Russell Westbrook owners dodged a bullet when his facial injury cost him just one game, so anything he did in last night’s game would have been fine for most. Having already crossed the unreal 40-10-10 threshold the last time out, last night I joked that he could go for 50-10-10 because they’re playing the Sixers and why the hell not.
He almost did exactly that with a career-high 49 points, a career-high 16 boards, 10 assists, three steals, one block and one three in an overtime win. You're going to hear a lot of names mentioned in the same breath as Westbrook over the next 24 hours (and beyond), and none of us should pretend like we know where his ceiling at. Nor should we summarily assume that he can't overtake Kevin Durant as the Thunder's best player.
Yes, you read that right. There's something to be said for having the mentality of an assassin and the athletic gifts of a mutant from another planet.
The crazy thing about Westbrook's record-breaking game is that it wasn’t even the best fantasy line of the night.
That belonged to none other than Anthony Davis (shoulder), who also returned to action after missing even more time than Westbrook did. Davis scored 39 points on 17-of-30 shooting with 13 rebounds, three steals and eight blocks while leading his team to a much-needed win over the Pistons.
These were just two of at least 10 if not 20 compelling storylines from a massive Big Wednesday, so we’ll hit the highlights here and then you can watch out for the Breakdown later today.
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THE BIG NUMBERS
|Anthony Davis||39||0||13||2||3||8||1||56.7%||Westy got the buzz, Steve Nebraska got the W.|
|Russell Westbrook||49||1||16||10||3||1||4||48.5%||Historic night for the NBA's third-best player.|
|Isaiah Canaan||31||8||7||6||1||0||3||62.5%||This is what you blew your FAAB budget on.|
|Nicolas Batum||20||4||7||8||1||2||1||54.5%||1 out of every 2 announcers call him 'Batoon'|
|Lou Williams||26||4||2||6||0||0||2||87.5%||Went toe-to-toe with LeBron last night.|
|Victor Oladipo||38||4||4||3||3||0||7||60.0%||Top 50-75 value cumulatively this season.|
|Draymond Green||23||4||12||5||3||3||1||64.3%||Rodman more athletic, but w/out Green's skills|
|Jason Richardson||29||4||6||3||1||0||0||42.1%||Was shooting (and making) 3s from Nebraska.|
|Jonas Valanciunas||26||0||11||1||0||2||1||70.6%||Averaging 15 & 8, 1.5 blks in 4 games vs. CLE|
|Goran Dragic||21||1||4||6||3||1||4||60.0%||Good to see him get off with the back thing.|
|Terrence Jones||21||0||9||2||1||2||1||71.4%||That terrible injury seems like a distant memory|
|Zach Randolph||15||0||8||6||3||1||1||58.3%||On the old guy All Stars this season.|
|LeBron James||29||3||6||14||0||0||3||56.3%||Are the Cavs better than the Bulls now?|
|Brandon Knight||28||4||1||7||3||0||3||46.7%||2 games removed from hip injury, looking good|
|PJ Tucker||19||1||5||0||3||1||1||70.0%||Sitting on a month of third round value.|
|Chris Paul||36||2||6||12||1||0||5||48.3%||Late-game mishaps again. Still, he's awesome.|
|Dwyane Wade||25||0||5||6||2||1||1||41.2%||Your last chance to sell him high.|
|Andre Drummond||13||0||18||1||1||6||2||46.2%||A bust of a fantasy season for Drummond.|
|DeMarcus Cousins||14||0||3||0||3||2||5||41.7%||Karl/Kings nearing end of honeymoon phase.|
|Ricky Rubio||10||0||3||10||1||0||4||30.8%||Two-cat line not getting it done last night.|
|Wilson Chandler||9||1||7||1||0||0||2||40.0%||Blowout win kept his minutes down.|
|Trey Burke||16||0||6||8||0||0||2||41.2%||No money counting stats, still late-round guy.|
|Gordon Hayward||13||2||3||3||0||0||3||45.5%||Hit the game-winner on a slow night.|
|Serge Ibaka||2||0||2||0||0||4||3||20.0%||Got caught up watching the Westbrook show.|
|Eric Gordon||4||1||0||2||1||2||3||20.0%||Holiday injury not improving, Gordon solid.|
|Ty Lawson||0||0||7||9||1||0||1||0.0%||Last buy low chance before deadlines pass.|
Kevin Durant (foot) will “be reevaluated again early next week.” Oh. You probably want to read the Q & A with the Oklahoman to get your own sense of the injury, but as long as the Thunder have a comfortable lead for the eight slot in the West (they currently don’t but have the inside track), then look for OKC to continue playing it safe. Which is bad for owners, obviously.
Roy Hibbert took a night off against the Knicks because the Knicks are terrible. Nothing to see here.
Kemba Walker (knee) has been cleared for basketball activities without restrictions and could return to game action in one week according to Steve Clifford. There are enough minutes to go around that Mo Williams (14 points, 6-of-13 FGs, two threes, three boards, 14 assists) should continue to be productive, but he’s not taking the ball away from Kemba in anything more than a marginal, incremental fashion. Obviously, the play for Mo’s owners is to walk this all the way to the edge of the cliff before dropping him.
Chandler Parsons (ankle) is traveling with the Mavs but has already been ruled out for Thursday’s game, so maybe his return isn’t as clear cut as I thought yesterday. I haven’t really tied Al-Farouq Aminu’s value to Parsons’ status, but others have and it certainly doesn’t hurt Aminu’s value if Parsons isn’t around to take stats away.
Goran Dragic (back) played last night and put up 21 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals and one trey, which goes a long way toward quelling concerns over his durability. Just keep your eye on him if/when the Heat start to fall out of contention in the East.
Tobias Harris has been iffy with his knee issue lately but he started last night, scoring 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and one three. Owners should downgrade projections at least a little bit to account for some of the risk his knee will hold him back, and also note that the Magic have one of the league’s worst schedules to wrap the season up. If your deadline hasn’t passed, try to move him after his next big game.
The one that got away from me (I’m contractually obligated to type that now) Robert Covington (elbow) did not play, and it sounded like he had a good chance to so perhaps that return is right around the corner. The Sixers did well to trade punches with the Thunder, and with Covington out guys like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (18 points, 6-of-21 FGs, 14 rebounds, five assists) and Isaiah Canaan (31 points, 10-of-16 FGs, eight threes, seven boards, six assists, one steal) were able to get loose.
For a guy that once had late-round value this year, Mbah a Moute’s shooting (40.3 FG%, 10.1 FGAs, 55.4 FT%, 2.7 FTAs, last 24 games) has made him worthless in standard leagues. Canaan is all upside and of course he needs to be owned across the board. He needs to mind his Ps and Qs with Brett Brown and keep his efficiency in check, but we’re talking about a mid-to-late round guy in most reasonable scenarios.
Luol Deng scored 15 points with six assists last night against the Lakers but suffered a “deep thigh bruise” and now he’s questionable for Friday’s game against the Wizards. There aren’t any great fantasy adds behind him, but owners will want to consider a contingency plan if Deng’s status goes all the way down to the end. I’d expect him to try and play an in-conference game with the Heat trying to stay in the playoff chase, but his effectiveness will be a question mark.
Jamal Crawford (calf) and Matt Barnes (hamstring) did not play in last night’s overtime loss, so naturally J.J. Redick’s volume went up as he scored 26 points on 11-of-27 shooting with four rebounds, two steals and four triples in 47 minutes. There are no fantasy beneficiaries for owners to look at on the wire.
For more injury news check out our injury page.
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) returned in a seven-minute effort. He looked rusty and slow, especially compared to some of his emerging teammates, but this is definitely not the game to be measuring with. He fits the Isaiah Thomas-inspired pick-and-pop game as much as anybody else, and he has proven to have a late-round floor all year long. I think there’s space for him to keep that up as long as his ankle cooperates.
Aaron Gordon (ankle) returned in an 11-minute stint and managed just four rebounds, one assist and one steal to go with one missed shot. I can’t see picking him up anytime soon, but if Tobias Harris were to theoretically miss time, among others, I could see him making a name for himself in the final two weeks of the season.
Jason Richardson returned to action after a night off for rest and he went off for 29 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and four treys. I think we’ll continue to see sporadic rest mixed with a few duds here and there, but he can rise to the top of a thin Sixers team really quick. He’s worth a hard look in standard formats with the hopes he can hover around the top-100 when it’s all said and done.
We talked about adding Ersan Ilyasova yesterday by projecting him as a late-round value in your add/drop decisions. He kept things rolling last night with 13 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and three treys. If all goes well he’ll get into that ever-so-elusive mid-round upside.
Ray McCallum has struggled with his shooting for the most part this season, but lately he has gotten pointed in the right direction percentage-wise with a 47.1 mark over his last seven contests. He put up 12 points with seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in the Kings’ blowout loss to the Spurs, and as long as he’s not hovering around the 40 percent line then he’ll probably be a late-round value for owners in his current role. There’s also upside in the event the Kings’ tank hard and either DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay starts missing time.
D.J. Augustin might have been picked up as a handcuff or beneficiary for Russell Westbrook, but with Kevin Durant’s foot issue getting more curious by the day it looks like there will be at least a week of utility for Augustin. He scored 17 points with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two threes last night and he’s providing top-100 value over the last two weeks. He can keep it up if Durant stays out.
Rodney Stuckey isn’t getting any respect right now in fantasy leagues but he has been a top-85 play for the last 25 games. That’s a guy that should be owned across the board. He is shooting 49 percent from the field and 92 percent from the foul line in that span, which screams regression in the wrong direction, but is surely hasn’t happened this past week as he has been a top-40 guy. He scored 17 points with four rebounds, two assists and one three over just 19 minutes in yesterday’s blowout win over the Knicks. I’d evaluate him as a late-round guy and make your decisions that way.
Andrea Bargnani is hard to watch but he had another solid night with 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks and two threes in 38 minutes. He’s the epitome of a bad player getting stats on a really bad team and with five games next week he’s a must-start player next week. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll get hurt or start fading. I’ll look at the Knicks closer in the breakdown but anybody with a pulse is worth a look in a five-game week, with pulse being the operative word.
Some folks might have been scared off by Jae Crowder’s dud during the Celtics’ blowout loss the last time out. He was all over the court in last night’s win over the Jazz, scoring 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two assists and a block. His percentages are a mess and he doesn’t have the volume to accommodate for that, but he is a natural fit for what Brad Stevens is doing on offense and in particular the second unit. I can’t call him a must-add player and I have my concerns about his standard league stat-set, but even reasonable shooting percentages would set him free in his current role.
Jodie Meeks scored 20 points with one assist, two steals and one three in 28 minutes, but he has been unable to meet reasonable expectations and I’m not talking about the expectations Detroit had when they signed him to a big deal. This moves him onto the watch list in 12-14 team formats, but he needs to do much better to be considered for pickup even as a specialist.
Dion Waiters scored 20 points with 10 rebounds, three assists and one three and outside of certain points formats I’m not biting on this at all. He’s radioactive in standard fantasy leagues because he’s a one-category guy and I’ll let you guess which one that is.
Will Barton had another nice fantasy line with 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two threes, but some of this was supplemented by garbage-time as the Nuggets cleaned up the Wolves. I like the fact that he’s a younger player playing behind some very injury-prone players, and you can’t argue with the production over the past two weeks, which has been at a mid-to-late round level. If you’re a gambler or like stockpiling assets he fits the bill, but there is going to be risk no matter how you slice it.
If you want to drop Cody Zeller (16 minutes, 13 points, four rebounds) I’m not going to race you for pinks on the idea. He’s shooting over his head these days and when that settles in he has a late-round upside, but one that isn’t so far-fetched. It’s probably a coin flip. But last night’s matchup-based decision to use Marvin Williams (18 points, seven boards, four treys, one block) and still solid showing out of Zeller make this the wrong game to write Zeller’s epitaph with. The low upside is probably a better reason to go with if you’re going to make that call, and likewise I’m not going to chase Williams’ hot shooting streak over the past few weeks.
Elfrid Payton hit 4-of-11 shots for nine points, four rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in last night’s loss to the Suns. He has been terrible lately in standard leagues and anybody hanging on was basically doing so for this type of upside, with the hope being that he can chill out in his trouble areas just enough to let the rest of his numbers shine. I can’t get behind an across-the-board pickup but this does strengthen his stash/lottery ticket credentials.
Jordan Hill has quietly played his way off of standard league rosters and though last night’s empty and inefficient 13 & 10 outing wasn’t the night to pull the trigger I felt it was worth mentioning that he has over 20 games of substandard production. He has been particularly bad over the last 10 or so games, but with the All Star break mixed in there it has flown underneath the radar around here. I won’t rule out a return to late-round productivity, but with all the jump shots he’s taking he’s exerting too much downward pressure on an already weak stat set.
Nikola Pekovic played 15 minutes with six points, five boards and two steals and it’s possible he eventually gets back to producing double-doubles in a week or so. It’s just not a good risk-reward ratio for owners considering the obvious risks and lack of overall upside.
Brandon Bass looked like he was poised to hold standard league value for the rest of the season following Jared Sullinger’s injury but the emergence of Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko have done just enough to kill his value. Bass needs big minutes and his value can be curtailed relatively easy when he’s not getting his touches. He may flash some big games, but he needs real separation to be worth holding in 12-team leagues.
Norris Cole hasn’t been producing well enough to be owned in fantasy leagues, but the ongoing issues with Jrue Holiday and some sporadic numbers might have piqued your interest. With Anthony Davis back the pickings got even slimmer for Cole, who managed just four points, one rebound, three assists and one block in his 27 minutes. Feel free to move along in standard formats.
Markel Brown hit just 4-of-11 shots for nine points, three rebounds and nothing else in 24 minutes last night, and any appeal he had from last week or thereabouts has been lost.