Back-to-back 50-spots, back-to-back losses
The Rockets could not cobble together a win despite getting yet another 50-plus-point performance from James Harden, who finished with 51 points, eight assists, six triples, four rebounds, three steals and eight turnovers in 41 minutes. He got his points with remarkable efficiency, going 15-of-28 from the field and 15-of-16 from the charity stripe for an incredible 72.8 true shooting percentage to accompany his ridiculous 46.0 usage rate, and this was the first back-to-back 50-point performance from an NBA player since Kobe Bryant did it four times in a row during the 2006-07 season (Kobe got the wins, though). Harden did look a bit gassed down the stretch, which makes sense considering he’s been averaging 40.5 minutes per game over the past four, and the fatigue can probably explain some of the silly turnovers he committed during crunch time. All that said, the win-loss record means nothing in fantasy hoops, and while Harden wasn’t able to deliver the win for Houston, he has put his owners in a strong position to churn out some more W’s this week.
On the other end of the floor, Austin Rivers popped off for a career-high 36 points on 11-of-25 shooting (8-of-11 from the line) to go with six trey-bombs, seven dimes, two rebounds, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 39 minutes. He’s been doing work for the banged-up Clippers, posting mid-round value (punting free throws) over the past month with averages of 19.6 points, 4.3 dimes, 0.7 steals, 0.6 swats and an elite 3.3 triples per contest on 44.3% shooting from the field and 63.9% from the line, making him must-own in all leagues.
Lou Williams also had a stellar outing, scoring 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting (5-of-6 from the line) to go with seven 3-pointers, seven assists, two rebounds, three steals and one turnover in 39 minutes. He’s been flirting with top-50 value all year long, but I’d view him as a sell-high guy as his numbers will take a hit once Blake Griffin (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (glute) get back to the court; he could also get traded.
Editor’s Note: This Christmas, FanDuel is introducing their NBA Starting 5 format, a condensed version of their traditional NBA product where you select a smaller team of you guessed it, 5 players. Try it out FREE to win NBA game tickets, autographed prizes, and more!
John Wall played just 16 minutes on Friday, registering 10 points (4-of-11 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), two rebounds, four assists, one 3-pointer and nothing else in a 119-84 blowout loss to the Nets. Wall just hasn’t really had a “wow-game” this season, and while he’s been sending away a career-high 1.2 shots per contest, his scoring (19.3), assists (8.6), steals (1.2) and shooting percentages (41.7 FG%, 70.5 FT%) has been less than what we'd typically expect from the All-Star. However, I think it’s only a matter of time until Wall returns to Optimus Dime-mode. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the numbers.
First off, there’s just no way his free throw percentage doesn’t come up drastically as we get deeper into the season. His current 70.5% clip is a career-low by a huge margin (last year he shot 80.1% from the stripe), and as a career 78.8% free throw shooter, this simply has to see a regression to the mean at some point. Same goes for the steals numbers, Wall is typically elite in this category and hasn’t averaged less than 1.5 steals per game since 2012.
His jumper has also been slightly off this year as he’s connecting on just 33% of his jump shots (down from 35.5% last season), and he’s also connecting on just 29% of his mid-range looks (down from 38.7% last season). Lastly, 43.8% of his attempts can be described as open looks, which is up from last season (35.2%), but he’s only connecting on 37.7% of those shots (down from 44.7% last year). I just don’t see how these numbers don’t correct themselves at some point, so I see Wall (currently just top-80) as a premiere buy-low target considering he’s been a top-20 finisher for the past two seasons.
The Duranchula vs. The Kuz
Kevin Durant helped the Dubs to their 11th straight win on Friday, scoring 33 points on 9-of-20 shooting (12-of-13 from the line) to go with seven rebounds, seven assists, three 3-pointers, two steals, four blocks and just one turnover in 38 minutes. Since Stephen Curry (ankle) hit the sidelines, KD has seen his usage rate rise to 36.3 and he’s responded with averages of 32.3 points, 9.6 boards, 6.6 dimes, 0.6 steals, 3.0 triples, 3.0 swats and 3.0 turnovers per contest on 47.6% shooting from the field and 92.5% from the charity stripe, which has him holding down the top spot in fantasy hoops. Expect the gaudy stat lines to continue.
On the other end of the floor, Kyle Kuzma put himself in some elite company, joining the great Jerry West and Elgin Baylor as the only other Laker rookies to score 25+ points in three straight games, recording 27 points, 14 rebounds, three 3-pointers, two steals, one block and three turnovers through 43 minutes of floor time. He’s been on quite the tear during this three-game stretch, posting averages of 30.0 points, 9.0 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.0 block, 1.7 turnovers and an unsustainable 4.7 trey-bombs per contest while rocking a ridiculous 79.8 true shooting percentage and seeing 40.9 minutes a night. It looks like he’s going to pick up a majority of Brook Lopez’ (ankle) minutes and usage while BroLo is out, and while the FG%, 3-point shooting and scoring won’t be quite this ridiculous, he’s obviously going to have plenty of opportunity with the hefty workload to produce elite value in fantasy hoops. Reminder, he was the No. 27 overall selection in this year’s draft. Wow.
On the Radar
Reggie Bullock scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting during Friday’s win over the Knicks, adding six rebounds, two 3-pointers, one steal, one block and one turnover through 30 minutes of floor time. Excluding Wednesday’s four-point dud, Bullock has been playing quite well since being inserted into the starting five with averages of 11.5 points, 1.8 triples, 1.5 steals and just 0.3 turnovers per contest on 62.2% shooting. The sky-high FG% obviously isn’t sustainable, but he’s worth a look in deep leagues while he’s playing this well.
Mario Hezonja came through with 11 points (4-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, one 3-pointer, two steals and one assist in 20 minutes off the bench on Friday. He’s been making the most of some increased opportunity over the past few weeks with Orlando desperate for healthy bodies, posting averages of 13.2 points, 4.8 boards, 2.2 triples, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.2 turnovers per game on 46.7% shooting, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.
Tyler Johnson scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting (1-of-2 from the stripe) to go with seven rebounds, four assists, two 3-pointers and three turnovers in 39 minutes. Goran Dragic (elbow) isn’t expected to play on Saturday and Dion Waiters (ankle) is unlikely, so Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson figure to be forced into heavy minutes on Saturday night as the last men standing in Miami’s banged up backcourt.
Wayne Ellington started the second half on Friday after Waiters went down, finishing with 28 points, eight 3-pointers and three boards in 39 minutes. Both Johnson and Ellington will be guys to think about as potential deep league streamers on Saturday night, with Johnson offering across the board production and Ellington serving as a solid 3-point specialist.
Kelly Oubre scored a team-high 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) during Friday’s blowout loss to the Nets, adding two rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench. He’s been a steady late-round asset on the year with averages of 11.3 points, 5.2 boards, 1.4 triples, 0.9 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.1 turnovers per game on 40.7% shooting, so he’s worth owning in most leagues.
Caris LeVert led the Nets’ second unit with 17 points (7-of-9 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), six rebounds, three assists, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in 24 minutes. He’s been flirting with top 80 value over the past month with averages of 13.0 points, 4.6 dimes, 1.4 steals, 1.4 triples and 2.4 turnovers per contest on 47.4% shooting, so I’d consider him “must-own” right now.
Yogi Ferrell scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting Friday, adding five triples, two assists, two boards, two steals and one turnover in 33 minutes off the bench. He’s been feeling it over the past seven with averages of 14.7 points, 3.6 dimes, 5.3 boards, 2.3 triples, 1.0 steal and 1.4 turnovers per game on 48.8% shooting, which has been good enough for top-50 value in 9-cat leagues. He’s worth a look if you’ve got someone to cut.
Frank Kaminsky started the second half on Friday with Dwight Howard going down with a dislocated finger and finished with 16 points (6-of-12 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), five rebounds, three assists, two 3-pointers and one turnover in 30 minutes. If D12 can’t give it a go on Saturday, Kaminsky will be someone to think about streaming.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-of-4 from the line) to go with four triples, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 31 minutes during Friday’s narrow loss to the Thunder. He’s been a steady source of points, triples and steals over the past month with averages of 12.7 points, 1.8 treys and 1.2 steals per contest on 48.1% shooting, and while I don’t expect him to keep this up for the entire season, he’s worth owning in most leagues while he’s this hot.
Marco Belinelli started sans Dennis Schroder (ankle) on Friday, registering a season-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with five triples, five dimes, one rebound, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 33 minutes. If Schroder is forced to miss his second game in a row on Saturday, Belinelli will be someone to think about streaming.
Malcolm Delaney took advantage of some increased opportunity with Schroder unavailable, tallying 20 points (7-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four 3-pointers, six assists, two rebounds, one steal and one turnover in 27 minutes off the bench. He should see a similar workload on Saturday if Schroder can’t play, so he too will be someone to think about streaming in deep leagues.
Mason Plumlee swatted away a career-high five blocks during Friday’s blowout win over Portland, adding eight points, five boards, three assists, one steal and one turnover through 25 minutes as a starter. Elite shot blocking numbers will not be the norm for Plumlee, but he’s starting and receiving decent minutes with Paul Millsap (wrist) out, and over the past few weeks he’s been producing low-end value with averages of 10.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.3 blocks and 2.2 turnovers per game on 59.6% shooting from the field and 35.7% from the stripe. The awful free throw shooting is somewhat negated by the fact that he only gets to the line 2.3 times a night, and he’s been doing enough as of late to warrant a look in deep leagues.
Shabazz Napier scored 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting (1-of-2 from the line) to go with four rebounds, five assists, three steals and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes off the bench. He should again see quality minutes on Saturday with Damian Lillard (hamstring) unlikely, so he could be someone to think about streaming in deep leagues.
Jordan Bell notched his first career double-double during Friday’s win over the Lakers, scoring a career-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one turnover through 25 minutes as a starter sans Zaza Pachulia (shoulder). I think Bell is worth a speculative add in most leagues, but I’m not all that convinced that he’ll be able to keep this up once Pachulia is back, so I wouldn’t recommend cutting anyone with long-term potential.
Damian Lillard (hamstring) did not play Friday and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Lakers. While Lillard tends to play as long as he’s capable of walking, hamstring injuries can be tricky as there’s a high chance of suffering a setback if you come back too early, so I seriously doubt he’ll take the court for a matchup against the 10-19 Lakers. Luckily, the Blazers are off on Christmas and don’t play again until December 18 against the 76ers, so perhaps Lillard won’t miss too many games. C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Evan Turner and Shabazz Napier will pick up the slack in his absence.
Draymond Green (shoulder) nearly triple-doubled in his return from a four-game absence on Friday, finishing with 13 points (4-of-9 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one 3-pointer and six turnovers in 30 minutes. He was simply dealing with a sore shoulder, so hopefully the rather lengthy layoff has helped him move past this issue. I’d be surprised if he sat out Saturday’s game against the Nuggets, but owners should probably just double-check his status prior to tip-off.
Andre Iguodala (flu) was scoreless in his return from a one-game absence, recording just two assists, one steal, one block and four turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench. He’s not worth owning in most leagues.
Stephen Curry (ankle) did not play Friday, he won’t play Saturday and he’ll likely miss the Dubs’ Christmas Day matchup against the Cavs.
Gary Harris (elbow) returned from a one-game absence, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 from the line) to go with two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and two turnovers in 38 minutes. He’ll be fine for Saturday’s game in Golden State.
Chris Paul (groin) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Houston’s Christmas Day matchup against the Thunder in OKC.
Otto Porter (hip) was back in action on Friday following a two-game absence, scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting (2-of-2 from the line) to go with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover in 21 minutes. The game was a blowout and none of the Wizards played particularly well, but the low minutes should mean that Porter will be fine for Saturday’s game against the Magic, and owners can anticipate a bounce-back performance.
Dwight Howard exited Friday’s game with a dislocated finger and did not return, so he’s in danger of missing Saturday’s rematch against the Bucks. If he’s out, Frank Kaminsky would likely enter the starting five and he’d be looking at big minutes as the only healthy five-man on the roster. Kemba Walker also exited Friday’s game late with a possible concussion, and he too should be considered questionable for Saturday. Michael Carter-Williams would draw the start if he sits, while Nicolas Batum would spend more time running the offense.
Pau Gasol (groin) and Danny Green (groin) will not play Saturday vs. Sacramento, but Kawhi Leonard (quad) is probable. Joffrey Lauvergne and either Brandon Paul or Bryn Forbes figure to draw the start with Gasol and Green unavailable and Leonard should see roughly 20 minutes of playing time.
Clint Capela (heel) missed his second game in a row on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Houston’s Christmas Day game in OKC.
Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) did not play Friday, but there’s a chance he’ll be back out there on Saturday in Golden State.
Dennis Schroder (ankle) was a late-scratch on Friday and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Mavericks.
Marc Gasol (hip) is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Clippers.
The Pistons are hopeful that Avery Bradley (groin) can get back to the court around January 1. Luke Kennard and Anthony Tolliver have been alternating starts sans Bradley, but it’s been Reggie Bullock who has emerged as the primary beneficiary with some increased opportunities on the offensive end.
Goran Dragic (elbow) and Justise Winslow did not play Friday and they are doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Pelicans. Dion Waiters tweaked his troublesome left ankle during Friday’s game and did not return, so there’s a good chance he’ll miss Saturday’s game as well. Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson will be looking at heavy minutes if all these guys are out.
Noah Vonleh dislocated his finger on Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Lakers.
Milos Teodosic was rested on Friday, but he’ll be back on there for Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies.
An MRI revealed a partial tear in De’Aaron Fox’s right quad and he will miss at least the next two weeks of action. If George Hill is floating around on your waiver wire, now would be the time to grab him.
Devin Harris (illness) is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Hawks.