Fifty percent of Wednesday’s NBA tweets went to Jalen Brunson and his Knicks, but as the old saying goes, “The tie goes to the runner.” Kevin Durant ran away from my Brooklyn Nets as fast as he possibly could, and Wednesday night he finally debuted for the Phoenix Suns in a convincing 105-91 victory over the reeling Charlotte Hornets. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at both Durant and Brunson from a fantasy basketball perspective.
“Here Comes the Sun” – All Smiles for Phoenix
When I write “all” smiles, well… I should probably be more careful about that. Three-hundred eighty-four thousand people tuned in when (our competitor) Underdog Fantasy tweeted that “Keivn” Durant was headed to the locker room during his Phoenix debut. Suns fans held their collective breath for what seemed like an eternity. But All’s Well That Ends Well as Shakespeare wrote, as Durant returned to the floor to compile 23 points, six rebounds and a couple blocks in just 26 minutes of on-court action.
Not surprisingly – considering the presence of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton – Durant was particularly efficient from the floor, converting on 10 of his 15 attempts. We can honestly expect more of the same, going forward. Per head coach Monty Williams, Durant (knee) will have a minutes limit for “at least” the next week. So the fantasy equation looks like this: Monitored minutes + efficient scoring + capped counting stats = Durant is not a DFS play in the short-term.
As for season-long? Well, let’s look around a bit. Devin Booker‘s fantasy managers were smiling ear-to-ear as he dropped 37 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two blocks even with Durant out there. This will also continue because – let’s get real – Durant was acquired to dominate in the playoffs, not the regular season. These Suns have been-there, done-that when it comes to regular season victories. Now it’s do-or-die when it really matters – win it all with Durant or the whole thing’s a bust. So Booker will continue doing his thing in the regular season as Durant coasts.
As for Chris Paul? Well, hmm, his line was “interesting” to say the least: Just two points on 1-of-8 shooting, salvaged by 11 assists and a couple steals. Obviously CP3’s lines will be better than this going forward, but he’s also the reason I doubt this “Superteam” label right now. I’ve always been a champion of Chris Paul, but he’s simply not the superstar player he once was. Ayton will have to elevate his two-way play to truly make this a Superteam. Nonetheless, a solid debut for Durant and the new-look Suns.
Taking the “Brun”t of it – Jalen Destroys My Pathetic Nets
It’s all spiraled out of control, hasn’t it? Not too long ago I was writing about my Nets’ 12-game winning streak, led by Durant, Kyrie Irving and red-hot Nic Claxton. And now? we’re losing 142-118 to the crosstown rival Knicks, while I watch 3-of-10 shooting from Spencer Dinwiddie, 1-of-6 from Royce O’Neale and 1-of-7 threes from Seth Curry. Not that any of that mattered, because we couldn’t stop Jalen Brunson or Quentin Grimes to save our damn lives.
Brunson, whom I’ve personally dubbed as a dark horse MVP candidate, embarrassed my Nets by shooting 15-of-18 from the floor on his way to 39 dominant points.
Wait… what??? Let’s back up here a second. Fifteen-of-eighteen from the floor for a freakin’ point guard? What the hell happened? Did he transform into a combination of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain dominating the paint back in the day?
This is particularly embarrassing for my Nets who acquired “defensive specialists” in both Mikal Bridges and Dorian Finney-Smith. Well hell, I didn’t see a single lick of defense being played out there tonight. Further proof came in the form of Grimes, who shined with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a crazy efficient 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Everything was falling for the Knicks, but not falling as fast as my enthusiasm towards the Nets’ season.
I feel like I write about Jayson Tatum all the damn time
Can I shorten this section this week? Do you mind?
In an important matchup within the landscape of the Eastern Conference, Jayson Tatum returned from his first career ejection to demolish the up-and-coming Cavs with 41 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. On the whole, the Cavs gave it everything they had, but they simply didn’t have an answer for Tatum on the defensive end.
Offensively, and fantasy wise, Donovan Mitchell led the way for Cleveland with 44 points, five assists, four threes and four rebounds. He’s been a godsend for the Cavs and their faithful. Spida’s backcourt mate Darius Garland was also strong with 29 points, nine assists and four steals.
Strong Fantasy Performances Around the League
Zach LaVine: Do the same exact guys play well on Wednesday every week of the season? In a hotly-contested 117-115 victory over the feisty Detroit Pistons, LaVine again shined with 41 points on efficient 14-of-20 shooting. What happened to the rest of his game, though? Only one rebound and ZERO assists? When did Allen Iverson return to the NBA?
Bojan Bogdanovic: Why is Bojan Bogdanovic on the Detroit Pistons when basically every contender could use him as a reliable contributor? Anyyyyyway, Bojan lit up the Bulls in the same game for 34 points, eight threes and six rebounds. Over time, he’s been one of the most consistent veterans in the league.
Tyrese Maxey: Sans Joel Embiid, Maxey did exactly what I expected him to do: 27 points, seven assists, four threes and four rebounds in a resounding 119-96 win over the dumbfounded Heat. They had no answers for Maxey, Tobias or… wait… Paul Reed??
Yup. Reed exploded off the bench for 16 points and 14 rebounds, one of the best games of his young NBA career.
Desmond Bane: He made it look easy against the pathetic Houston Rockets’ defense, dropping 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. Bane continues to be one of the most underappreciated basketball players on the planet.
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, football and baseball.