Paulo Banchero crossed the 40-point mark for the first time in his young career on Wednesday night, finishing with 42 points on 16-of-26 shooting (1-5 3PT, 9-12 FT). Sure he was stingy, dishing just one dime to go with his 6 boards and 2 blocks. But it’s a nice opportunity to highlight his jump in efficiency this year. 

His 3-point percentage is a whopping 42% this season, which surely will come down a bit. But he’s shown growth in this overall shot selection, taking 70% of his shots inside 16 feet, compared to 62% last year. He’s also better at creating his own shot this year and has added an extra dime per game so far – and wouldn’t surprise me to see that stat increase over the season (despite this game – when when you’re feelin’ it, screw the teammates). 

He’s still ranked on the fringe – No. 150 – in standard 9-cat play because of the free throw percentage. Include a punt FT% tag, and he’s 72. And even without, he’s No. 100 in the last two weeks. Certainly the kind of trends you’d hope for and expect from the reigning Rookie of the Year. But, ya got to make your free throws. 

Here’s what else was noteworthy on a Wednesday night of not In-Season Tourney games

Cleveland Cavaliers 121, Orlando Magic 111

The Max Strux caboose rolls on with 17-5-6 and 4-of-8 from deep. Jarrett Allen got into some foul trouble and played just 19 minutes (8-11-2 and a steal), but overall is far from meeting pre-season expectations. 

Jalen Suggs went down with an ankle injury, so Gary Harris played 31 minutes (8-3-3 and a steal), but he’s never standard league relevant even when he gets starters minutes. If Suggs misses time, it’s likely just more usage for Banchero, Cole Anthony (19-7-2-1-2) and Franz Wagner (14-6-9-3-0; nice line, but an ugly shooting night, 3-16 FG). Maybe old man Joe Ingles gets some added minutes if the body can handle it. 

Philadelphia 76ers 131, Washington Wizards 126

File this one as a “moral victory” for the Wizards, as they required Joel Embiid (50-13-7-1-1) to score a 50 burger on them to get the win. Kelly Oubre Jr. returned, posting 12-3-1 in 19 minutes off the bench. Minutes will build up some, but I expect him to just be fringe despite his hot start to the season. 

Some actual efficiency from the lines of Jordan Poole (23-1-2-1-0; 10-16 FG, 3-5 3PT) and Tyus Jones (20-3-8-1-2; 8-11 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT). I still can’t trust Poole to turn it around other than maybe points leagues, but there’s still hope for Tyus, me thinks. A nice three-of-a-kind by Deni Avdija (8-8-8), who I’m now just required to mention every week because I love to celebrate the finest in mediocrity. And Daniel Gafford allowing his owners to breath calmly in the last couple weeks (ranked No. 23 in the last 6 games), posting a sturdy 18-6-4-1-2 line in this one.

Miami Heat 112, Toronto Raptors 103

Orlando Robinson finally received the opportunity and he delivered. Starting again in place of Bam, Big O followed up a 16-5-3 Saturday night outing with a stellar 15-12-4-3-1 performance with 2 threes and 3-of-3 from the line. He also was a +27, which is 27 points better than other backup center Thomas Bryant – who didn’t play at all. Hopefully this was enough to supplant Orlando in Miami’s rotation as the backup center going forward. If so, he definitely has deeper league appeal, and could be a solid stream anytime Bam sits. Not that Per-36 matters much, other than when you’re trying to prove something, but Orlando is ranked No. 27 in 9-cat Per-36 this season. Just give him the minutes!

The role players put up solid games here, but it’s difficult to see the likes of Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez Jr. being more than streamers when Tyler Herro returns – expected in the coming days. 

The OG Anunoby (8-13 FG, 5-10 3PT, 2-2 FT) stocks are on the rise. He posted 23 points, 8 boards, 6 assists and a steal and a block in his best game of the season. He did need a season-high 39 minutes to get there, but hopefully this trend continues as it should. Jakob Poeltl the Toeltl hid in his shell this game – 4.6 usage – but the 4 blocks were nice.  

Memphis Grizzlies 116, Detroit Pistons 102

Desmond Bane showing why he was one of the most popular breakout picks this season, posting 49 points (19-31 FG, 4-8 3PT, 7-7 FT), 6 boards, 8 dimes, a steal and 2 blocks. He’s performed at mid-2nd round value so far this year. The usage is up a bit this season so far without Ja, but not a huge amount, so he can keep it going. Speaking of Ja’s return (Dec. 21), I expect Jaren Jackson Jr (24 points, 4 boards, 3 blocks) to fully turn his season around when that happens. He’s ranked No. 76 currently after finishing No. 12 last year. Should be a Top 30 player in the second half.

In three games since returning from injury, Xavier Tillman has played 22, 12 and now 7 minutes. Big WTF emoji.  

Bojan Bogdanovic produced in 32 minutes from the starting 3-spot, posting 22-4-7 and 3 steals on good efficiency, and is a full go … I think. This is the Pistons, afterall, where Isaiah Stewart is still a starter. Ausar Thompson continues his freefall from fantasy grace, just 16 minutes and not much to show from them. Zero stocks in the last three games. Make it make sense!

There’s a world where both Killian Hayes (12-4-4, a steal and a three in 27 minutes) and Jaden Ivey (9-3-2-3-2) both have standard league fantasy value, but I don’t think we’re living in it. 

Chicago Bulls 111, Charlotte Hornets

Somehow I ended up with a lot of Bulls fans on my Twitter/X feed, and this little winning streak sure is making that less entertaining. Has to be the most self-loathing fanbase out there. But things are trending somewhat normal without Zach Lavine (injury update, out many more weeks, and maybe never to be seen in a Chicago uniform again). 

DeMar Derozen getting 14 free throw attempts and hitting 12: normal. Nikola Vucevic posting 20-12-3 with 2 threes and a block: normal. Patrick Williams (8-9-1-2-2 and a three) still playing well: becoming normal-ish. Alex Caruso (12-6-2-0-2) playing 30 minutes without getting hurt … ok now I’m just jinxing crap. 

Gordon Hayward is back to life, putting up 27 points (10-18 FG, 2-4 3PT, 5-5 FT), 4 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block in the box score. Three solid games in a row for Gordo. Nick Richardson started for an injured Mark Williams; just six points, but the 11 boards and 3 blocks certainly stream-worthy. 

Minnesota Timberwolves 102, San Antonio 94

Rudy Gobert has been on a tear the last four games and is pretty smart in his chicken skin suit [obscure Clash reference]. He had 16 points, 20 boards, 2 dimes and 2 blocks, and has been a solid 2nd-round performer in the last two weeks.

I have a new theory: Gregg Popovich watched Whiplash way too much and decided he’d J.K. Simmons the bejesus out to Jeremy Sochan. After 19 games as the starting point guard, Sochan was relegated to the backup power forward spot, posting just 6 points, 2 boards and a block in 22 minutes (season low). It was Sochan’s first game of the season without an assist; on the flip side, his first block since Nov. 12. On top of it all, Pop started Cedi Osman, who posted 6-8-6 and 2 steals in 32 minutes. At least Devin Vassell is back in the starting lineup (22-3-2-1-1, 4-8 3PT).

I still love Sochan for dynasty, but it’s difficult to hold him now outside the deepest of leagues. 

Houston Rockets 110, Oklahoma City Thunder 101

Aaron Holiday with the random stat line of the night, posting 22 points (8-13 FG) off the bench with 6 boards, 4 dimes and a steal. Tis the season. Just 6 points, but 18 boards by Jabari Smith. And now time for my weekley Tari Eason check-in: 9-8-4 with 2 threes and 2 blocks in 22 minutes. Not there yet.

Lu Dort playing the Grinch (stink, stank, stunk) with an 0-fer-5 night and just 15 minutes of run. None of the bench players made much of a case for themselves, but definitely an opportunity for someone to boost their stock in the rotation at Dort’s demise. Speaking of, I can no longer try to pump up Josh Giddey and remain cordial with the court of public opinion, so I’ll just use that as an excuse instead of admitting I may have been wrong about him this season. It’s not a usage thing, he’s just sucking at the moment. 

Brooklyn Nets 114, Atlanta Hawks 113

Big yuck from Cam Thomas (6-1-1; 3-10 shooting); but continued solid play off the bench from Dennis Smith Jr (13-3-4 with 2 steals), who was one of my favorite deep league targets this season and has two solid games in a row since a two-week injury break. Wonder if he starts to poach some minutes from Spencer Dinwiddie (13-2-4-1-1).

The step back for Onyeka Okongwu (2-9-2 with a steal) probably seems worse than it is given the extra hype pre-season, and dreams of a Clint Capela (9-12-1 with 2 blocks) trade unleashing Double-O-17. The regression is there for sure, but he’s a solid hold and hope for the blocks to return soon.

Golden State Warriors 110, Portland Trail Blazers 106

Jonathan Kuminga was benched the first half, then led the Warriors comeback in 16 second half minutes, hitting 6-of-6 shots for 13 points and a couple scraps along the box line. A very Dray line from Draymond Green (10-9-10) and the Andrew Wiggins magic show continues – “Watch his fantasy relevance disappear!”

Anfernee Simons returned with a little rust (28 points; 10-27 FG, 6-13 3PT, 2-2 FT) but plenty of usage. And, on cue, Malcolm Brogdan got injured after playing more minutes than he should over the last two weeks. So Scoot Henderson (9-2-4 and a steal) will continue to get plenty of opportunities to turn his rookie season around. 

Dallas Mavericks 147, Utah Jazz 97

Boy are the Jazz terrible without Lauri Markkanen! With the blowout, we at least got 25 minutes of run for Taylor Hendricks. He posted 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT), 2 boards, 2 steals and a block. He should be on all the radars for a late season stash. 

LA Clippers 111, Denver Nuggets 102

Things certainly are normalized in Clippers-Land. The Big 3 are all Top 30 players, and the rest of the rotation aren’t worth standard rosters outside of maybe Ivica Zubac (10-9-0-2-1).

Not that we expect too much from Aaron Gordon, but the dip in FG% this season – 56% to 49% – is concerning; and the FT% has somehow gotten worse, too – 61% to 52%. Not sure if it’s an anomaly or a change in the system, but he’s getting fewer dunks, and fewer field goals off assists, making him just barely rosterable in standard leagues so far, averaging 13-7-4 and 2 stocks and only half-a-three per game. Which is fine and all, but, meh.