Week 21 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: BKN, CHI, CLE, DAL, DET, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOR, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, DEN, GSW, HOU, IND, MIA, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHX
2 Games: NYK
James Harden posted his 16th triple-double of the season during Sunday’s 117-112 comeback win over the Cavs, tallying 38 points, 10 boards, 11 dimes, four triples, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 40 minutes of play. Amongst the top-3 guys in triple-doubles this season, Harden leads them all in points per game at 32.7 on his triple-double nights, and with Houston being just 1 of 3 teams to beat Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland this season, they’re looking like serious contenders. The Rockets figure to square off with either the Thunder or the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs, but I’m rooting for a HOU-OKC showdown, so we can watch what will likely be the battle of the regular-season MVP. Harden is probably the favorite to take home MVP honors this season as his team owns the better record between the two most likely candidates, but I think Westbrook has made a very solid case for himself with all the mind-boggling stat lines. As a side note, Harden said he has no intention of taking random rest days down the final stretch of the season, so his owners can continue to throw him out there with confidence.
Avery Bradley's 17 points were the most he’s scored since getting onto the court following the Achilles issue, and he ended his evening with six boards, one assist, three 3-pointers, three steals, one block and two turnovers in 26 minutes. This was easily Bradley’s best game since coming out of the break, and with news coming out that Bradley will no longer be with a minutes restriction, he should be looking at 30-plus minutes a night with little danger of sitting out back-to-back sets moving forward.
Dario Saric poured in a career-high 29 points during the 76ers’ 118-116 win over the Lakers on Sunday, adding seven boards, five assists, two steals, one block, three 3-pointers and five turnovers in 35 minutes. He also went 10-of-20 from the field and 6-of-9 from the charity stripe, giving him a sterling true shooting percentage of 60.5 on the evening to accompany his 37.3 usage rate, and ever since Joel Embiid hit the sidelines, Saric has been making a serious name for himself as a potential rookie of the year candidate. Saric wasn’t in the best situation to produce earlier in the year, as he was forced to concede minutes to Ersan Ilyasova while playing second fiddle to Embiid on offense, but now he’s the clear-cut No. 1 priority for the 76ers and looks poised for a strong finish to the season. Personally, if it were up to me, I would still vote for Embiid as ROY despite him only suiting up for 31 games this year, but if Saric can continue to stuff the stat sheet while averaging close to 20 points a game through the months of March and April, I’ll change my tune on that front.
Jordan Clarkson registered a career-high 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting during Sunday’s loss, to go with six boards, eight assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 34 minutes. The departure of Lou Williams has been a godsend for Clarkson owners, as he’s jumped into a top-50 evaluation since the break with averages of 20.2 points, 3.7 dimes, 1.3 steals, 1.2 triples and 2.3 turnovers per contest on 47.8 percent shooting. The youth movement is in full effect in Los Angeles, so Clarkson should close out the year averaging over 30 minutes a night. He’s a safe bet for top-50 value, in my opinion.
Kristaps Porzingis posted a 19-point, 10-board double-double on Sunday, adding four dimes, two 3-pointers, five swats and four turnovers in 34 minutes. He’s finally healthy again and should have no trouble finishing the year as a top-35 stud.
Paul George lit up the Heat to the tune of 28 points during Sunday's 102-98 win over Miami, adding 10 boards, one 3-pointer, one assist, one block, one steal and two turnovers in 37 minutes. On the other end of the floor, Hassan Whiteside posted a monster 26-point, 21-board double-double while sending away one shot in 35 minutes. Pending health, both these guys are set up for strong finishes to the season.
Damian Lillard made sure that all the residents of Phoenix, Arizona knew exactly what time it was on Sunday night (Thrillard time) as he went off for 39 points, six boards, four treys, two assists, one steal and four turnovers in 38 minutes. Lillard shot 13-of-26 from the field and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe, giving him a solid true shooting percentage of 65.1 to accompany his hefty 37.5 usage rate. After struggling with his shot a bit through the month of February, Lillard has returned to a much more respectable 44.6 shooting percentage through the month of March, and he’s back to producing top-25 value in standard 9-cat leagues. Jusuf Nurkic also had a solid game for Portland during the win, scoring 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with 11 boards, two assists, three blocks and two turnovers in 30 minutes. The Bosnian Beast has been a revelation since joining the Trail Blazers, pumping out averages of 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 dimes, 1.0 steal, 2.6 swats and 3.6 turnovers per game on 52.5 percent shooting from the field and 75.6 percent from the stripe, which has been good enough for third-round value in standard 9-cat leagues. There’s really no one to siphon away minutes from Nurkic in Portland, so he has an excellent shot of closing out the year as an early-round producer.
On the Radar
Ivica Zubac replaced Tarik Black in the starting lineup for Sunday’s matchup against the 76ers and produced 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting to go with six rebounds, four swats and two turnovers in 19 minutes. Lakers’ team president Magic Johnson recently said that he wanted Zubac starting and earning 30-35 minutes a night in order to determine whether or not he can handle a starting role in Los Angeles, so his arrow is pointing way up as we approach the end of the 2016-17 season. Call him what you want: ZuPac, ZuDacris, ZuBlock; I’ll call him must-own moving forward.
Wayne Ellington drained five more 3-pointers during Miami’s 102-98 loss to Indiana, adding 19 points, one rebound, two assists and zero turnovers through 27 minutes of floor time. Ellington has been flirting with a top-75 evaluation over the past two weeks largely due to his 3.8 triples per game during that eight-game span, so give him a look if you need some help with the trey-bombs.
Marquese Chriss scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting on Sunday, to go with six boards, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover in 24 minutes. Chriss’ numbers typically won’t wow you, but his ability to chip in some blocks and triples without hurting you in any one area is what has him ranked in the top-65 over the past few weeks.
Richaun Holmes scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting (3-of-4 from the stripe) to go with five boards, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes off the bench. Holmes has actually been knocking down 40 percent of his shot attempts from beyond the arc this season, and since he finally has been getting the opportunity to log significant minutes, Holmes has jumped into a mid-round evaluation over the past month with averages of 13.6 points, 5.7 boards, 0.7 triples, 0.7 steals, 0.9 blocks and just 0.9 turnovers per contest on 61.9 percent shooting. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but if you need a field goal percentage booster who can occasionally give you a smattering of defensive stats, go ahead and give Holmes a look.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot shined in a start against the Lakers on Friday sans Robert Covington (knee), scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with three boards, three assists, two 3-pointers and one turnover in 28 minutes. While this was a nice stat line, RoCo’s injury doesn’t seem serious at all, so TLC could be headed back to the bench as soon as Tuesday’s game in Golden State. Just keep your eye on him in deep leagues.
LaMarcus Aldridge is set to undergo more testing on his heart on Monday, and he is currently being listed as “out indefinitely.” Aldridge has been dealing with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome since he came into the league, an ailment that forced him to miss nine games his rookie year, and 10 days during training camp in 2011, but the Spurs have not yet confirmed if his current heart arrhythmia is related to WPW syndrome. Hopefully, this isn’t something that forces Aldridge into a lengthy absence, but we should have a better idea on his potential timetable following Monday’s examinations. While he’s out, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon will have the opportunity for some extended minutes, while Pau Gasol and Kawhi Leonard (concussion) will be tasked with the heavy lifting on offense. Dedmon could be worth a look in deep leagues for those seeking a shot blocking specialist, but Lee is more of a low-upside guy in deep points leagues.
Tony Parker (back) will miss his third game in a row on Monday, and with Dejounte Murray (groin) also out for that one, Patty Mills could be forced into heavy minutes making him an intriguing potential DFS option. Kawhi Leonard (concussion) is questionable, and if he’s out, Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons will split his minutes.
Nerlens Noel (knee) said he's making good progress in his recovery from a sore left knee, and Rick Carlisle is hopeful to have him back in action for Monday's matchup with Toronto.
Frank Kaminsky (shoulder) is questionable for Monday's game against the Bulls, while Johnny O'Bryant (ankle) and Miles Plumlee (calf) are out.
Taj Gibson (hip) did not practice on Sunday, but with the Thunder off until Tuesday, maybe he won't need to miss any time with this injury. Owners can expect to get another update following Tuesday morning's shootaround, and if he's out, both Stevan Adams and Enes Kanter will split his minutes.
Brook Lopez (ankle) returned from a one-game absence and put up 25 points *8-of-17 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), six boards, six triples, two assists, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 29 minutes. With Lopez back in action, Quincy Acy returned to the bench where he produced 12 points, six boards, one assist, four triples and three turnovers in 19 minutes. Acy is little more than a deep league 3-point specialist.
Goran Dragic did not play Sunday due to some massive swelling in his right eye, but with the Heat off until Wednesday vs. the Pelicans, there’s a pretty good chance this will only end up being a one-game absence. If Dragic is able to make it back to the court for Wednesday’s game, Josh Richardson would likely head back to the bench.
Alex Len (hip) missed his second game in a row on Sunday, and he should be considered questionable at best for Wednesday's game against the Kings. The Suns are going nowhere fast, and Len has failed time and again when Phoenix has tried to showcase his potential granting him developmental minutes, so there’s really no incentive for the Suns to rush his recovery here. Derrick Jones Jr. could be looking at another few starts sans Len, but Alan Williams is the primary beneficiary here.
Wilson Chandler (groin) and Jameer Nelson (hip) are questionable to play Monday vs. the Lakers. If they’re out, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez will benefit most.
Joe Harris (shoulder, concussion) did not play Sunday. He should be considered out indefinitely until we hear otherwise.
Robert Covington (sore right knee) did not play Sunday and he should be considered questionable for Tuesday's game against the Warriors. If he’s out, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will have another opportunity to start, and he’d be someone to consider throwing out there as a potential DFS punt play or streamer option.
Gerald Henderson (hip) returned to the starting lineup following a one-game absence and put up nine points, one 3-pointer, two boards, one assist, one block and one turnover in 25 minutes. He’s starting for the 76ers, but not worth owning in almost any league.
Rudy Gobert (right leg soreness) is questionable for Monday's matchup with the Clippers, while Shelvin Mack (ankle) is out. Derrick Favors (knee) is headed for an MRI, so he could also miss Monday’s game, and if both Favors and Gobert hit the sidelines, Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw would get all the burn they could handle, and we could see Joe Johnson utilized at the four in some small-ball lineups.
Kyle Korver (foot) could miss the next week of action, and while he was playing quite well prior to the injury, he was doing that with J.R. Smith on the sidelines. Now that Smith has returned to the court, it could be tough for Korver to be the same guy he was prior to going down, so he’s not a great guy to hang onto through the injury.
If anyone is curious, Malachi Richardson (hamstring) is about a week away from being cleared to collect DNPs in Sacramento.