Thursday’s NBA schedule was headlined by a matchup of two of the top teams in the East, but a showdown between Brandon Ingram and Donovan Mitchell would steal the show. Ingram finished one point shy of a 50-point night, leading his team to the win in a game that also featured some interesting officiating late in the fourth quarter and overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a good night but could have been even better, while Kemba Walker went off for an efficient 40 points.
Pelicans 138, Jazz 132 (OT) — There won’t be many games as wild as this one, as both Ingram and Mitchell surpassed the 40-point mark in New Orleans. Ingram shot 15-of-25 from the field and 16-of-20 from the foul line, scoring a career-high 49 points while also tallying eight rebounds, six assists, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes. With Jrue Holiday (elbow) and J.J. Redick (left hamstring) both sidelined there were even more shots than usual available to Ingram, and it’s safe to say that he took advantage. At this point Ingram’s a wise choice in DFS whenever the Pelicans are in action, as he’s providing first-round value in nine-category formats and second-round value in eight-cat per Basketball Monster.
Josh Hart and Nicolo Melli joined Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Derrick Favors in the starting lineup, with Hart posting the more impactful stat line. He finished with nine points, seven rebounds, three steals, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes before fouling out, with Melli accounting for seven points, four rebounds and one three-pointer in 26 minutes. Hart offers better production across the board, and his positional versatility (can be used as either a guard or forward in Yahoo leagues) makes him the clear choice if debating between the two.
Favors had a very good night against his former team, as he accounted for 21 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks in 36 minutes. Over the last month he’s provided third-round value in nine-category formats, which is very good considering how much time he missed earlier in the season. Ball had a tough night shooting the ball, as he was just 2-of-12 from the field, but he made up for the five-point night by tallying 13 assists, four rebounds, two blocked shots and one three-pointer. And the Pelicans’ bench made up for quiet scoring nights from Ball, Melli and Hart.
E'Twaun Moore shot 7-of-11 from the field, finishing with 16 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers, with Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12/1/3/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and Frank Jackson (10/3/1/1) also scoring in double figures. Jaxson Hayes added nine points, four rebounds, two assists and one block, but he was limited to 13 minutes due to foul trouble. With Jahlil Okafor (lower back soreness) missing Thursday’s game Hayes can be of value, especially in the short-term, in deeper leagues.
Donovan Mitchell countered Ingram’s effort with 46 points (16-of-34 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers in 42 minutes. He’s been a top-40 player for the season in both eight- and nine-cat formats this season, and in recent games he’s received an ample amount of help from the supporting cast.
Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 26 points, three rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 40 minutes, while Rudy Gobert (17 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks), Jordan Clarkson (15 points, two rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers) and Joe Ingles (12 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and one three-pointer) also scoring in double figures. Over the last two weeks both Gobert and Ingles have been top-50 players in nine-cat formats, while Bogdanovic has moved into the top-100 after struggling earlier this season.
Even Royce O'Neale had a decent night fantasy-wise, as be posted a line of nine points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one three-pointer in 36 minutes. The lack of scoring makes O'Neale a tough sell in standard leagues, but he’s worth a look in deeper leagues where there’s a need for rebounds, assists or steals. Tony Bradley (two points, six rebounds, one steal and one block) and Emmanuel Mudiay (three points, one rebound, one assist and two steals) both had quiet nights, and despite their places in the Jazz rotation neither should be rostered at this point.
Bucks 128, Celtics 123 — Very rarely does a player score 32 points, and the feeling afterwards is that he essentially left money on the table. That was the case for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also tallied 17 points, seven assists and two blocked shots in 35 minutes. While his 11-of-22 night from the field was more than acceptable, the reigning MVP was just 10-of-20 from the foul line. For the season he’s shooting just 61.5 percent from the charity stripe, so while there tends to be an obsession with Antetokounmpo’s perimeter shooting that 15-foot uncontested shot is what’s kept him outside of the top-10 in both eight- and nine-category formats. That being said, he brings so much to the table that you’re willing to put up with the poor free throw shooting.
In total five Bucks finished the game in double figures. Khris Middleton tallied 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, with Donte DiVincenzo adding 19 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four 3-pointers in 28 minutes off the bench. Over the last two weeks DiVincenzo has been a top-50 player in nine-category formats. He’s rostered in just 15 percent of Yahoo leagues, and quite frankly that needs to change. Even with the veterans in Milwaukee’s rotation, we’re at a point in the season where Mike Budenholzer is working to find minutes for DiVincenzo. Pick him up now and take advantage of this run of solid play.
Brook Lopez posted a line of 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, four blocks and three 3-pointers, while George Hill accounted for 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers. Eric Bledsoe was quiet offensively, shooting 2-of-9 from the field and scoring nine points, to go along with two rebounds, four assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 20 minutes. Ersan Ilyasova tallied eight points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes, with the rebound total being the highest for him since December 30 (11 vs. Chicago).
Kemba Walker had it rolling during the second quarter for the Celtics, scoring 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He would finish with 40 points, a season-high 11 rebounds, three assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Limited earlier this month due to illness, Walker has been a top-30 player in both eight- and nine-category formats this season. Four of Boston’s five starters scored in double figures, and they were down one as Jaylen Brown was sidelined with a thumb injury.
Jayson Tatum (knee) was back in the lineup after missing one game, posting a line of 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one block and one three-pointer, but he shot 8-of-20 from the field. He’s been ranked within the top-50 all season. Marcus Smart shot 5-of-10 from three, finishing with 24 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot in 36 minutes, bouncing back from a brutal effort in Wednesday’s loss to the Pistons. Smart’s value comes in non-scoring categories, so any night when he gets well into double figures in points is a good one.
Daniel Theis played 23 minutes, accounting for 12 points, 10 rebounds, one steal, two blocks and one three-pointer, while Gordon Hayward struggled offensively (1-of-10 FGs) and finished with seven points, five rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer. While Hayward has been just outside of the top-50 in both eight- and nine-cat formats for the entire season, over the last two weeks he’s just inside of the top-100 in nine-cat and just outside of that threshold in eight-cat.
Enes Kanter was limited to 16 minutes off the bench, scoring nine points with one rebound and two blocks, but he was a frequent target of the Bucks in ball screen situations. He’s certainly had his moments defensively, but the overall lack of production can cut into his minutes (and thus lessen his fantasy impact) in certain matchups. He’s still worthy of being rostered in standard leagues, but only to provide depth at the center position.
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Suns 121, Knicks 98 — This night was one that the Knicks would prefer to forget, but it started out with some good news as both Marcus Morris (neck) and Frank Ntilikina (groin) were both cleared to play. Morris returned to his usual spot in the starting lineup, as Reggie Bullock (neck) was ruled out and would have been back with the second unit if he were able to play. Bullock isn’t much of an asset fantasy-wise, so he should have already been on the waiver wire. Morris played 33 minutes, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers. He’s had better lines this season, but given the Knicks’ lack of consistent scoring options Morris is a must-play.
And while he’s stated his desire to remain a Knick in the past, you have to wonder if an offer is made before the trade deadline. Morris can help a playoff team, and simply put the Knicks need assets in what will be a lengthy rebuild. Ntilikina finished with two points, six assists, one rebound, two steals and one blocked shot in 24 minutes off the bench, shooting 1-of-7 from the field. At best he can be streamed if there’s a need for defensive stats on any particular night, but better options can be found on the waiver wire in most leagues.
This one got away from the Knicks right around the time RJ Barrett rolled his right ankle on a drive to the basket during the third quarter. The rookie guard remained in a game for a brief period of time before being removed, and he would not return. Barrett finished with seven points, three rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer. Damyean Dotson and Kevin Knox are named to know should Barrett have to miss time beyond Thursday night, but in the case of both you’re basically scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Julius Randle (26 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers) and Mitchell Robinson (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks) posted solid fantasy lines, with the latter being called for just two fouls. Hopefully after the All-Star break Robinson can consistently hit 30 minutes (he played 30 on Thursday), because the young guys need to be playing as much as possible.
Phoenix was down one starter but welcomed back another. Ricky Rubio (personal) made his return after missing time to be present for the birth of his first child, but Kelly Oubre (concussion) was sidelined and could miss more games as he remains in the team’s protocol. Rubio played 35 minutes, finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds, 13 assists, four steals, one block and three 3-pointers. For the season he’s a top-50 player in eight-category formats and just outside of the top-50 in nine-cat, per Basketball Monster. Rubio’s addition to the Suns rotation has been big for all involved, including Deandre Ayton.
Ayton was back in the starting lineup Thursday and he put forth the best stat line of his career, tallying 26 points, 21 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 35 minutes. Although he was coming off the bench the last few games Ayton was still playing starter’s minutes, with Aron Baynes in the teens minutes-wise. Baynes played 15 minutes off the bench, finishing with five points, two rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer. Now would be a good time to cut bait in standard leagues, as Baynes isn’t as valuable fantasy-wise coming off the bench.
The aforementioned Oubre was replaced in the starting lineup by Mikal Bridges, who played 35 minutes and accounted for seven points, five rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer. Rookie Cameron Johnson is also worth a look with Oubre out, as he accounted for 10 points, four rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. Johnson’s the better of the two if there’s a need for 3-pointers, while Bridges would be the choice if looking to fill a void in non-scoring categories. Devin Booker led the Suns with 29 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers.
Nuggets 134, Warriors 131 (OT) — Denver was down three starters on the second game of a back-to-back, as Jamal Murray (sprained left ankle), Paul Millsap (left knee) and Gary Harris (right adductor) were all ruled out. As a result Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig and Monte Morris moved into the starting lineup, but none took advantage of the opportunity. Morris posted a line of 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer, shooting 3-of-9 from the field, outperforming Grant (6/4/2/2 on 3-of-9 shooting) and Craig (0/3/1/2 on 0-of-3 shooting). Denver’s reserved stepped up however, as Malik Beasley, Michael Porter Jr. and Mason Plumlee all posted solid stat lines.
Beasley played 39 minutes off the bench, scoring 27 points with four rebounds, one assist, three steals and five 3-pointers. After playing a total of 20 minutes (and scoring two points) in the two games prior, he was ready to take advantage of his opportunity. Porter played 29 minutes, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, extending his streak of games with at least 13 points to three.
With Murray expected to miss “multiple games,” and Harris possibly looking at a similar time frame, Porter is definitely worth a look in standard leagues. He’s currently owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues, and following the game Malone said that the rookie forward is “going to play every night.” Whether Porter can get into the twenties minutes-wise on a consistent basis remains to be seen, especially once the Nuggets are back to full strength. But I’d pick him up now if he’s available, even with that uncertainty.
Beasley, who’s rostered in two percent of Yahoo leagues, may be a tougher sell than Porter but it’ll be difficult for Malone to shut him out of the rotation given the injuries. Plumlee posted a double-double with 15 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocked shots in 27 minutes.
Will Barton led the way with 31 points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and seven 3-pointers, shooting 11-of-20 from the field, while Nikola Jokic rebounded from a slow start to tally 23 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. He also turned the ball over eight times, which put a dent into his fantasy line, but there shouldn’t be much concern about Jokic’s turnover count moving forward. In the four games prior he had a total of 10 turnovers.
Golden State welcomed back Damion Lee and Marquese Chriss, with the former signing a standard contract after his two-way deal expired and the latter agreeing to a two-way contract. Lee started and played 37 minutes, finishing with 21 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers. Alec Burks was back with the second unit but this didn’t have an adverse impact on his minutes or statistics, as he played 32 minutes and accounted for 25 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers.
Lee is currently rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues, and now that his contract situation has been straightened out he should be a target in most leagues. Burks also has value, as he’s been a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-category formats this season.
Going back to Chriss, he played 11 minutes off the bench and finished with four points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. With his return, Willie Cauley-Stein (10 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) starting and playing 33 minutes, and the Villanova tandem of Eric Paschall (16/5/2/1 with one three-pointer) and Omari Spellman (3/1/2 with one three-pointer) playing 20 and 17 minutes, respectively, there was going to be an odd man out. That was rookie Alen Smailagic, who after playing 12 minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Dallas was a DNP-CD.
Neither Smailagic nor Chriss should be rostered, with the reasoning for the latter being the fact that he’s on a two-way deal and will have that 45-day limit to contend with. Paschall, who’s rostered in just 27 percent of Yahoo leagues, is worth a look in deeper leagues as he can be used at either forward position.
D'Angelo Russell shot 6-of-18 from the field, finishing with 19 points, three rebounds, nine assists, three steals and six 3-pointers in 36 minutes, while Glenn Robinson III (17/6/3/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and Jordan Poole (10/2/2/2 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures. Poole isn’t worth picking up right now, but that could change after the All-Star as the Warriors will likely want to get a longer look at their young players in order to further evaluate them for the future.
Draymond Green, a likely candidate for “load management” nights down the line, filled the stat sheet with six points, eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two blocked shots in 36 minutes. He was evaluated on the bench for an apparent neck issue, but he would return to the game and did not appear to experience any further issues. He also picked up his 11th technical foul of the season, five away from a mandatory one-game suspension.
Clippers 122, Magic 95 — Speaking solely from a depth standpoint, Orlando’s point guard position at present time is a shambles. Markelle Fultz (11 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer on 5-of-17 FGs) has been playing well as the starter, but behind him the Magic have been hit hard by injuries. D.J. Augustin (left knee bone irritation) will be out for at least 3-4 weeks, and Michael Carter-Williams (AC joint sprain, left shoulder) has not appeared in a game since December 20. MCW did return to practice on January 12, so he may be getting closer to making a return to action. These absences meant more time on the ball for Wesley Iwundu, who for many of his 28 minutes in Thursday’s defeat served as the primary ball-handler for the second unit.
He accounted for eight points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers, shooting 3-of-8 form the field. Iwundu is worth a look in deeper leagues, but you’d be better off going with Terrence Ross if he’s available. Ross, who’s rostered in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues, tallied 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 29 minutes Thursday night. The non-scoring categories can be a roll of the dice when it comes to Ross, but the lack of point guards beyond Fultz may result in increased production. And worst case scenario you get some three-pointers out of the deal.
In addition to the injuries at the point, Evan Fournier (right quad contusion) hobbled through pregame warmups after sitting out Wednesday’s win over the Lakers. He was ultimately cleared and played 30 minutes, scoring 15 points with four rebounds and two assists. Fournier didn’t look to be himself health-wise, but he was just one minute shy of his season average. Nikola Vucevic (22 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers) and Aaron Gordon (20 points, five assists and four 3-pointers) shot a combined 16-of-24 from the field, but Gordon failed to grab a rebound for the first time this season. Don’t expect that to become the norm for him, since he’s averaging 7.5 boards per game on the season.
After tallying 10 points and four rebounds in his Magic debut Wednesday night, Gary Clark had a much tougher night at the office on Thursday. He failed to score, shooting 0-of-4 from the field, accounting for four rebounds in 17 minutes. He’s fine on the waiver wire and the same can be said for both Khem Birch and Mo Bamba, who combined to score one point with ten rebounds (seven by Bamba), three assists and one blocked shot.
Kawhi Leonard had an efficient night, scoring 32 points with five rebounds, five assists, one steal, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes. He’s now scored 30 points or more in four straight games, and for the month of January Leonard is shooting 50.0 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from three and 89.7 percent from the foul line. And over the last two weeks, he’s ranked second in both eight- and nine-category formats.
Paul George missing another game due to his hamstring injury meant another start for Landry Shamet, who played 32 minutes and scored 13 points with three rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers. Due to George being out Shamet is worth a look in deeper leagues, but the lack of consistent production is a concern. I’d leave him on the waiver wire, but it would be understandable if others were more willing to take a chance on Shamet in the short-term. Patrick Beverley (10 points, two rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one three-pointer) played 21 minutes, while Lou Williams (11/4/5 with one three-pointer) played 24 off the bench. The Clippers essentially having the result secured by the third quarter allowed for some of the veterans to be given extra rest in the final stanza.
The frontcourt rotation took a hit during the second quarter when Moe Harkless left due to lower back pain, and he was unable to return. JaMychal Green and Patrick Patterson absorbed those minutes, with the former accounting for 11 points, 13 rebounds, one steal, one block and one three-pointer in 23 minutes. Patterson added 10 points, four rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 13 minutes off the bench.
And the setup at the center position continues to work for the Clippers, with Ivica Zubac tallying eight points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block and Montrezl Harrell 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. Harrell’s the far better fantasy option of the two but Zubac still has value, especially in deeper leagues. He’s currently rostered in just 23 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Friday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Washington at Toronto, 7 PM
Minnesota at Indiana, 7 PM
Chicago at Philadelphia, 7 PM
Miami at Oklahoma City, 8 PM
Cleveland at Memphis, 8 PM
Atlanta at San Antonio, 8:30 PM
Portland at Dallas, 9:30 PM