Monday night was an interesting one with a potential injury to a star, two big games by MVP candidates, and an even bigger game from a relatively unexpected source. We've got lots to cover today, so let's start by covering the big (potential) injury news of the day from a familiar injury-prone name.
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Pacers at Bulls
Yet another Derrick Rose injury was going to be the main blaring siren headline of today’s column, but Rose has since said his ankle sprain is nothing serious and he’s hoping to play against the Suns on Wednesday. After a forgettable start to the regular season, Rose has been playing better as of late and has gone from borderline fantasy starter to more of a must-start player when he’s healthy (or pretty close to it, at least). Keep an eye on our player news page for more updates on Rose’s status, but it sounds like Aaron Brooks isn’t a must-add player (yet). Rose is currently listed as questionable for Wednesday, however, so Brooks might be a solid play in daily leagues if Rose sits.
Nikola Mirotic continued his slumping ways on Monday as he scored just six points in 17 minutes, while Taj Gibson benefitted. With Gibson possessing limited upside and Joakim Noah dealing with knee pain, however, Mirotic will get a chance to play through his slump and makes for a solid buy-low target if you can find a frustrated owner.
Paul George continued to make his case for early-season MVP with another big game on Monday, but there’s not much else to say about him other than keep on starting him. Monta Ellis and C.J. Miles were the biggest beneficiaries of George Hill’s absence on Monday. While Ellis shouldn’t see his value dip much upon Hill’s expected return on Wednesday, fantasy owners should get too caught up in Miles’ big game as he’s still no more than a deep league option at this point.
Lakers at Suns
With apologies to Brandon Knight, Derrick Rose's ankle sprain kept Knight's triple-double from being the highlight of today's Dose. In playing with the second unit towards the end of Monday's blowout over the Lakers, Knight was able to secure his first career triple-double and even channeled his inner Ricky Davis as he said he knew he needed one more rebound at the end of the game to get there (though thankfully, he didn't use the same tactics as Davis). While Knight is unlikely to keep up his top-25 pace, he's playing solid basketball right now and is looking like a draft day steal. That said, his owners may want to test the water and see if they can get a fellow owner to pay a king's ransom for the 23-year-old.
On the Lakers side of the ball, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell took advantage of another Kobe Bryant-less night and as those nights likely become more of the norm, Lou Williams and Nick Young could gain some value in deeper leagues. Russell has been struggling defensively and was benched for the fourth quarter of the loss, so his owners will have to accept the upcoming roller coaster ride of owning the rookie. While Julius Randle got the early-season press in the Lakers frontcourt, he's regressed a bit to the point of becoming an iffy start on a night-to-night basis. Roy Hibbert has surprisingly turned into the most dependable player in the Lakers frontcourt and continued providing solid value on Monday with 14 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one steal. The blocks weren't there against the Suns, but he's averaging 2.4 per game on the season so there's nothing to worry about there.
Dallas at Philadelphia
Don’t look now, but we finally had a Chandler Parsons sighting on Monday as he put up his best game of the season. Parsons only played 21 minutes as his minutes restriction continued, but was able to put up 20 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, and one-three pointer on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. The 27-year-old expressed frustration at his minutes limit after the game, so it will be interesting to see if the Mavericks (and specifically head coach Rick Carlisle) acquiesce to his desire to play more minutes. While Parsons will likely cause fantasy owners some headaches as he continues under a minutes restriction, he’s a solid buy-low option as his minutes (and production) start to trend upward.
There isn’t much value to be had in the Mavericks backup guard situation, but Raymond Felton and Devin Harris saw the majority of minutes behind Deron Williams as J.J. Barea logged just 13 minutes. Fantasy owners in standard leagues should steer clear of this situation, but Felton has surprisingly played his way to the top of the list in terms of fantasy value among these three (with Harris coming in a close second).
On the Philadelphia side of the ball, Robert Covington returned from his knee injury with a lackluster 20 minutes, but he looked healthy and should see his minutes increase going forward. Nik Stauskas didn’t hit a shot in 16 minutes, so Covington shouldn’t have much of an uphill battle to reclaim his spot from Sauce. If he’s available in any league, Covington is as solid an add as any right now.
While Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten are both targeting December returns, targets are often missed and T.J. McConnell again played big minutes (34) on Monday. Our guy Mike Gallagher made an interesting observation that McConnell has yet to attempt a free throw this season, but he’s still worth starting in all fantasy leagues for as long as Marshall and Wroten continue to miss time.
Boston at Houston
Monday’s Celtics-Rockets game played like a stock market watch with the Celtics trending upwards and the Rockets headed for a crash.
The Celtics have become one of the league’s better defensive teams (seemingly overnight) and will come off a back-to-back set where they fared extremely well in limited Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The problem for fantasy owners that head coach Brad Stevens is using what seems to be a 23-man rotation (slight exaggeration) with 11 players seeing more than 10 minutes in the blow out win. Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are the only players fantasy owners can trust on a nightly basis until this rotation shakes out, but the Celtics backcourt also offers two interesting players. While Marcus Smart is still a work-in-progress offensively, the Celtics have been committed to giving him minutes and his defensive stats have kept him relevant in standard fantasy leagues. As he continues to improve his offense, Smart should see his fantasy stock trending upward as the season continues. At shooting guard, Avery Bradley is finally getting healthy and scored 21 off the bench on Monday. Stevens has made a point to say that Bradley is coming off the bench due to his previous injury, so we’ll likely see him return to the starting lineup in the near future. He’ll likely start alongside Smart, with Thomas returning to the bench (and maintaining his fantasy value). Both Smart and Bradley will cause some headaches among their fantasy owners, but both should be owned as players whose stock is on the rise.
Conversely, the Rockets are a downright mess right now and head coach Kevin McHale is already talking about switching up his rotations. Marcus Thornton week seems to have come and gone as he didn’t see the court until the game was out of hand on Monday, and McHale has hinted at removing Ty Lawson from the starting lineup. While James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, and Dwight Howard (when he’s playing) are all worth a fantasy start, Lawson should be benched on fantasy rosters until he’s able to string together some consistent performances for his new team. He’s not worth dropping just yet as he possesses too much upside and the Rockets don’t have a great alternative with Patrick Beverley out indefinitely, but Lawson is too much of a liability to start in standard fantasy leagues right now.
Oklahoma City at Memphis
His name is Rio and he dances in the sand. Well, maybe not that last part, but Mario Chalmers sure does like draining three-pointers (four last night) when he plays in Memphis, as Tigers fans can attest. While Chalmers will have some big games off the Grizzlies bench, Monday's 29-point outburst is going to be the exception more than the rule on most nights. He's still worth a look as a flier in standard leagues, but fantasy owners shouldn't be disappointed if they don't get this type of production from Chalmers on most nights. Similarly, Jeff Green had a big night in a revenge game against the Thunder on Monday, but like Chalmers, he's more of a flier in standard leagues than a must-add player at the moment.
The Russell Westbrook-minus-Kevin Durant Show (catchy, huh?) finally came to fruition on Monday, as Westbrook put up a 40-burger in the loss after a relatively disappointing game against Boston on Sunday. Westbrook will have at least one more shot at a big game without Durant on Wednesday and it goes without saying he should never be on anyone's bench while healthy. The Steven Adams/Enes Kanter split continued on Monday (with Adams getting the start and more minutes), and both players will be a bit of a headache unless one of them suffers an injury. Kanter is the more valuable fantasy asset (though Adams is a better add for owners in search of blocks), but his 20.5 minutes per game average is capping his value.
Portland at Spurs
While the LaMarcus Aldridge signing is likely to pay dividends for the Spurs in the playoffs, fantasy owners can't help but be disappointed with their returns on LMA so far. Aldridge posted his lowest usage rate since 2010 on Monday and put up a season-low six points to go along with six rebounds, one assist, and one block in 34 minutes. Gregg Popovich is too great of a coach to not figure this one out, but there will likely be some more bumps in the road along the way and Aldridge is looking more and more unlikely to return his second-round draft value. Thought he's still a buy-low target as things can't get much worse, fantasy owners shouldn't break the bank to acquire Aldridge based on his name value alone.
Outside of a typical big Damian Lillard game, there wasn't much fantasy news coming out of Portland's performance on Monday night. Noah Vonleh was replaced by Chris Kaman in the starting lineup, and while Vonleh has some upside, neither is worth a look in standard leagues at the moment. Perhaps the biggest news for the Trail Blazers is that Meyers Leonard (shoulder) was seen doing some shooting before the game. it looks like Leonard is light years ahead of his original 4-6 week timetable and fantasy owners would be wise to check their waiver wire in case he was dropped by an impatient owner.
Nick has been a member of the Rotoworld hoops team since 2013 and you can find him on Twitter at @ProjectRoto.