As Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport fire off one “BREAKING” tweet after another, I just have to be honest: Writing about basketball tonight sort of feels like being the undercard for a Jon Jones fight. Is anyone gonna care about the NBA tonight, while the NFL free agency frenzy carries on deep into the wee hours?
NO? Well, I’ll just go ahead and MAKE you care. Didn’t mean to sound like Tony Soprano, sorry. Let’s get into my NBA Wednesday fantasy basketball notes and analysis.
Can anyone stop freakin’ Joel Embiid this season? Jo-Jo’s MVP campaign continued in raging fashion Wednesday night, as he dropped 36 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks on the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers. No answers from young Evan Mobley, defensively? This is what happens when Jarrett Allen (right eye contusion) is out of Cleveland’s lineup. Embiid – the savvy veteran he has become – took full advantage of the Cavs’ weak paint defense from the get-go. He was 12-of-19 from the field on his way to an absolutely monstrous fantasy line.
Elsewhere, well… things are starting to settle in for these Sixers now, huh? Embiid is the clear top dog, with James Harden (28 points, 12 assists and six rebounds) operating as the obvious No. 2 man. The next man up is where things have recently changed: Tyrese Maxey (23 points, five threes and four rebounds) has clearly bypassed veteran Tobias Harris (7 points, one assist) in Philadelphia’s pecking order, and this is what is right for the team. Ultimately, when the playoffs roll around, Maxey will be Philly’s X-factor because Harden traditionally struggles in the clutch.
“Rocket” Man: Kevin Porter Crushes Laker Dreams
This was one the Los Angeles Lakers absolutely had to have, right? Facing the young, inexperienced Houston Rockets… and this organization doesn’t even necessarily care if it loses right now, does it?
Well, disaster struck from a Laker perspective. The unthinkable happened – the Rockets battled every freakin’ play from start to finish. Leading the way was young floor general Kevin Porter Jr. who lit up the L.A. skyline for 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists on impeccable 11-of-16 shooting from the floor. He was weaving around screens. Dribble penetrating with ease. Manipulating the pace in both the half-and-full court. It was a masterful all-around performance from a sneakily rising star who is still just 22 years young. Really beautiful stuff to watch.
Elsewhere, the Rockets were ecstatic to have SIX other players in double figures: Jabari Smith Jr. (18 points), KJ Martin (16), Alperen Sengun (13), Jalen Green (11), Jae’Sean Tate (13) and Josh Christopher (12). When you get outstanding balance like that, you beat the Los Angeles Lakers by the score of 114-110. A crushing blow to the #LakeShow and its faithful.
“He’s Heating Up!” Yes, That’s an NBA Jam reference
Many of us have been waiting and waiting for the Miami Heat to bust out. We know they have a winning culture, but where has the consistency been? Wednesday night brought the heat they were looking for, as Miami’s Big Three – Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro – dominated the Memphis Grizzlies’ reeling defense with relative ease.
Adebayo was the top dog Wednesday night, on his way to 26 points, eight rebounds and three blocks on especially efficient 10-of-15 shooting from the floor. Butler and Herro weren’t far behind, though. Both were solid, with Butler going for 23, eight and six, while Herro compiled 24, six and four. This is exactly the way Miami wants things to be when the going gets tough and the games get more and more important.
Fantasy wise, “The Others” – as Charles Barkley and Shaq would say – eat into each other’s production. That means Kevin Love, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Kyle Lowry will make for nightly headaches in DFS. Just do yourself a favor and stay away.
Strong Fantasy Performances Around the League
Caris LeVert: Despite the Cavs’ disappointing loss to the conference-rival 76ers, LeVert was able to shine on his way to 24 points, six assists and five threes. He remains one of the best bench players in the NBA, one who can effectively fill time at the 1, 2 and 3.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: One of my favorite two-way players in the NBA had another strong night on Wednesday. “JJJ” racked up 25 points, nine rebounds and four threes on spectacular 10-of-15 shooting from the floor. This kid has the all-around potential to be a superstar in this league.
De’Aaron Fox: 32 points and four threes on 12-of-17 shooting in a dramatic 117-114 road victory over the hungry Chicago Bulls. Seriously… do the Sacramento Kings play a close, draining game every single night of the season?
DeMar DeRozan: 33 points, four threes and two steals in the Bulls’ brutal loss to the Kings. On the bright side? It was nice to see DeRozan in this spot instead of Zach LaVine, for once this season.
Jaylen Brown: 35 points and 10 rebounds in a 104-102 squeaker over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who really needed the game. I know I’m writing about Jaylen Brown here, but… did you see Jayson Tatum’s dramatic dunk over Rudy Gobert?
I’ll see ya right back here next week.
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NBA for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy basketball, football and baseball.
Great roundup, as always. Love to see JJJ getting some love (I’m also biased since I took a chance on him draft night despite the injury).
I probably face a glut of games tomorrow (i.e. two more players than slots), assuming just one of Collins or Jerami plays. Also, we can only add players M, W, F so I can’t add/drop during the weekend. Most matchup cats this week are close or at least within range, and my opponent has more games left.
I’m debating whether to drop D.White for someone who plays SAT and SUN, where I have open slots. The pickings are slim, though: Anthony, B.Brown, Ca.Martin, KCP, M.Wagner, Plumlee. Welcome any suggestions!
Joey B… thank you so much for the kind words, and for always reading!
Yeah, JJJ is an absolute monster, sky is the limit for that kid… yeesh, those pickings are slim… if we are talking Cole Anthony there, I’d go with him out of that weak-ish group