The New Deer to Fear
Eric Bledsoe was solid in his Bucks’ debut on Friday, scoring 13 points on 6-of-15 to go with four rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one triple and three turnovers through 29 minutes as a starter. He did a nice job pushing the pace and setting up his teammates, showed some excellent hustle and looked explosive with his first step. Bledsoe replaced Malcolm Brogdon in the starting five, but the two point guards spent a lot of time alongside one another and the two of them were on the floor to close out the game, with Brogdon finishing with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with seven boards, one 3-pointer, two steals, one assist and two turnovers in 34 minutes of action. Brogdon is definitely going to take a hit with Bledsoe in town, but I imagine it won’t be long until he finds himself back in the starting five with Tony Snell heading to the bench. After all, the closing lineup of Bledsoe-Brogdon-Middleton-Antetokounmpo-Henson posted an incredible defensive rating of 58.3 and the net rating of 19.8 compared to the Bledsoe-Snell-Middleton-Antetokounmpo-Henson lineup that finished with a 111.2 defensive rating and 3.7 net rating.
Unfortunately, with another ball handler on the floor, Khris Middleton spent a lot less time handling the rock and ended his evening with 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting (1-of-3 from the stripe), eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and five turnovers in 38 minutes. His usage rate was down to 23.3 (down from 25.8) and his assist percentage fell to 4.0 (down from 20.5). He’ll be going from clear-cut No. 2 option in Milwaukee’s offense and one of the primary shot creators to sharing those responsibilities with Bledsoe, so he might not be much more than a top-50 option moving forward.
As for Giannis Antetokounmpo, he posted a 28-point, 12-rebound double-double on his way to five assists, one steal, four blocks, and one turnover in 36 minutes of action, so Bledsoe obviously isn’t going to have any major impact on his monster status in fantasy hoops.
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Rodney Hood Demoted
Donovan Mitchell replaced Rodney Hood in the starting five on Friday, going 5-of-14 from the field and 0-of-1 from the stripe on his way to 12 points, two 3-pointers, two boards, one assist, two steals and one turnover in 36 minutes. Mitchell is just too good to keep off the court, and Hood might be better served in a sixth man role, so Mitchell could certainly stick as a starter and while the shooting percentages could be up-and-down he’s worth a roster spot pretty much everywhere.
Hood’s shooting woes continued, going 5-of-19 from the field but he also finished 8-of-8 from the charity stripe to give him 19 points, four boards, one 3-pointer, one assist, one steal, one blocks and two turnovers in 35 minutes off the bench. It doesn’t look as though Hood’s minutes will be affected by the demotion to the second unit, but with him connecting on just 37.3 percent of his attempts on the year while offering little peripheral statistics (1.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks) and committing too many turnovers (1.9), he hasn’t really been worth owning in 9-cat leagues to this point. I think Mitchell has a lot more upside due to his ability to bring the defensive stats, so if switching out Mitchell for Hood is an option for you, that is something I would strongly consider.
Andre Drummond dominated the Hawks during Friday’s 111-104 win, recording his fifth straight double-double (and ninth of the season) with 16 points, 20 boards, two blocks, six turnovers and a career-high seven turnovers through 37 minutes of floor time. He went 6-of-15 from the field and managed to connect on 4-of-6 of his freebies, and it looks like the improved free throw shooting is for real this season. Sure, he’s still just connecting on 63.8 percent of his free throws, but that’s a huge improvement from last year’s 38.6 percent mark, and despite that free throw percentage he’s still cranking out top-25 value on the year with averages of 14.2 points, 15.7 boards, 3.2 dimes, 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks and 2.8 turnovers per contest on 54.4 percent shooting. If you throw away the free throw category, he shoots up to top-11 status in 9-cat leagues.
PG-13 Propels OKC to Victory
Paul George was magnificent in Friday’s 120-111 win over the Clippers, rocking a 34.4 usage rate on his way to 42 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, four trey-bombs, three steals and three turnovers in 42 minutes of floor time. He went 13-of-22 from the field and 12-fo-15 from the charity stripe for a sterling true shooting percentage of 73.4 on the evening, and thus far, he has not had any of the same issues that Victor Oladipo had adjusting to playing alongside Russell Westbrook. In fact, through the first 12 games of the season, PG-13 has established himself as a top-13 option in 9-cat leagues behind averages of 21.3 points, 5.8 boards, 2.4 dimes, 2.5 turnovers and an elite 2.6 steals and 3.0 triples per contest on 44.1 percent shooting and 81.0 percent from the stripe. He’s going to be very good this season.
Team Win in Boston
Despite not having Al Horford (concussion) and losing Kyrie Irving within the first two minutes of the game with concussion-like symptoms, the Celtics still cobbled together a win over the Hornets on Friday night with a true team effort. Terry Rozier came through with 15 points (3-of-12 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), seven boards, four assists, two steals, two triples and two turnovers in 29 minutes; Marcus Morris registered 14 points (5-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), seven boards and two triples; Jayson Tatum finished with 16 points (6-of-12 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), two boards, one assist, one 3-pointer and two turnovers; Jaylen Brown posted a 10-point, 13-board double-double to go with one 3-pointer, one steal, one block and two turnovers; and Shane Larkin scored a surprising 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go with two triples, one rebound and one turnover in 17 minutes off the bench. Irving may have broken his nose in addition to possibly suffering a concussion, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him miss Sunday’s game against the Raptors, which would open up a lot of minutes and opportunity for Rozier, Marcus Smart, Tatum and Brown.
On the Radar
Bobby Portis did it again on Friday, posting a 20-point, 11-board double-double in just 25 minutes off the bench to go with one 3-pointer, one assist, one steal and one turnover. Things could get complicated once Nikola Mirotic (face) is cleared to return to the court, but rumor has it that the Bulls are siding with Crazy Eyes in this whole ordeal, so perhaps Mirotic is traded away in order to #FreeBobby. He’s loaded with upside and needs to be picked up in all settings.
Kris Dunn played very well in 34 minutes off the bench, scoring 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with four rebounds, five assists, three steals and four turnovers. The turnovers will be an issue for the young point guard, and he won’t be this efficient on most nights, but this stat line puts him on the radar as a speculative pick up in deeper leagues.
John Henson logged 32 minutes in another start on Friday, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and zero turnovers in the 94-87 win over San Antonio. Greg Monroe’s departure has opened up a ton of opportunity for Henson, and while there’s always the possibility that Jason Kidd will start messing with his minutes and make him annoying to own, he has to be considered must-own right now while he’s starting due to his tremendous upside in blocks.
Bojan Bogdanovic hit a season-high six triples to go with a season-high 22 points on his way to seven rebounds, one assist and two turnovers in 34 minutes. Glenn Robinson III (ankle surgery) won’t be getting back to the court until around the All-Star break, so Bogdanovic’s minutes are safe and he’s worth owning as a top-100 asset with averages of 13.9 points and 1.9 triples per contest on 52.0 percent shooting. Just don’t expect much outside of points and triples.
Alex Len double-doubled through 40 minutes as a starter sans Tyson Chandler (back) on Friday, registering 21 points (5-of-10 FGs, 11-of-12 FTs), 13 rebounds, one assist, two blocks and three turnovers. Len tends to be consistently inconsistent, and I don’t think he’ll be very good once Chandler gets back to the court (which should be relatively soon), but he’s playing well enough to warrant a speculative pick up in deep leagues.
Tyler Johnson (illness) returned from a one-game stint on the sidelines, posting 11 points (4-of-10 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, two 3-pointers, one assist, two blocks and zero turnovers in 33 minutes off the bench. The scoring comes and goes with Johnson, and his field goal percentage can be rough (35.8 percent from the field) but his ability to bring a little bit of everything to the stat sheet (particularly blocks from the two-spot) make him worth owning in 12-team leagues.
Dewayne Dedmon scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, one 3-pointer and three turnovers in 22 minutes. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he’s been posting eighth-round value on the year in 9-cat leagues with averages of 9.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.5 triples per contest on 55.6 percent shooting from the field and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe, so he’s worth owning in most leagues.
Josh Jackson scored a career-high 18 points on 9-of-18 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench Friday, adding six rebounds, two steals, one block, one assist and three turnovers. I love Jackson’s ability to rack up the defensive stats, and considering that Phoenix took him with the fourth overall selection in this year’s draft, he should be logging significant minutes to close out the year, so he’s one of the more attractive stashes out there.
Mike D’Antoni said he expects to have Chris Paul (knee) back on the court “in a week or so.” His return to action will push Eric Gordon back to the second unit, and James Harden will spend a bit more time working off the ball. Looking at the Rockets’ schedule, I’d say Houston’s home game against Denver on November 22 looks like a realistic potential return date.
Steven Adams (calf) did not play on Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Mavs. Dakari Johnson got the start in his place and finished with nine points (3-of-5 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), one rebound, one steal, one block, tow assist and one turnover in 23 minutes. If Adams is forced to sit out Sunday’s game, Johnson will likely be earning another start, but he wouldn’t be worth much more than a dart throw in daily leagues.
Kristaps Porzingis (ankle, elbow) got in a full practice on Friday and is expected to play Saturday vs. the Kings. His return to action will send Michael Beasley back to the bench, and Doug McDermott will likely see his minutes reduced to the lower-20s. Additionally, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s usage will take a minor hit.
Rudy Gobert suffered a right knee contusion during Friday's loss to the Heat, but played through it and finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and one turnover in 35 minutes. While he was able to play through the injury, this is the sort of thing that can swell up overnight, and with a game against the 5-7 Nets on Saturday I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he spent at least one game on the sidelines. The Nets play small with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the four, so if Gobert is forced to miss time, I could see Quin Snyder shifting Derrick Favors over to the five, and using either Joe Ingles or Jonas Jerebko at the four-spot, with Rodney Hood coming back into the starting lineup at the three. He could also go with a more traditional approach and give Ekpe Udoh a start, but Favors would likely be the primary beneficiary of a Gobert absence.
Wayne Selden (quad) practiced in full on Thursday and will head down to the G-League on a rehab assignment. He’s very close, but with Ben McLemore (foot) cleared and Tyreke Evans playing extremely well, it’s tough to see there being a meaningful role for Selden once he’s finally cleared to play.
Mirza Teletovic (knee) did not play Friday and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Lakers.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal) logged 27 minutes as a starter in his return from a three-game absence, finishing with eight points, five boards, one block and one turnover. With MKG back on the floor, Dwayne Bacon shifted back to the second unit and ended his evening with just 10 points, four boards and a turnover in 20 minutes off the bench. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t the kind of player whose numbers often jump off the box score, but he should be worth owning. Unfortunately, Charlotte is off until Wednesday, so he won’t be helping you this week if you grab him.
Treveon Graham (thigh contusion) did not play Friday, but given that this is essentially just a bruise, there’s a chance he’ll be able to get back out there for Wednesday’s game against the Cavs.
Stanley Johnson (hip) and John Leuer (ankle) did not play Friday and they should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Heat.
Patrick Beverley (sore knee) did not play Friday and will miss Saturday’s game against the Pelicans as well. Sindarius Thornwell drew the start in his absence and produced 10 points (4-of-5 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), one rebound, one steal, one 3-pointer, two blocks and three turnovers in 23 minutes. However, the true beneficiary of Beverley’s absence was Lou Williams, who came off the bench for 35 points (13-of-22 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), seven boards, six trey-bombs, three dimes and three turnovers in 39 minutes. With both Beverley and Danilo Gallinari (hip) on the sidelines, Sweet Lou will be looking at heavy minutes and a decent uptick in usage moving forward.
Tyson Chandler (back) missed his second game in a row on Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves.
Jared Dudley exited Friday’s game during the fourth quarter with a right knee injury and did not return, putting him in jeopardy of missing Saturday’s game against Minnesota. If he’s out, that’ll be a boon to Marquese Chriss, as long as he can stay out of foul trouble.
Kevin Durant (thigh) practices in full on Friday and said he expects to play Saturday vs. Philly.
Domantas Sabonis (calf) returned from a two-game absence, logging 26 minutes off the bench and finishing with eight points, nine boards, one assist and three turnovers. His value is headed in the wrong direction with Myles Turner now fully up to speed, so I wouldn’t really be clinging to him in most leagues.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (hip) returned from a one-game absence, recording 11 points (5-of-14 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and zero turnovers in 39 minutes. He’s been incredible this season with top-65 value, and the heavy minute total suggests he’ll be just fine for Saturday’s game in Utah.