I’m back from a two-week hiatus in which I was driving a minivan around Cleveland hunting for Bucks.

No, wait, that was Georges Niang Wednesday night. 

Niang picked up the Minivan nickname during his college days in Utah. Shouldn’t it be the Suburban? Well, his Cleveland teammates have given him a less-soft moniker – G-Wagon. No matter what you call him, Georges drove over the Giannis-less Bucks with a 13-for-14 shooting game, 5-of-6 from deep, for what I assume is a career high 33 points to go with 5 boards and 2 assists. 

The Cavs have so many role guys on the bring of fantasy relevance while Garland and Mobley are out. Sam Merrill has been right there with Nieng, hitting 3 threes a game over the last two weeks. He chipped in a 10-5-5 line in this blowout. 

One thing we know, Dean Wade ain’t it. Nieng has been a Top 120 player in the last two weeks, hitting 3 threes a game in that span along with 5 boards and a dime. Maybe the Cavs turn to the Georges more in some small ball lineups.

Anywho, here’s some other notes from this week’s NBA Hump Day lineup.

Minnesota Timberwolves 124, Detroit Pistons 117

Jaden McDaniels is a case of counting your chickens before they hatch. He had a nice efficient offensive game with 23 points (8-11 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4-4 FT) against the surprisingly scrappy Pistons in this one – but just 2 boards and a steal to go along with it. We see guys like this, seemingly full of potential who are heralded for their on-ball defense out of the gates, and assume the hustle stats will follow. I get excited about the dudes who’ll post a steal, a block and a three. Problem is, when one of those stats drop in half (like McDaniels’ blocks this season) and there’s no improvement in boards or dimes (actually down this year), then they just aren’t roster worthy in standard leagues. He’s still young at 23, and the percentages are solid and growing … oh no, I’m already talking myself into drafting him next year.

Jaden Ivey (32-4-6 with a steal, 13-22 FG, 4-6 3PT, 2-2 FT) continues to step up in Cade’s absence, playing like the player so many wish he consistently would be. He’s either a sell high or a buy low right now, depending on if you think he’ll keep it going when Cade returns. Ausar Thompson has 8, 8 and 9 rebounds in his last three games. But he’s still getting the same amount of run as Kevin Knox, so don’t get too excited. 

Boston Celtics 117, San Antonio Spurs 98 

Luke Kornet got his second start of the season and delivered a 6-9-4-1-3 line, but it took two starters being out. When that’s the case, he’s a solid streamer.

Tre Jones posted back-to-back double digit dimes, finishing with a 9-4-10 line. He’s been the starting point guard for seven games now, and only Pop knows why that took so long. He’s been a Top 60 player over that stretch. So if he’s on waivers for some reason, GRAB ‘IM!

Portland Trail Blazers 105, Brooklyn Nets 103

Anfernee Simons tossed in his second game-winning tear-drop runner over Mikail Bridges of his career. Owned! Simons (20-4-4; 8-20 FG, 1-7 3PT, 3-4 FT) is still a Top 75 player on the season despite a pretty awful last couple weeks. If you can snag him for the stretch run from someone who doesn’t know better, do it. Jabari Walker replaced Toumani Camara in the starting lineup. He’ll probably still be hit and miss, but worth a bench spot in 14-team leagues to see how things go. He’s averaging 15 points and 10 boards PER 36, so consistent starter minutes would boost his appeal. 

At this point in the season, there’s really nothing else to say about the Nets roster. I doubt they do much at the trade deadline. So I guess we’ll just twiddle our thumbs and wonder if/when Ben Simmons returns. 

Los Angeles Lakers 127, Dallas Mavericks 110

De’Angelo Russell apparently wants to keep his starting gig. He posted 29-4-3 with 5 threes in this blowout win. Maybe there’s some promise to the Russell-Reaves starting backcourt. It’s like playing your best players in the starting 5 is a good idea? Weird. Big nights from LeBron James (25-8-8 with a steal and 3 threes) and Anthony Davis (28-12-9-1-1). If those four get rolling, the rest of the roster is mere role players without any standard fantasy value. What am I talking about? The rest of the roster is like that no matter what those four do. 

A ho-hum 33-13-10-2-2 night from Luka Doncic, who would have had 5 more assists if his teammates could hit a 3-pointer. An 0-fer-7 night by Tim Hardaway, as an example. This Mavericks team seems like they need some trade line adjustments if it wants to pretend to be a contender this year. 

Toronto Raptors 121, Miami Heat 97

Ahhh, I see what you’re doing R.J. Barrett (26-8-3; 9-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 7-13 FT). Just because you’re on a new team you think you can trick us into believing you’re not who you’ve always been! Barrett is having a nice stretch up North, posting Top 75 numbers in the first weeks of 2024. But, we all know Barrett shooting nearly 60% from the field isn’t even close to sustainable. 

From point guard to point forward, a lot has changed for Scottie Barnes in the last month – except that he’s still awesome at producing for fantasy owners. His usage has been a little up and down since the new additions. But with Siakam motoring to Indiana, Scottie has a shot at finishing the season in 1st Round value territory.

Tough night for the Heat, playing without their best player, Jamie Jaquez Jr. I kid! I kid! (I think). If you’re holding onto Nikola Jovic, who’s been starting since New Years, waiting for his breakout, stop. Not a Top 200 player this year. 

New Orleans Pelicans 132, Charlotte Hornets 112

If Trey Murphy could just get the minutes! He hit 5 threes on his way to a 18-5-1-1 line in 24 minutes, and remains in a timeshare with Herb Jones. Murphy’s FG% has been inconsistent. Even if that improves, not sure he gets starters minutes on this roster this season without injuries occurring – but I’m holding out hope. Jordan Hawkins hit 6-of-9 threes with a 21-6-1-1 line, also in 24 minutes. 

Hooooooo Boy, great to see LaMelo Ball return from injury with all cylinders firing. The FG% sucks, but that’s to be expected. He’s averaging 26 points, 6 boards, 6 dimes and 3(!) steals in his first three games back. 

Atlanta Hawks 106, Orlando Magic 104

Paolo Banchero (26-4-4-2-1; 8-25 FG – yuck) yelled “CANNONBALL” and splashed in a game tying three, only to have Dejounte Murray (26-5-5-2, 11-18 FG – nice) come flying off the diving board with a game-winning flying elbow (turn-around jumper) to give this one to the Hawks. 

Trae Young with such a Trae Young game: 18-3-12, ok, not bad. Eight giveaways and 5-of-14 from the field. Yeesh! Onyeka Okongwu posted 15 and 9 with a block. Clint Capela (12 and 3 with a steal) should be traded at the deadline, giving Double-O the Hawks big house to himself. Should happen. But who knows.

New York Knicks 109, Houston Rockets 94

OG Anunoby delivered his first 4-steal game of the season, adding a block, 5 boards and 15 points on 50% shooting. Otherwise, it’s been a lateral production from Toronto to New York. A 7-11-5-2-2 line for Isaiah Hartenstein, who took my earlier “meh” comments personally [cuz all the players read my stuff, right?]. I Hart has been a – get this – Top 20 player in fantasy the last two weeks!