Russell Westbrook posted a monster triple-double during the Thunder’s 110-93 win over the Lakers on Friday, registering 17 points (4-of-18 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs), 18 boards, 17 dimes, three steals, one 3-pointer and six turnovers in 35 minutes. This insane stat-stuffing line put Westbrook in some elite company as he became just the fifth player since the 1983-84 season to record a triple-double with at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and 15 dimes, joining the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, James Harden and Rajon Rondo (lol). Westbrook leads all guards in rebounding percentage at 16.5, and he also ranks in the top-10 in total rebounds, ripping down more boards this season than guys like Nikola Vucevic, Tyson Chandler and Giannis Antetokounmpo to name a few. So yeah, you could say he’s elite.
D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson thrived in their first game sans Lou Williams on Friday, with Russell popping off for 29 points (12-of-26 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), three 3-pointers, four boards, six assists, four steals and four turnovers in 36 minutes and Clarkson racking up 14 points (6-of-17 FGs, 0-of-2 FTs), five boards, five dimes, two triples, four steals and three turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench. The minutes were a season-high for Russell, and he was working with a 34.6 usage rate in this one, so he’s obviously going to see his value spike with Sweet Lou no longer around to mess with his minutes. Clarkson also saw his usage rise to 28.1, so I think he has a good shot of flirting with top-75 value as the year comes to a close.
Serge Ibaka helped Toronto to a 107-97 win over Boston during his Raptors’ debut on Friday, scoring 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with seven boards, one 3-pointer, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 26 minutes. Ibaka looked right at home in Toronto, and it’s pretty obvious that Dwane Casey is going to love him, so he should be able to retain his top-35 status as a member of the Raptors. Unfortunately, Ibaka’s arrival has cast a very dark cloud on the rest-of-season outlook for both Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira. JV subbed out of the game at the seven-minute mark of the third quarter, and never returned, ending his night with just seven points (3-of-4 FGs, 1-of-3 FTs), six boards and one block in a mere 18 minutes of playing time, while Bebe only got into the game for 11 minutes, and he finished with just one rebound, one turnover and one block to his credit. Nogueira looks like a drop candidate just about everywhere, and unfortunately, it looks like Valanciunas is going to struggle to see his minutes in the mid-20s.
With Kyle Lowry (wrist) on the sidelines, DeMar DeRozan posted an insane 44.7 usage rate on his way to 43 points (15-of-28 FGs, 12-of-12 FTs), five boards, five assists, one 3-pointer and three turnovers in 37 minutes. If this wrist injury forces Lowry into a multi-game absence, you can bet that DeRozan will be operating with a Russell Westbrook-like usage rate as he dominates the Toronto offense.
Nerlens Noel was not able to make his Mavs’ debut on Friday, but he’ll likely be able to suit up for Dallas’ home game against New Orleans on Saturday.
Bradley Beal exploded for 40 points during Friday’s 112-120 loss to the 76ers, adding four boards, two triples, two dimes, two steals and just one turnover in his 42 minutes of floor time. As long as he can stay healthy, Beal should finish the year with early-round value.
Dario Saric kept the good times a rollin’ on Friday, racking up 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes in a start at the four-spot. With the departure of Nerlens Noel and Ersan Ilyasova, and news coming out that Ben Simmons (foot) will not take the court at all this season, Saric looks to be locked into a 30-plus minute role as Philly’s starting power forward, so he needs to be owned everywhere.
Chris Paul (thumb surgery) was solid in his return from a month-long layoff on Friday, tallying 17 points, six boards, five assists, two 3-pointers, two steals and four turnovers in 33 minutes. With CP3 back in action, Austin Rivers returned to the bench and both Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford saw their minutes reduced to the teens. All these guys will lose most of their appeal with Paul back on the court.
Pau Gasol (hand) double-doubled in 27 minutes off the bench during Friday’s 105-97 win over the Clippers, registering 17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three 3-pointers, one block and one turnover. He looked fine out there, so I’d be surprised if he weren’t back in the starting five for Sunday’s game against the Lakers. Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee are cut-candidates with Gasol back in the fold.
Taj Gibson logged 21 minutes off the bench in his Thunder debut on Friday, scoring 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go with four boards, one assist and one steal. I’d be surprised if Gibson didn’t eventually usurp Domantas Sabonis for the starting four-spot in OKC, although even as a starter, I don’t think Gibson will be anything more than a low-end option in deep leagues.
Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a 33-point, 12-board double-double during Friday’s loss to Utah, to go with two trey-bombs, three dimes, five steals, one block and six turnovers in 34 minutes. Par for the course for this year’s No. 3 stud.
Nikola Jokic struggled with foul trouble (and in general) during Friday's 129-109 win over the Nets, scoring just two points to go with five boards, seven dimes, one steal, one block, four turnovers and four fouls in a measly 15 minutes of floor time. Jokic has now put up two stinkers in a row coming out of the All-Star break, but he's just too talented to not turn things around (see early season struggles). Now is probably going to be your last opportunity to try and buy-low on Jokic.
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On the Radar
Jeremy Lin (hamstring) was back in the starting lineup on Friday following a two-month layoff, and he put up seven points (2-of-3 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five dimes, two boards, one triple and one turnover in 15 minutes. Kenny Atkinson probably wanted to be extra cautious here with this being the first game of a back-to-back set, but maybe Lin can see his minutes closer to the 20-minute mark for Saturday’s game against Golden State (assuming Atkinson opts not to rest him). The most important takeaway here was that Lin moved around very well while on the court, so hopefully the hamstring issue is finally behind him. I do think Lin offers some nice upside, but Atkinson will likely make owning him a bit of a headache. He’s worth stashing if you’re doing fine in the standings, but owners fighting for a playoff spot may not be able to afford the luxury of hanging onto him as he’s brought back up to speed.
T.J. Warren was solid in his first game of the year sans P.J. Tucker, scoring 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with eight boards, two assists, two steals and one turnover over 38 minutes. Warren should have no trouble logging minutes in the high-30s moving forward, so he has a great chance of returning to that top-50 guy he was during the first couple months of the season. Make sure he’s not on your waiver wire.
Alex Len replaced Tyson Chandler (who picked up a DNP-CD) in the starting lineup on Friday, but he only managed to produce four points (2-of-6 FGs, 0-of-2 FTs), seven boards, one assist, two blocks and three turnovers in 35 minutes. The playing time was encouraging, but Len has been consistently inconsistent throughout his career, so I don’t think he’ll be much more than a low-end shot blocking specialist in deep leagues. Chandler was playing well prior to the break, but with Phoenix shifting their focus to player development, the DNPs could start to become a trend. Chandler even acknowledged that it’s important to give the younger guys minutes, so he’s approaching cut-candidate territory.
Marquese Chriss scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting (1-of-3 from the stripe), to go with seven boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks, two triples and three turnovers in 33 minutes. Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough said prior to the game that Chriss will be seeing “a lot of opportunity” to close out the year, so as long as he can stay out of foul trouble, he could eventually emerge with some standard league value. He makes sense as a stash if you’ve already got a playoff spot locked up.
Yogi Ferrell couldn’t get his shot to drop during Friday’s 97-84 loss to the Timberwolves, going 2-of-9 from the field on his way to five points, four assists, three boards, one triple, one steal and three turnovers through 30 minutes as a starter. This wasn’t the game his owners were hoping for, but he should be able to bounce back on Saturday with a much more favorable matchup against New Orleans. Dallas waived Deron Williams specifically to give more opportunity to Ferrell, so they’re obviously very high on him, and he has a great chance of finishing the season with top-75 value with a 30-plus minute role locked up with the Mavericks.