Alright, so actual Fat Tuesday doesn’t shake down in New Orleans for another couple weeks, but with a robust eight games on the NBA docket, it was a fitting – and catchy – title, so I decided to stick with it. (“Robust Tuesday” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way, ya know?) We typically only get a handful of games on a given Tuesday, but the schedule makers decided to give League Pass subscribers a real workout this week. Games started at 7pm and didn’t wrap up until well after midnight on the East Coast. In the middle of it all was an overtime thriller at the Mecca.
The Knickerbockers of New York, absent Carmelo Anthony, were able to withstand a pair of fat (Tuesday) lines from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for much of the night. Despite a combined 74 points from the Thunder’s dynamic duo (KD poured in 44, Russ 30), the Madison Square Garden audience was treated to some bonus basketball, though the Knicks ultimately came up just short in the 53rd minute. New York shared the scoring burden as they had five different players contribute between 15 and 21 points: Kristaps Porzingis (15), Lance Thomas (16), Aaron Afflalo (17), Derrick Williams (19), Langston Galloway (21).
Durant supplemented his scoring barrage with 14 boards, five dimes, a steal, and four 3-pointers. A healthy Durantula is the second most valuable asset in fantasy basketball. It’s just that simple. I don’t care what format you’re playing or how many categories you’re counting, if I’m not getting Steph Curry in return, I’m not parting with KD right now.
Kevin’s running mate, Russell Westbrook, had himself quite the ballgame as well: 13-of-24 from the field, eight rebounds, 10 helpers and three steals complemented his 30-point outing quite nicely. Picky owners can find fault in his five turnovers or failure to connect from long range, but overall Westbrook is an absolute stat stuffer and you probably only need one hand to count the number of players more valuable than him moving forward.
Meanwhile, outside of the Big Apple…
Archie Goodwin – More like Archie Goodloss, amirite? Cuz…his numbers were good…but his team lost…get it? Nevermind. 26/6/6/2/0 on 11-15 shooting, including a trey. He’s a must start guy (until Brandon Knight comes back) in just about any format, but especially DFS while his salary struggles to catch up with his opportunity and production.
Nerlens Noel – The perfect formula for Noel seems to be lots of Ish Smith and not so much Jahlil Okafor. That’s exactly what he got on Tuesday as the latter missed the game with an illness and both Nerlens and Ish saw over 30 minutes of run. Noel responded with an efficient offensive game (14 points on 5-7 FGs, 4-4 FTs) and a defensive gem (nine rebounds, three swats, three swipes).
Chris Paul – CP3 was up to his usual tricks with 26/6/7/1/0 on 11-21 shooting, connecting four times from distance. The Clippers need him to be nothing short of consistently great to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture and that’s exactly what he’s been. There’s no reason to think he’ll slow down and you’re not letting him go for anyone outside the top-10.
Paul George – PG13 quelled any fears over swelling in his surgically repaired leg, posting 31/11/3/1/1 with a pair of threes and good percentages (12-23 FGs, 5-6 FTs). In a true 9-cat gem, George only turned the ball over once in his 38 minutes of floor time. He won’t be this efficient most nights, but if he can stay healthy and continue to make strides in his shot selection and ball protection, he could reclaim the first round value that he was returning over the first month of the season.
Dwyane Wade – Sore shoulders, sore shmoulders. A beauty of a line for Wade against the Nets: 27/4/8/3/2 including a perfect 5-5 from the charity stripe. If he’s active for the Heat, he’s active for your fantasy team.
Otto Porter Jr. – In one of the more understated quality lines of the night, OPJ put up 15 points, eight boards, four steals and a three. He had nary a turnover while also shooting 7-11 from the field. I would rather own Porter than his oft-injured, but more heralded teammate, Bradley Beal for the rest of the season.
Kyle Lowry – It was all good for K-Low (29/4/4/2/0 with five 3-pointers) right up until the waning moments of the game where he got caught up on a screen and had his left (non-shooting) wrist bent awkwardly. He ran immediately to the locker room and had x-rays taken, which thankfully came back negative. He’ll likely be dealing with some swelling and sorenss, so he could very well miss Thursday’s primetime matchup (on TNT) with the Knicks. Cory Joseph doesn’t sport a game that will ever set the world on fire, but he is fairly efficient and would be a solid source of assists if he’s thrust into a starter’s role.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Big game for Alphabet on Tuesday as he dropped 25 points on 16 shots. Nine boards, two assists, two steals and a block rounded out his line and he was a big part of the reason the Bucks held off the Magic in Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton – The Duchess, much like his Freakish Greekish teammate, was up to the task on Tuesday. A perfect 11-11 mark from the FT line helped Middleton get to 25 points to go along with five rebounds, seven dimes, a steal and two triples. He is working his way towards the top-30 players in January and his slow start to the season is a distant memory.
Willie Cauley-Stein – It was an ugly night for most of the Sacramento Kings, but WCS found some success in Portland. 12/7/1/1/4 on 5-8 shooting with no turnovers is a nice, efficient line. Any time Rudy Gay and/or Omri Casspi miss time, Willie is going to be worth playing as he’s proven to be a double-double threat with some defensive goodies in ~30 minutes per game.
J.J. Barea – Even though the Mavericks won in Los Angeles, there wasn’t much to write home about statistically. Jose Juan had a nice little game off the bench with 18/4/4/1/0 in 28 minutes. He picked up a bit of extra run (28 minutes), in part because Devin Harris is out and in part because the Lakers are running two smaller guards more often than not. JJB hasn’t been worth a roster spot in 2016, but if any more of the Mavericks’ guards need to miss time he could be a cheap source of points, dimes, steals and threes.
Jordan Clarkson – Unfortunately there were no defensive stats to round out JC’s line, but 18/6/7 with a pair of threes in 37 minutes is pretty nice. With Kobe Bryant likely to be in the active lineup less and less as the season wears on, Clarkson stands to benefit and could very well go on a post-ASB tear.
Tyson Chandler – After pulling down a combined 61 (!) rebounds in his past three games, you’d expect Chandler to grab more than just five against an undersized Philly team. Chalk it up to low playing time (19 minutes) as Phoenix decided to play small ball with Alex Len getting the majority of the center minutes. Tyson is a decent streaming option for rebound-needy teams, but he’ll suffer some inconsistency based on Jeff Hornacek’s largely unpredictable rotations.
Paul Pierce – Is bad at basketball and needs to stop being a thing. That is all.
Monta Ellis – If you told Monta’s fantasy owners he’d be getting 38 minutes in a competitive game, mostly matched up against J.J. Redick, they’d sure be excited about his potential output. That’s why 6/4/5/2/0 on 3-12 shooting under those circumstances serves as a major disappointment.
Gerald Green – The nine-fingered assassin continues to squander his opportunity with the injury-depleted Heat. Green managed only six points on six shots, and has now failed to hit double figures in seven straight. He belongs on the wire.
Thaddeus Young – Thad the Impaler drove a spike through the heart of his fantasy owners with an empty 12/5/0/1/0 line in 32 uninspiring minutes. To make matters worse he missed both free throw attempts and just didn’t appear interested in competing on Tuesday. History suggests there are better nights ahead for Young.
Garrett Temple – Starting for the concussed Bradley Beal, Temple got heavy run (34 minutes) but did next to nothing with it. He managed only eight points and one rebound and he’s just not someone I want on my fantasy team even in his currently ideal situation.
DeMar DeRozan – The Washington Wizards made Double-D the focus of their defensive efforts and he struggled to get loose in his 34 minutes. Even though he only shot 5-13 from the field, he still scratched and clawed his way to 17 points, four boards, and four dimes. But the poor shooting and four turnovers amount to a sub-par evening for the likely All Star.
Elfrid Payton – Scott Skiles put Elfrid on the shelfrid for half the game as Payton split the point guard minutes right down the middle with Shabazz Napier. EP managed only 8/0/3/0/1 in his 24 minutes and he could be a frustrating player to own as long as he and Skiles are paired up in the Magic Kingdom.
Michael Carter-Williams – Elfrid Payton wasn’t the only starting PG to struggle in the Magic/Bucks game. MCW scored a whopping five points on eight shots. He used the rest of his 38 minutes to add two rebounds, five assists, a steal, and three turnovers to the box score. Amazingly, he’s been a top-75 player this month but many more nights like these and he’ll find himself outside the top-100 on the season (he was 94th heading into Tuesday’s game).
DeMarcus Cousins – What a departure from his last couple games. DMC made only four of his 21 attempts from the field. He missed both attempts from beyond the arc. And the 74% shooter managed to connect on only nine of 17 free throws. Boogie also failed to contribute a defensive stat for the first time since November 18th (a span of 28 games). It’s rare that we see a player’s best game of the season followed immediately thereafter by his worst, but that’s what we got from Cousins on Tuesday.
Wesley Matthews – Despite a cupcake matchup against the Lakers, Wes could only muster eight points and five dimes in 33 minutes. That’s right – no boards, no steals, no blocks. He’s still comfortably inside the top-100 for the month of January and for the entire season-to-date.
D’Angelo Russell – I stayed up to watch this game and I hated what I saw from the rookie. He played selfish (no assists), inefficient (4-12 FGs, 3 TOs) basketball and his shot selection was awful. Russell walks around the court with a little too much swagger for someone who should be humbled by his performance over much of his rookie season. The kid was coming in off a pair of quality outings, but this was a major step backwards and I can’t fault Byron Scott for favoring Jordan Clarkson & Lou Williams down the stretch of close games. It’s not a question of talent for DR, but rather one of attitude, decision-making and effort; he’ll need to get those things corrected before he can sustain his role, minutes, and production.
Blake Griffin – Broke his hand punching the Clippers’ ball boy (twice) at a restaurant in Toronto. Rumor has it Blake wanted to order the poutine and ball boy was all like, “Nah, Blake, don’t do it. You know melted cheese curds go straight to your thighs…and you’re already dealing with thigh issues, man.” *POW* Blake pops him right in the kissah. #BlameCanada
Kobe Bryant – Despite two full days of rest, the Bean couldn’t get his shoulder to the point where he was comfortable suiting up versus the Mavs. Razzball Nation – over/under 20 games played for Kobe from this point forward? (Gimme the under.)
Alex Len – Saw the majority of the center minutes and responded with a nice 16 & 12 double-double. Len made all four of his free throws, stole the ball once and rejected two shots in a very solid effort. He’s an attractive rest-of-season asset as the Suns will hopefully prioritize the development of their young talent.
Robert Covington – Is there a better streaming option for 3-pointers than Bobby Covington right now? He has launched an absurd 59 shots from behind the arc over his last six games, connecting on 26 (44%). He has seen 30 or more minutes in six of his last seven games and looks to be a major part of the Sixers rotation as it currently stands. He’s going to murder your field goal percentage, but he provides enough of the counting stats to be a firm hold.
Nik Stauskas – Played a team-high 38 minutes against the Suns and provided a well-rounded line of 15/4/4/1/0 with a three and no TOs. Maybe the Sauce hasn’t expired just yet…
DeAndre Jordan – Standard DAJ line with the low scoring (nine points) and bad FT shooting (3-8), but huge rebound (19) and block (three) numbers. Steady as she goes.
Myles Turner – Was on a heater in the first half with a perfect 7-7 mark from the field. He played only a few minutes in the second half and missed all four attempts after the break to finish 7-11 for 16 points, six boards and a block. Even with Ian Mahinmi back in the starting lineup, Turner has shown plenty of ability to establish himself as a prominent role player for the Pacers. His arrow is pointing up.
Justise Winslow – The rookie is the Heat bench player to own. He played a team-high 37 minutes and parlayed that into a sweet line of 13/7/2/2/0 on 6-7 shooting with a three. Miami is getting healthier with Luol Deng back and Goran Dragic likely to miss only a game or two more, but Winslow has shown enough to lock down the 6th Man role. Not the worst guy to have on the end of your bench.
Donald Sloan – Played fewer minutes (23) as a starter than Shane Larkin did (25) off the bench. Neither player was especially productive and unless you’re in desperate need of assists, you can likely find better (see: higher upside) options on the waiver wire.
John Wall – Bad shooting night for Wall (6-17 FGs), but that has been the case for him against the Raptors all year. In true John Wall fashion though, he salvaged his line with 14 assists and a three.
Terrence Ross – He’s no Robert Covington, but T-Ross has found the range from deep as of late. Three more 3-pointers on Tuesday brought his total to 16 over his last five and he’s shot 50% or better from the field in each of those games. Consider streaming him while he has the hot hand. He could be even more attractive if the backcourt rotation consolidates due to potential missed time for Kyle Lowry (wrist).
Aaron Gordon – Played a team-high 37 minutes, but didn’t do a ton with them. 9/9/3/1/0 is underwhelming, but he stayed out of foul trouble, knocked down a 3-pointer, and didn’t turn the ball over. If AG can continue to see run in the 30+ MPG range, I’m confident he’ll find his way to top-100 value post-All Star break.
Damian Lillard – Matched his career-high with 13 assists, but struggled with his shot making only 5-16 overall (1-6 from deep).
Lou Williams – Sweet Lou provided the sweet money stats – a three, a steal, and three blocks. Don’t expect the swats to be a regular occurrence as he was matched up with J.J. Barea for much of the game, and I’m pretty sure you could stream Peter Dinklage for blocks if he was given the same assignment.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
The following players saw 36+ minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
DeAndre Jordan (41), Chris Paul (36), Paul George (38), George Hill (40), Monta Ellis (38), Devin Booker (36), Nik Stauskas (38), Justise Winslow (37), Joe Johnson (37), Serge Ibaka (47), Kevin Durant (43), Russell Westbrook (44), Dion Waiters (43), Lance Thomas (41), Arron Afflalo (40), Derrick Williams (36), Aaron Gordon (37), Nikola Vucevic (37), Giannis Antetokounmpo (38), Michael Carter-Williams (38), Khris Middleton (36), Otto Porter Jr. (36), John Wall (36), Kyle Lowry (36),
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.