Finally, some Tuesday night sparkle! As long as the game with oblong pigskin is being played, Tuesday nights are one of the few days on the calendar that belong solely to the NBA. Unfortunately for those of us who do our recapping of these showcase nights, the product has been a bit underwhelming to start the season. Things started picking up with last week’s Lakers/Knicks matchup, but we jumped several levels last night with an extremely competitive Battle for New York and then a clash of Western Conference contenders as the Suns played host to the Warriors.

And while this year’s MVP candidates struggled a bit in each of these matchups (more on that later) there was one former top dog who sparkled in the limelight.

James Harden

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
34 10 8 3 0 3 11/20 9/10 5

After giving a much-discussed quote about not knowing when to be aggressive with scoring and when to operate as a playmaker, Harden looked to have a much clearer sense of purpose against the Knicks in Brooklyn. Most of the scoring was done in the first half, and the overall assist numbers speak to his playmaking prowess. Despite all the handwringing and cries about the sky falling, Harden is the number six player in fantasy hoops. If his nasty putback slam is any indicator, it appears that James is feeling better after struggling to put last year’s hamstring injury and lighter-than-normal offseason regimen behind him.

Here’s what else I saw on arguably the best Tuesday night of the NBA season…

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Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
24 9 8 2 0 0 11/22 2/2 3

This is more like it. Randle had scored a combined 17 points over the previous two outings, so his output against Brooklyn is much much more in line with expectations. Still, the memory of last year’s top-40 effort is beginning to feel more distant. I hope you didn’t buy too high.

Alec Burks

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 5 5 2 1 4 9/21 3/4 1

An extremely hot add following Thibs’ decision to jettison Kemba Walker from the rotation. Burks started and drew 39 minutes of action. If he’s on your wire, you need to change that.

Derrick Rose

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
16 5 9 0 0 2 6/13 2/2 0

Immanuel Quickley

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 7 2 1 0 2 4/11 2/2 1

Rose and IQ each played more than starters Evan Fournier (22 MP) and RJ Barrett (8 MP), as well as the rest of the bench mob. Thibs is known to lean heavily on whichever guys are getting the job done, and tonight it was his two reserve guards. It might be tough to get a read on which one will go off on a given night, but the struggles of the rest of the backcourt bode well for both.

Kevin Durant

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 5 9 0 1 0 9/23 9/9 1

I wish my off-nights looked this good. Despite the lackluster shooting, KD is the number three player in the fantasy game.

Patty Mills

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
10 2 2 1 0 2 4/12 0/0 0

Each hit felt like a big one, but the box score seemed to shrink the Aussie’s contributions. Mills can score and bang in threes well enough to keep him on the fringes of standard league viability, but that’s just about the ceiling these days.

Cam Thomas

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 1 2 1 0 2 5/9 0/0 0

With Joe Harris sidelined for ankle surgery, Cam should get a looong look for a Brooklyn team with an unexpected dearth of guards. The youngster played 21 minutes off the bench, more than any other Net reserve. His Summer League suggests that he can fill it up. There might be something here for the time being.

Desmond Bane

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 7 2 0 1 5 8/16 2/3 4

Hopefully, you didn’t drop him after Dillon Brooks returned to the rotation like I know some people did. (It was me. I’m the fool.) Bane has staked his claim to the starting 2-guard spot and Ja’s bum knee has made his green light glow more brightly. The second-year pro is turning in 8th-round value on the season.

Jaren Jackson Jr. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 6 1 0 5 4 8/14 5/6 2

It hasn’t exactly been the breakthrough that we might have hoped for during the draft season, but JJJ has upped his scoring and three-point shooting from last year, and his blocks — as seen here — are through the roof. It adds up to a fourth-round value and there’s still plenty of room to grow.

Dillon Brooks

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 4 1 4 1 1 5/18 6/6 5

So, the playmaking wasn’t great — a 1:5 assist to turnover ratio makes that clear — and the shooting wasn’t good either. But! One of his five makes was a triple, he had a perfect night from the line and racked up five stocks. An erratic contributor, you have to take the good with the bad with Brooks. There are better days ahead.

De’Anthony Melton

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
9 10 2 1 0 0 4/13 1/2 1

I really want it to happen with Melton, and the Morant injury is certainly an opportunity, but De’Anthony has been a bit dinged up too, and he’s been supplanted by Bane in the starting group. When things are clicking, Melton provides good defensive stats and a little bit of everything. The shot wasn’t there in this is one, but if you really squint you can see the appeal.

Futurama Squinting GIF

Fred VanVleet

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
15 9 3 1 0 1 6/13 2/2 4

I guess it’s a good thing that we don’t use per minute scoring in fantasy hoops, as these numbers look kind of pedestrian when you realize that FVV put this line together over 39 minutes of action. Raw totals are just fine though, and there’s no doubt that Nick Nurse will let Fred eat as much as he can handle.

Scottie Barnes

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
13 7 3 2 4 1 6/14 0/0 3

The kid is averaging 15/8/3 (as a 20-year-old!), so the first part of the line certainly isn’t out character. But six stocks and a triple? My lawd. Get used to seeing his name in recaps. Dude is going to be a good one.

Pascal Siakam

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
20 6 3 1 3 1 9/18 1/1 2

Those who roster Spicy P are still probably waiting for the heat to kick in, though four stocks definitely aren’t mild. Siakam has been good for sixth-round value over just 10 games despite most of his numbers being down across the board.

Steph Curry

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 3 2 1 1 3 4/21 1/1 2

Yuck. I bet you could have gotten great unbelievable odds on KD and Curry missing a combined 31 shots. Has it ever happened before? It feels impossible, right? Curry was hounded by Mikal Bridges and turned in an uncharacteristic clunker. Buy-low if you can.

Jordan Poole

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
28 5 3 2 1 6 9/15 4/5 4

Klay who?

Draymond Green

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
8 11 5 0 1 0 4/8 0/0 3

Hard to rack up the dimes when the team shooting percentage was down in the low 40s.

Devin Booker

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
10 2 1 0 0 0 4/9 2/2 1

In just 15 minutes, as Booker departed early with a hamstring injury. He had been rolling lately (a top-15 player last week), and he was up and animated on the bench after halftime, so hopefully, it’s nothing too serious.

Chris Paul

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
15 6 11 5 0 1 7/13 0/0 2

Didn’t do much scoring until the final period, but the league leader in dimes certainly contributed in other ways. Like a Hall of Fame neighbor, the Point God is knocking on the door of top-ten value.

Deandre Ayton

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
24 11 2 1 2 0 11/19 2/2 1

I was talking hoops with my in-laws over the holiday and, after much imbibing, had the argument that Deandre hadn’t earned the big money extension yet thrust upon me. I watched the Finals with this man! I believe there’s footage of my reaction.

Jesse Pinkman Reaction GIF by Breaking Bad

Granted, it’s not my money so it’s easy for me to hand it out, but there’s a compelling argument to lock in the 23-year-old anchor of a contender. The fantasy value is a bit muted thus far, mostly because of a significant dent in swats, but the big Bahamian is still posting top-60 value.

Mikal Bridges

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
2 2 3 4 1 0 1/4 0/0 2

A low-end line for fantasy, but five stocks are five stocks and the job he did on Curry couldn’t go unrecognized. There will be more productive nights in the future, as Bridges is a top-50 caliber player.

Cade Cunningham

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
26 7 1 1 3 5 10/13 1/2 6

There will be ups and downs for the number one pick, but this line will certainly play. Outside of a 15 and 14 night for Isaiah Stewart, this was the best line of any Piston by far, as Detroit struggled to keep pace against a mediocre Blazer bunch that was playing without Damian Lillard, Norman Powell, and Nassir Little. No box score breakdowns for that kind of effort. I’ve already said too much.

CJ McCollum

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
28 4 6 2 0 4 11/26 2/2 1

The best player on the floor by a mile, CJ had it cooking for the shorthanded Blazers. McCollum is as steady they come, and he’s turning in top-50 value once again.

Anthony Simons

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 6 5 0 1 2 5/14 0/0 2

Just keeping Dame’s seat warm, as Lillard was resting on the second night of a back-to-back. Not a great shooting night, so I guess he didn’t keep it all that warm after all.

Jusuf Nurkic

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
13 8 5 1 1 0 5/8 3/5 2

Steady as ever for boards and robust FG figures, the Bosnian Bear has been trending up over the last few weeks and is on track for a moderate bounce back year overall. It would be surprising if the status quo held up all season in Portland, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out for the big man. Keep plugging away with him in the meantime.

Anthony Davis

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 7 3 2 2 0 12/22 1/2 1

Russell Westbrook

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 5 6 1 0 1 9/21 4/7 4

No LeBron James last night, as he entered the league’s health and safety protocols, so it was up to the two stars to carry the Lakers on the road in Sac. It wasn’t especially pretty — poor shooting for Westy, no triples, and limited FTs for Davis — but LA erased a 12-point lead and ended up winning by 25. Truly there is no joy in the cow town.

Dwight Howard

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 13 0 2 2 0 5/7 2/3 3

In 35 minutes! DeAndre Jordan drew the start, but logged all five of his minutes following the opening tip and was never heard of again. D12 seeing this much PT is a bit surprising considering that he hadn’t played more than 20 minutes in a few weeks. If Vogel makes a move, Howard could become semi-viable because of his board work and blocks. Keep an eye on this.

Malik Monk

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
22 4 4 0 0 6 8/16 0/0 2

The Monk’s prayers were answered! Talen Horton-Tucker continued his slide toward the abyss, so it was Malik who stepped up and played big minutes in the LA rally. If he’s making his threes, Monk can hold the last spot on a roster in standard leagues. That said, the across-the-board production is thin, so it’s hard to love his outlook.

De’Aaron Fox

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 5 5 2 0 1 4/9 8/9 7

Sigh. This is such a bummer. The turnovers continue to be an issue for Swipa, and those of us who were hoping for some growth with the shot are still waiting for Godot. The scoring, diming, and stealing — all still positive values mind you — are down from last year. I get the urge to sell but expect crummy offers if you do. The change in the head coach’s chair has not been the panacea we were hoping for.

Tyrese Haliburton

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
6 5 6 2 0 1 2/10 1/2 3

That sound you hear are alarm bells going off. The overall season numbers are right in line with his average, but the floor has given way over the last two weeks. Hali has scored fewer than 10 points in seven of his last ten games and FG% has been south of 40. The assist and steal numbers are keeping us out of free fall territory, but he seems a bit lost offensively. He’s put up single-digit shot attempts in four of those aforementioned 10 games.

Chimezie Metu

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
14 11 0 3 0 0 7/10 0/0 0

As long as Moe Harkless and Harrison Barnes are unavailable, feel free to stream Metu if you’re seeking boards. His usage has been erratic on the year, but if the teardown gets underway in California’s capitol, a path to PT could get clearer.

Richaun Holmes

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 9 2 0 2 0 12/13 3/5 2

The big Holmie had missed the last four games with an eye injury, but his aim was dead-on in his return to action. Unlike pretty much everyone else in Sacramento, Richaun is producing at a predictably high rate. He’s a top-40 player on the season, and not even the Kings can screw that up. (I just jinxed the hell out of him, didn’t I?)