Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki. He passed Shaquille O’Neal for number 6 on the all-time NBA scoring list.
While Kobe Bryant gains the headlines in his last season, Dirk and Tim Duncan have quietly shown how to adapt their game for the team’s sake, taking less money and adding more wins to their already impressive résumés.
At 37, Dirk isn’t the same fantasy monster that he used to be, but is still valuable. He’s scored 20+ points in three straight games and so far has posted better overall numbers than last season. His game is much different than Kobe’s, with much less wear and tear on his body, allowing him to remain relatively healthy later in his career. Personally, I don’t see any reason why Dirk has to tie the sneakers up anytime soon.
In addition to passing Shaqtus, Dirk hit the game winner in the Mavericks’ overtime win over the Nets. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Not bad for a 37-year-old.
Overtime basketball is free basketball and it usually means great stat lines for everyone involved:
J.J. Barea – Playing for an injured Deron Williams (hamstring), Barea went for a career high of 32 points (13-20 FG, 5-7 3PT) and even dished out 11 assists. He’s too inconsistent to be owned in most leagues, but makes for a cheap, upside play in daily leagues.
Wesley Matthews – Barea wasn’t the only one to have it going on from downtown. Matthews also knocked down 5 threes, on his way to 17 points. He’s now topped 40 minutes in three December games and should be in the 33-35 range for the foreseeable future.
Zaza Pachulia – With only 8 points and 6 rebounds, Zaza has cooled off recently and makes for a strong sell high candidate. As long as he stops trying terrible reverse layups, JaVale McGee (4 points, 2 rebounds) may start to eat into his minutes as the season wears on.
Thaddeus Young – An underrated fantasy asset, Young posted a monster line: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 1 three. He also had a key block on Barea to force overtime.
Joe Johnson – 13 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. He should be doing that every night, but age seems to be catching up to him. Trade him before his real life team trades him to a contender.
Jarrett Jack – Another potential trade chip for the Nets, Jack has been a valuable backend point guard. He went for 13/8/5 with 2 threes last night, but missed the potential game-winner in overtime.
Bojan Bogdanovic – Bobo was perfect from downtown (5-5) on his way to 17/4/2. He’s seeing 30+ minutes in the month of December and has posted three straight games with double figures and multiple three pointers made.
Evan Fournier – Just when owners thought that Fournier was done, he’s scored 15+ in 4 out of the last 5 games, including the go ahead bucket and a 17/4/5 line last night. It might be a roller coaster ride all season, but it’s safe to pick him back up for the time being.
Tobias Harris – With 19/8, Harris has been consistently scoring and rebounding of late (minus his 4 point dud on Sunday). Continue to roll with him.
Nikola Vucevic – Another consistent member of the Magic roster, Vucci Mane went for 21/6/3, giving him 4 straight 20-point games.
Victor Oladipo – It was a very bad shooting night for Oladipo (0-9 FG, 0-3 3pt), but he was able to contribute 7 rebounds and 6 assists with 0 turnovers. Don’t worry, this was just one game.
Elfrid Payton – The Elf refused to be put on the shelf, as he battled an ankle injury to post 12 points and 9 assists.
James Harden – There’s something wrong with the Rockets, as they lost a close one to the Magic, but that hasn’t stopped Harden from dominating the box score each night. Harden went for 31/7/3 with great percentages (12-18 FG, 2-4 3PT, and 5-6 FT).
Ty Lawson – After serving his two game suspension for a DUI (athletes get off way too easy compared to normal citizens, in my opinion), Lawson came off the bench for 11/3/2. It was one of his better statistical games of the season and most minutes (27) since the December 2nd.
Garrett Temple – Temple has taken advantage of the extra playing time, while Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. are on the mend. He dropped his third 20-point game on Wednesday, going for 20/6 with 3 threes. The announcers even compared him to James Harden on a step back three over Jeff Green! He’s definitely not Harden, but he is playing the best basketball of his career. I feel fine with rolling with him while Beal and/or Porter are sitting out, but I don’t expect the strong play to be a long-term thing.
Ramon Sessions – Razor Ramon has also been a spark off the bench for the Wizards. He went for 16/4/3 on Wednesday, marking his 6th double digit scoring game in the last 7 games. Just like Temple, Sessions is a waiver wire add, while Beal and Porter are out.
John Wall – After dishing out a career high 19 assists on Monday, Wall followed it up with 14/14/5. That’s now 10 double-doubles in 13 December games for Wall.
Marcin Gortat – While Wall is dishing out assists for his double-doubles, Gortat has been cleaning up the glass, with 12/12/3, giving him 7 double-doubles in 10 December games. Both Gortat and Wall have picked up their games with Beal out.
Jeff Green – Mostly a fantasy disappointment so far this season, Green filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block last night. He’s averaging a little over 10 and 4 on the season, but just hasn’t consistently done anything else to make owners pick him up. If he can add the threes, assists, steals, and/or blocks more consistently, he’d be a guy to invest in.
Mike Conley – Conley led the team in scoring, with 21 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Zach Randolph – With the stretch 4 all the rage, Z-Bo has been regulated to the bench. It was one of his better games off the bench, 16 points and 5 rebounds, but he just doesn’t do enough of anything else to be owned in 88% of leagues. I would trade him for someone more versatile once he puts together a string of strong games.
Rajon Rondo – Rondo is leading the league in assists by a wide margin and fell just 2 rebounds shy of a triple double in their win against the Pacers (13/16/8).
Darren Collison – Often overlooked because he’s backing up Rondo, Collison has shown that he can still be valuable in fantasy off the bench. He posted a 24/5/4 line with 2 threes. If Rondo were to be traded, injured, or suspended again for bashing gays, DC would be a must own. Even off the bench he should be owned in more than 59% of leagues.
DeMarcus Cousins – He’ll turn the ball over and shoot a low percentage, but he’s a double-double a night. 25/16 with 3 blocks.
Omri Casspi – Chanukah may be over, but Casspi is still lighting up the box scores (15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 threes). He’s been solid all season and should see his ownership levels rise beyond the current level of 42%.
Paul George – He shot poorly (5-19 FG, 1-7 3pt, 1-4 FT), but is able to still contribute with 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Not bad a for so called bad night.
C.J. Miles – He bounced back from two poor games (0 and 9 points) to post a 20 point game with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 threes.
George Hill – When he’s not getting complimented on his hair by Coach Popovich, Hill is dropping 20 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds for the Pacers.
Monta Ellis – He’s regressed a little in December and just hasn’t been anywhere as good as he has been in the last few seasons. Last night’s 21 point game was his first 20-point game in almost two weeks. The steals are there, but his shooting needs to improve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 22 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals on 11-13 shooting. Doesn’t get much more efficient than that.
Michael Carter-Williams – I hate to say this, but MCW might be back (knock on wood). 18 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals, makes us overlook the lack of three-point shooting and 7 turnovers.
Khris Middleton – His field goal percentage will rise closer to his career average (44%), only increasing his value. Until then, owners are more than happy with lines like last night: 21 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Nerlens Noel –11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block for the verstatlie big man. He’s been a disappointment so far this season, but should be a strong buy low candidate.
Hollis Thompson – Robert Covington is in a bit of a slump (4-19 from three and no double figures over the last 4 games), which gave Thompson some extra shot attempts: 16 and 5 on 7-16 shooting. With Jerry Colangelo with the 76ers now, I could see some roster moves, which could strip both Covington and Thompson of any fantasy value, if they were traded.
Jahlil Okafor – He’s been a target of some trade rumors, but should produce no matter where he plays. He went for 17 and 8, along with 2 assists and 2 blocks last night.
Kawhi Leonard – With the Spurs blowing out the T-Wolves by 25, Leonard was the only Spur starter to come close to their season average (19 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists/steals/blocks each). Most everyone else was fine, but unspectacular.
Karl-Anthony Towns – A poor shooting night (4-12 from the field), but he still got owners a double-double.
Gorgui Dieng – Dieng is a versatile fantasy big man when he gets the minutes and he’s been getting enough burn lately, producing 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block last night. Invest.
Zach LaVine – As the backup to Ricky Rubio (9/4/2), LaVine’s minutes are capped, but he has been solid lately in only 20 minutes a game. Last night, he scored 17 points with 4 assists and 2 steals on 7-13 shooting.
Jeff Teague – Teague exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals in the Hawks’ win over the Pistons.
Paul Millsap – Much of the same for Millsap: 18/5/2 with a three and steal each.
Dennis Schroder – Just like LaVine, Schroder has been fantasy worthy, even while coming off the bench. 14/5/3 in only 20 minutes for the Hawks last night.
Marcus Morris – While his brother is in the doghouse, Marcus has quietly been solid: 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 threes against the Hawks. As long as he’s seeing this many minutes (roughly 37 mpg on the season), he should continue to produce.
Andre Drummond – No half court threes this week, but 25/12 with 3 blocks is good enough.
Reggie Jackson – At risk of losing minutes to Brandon Jennings soon, Jackson doesn’t seem to be concerned (19/7/5). Jennings has been in uniform for the Pistons the last two nights, but hasn’t been used, since making a D-League appearance on Saturday. Look for him to be eased back into things in the coming weeks; though I wouldn’t worry too much about Jackson’s value.
Anthony Davis – The Brow did much of the same as he usually does: 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Tyreke Evans – He was just shy of a triple double (24/8/9) and seems to be 100%, after off-season knee surgery.
Jrue Holiday – With all the holidays in December, it’s no wonder that Jrue has picked up his play this month, with averages close to 16/4/3. He’s still seeing less than 30 minutes a night, but with 19/5/2 in only 21 minutes, there’s still value to be had off the bench.
C.J. McCollum – After missing Monday’s game with an ankle injury, McCollum returned to post 19 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. McCollum shot poorly (8-21), as defenses swarmed him with Damian Lillard missing the game due to plantar fasciitis. McCollum saw 35 minutes so hopefully the ankle injury is behind him, while Lillard hopes to return on Saturday.
Randy Foye – 7-16 is usually a fine shooting night, but that’s how Foye shot only from beyond the arc. He took 27 shots in total, hitting 12 of them, on his way to 31 points and 6 assists. He received the start with Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) and Jameer Nelson (illnes) sitting out.
Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, and Nikola Jokic – Only eight Nuggets saw court time so that meant plenty of minutes for Darrell Arthur (19/10/3/1/2), Will Barton (17/9/5), and Nikola Jokic (13/9/2). JB will surely be upset with Arthur’s line, as he and I go head to head in the REL Dynasty League.
Eric Bledsoe – A forgettable night for Bledsoe, as he shot 2-11 from the field. Fortunately he still contributed 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Brandon Knight – Knight shot much better than Bledsoe, on his way to 21 points and 10 assists.
Jon Leuer – Leuer has picked it up in December, posting another double-double with 18 and 10.
Ronnie Price – Joining Knight and Leuer with double-digit scoring was Ronnie Price. He went off for 20 points with 6 threes off the bench for the Suns. What a sur-price! Sorry that was terrible.
LeBron James – James put the game away for the Cavs, en route to 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Kevin Love – Love double-doubled with 23 points and 13 rebounds on 8-17 shoting (2-6 from downtown). Now that Kyrie Irving (5 points, 4 assists in 19 minutes) is back, I would recommend selling high on Love. His numbers will decrease with Irving back in the lineup, as evidenced by last year.
Tristan Thompson – Joining Love with a double-double, Thompson posted 10 points and 14 rebounds. Just wish he could get more steals and blocks.
Kristaps Porzingis – Carmelo Anthony sat the game out with an ankle sprain so the Knicks relied heavily on Porzingis. He went off for 23 and 13 with 4 threes and 4 assists. His numbers are slightly down in December, but I still feel very good about him bouncing back.
Arron Afflalo – With Melo out, that meant that Afflalo also got to see a lot of shots. He went for 16/5/3 on 6-17 shooting.
Kelly Olynyk – The up and down big man led the Celtics in scoring with 20 points, to go along with 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He’s had stretches of games like this previously, but remains inconsistent so owners will need to be patient.
Jared Sullinger – Sully came back after a one-game absence with bask spasms to post a very fantasy friendly line: 8/10/5/2/1. Meanwhile, Amir Johnson sat with a foot injury.
Jae Crowder – Known for his steals more than anything, Crowder has quietly gone three straight games with double-doubles (19/12 on Wednesday).
Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas – Bradley and Thomas both scored 18 points each, with Thomas adding 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Thomas is a much better overall fantasy player, but Bradley has shown his value for teams in need of threes, steals, and points.
Nicolas Batum – Another strong fantasy line for Batum: 17 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 threes.
Frank Kaminsky – With Al Jefferson suspended and the Hornets down for most of the game, Kaminsky exploded for 23 points off the bench on 9-20 shooting. He also added 7 rebounds and 2 threes. The minutes are up in December, but I don’t think he’s worth a roster add in standard leagues.
The Usual Suspects – None of the usual suspects exploded, but Stephen Curry (16/9/5/3), Draymond Green (15/9/6/1/2), and Klay Thompson (20 points, 3 threes) all did what they needed to do to keep the Warriors at 27-1.
Andrew Bogut – After only seeing 5 minutes in last Friday’s game, Bogut bounced back for 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists in 27 minutes. The Warriors will try to preserve Bogut for the playoffs, but it was one of his better lines of the season.
Serge Ibaka – Ibaka has picked up his three point shooting recently, hitting 2 threes in 3 of the last 4 games. He also contributed 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, in addition to the threes.
Russell Westbrook – At +33, Westbrook had the lowest plus/minus among the Thunder starters. That’s how ugly this game was! It was still good enough, as Westrbook went for 23/8/8 on 10-19 shooting.
Enes Kanter – Finally Kanter blocked some shots. He went for 16 and 11 with 2 blocks, giving him a grand total of 5 blocks in the month of December. Kemba Walker has 5 blocks in December and he’s 10 inches shorter!
Kobe Bryant and D’Angelo Russell – When your team is blown out by 35 points, there isn’t much to cheer about. Laker fans at least got to see Kobe score a bunch (19 points, but on 7-22 shooting), while seeing the future, Russell, score 18 points in garbage time.