Normally, I come at ya fast and furious with my NBA Wednesday fantasy recap; but well, there are no Wednesday games this week. With that in mind, we turn our attention back to the All-Star Game, one highlighted by two guys on the same team that weren’t on the same team. Yes, I know that looks dumb when you read it, but it’s true.
Call me old fashioned, but I miss the old East vs. West. I also miss the days when they played at least a little bit of defense in the All-Star Game. At least in the fourth quarter, right? But alas, we must evolve with the times and while no defense was played, there’s still interesting data to be mined from the ASG from a fantasy perspective. This week I’ll take the ASG box score and extrapolate analysis for the remainder of our pressure-packed fantasy basketball season.
“Jay” Walking Into the Middle of a Traffic Jam
After suffering a brutal facial fracture and missing some time, Jaylen Brown returned for the ASG to drop 35 points on 16-of-27 shooting for Team LeBron. Brown wasted little time getting back into the middle of the action – he attempted twelve three-pointers on a night where 24 players touched the floor and only four attempted double-digit threes (20 for Damian Lillard, 18 for “teammate” Jayson Tatum and 17 for Donovan Mitchell).
After the game, Brown blasted the “action” by referring to it as a “layup line” then further adding, “That’s not basketball.” And hey, those quotes are great for us in fantasy basketball! After what looked like a very scary injury, Brown returned hungry, angry and rip-roaring to go. Instead, he got a pickup game he didn’t enjoy. Now, when the real games happen, we know he’ll be 100 percent with his killer instinct turned all the way up. Even if you aren’t a Boston fan, you have to respect the way this kid competes out there.
“Tate”-for-Tat: Jayson Also Takes ASG Seriously
Though Brown and his superstar teammate Jayson Tatum were separated for the All-Star Game (Tatum was a member of the victorious Team Giannis), they remained together on this point: When we play basketball, we play hard no matter what the circumstances. You could honestly see what was going on out there: Tatum and Brown were looking around and thinking THIS is how these other dudes are gonna play tonight? They took it upon themselves to try to create some real, serious action. Instead of being buddy-buddy and friendly out there, Brown and Tatum went at each other. Hard. It was one of the only things that was truly fun to watch in Sunday’s circus.
Tatum ended up on top as the easy MVP of the ASG – he broke the all-time record with 55 points – but we don’t really care about that for fantasy, do we? No, what we do care about is this: Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, Al Horford and Marcus Smart all take usage hits as Brown returns to Boston’s lineup for the stretch run. Our fantasy landscape returns to the way it was – Tatum is the top dog, Brown is his right-hand man and the No. 3 on a given night is anybody’s guess for DFS.
“Spida” Man Continues a Dream Season
You could just tell Donovan Mitchell needed the change of scenery, right? As things wound down in Utah – that particular squad could just never get over the hump – you could almost feel that Mitchell was itchin’ to prove himself elsewhere. Well, he’s done all that and more as the leader of the young Cleveland Cavs this season. Mitchell continued rollin’ in the ASG to the tune of 40 points, 10 assists, eight threes and four rebounds. I hope you had him in your “Showdown” lineup for DFS.
As for Spida’s season at large, well, I can’t exactly say I saw this coming. I knew he wanted a change and I knew he’d be good in the Cavs will be better because of him way, but I can’t say I expected him to be No. 8 overall in fantasy basketball, ahead of the likes of Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, LeBron James and James Harden, just to name-drop some. Against my better judgment, I have to project that his fantasy pace will continue because Cleveland fans tell me Darius Garland might be peaking. I’ve heard it quite a bit lately, and that simply means one thing:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are Donovan Mitchell’s team – period, end of sentence. Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will get their stats, but there’s no question about who the King of Usage is here.
More All-Stars Under the Microscope
Damian Lillard: 26 points, eight threes, four assists and three steals for the veteran sharpshooter who hit the “game-winner” in the ASG. I don’t care so much about that, but I do care about this: Today’s report indicated that Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic are going to remain sidelined with injuries for quite some time. That leaves Dame as one of the best and most dominant performers in all of fantasy basketball. Minutes, touches, opportunities and usage galore for one of the absolute best basketball players on the planet.
Joel Embiid: 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Philadelphia’s perennial MVP candidate. I expect more of the same from Jo-Jo: Regular season dominance in fantasy basketball, followed by playoff disappointment and a whole bunch of people angry at James Harden.
Kyrie Irving: 32 points, 15 assists and six rebounds – I mean, you know it’s an All-Star Game when Kyrie Irving gets 15 assists. Do I really need to say anything else, here?
De’Aaron Fox: On the flip side of it, here… 0-for-1 with zero points in just nine minutes of on-court action? I’m just assuming this is because Fox is focused on kicking ass during the real season, as he has been doing all year long.
I’ll see ya right back here next week!
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NBA for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy basketball and football.