In the annals of history, the fantasy basketball night of March 31st will forever be known to historians as the night of near triple-doubles and injuries.
No one was able to break the double-digit barrier across three categories, but there were quite a few players who came close to triple-doubling on Monday night. Those positives, however, were offset by several injury scares which we’ll get to after the game highlights.
It’s A Boogie Down in New Orleans
DeMarcus Cousins brought his A-game to New Orleans in Monday’s 102-97 victory over the Pelicans and scored 35 points to go with 14 boards, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. Cousins is averaging 24.0 points, 10.4 boards, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks over his last five games and is becoming an absolute pleasure to own in fantasy. He’s had a few blips of on-court immaturity this season, but he’s positioning himself as a potential Top 10-15 pick next season with the way he’s finishing. Cousins was joined in his big game by Ray McCallum’s 22 points, one trey, two boards, 10 assists, and two steals as the rookie more than ably filled in for Isaiah Thomas (who missed his fourth consecutive game with a quad injury). Thomas has been reportedly close to returning, so while McCallum is an interesting speculative pickup, his productivity could hit a 5’9” wall very soon.
Anthony Davis returned from his one-game absence due to an ankle injury with 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and four blocks in the Pelicans’ loss and should be good-to-go for his fantasy owners down the homestretch.
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Welcome to Mr. Jordan’s House
With Blake Griffin out with a back injury, DeAndre Jordan kept all the rebounds to himself during the Clippers’ 114-104 win over the Timberwolves Monday night and set a career-high with 24 boards. Jordan also added to his monster night with 11 points and four blocks, while the only blemish on his night was a 3-of-8 performance from the line. The 25-year-old is all but assured of leading the NBA in rebounds this season with 13.9 per game and is a full 1.1 boards per game ahead of second-place Andre Drummond. Jordan also checks in third among blocks leaders with 2.45 per game and has cemented himself as the best player to own in terms of a boards and blocks combo.
Chris Paul and Darren Collison also had big games for the Clips with Jordan Crawford out with a calf injury, as Chris Paul narrowly missed a triple-double with 22 points, two 3-pointers, seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals while Darren Collison poured in 28 points to go with two 3 treys, three rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Collison could be a fantasy difference-maker over the next two weeks if Crawford misses any more time and should be owned in most leagues at this point.
The big news on the Timberwolves side of the ball (outside of Kevin Love being his usual beast self with 20 points, two 3-pointers, 13 rebounds, four assists, and one steal) was Nikola Pekovic leaving the game in the second quarter with a re-aggravation of his ankle injury. Gorgui Dieng once again ably filled in for Pek with 14 points, four boards, three assists, three steals, and a block and should be considered a must-own player just in case Pekovic misses any time.
It’s Gotta Be the Hair
Raise your hand if you thought Joakim Noah would be a Top 5 fantasy player over the last month of the season. With games like this becoming the rule rather than the exception, Noah dominated the Celtics on Monday with 19 points, 11 boards, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. With his huge second half, Noah has been the fourth-best fantasy player to own over the past month and he’s even moved himself into the Top 20 on the season. With eight games left on the Bulls’ schedule, fantasy owners are riding his back to a strong finish and there’s a good chance that Noah ends the season as a Top 12-15 player.
On the Celtics’ side of the ball, Brandon Bass led the way for the Green Team in their 94-80 loss with 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and four blocks as Rajon Rondo (rest) had the night off and tried his hand as an in-game commentator. Bass’ game amounts to more of a fool’s gold situation than must-add status as his inconsistency (which partially stems from the Celtics’ inconsistent frontcourt rotation) limits him from being a recommended add in standard leagues.
Kemba Captures Some UConn Magic
Kemba Walker had a tough shooting night (6-of-22 from the floor) during Charlotte’s 100-94 win over the Wizards on Monday, but he was still able to capture some of his alma mater’s Final Four magic and fill out the stat sheet with 21 points, five rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and one block. His shooting stats were marred by a 0-for-10 performance from behind the line, but Walker is averaging 22.6 points, 2.0 treys, 4.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks over his past five games, so fantasy owners who can stomach his 37.1 field goal percentage over that span should be able to take the good with the bad over the next two weeks.
On the Wizards' side of the ball, Bradley Beal poured in 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting with two 3-pointers, two rebounds, five assists, and one block as John Wall struggled to 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Between Wall and Walker’s shooting performances, we’re still awaiting word on if the baskets in Charlotte are a little smaller than standard size.
Kawhi Is Better Than Maui and Oahu
Kawhi Leonard continued his stat-stuffing ways since returning from a hand injury and scored 13 points to go with two 3-pointers, 11 boards, two assists, one steal, and one block in San Antonio’s 103-77 win over the disintegrating Pacers Monday night. Leonard is averaging 14.2 points, 1.5 treys, 6.7 boards, 2.1 dimes, 1.6 steals, and 1.8 blocks in 18 games after the All-Star games and is rewarding owners who were patient enough to hang onto him while he was injured. Leonard won’t single-handedly win any categories for fantasy teams, but his across-the-board numbers can be fantasy gold for owners in head-to-head and roto leagues alike.
The Pacers remained in freefall mode Monday night, but Paul George’s fantasy owners received another stat-filling game of 15 points, one 3-pointer, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. George has hit a bit of an end-of-season wall as compared to his stats from earlier in the season, but he’s still end up being one of the Top 10 fantasy players to own on the year.
Millsap and Young Battle for Supremacy
Fantasy owners who are lucky enough to own both Paul Millsap and Thaddeus Young looked at the Sixers-Hawks box score with a smile on their face Tuesday morning as both players absolutely went off Monday night. Millsap had a beast of a game with 28 points, one 3-pointer, 17 boards, four assists, and three steals while Thaddeus Young matched him step-for-step (and then some) with 23 points, five 3-pointers, three boards, four assists, four steals, and three blocks. Both players are absolute pleasures to own for fantasy owners as they are two of the only power forward options who are capable of providing across-the-board stats that include blocks (sorry, Kevin Love). Young is now averaging 1.8 treys, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks over his last five games while Millsap is trying to keep pace with 0.8 3-pointers, 1.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks over that span. Sit back and enjoy the peripherals, fantasy owners.
Monroe Matches Season-High Against Bucks
Greg Monroe led the Pistons to a 116-111 win over the Bucks with 28 points, 14 boards, one assist, and two blocks on Monday night as he matched his season-high for points scored. Monroe has stepped up his play as of late and is averaging 18.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks over his last five games. The point totals are a full 3.3 points above his season average, so his fantasy owners should be enjoying the production they’re getting out of the big man down the stretch. Monroe has become a bit maligned in fantasy circles due to his high ceiling (maybe he can start a support group with Derrick Favors), but his season averages of 15.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.6 steals are nothing to sneeze at and should serve as a good springboard for a potential breakout season in 2014-15.
On the Bucks’ side of the ball, Ramon Sessions was on triple-double watch as he scored 20 points to go along with one 3-pointer, five rebounds, 11 dimes, and one steal in 44 minutes. Sessions is averaging 19.6 points, one trey, 4.6 boards, 6.4 dimes, 0.4 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 38.2 minutes over his last five games and is a must-add player in all leagues at this point.