After Julius Randle hit one of the more ridiculous game-winning threes last night to push the Knickerbockers past the Heat, I came up with the above headline. The only problem: I’ve never actually had an Orange Julius – which may be a sin in some cultural circles. Without a frame of reference to consider how Randle may compare the American quencher, I turned to my wife for help:
“It’s like better than an icy.” “I thought it was a smoothy. So it’s like an icy?” “No it’s not an icy.” “So what is it?” “It’s hard to describe. It’s indescribable. It’s like magic.” “So it’s like a mix between an icy and a smoothy?” “No. You’re obviously not getting it. Who are you trying to compare it to?” “It doesn’t matter, I just haven’t had one so just want a description to see if there’s any comparison.” “The most delicious thing I’ve put in my mouth.”
And that was the end of that conversation.
Moving on … Randle scored 43 Friday night, shooting 16-of 25, 8-of-13 from deep and 3-of-4 from the line, adding 9 boards, 3 assists and a block to the effort. Randle has been a Top 20 player over the last two weeks, mainly because of his 5.4 threes per game and 54% shooting. On the flip side, the rebounding has been down since the hot-as-heck Knicks added Josh Hart (5-7-3-2-1) and Mitchell Robinson returned, producing nearly 4 boards under his 10.4 season average.
As has been documented throughout the season, Hart is one of the best, if not the best rebounding wings in the league, and adds another distributor to New York’s lineup. As a result, it’s a good possibility that Randle’s increase in 3s/decrease in boards trend continues down the stretch, as long as he keeps the hot shooting going.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see next year if Randle’s fantasy value finally stabilizes. In the last three seasons, he finished 140, 39 and 127 in 9-cat per game value, and is settled in the middle this year at 49 so far.
Immanuel Quickley continues to be usable in all formats, outputting No. 71 value over the last two weeks – like Randle, mainly because of better shooting, so watch those percentages. He had 21 points (7-11 FG, 5-9 3pt, 2-2 FT) against the Heat to go with 2 boards, 3 assists and a steal.
I saw Kyle Lowry was dropped in the Razzball Writers League, and quickly moved to add and stash him. But before clicking the +, I went “meh” and moved on without. Neither Caleb Martin (14-4-1) nor Gabe Vincent (3-2-3 and 2 steals) have stepped in to replace Lowry’s fantasy value as he’s been out. I think it’s fine to still hold onto Kevin Love (9-8-1 with a three) in standard leagues, but with the minutes set in the low 20s, he’s really more of a deeper league guy the rest of the season.
Elsewhere in an action packed Friday night in the Association:
Mikal Bridges and the Nets spoiled my “What Can Brown Do For You” lede. Brooklyn Bridges posted 38 points (13-22 FG, 4-6 3pt, 8-9 FT), 10 boards, 4 assists and a steal to lead the Nets to a 28-point comeback, 115-105 win in Boston. Dorian Finney-Smith tied his season high with 5 threes with a nice 17-9-3-0-2 stat line in 38 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddle (17-3-8-3-1) has been hit or miss since joining the Nets, but the dimes have been stacked higher in his last few games.
Jaylen Brown started red hot for the Celtics and shot 55% with a 35-5-4-3-1 line, but otherwise a forgettable night for Boston.
Paolo Banchero shot at least 50% for the third time in four games in Orlando’s 117-106 win over Charlotte. It’s the first time the No. 1 pick has done that since [checks notes] college. Typical rookie stuff. He finished with a 31-6-5-1-1 line and even hit 2 threes to break-up a nasty 1-for-37 slump over his previous 12 games. Typical rookie stuff? Everyone’s fantasy darlings earlier in the season, the shine has definitely worn off in Orlando, and the team currently has just one player in the Top 100 – Markelle Fultz (9-4-2 with 5 turnovers, yuck), who sits exactly at 100 on the year.
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 29 points (10-19 FG, 4-9 3pt, 5-5 FT), 10 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals in the losing effort, and will pay late-season dividends for all who held onto him. Gordon Hayward had 7 dimes and is averaging nearly 5 of them in the last two weeks. I’ll go back on my Gordo poo-poo from a week or two ago. He picks up some counting stats with LaMelo out, and the percentages have been a plus value over the last month.
Aaron Wiggins went off for 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting in the Thunder’s 130-103 pounding of the Jazz. Otherwise pretty standard stuff from the Shai-less Thunder [grabs pillow and screams into it, “SHAI, COME BACK I NEED YOU IN RAZZJAM”].
I’m working on a post predicting where the current rookies will rank in three years, and I’m seriously having to consider Jalen Williams at the 1 spot. He posted 20 points (8-13 FG, 1-2 3pt, 3-4 FT), 6 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals, a block and just one turnover. The only thing surprising about that line is that it’s not surprising at all for the Bronco who’s returned 3rd round value in the 2023 calendar year. I mentioned on this week’s Son Pod how Jaylin Williams would be leading the league in 3-point percentage at 48%, but doesn’t qualify. And of course he goes 1-for-10 in the next three games. But he did play 31 minutes Friday and snagged 21 boards in his last 2 games, and I’m ridin’ wild for better or worse with him.
Not much to note from the Jazz side, other than the obligatory Walker Kessler, Utah Ranger appreciation post: 10 points on 5 shots, 11 boards and 4 blocks.
BasketballPoetry.com had a nice write-up about what to expect from the Hawks under the direction of Quin Snyder: more pick-and-rolls and more threes. Sounds fun! Although they didn’t need much to take out the spiraling Blazers, 129-111, in which Dejounte Murray went for 41 points (17-22 FG, 5-5 3pt, 2-2 FT) (holy crap; 89.1 TS%!), 5 boards, 6 assists and a steal.
Damian Lillard had 33 points and I’m pretty sure is focused on trying to get that scoring title this year. Cam Reddish (25-3-2-1-2 with 4 threes) is averaging 14.1 / 2.5 / 2.3 / 1.3 / .4 for the Blazers, with decent enough percentages and 2.5 threes a game. He’s definitely a play in all leagues with Anfernee Simons out, and probably even if AntPDX returns given that Portland is giving their new players lots of run. Same goes for Matisse Thybulle (8-5-2-4-1), who’s likely gone from all waiver wires – but make sure.
The Suns cruised past the Bulls, 125-104, with Chris Paul doubling up (13-6-10) and the stars doing star things. Waiting, hoping, wishing for Cam Payne to see an increase in minutes. If anything, watch for some Paul rest games down the stretch.
Patrick Williams was back in the starting lineup, and, well, maybe next year (say all Bulls fans about the team overall).
Death. Taxes. Nuggets win and Nikola Jokic (16-18-10) messes around.
Brandon Clarke was injured and expected to miss time, so slight bump for Santi Aldama, and John Konchar could be a good stream next game as Dillon Brooks faces a too-many-techs one-game suspension.
Side note from this game: after watching some of it, I decided I really don’t care for this matchup as a conference finals showdown.
Jonathan Kuminga (who for some reason I want to nickname Jumanji – I know it doesn’t rhyme and don’t care) had his second straight 19-point, 7-rebound game, as Golden State shot down the Pelicans 108-99. He’s added 6 steals, 2 blocks and 4 threes in that stretch, and has been the No. 113 player in 9-cat in the last two weeks. Draymond Green (3-7-6, a steal and a three) was in foul trouble, leading to 32+ minutes for Kuminga. The 20-year-old will be a very intriguing prospect heading into next season.
All-around good stuff from the Timberwolves, led by a 22-14-3-1-2 from Rudy Gobert in the 110-102 victory over the Lakers. Anthony Edwards got after it on D, adding 4 steals and 2 blocks to his 19-5-2 line. Fantasy teaser Naz Reid’s 9 points all came from behind the arch, and added 8 points and 2 assists in just 20 minutes.
Malik Beasley nabbed 8 boards to go with 15 points, an assists and steal in the losing effort. Kinda surprised by the lack of minutes for Mo Bamba, who played just 11 in this one; but worth watching in case that changes – and a decent stash for playoffs if you have a spot.
Last, but certainly not least, tied for game of the night was the Kings 128-127 win over the Clippers. Keegan Murray has found his stroke again, hitting 4 threes in the 14-point, 5-board effort. He’s shooting 52% in his last 5 games, during which he’s produced No. 30 value. He’s added 7 steals in that time, which is a bonus.
Eric Gordon hit the 30-minute mark for the second straight game, producing 21 points (8-13 FG, 3-7 3pt, 2-3 FT) with 3 boards and 3 assists, and is an ok streamer while Norman Powell is out for at least a week. Robert Covington also played 30+ and posted 15-4-1-2-0 with 3 threes, as Marcus Morris Sr. was also out with injury – and Cov is a stream as long as that’s the case, too.