Memphis Grizzlies vs. Orlando Magic
- The Grizzlies completed a back-to-back Southeast division sweep with a win over the Magic that probably should have been by more points. If only Dillon Brooks didn’t use up 18 shots to score a paltry 11 points. Brooks is a frustrating player, both if you’re being guarded by him, and if he’s on your fantasy team—and he’s on far too many of those. He’s rostered in 72 percent of Yahoo! standard leagues despite barely landing inside the overall top-200, ranking behind eight of his teammates. He’s not shy about shooting the rock, hoisting nearly 16 times a game despite connecting just a tick above 40 percent. He recorded six rebounds and six assists, which was a pleasant surprise as it doubled his usual output in those cats. And he had no defensive stats, which is all too common an occurrence for Brooks. At least he makes some threes, though he’s made more than one in a contest in just one of his past nine outings. The PPG looks nice, but he harms your team more than he helps. Cut bait if you haven’t already.
- Jalen Suggs made his return to the court after a long absence. He didn’t do anything, scoring just two points in five minutes, but he’s a name to monitor for those in the just over half of leagues he’s available in. Over the next month Orlando will likely feature Gary Harris and Terrence Ross more in order to boost their trade value leading up to the deadline, but if they are moved it will open up a bushel of minutes for Suggs. And with Orlando probably falling out of the playoff picture, they should give Suggs a long leash to see how he fits with their core of giants. He’s got upside for defensive stats, treys, and assists, but needs to up his efficiency and cut out the turnovers. Suggs can be a nice support piece for both the Magic and fantasy managers (45 percent rostered).
Boston Celtics vs. Dallas Mavericks
- The Celtics are basically solved as a fantasy equation. Now back at full strength, they have a steady eight man rotation, seven of whom are fantasy contributors, all of them widely rostered. Maybe there’s still a chance Derrick White is out there (54 percent rostered), though his roster share has been picking up steam as his game has. White scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting with two threes and two blocks in 21 minutes. It was the fifth time in his past seven games he’s shot better than 50 percent from the field. He’s also blocking shots like a center in that stretch, averaging 1.6 BPG. He’s a nice piece to plug in if you need to round out your roster.
- Despite the blowout loss, Dallas still managed to play three of their starters 37 or more minutes. That means the whopping nine guys who made an appearance off the bench had a small slice of minutes to share between them. That didn’t prevent Jaden Hardy from making the most of his opportunity, scoring 15 points to match his 15 minutes, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and making all three of his triple tries. The rookie can fill it up (he scored 10 in a two-minute appearance earlier this season), but he’s not a factor in Dallas’ rotation. In fact he likely will not be in the rotation once they get a couple of their regular wings back, so while the flashes are nice, he can be safely ignored (one percent rostered).
Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets
- It’s been a season of incredible statistical performances. That’s been the main talking point in NBA circles this week. Most of those performances have been by the absolute cream of the NBA crop, but Lauri Markkanen deserves some attention too. After being discarded by two franchises in 5 years, the Finnish forward has busted out in a big way in Utah. The inevitable Dirk comparisons seemed laughable three months ago, but his statistical profile (lots of points, high percentages, low turnovers) has harkened back to the original European shooting big man—especially lately with his exploitation of the charity stripe. On his way to a career-best 49 points on Thursday, Markkanen shot 13-for-13 on his free throws, making this the fourth time in six outings he’s been perfect on at least 12 attempts from the line. He’s a scintillating 58-for-59 (!!) at the stripe over that span, leading to a robust 33.8 PPG. Meanwhile he’s also averaged 10.5 RPG, 3.5 3PTM, shot nearly 51 percent from the field on 21 FGA, and turned it over just six times total during this stretch. Last night probably cemented his status as an All Star in 2023. Who would have thought?
- Jae’Sean Tate made his long-awaited return to the Rockets’ lineup, and didn’t show much rust. In his 19 minutes, Tate scored 11 points on 5-of-8 from the field, with pair of rebounds, assists, and steals, and a three-pointer. Tate has been a fantasy darling the last couple of seasons on a depleted Houston roster, but it remains to be seen what role he will have with the Rockets heavily featuring their core four. Will Tate balance their starting lineup with some do-it-all toughness, or become yet another high-energy bench wing for them? Wait and see before picking him up (12 percent rostered).
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets
- The Clippers may as well have rested all their guys from the start as this game turned into a rout early, causing Ty Lue to sit his starters for the entirety of the second half. That gave Robert Covington a rare opportunity to stretch his legs. RoCo logged 23 minutes, recording eight points (despite an 0-for-4 showing from deep), five rebounds, two steals, and a block. The former fantasy stud has been an afterthought in LA. Hopefully he gets dealt somewhere he can be utilized and turn into a fantasy asset once more (20 percent rostered).
- Denver’s stroll through the park allowed some of their lesser lights to shine on Thursday—no one more so than the inimitable Vlatko Cancar. The Nuggets’ swingman notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards on 6-for-12 shooting. A three, a steal, and a block rounded out his productive night. Cancar has been getting a look in the regular rotation recently, and he’s responded favorably, hitting multiple threes in four straight before his past couple and reaching 15 points in two of last four. He won’t get enough playing time to be worthy of a permanent roster spot, but he’s officially on the streaming radar in situations when Denver will be shorthanded in the frontcourt (one percent rostered).