The big Fin Lauri Markkanen put up a big stat line, hit a big shot and led the Jazz to a big win Friday night over the Suns. He scored a career-high 38 points on a silly 15-of-18 from the floor, 2-of-3 from deep and 6-of-8 at the line, and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a giveaway to the line.
So far this season Markkanen has delivered late 2nd / early third-round value, which isn’t too surprising. The skills were evident, it was just a matter of the fit and program in what was supposed to be a tanking Jazz team. And so far he’s fit like a glove worn by a big white dude in Utah.
His counting stats aren’t too far from this 2019-20 breakout sophomore season, before things got stormy in the Windy City. The major difference is his ability to get shots inside, and being surrounded by willing and able passers helps, too. Markkanen is shooting 65.6% on 2-point shots with nearly 10 attempts a game, numbers comparable only to Nikola Jokic. The other improvement in the stat line is nearly 2.5 assists per game – again a result of playing in an offense that complements his skill set.
Most of his career high points were actually easy buckets while taking advantage of a string of blown defensive plays. However, the difficulty level was high on this Kobe/Dirk vintage turnaround jumper:
One of many fantasy-friendly games of the night, this one featured 27 points (7-13 from deep) from Malik Beasley off the bench; 11 rebounds and 8 assists from Jarred Vanderbilt; and a basic Mike Conley double-double line of 13-4-10-1-1. On the L side, Devin Booker was one point shy of a 50 burger (16-31 FG, 2-9 3pt, 15-15 FT) with 8 rebounds, 10 assists and a steal. He had a 37%+ usage rate in this one, and coach Monty Williams noted after the game they can’t be relying on their star that much. Deandre Ayton also almost messed around, finishing with 17 points, 10 boards, 8 assists and 3 blocks.
Alright, let’s spin the wheel of other giant stat lines posted Friday night … [whoosh; click click click click click click click, click, click, click …. click]
Darius Garland made sure to surpass 100 points on the week, scoring 41 (16-26 FG, 3-8 3pt, 6-8 FT) with 6 assists, 5 steals and 8 turnovers in a 132-122 double overtime win over Charlotte. Donovan Mitchell posted 34-3-6 with 6 giveaways, and the Cleveland frontcourt feasted to the counts of 21-18-5-1-2 (Evan Mobley) and 20-12-2-0-4 (Jarrett Allen). Lamar Stevens replaced Caris LeVert in the starting lineup, both playing 30 minutes and neither performing well in the new role.
PJ Washington’s struggles from deep continued (2-10) but the rest of the state line was juicy: 28 points, 10 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals. Kelly Oubre Jr. hit 5-of-9 from deep on his way to a season-high 34 points and Terry Rozier posted 28-5-5 and hopefully used all his bricks (11-32 FG, 5-16 3pt) to build a fortress around LaMelo Ball so he doesn’t hurt himself any further.
Speaking of injury news, Tyrese Haliburton (19-6-8) had to be helped off the floor late in the Pacers 99-91 win over Houston, but said after the game he would be fine. (I have no Hali shares, but still find myself rooting for the guy.) Jalen Smith posted a line of 10-18-4-1-3 and has scored double digits in four of his last five, but the stats continue to be inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. A couple weeks back I noted Myles Turner’s Top 15 potential. He’s currently 14th in 9-cat league play [puffs chest out, straightens tie, gets on with it]. Eric Gordon produced 24 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, a steal and 2 blocks, but only hit 1-of-6 from deep. Eric, if you want to get out of there, you have to hit the threes!
Not feeling as well after his game was Ja Morant, whose Friday night ankle injury seems likely to keep him out for a little bit of time. Tyus Jones becomes a nice stream option if Morant sits. John Koncher had 19 points and 10 boards while hitting 5-of-7 from deep. And congratulations to all who drafted Jaren Jackson Jr. at a major discount. He was a man among boys Friday night while posting 25 points, 12 boards, 2 steals and 3 blocks in his second game back.
Memphis proved Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is human after all (15-6-6-0-1) and beat the OKC Thunder 121-110. Rookie JALEN Williams got another start and produced 16 points, 6 boards, 7 assists and 2 steals in 34 minutes. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl played twice as many minutes as Aleksej Pokusevski, who sprained his ankle and exited early, and finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 7 boards and 3 blocks, and the Merry-Go-Round of Thunder fantasy relevance continues.
Speaking of round, let’s head back to the wheeeeeel!! [quick stretch; extend arm, and whoosh: click click click ….]
Anthony Davis was vintage Brow with 36 points (10-16 FG, 18-21 FT), 16 boards and 4 blocks, and is currently a Top 5 fantasy player [quickly runs around the house knocking on every piece of wood to avoid jinx]. Kendrick Nunn hit 4-of-4 shots for 10 points (no big whoop, just thought someone should say something nice about him) as the Lakers beat Detroit 128-121, and are now on their second 2-game winning streak of the season!
Killian Hayes had a nice game for his streamers out there, shooting 50% with 4 threes, 18 points, 9 dimes and a steal and block. If Hayes is still on the waivers in your league, run don’t walk to pick him up, as news Saturday morning is that Cade Cunningham’s bum shin may require surgery.
Kyle Lowry nearly led the Miami B Squad to a win over the Wizards, but the D.C. team pulled out the 106-105 overtime victory. The only regular starter in the rotation, Lowry trip-doub’d with a 24-10-15-1-2 line. Kristaps Porzingis used his unicorn powers to post a 20-17-5-1-2 stat line, but was just 1-of-6 from deep, shooting 7-of-20. Kyle Kuzma was just as efficient (as in, not at all) shooting 9-of-24 including 2-of-12 from behind the arch, tainting his 21-8-5-1-0 stat line. Bradley Beal at least shot 50% while scoring 27 points to go with 8 assists and 7 turnovers.
Corey Kispert gets a spot on the watch list. He scored 17 points while hitting 5-of-7 from the 3-point line, adding 4 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals in 38 minutes of play. He’s hit 13 of his last 20 3-pointers and currently has a .727 true shooting percentage.
Joel Embiid is playing so well I may lay a +2000 bet on Cameroon to win Group G of the World Cup. Embiid led the 76ers over the Bucks 110-102, with 37 points (12-16 FG, 2-6 3pt, 6-8 FT), 11 boards, 8 assists, a steal and 3 blocks. Tyrese Maxey was Mr. Efficient (9-12 FG, 3-4 3pt, 3-4 FT) with a 24-4-5 stat line but he also left the game early due to an ankle injury. The biggest assist of the night came from the Phily faithful, who helped hold Giannis Antetokounmpo (who had a 25-14-4-1-1 stat line with 5 turnovers) to a paltry 4-of-15 from the free throw line. Jrue Holiday returned but was eased back with a bench role. Bobby Portis had an efficient 21 points with 11 boards in his starting role.
Nikola Vucevic posted 14-16-7-1-3, but missed two late free throws leading to Jalen Sugg’s game winning 3-pointer in the 108-107 game. Suggs (20-5-8-1-1 with 6 turnovers) keeps doing just enough to not get dropped to waiver wires in standard leagues.
Luka Doncic destroyed the Jokic-less Nuggets, producing a 33-12-11 triple-double in the 127-99 blowout. Christian Wood scored 28 on 10-16 shooting with 2 threes and 6 boards.
Derrick White is surprisingly (at least to me) producing 6th round value so far this season, thanks to good percentages, low turnovers and nearly a steal and block a game. He shot 9-of-12 overall and 6-8 from behind the arch and posted 26-3-1-2-2 as the Celtics beat New Orleans 117-109. The Larry Nance Jr. train kept chugging along as Zion sat again, posting a 16-8-1-3-2 stat line in 27 minutes, and has thus far produced 6th round value in 9-cat, as well. Way to go, guys!
And, finally on the Friday night, a somewhat ho-hum Golden State 111-101 win over the Knicks. Klay Thompson hitting 4-of-10 from deep seemed to be the big story of the night, which says a lot about how his season is going. Klay had 20 points with 2 boards and 3 assists. Draymond Green with a Draymond Green line (10-9-7-0-2) and Andrew Wiggins (20-7-2) continues to be solid for fantasy owners, but with an odd shooting split of about 50%-40%-68%. Ya gotta make your free throws!