Thursday’s NBA schedule was a light one, as it usually is, which meant that even more eyes were on Stephen Curry as he made his return from a fractured left wrist. That was the big news of the night but not to be overshadowed was Norman Powell, who established a new career-high in Toronto’s win over the Warriors. Tobias Harris, Kawhi Leonard and Devonte' Graham were three of the other standouts Thursday night.
Raptors 121, Warriors 113 — The aforementioned Curry was on a minutes restriction in his first game back, with the plan being to keep him between 24 and 28 minutes. He played 27, posting a line of 23 points (6-of-16 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), seven rebounds, seven assists and three 3-pointers. Curry was just 3-of-12 from beyond the arc, but the fact that he was on the court and had no issues with his left wrist is a good sign. Following the game, Curry said that he expects to play more Saturday night against the 76ers. But even if Steve Kerr decides to keep his star guard on a similar minutes restriction, Curry is going to be productive. Also surpassing the 20-point mark for Golden State were Damion Lee (23/5/3/1 with five 3-pointers) and Andrew Wiggins (21/9/2 with one block and three 3-pointers), with Lee getting 17 field goal attempts and Wiggins 20. Both shot below 50 percent on the night, but Curry’s presence will help get them cleaner looks.
Lee and Wiggins stand to be positively impacted by Curry’s return, but the same couldn’t be said for Jordan Poole. He played 16 minutes off the bench, going scoreless with two rebounds, two assists, one block and three turnovers. Mychal Mulder (8/3/1/1 with two 3-pointers) was solid in his 24 minutes off the bench, but solid isn’t cutting it when it comes to fantasy value. Curry’s return makes him an easy drop as well. Marquese Chriss (17/12/4/1/2) had himself a night, and at this point in the season he’s worth rostering in standard leagues with Draymond Green (left knee soreness) out of the lineup. Over the last two weeks Chriss has provided fifth-round value in both eight- and nine-cat formats. Eric Paschall’s fantasy value also receives a boost when Green is sidelined, and he finished Thursday’s defeat with 16 points, four rebounds, eight assists and one three-pointer. Dragan Bender shot just 1-of-6 from the field, scoring three points while also accounting for five rebounds and four assists. He’ll be backing up Chriss in this new rotation, which does nothing for his fantasy value.
Norman Powell had it rolling in San Francisco, as he shot 13-of-20 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line. Powell put up a career-high 37 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists, three steals and four 3-pointers, and with Fred VanVleet (left shoulder) sidelined he’s an easy play in standard leagues. FVV’s absence also impacts Terence Davis, who in 17 minutes off the bench posted a line of 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer. Davis is worth a short-term look in deeper leagues, but his value will take a significant hit once VanVleet returns. Speaking of returns, Serge Ibaka (right knee soreness) was back in the starting lineup and was able to play 30 minutes. He tallied 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, one block and one three-pointer, shooting 6-of-11 from the field. Chris Boucher played just eight minutes, scoring two points with one rebound and one blocked shot. Feel free to drop him onto the waiver wire now that Ibaka’s back in the fold.
Kyle Lowry (26/5/10/2 with four 3-pointers), Pascal Siakam (17/5/5/1/1) and OG Anunoby (14 points, four rebounds, three steals and three 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, with Lowry posting his sixth 20-point/10-assist game of the season according to Basketball Reference. As for Anunoby, he’s been a top-10 player in nine-cat formats over the last month (top-20 in eight-cat). The defensive production has long been there, but it appears as if the offense is catching up. Counting Thursday, he’s hit double figures in points in five straight and six of his last seven. While it’s highly unlikely that he consistently hits the 30-point mark as he did Sunday in Denver (32 points to be exact), Anunoby has shown flashes on that end of the floor. Hopefully he continues to produce as he has over the last month.
Nuggets 114, Hornets 112 — Jamal Murray won this one with a runner with 5.1 seconds remaining, capping a night in which he tallied 18 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. He was one of seven Nuggets to score in double figures, but the biggest news fantasy-wise may have been the fact that Michael Porter Jr. picked up a DNP-CD. He’s appeared in only six of Denver’s last 10 games, averaging 6.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.2 steals and 0.2 blocks per. If you’re holding onto Porter in hopes that he is thrust back into the rotation, that doesn’t look to be the best idea heading into fantasy playoff time. Mike Malone did say after the game that Porter could very well play Saturday vs. Cleveland, but it’s quite clear that he values Torrey Craig more at this point in the season. Drop Porter onto the waiver wire to free up a spot for a player that’s actually going to contribute.
Will Barton (16/7/2 with two 3-pointers), Monte Morris (15/1/2/1 with one three-pointer), Gary Harris (14/5/2/2/1 with one three-pointer), Nikola Jokic (14/11/8//1/1), Paul Millsap (11/4/1/1 with one three-pointer) and Jerami Grant (11/2/2/1/1) joined Murray in double figures, with Millsap starting but playing just 20 minutes in his second game back from a sprained right ankle. Given the need to make sure that Millsap’s good to go for the playoffs, I’d hang onto Grant if you still have him. Rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, he’s provided 15th-round value in nine-cat over the last two weeks. Not great, but he’s one Millsap issue away from being thrust back into the starting lineup.
Devonte' Graham was back after missing Tuesday’s game due to a sprained left ankle and he was good, putting up 24 points (8-of-15 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), one rebound, seven assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. P.J. Washington (20/6/3/1 with three 3-pointers) and Terry Rozier (19 points, three assists and five 3-pointers) also scored in double figures for the Hornets, with Miles Bridges filling his stat line despite being limited to just eight points (3-of-8 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs). He supplemented that figure with nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks and one three-pointer. James Borrego stuck with his center rotation of two players seeing action and the third getting the DNP-CD, with Bismack Biyombo being the odd man out.
Cody Zeller (10/6/2/1 in 25 minutes) started, with Willy Hernangomez (14 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes) serving as his backup. In recent games the “odd man” in this trio has picked up three straight DNP-CD’s before returning to the lineup, and if that continues Biyombo will be out of the rotation for Charlotte’s game Saturday against the Rockets as well. Cody Martin (2/4/7/3) played 32 minutes off the bench, with Caleb Martin (eight points, one three-pointer) and Jalen McDaniels (seven points, two rebounds) rounding out the rotation. Cody’s worth a look in deeper leagues, as he’s just outside of the top-200 in nine-cat over the last two weeks, but that’s all right now. He isn’t a must-add.
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Clippers 120, Rockets 105 — When the Clippers have their full rotation they’re undefeated, and with Thursday’s demolition of the Rockets Doc Rivers’ team moved to 10-0 when everyone’s healthy. Kawhi Leonard (25/6/5/2/1 with four 3-pointers) once again led the way for all scorers, with Montrezl Harrell (19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) and JaMychal Green (11/6/2 with two 3-pointers) pacing the reserves. The surprising line of the night was that of Ivica Zubac, who in 20 minutes posted a line of 17 points (6-of-6 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), 12 rebounds and one blocked shot.
Houston has managed to play other bigs off the floor since they’ve gone to the small-ball lineup, but that wasn’t the case here. Zubac is rarely going to play more than 20 minutes due to Harrell’s presence, but he certainly isn’t a liability when on the floor. If you have a need for a second center at this point in the season and Zubac is available (he’s currently rostered in just 23 percent of Yahoo leagues), don’t hesitate to pick him up. Paul George (13/9/7) shot just 5-of-13 from the field but the rebounds and assists helped cover for that, and Marcus Morris (11/3/1 with one block and three 3-pointers) also got into double figures.
Los Angeles managed to make life difficult for James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who combined to score 45 points but did so on 15-of-44 shooting from the field (0-of-10 3-pointers). Harden shot 4-of-17 on the night, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal. If not for an 8-of-11 night from the charity stripe, things would have been even worse for The Beard. Westbrook scored 29 to go along with 15 rebounds, five assists and one steal, but he needed 27 shots (11 made) to hit that point total. I’d expect both to bounce back Saturday night in Charlotte, as the Hornets (24th in defensive rating entering Thursday) are nowhere near as good defensively as the Clippers (5th). Jeff Green (17 points, two rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers) and Danuel House (14/4/2 with two blocks and one three-pointer) both shot 6-of-10 from the field, making them Houston’s most effective scorers when it comes to field goal percentage.
Green’s worth a look in deeper leagues, as he’s provided 12th-round value in nine-cat over the last two weeks. But he’s averaging just under 17 minutes per game during that stretch, which makes it tough to expect too much from him fantasy-wise. As for House, his value received a boost with Eric Gordon (five points, one rebound, one steal, one block and one three-pointer) leaving the game due to right knee soreness. The right knee has been an issue for much of this season, and a prolonged absence would open up even more opportunities for House (who’s already starting). Ben McLemore (2/3/2) and Austin Rivers (5/2/3 with one three-pointer) had rough nights offensively, with the former going 0-of-6 from the field and the latter 1-of-5. Starters P.J. Tucker (3/6/1/1 with one three-pointer) and Robert Covington (3/9/1/1/2) weren’t all that effective either, as the shot a combined 2-of-9 from the field.
76ers 125, Kings 108 — Six 76ers scored in double figures as Philadelphia ended its nine-game road losing streak. Tobias Harris (28/14/3 with one block and four 3-pointers) and Shake Milton (20/3/3/1/1 with three 3-pointers) led the way offensively, with Al Horford (18/8/6 with two 3-pointers) also having a good night. In the case of Milton, over the last two weeks he’s been a top-25 player in both eight- and nine-cat formats. He’s currently rostered in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues, a number that’s way too low considering the fact that Ben Simmons (back) still doesn’t have a target date regarding a return to action. Alec Burks (17/3/1/2 with three 3-pointers) and Raul Neto (16/2/2/1 with two 3-pointers) also had good nights offensively, with Mike Scott (11/7/4 with one three-pointer) rounding out the double-digit scorers.
Josh Richardson (concussion) being out of the lineup freed up a spot in the starting lineup for Matisse Thybulle, but the rookie hasn’t taken advantage. He played 19 minutes Thursday night, scoring three points with two rebounds, one assist and one steal. Another player who gained minutes in Richardson’s absence, Glenn Robinson III, came back to earth after he went off for 25 points Tuesday night. In 29 minutes against the Kings he tallied five points (2-of-6 FGs), five rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer. Furkan Korkmaz (7/1/3/3 with one three-pointer in 25 minutes) is a better option than both if you’re looking to account for Richardson’s absence in deeper leagues.
De'Aaron Fox continues to play through his lower abdominal injury, and in 36 minutes he tallied 23 points, three rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one blocked shot. With Sacramento trailing Memphis by four games in the race for eighth in the West, there’s still hope of making a run. And as long as that’s the case, Fox will be on the court. Buddy Hield (22/1/1/3 with six 3-pointers) also surpassed the 20-point mark, with Harrison Barnes (15/6/5 with two 3-pointers), Kent Bazemore (14 points, nine rebounds, one steal, one block and one three-pointer), Bogdan Bogdanovic (13/6/5/1 with one three-pointer) and Harry Giles (10/2/1/1) also scoring in double figures.
Giles has now scored 10 points or more in seven straight and eight of Sacramento’s last nine games, and while he isn’t on some Zion Williamson-like streak he has certainly made strides. Over the last two weeks he’s providing top-100 value in both eight- and nine-cat formats, so he’s worth a look especially in deeper leagues. Giles is currently rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Friday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Atlanta at Washington, 7 PM
San Antonio at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM
Oklahoma City at New York, 7:30 PM
Utah at Boston, 8 PM
Indiana at Chicago, 8 PM
Orlando at Minnesota, 8 PM
Miami at New Orleans, 8 PM
Memphis at Dallas, 8:30 PM
Portland at Phoenix, 9 PM
Milwaukee at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM