Friday night’s 10-game NBA slate provided fantasy owners with some breakout performances from the rising Khris Middleton and surging Tony Wroten. On the flip side there were several questionable showings, most notably from Enes Kanter and the aforementioned Kyrie Irving.
1. Kyrie Irving fails to make a shot in defeat
Cleveland’s star point guard had arguably his worst game as a pro on Friday night, missing all nine of his shots from the field and all three from the charity stripe. He finished with zero points, four rebounds, and four assists in 20 depressing minutes. The Cavaliers were blown out by Atlanta so Irving spent the majority of the game on the bench and while this performance is a tough pill for fantasy owners to swallow, he should get back on track Saturday against the Clippers. Still, Irving was a consensus top-10 pick in most drafts this season but due to his putrid 39% shooting and high turnover numbers, he’s currently outside the top-50 in most leagues. However, he’s still Kyrie Irving and he will heat up so if an owner is frustrated, today is a great day to send a buy low offer.
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2. Bynum's clock is still ticking
While Irving struggled mightily, Andrew Bynum wound up having a great game for Cleveland. The center scored 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds and two blocks in nearly 27 minutes. It’s a risky venture but owning Bynum seems almost unavoidable. He’s simply balling right now and over his last three games he’s averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per contest. His 25 minutes per game over that span is still low for a starter but his production is undeniable. If he’s on the waiver wire, pick him up, but don’t give up anything substantial for him in a trade because he’s always a risk to go down.
3. Bucks on the rise
Both Khris Middleton and John Henson came up big for the Bucks during Friday night’s overtime victory against the Wizards. Middleton poured in a career-high 29 points with four three-pointers, seven rebounds, two steals, and a block. The small forward has been terrific as Caron Butler’s replacement and is now averaging 19 points, five rebounds, and nearly four triples over his last three contests and should be owned in most leagues. Meanwhile, John Henson, who continues to start over the injured Larry Sanders, shined. The big man scored 19 points to go along with 17 rebounds and one block. Henson has been a steady source of rebounds and blocks for a while but has really put it all together as of late. The North Carolina product has been averaging 11.5 points, nearly nine rebounds, and over two blocks per game over the last two weeks; good enough for top-50 value in most leagues.
4. Nene and Webster go down
The Wizards saw not one, but two starters sent to the back on Friday night as both Nene and Martell Webster suffered injuries against Milwaukee. Nene dealt with right foot tendinitis in the third quarter and was unable to return while Webster sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and was shut down for the rest of the game. Webster’s injury looked to be the worse of the two as he came up lame after hurling a half-court shot at the end of the opening quarter. He was in noticeable pain and could miss at least a few games. Nene has had foot issues previously so his injury could also cost him some time as well. Rookie Otto Porter may gain some value once he returns to the lineup while Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker could see some time at the power forward spot for Washington. In general, guys like John Wall, Trevor Ariza, and Marcin Gortat will all be relied upon heavily for the Wizards going forward.
5. Korver makes history
Kyle Korver hit a three-pointer for the 90th consecutive game on Friday night, breaking Dana Barros’ record in the process. The sharpshooter has been a pleasant surprise in fantasy this season and has carried top-40 value all year. He’s contributing across the board; dropping 12 points, nearly three triples, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal per contest. As someone who was likely taken in the back end of most drafts, Korver is rewarding faithful owners who have stuck with him.
6. Wroten back in business
With Michael Carter-Williams once again on the mend with a balky right knee, Tony Wroten was given the start on Friday and boy, he did not disappoint. Wroten nearly notched a triple-double, dropping 21 points with eight rebounds and nine assists. The point guard has been stellar as a starter this season, averaging nearly 20 points, six assists, and two steals per game. With MCW on the shelf for at least another game or so, Wroten is a great short play, and in general, owners of MCW may want to consider stashing Wroten as a handcuff. Wroten is prone to some duds off the bench but Coach Brett Brown is a fan and even hinted that he’d like to play the two alongside each other. The bottom line is that Wroten could have value all season.
7. Cousins looks solid in return
After sitting out Tuesday’s game with a right ankle injury, and subsequently poking fun at it, DeMarcus Cousins made his return on Friday against the Lakers. The big man looked just fine, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. His 6-of-17 shooting wasn’t great, nor were the six turnovers but since it was his first game in nearly a week, it’s understandable. Ultimately it seems as though his ankle sprain was a short-term thing and not something owners should worry about. Cousins is a beast and should continue to run wild going forward.
8. Is Aminu fool's gold?
Al-Farouq Aminu was the talk of the fantasy world on Wednesday night after a stellar 16-point, 20-rebound performance, but the Pelicans forward fell back to earth on Friday. Aminu mustered just seven points on 3-of-14 shooting, chipping in 10 rebounds to salvage a useable line. Now starting due to Anthony Davis’ injury, Aminu has the platform, he just needs to produce. Owners who gambled on him shouldn’t feel too bad since he will continue to start and with Tyreke Evans suffering a left ankle sprain on Friday, Aminu will be relied on even more going forward. Aminu is a cheap source of points and boards who can provide some low end steal numbers, so if your squad needs those stats, think about taking a ride.
9. Amir back in the saddle
Tyler Hansbrough, who had supplanted Amir Johnson in the starting line-up, went down on Friday night against Phoenix with a left shoulder injury and did not return. In his place Amir Johnson came to play, notching 22 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Oddly enough, in his two games since being benched, Johnson has been fantastic, averaging 19 points, 8.5 rebounds, and two blocks per game. The extent of Hansbrough’s injury is still unknown but he’ll likely be sidelined for at least a few games, meaning Johnson should get his starting job back. The power forward looks like he’s got his confidence back so if he was dropped in your league, pick him up.
10. Kanter disappears in loss
Enes Kanter broke out of a funk on Wednesday with a 20/10 line and in the process, regained the trust of fantasy owners across the world. But in Friday’s follow up start, the Swiss big man flopped, scoring just six points on 3-8 shooting with two rebounds in 20 minutes. The Jazz got blown out so this line comes with a grain of salt. However, given Kanter’s inconsistency, the line didn’t exactly provide owners with any confidence going forward. If you picked him up after Wednesday’s big game, we can’t blame you for sticking with him to see if he gets it going but if there’s a hot free agent on the wire, Kanter is probably expendable.