It was a true team effort for the Wiz, with four guys off the bench scoring in double figures. One of those four was Deni Avdija, who has really been playing well since the trade deadline. He finished up with 13 points, eight rebounds, a triple, two steals and a block. It was his fifth straight game scoring double-digit points. Over that stretch he’s been playing 30 minutes a night despite coming off the bench, with averages of 12.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.4 3PTM, 1.0 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. He should be entrenched in this role the rest of the season, meaning he’ll have plenty of opportunity to produce (17 percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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With LeBron James resting last night, Malik Monk had to pick up some of the slack as a distributor. That led to a healthy five assists in 31 minutes, but without King James generating clean looks for him, Monk struggled to put the ball in the basket. He shot just 3-of-13 from the floor and 1-for-6 from distance to score 11 points, with four boards and two steals to round out his evening. Monk has been very effective of late, coming in as a borderline top-40 player over the past 30 days. He should be rostered in more than 53 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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It’s thirsty Thursday again and I got that green juice for you.  Today we have a mini two-game slate with two MVP candidates in the spotlight.  In game one, Joel Embiid is facing off vs. the Lakers who are at full-strength now that Anthony Davis is back (played 35 minutes on Tuesday). Then we have Steph Curry facing the Timberwolves who are fourth in pace of play this season. Since there are only two games tonight I’ll be playing just one lineup for cash and gpp contests. We’ll need to find one or two players who will be less than 10% rostered in order to take down a gpp on small slates. I will list my favorite options below my core plays today. Let’s get it!

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Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So while there were monster games on Tuesday night from all the usual suspects — Joker, Joel, LeBron, Harden, Anthony Edwards, the Boston Boys — I’m bowing out on trying to split those hairs and passing on the opportunity to bestow the lede player honor on one of these repeat customers. Instead, we’ll spice things up by going off the beaten path and checking in on a number one pick who feels like he’s flying a bit under the radar.

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The Miami Heat took home the nervy, 113-107 victory, but the Lakers nearly caught them slipping. In a game the Heat led almost the entire way and by as many as 26 points, the Lakers put together a fierce fourth quarter and nearly stole the victory. For three quarters, however, the Heat played the basketball version of “the beautiful game.” Offensive production was spread across the lineup and they were flowing into good looks. Jimmy Butler led the charge in Kyle Lowry’s absence (personal reasons) and he finished the game with a triple-double: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and one block. Butler’s 10th triple-double moved him into the first place on the Heat’s all-time list, surpassing LeBron James. Duncan Robinson was hot early and even scored some important points in the fourth quarter; he finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Bam Adebayo had a decent, but uneven game. He was stifled a fair amount by LeBron’s defense, as he was LeBron’s primary cover when the Lakers went small. Adebayo finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Gabe Vincent filled in admirably, once again, for Lowry and finished the game with 11 points, one rebound, six assists, and two steals. Caleb Martin also notched eleven points and further cemented his “best two-way player in the league status”—a dubious honor, he’d no doubt like to be rid of as soon as possible.

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Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when the SUVs are rolling along the track and the people inside are looking out the windows to get a glimpse of the dinosaurs? Except there are no dinosaurs. This is Jurassic Park, not some bootleg zoo where wild animals are confined to what amounts to a jail cell for humans. The dinosaurs are not beholden to the whims of us silly humans. They will appear, eat, and do their dinosaur things when they so desire. The same thing goes for volcanoes. They do not erupt when the 1:00 pm tour guide gets to the base of the mountain. They do their thing when they are ready to do their thing. Which brings me to Hassan Whiteside of the Utah Jazz. Every once in a while, Mt. Whiteside will erupt for a huge game, like he did back in mid-December: 18 points, 14 boards, and four blocks in 20 minutes of action. Over the past two games with Rudy Gobert out of commission, the tour guides to Mt. Whiteside were selling tickets like hotcakes because he was set to start and crush. If you don’t know where this story is going, then you have a serious reading comprehension issue. He started the last two games, played 30 and 26 minutes, and disappointed. Granted, he endured some foul problems but he only blocked two shots and did not reach double-digit in points or rebounds. As the visitors returned to the safety of their homes, hopes dashed, money wasted, Mt. Whiteside exploded again last night.

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A late Happy New Year to everyone taking the time to read this article. Welcome to 2022 NBA basketball where 10-day contracts bear 30-point performances, the league is finally getting healthy and every armchair general manager swears that every team should just blow it up. The more things change the more they stay the same eh? Well with 11 games and 22 teams playing last night let’s get right into it. 

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Look, if you thought I was above such a simple and obvious pun, you were wrong. But it’s okay because I actually like curry (the food) and believe there is no such thing as bad tasting curry unless you actually try. Now on the other hand, perhaps the same cannot be said of one Steph Curry who went on to have a pretty spectacular night… spectacularly bad that is which, you know, is technically a form of spectacular, so there’s that. But for a talent like Steph, it does make you raise an eyebrow (especially if you’re Spock) when you see a stat line that involves 3/17 shooting and just 1/10 from beyond the arch. Despite the Warriors win over the Heat, there is some concern with Curry’s shot lately and after last night’s attempt at becoming a certified mason (the brick-layer, not Washington’s religion!), it’s hard not to at least consider the idea that something may be just a bit off. And then you also might have to consider the idea of is he just playing terrible or shooting terrible. While the former would be a bit more obvious, I’m still willing to think it’s the latter as while wonky, he was still at +0 after missing 17 shots, which I’m still trying to figure out how you do. At the very least, with a line like 9/3/10 on the night, we can see he makes a fine Draymond Green impersonator. Which is probably not what you want from a potential MVP, but I’m sure Green doesn’t mind. Here’s what else I saw last night…

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After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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So, the Warriors might be good again, yeah? Coming into Tuesday’s showcase against Brooklyn with the best record in the Association, Golden State has spent the early-season feasting on one of the softest schedules in the league, and generally looking really good doing it. Steph Curry is in MVP-form, Draymond Green is locked-in and energized, and Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have been steady, positive contributors. The bench is already deep and there’s help on the way as James Wiseman and Klay Thompson inch their way back to the rotation. Going into Brooklyn and getting the Nets at home, even sans Kyrie, figured to be a good, real test for the Warriors (if there is such a thing in November) as their schedule firms up ever so slightly. The Nets are a quality opponent. Despite the sluggish start from James Harden and getting nothing at all from Irving, Kevin Durant has been fabulous even by his own standards, and that’s been good enough to power Brooklyn to a totally-respectable 11-4 start. It was supposed to be a competitive, compelling game.

It wasn’t.

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HE’S BACK!!! Or is he…?? After having essentially zero impact thus far (he hadn’t played 20 minutes in any game and only scored in double figures once), Chris Boucher broke out with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes. He tossed in a trey, steal, and pair of swats to boot. His lack of playing time has been extremely concerning to fantasy managers. Coach Nick Nurse has played his starters heavy minutes all season, leaving little room for fantasy viability off the bench. And this may just be a blip given the absences of both Pascal Siakam and Khem Birch. I still can’t trust him at this point, and I wouldn’t be one of the 55 percent of Yahoo! managers still holding him if there was anything interesting on the wire.

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