After a tough loss in Detroit, it’s safe to say things have yet to take flight for this year’s Houston Rockets. While many came into the season thinking Houston’s out-of-this-world lineup had the potential to challenge the incumbent Golden State Warriors for the title as best team in the West, those dreams came crashing back to earth weeks ago (and Kevin McHale is still searching through the wreckage for the cause of the incident). Last night’s struggles are just another indication of this season’s overall trend: the Houston Rockets are looking more like Team Rocket when they step on the court.
Even a near triple double from James Harden (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn’t enough for Houston to surmount a surprising Pistons squad. With Harden passing 40 minutes for the fourth straight game, it’s looking like the Rockets are going to be riding their thoroughbred until the saddle cracks. In fairness, a monster game from Harden is probably the best chance Houston has to win every night, but for fantasy owners, the team’s struggle bodes well for the Beard’s outlook. Harden is going to score in abundance while racking up rebounds, assists, 3s, and steals as Houston fights to stay in the playoff hunt early. I think these past five games are particularly telling for the current state of the team as well as Harden’s prospects for the next few weeks as they try to right the ship (or the rocket).
Ty Lawson – More like Ty Loss-son! Despite the fit on paper, Houston’s Lawson experiment is on life support as the former Denver Nugget has been relegated to the bench in hopes of sparking better scoring and playmaking opportunities. While it’s still early, it’s seemingly like things aren’t working out for Lawson, falling to third on the depth chart behind Jason Terry, although he did get hot last night. His role in the rotation will be closely monitored throughout the year in the event his fortune’s change for the better, but for right now, it’s okay to drop Lawson in virtually all leagues. There is almost certainly better guard on the waiver wire right now who can help your team in week 6 in beyond instead of waiting for divine intervention to spur Lawson’s immaculate recovery.
Clint Capela – Another start last night for the big man, although he only logged 22 minutes. Capela responded with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. If he continues to start, Capela will be gone off the waiver wire faster than a toupee in a hurricane.
Terrence Jones – Capela’s ascension into the starting lineup hurts Jones the most, logging only 15 minutes last night. After returning from injury, this is a quite unfortunate circumstance for fantasy owners witnessing Jones’ minutes fluctuate over the past few games. Jones is dangerously close to being cut from fantasy rosters in most leagues, with these next couple games being especially crucial in reevaluating his roster spot.
Reggie Jackson – Scored 31 points in addition to 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3-4 shooting from deep. I apologize for mocking your 8-point performance against Brooklyn the other night.
Andre Drummond – I’m legitimately disappointed every time he doesn’t have a 20/20 game. 24 and 13 just isn’t enough for me. Also going 4-18 from the free throw line is legitimately impressive. I know I’m not the best shooter, but I think I could do that with my eyes closed.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Played 44 minutes and scored 4 points. Quick reminder – scoring points is a good thing, this isn’t golf.
Stanley Johnson – Played 30 minutes off the bench and responded with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, and 4-5 shooting from deep. The eighth overall pick has recorded a steal in each of his past 5 games and has shot the ball well from deep recently. Given Detroit’s lack of wing depth, Johnson is slowly playing himself into a permanent and productive role for the rest of the year.
Amir Johnson – After a recent stretch of pedestrian production, Johnson played 33 minutes and responded with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 blocks, and 1 steal, reminding fantasy owners of his stat-stuffing potential. He won’t see 30+ minutes every game, but Johnson has secured the starting power forward spot. If his production stabilizes around this level, he will live up to his potential as a worthy late-round sleeper.
Evan Turner – As the lead ballhandler for Boston’s second unit, Turner played 32 minutes off the bench while scoring 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. With Marcus Smart missing time, Turner’s ability to run the offense as a point forward has been especially valuable to coach Brad Stevens’ game plans. Even after Smart’s return, Turner will still be a valuable fantasy option capable of impacting multiple categories every night.
Jae Crowder – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assists, and 4 steals while leading all players with a +23 rating last night. Despite his clamoring for the coaching staff to develop a consistent rotation, good things tend to happen when Crowder is on the court which as a result means good things for fantasy teams as well.
Dwyane Wade – Throwback game for Flash, finishing with 30 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals in only 32 minutes of action.
Goran Dragic – The Dragon is starting to look more like Ord from Dragon Tales after another pedestrian performance, finishing with 9 points and 3 assists in 34 minutes of action. Because Miami only played 8 guys last night, his starting spot and minutes are not in jeopardy by any means, but I don’t see Dragic drastically improving throughout the year. Dragic has struggled shooting from the outside (.257 so far) and is starting to get in his own head about shot selection. For anyone waiting for the 2012-2013 All-NBA Third Team player to arrive in South Beach, don’t hold your breath, but explore the trade market instead.
Hassan Whiteside – 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a down performance for the young center. On the bright side, he’s answered all questions surrounding his basketball IQ with his response in this tweet the other day.
Kevin Durant – 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, 4 blocks, and a big thanks to the basketball gods that KD is healthy.
Russell Westbrook – Despite 6 turnovers, the electrifying guard finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals. Also may be suffering from short term memory loss after forgetting about his former backup.
Dion Waiters – 31 minutes. 1 point. Somehow managed to go +6 for the game with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. By impacting the box score on even his worst shooting nights (0-7 from the field), Waiters is solidifying himself as a legitimate fantasy option once again.
Jeff Teague – 25 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds as Teague assumed more of a scoring role taking 17 shots last night.
Kawhi Leonard – Has played 40 minutes twice in his last four games as a result of the Spurs lack of wing depth. Luckily for fantasy owners, Leonard is making every minute count as he scored 25 points to accompany 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Also picked Derrick Rose’s pocked so badly that Chicago PD are launching a full investigation into the extent of Leonard’s thievery.
Danny Green – Despite an off shooting night (1-5 from deep), Green still impacted the fantasy box score contributing 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 2 steals. I’ve been thinking all year that Green will increase his scoring and play making in the revamped Spurs offense, but I’m slowly accepting Green’s ceiling is much lower this year than I previously thought. Green’s a virtual lock for 25 MPG and will continue to be a viable contributor as a result, but it’s time for a reality check in San Antonio.
LaMarcus Aldridge – His 21 points are the most he’s scored in a game since 11/11 (make a wish?) while adding 12 rebounds and a block as well. Overall, I think Aldridge is in officially still a good buy-low candidate for the second half of the season. A little over half of his looks are mid range jumpers, his signature shots, and Aldridge is hitting about 34% of these opportunities. Eventually the shots are going to start to fall because the former All-Pro is simply too talented for a season of missed jumpers.
Jimmy Butler – You can take Thibs out of Chicago, but apparently you still can never take Butler out of the game, logging 40 minutes for the second consecutive contest. 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal last night for the star shooting guard.
Doug McDermott – Playing 30 minutes off the bench, McDermott scored 12 points on a subpar 5-12 shooting from the field. Despite his inconsistent scoring and role so far, I think Chicago envisions McDermott ideally as a bench scorer. Most interesting, many of his shots are not coming in catch-and-shoot situations. For McDermott’s fantasy value, this is particularly important since Chicago is giving him the opportunity to grow his game in an expanded role. I don’t think he’s ownable just yet, but he’s someone to monitor over the next few weeks.
Nikola Mirotic – Finally trending in the right direction despite a pedestrian output last night logging 8 points in 24 minutes. I attribute this outing to the Spurs defensive approach and execution as opposed to Mirotic’s inconsistency.
Danilo Gallinari – The Italian Michael Jordan failed to continue the trends set by his recent production last night finishing with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist. Gallinari has looked strong over the past two weeks a matchup against the Greek Freak is not going to do much to derail his current value. Fun fact: this picture is exactly what it looks like.
Nikola Jokic – After moving into the starting lineup, Jokic does not appear to be leaving after winning the support of the coaching staff. Even with a pedestrian 8 points and 6 rebounds, Jokic will have an extended look at center until Jusuf Nurkic returns from injury.
Emmanual Mudiay – 10 points, 4 assists, and 5 turnovers as the rookie continues his cold streak from the past few games.
Jerryd Bayless – Milwaukee’s new starting point guard did little to earn that title last night by finishing with 7 points and 4 assists in 33 minutes of action. A mercurial scorer, Bayless never seemed to get going last night and was outplayed by Michael Carter-Williams (12 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – The blowout victory over the Nuggets limited Antetokounmpo to only 20 minutes of action disappointing many fantasy owners with 9 points and 6 rebounds. Despite the recent poor performances over his past two games, Giannis should be back to normal levels of production this week once he sees 30+ MPG.
Jabari Parker – Set a season high with 16 points while coming off the bench for the second straight game.
Steph Curry – 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and finally played real minutes in the fourth quarter!
Draymond Green – 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists. If it’s not a triple double, I’m not interested.
Gordon Hayward – For everyone patiently waiting on Hayward to realize his fantasy potential this season, the former Butler star recent production has justified the persistence. Last night Hayward dropped 24 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists as he continues his mini-hot streak.
Derrick Favors – 23 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in his return to action after missing Saturday’s game for personal reasons.
Wes Matthews – 10 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 2-8 shooting from deep. Despite shooting 31% from distance this year, Matthews is averaging 8.4 3PA per game over the last 5 games.
Chandler Parsons – 14 points and 3 assists in 24 minutes. While his minutes are starting to trend in the right direction, Parsons needs to start producing in more categories to be a strong fantasy asset.
Zaza Pachulia – NOT A TYPO: 6 double doubles in the last 7 games.
Rajon Rondo – Not a typical Rondo stat line, but the enigmatic point guard continues to confuse me as he finishes with 21 points and 5 assists.
DeMarcus Cousins – 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Also not a typo: 1-8 from 3.
Willie Cauley-Stein – After I had written him off, he starts at center. Does anyone understand the Kings?
Damian Lillard – Left the game with abdominal pain after scoring 7 points in 16 minutes, and is currently listed as day-to-day.
C.J. McCollum – Inherited many of the playmaking duties as lead ballhandler after Lillard’s injury, and McCollum responded with 10 assists to accompany 12 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal. Even on an off shooting night, McCollum showed fantasy owners of his ability to augment his scoring value by producing in multiple categories.
Meyers Leonard – 4 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench in his second game back after returning from a left shoulder injury. Leonard’s production has not been particularly great over the two game stretch, so fantasy owners should monitor his progress as he bounces back after a slow start. With Noah Vonleh currently manning the starting power forward spot, Leonard will need to start playing well soon to realize his ceiling and reclaim his old status as a popular breakout candidate.
Chris Paul – A strained rib muscle caused Paul to leave the game early after playing 24 minutes and recording 10 points, 6 assists, and two steals. Paul is also currently listed as day-to-day.
Blake Griffin – 23 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal while leading both teams in scoring.