After Jayson Tatum slammed home the first points of the game off a Laker turnover in last night’s renewal of acquaintances in the storied Lakers/Celtics rivalry, the possibility of a big night for number 0 cracked open ever so slightly. When he scored every one of Boston’s next 12 — including a banked tripled — and registered a swat and a steal by the end of the first quarter, a huge performance was all but locked in for the Celtic star. With a silky-smooth jumper and a 6’8″ frame, there wasn’t a whole lot that LA could do to put the shackles on the 23-year-old, three-level scorer.

In the past, Tatum has been chided for being a bit too Kobe-brained when it comes to shot selection — Stan Van Gundy bemoaned his year-over-year decrease in attempts at the rim on the broadcast — but it’s nights like these where you can get inside the young scorer’s head a little bit. If I can hit it from here, the thinking goes, how can it be a bad shot? Last night, while getting buckets from every corner of his idol’s backyard, Tatum was in full Mamba Mode.

Jayson Tatum


Unfortunately for the fortunes of his squad, Jayson was the lone Celtic to take more than 10 shots and the only guy in green to net more than 15 points. Tatum was a soloist last night, Mamba Mentality indeed, but his Kobe connection failed to keep the visiting Celtics in the game. The 117-102 Laker win scans as a much more competitive contest than it was in reality. As for Tatum and his fantasy outlook, he’s chipping in third-round value on the season, which wasn’t what anyone had in mind when they drafted him in the back half of the first round. The usage is up, the defensive stats are down, and all of the shooting figures point to a guy who hasn’t gotten into a groove yet. Maybe catching an L despite the inflated scoring line helps him lock in. Fantasy managers and Celtic fans alike are banking on it.

Here’s what else I saw across just three games in the Association on Tuesday night…

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Kevin Durant


Was on the trajectory to have a (relatively) quiet night before he canned five fourth-quarter jumpers to salvage the line and help the Nets rally on the road in Dallas. The gaudy shooting figures from the first four weeks are starting to drift down to more human levels, but there really isn’t anything to complain about. KD is doing what KD does.

You Know Who I Am Durant GIF - You Know Who I Am Durant Kevin Durant GIFs

James Harden


After running into some clank issues over the last two games (9/32 FG), it sure is good to see the efficiency creep back up. The volume of free throws, the source of much early angst, is also moving in the right direction as well (8.8 FTA over the last month, 9.7 FTA over the last week). His days of contending with Jokic and Curry for the top dog are probably behind him, but the bottom hasn’t fallen out here.

LaMarcus Aldridge


Strange as it is to say, LMA really is an important player for this Nets group without Kyrie. He’s canning tons of midrange J’s, pushing his FG value through the roof, and he’s kicking in solid contributions in the FT, rebounding, and block departments. The whole package is keeping him just inside the top-100. Glory days these are not, but he’s a helpful player.

James Johnson


Things I learned from visiting James Johnson basketball reference page:

  1. He’s averaging 25 MPG over the last eight games.
  2. He’s a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
  3. His nickname is BLOODSPORT?!!?

Even with the increased PT, I can’t imagine there will be many nights better than this one. Leave him on the wire and protect yourself at all times.

martial arts nut punch GIF

Luka Doncic


I had to double check that turnover stat, but I can confirm that it’s both accurate and the only game this year where he coughed it up fewer than two times. The free-throw shooting too was better than the season average (67% FT). Doncic will pile up numbers when it comes to scoring, rebounding, and assisting, but there are holes that hold him back in category leagues.

Kristaps Porzingis


Kind of had the opposite trajectory of Durant in this one, as Porzingis was scoring and diming so well in the first half that I was entertaining the remote possibility of a Unicorn triple-double and racking my brain for how to pun off of Porzingis for the headline. A second-half disappearing act got me off the hook for that one, so I’ll have a bit longer to workshop ideas. Porzingod? Porzingenuis?

Mavs Lukadoncic GIF by Dallas Mavericks

It needs work, I agree.

Dorian Finney-Smith


Finney-Smith might hold the dubious honor of being my most added and dropped player on the season thus far (Pat Connaughton is a candidate here as well). DFS always seems to be available when the injury bug bites too hard, but he’s not a sexy hold at all. The end result is me ditching him when something shiny catches my eye, only to come crawling back the next week. Maybe I should just chill, as Finney-Smith has been a top-80 player for the last month and a top-120 contributor on the season. There’s a real ceiling here, but he’s almost certainly outperformed someone that you’ve been holding onto and hoping about.

Jalen Brunson


Think this line is underwhelming? Wait until you see what THJ did.

Tim Hardaway Jr.


One of those missed threes was for the tie too. Tough night.

RJ Barrett


Following a stretch of 13 games where Barrett converted just 22% of his three-pointers, Thibs said that the third-year pro needed to get back into the gym like he was doing last year if he wanted to see the shot start to fall. Evidently, RJ has checked back into the lab. I’m sure this one felt good for the kid.

Julius Randle


It’s simplistic to say that Randle’s value is tied directly to his three-point shooting, but last year he was a top-40 player while shooting 41% from deep and this year he’s more like a top-80 guy who’s shooting 32% from the long line. Someone tell Thibs to tell Randle to get back in the gym. It worked for RJ.

Alec Burks


He’s not a terribly efficient player, but he’s drawing a massive workload (36 minutes last night) and that’s more than half the battle. If given the opportunity, Burks can fill it up. He’s the apple of his coach’s eye, for now, so ride this until the wheels fall off.

Mitchell Robinson


Lost his starting gig to Nerlens Noel, who didn’t exactly wow in his return to the first unit (2/9/3/0/1 in 25 minutes). The 126th best player on a per-game basis, Robinson has largely disappointed thus far (said the guy who reached for him in the 7th round of the RazzJam.) Maybe the benching lights a fire under him. More nights like this are welcome.

Derrick Rose


Immanuel Quickley


Both of Thibodeau’s bench guards once again outplayed Evan Fournier, who struggled again against the Spurs (7/3/1/0/0 in 21 minutes). The Knicks got the win, so perhaps the lineup shuffling is over for the time being. That said, it’s hard to be too bullish on Don’t Google while these two are drawing more minutes and outproducing the Frenchman. I’d roster IQ or Rose and wait on Fournier’s demise.

Dejounte Murray


Always a plus rebounder for a guard, Murray is blossoming into a top-10 fantasy player this year on the strength of his elite steal rate and the massive uptick in dimes following the departure of DeMar DeRozan. The triples tonight were a bonus, as that’s the one thing the young stud hasn’t quite figured out yet (34% 3P). Enjoy the ride.

Derrick White


A rare 1/1/1 player from the guard spot, White’s lack of defensive stats in this one is just about the only thing he’s done wrong over the last seven games. After some clunkers in the early season, White has been a top-50 contributor for the last two weeks, and the hot shooting last night bodes well for him to keep it rolling.

Jakob Poeltl


Trending straight up after posting games with 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 3, and 1 blocks over his seven games. You roster him for the big man stats and Poeltl provides.

Keldon Johnson


In just 15 minutes. Young Keldon turned an ankle and joined the legion of injured, sick, or protocoled talent in the NBA. Keita Bates-Diop should see a bump in minutes, and unless you’re desperate, I wouldn’t risk turning an ankle running out to wire to get him.

Dennis Schroder


Given how he and the Lakers split, you know that Schroder wanted to show out back at the ol’ crypto dot com center. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Marcus Smart


The slight positive three-point value that Smart was chipping in over the last two seasons had dried up here in 2021-22. Until it returns, Smart is limited to a steals and dimes play.

Robert Williams III


The Time Lord has missed some, uh, time this year, but when he’s in your lineup he’s juicing your blocks and rebounding numbers while providing a big boost to your FG% We’d love to see some more consistency here, but the production has been as advertised.

LeBron James


It’s been a season of fits and starts for Bron, but he’s back on the floor consistently now and he’s dropped 30+ in four of his last five appearances. He’s the same per-game monster he’s always been (top-10 on the year), but age and postseason ambitions mean that his time on the court will be throttled down as much as possible.

Russell Westbrook


Westbrooks per-game value since the 2015-16 season: 8, 9, 24, 32, 43, 77. This year? 124. He’s too impactful to disappear entirely, but the fade is irreversible.

fade away homer simpson GIF

Anthony Davis


I don’t know how many homes AD owns, but one place you can always find him is the injury report. Despite living in a constant state of being banged up, Davis has played in all but one game so far and he’s just outside of the top-5 on the season. A complete player in the fantasy game, the bodily breakdown is the only thing that can stop him.

Talen Horton-Tucker


He lives!…Kinda.