Denver Nuggets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Denver’s post-deadline pickup of Reggie Jackson is an ill omen for Bruce Brown, and that manifested itself on Thursday. With Brown (53 percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues) relinquishing backup point guard responsibilities, he struggled to find footing, finishing his night with just two points, two rebounds, two assists, and no threes or defense. I fear he won’t have enough volume moving forward to put up counting stats, or enough time to make for it with defense. I’m ready to cut bait on him right now.
- There are four Cavs ranked in the top-60 overall players in 9-cat averages….and nobody else in the top-200 (!). That makes Cleveland perhaps the least interesting team to evaluate for fantasy purposes, and they stayed true to form last night. Their core four did all the heavy lifting, with the other five rotation players combining for a measly 20 points. Nothing to see here.
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers
- Boston got to play their ideal starting five for what felt like the first time all season. Given that, it was a relief to see that Derrick White still brought some value to the table, even as he was relegated to coming off the bench as the fourth guard. White—who had been on a tear before the break—still got 25 minutes to make six of his 12 shots and score 17 points. The role change and minutes reduction means his assists and stocks (the real drivers of his value) will fluctuate night to night (he mustered just two of the former and none of the latter), but he should still be a end-of-the-bench guy to who can round out a roster. Still a hold for now (76 percent rostered).
- Holy Myles Turner! 40 and 10 with eight triples??? A new era of the NBA indeed. Turner had a career-night, matching his best ever points output and setting a personal best in treys. He only missed two of his 15 field goal attempts and hit six of seven from the stripe. Ten boards and block completed his night. Turner has been a top-50 fantasy guy for years based on the strength of his rejections alone, but his offense has taken a massive leap this season and could push him into the second round in next season’s drafts.
Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic
- Hamidou Diallo has one of the most interesting statistical profiles in fantasy with the rare specialty of FG% and steals. Diallo is shooting nearly 59 percent from the field as a wing and is averaging two steals per 36 minutes. His high conversion rate means he can score a decent amount without needing to get up many shots, and he’s reached double figures in each of his past four outings. While his steals totals have been modest in that span (1.0 SPG), he’s got the upside for more as he showed late last month when he had back-to-back games of four or more steals. Diallo can be a specialized streamer to fill a specific niche (five percent rostered).
- Looking for a purely defensive specialist? Take a flier on Jonathan Isaac (13 percent rostered). Isaac could easily be the stocks king if he ever gets back to playing 30-plus minutes a night, but even in just a third of that he can get you coveted defensive stats. Last night Isaac tallied two steals and a swat, and even added 10 points, seven boards, and a pair of triples for good measure. Thus far this season he’s averaging nearly four steals and a block per 36 minutes. A well-timed stream of Isaac can win a couple of critical cats.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Xavier Tillman came off the bench and nearly led the Grizzlies in minutes, playing 32. He did lead them in rebounding, collecting 12, and also added eight points, two steals, and a block. Tillman (five percent rostered) was called upon to use his big body to defend Joel Embiid, resulting in a bundle of minutes. That ought to go down, maybe as soon as next game, and definitely when Steven Adams returns to action in the next week or so.
- De’Anthony Melton‘s five fouls outstripped the rest of his stat line added together in a disappointing start against his former mates. Melton was held scoreless in his 13 minutes, making this the fourth time in his last five that he has scored five or fewer points. It was also the fourth time in his last five he put up goose eggs in the defensive categories. I said a while ago that his time was up, and his demise has only accelerated since. He should be dropped in standard formats (64 percent rostered).
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors
- Josh Richardson entered the starting lineup in a shakeup for the Pelicans, with Trey Murphy III getting the demotion (was it punishment for not winning the dunk contest?). Richardson was solid in his debut with the first unit, contributing 11 points, three assists, three swipes, and two treys in 29 minutes. If he continues to start and approach 30 minutes, he’s definitely worth an add (22 percent rostered).
- The addition of Jakob Poeltl has tanked the value of Chris Boucher, who had a sizzling start to the month of February. Boucher was okay last night, notching nine points, eight boards, a three, and a rejection in 23 minutes off the bench, but that’s not the upside you’re looking for with him. Sadly, it’s probably time to let him go until there are some injuries in Toronto’s frontcourt (36 percent rostered).
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
- With the Spurs tanking hard for Wemby, there are going to be some fantasy gems unearthed in San Antonio. The first one appears to be Malaki Branham. The rookie has quietly taken off, as he scored 23 points (on 9-of-17 shooting) for the second consecutive game, adding five assists and a pair of treys. It’s already the fifth time this month he’s reached the 20-point plateau. In February, he’s scored in double figures in all but one of his appearances and he’s connected on multiple triples in but one outing, averaging 18.7 PPG and 2.3 3PTM. Don’t miss the Branham boat (34 percent rostered).
- Josh Green drew another start on Thursday, but his minutes dropped to 29—his fewest since being promoted. Green finished with 11 points on 4-for-8 from the field, with two threes and a block. Three other Dallas wings were all on fire from deep, which probably contributed to Green’s down night, but they I believe they need his defense and slashing to balance their current lineup. I’m still bullish on the youngster for the rest of the season (27 percent rostered).
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz
- The “other” Jaylin Williams may be about to turn the corner in OKC. The rookie forward has started five of the past six games for the Thunder after beginning the game last night, where he knocked down three triples to score 11 points, to go along with six rebounds and a swat in 27 minutes. He’s scored in double figures three times in that span and also has a 16-rebound outing. He’s played well enough to keep earning these minutes, and he’s got an intriguing skill set for fantasy purposes. Add him now to see if he takes off in the next couple of weeks (10 percent rostered).
- Starting for the injured Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker filled up the stat sheet last night. THT supplied a line of nine points, seven boards, six dimes, two thefts, a trey, and a block in 35 minutes. Unfortunately, he struggled from the field, shooting just 2-for-11, but did cash in all four of his foul shots. Since returning to the lineup about a week before the break, THT has recorded at least six assists in every contest, scored in double figures three times, and is averaging over a block per game from the guard spot. The shooting percentage always leaves something to be desired, but his ability to fill it up everywhere else makes him a must-add for as long as he’s got the starting gig—and maybe even after that (35 percent rostered).
Golden State Warriors vs. LA Lakers
- The Warriors let go of the thread early in this one, giving plenty of run to their deep bench guys like Ty Jerome, who made the most of his 30 minutes. Jerome scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting with three assists, two treys and a steal. He’s a steady backup who’s super efficient (a stealth 50-40-90 candidate this season), but a limited role on a two-way contract will keep him off of fantasy rosters (two percent rostered).
- With D’Angelo Russell exiting early in this one, Dennis Schroder got the lion’s share of minutes at point guard. In 27 minutes, the veteran scored 13 points on 4-of-7 from the field, with six helpers, a three, a steal, and a block. Schroder has had some really nice stretches this season when given a full complement of minutes, with the ability to score, convert free-throws at a high rate, dish the ball, and knock down the occasional three. The lack of defensive numbers hurts his case (just three steals and no blocks total over his previous 10 appearances), but if Russell is forces to miss time, Schroder is a solid pickup (30 percent rostered).
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings
- The Blazers were without their top four players on Thursday, giving others a chance to audition for role of starting small forward when they’re back at full strength. Cam Reddish and Nassir Little both stood out, with the newly acquired Reddish going for 24 points, four rebounds, four assists, three triples and two steals—albeit on 7-for-18 shooting and five turnovers. The homegrown Little, meanwhile, shot 10-of-19 from the field and canned five treys to score 26 points, with four steals, a block, and no turnovers to boot. With two starts and solid performances in a row, Reddish may have the slight edge in the race, and may be worth a speculative pickup although he has yet to show any form of consistency thus far in his career (14 percent rostered).
- After a slow start, Sacramento came roaring back on the strength of their bench mob, led by Terence Davis. Davis poured in 20 points in just 18 minutes, going 4-for-5 from the line and from downtown, adding four rebounds and a block to his tally. Davis has been cooking of late, scoring in double figures on four of his past five—with 20 or more in two of his last three—and draining multiple triples in all of them to average 14.4 PPG and 2.8 3PTM in that span. Davis can be a good streaming option for points and threes, but may see a more reduced role in the near term with Malik Monk back in the mix (three percent rostered).