While a large swath of America headed to the voting booth, your friendly neighbor to the north spent last night kickin’ back, feet up, drink in hand (technically it was multiple drinks), with the channel tuned to NBA basketball. I traded in polls for points, delegates for dimes, and rhetoric for rebounds.
You see, the beauty of basketball is that it’s pure. It’s honest. It’s 48 minutes of team competition, largely devoid of self interest. Positive results have a direct correlation to superior effort and ability – things that you just can’t fake. It’s refreshing. The best fantasy assets are those who are well-rounded and who contribute more than just the basic “popcorn” numbers that appeal to the casual observer. Fantasy studs have depth and consistency…as they should. So when you juxtapose a random Tuesday evening of professional basketball with one of the biggest nights in American politics, you really gain an appreciation for just how lucky we are to live in the time of NBA LeaguePass. It’s super duper. (Sorry, CNN.)
In a departure from the normal “good/bad/noteworthy” format, I’ve decided to simply take a “studs & duds” approach to breaking down the evening. Winners and losers is what it’s all about on Super Tuesday, so let’s roll with it. Without further adieu, here are your best lines from a six-game slate, along with some that left fantasy owners as angry and confused as a registered Republican…
You are a happy camper if you rostered (and activated) any of the 10 following players:
- D’Angelo Russell (39/6/3/1/0) – The line of the night award goes to young Mr. Russell who just narrowly missed a 40-burger while helping his team to a victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets. D’Angelo poured in eight 3-pointers (on 12 attempts) and made 14-21 from the field overall. The rookie has averaged 27.7 points per game over his last three, a stretch in which he has also drained 13 treys and kept his turnovers down to just 1.7 per game. Russell’s owners should enjoy a nice final stretch from the youngster.
- Hassan Whiteside (26/14/1/0/4) – It doesn’t matter whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Whiteside is a beast if he’s healthy. Tuesday marked Hassan’s sixth straight double-double that included at least two blocks. He has been a boon to FG% all year at .617 but now that he’s shooting a modified jump shot on his free throws, he’s made 23 of his last 25 at the charity stripe. Whiteside obviously won’t continue at a 92% clip, but he’s clearly figured something out and he’s poised for a monster final six weeks of the season.
- Joe Johnson (24/5/4/0/1) – The newest member of the Heat connected on 10-13 from the field, including a pair from beyond the arc. Iso Joe has looked quite comfortable operating within the framework of the Miami system and looks like his value gets a bump with his recent move to South Beach.
- Kemba Walker (26/6/9/1/0) – In an altogether non-competitive game vs. the Suns, Kemba managed to see just enough court time (30 minutes) to post a stellar line. Contributing to his team-high 26 points were three 3-pointers and a perfect 5-5 mark from the foul line. Kemba only turned it over once and appears locked in as a top-25 ROS fantasy asset.
- Damian Lillard (30/4/6/0/0) – Though he didn’t chip in any defensive goodies, Dame did bury four treys, connect on all 10 free throw attempts, and kept his turnovers to just one. He may not be the top-10 fantasy asset many were predicting at the start of the year (yours truly included), but he’s certainly not a total bust of a late-first round pick either. Look for him to continue producing lines like Tuesday’s as the Blazers remarkably continue to jockey for playoff position in the West.
- Zaza Pachulia (17/10/2/1/1) – The four turnovers take a bit of shine off of this outing, but Zaza was a perfect 5-5 on his free throws and only missed two of his eight attempts from the field. David Lee will steal some minutes here and there, but Pachulia remains a strong hold in all fantasy formats through the end of the year.
- Wesley Matthews (21/5/2/2/0) – Nice night from Wes as he didn’t turn the ball over a single time in his 32 minutes and shot 8-12 from the field. It really is remarkable that he has played as well as he has this season coming off Achilles surgery.
- Paul Millsap (19/7/4/3/4) – The multi-cat monster was at it again, this time using his versatile game to help the visiting Hawks take the Warriors to overtime. Unfortunately Sapper only shot 5-17 from the field (1-6 from 3-point range) or this could have been a true gem.
- Draymond Green (15/13/9/4/1) – Much like Millsap, Draymond’s across-the-board production is the stuff of legend in fantasy circles. As the lead dog on Tuesday night, he didn’t disappoint. His efficiency wasn’t great (6-15 FGs, five TOs), but he does far more good than harm for fantasy owners lucky enough to have him on their rosters.
- Thaddeus Young (19/15/2/1/0) – A rock solid top-50 asset, Thad is locked into his role with the Nets (11 of his last 12 games he’s seen 34 or more minutes of floor time) and should continue to see increased opportunity following the buyout of Joe Johnson.
Your 10 most disappointing fantasy lines from the first day of March belonged to:
- P.J. Tucker (3/7/0/2/0) – The Suns may have just not made the trip to Charlotte as they got absolutely creamed (at one point down by over 40). Tucker still managed to see 34 minutes, but did nothing with them as he went 1-6 from the field and was a complete non-factor in the game.
- Devin Booker (13/2/1/1/0) – The rookie may have hit the proverbial wall as he’s really struggling of late. Booker hasn’t hit even 40% from the field in any of his last six games and he’s taking double-digit shots per game, so the weighted average is a major bugaboo. With modest to non-existent contributions in complementary categories, Booker should be on your bench until he gets his legs back under him. I don’t recommend dropping him as the Suns have no choice but to give him opportunity through to the end of this lost season, but you might not want him active if you’re trying to compete in the FG% category.
- Jose Calderon (5/2/2/0/0) – 25 minutes of forgettable basketball for Calderon who looks like his time as an NBA player is quickly fading. He has never been able to defend and his offensive contributions are sporadic at best, so he’s not a must-own player as the Knicks tumble down the Eastern Conference standings.
- Robin Lopez (8/2/1/0/0) – Sideshow Bob had a nice little run there in February but it’s lines like this that remind fantasy owners just how low his floor can be. He was posting consistent duds at the start of the year and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll close out this season the same way. He’s still a hold in hopes that this was just one off night.
- Langston Galloway (0/2/0/0/0) – This was the stinker-du-jour for sure on Tuesday. Missing all seven shots and having more fouls (3) than all other box score contributions total (2) in 21 minutes is next level awful. There’s just too much uncertainty in the Knicks backcourt right now to trust a guy like Galloway. There are likely better options floating around in the free agent pool.
- Victor Oladipo (6/4/2/0/0) – A forgettable night for most of the Magic starting five. ‘Dipo rode the pine for as many minutes as he was on the court (24) and just couldn’t get it going. He’ll be better than this his next time out.
- Aaron Gordon (7/5/4/1/0) – Foul trouble was the main culprit as AG just couldn’t stop hacking people and was held to only 19 minutes. He was cooking coming into this one so expect him to bounce back with a double-double tonight versus the Bulls.
- Deron Williams (7/4/6/1/0) – D-Will just didn’t have it on Tuesday as the rest of the starting five all scored in double-figures and carried the Mavs to an easy win. Williams is a solid hold and I’d expect a big game from him is just around the corner.
- Jeff Teague (7/1/6/0/0) – Didn’t close out the game as Coach Bud decided to go with Dennis Schroder. Teague had a couple bad turnovers in the second half that may have led to his benching, and this is the type of short leash situation when there’s a very capable backup option.
- Lou Williams (6/0/0/0/0) – Sweet Lou blew a hammy after only 10 minutes on the court and with the Lakers looking to develop their young backcourt combo of Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, I wouldn’t expect Williams to rush back. I would wait to officially hear word of a recovery timeline, but with his recent demotion to the bench, Lou was a cut candidate already.
Failing to take the court on Tuesday night were:
- Jimmy Butler (knee) – Jimmy Buckets is closing in on a return, perhaps as early as this weekend. Hopefully he doesn’t push it and come back at only 90% as his style of play leaves him open to re-aggravation. As a Butler fantasy owner, I want him 100% for that final stretch of games during the fantasy playoffs where he has a 5/4/4 schedule.
- Gerald Green (DNP-CD) – The nine-fingered assassin was nailed to the bench on Tuesday as the arrival of Joe Johnson and emergence of Josh Richardson have made Green’s services unnecessary. If you haven’t already, cut him loose.
- Kris Humphries (new team) – The former Mr. Kardashian just arrived in Atlanta and should be ready to see a small bench role going forward. I wouldn’t expect any more than 10-12 minutes a night so long as Millsap and Al Horford are healthy.
- Steph Curry (ankle) – The Chef will be back in the kitchen for the next game out. Tuesday’s absence was more of the precautionary variety after an ankle tweak his last game out.
- Andre Iguodala (hamstring) – Details on Iggy’s ailment are a bit sketchy so there is the potential that he misses more time going forward. Theoretically that means a few more minutes for Harrison Barnes, but he didn’t do anything exciting on Tuesday so it’s wise to keep your expectations fairly low.
- Kobe Bryant (rest) – The Mamba should be back for the Lakers next game out, especially if Lou Williams is forced to miss time with his bum hammy. Enjoy and appreciate the last few games where Kobe is able to suit up.
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.
Also, if you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to check out John Oliver’s rant from this past weekend. Regardless of your political bend, I guarantee you it’ll be 22 of the best minutes you’ll spend this year. #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain