues to provide solid value with 23 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal.
John Wall – Weird trend I’ve noticed: Over the past few weeks, Wall never seems to have a monster game on Monday night. Daily fantasy players use this information at your discretion, but 17 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals may indicate I may be on to something…
Kevin Durant – Leading all scorers with 28 points, the Western Conference Player of the Month also chipped in 9 rebounds and 4 assists on 9-18 shooting.
Russell Westbrook – Second straight triple-double for Westbrook, reminding Durant of all the reasons he shouldn’t leave OKC for DC. 17 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, and 1 steal shows fantasy owners he should never be leaving your team either.
Aaron Gordon – Is #FreeAaronGordon actually happening?? Starting at power forward, Gordon finished with 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 1 block in 31 minutes of action. Playing over 30 minutes in three of his last four games, one would think Gordon is trending in the right direction, but with Scott Skiles making the decision in Orlando, you can never be too sure.
Nikola Vucevic – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block for Vucci Mane last night although his well-rounded effort wasn’t enough to secure a victory against the Spurs.
Victor Oladipo – Will the real Victor Oladipo please stand up? 19 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, and 5 steals flash his multi-cat potential, but he can never seem to string together enough consistent performances to become one of the elite fantasy guards.
LaMarcus Aldridge – With Tim Duncan out once again, Aldridge has shouldered some of the additional scoring burden to the tune of 28 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists on 10-12 shooting from the foul line.
Kyle Lowry – Let’s just blame it on the altitude? Lowry had a forgettable game last night finishing with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting 3-12 from the field.
DeMar DeRozan – With Lowry struggling, DeRozan stepped up to lead the Raptors in scoring with 24 points, 4 assist, 1 rebound, and 1 steal on 7-14 shooting.
Nikola Jokic – WOW. That’s seriously all I have to say about Jokic’s game last night. After claiming the starting center spot earlier in 2016, Jokic must’ve been on a mission to ensure it’s never up for grabs again. With 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists on 12-18 shooting, including 1 3PM on 3 attempts, Jokic will easily be the guy for the rest of the year at this current rate.
Emmanuel Mudiay – Maybe it was also the altitude? After showing signs of life and improvement, the rookie scored a whopping 4 points to accompany 8 assists, 1 block, and 2 steals in 24 minutes of action. For comparison, I scored 8 points in my most recent intramural basketball game.
Jimmy Butler – In an overtime game, Butler scored 26 points, dished out 6 assists, and recorded 7 rebounds in 47 minutes of action. I’m convinced Butler’s season is the equivalent of never removing a player from the game in 2K.
Pau Gasol – No double-double? 17 and 8 is cute, but not good enough!
Gordon Hayward – Shoots 1-6 from deep, still finishes with 27 points. While an off night would submarine most player’s value, Gordon also contributed 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal while getting to the line 10 times and converting 8 of those attempts.
Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert – Starting next to each other for the first time in two month, Favors struggled from the field, going 4-14, but managed to finish with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Gobert’s reunion went a little better with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, but surprisingly, zero blocks. Must’ve given them to Favors to make him feel more comfortable.
Greg Monroe – Leading the Bucks with 24 points, the big man played efficiently and effectively converting 11 of his 16 shot attempts in addition to 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Michael Carter-Williams – With a dangerously thin bench behind him, MCW shifts between scorer and facilitator on a possession-by-possession basis. Sometimes the results are bad, and sometimes, like last night, the results are good. With 18 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal on 6-8 shooting, the good MCW reminded fantasy owners how he can be one of the best guards in fantasy basketball.
Rudy Gay – Whether he is trying to elevate his trade value or remind the Kings of his ceiling, Gay finished with a game-high 32 points to accompany 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals on 13-20 shooting from the field.
Rajon Rondo – Finishing with 19 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, and 3 steals, I refuse to accept that Rondo scored more than he assisted in a game.