At no point this season did I ever think that Markieff Morris would be getting the lead in an article…unless, maybe, it was because he killed a guy or something (leading victim candidates included a coach, a referee, or a reporter who spoke ill of his twin brother). Well, he got the lead and nobody died…that I’m aware of.
In his first game playing for interim head coach Earl Watson, ‘Kieff showed out to the tune of 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a pair of blocks. If that wasn’t worthy of a raised eyebrow or two, Morris also drained a three and shot 13-20 from the field in his 41 minutes. Hot damn.
Whether he’s actually interested in helping the Suns win games or simply trying to improve the value of his stock in an effort to facilitate a move out of the desert, it doesn’t really matter for fantasy purposes. If he’s going to get the run…if he’s going to keep his attitude in check…if he’s going to play with effort and focus…he needs to be on fantasy rosters. Trying to predict what kind of situation he’ll be in this time next month is likely a fool’s errand, but there is big time upside (as we just witnessed) when everything is kosher with Markieff. I wouldn’t give up anything of value or break your free agency bank account because this could be very temporary, but if you have some dead weight to drop, you could do a lot worse than having Morris occupy your last roster spot until the trade deadline.
Let’s take a look at what else shook down on a five-game Tuesday evening in the NBA…
Evan Turner – He was the best Celtic on the floor on Tuesday night, posting 14/10/4/3/0 in 29 minutes off the bench. ET is a consistent rotation player, having seen 20 or more minutes in every game since November 16th. He doesn’t have the most metrics-friendly game (floating around the top-150 since January first), but he is worth a hold in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Robin Lopez – Big game for RoLo, albeit in a losing effort. Sideshow Bob went 17/13/2/0/3 on 50% from the field and a tidy 5-6 from the foul line. He hadn’t seen more than 25 minutes of floor time in any of his last six games, but Derek Fisher put him out there for 37 on Tuesday. Lopez needs the heavy run to be relevant in fantasy, and he’ll be a nice asset in FG%, boards and blocks if he gets it.
Justise Winslow – Tuesday marked the seventh straight game that Winslow played 32 or more minutes. He made them count against the Rockets with a hyper-efficient 11 points (4-5 FGs, 1-1 3-pointers, 2-2 FTs) to go along with eight boards, two dimes, and three steals. Erik Spoelstra trusts the rookie and if he can continue to improve his shooting, he could be a nice source of low-end production off the wire.
James Harden – 26/4/14/2/1 with three triples. What more is there to say about The Beard that hasn’t already been said? He’s the fifth best fantasy player on the season and sixth since the calendar turned to 2016. Stud.
Kyle Lowry – 26/3/4/2/0 with some great shooting numbers. He went 8-15 from the floor (including 5-10 from deep) and a pristine 5-5 from the charity stripe. His assists are down in his last few games, but otherwise there’s nothing to suggest he’ll lose his place as a first round fantasy asset.
Devin Booker – The sharp-shooting rookie poured in six triples (on 14 attempts) on his way to 27 points. He threw in a pair of steals for good measure, and he looks like the Sun with the most consistent and predictable ROS value.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 19/8/5/2/1 for the Greek Freak in a losing effort against the Blazers. His value is about a round lower since January 1st than it has been season-to-date, but the last month has still seen him inside the top-60. If he can continue to expand his range out beyond the arc (he hit 1-2 triples on Tuesday) and clean up his FT% which has been sliding (he was only 4-9 vs. Portland), that value should climb back up towards top-50.
C.J. McCollum – After slowing down in January, CJM had a 2015-esque performance in a home win against the Bucks. If not for four turnovers it would have been a nine-cat gem: 30/4/6/2/2 on 10-18 from the field, 7-9 FTs, and a trio of treys. McCollum now sits in 40th place on a per-game basis for the season, and when accounting for his good health (i.e. total value) he jumps another four spots to be a late-3rd round value. I can’t see the Blazers being particularly active at the trade deadline, so the roles and rotation of their core group should remain fairly consistent through to the end of the year.
Andrew Wiggins – Sure, it was a cream puff matchup against the Lakers, but 30 points is 30 points and Wiggins delivered exactly that. He also provided owners with a three, a steal and two blocks, which soften the blow of continued sub-par FT shooting (3-6 on Tuesday). Also working in his favor was a high volume, high percentage night from the field (13-20) and only one TO in 41 minutes. Wiggins has found his was to top-130 value on the year now on a per-game basis and should continue to trend up post-All Star break.
Kobe Bryant – Vintage performance from the Bean on Tuesday, helping the Lakers secure a win vs. the Timberpups. 38/5/5/2/0 with seven treys and 11-12 from the line in what could very well be his last great performance. It’s tough to bank on him fighting through a nagging shoulder injury (as well as multiple other ailments) and performing like this again. So, as a basketball fan, enjoy it while it lasts, but let someone else deal with the headache of his perpetual game-time decisions in fantasy.
Amir Johnson – Even though he started, Amir saw only 15 minutes and contributed only 4 & 4. Jared Sullinger didn’t fair much better as Johnson’s first unit frontcourt mate, getting 17 minutes and posting 4/2/1/1/0. The Celtics PF/C rotation was one of the more predictable headaches in the pre-season, and though there have been some flashes of nice production from various sources, very seldom has it been sustained.
Langston Galloway – Scored a grand total of one point in 34 minutes as a fill-in starter for the injured Jose Calderon. Galloway did manage to haul in nine boards and didn’t turn it over, but this was a supremely disappointing stat line that probably burned more than a few DFS players.
Chris Bosh – In a matchup against the big man deficient Houston Rockets, you’d expect a lot better than 13/7/1/0/1 from a player of Bosh’s calibre. He hit a three and didn’t turn it over, which was nice, but it doesn’t make up for the 3-11 shooting in a cupcake matchup. He should be better the next time out.
Ty Lawson – The only thing that can save Lawson’s value at this point is a trade to a PG-desperate team like the Jazz, Nets or Knicks. Even with decent run (22 minutes on Tuesday), he’s doing next to nothing in Houston – 5/2/4/0/0, two TOs.
Patrick Patterson – I’m begging for my hometown Raps to move this guy at the deadline for someone who can rebound and be a more reliable bench scoring big. 29 minutes on Tuesday for PatPat and he went 1-6 from the field, 0-4 from downtown, and finished with two points, six rebounds and a pair of steals. In real world hoops, he’ll kill my team with efforts like these in the playoffs (as he has in the past), and in fantasy hoops, he’ll kill your team if you waste a roster spot on him.
Phoenix Centers – The Suns went crazy small in this one with Alex Len seeing only 16 minutes off the bench and starting five man, Tyson Chandler playing only 18. They combined for a whopping two points, nine boards, one assist and one block. We’ll need to see more of Watson’s rotations over the next week or two to really judge whether either of these guys is worth a roster spot. I’m inclined to think Len will be the one to own as the Suns should go full youth movement, but that really remains to be seen until there’s a bigger sample size under the new coach.
Michael Carter-Williams – As good as he was in his last game, he was equally as bad in this one. 2/6/2/0/0 in 26 minutes for the consistently inconsistent MCW.
Damian Lillard – Dame simply needs to do more in the money cats to bump his value into the top-20 on the year. On Tuesday he missed all six attempts from long distance and failed to record any defensive stats, all the while shooting poorly (6-15 FGs) and turning it over three times. The 12 dimes were nice and assists is a tough category to chase, but his line was pretty empty as his team put up 107 points in a win over Milwaukee.
Roy Hibbert – 16 minutes as a starter is pretty bad – he might as well be playing for the Celtics. Two points and one lonely rebound and assist are all he could muster. Leave him on the wire unless he gets moved to a situation where they are desperate for center minutes and he looks revitalized.
Tyler Zeller – Led the Celtics’ bigs with 27 minutes which was the very first time all season he cracked the 20 minute mark. Zeller was able to go 16 & 10 in his extended run, but this screams of anomaly.
Carmelo Anthony – Melo is battling continued knee soreness but he’s gutting it out while the Knicks fight to stay competitive in the East. At first blush, he had a decent line on Tuesday with 16, 14 & 4, but shot the ball terribly (4-16 FGs, 7-10 FTs) and turned it over three times. The All-Star break can’t get here soon enough and hopefully the break will allow Anthony to come back with fresh legs for the stretch run. It would be disappointing to see him shut down for the second season in a row.
Luol Deng – He’s ceding minutes to Justise Winslow and Gerald Green, but Deng is still hanging onto some value with minutes in the low-30s. He is the 110th ranked player since January 1st and he should continue to be rostered so long as he’s healthy. On Tuesday he put up 17, 8 & 3 with a steal and two makes from beyond the arc.
Josh Smith – If not for foul trouble, this could have been a true gem of a line. 19/4/1/2/1 with a 3-5 mark from long distance in a mere 21 minutes. There was no Dwight Howard, no Clint Capela, and no Montrezl Harrell, so Smith got the start at center and unfortunately picked up five personals. He’s going to be a liability on a lot of nights, but with his potential to fill up the money categories, he needs to be active when the Rockets are short on big men.
Terrence Ross – DeMarre Carroll and James Johnson are both looking at some extended time on the shelf, so the bulk of the wing minutes should go to T-Ross. It looks like those minutes will come as a reserve, but minutes are minutes. On Tuesday he played 27 and went for 16/3/1/1/0 with a pair of threes. He’s a good streamer for treys while the depth at the Raps’ SF position is thin.
Archie Goodwin – A career-high 12 dimes for Archie against the Raptors on Tuesday to go along with 18 points, a block, and a pair of triples. He played a game-high 45 minutes and so long as Brandon Knight continues to miss time, Goodwin is going to see huge amounts of run; there just aren’t any other options at the point for Phoenix.
Jerryd Bayless – While MCW was struggling with the starters, Bayless came off the bench and played 30 efficient minutes. He put up 16 points on 6-9 shooting (including 2-3 from downtown and 2-2 from the charity stripe), and also five dimes and a block. Bayless and Carter-Williams are going to alternate good games and high minutes as they have done this season when both are healthy. MCW is still the guy you want to own, but his backup is worth a look as an insurance policy or streaming option during densely scheduled portions of the Bucks’ calendar.
Meyers Leonard – Starting PF Noah Vonleh suffered an ankle injury that required x-rays (that came back negative) and Leonard saw 27 minutes as a result. He could be in line for a larger role if Vonleh misses significant time and is worth a pickup if he’s still bobbing around in your free agent pool. He’ll be a nice, cheap source of threes (he hit three of them on Tuesday), but the rest of his production is somewhat spotty so don’t expect rainbow lines every night.
Gorgui Dieng – Loving the continued minutes in the mid- to high-30s. 37 more of ’em for Gorgui on Tuesday and he posted 19/6/5/1/0 on 6-9 shooting. I’m not sure why he is attempting 3-pointers (he took two for the second game in a row) because he can’t hit ’em, but the rest of his game is on point and he is setup for top-75 value the rest of the way.
Jordan Clarkson – With Kobe going off and D’Angelo Russell playing not horribly off the bench (16/3/3/1/0), Clarkson wasn’t needed to have a big night. Julius Randle has been gobbling up most of the available rebounds and Bryant & Lou Williams are handling the ball more often than not, so Clarkson’s numbers in boards and dimes haven’t been great. He went for a serviceable 16, 3 & 2 on Tuesday, but he couldn’t connect from deep and missed both of his free throw attempts. If Sweet Lou gets sent packing at the trade deadline or Kobe gets shut down for injury reasons, Clarkson should be asked to do more, but for the time being he’s outside the top-100 players of 2016.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
The following players saw 36+ minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
Isaiah Thomas (37), Robin Lopez (37), Arron Afflalo (40), Kyle Lowry (42), Markieff Morris (41), P.J. Tucker (39), Devin Booker (37), Giannis Antetokounmpo (39), Khris Middleton (39), Gorgui Dieng (37), Andrew Wiggins (41).
That wraps up another Tuesday evening in the Association. As always, if you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.