Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Charlotte Hornets
- Jalen Williams scored an efficient 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, adding five rebounds, a pair of triples, and a steal to his line. Williams has been consistently getting around 30 minutes a night, and he’s scored modestly. Last night was his fifth straight in double figures, and ninth in his last 10, but he hasn’t topped 17 points in any of those tilts. That can mainly be attributed to his lack of long distance success—his two threes on Thursday matched his output from beyond the arc for the previous two weeks. But he can do a little of everything, and if the treys start to drop he can be a top-100 type player moving forward (32 percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).
- Mark Williams made the most of his 21 minutes on Thursday. Charlotte’s rookie center went a perfect 7-for-7 from the field to score 17 points, while also hauling in 13 boards, ripping two steals, and swatting two shots. Williams has broken into the rotation over the past couple of games, and while Mason Plumlee is entrenched as the starter, the Hornets have had valuable performances from their backup center over the course of the season. Williams can do a lot of damage even in shorter minutes, and if he sticks as the primary backup he’s a worthy streaming option, especially if you need defensive stats (four percent rostered).
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
- Caris LeVert has had a roller coaster of a season to date. After three straight 20-plus point performances earlier this month, he averaged under 9 PPG over his past seven, but he broke out of the slump last night with 19 points on 17 shots in 35 minutes of action, adding two triples, a steal, and a block to his totals. LeVert has been subdued coming off of Cleveland’s bench, and even playing time hasn’t had a ton of correlation with his production, as he scored just 10 total points in his last two 30-plus minute outings before Thursday. Not having the ball in his hands has stolen his rhythm and tanked his assist numbers—one of his most valuable fantasy assets. Last night was a nice bounce back, but I’m not buying him long term unless one of their starting guards hits the shelf (33 percent rostered).
- The Pacers have fiddled with the last two spots in their starting lineup a bunch this year, and the latest person to get a crack at it has been Aaron Nesmith, who’s responded favorably to the promotion. Nesmith dropped 22 points on just 10 shots, making all six of his freebies, hitting a couple of threes, and recording a filthy poster slam. He had gotten it going a couple weeks ago before a brief injury set him back in the past week, but it looks like he’s recaptured his positive momentum. He was already a top-100 player over the past 14 days before last night’s game. Nesmith is a solid pickup to round out the end of your bench with (11 percent rostered).
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Boston Celtics
- Norman Powell was dropped in a lot of leagues while he was sidelined with injury, and his rostership (49 percent rostered) still has not bounced back to where it ought to be. Powell scored 19 off the bench for LA, getting to the line eight times, hitting three threes, and blocking a shot. Since returning, Powell has scored no fewer than 14 points, and is averaging a robust 18.4 PPG in that span. He’s the rare points/treys archetype who can actually bolster your percentages. I’d grab him if he’s still available in your league.
- Derrick White had been struggling with his shot for some time, but he’s begun to heat up of late, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor last night en route to 15 points, tossing in a couple of triples, four dimes and a pair of rejections for good measure. White has shot better than 60 percent from the field in three of his last four outings, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 BPG, and 1.0 3PTM over that stretch. If the jumper his falling, his well-roundedness (and especially the swats from the guard position) make him a valuable commodity (48 percent rostered).
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors
- Memphis is at full strength for the first time all season, meaning the depth that got a chance to shine and also gain fantasy relevance is receding into the background. In particular, it’s time for clingy managers to cut Brandon Clarke, who received fewer than 16 minutes for the second consecutive game. He’s scored just 12 points in those two contests, and he hasn’t blocked a single shot in his past four. Clarke was on fire to begin December, but as he’s come back to Earth—with a hard cap on his minutes—he can be returned to the waiver wire (60 percent rostered).
- The Raptors have a temporary hole at point guard, and try as they might to not play anyone under 6-foot-9, there could be a short-term opening for Malachi Flynn. Flynn played 30 minutes off the bench on Thursday, and was admittedly bad, shooting just 2-for-12 from the field and not recording any defensive stats, but he grabbed eight boards, handed out five assists, and had nary a turnover. Over his past seven games, he’s played less than 23 minutes just once, and has averaged 9.6 PPG and 2.1 3PTM over that span, with the upside for more with some positive shooting regression. If he continues to fill the hole at point guard, more ballhandling responsibilities will add assists to his game as well. Flynn (four percent rostered) is a name to monitor over the next few games.
New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Immanuel Quickley should probably be the No. 1 waiver wire addition this week, after a second consecutive start and monster stat line. Quickley exploded for 36 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and five treys in 43 minutes, following up his first double-double of the season. The Knicks already play a short rotation, and with two of their perimeter players out right now (one of them possibly for a while), IQ will get all the minutes he can handle. Over his last six contests, he’s averaging a heady 19.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.3 3PTM. Grab him if he’s still out there (34 percent rostered).
- Romeo Langford had not been a factor at all recently, totaling just 11 points in the past 19 days. He doubled that in one night, breaking out for 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting in a 28-minute spot start. The two steals were a nice plus, but he didn’t do much else. I wish Langford had a longer leash in San Antonio to really stretch himself, but he hasn’t been given a consistent opportunity yet. No need to take the bait just yet (one percent rostered).
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
- The Rockets are one of the most boring teams in the league from a fantasy perspective. They have just four players who hoard all the stats, three of which do so at a mildly to flagrantly inefficient level, and the fourth guy can’t stay out of foul trouble long enough to tap into his top-25 ceiling. I’m talking about Alperen Sengun, whose five fouls limited him to just 17 minutes of action. On a per-minute basis Sengun has been nasty, putting up a 20-12-3 with nearly a steal and over a block per 36 minutes, but the 4.4 fouls per 36 put a damper on his dominance. He’s still been a top-75 player for the season, but when he learns to quit hacking he’s got a lot of room to grow.
- Dallas just so happens to be another team who brings no spice to the fantasy world, with just three players divvying up the lion’s share of numbers. A fourth is on the fringes—that being Tim Hardaway Jr. THJ gets plenty of minutes and plenty of shots…it’s just a matter of whether the streaky swingman is on or off that night, because he’s bringing very little else to the table besides points and treys. He did add three steals to his 18 points and three triples last night, which was a welcome sight after going four straight without recording a swipe. Over his past five outings, Hardaway is posting 16.6 PPG and 3.2 3PTM. If you need help in his two categories he’s a streaming flier, otherwise I’m content to leave him on the wire (53 percent rostered).