The weekend of NBA action tipped off with LaMelo Ball and Lonzo Ball meeting for the first time in their professional careers and it was heartwarming to see. They matched up against each other multiple times throughout the game, but one brother outplayed the other and came out with a dub, too.
Bradley Beal scored a lot of points in a losing effort, which has now become an evergreen statement, giving him an unfathomable 101 total points in three days. But of course the Wizards dropped both of those games. When’s the trade deadline? (It’s March 25, I checked).
The Clippers are who we thought they were, as they failed to close out the Warriors after being outscored 52-20 in the game’s final 15 minutes, blowing a 22-point third quarter lead. Stephen Curry led the comeback effort with 38 points, 11 assists and nine 3-pointers. What a week it’s been for the GOAT shooter.
Here’s some the best and worst from Friday night in the association:
We see you
Blake Griffin and Delon Wright - Griffin’s best days are behind him, but he had a decent game on Friday night against the Suns, recording 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and a steal in the overtime win. It was his first double-double of the season, which isn’t bad considering he’s missed three of nine games, but he’s certainly not the Blake Griffin of old. The main thing we’d like from the former All-Star is 1) to stay healthy and 2) consistent numbers on offense. Not too much to ask for, right? Jerami Grant is clearly the Pistons’ best player, but Griffin can still get his as long as he’s on the court. Delon Wright, who started for the second consecutive game for Killian Hayes (hip) was productive, posting 16 points, five rebounds and six assists on 7-of-11 shooting in 34 minutes. He played more minutes than all the Pistons guards including Derrick Rose who went just 1-of-7 with four points and five assists in 19 minutes. If Hayes remains out, Wright would be worth a stream in deeper leagues if he can keep playing like he did Friday.
De’Anthony Melton - Melton had his best game of the young season, reminding Grizzlies fans why they fell in love with him in 2019-20. In 22 minutes off the bench, he shot 6-of-10 from the floor and hit two triples, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. He also had a nice dunk in transition that De’Andre Jordan was too slow to get to. The USC product is widely available in Yahoo leagues (only 8% rostered), and will likely remain in his reserve role to lead Memphis’ second unit and provide a spark off the bench. It’s officially Melton SZN.
Caris LeVert - The biggest winners on Friday night were Caris LeVert’s fantasy managers. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sidelined, LeVert snapped for 43 points in 36 minutes, hitting 15-23 field goal attempts, 7-of-9 3-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws. He chipped in five rebounds and six assists, too, with the only negative being his five turnovers and having lost the game. But there will be more opportunities for LeVert to have big games like he did Friday, as KD and Kyrie will sit out some games to rest throughout the season. The 26-year-old ranks inside the top-75 in 9-cat and is currently averaging 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes a night.
Chris Boucher - Boucher teased us on Friday night with 23 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks and two triples in 29 minutes. I say teased because the Raptors center has now had three 20-plus scoring nights in eight games, but he followed up the other two with a scoreless effort and a nine-point fluke. He’s just inconsistent right now, but that might be Nick Nurse’s fault more than his as he’s still flirting with the center rotation. The good news for Boucher and his fantasy managers who are hanging onto him by a thread is this...despite starting, Alex Len only played five minutes and didn’t score and Aron Baynes didn’t even touch the court. Boucher deserves a starting nod and could be on the brink of getting the job soon. He’s only rostered in 65% of Yahoo leagues at the moment.
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Hamidou Diallo - In a team-high 29 minutes off the pine, Diallo dropped a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, both season highs. He knocked down 8-of-13 shots and one 3-pointer, recording two assists and a steal as well. The game could just be a one off for Diallo or it could spark some confidence in the 22-year-old as he looks to make a name for himself on a Thunder team that needs consistent production aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley.
LaMelo Ball - The No. 3 overall pick faced off against his big brother Lonzo Ball for the first time in their respective careers, and it was LaMelo who “balled” out in the first showdown. In a winning effort, the younger Ball brother tallied 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, falling just short of a triple-double. He only made 4-of-11 shot attempts and one triple, but LaMelo’s playmaking ability and size, which can be tantalizing on defense, is more than enough to put him in the starting unit. Head coach James Borrego has to be nearing the decision as it seems like an obvious move at this point with DeVonte’ Graham having an up-and-down campaign thus far, though he played well Friday. LaMelo is still up for grabs in 13% of Yahoo leagues and should be rostered in all formats.
Maybe next time
Lonzo Ball - The Ball brothers (minus Liangelo) went at it on Friday night for the first time, but only one of them struggled, and it was Lonzo. He managed to score just five points in 37 minutes, shooting 2-of-8 with a single made 3-pointer. He tacked on a few assists, a steal and a block to round out his effort, but he’s been so average offensively through the Pelicans first nine games. He’s only making 41% of his field goals and 33% of his triples, scoring 13.4 points with 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per contest. Lonzo’s a good defender, but for fantasy purposes, we’d like to see him be more aggressive and consistent in putting the ‘ball’ in the basket. Little brother LaMelo Ball got the best of him with a near triple-double and a Hornets victory, too.
Kelly Oubre Jr. - Six points. No 3-pointers. Three turnovers. Another head scratching performance by the man Warriors team owner Joe Lacob is paying $80 million in luxury tax for. Oubre made just two shots in a season-low 21 minutes, as bench players Damion Lee, Kent Bazemore and Brad Wanamaker each had more productive outings off the pine in the Dubs come-from-behind win over the Clippers. As a starting shooting guard, 10.5 points on an abysmal 14% from beyond the arc isn’t cutting it for a player whose ADP was 66.4 and is 100% rostered in Yahoo leagues. ‘Tsunami Papi’ has been the opposite of wavy in 2020-21.
Russell Westbrook - I know he’s a triple-double machine, but Russ certainly wasn’t that on Friday night in the Wizards loss to the Celtics. He put up a measly 12 points, making just 4-of-16 field goal attempts in 33 minutes. He had eight assists and four rebounds but also coughed up the rock a game-high seven times. The former MVP was acquired in exchange for John Wall thinking he would be the Robin to Bradley Beal’s Batman (don’t tell Russ that), but the Wizards 2-7 record proves otherwise. Beal had 41 points, by the way, just two days after scoring 60. Get him some help, or, as I like to say, free Bradley Beal.