Orlando Magic(4-12) at Brooklyn Nets(12-5)

The Brooklyn Nets are back for another Friday night, so it’s only fitting that the fantasy star of the night is from the Nets. James Harden ended with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in the narrow, 115-113 win over the Magic. We got a glimpse of the Nets with just one superstar on Friday as Kevin Durant was out with injury. Whenever one of these superstars plays alone, they will have immense upside and control the offense entirely. Harden continues to have more upside when both are on the court together because of his high assist numbers.

The Orlando Magic continue to keep better teams on the edge of their seats with another close game last night. Rookie Jalen Suggs exploded early in the game and tied his career-high with 21 points as the Magic’s leading scorer. Cole Anthony added a near double-double with 16 points and nine assists. Anthony is the most consistent producer on the Magic and can create a lot of offense for his team. He should be an above-average producer in the main three categories for the remainder of the season. 

Indiana Pacers(6-11) at Charlotte Hornets(10-7)

The Hornets continue their strong run lately with their fifth straight win on Friday night over the Pacers, 121-118. LaMelo Ball continues to live up to the hype, finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. He led the way in every main category and has a chance to continue that trend nightly as he continues to improve in his sophomore season. Ball has uncapped upside as an elite category player, especially if he can continue his hot shooting from last night. Miles Bridges struggled last night, but this was mainly because of foul trouble throughout the game. Bridges may be prone to some off nights, but he should continue to be a steal for players who drafted him in the middle rounds.

The Pacers continue to struggle, and the score does not reflect what happened in this game. Although the Pacers only lost by three points, the starters struggled for a majority of the game and were benched in the third quarter. The Pacers benched stormed back behind 23 points from Jeremy Lamb. This game should not reflect the Pacers from a fantasy standpoint, but it should be noted that when fully healthy, the production from the Pacers is spread out between multiple high usage starters. 

Golden State Warriors(14-2) at Detroit Pistons(4-11)

The Golden State Warriors were without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green on Friday night but were still able to come away with a 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons. Without Curry and Green in the lineup, Jordan Poole stepped up and scored 32 points and added seven rebounds. Andrew Wiggins played very well for the Warriors scoring 27 points in the win. Poole will be the top option if Stephen Curry were to miss any time, but it appears that his injury is only a minor concern. 

The Pistons continue to be a bottom-tier team in the NBA and remain a crapshoot for fantasy outside of Cade Cunningham. Frank Jackson led the Pistons last night with 27 points off the bench. Rookie Cade Cunningham added 19 points, six assists, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Cunningham’s all-around performances have become more of a regular sight as he has gotten more acclimated to the NBA. He should receive all the minutes and usage he can handle as the year continues. 

Los Angeles Lakers(8-9) at Boston Celtics(8-8)

Jayson Tatum took over last night with 37 points and 11 rebounds in the win over the Lakers. Marcus Smart was excellent as well with 22 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. With Jaylen Brown set to return from injury soon, Smart and Dennis Schroder should each see a reduction in their offensive stats. Tatum should continue to lead this team as a scorer even when Brown returns.

LeBron James was welcomed back to the Lakers starting lineup after missing the last eight games with an abdominal injury. Even though they lost, James was still able to score 23 points in his return. Fantasy managers should see his production ramp-up as he fully continues to get back to full strength. Anthony Davis led the way with 32 points for the Lakers in the loss. Davis should continue to be an excellent producer of points, rebounds, steals, and blocks as the return of James can only take pressure off of him.

 

Los Angeles Clippers(9-7) at New Orleans Pelicans(3-14)

The Pelicans get back in the win column with a 94-81 win over the Clippers. Even with Brandon Ingram returning from injury, Jonas Valanciunas continues to lead the Pelicans with 26 points and 13 rebounds on Friday night. He has a double-double in 13 of 17 games this season and will continue to be one of the best producers of rebounds in the NBA, along with his points and blocks that he adds nightly. Josh Hart continues to be a great all-around producer for the Pelicans with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists last night. Hart has shown that he can still produce even with Ingram back in the starting lineup. Continue starting him with confidence until anything changes. 

When Paul George struggles, so will the Clippers. That was the case on Friday night as Paul George finished with a team-high 19 points in the loss, with almost everyone on the team struggling behind him. Ivica Zubac has been a bright spot for the Clippers as of late, with eight points and 10 rebounds last night. He should continue to provide a steady stream of points and rebounds, as the Clippers have opted to play less small ball in recent weeks. Until that changes, Zubac should continue to see heavy minutes as the main center. 

Oklahoma City Thunder(6-9) at Milwaukee Bucks(8-8)

The Bucks continue to get healthier from their injury-plagued start to the season, playing only without Brook Lopez now. Giannis Antetokounmpo unsurprisingly led the way with 21 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks, and two steals. Antetokounmpo did it all on Friday night as he continues another MVP caliber season. He is an elite category player and has justified his top three ADP to start the season. Bobby Portis had another great night as the fill-in center for Brook Lopez. He finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Even when Lopez returns, Portis should still have a very sizeable role on the bench unit. 

The future is bright in Oklahoma City, but the present struggles continue. Josh Giddey was excellent last night with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Giddey looked like a great all-around producer early in his career and should only get better as the year moves on. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl played 28 minutes last night and should continue to see the bulk of center minutes as the Thunder are only looking toward the future. 

Chicago Bulls(11-5) at Denver Nuggets(9-7)

The Chicago Bulls continued their west coast trip with a 114-108 win over the Nuggets. They continue to play without Nikola Vucevic, who is out with Covid-19. Zach LaVine stepped up for the Bulls with 36 points in the win last night. DeMar DeRozan added 26 points, and he and LaVine will continue to be the main offensive pieces even when they are fully healthy. 

The Nuggets were without Nikola Jokic in last night’s loss and it is unclear when the reigning MVP will return from injury. In his absence, Aaron Gordon exploded for 28 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Will Barton added 23 points of his own in the loss. Barton will be the top producer if Jokic were to miss any time and will continue to be a solid all-around producer with or without Jokic. 

Dallas Mavericks(9-6) at Phoenix Suns(12-3)

The Suns won their 11th straight game last night with a 112-104 win over the Mavericks. Chris Paul continues to dominate, posting another double-double with 18 points and 14 assists. He is the top producer in assists and steals and remains an elite category player even in the latter stages of his career. Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges each added 19 points in the win. Booker will have better nights than this one as he struggled to get his shot going in last night’s contest.

The Mavericks continue to be without Luka Doncic and continue to struggle as a result. Kristaps Porzingis has stepped up without Doncic in the lineup. He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Porzingis has been more involved in the offense lately even when Doncic is healthy, which is a great sign for fantasy managers. Jalen Brunson has seen the largest boost without Luka in the lineup as he finished with 18 points and 10 assists. Brunson is still heavily involved off the bench normally, but the increased usage this week is a nice bonus for fantasy managers. 

Toronto Raptors(8-9) at Sacramento Kings(6-10)

Just as the Raptors started to play with a fully healthy starting lineup, they lost OG Anunoby to a hip injury. Pascal Siakam finished with a season-high 32 points in a 108-89 win over the Kings. He should continue to see increased usage with Anunoby out for an unknown amount of time and should be the top producer on a healthy Raptors team. Chris Boucher has seen increased minutes with Anunoby out and had an excellent night on Friday with 10 points and 12 rebounds. He should continue to enjoy this increased role off the bench for the near future.

The Kings had an awful shooting night across the board, except for De’Aaron Fox, who posted 17 points on 61% shooting. Fox was the leading scorer last night and leads the way most nights for the Kings. The Kings have recently been starting Chimeze Metu, who could be a deeper league option for rebounds and defensive stats. He finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, one block, and one steal.

 

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