I was prepared to lead this Friday Night Recap with a fancy take on Aaron Gordon, but King James had other plans. With Anthony Davis sitting the second half with a bum foot in the Lakers-Nuggets game, Denver had a double-digit third quarter lead and were cruising to a road win. Then LeBron James stepped into the center spot and ran circles around Nikola Jokic and friends, finishing with 30 points (13-20 FG, 1-4 3pt, 3-4 FT), 9 boards, 4 dimes and 2 steals along with a +26 in the 126-108 victory. 

Russell Westbrook finished with a 15-11-12 triple-double with his normal inefficiencies. Thomas Bryant stepped up with 21 points and 6 boards, and is a decent stream anytime Davis sits. 

Back to Gordon (17-3-1-2-1 Friday night), who’s outplaying his ~135 ADP (currently 77 in per game value) thanks to the Nuggets feeding him a steady diet of balls around the rim [oooo, sounds dirty]. Gordon is shooting 61% this season, 4th in the league in FG% of players with 10+ field goal attempts per game. More than half his shots (54%) have been at the rim this season, compared to 40% and 36% the last two years. Given this has been systemic, he should be able to maintain those percentages. Gordon is nearly a 1/1/1 player and a solid target for anyone needing a boost in FG%.

Elsewhere on somewhat of a ho-hum Friday night in the NBA: 

Onyeka Okongwu was more like Oyuka Okongewwwww … OK, that’s mean. He wasn’t bad. But 7 points and 7 boards in 23 minutes is far from seizing the opportunity while starting in place of Clint Capela. Frank The Tank Kaminski had the better stat line off the bench with 12-7-5 and 2 threes and a steal, and was in as the Hawks ran away with it in the fourth quarter of a 125-106 win over the Hornets. Bogdan Bogdanovic remained the hottest shooter in the Association, hitting 7-of-10 from deep, 9-of-14 overall on his way to 28 points and 9 boards. 

Charlotte is back to full strength, so Kelly Oubre Jr. is back to the bench. He played 30 minutes but had an off shooting night (5-19 FG, 3-10 3pt, 3-4 FT; 16 points). The Hornets are now in last place in the East and it’s officially trade season. 

Keegan Murray threw some nice darts as the Kings topped the Pistons 122-113, scoring 20 points (7-12 FG, 4-6 3pt, 2-2 FT) but not much else on the stat line. The rookie needs to string together a few solid outings to be trusted. De’Aaron Fox posted 24-5-9 with a steal, and continues to deal with foot pain. I’d be looking to offload him if I had any shares.

Jalen Duren may be the only interesting thing about the Pistons for a while. He posted 15 points and 14 boards with a block in this one, and more impressively 5-of-6 at the line. Still, meh.

Orlando kept the Magic going Friday night, beating the Celtics 117-109 for their 5th W in a row. Paolo Banchero went 20-5-5 and is averaging 19-7-5 over his last seven games. Bol Bol was bad bad in this one, but might be a buy buy op here. 

Robert Williams returned with 9-5-1-1-1 in just 18 minutes off the bench. The guy can gobble up fantasy stats in a hurry with the best of ‘em. 

Donovan Mitchell went Alpha Male on Pacers, posting 41 points (14-24 FG, 8-15 3pt, 5-5 FT) in a 118-113 win, and led a 28-9 game–ending run following a little scuffle with Bennedict Mathurin. Welcome to the NBA Rook! Darius Garland doubled up with 20-6-10 and 2 steals. 

Myles Turner had 12 points, 11 boards and squadoosh else. He’s averaging just 1.4 blocks per game this month after posted 2.4 in November. Isaiah Jackson had 10-6-3-2-2 in 18 minutes and is one to keep an eye on after a disappointing start to the season. 

De’Anthony Melton My Heart continued his hot play in a 118-106 win over the short-handed Warriors, scoring 17 points with 9 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals; hit 3-of-8 from deep and had just 1 turnover. Joel Embiid posted a 34-13-4-4-2 stat line and is bordering on the No. 1 fantasy player in the game right now. 

Kevin Looney was a dime short of messin’ around, posting 14-11-9-2-2 in the losing effort. I was able to snag a couple ores to launch the Donte DiVincenzo stream while Curry is out. He hit 5-of-8 threes, 6-of-13 overall, for 17 points to go with 10 boards, 6 assists and a steal. Jordan Poole hit the 50% field goal mark for the first time in 10 games, scoring 29 while hitting four 3s.

Nic Claxton entered the Top 50 in per game value with a classic big man line of 15 points, 10 boards and 6 blocks while hitting 5-of-5 shots in a 119-116 win over Toronto. Clax is trailing on Jaren Jackson Jr. in blocks per game over the last 3 weeks (2.8). Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning buzzer beater for his 30th, 31st and 32nd point of the night. Yuta Watanabe is officially playing games with me, posting solid lines as soon as I drop him. Admittedly, my Yuta love is exaggerated and likely has a lot to do with the fun nameplay. But games like these – 17 points (6-7 FG, 3-4 3pt, 2-2 FT) with 3 boards a dime and a steal in 21 minutes – make me believe he has backend standard league value. However, I would like to see some more blocks from him. 

Fred VanVleet on fleek! [Is that still a cool phrase for the kids? Damn I’m getting old] The Raptors floor general scored 39 (14-24 FG, 4-9 3pt, 7-8 FT) with 5 boards, 4 assists a steal and a block. On a somber note: Chris Boucher the basketball player only got 16 minutes. Chris Boucher the Dr. Who writer died last week. In a coinciding move, Chris Boucher the basketball player’s fantasy value died about the same time, getting just 16 minutes despite OG and Gary Trent Jr being out. Meanwhile, Juancho Hernangomez (8 points, 6 boards, meh) had a team-high 41 minutes in the spot start.

Is it time to trust R.J. Barrett? Probably not. But he added to a now four-game heater with 27 points (9-20 FG, 3-5 3pt, 6-11 FT – yeah, those free throws a reason to not fully trust his game), 4 boards and 2 assists as the New York Knickerbockers tamed the Bulls, 114-91.

Is it time to Grime? Maybe. Quentin Grimes has been a Top 100 player over the last two weeks, scoring 22 Friday night (6-10 FG, 5-9 3pt, 5-6 FT) with 2 boards, 2 dimes and a takeaway. He doesn’t do a ton in the counting stats, so needs to keep those percentages up to hold value. 

DeMar DeRozan had a rare off night shooting, and Chicago was just all-around Chitty in this one. 

Naz Reid got nazty on the Thunder, posting 28-9-3-3-1 from the starting unit in a 112-110 victory, as Rudy Gobert and De’Angelo Russell both tended to minor injuries. Reid is an auto-stream anytime Gobert is out, averaging 21-9-2-1-2 per 36 minutes of play this season. Austin Rivers also took advantage of his extra run, snagging 5 steals to go with 20 points and hitting 4-of-5 from deep.

Christian Wood laid it on the Blazers, scoring 32 points with 12 boards and 2 blocks in a 130-110 blowout. Trendon Watford cleaned up in garbage time with 16-11-6 and 2 steals. 

I’ll be back soon with a return to my Rookie Reports after an inexcusable absence!