Well, that was a bit of a bloodbath.
On what should have been a relatively quiet evening in the NBA, there sure wound up being a lot of noise. And not a lot of it was good noise. For a lot of fantasy owners, Tuesday probably sounded a bit like this.
Mid-game injuries, late-breaking inactives, and low minutes due to a few blowouts seemed to be the consistent narrative of the night.
We’ll get to all that depressing stuff, but let’s start out on a high note – Mo Williams had himself a game. On nearly perfect shooting (8-9 FGs, 9-10 FTs, 4-4 from 3-point range), Mo helped the Cavaliers slip past the Utah Jazz 118-114 in the best game of the night. In addition to the stellar percentages, Williams chipped in six boards, six dimes, and stole the ball twice just for funzies. Five turnovers took a bit of shine off an otherwise brilliant outing, but this still goes down as one of the top fantasy lines of the evening. Mo Williams will continue to be a must-start player until Kyrie Irving comes back, and common sense would suggest that if Mo keeps balling at a high level and the Cavs keep winning, there’s no reason to rush Kyrie back anytime soon. So it’s a bit of a snowball effect in that the immediate returns are great, but they’re also likely to help extend Mo’s opportunity for a 30+ MPG role on a title contending team. People waiting on Irving to return won’t enjoy hearing that, but it’s championship-or-bust in Cleveland, so Kyrie isn’t coming back with health a single percentage point below 100.
Not to be outdone, LeBron James had himself a phenomenal fourth quarter, scoring 17 points (6-8 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as the Cavs scored 38 points in the final frame against one heck of a good defensive team. LBJ finished the game with 31/7/8/2/0 and dropped in a three pointer. He matched Mo Will’s five giveaways and missed four of his 12 freebies, but for all intents and purposes this was a win for LeBron owners as he made it out of the game healthy after soldiering through an owwy on his thigh.
Let’s get on to the rest of the notables…
Alec Burks – Keeping with the game in The Land, Burks played 30 pretty impressive minutes dropping a team-high 24 points on 7-13 shooting, including four long balls and a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. Throw in three boards, the same number of dimes, and a swipe, and Alec’s fantasy owners are hoping this type of court time and statistical production become the norm rather than the exception.
Russell Westbrook – Oh, what could have been if not for a 24-point blowout. Russ had a triple-double (22 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists), combined with three deep balls and a steal in only 28 minutes. With Kevin Durant not returning for the second half, Russ could have had a truly special game but he just wasn’t needed on the court for the fourth quarter with the Thunder dominating. If KD misses any time, Westbrook becomes a must play in DFS regardless of opponent, and his season-long owners are looking at a top-2 or 3 asset.
Dion Waiters – Blowout factor in full effect here, but Neon Dion went off for 25 points on 7-10 from the field, with four treys and a perfect 7-7 from the foul line.
Luol Deng – Actually provided meaningful fantasy production in his 30 minutes tonight! 14/4/4/3/0 with three treys and no turnovers.
Greg Monroe – Moose was really the only Milwaukee player to show up tonight, posting 17/14/4/1/1 in 33 minutes.
Nicolas Batum – Continues to provide nice across-the-board numbers with 17/6/3/0/2, three triples, 6-11 from the field and 2-2 from the FT line. Not in love with the four turnovers, but that’s going to happen with the heavy run (35 minutes) and increased ball-handling responsibilities.
Karl-Anthony Towns – With no Andrew Wiggins or Ricky Rubio vs the Hornets, KAT was the lead dog and posted 19/13/2/1/3. It appears as though Towns is starting to extend his range a bit more over the last few games, taking more long twos (and even the occasional three). His FG% is going to suffer as a result (7-16 tonight), but the rookie will find balance and learn where his sweet spots are as the season rolls along. Overall he looks really good, really early.
Ryan Anderson – With no Anthony Davis for half of the game, Ryno posted a sweet shooting line of 10-16 from the field, and 2-4 from 3-point range, racking up 25 points. Anderson tacked on 11 boards and a pair of assists in 28 productive minutes. He’s obviously in line to see a nice value boost if AD has to miss games, but his fantasy owners will want to see a few more steals and blocks to insulate them from nights when his shot isn’t falling.
Ish Smith – 17 points and 12 assists for the Pelicans’ diminutive backup PG. Add in a steal, a block, 6-11 from the floor and 5-5 from the line, and you can safely say that Ish got real off the bench tonight!
Kyle Lowry – He was feisty tonight and probably should’ve gotten tossed from the game given all the loud & demonstrative protesting he was doing after foul/non-foul calls. K-Low stayed in though and dropped a 23/7/9/3/1 line on the Knicks. He added a pair of long balls to help soften the blow of four TOs and a couple missed freebies.
Raul Neto – Despite starting, he saw only 13 minutes, and missed both of the shots he attempted. Meanwhile, Trey Burke played exactly half the game and poured in 16 points with a couple treys. If you have to own a Jazz PG, don’t be swayed by who is out there during the opening tip.
Kevin Durant – Left the game in the first half with a sore hamstring and didn’t return, which is really too bad because he was humming along nicely – 14/10/4 with two threes in only 17 minutes. There is no sense panicking until we know more about the severity of Durant’s injury, but he’s due for an MRI on Wednesday and all fantasy owners can do is cross their fingers that it’s good news. If KD misses extended time, some combination of Kyle Singler, Anthony Morrow and Dion Waiters would likely be looked upon to pick up some of the scoring slack on the wing.
John Wall – Without his running mate, Bradley Beal (who was ruled out shortly before tip-off due to a bruised shoulder), Wall looked out of sorts. His shot was off (4-13 FGs, no threes) and he only played 25 minutes as his team got steamrolled by OKC. Silver lining? Five assists and no turnovers – so that’s somethin’.
Jordan Clarkson – With no Kobe Bryant, I was expecting more than the 12/2/0/2/0 from Clarkson. No treys and three turnovers really made this a night to forget and all we can do is hope he’s better the next time he’s looked upon to be the lead dog.
Isaiah Thomas – 1-for-10 from long range? Yikes. 6-20 overall from the field as the Pizza Guy didn’t exactly deliver in another start at the point. Only one assist in 34 lead guard minutes is pretty awful when contrasted with three TOs. If Marcus Smart continues to miss time, IT2/3 should be much better than this.
Andrew Wiggins & Ricky Rubio – Both guys got scratched relatively close to tip-off and I’m sure it burned more than a few DFS players who had them locked into lineups. Initial reports suggest neither guy is in danger of missing extended time, so just keep watching the cables for updates. Fantasy owners took this one on the chin tonight though.
Gorgui Dieng – Nikola Pekovic remains out. Kevin Garnett didn’t dress tonight. Dieng responds with what? As many turnovers (two) as points. Six rebounds and nothin’ else. 18 minutes of horrawful (yep, combo word of horrible and awful – he was that bad). Adreian Payne saw more court time (20 minutes) than the Gorgeous Dong. It’s tough to cut bait on a player you probably spent a top-100 pick on, but it’s not looking good for Gorgui this year. Maybe Pek can come back in a month or so and Minny will trade Dieng at the deadline to someone who will actually put him in a position to succeed. Wishful thinking.
The Dallas Mavericks – Despite scoring 105 points as a team, the production was pretty evenly spread out. 13 Dallas players saw 10 or more minutes tonight – not exactly a tight rotation that lends itself well to big fantasy lines.
Kristaps Porzingis – The Zinger didn’t have it tonight, going 3-11 from the floor with no threes or defensive stats. He also coughed up the rock three times and only played 20 minutes despite it being a close contest. It was simply an off night for the rook, but he did have a highlight reel putback slam that will get the kids fired up.
J.R. Smith – Returned after a multi-game absence to play 22 minutes. He wasn’t great (7 points on 3-7 shooting) but he probably just needed a game to knock the rust off.
Serge Ibaka – A nice offensive night (22 points on 9-15 from the field and 3-3 from deep) was offset a bit by no defensive stats.
Kobe Bryant – Ruled out a short while before the game started with reports of rest due to the Lakers being on a back-to-back, and also with talk of a sore back. We’ll have to wait and see if he’s going to suit up for Wednesday’s game to know what’s up with Bean.
D’Angelo Russell – ZERO fourth quarter minutes for this year’s second overall pick. But Nick Young played all 12. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015-2016 Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony Davis – Not unlike Kevin Durant, Brow played most of the first half only to not come out after halftime. Also like KD, Davis had some multi-cat goodness cookin’ with 17/7/2/1/1 before the break. Thankfully him being held out appears to be more due to the fact that he wasn’t needed than a sign of a significant injury – the Pelicans were up 18 at half and were never in jeopardy of giving up that lead. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on one of fantasy’s top two or three players.
Terrence Ross – It wasn’t reported until part way through the game, but TRoss is out indefinitely with ligament damage to a finger. Apparently he hurt it at some point during a strength & conditioning session. He wasn’t exactly setting the fantasy world on fire prior to this, but it opens up some opportunity for James Johnson (7/3/3/1/3 with a three), especially considering DeMarre Carroll is battling plantar fasciitis which can be very difficult to kick.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
Players who saw over 36 minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
That’s all she wrote for this Tuesday’s wrap-up. If you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.