The season-long fantasy wasteland that is the Utah Jazz starting point guard spot saw a change to its depth chart on Tuesday night. New addition Shelvin Mack was tossed in with the first group after looking really good in his first game with the Jazz on Sunday. His promotion meant that Raul Neto was bench bound, a move that quite frankly would have been made several weeks ago had Utah actually featured a healthy, professional quality point guard on their roster prior to the trade deadline. One quick look at Neto’s game log from this season and you’ll see that he’s achieved fairly modest benchmarks quite infrequently:
- Double-digit scoring – nine times
- Five or more assists – seven times
- Five or more rebounds – zero times (!)
- Three or more combined 3s/steals/blocks – 16 times
- Double-digit FGAs+FTAs – eight times
Those numbers come after having played in 55 games and averaging over 20 MPG, so they’re even more pathetic than they look at first blush. The usage wasn’t there for Raulzinho (yep, that is his full given name) and neither was anything resembling roster-worthy fantasy production.
Enter Shelvin Mack, he of former Atlanta Hawks fame. Well, the “fame” part was mostly lacking as he was never truly unleashed by Coach Bud and the Hawks organization. After a largely forgettable three-year stint as a backup combo guard, Mack held seasonal high water marks of just 7.5 PPG, 3.7 APG, 2.2 RPG, and 0.8 SPG (all during the 2013-2014 campaign where he saw 20.5 MPG across 73 games). However, in his two games sporting a Jazz uniform and having had very little time to learn the offensive system and intricacies of his teammates’ games, Mack has already posted lines of 16/3/6/0/1 (in his debut off the bench) and 17/1/2/1/0 in his first starting gig last night.
It’s easy to see that Mack is worth a pickup as the complementary stats are sure to follow once he’s fully integrated into the Utah system. He may never be a top-50 player with several other capable ball-handlers on the roster (Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood currently, and Alec Burks within the next couple weeks once he returns from injury), but it’s clear that Mack no longer belongs on any fantasy waiver wires as he looks to have a stranglehold on the starting PG job. If you haven’t already, go pick him up.
Here’s what else happened on a five-game Tuesday in the NBA…
Nikola Vucevic – Voooooooch! Massive game from the Magic big man. He scored 35 points on 21 FGAs and hit all nine of his freebies. He chipped in nine boards, four dimes and a block while turning the ball over only once in his 37 minutes. Vucevic is a top-30 player on the season and has a great schedule to finish out the year. If he’s on your roster, congrats – he’s a stud.
Nerlens Noel – 16/11/4/2/1 for the Christmas Flat Top. He now has both a steal and a block in 11 straight games and though I’m skeptical he’ll ever be a consistent scoring threat, points that average out to be in the teens are just fine when he’s so reliable on the opposite end of the floor.
Anthony Davis – Brow was able to match his 20 rebounds from his monster game on Sunday, but unfortunately fell 50 points short of his NBA season-high 59 from that game. For some reason he attempted only nine shots from the field in a game where he played 37 minutes and his team desperately needed him to assert himself on the offensive end. Davis still gets acknowledgement in the “good” category for Tuesday’s performance thanks to three assists, two steals and a block to go along with those 20 boards.
Marcin Gortat – The Polish Hammer took it to the Pelicans weak frontcourt and ended up with 21/11/1/1/2 on 10-16 from the field and only a single turnover. Gortat has been a top-30 9-category asset since the calendar turned to 2016, and with nice schedule density to close out the season, there aren’t many centers who I’d rather have anchoring my team down the home stretch.
DeMarcus Cousins – Pretty typical day at the office for Boogie Cousins. Abused the slender Denver centers combo of Nikola Jokic and Joffrey Lauvergne to the tune of 39/9/2/1/2. Health is just about the only thing that can slow Cousins down and with the Kings now only 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference, expect their stars to get all the playing time they can handle.
Nikola Jokic – Speaking of the Joker, he made the most of his 20 predictably foul-filled minutes against DMC. He double-doubled with 13 & 13 and chipped in nice amount of complementary stats: six assists, two steals, one triple, 50% from the field and a sterling 4-4 from the FT line. If he can figure out how to avoid foul trouble and navigate Mike Malone’s wonky big man rotations, he could be a legitimate fantasy stud. His contributions (on nights when he receives playing time) are incredibly versatile and owners can expect top-100 production through the end of the season despite the volatility.
James Harden – Like Cousins, it was pretty standard stuff for the Beard on Tuesday. You realize the extraordinary quality of a player when 42/5/4/2/0 is positively “ho-hum.”
Gordon Hayward – The former Butler Bulldog won last night’s award for efficiency, scoring 28 points on only seven field goal attempts. He hit 6-7 from the floor, 13-15 from the foul line and finished up the overtime win with 28/7/5/1/0, including three long balls. These were the kinds of lines I was expecting on a more consistent basis at the start of the year, but Hayward’s output has been a bit more modest than many owners who spent a top-36 pick on him would have hoped.
Brook Lopez – I’m struggling to see how playing a 7-footer with a long history of foot injuries 40 minutes in a game during a lost season is a smart choice. Re-draft (i.e. non-keeper/dynasty) owners don’t mind though as BroLo parlayed that heavy run into 36/10/1/4/1. That’s now nine steals and seven blocks in his last four games. The Nets seem content to run him into the ground this year, so fantasy owners would serve themselves well to remember that come October when factoring in fatigue and injury-risk on draft day.
Portland Guards – The backcourt pairing of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is pretty special. There were some big expectations placed on their shoulders at the start of the year and by just about all accounts, they’ve met – and likely exceeded – even the loftiest of them. On Tuesday we learned that Lillards gon’ Lill (34/2/4/3/0 with a pair of triples) and CJM is only too happy to continue making JB look silly for doubting him (34/5/6/1/0 on 13-20 shooting with five makes from beyond the arc).
Elfrid Payton – 0-4 from the field. 3-6 from the line. No money stats (3s/steals/blocks). And only 20 minutes of run on a night when the hot-coming-in Brandon Jennings stole only 11. Woof.
Nik Stauskas – Sauce Castillo has may be starting for the 6ers but he shouldn’t be for your fantasy squad. He had as many personal fouls (five) as he did points and turned the ball over four times in 24 minutes. Stauskas did connect on a three for the fifth consecutive game, but there are better streamers out there who give you more complementary stats and who aren’t battling a shin injury that could sideline them at any time.
Norris Cole – It might be time to cut bait on the Pelicans starting point guard. Cole saw only 18 minutes of floor time against the Wizards partially due to inefficiency and partially due to illness (there was a report that he received an IV at halftime). Despite the limited run, Cole hoisted 10 shots from the field, connecting on only three. He had a trey and a steal (he hadn’t produced any of either in his last two games) but he’s just simply not doing enough with the first unit to justify holding him for a hot free agent with some upside.
Markieff Morris – Well, Kieff’s tenure in the nation’s capitol is off to a rather inauspicious start. He threw up his third consecutive stinker with 6/2/2 in 22 minutes. He salvaged his night somewhat by chipping in some defensive goodies (two swipes and a swat), but he now has a grand total of 17 points on 23 shots through three games in a Wizards uniform. Perhaps he’ll turn things around if he’s inserted into the starting lineup, but right now it’s not looking great for the mercurial twin.
Ben McLemore – Continues to disappoint in a Kings uniform. 7/1/2/0/0 in 13 uninspiring minutes. He belongs on the wire and there’s no reason to even keep him on a watch list.
Gary Harris – A disappointing night for the Nuggets’ starting SG. 4/2/3/1/0 on 2-9 shooting and failed to connect on either of his long distance attempts. Harris had been playing heavy minutes and had scored in double figures in each of his last four games, so this looks like it was just an off night. He may have burned some DFS owners who looked at his recent game log and saw the juicy matchup with the Kings though.
Terrence Jones – Returned from one of his many extended absences this season and contributed a whopping three points, one rebound and one steal in 12 minutes off the bench. TJ is definitely in the running for most disappointing season given the upside/potential he has flashed over the past couple of years. I wouldn’t touch him with your roster right now.
Rudy Gobert – What the heck was that, Rudy? 2/3/1/1/0 in 26 minutes in a game that featured 231 combined points scored? Yikes. After double-doubling in five straight games stretching across the All-Star break, the French Rejection has now failed to hit double figures in either points or rebounds in his last two contests. Hopefully for his owners this is just a mini-slump and he breaks out of it his next time out.
Thaddeus Young – Despite getting heavy run (36 minutes) in a high scoring game (216 combined points), Thad was only able to notch eight on 3-11 shooting. He did pull down 11 boards but with no defensive stats or threes, this was a disappointing result.
Portland Forwards – I’m not sure there’s a bigger discrepancy between the quality of a team’s backcourt and frontcourt. As mentioned above, the combination of Lillard & McCollum is absolutely stellar. Unfortunately for fantasy owners mining for gold among the Portland bigs, they’re coming up pretty empty. The trio of Noah Vonleh, Al-Farouq Aminu and Meyers Leonard combined for only 17/12/5/0/2 in 53 total minutes. They shot 7-16 as a group and just cannot be trusted to produce quality fantasy lines any time they step on the floor. Conclusion: look elsewhere.
Aaron Gordon – Hit double digit boards for the sixth consecutive game, and while his offensive game leaves something to be desired, he has a combined 24 steals & blocks in his last seven contests. AG finished up the win in Philly with a 11/11/3/3/1 line and simply needs to tidy up the efficiency (4-10 FGs, 3-6 FTs, 2 TOs) if he wants to take the next step.
Ish Smith – Interesting game for the diminutive Philly point man. After hitting only one shot from beyond the arc in all of February coming into Tuesday’s game against the Magic, Smith drained two from deep to help him to his team-high 22 points. He added a handful of assists but couldn’t find his way to any defensive stats, so this wasn’t his most versatile line. The metrics aren’t a fan of Ish’s game, but he’s still useful in the right fantasy team build.
Ryan Anderson – Ryno bounced back from his atrocious 1-12 shooting performance on Sunday with a 7-11 mark in Washington. He connected on two of his four long range attempts and fell into a couple steals to make this a nice performance. It likely would’ve been even better had the game been closer and the Pelicans needed their best players down the stretch, but as it was they got blown out by 20 and sat Anderson late. There’s no reason to think he won’t be every bit the top-70 player he has been this season to date.
John Wall – How can a player who records a triple-double not make the “good” category, you ask? By shooting 5-17 from the field, 3-5 from the FT line and turning the ball over three times – that’s how. Apart from that Wall was special on Tuesday, finishing with 16/12/11/2/1 with three treys. The field goal percentage and TOs are nothing new as they’ve been keeping Wall from 1st round value all year, but if you’re punting those categories or your team is build to compensate for them, you’re loving his play almost every time he steps on the court.
Rudy Gay – Outshined by teammate Boogie Cousins but still a great night for Rudy. 16/10/4/4/3 to help the Kings secure the road win. Gay kept it tidy with a 6-11 mark from the field and he should be a third round value (or better) through the end of this season.
D.J. Augustin – Not yet worth adding to your roster, but certainly a guy to keep an eye on, Augustin now has three straight quality games in a Nuggets uniform. He has tallied nine total threes and steals in somewhat limited minutes and should starter Emmanuel Mudiay need to miss any time, there is plenty of opportunity for DJA to become fantasy-relevant very quickly.
Trevor Ariza – Just keeps churning out the production in treys and steals. Four more of each on Tuesday to go with 18 points and four assists.
Rodney Hood – Much like Ariza, the 3 & D Rod Hood is rewarding owners in the money categories. He poured in a trio of long balls and thieved it five times against the Rockets in Tuesday’s OT win. He’s going to be a very nice fantasy asset for as long as he can manage to stay healthy. Don’t be scared one bit by the impending return of Alec Burks.
Donald Sloan – With Shane Larkin looking like a D-Leaguer on most nights, the Nets have little choice but to continue starting Sloan at the point. And while his lines are rarely spectacular, output like he had on Tuesday (14/5/4/0/1, no TOs, 6-10 shooting) is still useful as a last starter on your roster.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
The following players saw 36+ minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
Nikola Vucevic (37), Evan Fournier (43), Victor Oladipo (41), Anthony Davis (37), Rudy Gay (36), DeMarcus Cousins (36), Danilo Gallinari (37), Trevor Ariza (41), Dwight Howard (40), Patrick Beverley (37), James Harden (44), Derrick Favors (40), Gordon Hayward (40), Rodney Hood (36), Thaddeus Young (36), Brook Lopez (40), Damian Lillard (37), C.J. McCollum (38).
That wraps up another Tuesday evening in the Association. As always, if you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.