Who did the Best Work and who were the Biggest Jerks from Saturday night? Let’s see:
Nuggets 120, Suns 112
Best Work, DEN: Nikola Jokic
6 turnovers?! Giant stiff. Joker’s dominance is getting laughable and he’s the current no. 1 overall player in Yahoo! What plaudits can I add? Well, he put the fear of god into Jae Crowder in a game earlier this season and Crowder’s one of the scariest dudes in the league. You’ll see why I loved that particular moment in, uhh, a moment. Jamal Murray put up 26/6/5 with a strong night that included a step-back, buzzer-beating 3-ball to force OT, but it’s tough to win top spots when Joker is your co-pilot.
Biggest Jerk, Team: Paul Millsap
I mean, part of this Jerk-knighting is because I (and maybe you) was stupid enough to pick up Millsap in one 12-teamer this week to shore up the roster with more ‘Rona and other injury-related absences, as he looked good after dub-dubbing on this past Tuesday and putting up double-digit points in 5 of his last 6 games. He’s averaging 10.1/5.3/1.4 on the year but, if you’re going to retain the 35-year-old, 15-season vet, brace yourself for some frustrating nights like this. He’s presently 44-percent owned in Yahoo!
Best Work, PHO: Chris Paul
CP3 likes the desert weather, apparently, as he’s been outstanding in his first year in Phoenix, putting up 13.8/4.7/9.0 and was a board shy of a triple-double last night. Not the greatest shooting night and Paul is only shooting 27.7 percent from deep this campaign, below his career 36.9 mark, but the 16-year-vet is still doing it all, showing us all we should be ’bout dat plant-based life that he claims rejuvenated his career since adopting it two offseasons ago.
Notes: Devin Booker missed this one with a hamstring injury he suffered on Friday night and may miss about a week; choose carefully if you’re setting a weekly lineup tomorrow. Deandre Ayton continued to play well, with 17/13/1 and 2 rejections.
Biggest Jerk, PHO: Jae Crowder
Nice line, Jae, you giant jerk. Crowder drives me nuts maybe more than anyone in the league; he undercut Hayward on the play where he shattered his ankle in 2017-’18; he insisted on heaving contested treys during his own Boston stint at maddening times; but now, he’s a marksman from behind the arc, shooting .482 from deep last season. While that’s dipped to .382 thus far, Crowder’s a reliable defender with a legitimate 3-point stroke. He’s also incredible at managing to stick his leg out when shooting and somehow draw fouls despite the obviousness of it. I thought stopping flopping was still a point of emphasis in The League? Anyway, Crowder’s a huge jerk but is currently only rostered in 33 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if you need a forward, he’ll get you 3’s, boards, and at least a steal while putting up double-figure points more often than not, with a line of 10.3/4.6/2.3 thus far.
Lakers 101, Bulls 90
Best Work, LAL: Anthony Davis
The Lakers were up 30 at halftime and, while it never got disconcertingly close after that, nobody from LA played more than 30 minutes last night. The ‘Brow made the most of his 28 minutes, though, with a beautifully well-rounded line. He’s only the 16th overall player in standard Yahoo! formats this year but there are probably only three or four guys you would actually exchange for AD, who’s posting 22.1/8.8/3.5 this season. Lebron James was atypically pedestrian, but still posted 17/11/6 in 28 minutes himself but The King didn’t need to pester any peasants to turn the tide last night.
Biggest Jerk, LAL: Marc Gasol
It’s easy to identify a jerk when he’s got this many donuts in his stat line and The Big Barcelona, while still starting, did nothing but jerk up two bricks from deep, but at least he troubled himself to swat 3 shots in 19 minutes. Posting 4.1/4.6/1.9 with 1.5 blocks per, the 35-year-old is still rostered in 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues, amazingly, and besides his free-throw and 3-point percentages, he’s posting career lows in every other stat, and percentages don’t really matter when you’re only averaging 0.9 and 1.6 attempts per game for each, respectively.
NOTE: Since we’re in the Lakers section of the Jerk Award, let me take this opportunity to be one myself and note that, even when the Lakers wear their white-and-powder-blue City-edition jerseys this year in homage to the original Minneapolis franchise like they did last night, titles won in a different city don’t count. Go thank the Utah Jazz who have the most non-sensical, post-relocation moniker in the league. Same for the Dodgers and Rams titles. You don’t like it? Yeah, well enjoy the SoCal climate that makes teams and players move there and disproportionately impacts the regional success of its teams.
Best Work, CHI: Zach LaVine
While I don’t like that his last name makes my head start playing Maroon 5 songs, that’s not Zach’s fault, and he might be on the way to his first All-Star selection, as he’s posting a career-high 26.8/5.2/5.4 this season, crushing his career marks in his 6th season. It wasn’t his best shooting night, of course, but he’s slashing 49.7/38.2/87.4 for percentages this season, all career-bests, too. He’s the 11th-overall player in Yahoo! standards this season, far better than his third-round projection, so it’s a tough call if you want to sell high or ride out the production which, given that he’s only 25, could be during a legitimate leap-year.
Biggest Jerk, CHI: Lauri Markkanen
How can you be a 7-footer with a beautiful stroke and shoot this poorly?! I thought this European product could “Finnish?!” (I know, but yet, I must.). He’s averaging 18.6/6.6/1.0 this year with the points and boards besting his career averages in his third campaign and shouldn’t normally be laying bricks like he just joined his local BAC union, but these stats were worthy of jerk-status, while Coby White (14/7/4) and Patrick Williams (13/8/1) didn’t deserve it.
Rockets 133, Mavericks 108
Best Work, HOU: DeMarcus Cousins
No Christian Wood (right ankle sprain, possible he plays next game), No problem, as Boogie gon’ give it to you, which he clearly did over 30 minutes. Considering he played 32 minutes the night prior, this should be reason for optimism for his long-term health (unless first-year coach Saul Silas is under orders to run him into the ground while the team’s shorthanded, given he’s only on a 1-year, $2.3m pact, but my conspiracy theories are like the rest: Rubbish). It’s only the second time in 6 games that he’s scored in double-figures and, while being rostered in 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues is too high and a testament to his name recognition more than anything else, you can use that recognition to flip him in a package deal after this effort, if you think his lower body will betray him once more. Eric Gordon produced the goods himself with 33/3/2 including 6-for-9 on 3-bombs.
Biggest Jerk, HOU: John Wall
Woof. He played through a sore left knee for 21 minutes after missing 5 straight but this is still unsightly. He’s still posting 17.1/4.3/5.5 and is a potential candidate to win Comeback Player of the Year but while it was his ruptured left Achilles that put the kibosh on his 2019-’20 season, it’s hard to not be concerned about any lower-leg injury a player suffers after either ACL or Achilles surgeries. This reads like a rest-and-monitor situation for the 30-year-old but be leery.
Best Work, DAL: Boban Marjanovic
When’s the last time Boban made a round-up? Ever? Either way, it was an honest night’s work for this 7’4″ Yugoslavian brute, ripping boards and making his bunnies in 20 minutes off the bench with Kristaps Porzingis out resting his knee on the back-to-back. It was a tough choice to find a winner in this lopsided affair and Boban is only rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo! leagues so don’t make much of this.
Note: Trey Burke MAY be worth monitoring after 13/1/1 with 3 swipes in 23 minutes, making it four straight games with double-figure points but he doesn’t do much else save score and swipe.
Biggest Jerk, DAL: Luka Doncic
That’s right, I put Luka in the Jerk Column for this one. Why does Rick Carlisle continue to let Luka hoist as many 3’s as he does? He shot .327 in 72 games his rookie year, .316 last season, and now .278 this season. That’s not a good trend. I don’t know HOW he’s that bad from deep but the issue isn’t getting better and Dallas is only 8-8 this season. He’s not Ben Simmons and actually has a good stroke and yet, here I am assigning arbitrary pejoratives to him. I’m not mad, Luka, but I AM disappointed.
Oh, you think I’m a monster for calling a guy slashing 26.7/9.7/9.5 on the year a jerk? Well, you’re not wrong but tell me how well it went for OKC when Russell Westbrook was averaging a triple-double?
Jazz 127, Warriors 108
Best Work, UTA: Donovan Mitchell
I’m not exactly reaching when picking Mitchell, who continues to ascend to NBA stardom and did everything but block one in 27 minutes last night He’s posting 24.3/4.1/5.0 in his fourth season and his production is ticking upward across all counting and percentage stats (save boards, static at 4.1 for the year thus far and his career). Rudy Gobert put up 11/14/2 with a swat and Mike Conley posted 17 points via 5 treys, too.
Biggest Jerk, UTA: Bojan Bogdanovic
You’re no Boban, Bojan. Just about everyone played well for the Jazz and it’s hard to naysay a guy who grabs 7 boards and dishes out 8 dimes, but it WAS a dismal night from the floor. He’s still rostered in 73 percent of leagues and that’s unlikely to drop because of one poor night. Not much to see here, really.
Best Work, GSW: Stephen Curry
He missed a free throw?! Steph’s a machine, keeping the Warriors contending at 8-8 this season and put up a stellar line in a bad loss for the Dubs. Seriously, though, he may be some kind of machine, as word reverberated this week that as part of his training Steph puts sandbags on his rib cage at the end of workouts to beef up his diaphragm and enable him to lower his heart rate precipitously during short breaks. I can barely bring myself to go for a walk while I wait for gyms to be safe again and Curry’s doing diaphragm sets. He’s posting 27.9/5.6/6.2 this year and has been nothing short of phenomenal in a so-so season for his team.
Biggest Jerk, GSW: Kelly Oubre, Jr.
Oubre? More like Obr-in-and-out, amirite?! Does Oubre, himself, think he’s so bad at shooting that he’s doing it less? It’s been a rough relocation to the East Bay for Oubre and I’m sure that Warriors brass is glad they’re only on the hook for one more season on this 2-year/$30m pact. After 5 straight with double-figure points, he scored just 7 on Thursday night, followed by this stat-turd. He’s shooting 20.2 percent from deep this season (!!!), despite averaging career highs of 11.5/5.4/1.0. There was talk about him as a buy-low candidate after a rough start but I’m wondering if the 25-year-old has some kind of kink in his J that will need substantial correction before he gets better. He’s rostered in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues still, but unless you’re offered Oubre for a guy you were going to drop anyway, wait and see if owners in 12-teamers and lower start dropping him.
Sixers 114, Pistons 110
Best Work, PHI: Joel Embiid
Embiid is another guy who’s playing MVP-level ball and continues to stagger with stat lines like this one in over 35 minutes of work last night. Embiid’s taking a career-low 3.0 pulls from deep, which is exactly what you want to see from a force as dominant on the block as him. I’m not sure if it’s Doc Rivers’ influence or not but something lit a fire under Embiid’s hind this year, as he’s the fourth-overall player in Yahoo! standards, putting up 27.7/11.5/2.7, with the PPG a career-best to date. Simmons chipped in 20/9/7 thanks to a 10-for-12 night from the stripe, as well.
Biggest Jerk, PHI: Shake Milton
Shake’s the jerk here since Seth Curry is back to starting after being out with a ‘Rona, posting 14/3/1 in 28 minutes of work to Shake’s 22 off the bench. His roster percentage shot up to 52 percent with the dearth of healthy bodies in Philly as of late, but unless he’s playing around 30 minutes a night as he did in 4 contests between Jan. 7 and Jan. 20, it’s dubious that he’s worth rostering except for 14-teamers and higher.
Best Work, DET: Delon Wright
It was tough to find many fantasy bright spots from the Pistons, and Wright was the best candidate from a subpar batch. Wright has been a popular pick-up this season and is currently rostered in 39 percent of Yahoo! leagues but is only posting 8.0/4.1/4.1 on the season. Wayne Ellington posted 17/4/2 with 4 treys himself and is only owned in 18 percent of leagues if you need some buckets and 3’s while battling roster injuries.
Biggest Jerk, DET: Jerami Grant
While he was productive in other areas, when you shoot 3-for-19 it stands out and not for the right reasons. Grant’s still having a monster leap-year with a 24.3/6.4/2.7 line to date, just give him a mulligan.
Nets 128, Heat 124
Best Work, BKN: Kevin Durant
Okay, John Wall isn’t winning any Comeback Player of the Year with KD playing like he’s never even had a scratch or a cold. He’s the second-overall player in Yahoo! standards even WITH the DNPs on some back-to-backs, and it’s easy to argue he’s the best player in the league again. Kyrie Irving went off in the fourth to finish with 28/6/7 on the night, himself.
Biggest Jerk, BKN: James Harden
Definitely an off-night for Harden. We’ll blame The Belly for this misstep. Harden’s proven he can go cold for stretches but he’s got slightly better help to carry the load when he’s not feeling it now, as evidenced by the 11 dimes.
Best Work, MIA: Bam Adebayo
Miami’s tough 6-9 start isn’t for a lack of effort on Bam’s part, who posted the best line of the night. He’s built on the progress he displayed in The Bubble, posting 20.3/8.9/5.5, shooting a staggering 61.7/50.0/85.9 to date. The FG% simply has to regress at some point but, if he didn’t already have an onomatopoeic first name, I’d push for him to be The Air Fryer because they both produce delicious results with incredible efficiency. Duncan Robinson helped with 18/5/1 despite a 3-for-11 night from deep and Kendrick Nunn posted 18/5/3 in 32 minutes off the bench as well.
Biggest Jerk, MIA: Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk got another start and disappointed again over 22 minutes. 1-for-8 from deep is fine from James Harden-types every now and again, but not from guys who scored 2 points in the last game and followed it up with a line like this. He’s still slashing 10.1/5.2/2.9 for the year and, like his play, rostering him will be mercurial all year (39 percent in Yahoo!).
Timberwolves 120, Pelicans 110
Best Work, MIN: Naz Reid
Naz has been illmatic of late, taking Karl-Anthony Town’s starting spot while the latter recovers from the ‘Rona, with the 20 points being a team and season-high. He’s played 25-plus minutes in four straight, scoring in double figures in three straight, hits threes reliably (41.5 3P% this year), and as he’s only rostered in 22 percent of Yahoo! leagues, take a peek as soon as you’re done here.
Note: D’Angelo Russell missed this one but was listed as out resting. No worries.
Biggest Jerk, MIN: Malik Beasley
Certainly not the biggest jerk from Saturday night, but, I’m sure owners expected more with Russell sidelined, and it was a poor shooting night from a guy slashing 43.8/37.0/89.2 this season, his 6th in the pros but, overall, his 18.9/4.7/2.5 line to date is a strong follow-up to his 20.7/5.1/1.9 effort last year. If he’s on your waiver wire, you must be in a public league that drafted a week after the season started, or you play with rubes who you should probably exploit financially in a grander scheme than fantasy hoops if they’re that stupid and you’re going to continue associating with them.
Best Work, NOP: Brandon Ingram
Ingram continues to pop off this year, averaging 23.3/5.6/4.6 to date in his fifth season, shooting 46.8/37.3/84.5 to boot, all of which exceed his career marks. Zion Williamson put up 19/11/3 over 38 minutes himself and Eric Bledsoe went off with 28/5/3, as well.
Biggest Jerk, NOP: Steven Adams
I guess we don’t expect a ton from Adams but considering that he’s rostered in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues (I almost didn’t disparage Adams thinking his ownership would be WELL below that mark) and that he’s slashing 9.3/9.1/2.6 with nearly a block per, this certainly qualifies as the biggest disappointment from the Pels on the night. 88 percent, though?! Really?!?!