Before the Bucks took on the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday night, the matchup read a bit like one of those torturous “two trains are three hundred miles apart, traveling at two different speeds…” puzzles that I never learned how to solve in school. Yes, the Pistons are one of the worst teams in professional basketball, but they were catching an extremely shorthanded Milwaukee team in Motown, so it felt like there was a chance that they’d be able to steal one against the banged up Bucks. The reigning champs were without their starting center (Brook Lopez remained on the side lines with a bad back), starting point guard (Jrue Holiday was out with a turned ankle), starting wing (Khris Middleton tested positive for Covid and will be away from the team for a couple of weeks), and last year’s starting two-guard (Donte DiVincenzo’s rehab and recovery from ankle surgery continues), so there was a chance, after accounting for all these caveats, that the Little Engine That Could would turn into the Little Engine That Did, at least for the night.

Or not!

Giannis Antetokounmpo

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
28 8 9 0 4 3 9/16 7/7 3

Despite being down the rest of the starting lineup, the Bucks still had Giannis, and even with both hands tied behind his back, the superstar was still way more than the Pistons could handle. G’s near triple-double doesn’t turn many heads anymore, but splashing three trips and a perfect night from the stripe is cause for appreciation.

Here’s what else I saw on Tuesday night…

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Bobby Portis

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 8 0 1 1 1 5/13 1/2 2

With so many Milwaukee contributors glued to the pine, the runway was clear for Bobby Buckets to make a big impact tonight. It didn’t really go down that way, but contributing in five cats is not nothing. Want more silver lining? BP played a season-high 22 minutes as he continues to work his way back from a hamstring injury. It’s unclear when the Bucks will be back at full strength, though it doesn’t seem to be any time soon. Until then, there will be more chances for Bobby Buckets, especially as the minutes tick back up.

Jordan Nwora

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
16 4 3 0 0 2 7/13 0/0 1

Pat Connaughton

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
16 3 2 2 0 4 6/8 0/0 1

Grayson Allen, who is also somewhat banged up, couldn’t capitalize on the Bucks’ usage vacuum and turned in a dud in 21 uninspiring minutes. Instead, it was the combination of Nwora and Connaughton that chipped in to put away the Pistons. Only Giannis logged more minutes (26) than this duo, and with Middleton in quarantine, expect plenty of burn for both. Connaughton has been up and down so far this year, which is more than can be said for Nwora, who has been mostly down. Middleton’s minutes will have to be accounted for, but given the kind of usage that Giannis draws and the track record thus far, it will be hard to trust either Pat or Jordan on any given night.

Jerami Grant

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
21 2 1 1 1 4 8/13 1/2 1

How ugly was it for the home team? Trey Lyles was the only other Piston to reach double figures. Cade Cunningham missed 12 shots, including nine threes, but he still outscored Saddiq Bey (four points on 2/13 shooting). The fact that Grant was able to fill up the stat sheet like this in just 24 minutes is definitely a welcome sight. The scoring has been a bit erratic for Grant in 21-22, but a boost in boards (5.6 per game, up from 4.6) and delicious defensive stats (1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per) are keeping his value afloat.

Jimmy Butler

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 6 6 3 1 0 4/11 15/17 1

The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week kept it rolling in Dallas, as the Heat smushed the Mavs by 15. The Butler is doing everything except hitting threes, but what else is new? The free-throw value is off the charts in the early season (41/46) and he’s piled up 20 steals in seven games. The Kyle Lowry addition hasn’t negatively impacted Jimmy, as he’s enjoying a career high 27.7 usage percentage in the early going. Dude is a stud.

Tyler Herro

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 3 4 0 0 3 11/20 0/0 0

Speaking of usage percentage, Tyler Herro is knocking on the door of 30%! His 29.9 (prior to tonight’s game) puts him just behind LaMelo Ball and is a clear indication of how green Herro’s light is when he comes off Spo’s bench. For a guy drafted on the other side of pick 100, Herro has delivered top-50-ish value thus far. It’s not just scoring either. The minutes, trips, boards, dimes and shooting percentages are all career highs thus far. Giddyup.

Bam Adebayo

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
22 13 1 0 2 0 8/18 6/7 2

Kyle Lowry

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
22 5 9 0 0 6 7/10 2/2 1

If you’re wondering where Bam’s assists have gone, look no further than Lowry. Adebayo is compensating with beefier scoring and rebounding numbers, but those sweet dimes have all but dried up for the talented big. At least the free-throw shooting continues to improve — he’s up over 85% in the early season. As for Kyle, you probably drafted him in the 6th round and he’s living up to expectations thus far despite a tumbling usage rate.

Luka Doncic

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
33 3 5 0 0 3 10/24 10/12 3

The good: Doncic’s 33 points tonight were a season high, the turnovers were minimal while the trips were abundant, and 10/12 from the charity stripe will pull up the average in the correct direction. As always though, the lack of defensive stats put a firm ceiling on Luka’s fantasy value.

Jalen Brunson

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
25 7 3 0 0 2 10/13 3/5 3

As injuries continue to run through the Mavs — first Porzingis, now Kleber — Jason Kidd inserted Brunson into the starting lineup for the first time this season and the Burner took full advantage. A season high in minutes, points, and boards followed, but like Luka, the D stats are non-exinsistant.

Tim Hardaway Jr. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
17 3 3 0 1 4 5/15 3/4 0

Another day, another bundle of triples for THJ. Hardaway is top-20 contributor from downtown, though the overall package is a bit lacking. He’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but at least the trick has been bankable.

Harrison Barnes

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 6 0 0 0 2 7/14 7/9 2

After coming out the gates as a top-20 player, the Black Falcon didn’t exactly soar tonight. It’s not a terrible line, obviously, and HB’s ability to score efficiently is always appreciated, but a bit more diversity in his contributions wouldn’t be the worst thing. As long as the shooting is this good, fantasy managers will stay sweet on Barnes. I’m just a bit worried about what happens when the 45% from three comes back to earth.

Davion Mitchell

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 4 2 0 1 2 7/15 2/4 2

In 30 minutes! While Marvin Bagley III is ossifying in Luke Walton’s doghouse, Davion’s minutes just go up and up. Off-Night has played 29+ minutes in four of seven contests, proving that all the love that Sacramento was showering him with in the preseason wasn’t just lip service. The scoring is going to be erratic — tonight’s 18 was only the second time he topped double figures in his brief career — but as long as he’s shouldering this kind of workload, he’s someone worth keeping an eye on.

De’Aaron Fox

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
13 2 9 3 1 0 4/15 5/7 3

The early struggles continue for the young King. On the season, his value is scary low (276 according to Basketball Monster). It’s not just icy shooting either, though 37% FG and 61% FT certainly doesn’t help. Swipa’s scoring, assists, steals, swats, and triples are all down from last year, and the turnovers have gone up. The usage is super high still (28.6%) and he’s a vital piece in Sactown. Patience is the only path.

Richaun Holmes

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
10 10 4 0 1 0 5/10 0/0 3

Not his best work. In fact, this is the second time that Gobert and Jazz have slapped the shackles on Richaun during the early portion of the season. Holmes had a scary fall in first half and it really looked like his knee was at risk, but Sac’s center returned and logged 32 minutes. After a first-round start to the season, those who roster Richaun can exhale for now. The big man gets a break from Rudy for a bit, but he’ll have quarrel with Valancuinas on Wednesday night. No one said life in the West was easy.

Tyrese Haliburton

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
14 3 3 1 2 1 6/16 1/2 1

There have been a few early clunkers from Hali, but last night wasn’t one of them. The shooting isn’t as pristine as what we saw from him as a rookie, but he’s turning away shots at a phenomenal rate (1.2 swats per) and tonight was no different. Davion Mitchell is wedging his way into the rotation, and Tyrese hasn’t been immune to the squeeze, but once the shooting warms up, Haliburton should be a lock to return his draft day value.

Donovan Mitchell

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
36 8 6 1 0 5 14/30 3/4 3

Really considered him for the lede before I saw that he needed 30 attempts to net his 36. Mitchell’s numbers are interesting in 21-22. He’s on pace for his best season as a pro despite the scoring coming down and a 31% three-point shooting millstone tied around his neck. There could be another gear here once his outside shooting starts migrating back towards his career average.

Rudy Gobert

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 20 1 1 4 0 3/4 6/9 3

Reliable Rudy leads the known universe in rebounds (123 already), and the swats are good enough for the top-10. Don’t look now, but Gobert’s free-throw shooting is above 70%, a huge improvement on last season’s 62% He’s got 50 attempts on the year too, so it’s not a tiny sample either. Could be some found money. Any improvement in the FT% would cement the French Rejection’s place in the top-25.

Mike Conley

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
30 3 2 1 0 6 11/19 2/2 4

Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and Royce O’Neale combined to score seven points against the Kings, effectively forcing Mike Conley to turn back to the old MC. The last time Conley dropped 30 was New Year’s Day 2021 when he hit seven threes against the Clippers. The three-ball was dialed in again, which offset the falling assist numbers. On the season, Conley’s under four dimes per game (3.3), which would an all-time low if we quit playing ball today.

Jonas Valanciunas

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 14 2 1 2 3 9/16 2/2 5

If there’s only one person who enjoyed the leaked footage of Zion’s lumbering agility workout, it’s JV. While the rest of the basketball world anxiously awaits Williamson’s return, Valanciunas continues to beast his way into a top-10 start to the season. With stat lines like the one above, it’s not hard to see how he’s doing it. The scoring, boarding, and swatting are all up from last year, and there’s no reason to think anything other than Zion’s return will slow Jonas down.

Devonte’ Graham

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
12 3 6 4 0 2 4/15 2/2 3

The things we endure for steals and dimes. Hey Siri, what’s another name for a poison pill?

Chris Paul

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
14 7 18 1 1 0 6/8 2/2 4

He didn’t break into double-digit scoring until deep into the fourth quarter, but CP was impacting the game with his passing all night. After a sloppy first three quarters where both teams turned the ball over with gusto, the Point God took over in the fourth and propelled the Suns past an opportunistic Pelicans group. The boatload of dimes pushed Paul ahead of Steve Nash for third all time in assists. Only 5,000 more to catch John Stockton.

Devin Booker

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
18 8 3 1 1 2 7/20 2/2 6

Some fourth quarter makes salvaged the night for Book, who has been sluggish to start the season. The field goal percentage is hovering just above 40% and the three-ball has been particularly unreliable (sub-30%), pushing his overall value down into the top-80 range. It’s been a lot of basketball for Book over the last calendar year, so heavy legs seems like a likely culprit.

Christian Wood

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
26 16 3 1 0 3 11/19 1/5 1

CW is off to his best three point shooting season yet in 21-22 (up to 39% after last night’s game), so it’s strange to watch his free throw percentage simultaneously tumble (now 51%). Someone get Nick Van Exel in Wood’s ear. Maybe backing up the whole free throw routine will help.

Kevin Porter Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
11 5 8 4 1 1 5/14 0/1 5

Hey Siri, how many names are there for poison pills?

 

Jae’Sean Tate

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
20 5 2 1 2 2 9/15 0/0 3

Just when those Drop Player fingers were beginning to twitch, Jae’Sean turned in his best game of the season against the Lake Show. The points were a season-high, and he’s now posted a 2-block night in back to back games. Never a usage hog, it’s good to see Tate get up 15 attempts, though, given the makeup of this Houston roster, it’s hard to see this becoming A Thing.

LeBron James

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
30 4 10 2 0 2 13/21 2/2 4

Give the King an offseason and good health and he’s still capable of dominating the NBA. James is lurking just outside of the top-10 in 21-22, as the early-season scoring, threes, steals, and blocks numbers are all up from last year’s top-35 effort. Even the free throw percentage (up to 78%) is riding high these days. It’s good to be the King.

Anthony Davis

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 9 3 2 3 0 11/18 5/8 4

Just six spots below LeBron on Basketball Monster is the other Laker superstar. AD’s scoring, rebounding, shot blocking, and efficiency are all up to start the campaign, and for those with a rose-colored inclination, there’s certainly room to improve the steal rate as the season continues. Davis is currently averaging 0.9 thefts per game, well below his career rate 1.4.

Russell Westbrook

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 9 7 1 0 0 10/21 7/8 3

And then many, many, many spots below AD is the Laker’s other other superstar. Early returns on the Brody’s homecoming season have not been encouraging, but it’s good to see all the pieces fitting together well in Laker Land — at least for one game. Playing the hapless Rockets certainly helps, but it looks like Westbrook might be finding some traction.