Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So while there were monster games on Tuesday night from all the usual suspects — Joker, Joel, LeBron, Harden, Anthony Edwards, the Boston Boys — I’m bowing out on trying to split those hairs and passing on the opportunity to bestow the lede player honor on one of these repeat customers. Instead, we’ll spice things up by going off the beaten path and checking in on a number one pick who feels like he’s flying a bit under the radar.

Cade Cunningham


Look, I get it, you don’t want to watch the Pistons either. That’s fair. And I’ll admit that I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to spilling ink on Cade’s outstanding classmates Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes, but let’s not memory hole Cunningham just because the Pistons are, well, the Pistons. Cunningham can definitely play. Despite being afflicted by the common bugaboos for rooks — poor efficiency and turnover issues — the no. 1 pick has been inside the top-80 on the season and clearly can stuff the stat sheet. Tuesday night’s block party against the Nugs is obviously an outlier, but the stocks are generally legit and the rest of the counting stats are too. Considering what a dent the FG% and TOs are having on his overall value, all he’ll need to soar up the rankings is just a little seasoning. Once the game slows down for him and the decision-making improves, Cunningham alone will be worth the watch.

Here’s what else I saw on a busy (and Knick-free!) night in the NBA…

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Nickeil Alexander-Walker


Up and done it.

Willy Hernangomez


Before you run out to the wire for him, you should know that the reason why JV was out of this was “rest” rather than injury. That doesn’t take away from Willy getting busy in the spot start against Embiid, of course, but there’s no need to get carried away with an add.

Herbert Jones


It would be easy to dismiss Herb’s production as a by-product of Ingram, Hart, Valanciunas, and Graham all missing time, but his usage over the last two weeks is in-line with the minuscule season-long rate (13.2%) The stocks are plentiful and have powered him to top-90 production on the season, though he’s been more of a top-50 guy lately.

Jose Alvarado


Remember all the names of absent Pels? There’s a reason why you probably haven’t heard of this guy.

Joel Embiid


Not that others have fared better than Willy Hernangomez — Embiid has now scored 170 (!) points in his last four games — but to say that Joel was overwhelming is a dramatic understatement. It was another lede-worthy performance for the Process, but this run of play from Joel has been so impressive and sustained that it’s all kind of running together for me at this point. Dude is a monster.

Tobias Harris


Finally. For a while there it felt like Harris was running in mud, but he’s been able to pick up his production over the last few weeks. The scoring has been slightly up, but it’s the D-stats and efficiency that have been the engine here. He’s not normally a guy who plays both sides of the ball, so I’d put my money on this coming back down before too long. As for the rest of the Sixers, given what Embiid and Toby did, there really wasn’t much leftover for the rest of the roster.

Furkan Korkmaz


Tyrese Maxey


See what I mean?

Nikola Jokic


Could have been the lede too, sure, but what else is there to say? Last year’s number one player is this year’s number one player. Here’s hoping you didn’t get too cute at the very top of your draft.

Aaron Gordon


Decent run of ball here for AG, as this is the second time in three games that he’s given you something in every category. Considering the dearth of viable options around Joker in Denver, Gordon will have plenty of opportunity to maintain this recent top-90 run.

Jeff Green


The same principles mentioned above with Gordon should be applied here with Green. I was shocked to see that Uncle Jeff was posting top-100 value over the last two weeks, but an uptick in minutes, efficiency, and defensive stats have put him on the streaming radar. Denver’s got three more games this week, so there could be an add here.

Saddiq Bey


Hamidou Diallo


Another reason to be bullish on Cunningham long-term? No one else on the roster seems all that competent at creating offense. Having a stronger cast of characters could accelerate CC’s efficiency, but it sure is nice knowing that there’s no reason to ever take the rock out of his hands.

Trey Lyles


Not much here in 22 minutes, which is a missed opportunity. Beef Stew was saddled with five fouls and did almost nothing while he was out there (0/4/1/0). Considering that both parties are outside of the top-200, this is probably much ado about nothing, but as a guy who drafted Stewart, I’m spiritually invested in seeing how this timeshare shakes out.

LaMelo Ball


2022 has been rough on the Balls. Ow. I mean it’s been rough on the Ball family. Lonzo is going under the knife while Melo is grinding through 38/28/83 shooting splits and a massive dip in steals. At least there are those counting stats to deaden the impact of all those Melo misses. The shooting was especially hot at the season’s start, so maybe we’ll start swinging towards the positive end of expected outcomes after this one.

Miles Bridges


Unlike Ball, Bridges has been able to maintain his big leap forward here in the new calendar year. Normally there are swats, but even without them, Miles is a third-round contributor. We’ll want to keep an eye out for a late-season fade, but I’m inclined to think that this is who Bridges is now.

Pascal Siakam


In the NBA app they categorized Siakam as a PG for this game. Sounds nuts, I know, but the rest of the starters were OG, Trent, Boucher, and Achiuwa, so I guess there’s a case to be made. Point guard, point forward, whatever you want to call him, Siakam has been balling. After starting slow, Spicy P has settled into the top-50. Considering Nick Nurse’s inclination to play his guys and Siakam’s 25% usage rate, I’d say he’s back.

OG Anunoby


Anunoby is up to 12 rips in his last four games. What? You think you can be OG without a little stealing?

Gary Trent Jr


Speaking of steals, GTJ has primarily been a trips and rips play this season, and as the steals have come back to earth since the scorching start, so too has Trent’s value on the player rater. He hit five long balls last night, so there’s still something good happening here, but unless the steals are elite, that top-40 version of Trent ain’t walking through that door.

Chris Boucher


In 30 minutes. Free Boucher! The PT is still somewhat erratic, but this is the kind of all-around production that Boucher can provide when he’s given the oxygen to do so. The Raptors exist in a world where they simultaneously have no real centers and a lot of center options, so there are no PT guarantees here. A top-40 player exists under optimal circumstances though.

Amir Coffey


As if a career-high in points wasn’t memorable enough, Coffey and the Clippers won a wild one in Washington. Down 36 on the road, Ty Lue let the young guys cook and they ultimately pulled off a huge rally. No cold brew here, Coffey had been hot, cooled, and then spent 30 seconds in the microwave to satisfy your needs. If he’s available, I would grab him. The news around Paul George is not positive. If there’s a tank on, Coffey could be looking at a huge pile of minutes in the second half of the season.

Luke Kennard


Like I said, wild night. And, spoiler alert, the Wizards throwing up over themselves wasn’t the worst L of the evening.

Bradley Beal


Not only was he the guilty party on Kennard’s game-winning 4-point play, but Beal still looks to be mired in his season-long funk. After posting massive scoring seasons recently, Bradley has really struggled from deep (29%) this year and he’s been unable to compensate elsewhere well enough to justify his early-round draft pick. You’d think that he’s too good of a shooter to stay this bad, but here we are 48 games deep and the numbers are what they are.

Kyle Kuzma


After riding high for the first few weeks of January, it seems to be winter all of the sudden for Kuz. Over the last week, the FG% has deflated and the turnovers have bubbled up. The rebounding came back a bit during the collapse against the Clips and the stat sheet is full, so at least something good came of all this.

Daniel Gafford


Montrezl Harrell


Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura both saw 13-15 minutes of action and scored efficiently while they were out there. No way around it now, the big man situation is a mess.

Buddy Hield


Why would Mr. Hooper highlight such a mundane line? you ask. Because Hield was the only King to crack 10 points in a 53-point loss against the Celtics.

Ben Affleck Reaction GIF

Moving on!

Jayson Tatum


Jaylen Brown


Robert Williams III


When you score 130+ and win by 50, there is a reasonable assumption of juicy box scores. These three certainly didn’t disappoint.

LeBron James


Storytime: During RazzJam drafting season there’s a weeks-long conversation amongst the Razz writers discussing strategy and how their drafts are going. At one point, there was a conversation about what to do in the third round: LeBron or Michael Porter Jr. With an accidental caps lock on, I immediately type-shouted “PORTER” into the thread. Well, MPJ turned in nine underwhelming games before having surgery on his back and LeBron is the number 2 player in the NBA according to Basketball Monster. Yeah, I don’t know why I keep getting invited back either.

Malik Monk


If you’re looking for triples, consider your prayers answered. If it’s a good Trappist beer or really much of any other category help you’re after, seek enlightenment elsewhere. Malik isn’t that kind of Monk.

Russell Westbrook


Not sure there’s much left to say about Westbrook from a fantasy angle, but if you’re looking for good writing about Russ, I’d open this in a new tab and read it when we’re done here.

James Harden


How alone was Harden out there?

Patty Mills


DeAndre’ Bembry

Saying Goodbye Will Smith GIF by MOODMAN

Pictured: James Harden

Dejounte Murray


Murray is the seventh-best player in fantasy hoops over the last week, number 10 over the last two weeks, number 8 over the last two months, and number 10 on the season. Does that sound like a guy who is falling off to you?

Jakob Poeltl


The scoring bump is certainly welcome, but even when the points come down closer to his season average, the boards, swats, and FG% will be there to maintain Poeltl’s per-game value. He’s basically having the season (again) that we wanted out of Isaiah Stewart.

Kevin Porter Jr.


Jae’Sean Tate


Kenyon Martin Jr.


Alperen Sengun


Josh Christopher


The kids in Houston are alright. Well, except that they got punked by 30 in their own building to a not-so-great Spurs team. And their best fantasy player, Christian Wood, posted a 15/7/0/0/0/2 line in 24 minutes. And, even though KPJ has been productive over the last two weeks, he’s still juuust inside of the top-250 on the season. Other than that, yeah, they’re alright.

Luka Doncic


Jalen Brunson (11/4/5/1/1) and Tim Hardaway Jr. — who broke his foot after logging just 10 minutes — were the only other Mavs to crack double figures.

Saying Goodbye Will Smith GIF by MOODMAN

Pictured: James Harden or maybe Luka, idk

Steph Curry


Jordan Poole


Klay Thompson


We know about the Splash Brothers, but now that Klay has returned and Poole has also carved out a role draining threes, I’m wondering what we call this trio. Boogie was the Splash Cousin, so maybe these are the Triple Triplets? The Swimming Poole Friends? The Water Park Tycoons? Clearly these aren’t it, but I bet Bob Fitzgerald has something for this.

Jonathan Kuminga


Ugh. Of course he has the almost perfect night once I’ve bailed on him after being replaced by Otto Porter Jr. as a starter. OPJ only saw two more minutes than the kid, so it’s not like Kuminga is out of the rotation or anything. Who knows how long Draymond will be gone or what exactly Kerr will do in the interim, but I’m so hyped for Kuminga.

Anthony Edwards


Speaking of hyped. I was quick to point out Ant’s gunner ways during his rookie year chuck-fest, but even by the end of last year, it was clear that the dude was a gifted scorer. As for last night, the five trips were definitely helpful, but he hoisted 13 tries from the long line while going 9/14 on two-point attempts. The only thing holding him back is shot selection.

Karl-Anthony Towns


Efficiency saves the line here. Yo, Ant, knock it off with those bad threes and pass the damn ball, man!

D’Angelo Russell


A solid evening of work for DLo, but “I’ll sit back for this one” was by far the best decision he made all night.

Jusuf Nurkic


After posting a double-double in six straight games, I’m tempted to drop the Ron Paul It’s Happening gif here. However, even with the recent run of production, Nurk is only a top-90 player during that stretch, as the lack of swats, trips, and made free throws are holding back the Bosnian Beast. Still, considering how far he’s come in getting back from the broken wrist (and the broken leg before that) I guess he’s earned this little, silly celebration.

Its Happening Ron Paul GIF

Anfernee Simons


CJ McCollum


I’m not saying that all small-ish guards in Portland are successful, I’m just saying that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a big G excel up there.

Nassir Little


A solid night for Nas came to a crashing end when he sprained his shoulder in the game’s final minutes and Portland took another home L. Considering the past injuries to Nurk and McCollum (and Greg Oden and Brandon Roy if we want to go way back and really make ourselves sad) and the present injury to Dame, I think we can just come right out and say it: the Blazers aren’t allowed nice things.