Winter might not officially end for another couple of weeks, but Spring looks to have sprung for us up here in the northeast. Temperatures are climbing, the last of the snow has melted, the pretty girls are starting to peel away their heavy winter apparel, and the Toronto Raptors are reminding Canadian hoops fans why it’s never a good idea to buy into the idea that “maybe this will be our year.”
You’d think after nearly blowing a 15-point lead to the Blazers on Friday, and then actually blowing it against the visiting Rockets on Sunday, my Raps would take out some of their frustrations on the woefully bad Brooklyn Nets…yeah, not so much. Thanks to getting outscored 35-14 in the 2nd quarter, they were down 16 at half…to the Nets. The 18-45 Nets. That Toronto came back to win on the strength of 48 points from their All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry (23) & DeMar DeRozan (25) is besides the point. These extended periods of disinterested play against inferior competition are what have caused their early playoff exits each of the past couple years and Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre was just the most recent example of the team failing to learn from their past mistakes. If history is any indication, there’s going to be a lot more where that came from…
Whatever. I’m preemptively upset about it happening again and I don’t want to talk about it anymore, alright? Let’s just move past it.
For variety’s sake, we’ll change up the format again this week and break down Tuesday’s six pack game-by-game with a focus on the noteworthy fantasy performers who are helping and hurting owners as the playoffs fast approach.
Nets @ Raptors
Hot: Brook Lopez – 35/5/3/1/7 for BroLo on a hyper-efficient 13-17 from the field and 9-9 from the foul line. He was sending back weak shot attempts left, right and center and fantasy owners have to hope he has monster outings like this to compensate for the potential of more rest days down the stretch of a lost season in Brooklyn.
Not: Jonas Valanciunas – Was severely outclassed by the aforementioned Lopez and finished the night with an empty 10/3/2/0/0 line in 24 minutes. Look for him to bounce back on Thursday against the Hawks.
Worth Mentioning: Donald Sloan saw his minutes jump back up to 28 after a combined 32 in his last two, but still managed only 2/2/5/1/0. He belongs on the wire…Markel Brown came in hot, averaging 22 points in his last two, but cooled off considerably with only four points and three assists in 20 bench minutes…New acquisition Jason Thompson got a spot start with Luis Scola resting and played well. Thompson put up 9/5/2/1/2 (with a 3-pointer), but the Raptors are too deep to trust him with one of your roster spots, especially considering DeMarre Carroll is due to return in relatively short order…Bismack Biyombo capitalized on Valanciunas’ off night, getting 26 minutes of run and parlaying it into 6/10/1/2/2. He’s a decent boards & blocks streamer, especially with the Raptors having a 5-game week right around the corner.
Spurs @ Timberwolves
Hot: LaMarcus Aldridge – LMA feasted on the Wolves young frontcourt and managed to make BroLo’s line look inefficient. Aldridge poured in 29 points on 11-13 FGs (7-8 FTs), but he didn’t stop there. He added seven boards, four dimes, a steal and an uncharacteristic four blocks (he averages only 1.1 on the season) and turned the ball over nary a time. It just doesn’t get much better than that, especially when he you realize he accomplished all that in only 29 minutes.
Not: Ricky Rubio – No bueno for the Spanish point guard on Tuesday as he had as many points (2) as he did turnovers. If that wasn’t bad enough, he got thoroughly outplayed by the approximately 200-year old Andre Miller (13/2/5/1/0) and saw only 21 minutes of court time. Rubio has flirted with the top-50 for much of the season and owners know that duds like this are just a part of that deal.
Worth Mentioning: Danny Green played a team-high 31 minutes and did Danny Green things – a three, two steals and two blocks. DG is still well outside the top-100 on the year and he’s going to have to light it up the rest of the way to break into that group…Patty Mills couldn’t capitalize on Tony Parker‘s absence, shooting only 1-8 from long range (3-11 overall) on his way to seven points and four assists…Zach Lavine continues to see big minutes in the starting unit, but wasn’t very aggressive in a tough matchup against the Spurs. The reigning dunk champ went 15/2/3/0/0 in 36 minutes, but attempted only 10 field goals and one free throw. He’s still setup for a very nice final month of the season…Gorgui Dieng was good on D (a pair of steals and blocks) but bad on O (only four points on 1-7 shooting).
Knicks @ Nuggets
Hot: Carmelo Anthony – Big game for ‘Melo (30/7/4/0/3), but unfortunately the rest of the team didn’t show up. As the only starter to hit double figures, Anthony kept the Knicks competitive by shooting 9-18 from the floor and a sterling 11-11 from the charity stripe. Four TOs spoil the party a bit, but owners have to be encouraged by the efficient scoring and 39 injury-free minutes.
Not: Robin Lopez – The Knicks opted to play more small ball in the Denver altitude and RoLo saw only 17 minutes of action. Even at that you’d expect more than 2/3/1/0/0. Sideshow Bob was Noshow Bob on Tuesday.
Worth Mentioning: Kristaps Porzingis saw only 20 minutes, shot 3-11 from the field (0-3 from downtown) and coughed the ball up three times. He did manage to provide owners with a steal and a pair of blocks, but the Knicks don’t seem particularly interested in letting the rookie work through his mistakes right now despite rapidly fading playoff hopes. Optimistic owners still hoping for a final month resurgence can point to the Poison Goose’s minor leg injury as the culprit for his recent struggles, but Coach Rambis doesn’t seem particularly enamored with the youngster so I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath..Nikola Jokic kept his hands to himself, committed no fouls and Mike Malone rewarded him with 34 minutes. Joker used the extended run to drop 20 & 9 with a steal and a block…Another DNP-CD for Jusuf Nurkic in what can only be described as a completely lost season for him…D.J. Augustin continues to be worth an end-of-roster spot, posting top-120 value since he was dealt to the Nuggets. He used his 21 minutes off the pine on Tuesday to post 10/2/6/1/0 with a trey. He’s absolutely worth a look if you are desperate for point guard stats.
Hawks @ Jazz
Hot: Jeff Teague – 24/3/6/2/1 in 32 minutes. Teague also drained three shots from behind the arc and held Dennis Schroder to only 16 minutes. I don’t doubt we’ll continue to see ebbs & flows between those two as Coach Bud tries to keep both guys fresh, but JT is easily the more valuable commodity while healthy.
Not: Shelvin Mack – Not exactly the “revenge game” Mack was likely hoping for as the Hawks left Utah with a win. Ice cold from the field, Shelvin only connected on 2 of his 13 attempts. One of those was a triple and he chipped in seven boards and four dimes, but I admittedly overestimated how valuable he’d be with a full complement of starter’s minutes in Utah. I think he’s still a hold, but I’m not very confident we’ll see a lot of improvement from Mack through the end of the season.
Worth Mentioning: Al Horford played a team-high 35 minutes but only took seven shots from the field (none from the foul line) and posted a very modest 11/7/1/1/1 line. Versatility and efficiency are the name of the game for Al and against a stellar frontcourt in Utah, this isn’t as bad as it could have been…After swatting six shots his last time out, Derrick Favors rejected three more against the Hawks to go along with a pair of steals, 16 points and eight rebounds. He’s working his way towards being a second round asset on a per-game basis this year…Rudy Gobert had a season-high six turnovers, which is the same number of points he posted in the loss to Atlanta. He salvaged his night with 15 boards and a pair of steals, but he’s going to need to clean things up to stay inside the season-long top-50. I think the French Rejection will be a post-hype value pick in drafts next year.
Wizards @ Trail Blazers
Hot: Damian Lillard – 41/5/11/1/0 with six treys is indeed “hot.” Dame used the overtime period to tally an additional nine points to take him from having a very good game to having a monster game. Over the past month he’s your 7th ranked 9-category player, and if he can continue on this current pace, he’ll force himself into a first round valuation on the season by April.
Not: Markieff Morris – Is it possible that he’s actually just not that good at basketball? A messy 4-12 mark from the field, three TOs and five personal fouls makes ‘Kieff’s 8/7/0/0/1 slash look even worse than it is. Since joining the Wizards, he has really only had one positively noteworthy game and that came back on Leap Day against the 76ers.
Worth Mentioning: Marcin Gortat continues to be a quietly effective and efficient big man for fantasy owners. The Polish Hammer double-doubled with 19 & 10, making 8-12 from the field and throwing in a block for good measure…John Wall couldn’t find the range with his shot (8-25 FGs) but dropped his usual complement of dimes (11) and added eight money stats (three 3s, two steals, three blocks)…Bradley Beal and his strained pelvis missed the game but he may rejoin the team for the rest of the road trip, so guys like Garrett Temple and Ramon Sessions would lose some spot start appeal if BB can suit up…Noah Vonleh is terrible – why is he starting for a playoff-caliber Blazers team?…Ed Davis had a big night off the bench, snagging five of his 15 boards on the offensive end to go with nine points, four assists, a swipe and a swat.
Magic @ Lakers
Hot: D’Angelo Russell – The rookie continued his stellar play as a starter and he has capitalized on the absence of usage hogs Lou Williams and Kobe Bryant. Russell went for 27/2/3/3/0 in the win over the Magic, shooting better than 50% from the field and draining a pair of treys. He is locked and loaded as a top-60 fantasy asset through the end of the season and he’ll probably be off draft boards by the fifth round this fall.
Not: Brandon Jennings – To say that Jennings didn’t carry any momentum from his 20-point outing versus the Warriors into this game would be an understatement. He saw all of four minutes, missed a shot a minute and had one assist to his name in the box score. Thanks, Skiles. Thanks.
Worth Mentioning: As mentioned above, no Kobe Bryant in this one as he continues to battle a sore shoulder…Also, no Nikola Vucevic, who sat out his second consecutive game with a troublesome groin. Vuc had an MRI and owners just have to hope that it comes back clean and he can quickly get back to posting the types of lines that have made him a top-30 asset on the season…Aaron Gordon was quiet with 5/4/3/1/1, failing to connect from long distance and wasn’t particularly impactful in his 28 minutes, outside of one of the better in-game windmill dunks you’re ever likely to see…Victor Oladipo was the only Magic player to really show up and he finished Tuesday’s loss at Staples Center with 26/4/2/1/1 including a pair of threes…Jordan Clarkson is tapping into his inner Steph Curry and continues to shoot the long ball well of late. Clarkson nailed five more triples (on a dozen attempts) and he’s averaging four such makes per game over his last three…Julius Randle had his way with Aaron Gordon and double-doubled for the third consecutive game. Julius finished with 23/11/1/2/0 and the future all of a sudden doesn’t look quite so bleak in LaLa land now that Byron Scott is unleashing his talented trio of youngsters (Russell, Clarkson & Randle).
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.