Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls
- With Milwaukee resting a couple key rotation players on the perimeter, Jevon Carter was re-inserted into the starting lineup. And boy, did he make the most of his opportunity, pouring in 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, with six rebounds, six assists, four treys, and a steal over 32 minutes. Even on his good nights, Carter (four percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues) doesn’t produce lines this robust, giving this the whiff of an anomaly. He’s normally only a source of threes, as he’s made 10 over his past three games, but his role and his playing time are too inconsistent to depend on. With the Bucks likely returning to full strength after the break, Carter can be left on the wire.
- The Bulls were also down two of their bigger guns on the perimeter, giving Dalen Terry a rare taste of the limelight. The rookie responded with relish, making six of his 12 shots to score 13 points, while also grabbing seven boards and dishing out six assists in 27 minutes. The minutes, points, and boards were all career-highs for Terry (zero percent rostered), who will fade back into irrelevance forthwith. But he’s a name to remember if Chicago falls out of the race in the second half and activates tank mode.
Washington Wizards vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- One of the biggest fantasy teases of the past few seasons has been Delon Wright, who shows tantalizing potential in reduced roles off the bench. Unfortunately, he’s never been able to put it all together when given a longer leash, but I can’t help from getting sucked in every time. Wright (16 percent rostered) is at it again, after a tasty all-around contribution of 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a swat in 29 minutes on Thursday. Wright has been purely a steals specialist this season, averaging two a game in just 22 MPG, which is enough to rate him as a top-70 overall player on 9-cat averages. Wright’s minutes have trended up lately (nearly 30 per game over the past two weeks), and with the Wizards fielding several offensive-minded players in the lineup, Wright may soon find himself steadily playing 25-30 minutes to balance it out. Even though I know I ought to stay away, I’m already hovering over the “add” button. If you’re in need of steals though, he’s still a solid pickup regardless of whether the rest of the game follows.
- Kyle Anderson (36 percent rostered) had been dropped in many leagues after being in and out of the lineup with back spasms the past two weeks, but he looks like he can be a dependable across-the-board contributor once more. Anderson returned to the starting unit on Thursday, playing 31 minutes and mustering 18 points, five boards, eight dimes, and two swipes. Over his past three games since returning to action, Slo-Mo is averaging a 14-5-5 with 1.7 SPG while shooting over 50 percent from the field and not missing a free throw. The week off will only improve his back condition and he should be picked up everywhere.
LA Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
- With the Clippers making several roster moves at the deadline, it looks like they have solidified Terance Mann as their starting “point guard”. Mann doesn’t handle the ball as much as a traditional lead guard, but he’s guaranteed minutes and knows how to play off LA’s stars to create his own opportunities. Mann has thrived in the role, scoring in double figures in six straight, and shooting better than 55 percent from the field in every single contest this month. Last night was his biggest gem, hitting 10 of his 12 shots from the field to score 26 points, to go along with four rebounds, three assists, three triples, and a steal. Mann (30 percent rostered) is still available in a lot of leagues, and should be one of the hottest pickups heading into the break.
- Speaking of hot pickups, I hope you didn’t miss the Josh Okogie train, because it’s officially left the station. Okogie is up to 41 percent rostered, and for good reason, because he’s been on fire lately. Against the Clippers, Okogie nailed six threes en route to 24 points on the evening, with five boards and three steals to boot in a team-high 41 minutes. Over his past four, Okogie is posting averages of 21.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.3 SPG, and 3.8 3PTM while shooting 50 percent or better each time. Until Kevin Durant finally steps onto the floor in a Suns uniform, Okogie is a must-add.