Perhaps no player since the great Oscar Robertson has felt like such a nightly threat to record a triple-double than Russell Westbrook. Lately, when the Thunder point guard takes the court on any given night, you’re expecting huge production. You can just tell how much he wants it. He is a special player with an unparalleled combination of aggression and talent…and it was on full display on Tuesday night.
For the third game in a row and the sixth time this month, Russell Westbrook poured in double-digit points, grabbed double-digit rebounds, and handed out double-digit assists. He finished Tuesday’s home win with 21, 13 & 15.
After Tuesday’s game, Westbrook now has March averages (11 games) of: 20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.
The remarkable thing though, is that Russ is ranked 54th for 9-category per-game fantasy value this month, due in large part to 4.7 turnovers per game and a high-volume .408 mark from the field. This is a perfect illustration of how eye-popping numbers can be misleading when gauging a player’s actual value to your team. In contrast, Kawhi Leonard is a full 50 ranking spots ahead of Westbrook this month with more modest averages of 22.7/7.4/2.9. But when you add in a .495 shooting percentage and only 1.6 TOs, the valuation swings wildly in his favor.
So while Russell Westbrook is posting trip-dub after trip-dub, it’s prudent for fantasy owners to keep in mind exactly what goes into the making of a star in the real world versus the fantasy world as this 2015-2016 season comes to an end.
Let’s take a look at some of the other note-worthy performers on a quiet four-game Tuesday night in the NBA…
Hornets @ Nets
Hot: Jeremy Lin – For the second night in a row, Lin dropped 20+ off the bench, finishing the Hornets’ road win with 21/2/4/1/0. He got there on a tidy 8-12 from the field including one made 3-pointer. Tuesday’s effort marks the third straight game of 25 or more minutes and all three have led to double-digit shot attempts, .600+ shooting, and a total of six made treys. If he is sitting around on any waiver wires, he’s probably worth a pickup while he’s got the hot hand.
Not: Thaddeus Young – The subject of last Tuesday’s lead posted a stinker in Brooklyn this week. Thad hit only 5-12 shots (no threes, no FT attempts) and had six giveaways. He also contributed nothing defensively in an empty 10/8/1/0/0 line. Owners running him out there in playoff lineups have to hope he posts a big line on Thursday versus the Cavs to make up for this dud.
Worth Mentioning: Nicolas Batum scored 23 points but his complementary stats were lacking as he only had two boards and two dimes. He connected on four triples though and didn’t turn it over in 39 minutes for a bit of a mixed bag on Tuesday…Kemba Walker‘s shooting woes continued as he made just 4-14 versus the Nets. That makes five straight games in which Walker hasn’t even hit the 40% field goal mark, and on relatively high volume he is really hurting owners in that category…Brook Lopez returned from a night off and missed a double-double by just one rebound. He poured in 29 points and handed out six helpers to go with those nine rebounds and despite the lack of defensive stats, this was a nice return from a brief absence…The Brooklyn point guard spot continues to be a fantasy wasteland as Donald Sloan (0/3/6/0/0, 0-5 FGs) and Shane Larkin (7/3/5/1/0) failed to impress. Owners looking ahead to next week’s 5-game slate will have to hope that one of these guys emerges quickly because the timeshare is doing no one – in fantasy or reality – any favors…Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played in his first game since early-December and saw 15 minutes of run. He posted a modest line of 5/3/2/1/0, but by all accounts looked decent for someone who has missed 50 straight games. He is worth a pickup if you’re in need of a steals specialist heading into next week.
Heat @ Pelicans
Hot: Hassan Whiteside – He is perhaps the best example of “talent is talent” and “minutes are minutes.” Coming off the bench has long had a negative stigma attached to it, but Whiteside is proving that it simply doesn’t matter so long as you see court time. He beasted again on Tuesday, taking advantage of a completely over-matched Pelicans frontcourt, to the tune of 24/14/0/1/3. He missed only one of his 11 FGAs and is a full blown stud, starter or not.
Not: Luol Deng – Tuesday’s five point dud marks the second game in a row that Deng hasn’t even threatened double-digit scoring in a sub-30 minute role. With a pair of talented, young wing players behind him in Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, coach Spoelstra may be looking to cut back on Deng’s workload in the final weeks of the regular season. If Luol doesn’t see a bump in his next game out, it might be time to look elsewhere as patience is not an affordable virtue during the fantasy playoffs.
Worth Mentioning: The aforementioned Richardson cooled off in 24 minutes with only six points and a lonely rebound to his name. Coming in off three straight games of 17-19 points scored, this seems like just an off night…Luke Babbitt got hot and scored 23 points on 10-19 shooting, including a pair of treys. With the Pelicans’ frontcourt in shambles there is going to be plenty of opportunity for a warm body like Babbitt to contribute meaningful stats out of simple necessity…New Orleans guards struggled with their shot all night against the Heat as the trio of Jrue Holiday (7-23), Toney Douglas (4-16) and Tim Frazier (3-10) combined to shoot under 29%. There is fantasy potential here with Holiday being the far & away best option, but the lack of pure talent is going to produce nights like these down the stretch for guys like Douglas and Frazier.
Rockets @ Thunder
Hot: James Harden – Despite a tender ankle that was evident throughout the game, Harden fought through and finished with 24/7/16(!)/4/0. The 16 assists were a career-high and he had 10 of them by halftime. With Patrick Beverley taking on the role of spot-up 3-point shooter (he was 4-6 from deep on Tuesday), Harden has a number of options to drive & kick to if the lane isn’t open for his shot or a lob to Dwight Howard. So long as The Beard doesn’t suffer an aggravation to his ankle, he should be a top-5 asset down the stretch with big lines like Tuesday’s the norm, rather than the exception.
Not: Randy Foye – In 24 minutes of floor time, you’d expect more than one assist and a pair of steals. 0-5 from the floor (four of which were attempted from beyond the arc) and little involvement elsewhere in the game goes to show you that Foye, despite the solid minutes, shouldn’t be anywhere near your fantasy roster despite the occasional double-digit scoring “outburst.”
Worth Mentioning: All five Rockets starters scored in double-figures, including Trevor Ariza who needed 18 shots to score 13 points. Despite the lack of efficiency, Ariza provided eight boards, four dimes, three triples and three steals which will have fantasy owners forgetting pretty quickly about the poor shooting…Michael Beasley saw his lowest minutes total of the last five games at only 16. He still managed to get up a dozen shots (connecting on five of them) on his way to 11/4/1/0/1. He has been shooting with both high frequency and high percentage since arriving in Houston and is worth a look if you’re chasing points in your head-to-head matchups…Serge Ibaka had 15 & 8 with three blocks against the Rockets and the fact that that’s a noteworthy positive line for him tells you all you need to know about his mostly disappointing campaign. Those should have been his averages…No player in the league posts more empty double-doubles than Enes Kanter and he did so again on Tuesday with 10 & 10 and only a single steal to complement it…Steven Adams was the anti-Kanter, taking care of the defensive categories with a pair of both steals and blocks. He scored only eight points while collecting a mere three rebounds though.
Grizzlies @ Lakers
Hot: Tony Allen – How does a guy with some of the worst shooting mechanics in the game go 12-12 from the field? I’m glad you asked. His opponent was the Los Angeles Lakers. ‘Nuff said. 27/4/5/1/0 for the Grindfather at Staples Center on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers actually came out with a seven-point win. Go figure. Allen’s owners probably don’t much care though so long as he’s posting big lines like this for the injury-ravaged Grizz.
Not: Ray McCallum – Yikes. 17 minutes as the starter to newly acquired Jordan Farmar‘s 31. It makes sense when you see that all Ray Mac did in those 17 minutes was miss two shots, collect zero rebounds or defensive stats, and hand out three assists while turning it over once. What once looked like Briante Weber‘s job was then taken by McCallum and is now likely to be stolen by Farmar. Mike Conley can’t get healthy soon enough.
Worth Mentioning: Zach Randolph put up a rare defensive gem with three steals and a block to complement his 16/6/5 line. More of that please, Z-Bo!…Matt Barnes didn’t show up on Tuesday with only 9/0/3/0/1 in 32 minutes. He’s been far more versatile than this lately and remains a hold…Julius Randle did his best Randolph impression, posting 13/14/5/1/3 for one of the best across-the-board lines of his young career…Jordan Clarkson finally broke out of his shooting slump and connected on eight of his 13 attempts from the field. That including two makes from long distance and he added a pair of steals to round out a solid bounce-back night…D’Angelo Russell suffered a bruised shin and exited after only 22 minutes of floor time. More minutes and opportunity to Marcelo Huertas and Sweet Lou Williams if the rook needs to miss any time with his ouchy.
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.