Depending on where you sat, last night had the potential to crush fantasy title hopes. Whether it was an opponent getting a big name back unexpectedly, a random benching so a rookie could play, or a benching by dispute – there were more than enough pitfalls and an equal number of massive outings to make last night a difference maker in playoff formats.
With a full slate, let’s dive right into Big Wednesday and get you ready for tonight.
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Devin Harris (foot) did not play last night in the Hawks’ easy win over the Raptors, but everybody else was present for fantasy roll call. Jeff Teague went nuts for 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, 13 assists and a steal, Al Horford went for 26 and 12, and Josh Smith scored 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting with three rebounds and three steals in the cakewalk. Kyle Korver’s eight points, two threes, three rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes probably has owners on edge, but his 3-point shooting is so good that he can justify a lineup slot based simply on that. He extended his 3-pointers streak to 64 straight games.
Amir Johnson was dealing with some banged up ankles coming into last night’s game and left with a quad bruise to end his night. It’s a worst-case scenario for the Raptors if he has to miss any time, as Jonas Valanciunas is the team’s only other serviceable big man unless you want to count Aaron Gray. JV showed what he’s capable of if given minutes and touches with Johnson playing just 20 minutes, posting 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and one block.
The fantasy story on the Raps’ side of the box was Rudy Gay, though, as he returned from his back injury to put up 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes. He could end up playing a good amount of power forward in some small lineups if Johnson misses time, so the rebounding total shouldn’t be glossed over. Then again, banging with power forwards is probably the worst thing for his back, and in general he’ll be a shutdown risk. Still, it’s a solid turnaround for owners and he needs to be owned in all leagues, obviously.
Kyle Lowry played through his nicked up knee, scoring three points on 1-of-5 shooting with seven rebounds, 10 assists and one steal in 34 minutes. Our blurb said it best – he has had a strange season – and he looks bound to take a backseat scoring to Gay and DeMar DeRozan (14 points, 5-of-14 FGs, not much else). If you’re looking for beneficiaries in all of this madness, Alan Anderson scored 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting with two threes, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes, and Terrence Ross scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, one steal and one three in 24 minutes. Both lines represent a decent baseline expectation for both guys, and I’d slide them both up a bit if Johnson misses time and if Gay misses time then Anderson will be a must-own player, with Ross being a stronger speculative add. Plan accordingly.
Brandon Jennings (zero points) was at the top of fantasy owners’ hit list last night after he got into it with Jim Boylan and was benched after just 17 minutes. If we’re speculating he could get suspended for conduct, but owners should tread lightly with adding J.J. Redick (eight points, 2-of-12 FGs, 35 minutes) as a speculative add. He’s just not consistent enough right now for owners to get all that aggressive, and Monta Ellis (29 points, seven assists) is going to siphon off most of the value available if Jennings continues to slide. I’d consider Mike Dunleavy (nine points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, one three) a better bet for upside if Jennings implodes, but his health and consistency are always a question mark.
Ersan Ilyasova hit just 5-of-17 shots but still exploded with 13 points, 18 rebounds, a steal, a block, and a three. Any struggles by Jennings will also be a boon to Ilyasova’s value, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s return from a toe injury will subtract about 20 minutes from the rotation overall.
The Sixers took the gift of infighting from the Bucks and made off with a win, which is a rare occurrence these days. Spencer Hawes kept his foot on the gas with 15 points, 17 rebounds and four assists but didn’t have a steal or block. He’s a must-start player right now making a big difference in fantasy leagues. Damien Wilkins has been a sneaky value lately, and he posted 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one three in 26 minutes last night. Dorell Wright has also held standard league value lately and put up 14 points, three treys, five assists and a steal in 28 minutes off the bench. Give both guys a look and note the Sixers’ upcoming weeks of three and four games, in that order.
GREEN WITH ENVY
Courtney Lee (ankle) did not travel to Cleveland for last night’s game and Paul Pierce got his first start at shooting guard in six years, which turned out very good as he scored 19 points with 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two blocks and a three. As the primary ball-handler he did throw the ball away seven times, which is one reason he and his boys only won by a point against the lowly Cavs. Jeff Green was the hero again with a last-second layup to secure the win, as he finished with 21 points, two threes, seven boards, five assists, two steals and a block over 42 minutes. In any game with Kevin Garnett (ankle, rest) or Pierce out owners shouldn’t be surprised with results like this. Garnett is out for the rest of this week and the following week is a question mark.
Brandon Bass has been quietly providing low-end value, but last night he took a favorable matchup against the Cavs and cashed in with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, five rebounds and two assists. He did not have a steal or block but beggars can’t be choosers and this is a win if you picked him up. Jordan Crawford scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with one rebound, four assists and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench, and while he’s a much better option than Jason Terry (five points, 21 minutes) and maybe even Avery Bradley (three points, 1-of-7 FGs, three assists, two steals), it’s a reminder that he isn’t going to run wild as long as Pierce is on the floor.
LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR
The Cavs lack bodies and that has made most of their heavy-minute guys relevant in fantasy leagues, but on a bad team owners will have to take some inconsistency back in that equation. Wayne Ellington scored 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting (including a three) with three rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes, and he has been posting serviceable, low-end value in standard formats. Shaun Livingston (12 points, 5-of-13 FGs, five assists, one steal, one block) has been a bit better and is a must-own player in normal formats.
Tyler Zeller (11 points, nine rebounds, one block) is still just a deep league asset, and Tristan Thompson (two points, 1-of-6 FGs, nine rebounds, no steals or blocks, 24 minutes) will bounce back in short order. C.J. Miles is a better bet in 9-cat leagues where his 0.3 turnovers per game over the past two weeks can help out, but he’s still only a 14-team value after his 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in 28 minutes last night. As you can imagine, that value wasn’t looking all that great before last night’s surge. Despite the pedestrian results, there is a big enough opening for minutes and touches that it’s plausible that Miles can improve to standard league value.
DR. QUINN, MEDICINE MAN
Nikola Vucevic reported improvement with his concussion and said he’s not shutting it down this year, but Kyle O’Quinn’s career-high 23 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and one steal will give the Magic a cushion with which to operate. I think Vucevic will work on his own schedule for the most part, but if there is any doubt it helps that O’Quinn is producing. The opposing Bobcats do tinge O’Quinn’s performance, but he’s well worth an add for owners needing a big man and is also a speculative add given the uncertain nature of concussion injuries.
DeQuan Jones was moved into the starting lineup as the Magic have moved deep into the youth movement, and responded with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in 31 minutes. He’s not breaking down any doors with that performance and will have threats from E’Twaun Moore (12 minutes, three points, two assists, three steals, one block) and Beno Udrih (18 minutes, nine points, five assists, three turnovers), but he’s worth keeping tabs on while he’s starting. In a deeper league, feel free to make the speculative add but keep expectations in check. I’m not going off any information that I have, but it makes sense that the Magic tote their young guys out against a team like the Bobcats, and they might revert to Udrih when playing against heavies.
Andrew Nicholson (ankle) did not travel for last night’s game, and that takes the already impressive commitment to playing Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless to a whole new level. Harris hit 10-of-20 shots for a career-high 29 points with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, three blocks, two threes and a 7-of-8 mark from the line in 45 minutes. Harkless played 44 minutes and scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting with two threes and four rebounds but he didn’t have a steal or block, which is rare. Congratulations are in order if you picked up either guy, but especially Tobias.
Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson took advantage of their great matchup against the Magic in style, as both of them rattled off 34 points with impressive lines. Walker hit 13-of-23 shots with two threes, seven rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks, and Henderson hit 12-of-18 shots with seven rebounds, a steal, a three and a 9-of-10 mark from the charity stripe. They have been top-30 and top-15 plays over the last two weeks in 9-cat formats, respectively.
Bismack Biyombo got on the board with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks, and the big outing pushed him up into low-end value over that same span. He’s still a desperation play down low for owners in 12-14 team formats given his inconsistency. Josh McRoberts (shoulder) was downright impossible to start in weekly formats with uncertainty about his status, but he started last night and scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists and a block in 33 minutes. It’s a fair expectation for owners to target with anything above that being icing on the cake. Byron Mullens did Byron Mullens things with two points on 1-of-5 shooting, one rebound and three assists in 14 minutes. With Biz playing well and McBob penciled in ahead of him, the outing is explainable but not exactly an outlier. At this point in the season, expecting Mullens to turn the corner on consistency issues is not advisable, even if he gets hot again.