On an unusually quiet Tuesday night in the NBA that saw only four games, the most remarkable item is just how unremarkable everything was. Truth be told, I watched a lot more of the Republican debate on CNN than I did professional basketball. (I’ll withhold political commentary for the most part as Razzball isn’t the appropriate forum, but holy heck is the RNC ever in a pickle.)
The usual suspects (James Harden, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins) were all solid for their owners, but it’s not like somebody dropped a 40-burger. Nobody poured in a ton of 3-pointers or threw a massive block party. There were no catastrophic injuries (thankfully) and no statement performances. Just a whole lot of “meh.” You can actually count on one hand the number of players who even saw 36 minutes.
Each of the two early games were decided by a dozen points and offered little in the way of drama or uncertainty about the outcome. The late games followed suit as the Greg Monroe-less Bucks got creamed by the Los Angeles Kobes, while Sacramento took care of Houston by 10 in a matchup of what might be the two most unhappy rosters in the league. Only four of the eight teams even managed to hit the century mark.
I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that nobody on Tuesday jumped up and said, “Hey Matty! I want the lead. I deserve the lead!” So take notice, NBA – the lead is not simply given, it must be earned. Be better than Donald Trump, basketball.
Kevin Love – Three triples, two blocks and a steal to compliment 20/8/5 lands him firmly in the “good” category. I’m not sure if the Kelly Olynyk/revenge game factor is to be thanked for the defensive goodies, but Love seemed to have a bit more aggression than you see from him during a typical game. His owners will be hoping he bottled some of that added intensity to help offset any usage-related losses that are sure to happen when Kyrie Irving comes back in the next week or so.
LeBron James – Six turnovers and bricking all three attempts from long range isn’t exactly the good stuff, but 24/7/3/2/1 on 50% from the field and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line give LBJ seven positive categories on the night and that’s a net win for his owners.
Avery Bradley – The Celtics SG continues to exceed expectations. On Tuesday Bradley posted 17/3/2/3/2 while connecting on a trio of three-pointers. AB is sitting comfortably inside the top-40 players and we’re past the quarter pole of the season, so the “small sample size” argument is getting weaker by the game. He is basically everything we were hoping (expecting?) Danny Green to be.
Karl-Anthony Towns – Efficiency was the name of the game for KAT on Tuesday. 18/6/1/1/2 on 5-7 FGs, 8-8 FTs, and zero turnovers. The only thing the rook failed to do in his 28 minutes was drain a three (he didn’t attempt any). This kid is a first-round fantasy draft pick in two years.
Zach LaVine – Looks great as a hybrid guard and offers Sam Mitchell a lot of rotational flexibility. 20/4/5/1/1 with a three in 25 minutes off the bench. LaVine is currently 40 ranking spots higher (per game, 9-cat) than teammate Andrew Wiggins while playing 10 MPG less. Go figure.
James Harden – 33 points on only 18 shots is nice scoring efficiency, but The Beard turned the ball over seven times and did little to lead his team in a very winnable game. The final line of 33/7/6/1/0 with four triples is candy for fantasy owners who (outside of Houston) likely don’t much care about the real world dysfunction of the Rockets. To that end, I won’t be the least bit surprised if they blow up that roster over the course of the next month.
Rudy Gay – 17/13/3/6(!)/1 with a pair of threes. Five turnovers and a 3-5 mark from the FT line take a bit of the shine off, but Rudy also had a monster slam towards the end of the game that I’m sure you’ll see a time or three on Sportscenter.
Darren Collison – Assuming the role of starting PG while the incumbent served a one-game suspension, Colly provided a window into the kind of numbers he could give fantasy owners with a full-time starters role. 14/7/13/1/0 on 6-9 shooting (making good on his only 3-point attempt) is all kinds of awesome for anyone who rolled him out there in 8-cat leagues. Unfortunately Darren turned the ball over eight times and that stings a bit for the 9-cat folks.
Omri Casspi – Omri, show the kids at home what over-achieving looks like: 19/6/6/2/0, 8-11 FG (3-4 triples). Well done, sir.
Kobe Bryant – Less is more for Bean. In keeping to the sub-30 minute mark, Kobe is showing significantly improved efficiency. 22/3/6 on 7-15 FGs and a perfect 5-5 FTs in only 27 minutes. The Mamba knocked down three of his seven tries from deep and posted a +20 rating as the Lakers’ starters destroyed whatever combination Jason Kidd threw out there for the Bucks. This is the type of lower minutes/higher efficiency Kobe Bryant fantasy owners can actually use…so you just know Byron Scott is going to run him 38 minutes next time out.
D’Angelo Russell – The kid looked quite good, albeit against a Bucks team that showed little interest in playing a professional brand of basketball on Tuesday. 19/4/7/3/0 with a pair of threes and only one TO in 30 minutes. That is how you earn the trust of your coaches and subsequently more playing time, young man.
Isaiah Thomas – The Pizza Guy was awful on Tuesday. There’s really no other way to put it. Thomas connected on only three of his 15 shots from the field and posted goose eggs in all three money counting categories (threes/steals/blocks). He did hit all six freebies and only turned the ball over once in his 27 minutes, but it was mostly a night to forget. He’ll be better than this going forward.
Jared Sullinger – Sully, not unlike Isaiah, had a lousy outing against the Cavaliers. He managed only five points in 23 minutes, adding five rebounds but no money stats. 2-9 from the field made matters worse, and it’s easy to see why he was a -13 rating on the night.
Gary Harris – After taking advantage of James Harden’s pathetic excuse for defense and posting a career-high 21 points on Monday, Harris came crashing back down to earth against the Wolves on Tuesday. Four points and two boards in 24 minutes is all Harris had to show for the evening and his value likely settles somewhere right in the middle of those two outings.
Kevin Martin – Two points and three assists in 22 minutes on 1-8 shooting. Turrible, Kevin. Just turrible.
Terrence Jones – I dropped him a little while back in an RCL and was a bit hesitant to do so. 13 bench minutes that he parlayed into a grand total of one point and four rebounds makes me feel a lot more confident about the move. He desperately needs a trade. (Phoenix could be a nice spot.)
Iman Shumpert – The Cavs were this close to having a fully healthy roster and then Shump pulls up lame with a groin injury after only 14 minutes of action. Early reports suggest it won’t be a lengthy absence, but he’s not expected to play Thursday and could be looking at a few missed games. J.R. Smith will see minutes in the mid-30s for a little while longer, and in his 36 on Tuesday night he went 4-9 from the field (with a three) on his way to 9/6/0/1/0.
Denver Nuggets Rotation – No Denver player saw more than Will Barton‘s 31 minutes (off the bench), while all 11 guys who saw court time ran for 10 minutes or more. Chalk that up to playing a road game on the tail end of a back-to-back. Nikola Jokic made the most of his 21 minutes with a 6/3/2/2/2 line. Randy Foye caught fire early making all five of his first half 3-point attempts. He finished the contest with 19 points and a couple steals to go with those five triples, but it’s unlikely he’s active or even rostered in most formats.
Andrew Wiggins – It was a bit of a mixed bag for Wiggins on Tuesday as he scored efficiently (23 points on 17 FGAs), but did little else to help owners. He put up 1s in boards, dimes, blocks, and threes while coughing up the ball three times. He simply needs to do more outside of scoring points if he wants to get within shouting distance of the top-50 fantasy assets.
Rockets Point Guards – Patrick Beverley had one assist in 35 minutes. Jason Terry played 20 more minutes (27) off the bench than Ty Lawson (7). ‘Cause, Rockets.
John Henson – Finally cracked the starting lineup with Greg Monroe a late scratch after banging knees during shootaround. Unfortunately Henson didn’t do a whole lot with his opportunity, going for only 6/4/1/0/4. Obviously you’re not complaining about the four swats, but it could’ve been a lot better if the game was competitive into the fourth quarter (JH still only played 24 minutes as the starters weren’t needed down the stretch).
Jordan Clarkson – Despite being listed as “doubtful” to start the day, Clarkson was upgraded as gametime approached and ended up playing a Lakers-high 33 minutes. 12/6/3/3/0 with a three shows that he is past his ankle injury and should be right back to posting solid top-80-100 value.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
Players who saw over 36 minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
Hopefully Wednesday’s robust schedule provides a bit more excitement for you roundball fanatics than Tuesday’s yawn-fest. As always, if you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.