Conventional basketball wisdom suggests that smaller lineups play at a faster pace and typically score more points. That wasn’t exactly the case in Chicago on Tuesday night. The Milwaukee Bucks rolled out their massive starting lineup that features five players who all measure between 6’6″ and 6’11”. The Bulls countered with considerable size of their own, as only Derrick Rose came in under 6’7″ among the first unit. Coming into this one, Chicago ranked 10th in the league in pace while Milwaukee was 24th, and both teams sat in the bottom third in offensive efficiency. On paper this looked like a matchup destined to be played in half court sets with plenty of contested late-in-the-shot-clock possessions. The opposite came to pass as all ten starters scored in double figures and we saw 223 combined points poured in.
Following his record breaking 40-point second half against that basketball team that plays in a country other than the United States, Jimmy Butler remained en fuego, scoring 20 first half points to give him an even 60 for that four quarter stretch. The man they call “Buckets” finished with a game-high 32 on 11-21 from the field, 2-4 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 8-8 on his freebies. Jimmy is every bit a first rounder this year regardless of whether or not the usage-sucking, possession-wasting Rose lines up next to him or not. (He did on Tuesday.) There aren’t ten players I’d rather have on my roster, especially considering the Bulls’ outstanding playoff schedule.
On the other side, Khris Middleton did his best to keep the Bucks in it, posting a stellar 26/4/7/1/0 line. The Duchess of Wisconsin did his damage on 10-21 shooting, pouring in five threes and only turning the ball over twice in 38 minutes. Middleton has been a top-20 nine category player over the last month and with Jason Kidd not around to mess with lineup & rotation consistency, there’s no reason to think Khris can’t keep this hot streak going.
Let’s have a little look-see at the rest of the notable fantasy lines from Tuesday night, shall we?
Michael Carter-Williams – Efficiency was the name of the game for MCW at the United Center as he went 20/3/12/2/0 on 9-14 from the field, 1-1 from deep, 1-1 from the FT line, and only coughed it up twice in 37 atypical minutes. You’re likely placing a losing bet if you think Carter-Williams will repeat this level of play his next time out.
Pau Gasol – The elder Gasol probably had a better fantasy line than Jimmy Buckets (which is really saying something), but Jimmy has cooler hair so he got the nod for the lead. PG had a gem of a game: 26/11/5/1/3, 10-14 FGs, 4-4 FTs, and two 3-pointers. The only thing holding Pau back from a true 9-cat monster was his four TOs, but I’m confident his owners will forgive him given all the other goodies.
Carmelo Anthony – ‘Melo just sneaks into “The Good” on the strength of 23/11/7/1/2. He shot it poorly though (8-22 FGs) and couldn’t connect from deep, while also turning it over three times. On the season Anthony is flirting with top-40 value on a per-game basis, but he is just inside the top-60 over the last month as his turnovers are up and 3-pointers down. If you’re looking to move him, you still want a player well within the top-50 since ‘Melo carries a lot of name value, but he’s not a guy I’d be actively trying to acquire in most formats.
Al Horford – After the first half, you would’ve never thought he’d find himself in this column as his shot was way off, including missing both of his FTs (rare for the 80% shooter). But Horford got hot late and posted a well-rounded 13/10/8/0/2 line including a three. He didn’t turn the ball over a single time in 33 minutes, and that kind of well-rounded production is why he holds 2nd round value on the season.
DeMarcus Cousins – Triple-double alert! Well, kinda. DMC went for a massive 35 & 17, but he also went into double-digits in the turnovers category with an even 10. His six steals, two triples, and one block were made possible by two overtimes and a very favorable matchup with a soft Mavericks interior. If you didn’t have him going in DFS, you’re doing it wrong and should probably just donate your bankroll to the local animal shelter or something.
Rudy Gay – Took advantage of the bonus frames and was unusually efficient with 31 points on 13-20 shooting, 3-3 from deep, and only two TOs in a massive 48 minutes. He doesn’t get talked about a ton, but he’s hangin’ right around that top-50 spot on a per-game basis and I think he’s got about 10 spots worth of upside beyond that if he can bump his FG% a bit while keeping the turnovers down.
Jordan Clarkson – It’s tough to find much good for a team on the wrong side of a 21-point blowout (that was far less competitive than even that number suggests), but Clarkson was a bright spot with 23/5/2. He has been struggling with his long-distance stroke so the two hits from beyond the arc are a welcome sign for fantasy owners. He is the Lakers player you want to own and I expect a big post-All Star break run from JC.
Greg Monroe – The popcorn was pretty tasty (13 points, 12 boards, three dimes) but there was no butter (5-18 from the field) and a bit too much salt (four TOs).
Derrick Rose – Did typical D-Rose things, scoring 16 points on 17 poorly selected shots. He missed all four of his attempts from distance, contributed nothing on defense, and gave the ball to the other team nearly as many times (five TOs) as he did his own (six assists). He is one of those players I will never roster in fantasy, and if he ever finds his way into a Raptors uniform I’ll swear off the team for life…I don’t care how wonderful the mascot and Dance Pak are!
Kyle Korver – He not only looks like Ashton Kutcher, he’s shooting like Ashton Kutcher. Despite heavy run (33 minutes), he just can’t get in a rhythm, missing 10 of 14 shots (only 2-9 on threes). He’s contributing very little else and he basically just stumbled upon three boards and one assist. It’s really difficult to justify him taking up a roster spot unless you’re absolutely desperate for treys.
J.J. Barea – Well, it was fun while it lasted. Deron Williams‘ (25/2/4/2/0) return meant Barea got bumped to the bench. Even with the extra two overtime periods JJB only saw 23 minutes and didn’t do much with ’em. 3-10 from the floor and a pretty empty 7/1/3/0/0 line. Everyone knows how fragile D-Will is, but there’s not much reason to hold onto Jose Juan with Devin Harris (17 minutes) and Raymond Felton (35 minutes) also vying for backcourt run off the bench.
Draymond Green – Coming off three consecutive triple-doubles a line of 9/12/5/0/1 falls into a relative version of “The Bad” category. He missed half of his eight FT attempts and only played 28 minutes (blowout factor), so this will probably go down as one of his worst lines of the 2015-2016 campaign.
Roy Hibbert – 2/5/0/0/1 on 1-7 FGs in 23 minutes. (I destroyed JB in an RCL last week with this 7-foot steaming turd manning one of my center spots! Bah.)
Metta World Peace – Played 25 minutes. The perfect amount of time to bait Draymond into a mini-scuffle, take 10 shots (make only two), and blow a wide open layup so badly you put the Warriors’ bench into hysterics. It was that kinda night in LaLa land.
Injuries – Among those ruled out prior to tip-off on Tuesday: Rajon Rondo, Omri Casspi, Willie-Cauley Stein, D’Angelo Russell, Kobe Bryant, and Jerryd Bayless. That’s quite a few fantasy-relevant players missing action on a quiet four game night and a number of the lines we saw were a direct result of the increased opportunity created by shortened benches and rotations.
Nikola Mirotic – Niko was the only Bulls starter to play under 35 minutes – he played 29 – but he was still able to put up 14 & 6 with a three, a steal and a block. Bobby Portis played hard and is forcing Fred Hoiberg to find minutes for him. Unfortunately for Mirotic’s fantasy owners, they’re coming at his expense.
Dennis Schroder – Crawled out of the doghouse and got to run around the yard for 25 minutes. He went 7/4/8 but struggled shooting (3-8 FGs, 0-2 threes, 1-3 FTs) and didn’t take care of the ball (three TOs). It’s anyone’s guess whether it’ll be Schroder or Shelvin Mack (DNP-CD on Tuesday) as Jeff Teague‘s backup the next time out.
Jose Calderon – Played mid-30s minutes (36 to be exact) for the third time in four games. That kind of usage has not been kind to little Jose’s body in the past, but he’s a low-end asset while he’s getting the run.
Lou Williams – Really weird shooting line for Sweet Lou as he went 0-7 from the field but 10-10 from the FT line. Is that a net positive, negative, or a wash?
Marco Belinelli – With the Kings a bit short on bodies, Belly was likely a popular streamer. Anybody who took the gamble was rewarded with 14 points, nine boards, three assists, three swipes and four treys.
Steph Curry – Got clipped on his troublesome shin again and was hobbling for a bit while trying to play through it. Had the game been closer I’m guessing he would’ve stuck it out, but the Warriors were creaming the Lakers so Steph called it a night early. He finished 17/1/6/3/0 with a trio of threes in 26 minutes and was an obvious fade candidate in DFS given the likelihood of a blowout at Staples Center. Hopefully the Chef doesn’t need to miss any games, but with the Dubs steamrolling the entire league, they can fortunately/unfortunately afford to rest him if he’s borderline.
Harrison Barnes – Looked really good in his 23 minutes off the bench. His jumper looked smooth (5-7 FGs) and he had good bounce while hauling in eight boards. I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he reclaims his starting spot.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
Players who saw over 36 minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
Giannis Antetokounmpo (36), Michael Carter-Williams (37), Khris Middleton (38), Taj Gibson (38), Jimmy Butler (39), Carmelo Anthony (40), Jose Calderon (36), Arron Afflalo (37), Paul Millsap (36), DeMarcus Cousins (49), Rudy Gay (48), Darren Collison (47), Seth – yes, Seth – Curry (36), Marco Belinelli (43), Dirk Nowitzki (43), Zaza Pachulia (40), Deron Williams (43), Wesley Matthews (43).
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.