There were nine games on Wednesday and plenty of fantasy goodness, but there was also some fantasy fallout, as Kawhi Leonard did the ‘load management dance,’ Trae Young laid an egg, Giannis went nuts and Ben Simmons suffered a shoulder injury that has me a little concerned. Follow me on Twitter, where I was dropping ‘hot takes’ on Wednesday night.
Jazz 106, Sixers 104 – Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic all went off and Mike Conley was serviceable with 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals a block and a 3-pointer on 6-of-15 shooting. Am I worried about Conley? Yes. Do I think he’s a buy-low candidate? Yes. Would I trade him if I got a solid offer? Yes. Clearly, he’s not yet comfortable in Utah and I’m starting to wonder if he’ll ever feel comfortable this season. It’s still 70-30 in favor of him figuring it out, but I’ve got enough doubt that if someone offered me a Ja Morant or Chris Paul for him, I’d do it. And there was a Joe Ingles sighting last night, as he hit 6-of-11 shots and two 3-pointers for 16 points, but an otherwise empty stat line. He’s been pretty disappointing, but I’m going to give both him and Conley two more weeks to figure it out. And then I’m going to start being mean to them.
I think the most underrated news of the night was Ben Simmons leaving the game after just 10 minutes, finishing with two points and two assists after suffering a “minor” sprained right shoulder. I’m not convinced it’s really minor, as he’s supposed to have it re-evaluated in Denver on Thursday. Simmons, who still can’t shoot free throws, has been a steals machine, but he has also been a bit frustrating to own at times this season. I turned down an offer to get Simmons for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and am not sad about doing so. The good news is that Simmons shoots with his left hand, although there are plenty of arguments on the internet that he should be shooting with his right hand. Whatever the case, I just hope his shoulder is OK, as I can’t afford another injury (I own him in a couple leagues). Joel Embiid was back so Al Horford (3-of-14, 7 points) and Tobias Harris returned to earth. If you were able to move Horford after his big game without Embiid (suspended), you deserve some sort of fantasy trophy. Josh Richardson shot his way out of a slump last night with a monster line, while Raul Neto (11 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 3-pointer) would be the winner if Simmons is going to miss time. We’ll know more on Thursday.
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Bucks 129, Clippers 124 - Giannis Antetokounmpo went nuts with a 38-16-9-2-2-4 line and became the first player to ever rack up 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in his first eight games of a season. If he keeps hitting 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, he’s going to rise to another level, and I think it’s coming. Brook Lopez (double-double & 6 blocks) and Eric Bledsoe were very nice, and George Hill had a season-high 24 points with six triples on 9-of-14 shooting in the win. He also got popped in the eye late and it immediately swelled, so we’ll have to see if Hill’s OK. He’s been worth owning in 12-team leagues thus far.
ESPN, who had this game, is freaking out about load management right now, but it’s not a new thing. Kawhi Leonard sat out but will play tonight against the Blazers. Get used to it, Kawhi owners. Montrezl Harrell had a career-high 34 points, 13 boards, five dimes, a steal and a block, Patrick Beverley had a fun 20 & 10 double-double with a full stat line, Lou Williams had a 34 & 11-rebound double-double and Landry Shamet came through with 14 points and four 3-pointers in the starting lineup. This might be your sign to sell high on Lou, as Paul George (shoulders) will be back in the very near future. Beverley hit three 3-pointers for his best game of the season, but I still don’t trust him in fantasy.
Bulls 113, Hawks 93 – Lauri Markkanen hit 6-of-11 shots and four 3-pointers for 17 points, five boards, four assists and three blocks, hopefully talking his owners off the ledge in the process. Otto Porter Jr. played just 12 minutes with a very solid stat line, but I’m worried about his health and mindset. He was already dealing with hip and ankle issues and left with a left foot contusion. If you can get something good for him right now, I’d do it. Wendell Carter Jr. fouled out in just 13 minutes, which was a bummer. Consider this a buy-low moment if you need a center, as he’d been playing at a pretty high level before this one. Tomas Satoransky was the DFS star of the night with 27 points, seven boards, eight dimes, a steal and four 3-pointers on 10-of-13 shooting, but he’s barely been serviceable up to this point. If he’s sitting on your waiver wire though, he’s probably worth a flier. The Bulls play three games next week and then four games in the following week.
For the Hawks, Jabari Parker came through with 18 points, five boards, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and should be very good until John Collins returns from his PED suspension in 23 games. De’Andre Hunter and the rest of the Hawks’ starters struggled, including Trae Young. Young hit just 3-of-12 shots and missed all eight of his 3-pointers for nine points and three assists in a blowout loss. At least his ankle’s OK but this line may have ruined his fantasy owner’s week. They play four games next week, so I'm going to stick with Hunter.
Mavericks 107, Magic 106 – Luka Doncic was awful in the first half but still finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a 3-pointer, but also had six turnovers. He did hit 10-of-21 shots and 6-of-7 free throws, so outside of the turnovers, owners have nothing to complain about from Luka this season. Delon Wright played just 13 minutes and did nothing, and it’s starting to look like he’s going to struggle to perform with Doncic balling out every night. He’s still a hold, but if you want to drop him for a hot free agent, I’m not going to stop you. And I don’t really regret dropping him in a little too early in one of my leagues. Kristaps Porzingis is going to face the Knicks on Friday and I imagine he’s going to go nuts, or at least be much better than he was last night, when he had 10 points, eight rebounds and a 3-pointer on 4-of-14 shooting. I’m still not sure how the Mavs won this game, but I guess I’ll give all the credit to my adopted son, Luka.
The Magic scored 100 points in a game for the first time this season and Aaron Gordon came through with 23 points, four boards, two steals and a 3-pointer on 10-of-17 shooting. He’s finally getting it going. Jonathan Isaac’s line was sick – 13 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 4 steals, 6 blocks and a 3-pointer on 5-of-8 shooting. The breakout is happening before our eyes. Nikola Vucevic had a monster double-double with lots of goodies and Markelle Fultz had 11 points, two assists and three steals. I still think he’s going to have a breakout game in the next week. Evan Fournier was quiet again and this is a nice time to look into buying low after his last two bad games.
Pistons 122, Knicks 102 – Starters Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown all played well in the Pistons win. Snell was perfect on the night, hitting 9-of-9 shots and 6-of-6 3-pointers for his game of the year. Feel free to take a flier on him, but he won’t be this good again … ever. Brown’s a hot pickup, as he could be the starting point guard for this team the rest of the way. He had nine points, three boards, six assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 3-of-9 shooting in 34 minutes. Blake Griffin (knee) will be back soon, which should hurt both Morris and Snell.
For the Knicks, starters Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and RJ Barrett were all solid, while Mitchell Robinson played just eight minutes and Frank Ntilikina had 11 points, four assists, a steal, three blocks and a 3-pointer on 5-of-7 shooting in 39 minutes. It will be interesting to see what happens to Frankie once Elfrid Payton (hamstring) is back, but for now, Ntilikina is worth using in all formats. Robinson suffered a head injury and is probably in the concussion protocol. His season is off to a really rough start, but I’m hesitant to drop him, as he might be going off a month from now. But it’s been a really rough ride thus far. Do what you have to do. If Robinson is going to miss time, Bobby Portis will be the pickup and DFS play until he’s back.
Pacers 121, Wizards 106 – Domantas Sabonis went nuts, T.J. Warren was solid and Malcolm Brogdon stayed hot with a double-double in the win. JaKarr Sampson started and had 14 points and a fun stat line, but Myles Turner is close to returning, while Aaron Holiday also got a rare start and scored 18 points with three 3-pointers. Holiday started for Jeremy Lamb (ankle) and played well, but Lamb is just day-to-day and Turner’s due back soon. And that means both Holiday and Sampson should probably be left on waivers for now. Doug McDermott and Goga Bitadze were both solid off the bench, but you’d have to be in a pretty deep league to mess with either of them right now.
For the Wizards, Isaiah Thomas was quiet again, hitting just 3-of-10 shots for 10 points and four assists, but he’s still a guy you should be trying to add, now that he’s the starting point guard. Rui Hachimura missed all five of his shots and didn’t score, which was disappointing, but he’ll bounce back. Thomas Bryant double-doubled and Bradley Beal scored 30. Davis Bertans remained relevant with 11 points, three 3-pointers and a decent line off the bench, while C.J. Miles had 15 points and three 3-pointers. Miles might be worth a look in a deep league, but I’m not taking the bait just yet. Troy Brown Jr. was one of the disappointments of the night, playing just 17 minutes and hitting 3-of-9 shots. I picked him up in a few spots and used him in DFS, which proved to be a disaster (thanks, Matt Stroup). But Brown is nothing but upside, so I’ll probably hang with him for another game or two.
Raptors 124, Kings 120 – All five Raptors starters (Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet) played well and Serge Ibaka added 21 points, six boards, two steals and a 3-pointer off the bench. There was nothing to learn here and all of them should be owned, although I’m not sad I don’t own Gasol anywhere.
For the Kings, Harrison Barnes (season-high 26) is hot, which is cool since I own him so much, and De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield went off. Richaun Holmes added eight points, eight boards, a steal and two blocks in a somewhat quiet night, and my man, Nemanja Bjelica, played just 16 minutes for five points and not much else. The Kings are in the middle of a two-game week, but then play three or four games in each of the next 13 weeks. I’m probably going to stick with Bjelica until Marvin Bagley (thumb) comes back. Bogdan Bogdanovic hit six 3-pointers and had a season-high 22 points with three assists and two steals, so congratulations if you played him in DFS. He’s been struggling and is not happy, but killed it last night after scoring just six points in 19 minutes on Sunday. Maybe this will get him going.
Rockets 129, Warriors 112 – P.J. Tucker bounced back with 22 points, 11 boards, four assists, a steal and four 3-pointers after doing next to nothing in his previous two games. I’m so confused by him, but he’s worth owning for the most part. Danuel House stayed very relevant with 17 points, six boards and five triples, and I think he should be owned in almost every league. Clint Capela finally gave his owners some relief with his monster 19 & 16 double-double with a steal and six blocks, Russell Westbrook returned for an 18-8-6-2 line and James Harden went off with a 36-4-13-3-3-6 line. Eric Gordon (hamstring) was out and Austin Rivers answered the call with 12 points, while my guy Ben McLemore hit just 1-of-6 shots for three points in his 20 minutes. Never again.
For the shorthanded Warriors, Eric Paschall came through with 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two more 3-pointers, and Glenn Robinson hit three 3-pointers for 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Ky Bowman and Jordan Poole combined to hit just 5-of-20 shots for a couple of dud lines. Alec Burks, who is on my 30-deep bench, went nuts with 28 points, eight boards, three assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes, and Damion Lee added 13 points, six boards, three assists and a 3-pointer on 3-of-14 shooting off the bench. My latest pickup pecking order for the G-League Warriors is: Robinson, Paschall, Burks, Bowman, Poole, Lee, Omari Spellman, Willie Cauley-Stein. Spellman hit all six of his shots for 13 points, seven boards and two steals off the bench. The problem here is that D’Angelo Russell is due back very soon, which is going to hurt Bowman, Poole and Lee. Burks might be the guy here, but I still don’t really trust him. WCS hit just 1-of-6 shots in 20 minutes but is still a guy to keep a close eye on going forward.
Grizzlies 137, Timberwolves 121 – My man, Dillon Brooks, came through with 31 points and five triples, and I used him heavily in this four-game week. So far, so good. Jaren Jackson Jr., on the other hand, played through his knee injury but was awful, failing to score in 15 minutes. I own him in a lot of spots and he is to Jonas Nader what Luka Doncic is to me. Unfortunately, JJJ is off to a really rough start. I don’t know that I can drop him, but he’s really stressing me out, just like Mitchell Robinson. And the fact that Brandon Clarke hit 7-of-7 shots for 18 points and eight boards doesn’t help JJJ’s case. I guess I’m just going to bury my head in the sand and try to wait for JJJ to get it going, but it’s not easy. Jonas Valanciunas double-doubled, Ja Morant had an impressive 26-4-4 line, and Jae Crowder crawled out of the grave for a huge line of 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Crowder is worth a look with four games next week, but don’t expect this on a nightly basis. The Grizzlies play four games again next week, so Brooks, Crowder and Clarke make a lot of sense. And it also makes JJJ worth hanging onto, although his upside does that as well, regardless of his schedule.
For the Wolves, Robert Covington continues to frustrate his owners, but had 13 points, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers. He’s got to get better, right? Karl-Anthony Towns had a 25 & 13 double-double with two blocks and three 3-pointers, Andrew Wiggins went off for a season-high 30 points and a fun line, and rookie Jarrett Culver started for Jeff Teague (illness) and had a 15-5-7 line with two 3-pointers. The Wolves play four games next week, so just hang in there with RoCo, fire up Teague, KAT and Wiggins, and give Culver a look. Josh Okogie had seven points in 20 minutes and a start, but I think you can find a better option on your wire.