Brooklyn Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
- The Nets are leaning more and more on Yuta Watanabe, and he’s rewarded them with hard-nosed defense and a sizzling start from beyond the arc. Watanabe has averaged 24 MPG over his last seven healthy outings (scoring in double figures in five of them), and was a key cog in 29 minutes last night after scoring 20 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and nailing five triples. With his 5-for-7 display from deep, he’s now up to a ridiculous (albeit unsustainable) 55.6 percent on his threes. A long, switchy wing who can keep defenses honest from distance is a good fit for Brooklyn, and Watanabe should stay in this prominent role as long as his jumper doesn’t go in the toilet. He’s a deep-league add who should be on the streaming radar in standard formats as well (three percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).
- Royce O’Neale stuffed the stat sheet with a rare trip-dub. He recorded 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists to go along with a trey and a swat. O’Neale has had to handle the ball a ton for this short-handed Nets squad, and it’s led to healthy assist totals. In fact, this was the third time in his last eight outings he’s gone for eight or more dimes. It’s also the second time he’s hauled in double-digit boards. He shoots a ton of threes and has always put up decent defensive stats, so his well-rounded game should be on more rosters, especially since he’s playing over 35 minutes a night. Check if he was dropped recently in your league (58 percent rostered).
- Josh Hart broke out in a major way after being dealt to the Pacific Northwest last season, but with the Blazers returning to full strength, he’s been content to take a back seat and do all the little things. That makes him an incredibly valuable NBA role player, but the bloom is off the rose for his fantasy hopes. Hart shows little interest in shooting the ball, especially from behind the three-point line. Over his past 12 games he’s scored more than 10 points just twice, and has put in just six triples. He rebounds at an absurd rate for his size, and picks up a decent number of assists and steals, but unless he starts letting it fly more, he’s really not a must-own player (76 percent rostered). On Thursday he contributed a pedestrian seven points, six rebounds, and two assists, but at least topped off with two steals, a three, and a block.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings
- The Spurs have come crashing down to Earth after a hot start, and it may not be much longer before they’re all in on the race for Victor Wembanyama. So keep an eye on Isaiah Roby (one percent rostered), who’s received 23 and 24 minutes in two of San Antonio’s last three contests after barely suiting up the first month. Roby put up tantalizing per-minute numbers in OKC the last couple of seasons, and would be a valuable fantasy commodity if he regularly received mid-20s minutes with the Spurs. Against the Kings, he had 11 points, three assists, two rejections, and connected on all three of his triple tries.
- Malik Monk continues to shine in Sacramento after going off for 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting with four treys last night. Since the calendar flipped to November, Monk has been lights out, averaging 16.6 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 2.1 3PTM, while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor and 96.0 percent from the line. The only thing holding him back has been his complete lack of defensive stats, but he should accrue more steals by sheer accident moving forward (just one in his past eight games). The Kings’ offense is legit, and I’m bullish on Monk for the rest of the season (32 percent rostered).
Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Clippers
- With Beef Stew out for a while, there’s a void left at center for another young big to step into. Marvin Bagley III drew the start and played 23 minutes, but disappointed with four points and eight boards on 1-for-5 shooting with goose eggs everywhere else. Rookie Jalen Duren fared slightly better in his 25 minutes of action, nothing eight points and nine rebounds with a block. If the minutes are split this evenly, neither may be a fantasy factor, but given the contract Detroit lavished on Bagley this past offseason, I’d wager they’ll give him a long look here. A lot of people are speculating on him right now, and I’d join them to see if the former No. 2 overall pick can find his groove in Motown (41 percent rostered).
- The Clippers remain confounding from a fantasy perspective. Former fantasy darling Robert Covington can’t even get into the game, and so many potentially useful players don’t get enough minutes to deserve a roster spot in most leagues. Case-in-point John Wall—who is rostered in 64 percent of leagues despite ranking outside the top-200 for the season and definitively sitting out back-to-backs. Wall dropped a turd in the punch bowl last night with three points and four dimes in just 13 minutes, yet still found a way to turn it over six times. Even when he’s not falling all over himself, he’s in a strict timeshare with Reggie Jackson, putting a firm ceiling on his production. There is no reason to hold on to Wall.