Charlotte Hornets (16-15) at Portland Trail Blazers (12-18)
The Portland Trail Blazers took down the Hornets at home behind the fantasy star of the night, Damian Lillard., who contributed 43 points, eight assists, and four rebounds. He looks fully healthy as he has recently returned from an abdominal issue that has bothered him since the Summer Olympics and maybe even before then. Even with his injury, Lillard has remained a top-40 player and should stay that way for the rest of the year. Ben Mclemore was the second-highest scorer with 28 points off the bench last night on 8-13 three-point shooting. He ended up with more minutes than Anfernee Simons because of his amazing play, but these minutes and points can not be relied on.
The Hornets welcomed back LaMelo Ball from the Covid-19 list, and he did not skip a beat in his return. He finished with 27 points, five assists, and four rebounds in 29 minutes. He did not appear to be limited in any fashion, so he should immediately return to putting up stats that have landed him in the top-10 fantasy players. Miles Bridges added 14 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds in the loss on Friday. He has had some highs and lows this year but still remains in the top-40 players with free-throw shooting being the only glaring downside.
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Miami Heat (18-12) at Orlando Magic (5-25)
The Miami Heat continue to play without their core players, as Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson are the only remaining regular starters. They lucked out on Friday night, facing a Magic team that has been decimated by injuries and the Covid-19 virus, but they still only managed to win 115-105. Max Strus led the way off the bench with a career-high 32 points and seven rebounds on 8-11 three-point shooting. These numbers can not be counted on as Tyler Herro is only dealing with minor injuries. Gabe Vincent followed up his career night from Wednesday night with a new career-high on Friday. He finished with 27 points on a team-high 20 shots. He should continue to enjoy an increased role as long as Jimmy Butler continues to miss time with a tailbone injury.
The Orlando Magic had an interesting Friday night as they played with four players who were signed just hours before the game. Chuma Okeke stepped up to the challenge with most of his teammates out, finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and six steals. Okeke could find his way into some extra playing time with this performance, especially with Wendell Carter Jr. potentially missing time with a knee injury that he suffered on Friday. Franz Wagner started his first career game at the point guard position and played very well finishing with 27 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Wagner sits just outside the top-100 category players and could see slightly increased production if Carter Jr. were to miss any time.
Denver Nuggets (15-14) at Atlanta Hawks (14-15)
The Denver Nuggets won in blowout fashion in Atlanta on Friday, winning 133-115. Bones “Bizzy” Hyland had a career night off the bench scoring 24 points on 8-11 shooting. He has settled into a sizeable bench role and should continue to see around 20 minutes a night which makes him worth a look in deeper leagues. Nikola Jokic only played 26 minutes because of foul trouble and a blowout. Even in a short time, he managed to finish with 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Jokic has now jumped into the top spot in category leagues after an MVP level week and remains the top fantasy option for his elite all-around production.
The Hawks couldn’t manage to win on Friday night but still managed some amazing fantasy performances. Trae Young continues to tear up opposing defenses, finishing with 34 points and 10 assists in last night’s contest. He is top-three in scoring and assists this season and shows no sign of giving those spots up. He is a top-10 fantasy player this season with his only downfalls being turnovers and field goal percentage. Both Clint Capela and John Collins finished with a double-double in last night’s contest. Collins has been excellent this year and has moved into the top 30 players in category leagues while being a great producer of points, rebounds, and blocks.
Golden State Warriors(24-5) at Boston Celtics(14-15)
The Warriors went into TD Garden on Friday night without Jordan Poole, who is now in Covid-19 protocols, and walked away with a narrow 111-107 win. Stephen Curry led the way, as he normally does, with 30 points, five rebounds, and four assists. 16 of Curry’s 30 points came in the first quarter as he slowed down the rest of the game. He held the number one spot as of last week but now sits third in category rankings. Andrew Wiggins stepped up without Jordan Poole in the lineup, finishing with 27 points and six rebounds. Wiggins sits just outside of the top-100 and could make a push if he was able to improve his free throw shooting.
The Celtics were one of many teams ravaged by covid this week as they had four players out while in protocols on Friday. Jayson Tatum led the way on Friday night with 27 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Tatum has been somewhat disappointing for fantasy this year as he sits just inside the top-30. His shooting numbers and turnovers have really hurt him in category leagues, so those numbers will need to improve to make a push for the top-20. Jaylen Brown was back in action on Friday with a slight minutes limit as he is still trying to fully recover from a hamstring injury. He finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes on Friday and will likely keep this limit for the next week or two. Injuries and illnesses have slowed Brown down this season as he ranks in the top-70 players this season. He will look to improve his numbers as he ramps up his minutes.
Milwaukee Bucks (19-12) at New Orleans Pelicans (10-21)
The Pelicans are one of the few teams who are avoiding the Covid-19 virus and were able to take advantage of a short-handed Bucks team, winning 116-112 in overtime. Devonte’ Graham led the way on Friday night, scoring 26 points on 8-12 three-point shooting. Graham has been up and down this season but a performance like this can boost his confidence. Josh Hart continues to shine in the main three categories with 11 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists on Friday night. Hart has secured a hefty role on this Pelicans team and continues to improve as a result. He sits in the top-100 right now with room to grow if he can continue these great rebounding and assist numbers.
The Bucks are one of the most short-handed teams in the league, playing without three of their main starters on Friday night. Jrue Holiday has stepped up with the injuries with 40 points in last night’s overtime loss. Holiday sits in the top-60 for category leagues and should continue to enjoy some extra usage which could bump him into the top-50 by next week. Grayson Allen was the guy who stepped up along with Jrue finishing with 25 points on 7-12 shooting. Allen is not a player who benefits much from the main Bucks players missing but could see a few extra shot attempts over the next week or so.
San Antonio Spurs(11-17) at Utah Jazz(20-8)
The Spurs pulled off the biggest upset of the night behind a game-winning shot from Lonnie Walker who scored over the outreached arms of Rudy Gobert. Dejounte Murray continues his MIP caliber season with his fifth triple-double of the year. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. Murray has leaped into the top-25 category players with his shooting numbers being his only blemish. Keldon Johnson was the Spurs leading scorer in the win with 24 points while adding eight rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell continues to be the main guy for Utah as he finished with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Mitchell has been excellent this year as he sits inside the top-15 category players and commands one of the highest usage rates in the league. He still can get better as he has low rebounding numbers with three turnovers a game. Rudy Gobert added 16 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks in the close loss to the Spurs. He sits in the top-20 players and is an elite producer of rebounds and blocks. If he can improve his free throw shooting in any capacity he could move up, but he should remain a top-20 player regardless.
Memphis Grizzlies(19-11) at Sacramento Kings(12-18)
The Grizzlies continue to play some of their best basketball on the season as they move to 10-1 without Ja Morant after a 124-105 win over the Kings. Desmond Bane has been excellent since Morant went down with an injury and continued it last night with a game-high 24 points. Bane has pushed into the top-75 in the past week and can rise as he has no categories that negatively affect him. Dillon Brooks finished with 23 points and six rebounds on Friday. He has struggled at points without Morant, but that’s partially due to blowouts and foul trouble. He should remain as one of the top options on the Grizzlies along with Desmond Bane.
The Kings are one of many teams who are playing without multiple starters because of Covid-19. Tyrese Haliburton stepped up without De’Aaron Fox and Richaun Holmes in the starting lineup and finished with 21 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds. Haliburton has been an excellent fantasy option this year as he sits inside the top-40 and he could improve this rank if he can avoid being placed in health and safety protocols.
Los Angeles Lakers (16-14) at Minnesota Timberwolves (14-15)
The Timberwolves were without sophomore star Anthony Edwards on Friday because of Covid-19 protocols but still managed to beat the Lakers. Karl-Anthony Towns carried the load in Edwards’ absence, scoring 28 points while adding 10 rebounds and three blocks. He has been an elite category player this season as he ranks in the top-10 with turnovers being the only thing stopping him from moving into the top-five.
The Lakers played without quite a few role players on Friday night because of the health and safety protocols. Without these players, Isaiah Thomas was signed and dropped 19 points off the bench. He should not be added yet, but if he could keep a bench role he could be worth a spot in deeper leagues. LeBron James ended the night with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists while playing 36 minutes in the loss. LeBron has only played 18 games but has been an elite fantasy option when on the court.