And I’m not talking about Christmas.
Despite vaccination numbers north of 95%, a new variant of the Coronavirus has breached the walls of the NBA and is wreaking havoc on a league that is already being thinned out by non-virus injuries that stem from playing three seasons in two years. The sick are just getting sicker (Tuesday night’s Brooklyn/Washington matchup was postponed) and as a result, the NBA has thrown off some of their normal roster restrictions to ensure that teams can field full squads. Names that are normally reserved for the silly season of March and early April are now turning up before the unofficial start of the season on Christmas Day. Consider Marquese Chriss, one of the newest Dallas Mavericks, as an example. A lottery pick in 2016 who has never found his footing in the Association, Chriss was added as a reinforcement to the Mavs roster amid a Covid outbreak in Dallas. To his credit, Chriss looked springy, played well, and actually closed the game for Dallas against Minnesota before the ink dried on his contract. Chriss was joined out there by luminaries like Theo Pinson and Sterling Brown, and all across the league there were was a mix of old names and new showing up in NBA box scores. Guys like Wayne Seldon in New York and Tony Snell in Portland resurfaced after time spent in the NBA hinterland, while Marcus Garrett saw some burn in Miami, and Leandro Bolmaro and Nathan Knight popped up for the Timberwolves.
Amid these strange times in the NBA, it was good to see that Damian Lillard is still good for a bucket or two.
Despite the near forty-burger, the Blazers didn’t have enough to get past the pesky Pelicans, who have suddenly won three straight. There’s a ton of uncertainty with Lillard, the Blazers, and the NBA in general, but there’s never a bad time for Dame time.
Here’s what else I saw on a peculiar night of blowouts in the NBA…
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I’d honestly prefer not to speculate on how many hours of my life I’ve spent in a car driving across Indiana. It’s certainly more than I ever wanted, and long enough to have the state’s motto — The Crossroads of America — permanently drilled into my head. What does this have to do with fantasy hoops? Well, if this is how the Pacer players on the trade block are showcasing for a deal during a primetime TNT game, it seems possible they’ll have to stay at the crossroads forever as punishment. At least they won’t be lonely.
In just eight minutes of action, as a sore Achilles ended his night early. Mal is a magnet for injuries and the mention of the Achilles tendon is a reason enough to be concerned. He’s a top-50 contributor when he’s on the floor. Let’s hope he can get back there and stay.
In 18 minutes, as he’s stuck behind Justin Holiday. Brogdon seeing more time on the sidelines could open up some PT for Duarte, and any big shakeup could be a windfall for the Pacer youth movement. Regardless, Duarte is mostly just a shooter at this point, one who’s a fringy standard league play.
A silly-season All-Star last year, Brissett logged 23 minutes against Miami and would be the biggest beneficiary in Indy if either Turner or Sabonis hits the road. He’s not a dream stash, as it’s hard to get a read on when (and who) will be moved out of Indiana, but he’s someone to keep in mind while we wait out the Pacer situation.
It’s tough sledding when you’re a three-point specialist who has been in season-long funk from deep. On the season Robinson is a league-average shooter from the long line. Maybe this will get him going, as he’s still on the wrong side of the top-150.
Strus, on the other hand, has poured in 41% of his triples on 5.4 attempts this year. Watch your back, Dunc.
Not exactly a stellar night from the starting backcourt, especially in the shooting department. Still, the Heat cruised in this one, and there are ways to impact the game without scoring. Vincent is worth playing while Miami is still struggling with injuries and absences, and Lowry will definitely have better shooting days than this.
He’s hot again, so it might be time to float him in trade offers and see what Herro can fetch. The scoring and triples can dazzle the eye, and there are some dimes, but he seems like someone that is slightly overhyped in the fantasy game. I’m not saying you should dump him, but testing the waters could be interesting.
I wouldn’t read too much into it because the Heat were up by 20 before halftime, but Yurtseven played more minutes (21) than Dewayne Dedmon (19) on Tuesday night.
Signs of life over the last two weeks. On the season, Bey is inching in the right direction — scoring, rebounding, and assisting are all up — even as his three-point shooting has lagged behind last year’s rate. Some positive regression in that department could push him toward the top-100. It’s not like there’s any threat to his spot on this mostly-sad Pistons team.
Rookie guards, man. Nights like these are part of the deal.
Did I already mention that this is a mostly-sad Piston’s team? Saben Lee, arguably the brightest spot for Detroit against the Knicks, had a late three-pointer from the top of the key blocked by Mitchell Robinson’s forearm. Fun stuff.
I’d love to write a blurb about Randle that didn’t mention his three-point shooting, but it remains a persistent issue. The turnovers — 6, 4, 3, 4, 7, 3, and 5 over the last seven games — are starting to snowball too.
I’ve been dogging Fournier for the last few weeks, but it looks like he might turning the corner a bit, so credit where credit is due. This effort makes three straight games with 20+ points and back-to-back games where he’s contributed in six categories. Thibs stays with his guys, so expect Fournier to continue to see huge minutes, especially with much of the backcourt unavailable.
Walker was one of four Knicks to play north of 38 minutes (along with Fournier, Burks, and Randle). I added Kemba in a few leagues when Rose and Quickley became unavailable and it hasn’t blown up in my face yet. Who knows how long this lasts, as Thibs is a man of extremes when it comes to his rotation. I’d be prepared to move on in the future, but he’s an add that makes some sense of he’s going to play this much.
Nerlens Noel is still the starter and turned in a run-of-the-mill night for him (2/3/2/1/2), and Taj Gibson hilariously saw 19 minutes tonight, as Thibs only really went eight-deep. Still, it was Robinson who saw more time than either and handed in arguably his best night of the year. I said it was safe to drop him last week, so I hope you didn’t listen to me. There’s a ton of volatility in the New York frontcourt, but MRob is showing out when comes in off the pine. Ride it for now, I guess.
I’ll take you behind the scenes a bit and tell you that my first draft of this recap had a typo where I misspelled “Norman Powell” as “Normal Powell.” Then I looked at his line against his season averages and I’m chalking up the error to intuition.
Slowed by some injuries, Nurk had been fading a bit over the last two, so a six-category night is certainly a welcome sight for those who roster the big man.
Larry Nance Jr.
It is a frustrating timeshare, I’ll admit that, but the silver lining here is this: both players are top-75 contributors over the last week. Covington, obviously, is still the guy to roster of the two despite his bench role, and I’m not sold that this split will continue to provide value for both, but I guess it’s working for now.
The scoring is a bit out of character, but Hart is turning in a top-100 season thus far. If he can keep this up, it would be the high-water mark of his career. Rebounding is where he hangs his hat, but 21-22 has also seen an uptick in dimes and FG% as well.
I feel like I still don’t have a great handle on BI’s game. How good is he? He’s got a bit of Tobias Harris to him in the sense that Ingram can comfortably score from every corner of the court. Swap Ingram’s dimes for Toby’s boards and this comp makes more sense. Neither kicks in D-stats with any regularity, but Ingram certainly has flashes of big scoring nights and is building a reputation as a dime machine. He handed out 12 helpers on December 3, so the counting stats seem like they’ll hold up.
Nothing Junior Varisty about it. JV is a glass eater and shot in the arm to your team’s FG%. Bit of a light scoring night against Nurkic, one of the few dudes in the Association big enough to really bang with Valanciunas. Still, he’s just outside the top-25 on the season, so this is one you live with.
The kid can definitely get hot, as evidenced by the way he played down the stretch last year and for team Canada. Unfortunately, the consistency isn’t really there and the rest of the package is underwhelming. NAW is still mostly a three-point player who is outside of the top 175 on the year. If he’s on your wire, I think that’s just fine.
Evidently, KAT recently gave a quote saying that he’s the best big man shooter of all time. The Mavs broadcast, who had invited a very large German fellow who happens to have made 1,982 threes in his professional career, thought Karl-Anthony’s take was a touch premature.
Every time I see Beasley score I think he’s coming around. Then I click over to his Basketball Monster page and I’m reminded of the limitations on his game. There will be high-scoring nights, especially when the long ball is connecting, but the stat sheet is threadbare beyond those two cats. If you’re chasing points and trips, I suppose you could do worse, but ultimately meh.
Evidently, DLo brought Minnesota’s chilly temps with him on this trip down south, as the shooting was frosty in Big D. The dimes take a bit of the sting out a rough one from the field.
In an attempt to warm things up, the Brunson burner went off. Dallas needed a big game from the fourth-year guard, as Luka Doncic was once again unavailable with an ankle injury. Brunson is a top-100 guy when Luka is out, and considering how banged up the young phenom has been this season, you should continue lighting up the burner with confidence.
In my previous write-up of DFS, I mentioned how often he’s moved on and off my rosters and considered just staying the course with him instead of chasing a hot add. I’ve been able to still my add/drop finger, and Finney-Smith has rewarded me by continuing to pour in top-80 value. It’s not sexy, but sometimes you’ve got to eat your veggies.
No Porzingis tonight, as he the big man sat with a toe injury. Marquese Chriss had a feel-good night, and there was some Boban burn as well, but the best night for a big came from Powell. Dwight has staying power once KP and Maxi Kleber return, but there’s no time like the present.
You sure would like more hits on a night where Bridges hoisted his season-high in shot attempts, and a three-ball certainly wouldn’t have broken my heart either, but you drafted Bridges because of his defensive capabilities, so this will have to do.
If the season ended today, Ayton would be good for a 21-22 campaign that’s almost exactly as valuable as his 20-21 year (top-50ish) despite the fact that DA is registering almost half a block fewer than he did last year. The FG% value is excellent, and the rebounding and scoring numbers are both rock solid. Still, blocks are always tricky to secure, so it’s okay that I’m feeling a bit miffed, yeah?
Book is back, but Cam & Cam are still finding ways to chip in. You can probably move on from Payne unless the Suns start throttling CP back a bit, while Johnson has fringy appeal.
Only one other Laker, Trevor Ariza, cracked double figures this blowout home loss — and he air-balled a three throw. As if this weren’t bad enough, James rolled an ankle in the second half. He stayed in the game, but I’d keep an eye on the injury report going forward. The Lakers need him in the postseason, but with AD on the shelf and a middling record in the West, they also need him now. Being the King isn’t everything that it’s cracked up to be.