There were 13 games on Friday night and while the returns of Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler definitely made fantasy owners happy, there were also several disappointing performances, most notably from Kobe Bryant. But while Bryant tried to find a rhythm out west, the backcourt of the Suns was in a groove. All that and more is coming your way in this Saturday’s Dose.
1. The Dynamic Duo strikes in a big way
Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic had both dealt with early season injuries, which seriously hampered the chemistry between the two. However, on Friday night, with both men looking healthy and seasoned, the pair went off to the tune of 57 points, 11 assists, six three-pointers, four steals, and two blocks. The pair also shot the lights out from the field, going 21-30 as the Suns defeated the Kings. It was certainly the best game they’ve played together this season and in the process the two helped extend the team’s winning streak to four games. Bledsoe also set a new career-high with 28 points while Dragic, coming off a 31-point effort on Tuesday, just missed the 30-point plateau with 29. The two are clearly hot right now and should continue to post big numbers as they continue to develop a bond on the court.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Saturday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. It starts at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. Here's the FanDuel link.
2. Kyrie’s fiery week
Last Friday Kyrie Irving disappointing fantasy owners with a 0-9 dud, but since that debacle the point guard has been on a tear. Capping a stellar week, Irving went off for 31 points, five assists, and two steals against Orlando on Friday. In his three games since last Friday’s disaster, Irving has been scorching, averaging 29 points, seven assists, and over two triples per-game. Those are exactly the kind of numbers fans were expecting when they drafted Irving early in their fantasy drafts. With the Cavaliers slowing improving, Irving’s confidence should grow and fantasy owners will enjoy the spoils.
3. Oladipo making his case for Rookie of the Year
While Irving was being Irving, another hot-shot guard was making a statement on the other side of the ball. Victor Oladipo broke out with a fantastic line of 26 points, five boards, four assists, four steals, and three blocks. He also chipped in three triples and only two turnovers, treating owners to a terrific 9-category performance. The points tied a career-high but the other numbers were more telling. This was perhaps his best complete game of the year and it’s clear that Jameer Nelson’s return isn’t going to stop him from developing. While Michael Carter-Williams certainly leads the pack in the Rookie of the Year race, his injuries aren’t helping his case. Meanwhile, Oladipo is slowing gaining steam, averaging 14 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and nearly two steals per game.
4. Harris and Butler make their long-awaited returns
Both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler suited up for their respective squads on Friday night and delivered encouraging performances. Harris only played 14 minutes but still tallied 10 points and five boards, including a three-pointer. Last year’s breakout star has only appeared in two games this year but he looked solid Friday and hopefully he’ll regain his starting role sooner rather than later. Jimmy Butler on the other hand, looked much more polished in his comeback after missing nearly one month with turf toe. Despite his poor 4-12 shooting, Butler looked spry in posting 16 points and three steals in nearly 37 minutes. With Derrick Rose out for the season and Luol Deng nursing an Achilles injury, Butler should be one of the anchors for the Bulls going forward. For those of you that held onto Butler, your patience should be rewarded.
5. Kobe still finding his groove
Kobe Bryant only played 23 minutes on Friday as the Lakers were blown out by the Thunder, but it’s clear that he’s not back to normal. He shot just 2-6 and committed seven turnovers although his 13 assists were definitely helpful to some fantasy teams. Just three games into Bryant’s season and he’s shooting just 38% and has 18 turnovers. Obviously he’ll improve when he actually starts looking for his shot, which he will, but until then owners can expect some funky lines. Now would be a great time to make a buy low offer as Bryant’s bound to get back on track soon.
6. J.R. Smith bottoms out
Speaking of funks, Smith put up a real dud on Friday night as the Knicks fell to the Celtics. The shoot-first guard only took one shot and missed, finishing with two points, six rebounds, and three assists in 26 minutes. The fact that Smith only shot the ball one time is staggering and may have been a statement to coach Mike Woodson. This is a guy who averages 11 shots per game on the season and is known for being a chucker. He should get back to normal soon but Smith’s been awful as of late. Over his last four games he’s averaging just over six points per game and not much else. Owners will have to be patient because he’s certainly not droppable.
7. What’s going on with Ersan Ilyasova?
Seriously, what is happening with this guy? After averaging 17 and nine after the All-Star break last season, Ilyasova has fallen way back to earth this year. Yes, he’s been hampered by a slew of nagging injuries but on a depleted Bucks squad, he’s still posting terrible lines. In the month of December he’s averaging nine points and five rebounds, and not really contributing much elsewhere. We’ve been preaching patience due to his breakout potential but it’s getting to the point that he may be a liability for your fantasy team.
8. Jon Leuer is looking legit
After scoring a team-high 19 points on Friday night, Jon Leuer continues to prove doubters wrong. Despite his bench role and the return of Ed Davis, Leuer is looking more and more like a legitimate fantasy option. In the month of December the big man is averaging 16 points and eight boards with nearly a steal and block per game to boot. It’s possible that he’ll fall off but after four years in the league, he may be putting it all together. If you’ve got someone on your bench that you’ve wanted to cut, Leuer could be a nice addition.
9. Tyreke goes down…again
The Pelicans’ sixth man injured his left ankle again on Friday night, finishing with just six points in 12 minutes. It’s the same ankle that he sprained in the preseason and last week so it’s definitely a problem area. His status for Sunday’s game against Denver should be viewed as doubtful and going forward owners will want to monitor Evens closely. He’s a tough asset to trade in fantasy because of his history but if you can unload Evans in a deal, it’s not a bad idea given his situation.
10. Rudy Gay one-dimensional yet efficient in debut
Rudy Gay made his Kings debut on Friday against the Suns, finishing with 24 points on 8-12 shooting. He only chipped in one assist and one rebound but did add two blocks and a steal in what was his weirdest line of the season. For shooting purposes, Gay had his best showing of year as he nailed 66% of his attempts but his supporting stats were clearly lacking. Still, it’s a good sign that he got as many shots as he did and his nine free-throw attempts were also encouraging. Gay looks like he’s going to be the third head of the Kings monster, joining DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas as the team’s pillars.