Los Angeles Clippers vs. Miami Heat
- Someone (and usually multiple someones) is always out for the Clippers, so you always have to be mindful as to who is being given the chance to fill the void. Lately, it’s been Nic Batum, who contributed 11 points, five rebounds, three triples, a steal, and a block in 32 minutes. It was his second consecutive start and third straight double-digit scoring output. Over those three contests he’s averaging a robust 3.7 3PTM to power his 13.3 PPG to go along with 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG. Batum can contribute across the board, and while he’s been a dud so far this season, he’s heating up and being afforded a temporary starting slot. He’s a solid streaming option in this role (12 percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).
- On another team that’s constantly in flux, Caleb Martin has been a stalwart thus far. His impact has translated to fantasy where he sits just outside the top-100 for the season in 9-cat, and 85th overall for the past month. Martin provided 17 points, eight boards, four treys, and two swipes on Thursday, and those are the categories you can count on him to produce. Over his past eight games, he’s averaged 15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.5 3PTM, and 1.0 SPG. He ought to be rostered in more than the 40 percent of leagues he’s currently in.
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Not much interesting happening in Houston from a fantasy perspective. The vast majority of their production comes from the same four players every night, and they ride their starters pretty hard. One guy I wish got more of a chance to spread his wings is rookie Tari Eason, who’s putting up tantalizing per-minute stats. In fact, despite averaging fewer than 19 MPG on the season, he’s the second-highest ranked Rocket based on season averages so far—ahead of both members of Houston’s highly touted backcourt. Eason’s playing time is trending in the right direction, as he’s topped 20 minutes in three straight. In 23 minutes last night he scored eight points to go along with six rebounds, two triples, and a rejection. This three-game stretch has seen him contribute 13.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 3PTM, and 1.0 SPG. As the Rockets play out the string on this season, Eason should get a longer leash, especially if veteran guard Eric Gordon is dealt. Many fantasy managers are pulling the trigger now, as he’s shot up to 41 percent rostered. I’d take a flier to see if the increase in minutes is a permanent feature.
- Romeo Langford drew the start for San Antonio last night and produced pleasantly across the board with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, four boards, five dimes, 2 steals, a swat, and a trey, leading the team in plus-minus over his 28 minutes of action. Langford is another player who ought to benefit from a prolonged period of tanking, which the Spurs have already commenced. There are a lot of young players on the roster who need an opportunity, but the Spurs have a decision to make on the pending restricted free agent this summer, so he could be in line for more minutes going forward. He’s not a must-add because he’s inconsistent even with plenty of playing time, but he’s one to keep an eye on moving forward (zero percent rostered).
Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
- Denver is another team whose fantasy value is concentrated at the top of their well-established rotation, all of whom are widely rostered, so let’s take this time to bask in the glow of the Aaron Gordon renaissance. Since returning to the lineup just before Thanksgiving, Gordon has been unconscious. Thursday night was no exception, as AG poured in 20 points on 8-of-12 from the field, with five rebounds, a pair of treys, and a steal. Subtracting a 14-minute anomaly, over his past eight contests, Gordon has posted averages of 22.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 3PTM, 0.9 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. He’s shot at least 58 percent in each of those outings, rating as a top-50 player over the past two weeks. This is probably the best stretch of his career, and I’d be looking to sell high if I could before Gordon falls back to earth.
- What’s that? Another starter-heavy squad with no value to mine currently? Guess that’s the theme of the night. If we’re speculating on the future, a decent bet is the Jusuf Nurkic (who was brilliant last night) misses time at some point, which would open the door for Portland’s only backup center—Drew Eubanks (two percent rostered). Eubanks is an active, bouncy big man who rolls hard to the rim, tries to dunk everything, and can rack up stocks at a surprisingly high clip. He’s shooting over 70 percent from the field on the season, and even displayed some range last night knocking down a triple (as confident as the stroke looked, I wouldn’t expect that to be a regular part of his repertoire). His per-36 numbers would pace him at a steal and two blocks. In a starting role with heavy minutes, Eubanks would an excellent pickup, so be ready to pounce if and when Nurk is sidelined.