James Harden Rockets – I posted a poll on Twitter recently asking who you’d rather own for the rest of the season; Luka Doncic (60%), James Harden (30%), Trae Young (6%) or Russell Westbrook (4%)? Mike Gallagher commented that he was surprised to see Harden’s number so low and offered that Harden’s playoff schedule is a little better than Luka’s.
If you play in the second to last week of the season that four to two-game advantage for Harden is big. Harden hasn’t been able to make a shot for weeks, his entire offensive game has been funky and he’s missed two straight games with a thigh injury. Would I trade Luka to get Harden right now? I don’t think I could do it. But once that two-game week from Luka vs. the four-game week for Harden rolls around, I probably will wish I would have. Harden is averaging 25.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.1 blocks on 34.8 percent shooting over his last eight games and he’s hit 23-of-103 3-pointers over his last nine games, good for just 22 percent.
Kevin Porter Jr. Cavaliers – KPJ returned on Monday after missing time with a knee injury and he also tweaked his ankle during the game, but he also looked good. He hit 4-of-8 shots for nine points, one rebound, three steals and a block in his 16 minutes. He was averaging 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.7 steals over his previous six games and was getting 25 minutes a night. The Cavs are likely on the verge of trading Kevin Love (and possibly others), throwing the towel in on another lost season, and should be about ready to turn KPJ loose once his minutes limit expires.
Larry Nance Jr. Cavaliers – Nance has been playing a little better lately, although Monday’s 10 points and five boards can be considered a disappointment, even with the steal and two blocks that he collected. Nance has now scored in double digits in four straight games and five of his last six, and has double-doubles in three of them. He’s also been knocking down 3-pointers and getting assists and steals, and Kevin Love hasn’t even been traded yet. Once it happens, I don’t see how Nance doesn’t finish up strong this season. Now’s a good time to think about snagging him.
Cam Reddish Hawks – I cut Reddish at about 3 a.m. mid-week last week to pick up some games played and try to win for the week. The move paid off, but I wasn’t pleased when I went back to get him and Yahoo! has that rule where you can’t put in for a guy you dropped until he’s cleared waivers. Unbelievably, he was still sitting there after he cleared waivers and I was able to get him back. I guess I told that story because there’s a pretty decent chance he’s just sitting on your waiver wire still. Either way, Reddish has scored in double digits in four straight games and in six of his last eight, while also putting up solid rebounds, steals and 3-pointers. He’s averaging 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.9 3-pointers over his last 10 games. In case you missed it, the Hawks are now 12-35 and hold the league’s second-worst record, sitting only behind the Warriors. I can’t believe the Warriors are more effective tankers than the Hawks, but whatever (it’s a joke, Matt Aiken… calm down). In any case, Reddish should be getting all the minutes he can handle the rest of the way as the Hawks groom him for the future and now seems like a great time to go out and get him.
Danuel House Rockets – House finally had the game we’ve been waiting for on Monday when he hit 6-of-14 shots and three 3-pointers for 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and five steals in 46 minutes. The bad news is that James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela were all out for that one. House hadn’t seen a 40-minute game since December and he wasn’t even that efficient, despite the big line. But the Rockets have three more games this week and play four times next week, Harden is in a major shooting slump and House has a chance to build off of his big game. He’s pretty much been a disaster this season, but if he’s ever going to turn it around it feels like it will happen sooner than later. Having said that, he’s also averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers over his last three games, so there’s some hope here. I picked him up in a few leagues, so we’ll see what happens.
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Christian Wood Pistons – Wood was heating up, scoring 23 and 20 points last Wednesday and Friday, but then had just 10 points on Saturday and eight on Monday when he saw his minutes dip to 21 and 20. It’s not a coincidence that Andre Drummond (tooth) was out for the two big games and was back in action for the latter two. But as you well know by now, Drummond’s name is being kicked around in trade talks about as often as Love’s so there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be out of Wood’s way at some point in the near future. And once it happens, he should be fun to own. But for now, Wood’s January averages of 11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.7 3-pointers have been more of a tease than anything else. It’s coming.
Malik Monk Hornets – Monk came out of nowhere with a 20-point game on Jan. 20 and then shocked the world from Paris with 31 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers on Friday. The Pelicans play three times this week and next, which isn’t ideal, but if Monk’s going to continue to do this, he might be worth it. I have no idea if this is the start of a trend or a total fluke, but I was (too) high on Monk at the start of the season and would not be shocked if he ends up finishing on a high note. Additionally, his name is on the trading block and it’s possible the Hornets showcase him over the next week or so, which I’d also be fine with.
Thaddeus Young Bulls – Young is getting a ton of opportunity with Lauri Markkanen (hip), Daniel Gafford (thumb) and Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) all out and is averaging 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 3-pointers in January. He’s a sneaky source of steals at times and had three of them on Saturday night. With Markkanen out through the All-Star break and WCJ and Gafford without a target date, now is a good time to go get Young, who should see plenty of run at both PF and C. If games played matter to you, tread carefully with Bulls. The weekly schedule goes 2-1-3-2-4-4-3-3-3-3-2 the rest of the way. But the three-game Week 18 is a plus, as most teams play just one or two games, and the back-to-back four-game weeks are also nice.
Luke Kornet Bulls – Here is Kornet in a nutshell; Friday: four points, two rebounds, one assist in 17 minutes. Monday:12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. And if you look at his game log, it’s more of the same. Decent games mixed in with duds. But with the aforementioned injuries to Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Daniel Gafford there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for Kornet to play for the Bulls. The problem is the schedule, as they play just two times next week and then play once in Week 17 when most teams play twice over the All-Star break. But they play three times the week of Feb. 17, when most teams only play once or twice, but then have a two-game week in Week 19, which is a buzzkill. After that the Bulls have back-to-back four-game weeks, but there’s a pretty decent chance all three big men will be back by then. Grab Kornet at your own risk.
Bogdan Bogdanovic Kings – Bogdanovic is starting again for the Kings and had 12 points, three boards and two 3-pointers on Friday, and 11 points, six boards, a steal and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes on Monday. The Kings still have four four-game weeks on the schedule and Bogdanovic starting should eventually work out in his favor. I expect a breakout game sometime in the next few days and I think the time to act is now.
Karl-Anthony Towns Timberwolves – The Wolves gave up a 17-point lead in the final three minutes on Monday to the Kings and teams were previously 0-8,378 since 1996-97 when trailing by at least 17 points with three minutes to play. The Wolves have also lost the last 14 games in which KAT has played, which is a real head scratcher. Wolves fans are having to be talked off the ledge right now and the vibe in Minnesota was already terrible before Monday’s historic meltdown. KAT’s numbers are awesome and he’s healthy again, but something just isn’t right in the Target Center. Maybe he’ll finish out the season and remain a dominant fantasy center, but the way things are going, I just have a bad feeling about the whole situation. At least they have four four-game weeks left.
Bradley Beal Wizards – I made a ton of trade offers in an effort to unload Beal and ended up getting DeMar DeRozan for him. I don’t feel wonderful about it, but DeRozan went off on Monday and Beal still feels like a ticking time bomb as far as shut-down candidates go. If I still owned him, I’d still be trying to trade him. And it shouldn’t be that hard to move him after he’s scored 40, 36, 38 and 29 points in his last four games.
Brandon Ingram Pelicans – Zion Williamson’s been here for three games and Ingram has hit just 14-of-46 shots in them, scoring 22, 13 and 16 points without many peripheral stats to write home about. It’s too small a sample size to fully panic on Ingram, but if Zion can stay healthy and keep dominating, Ingram could be in some trouble. It could be a false alarm, but if you can get a stud for Ingram it might be worth looking into, assuming Williamson will be able to stay healthy. Additionally, the Pelicans only have two four-game weeks left on their schedule.
Derrick Rose Pistons – Rose has been great, scoring at least 20 points in 12 straight games before getting Monday off to rest his sore knee. As I’ve been saying here for a few weeks, there’s no way his knees hold up if he keeps playing so much every night and that came to fruition on Monday. Maybe he’ll be back on Wednesday night, but if his knees continue to give him problems, we’re going to see a whole bunch of Reggie Jackson. Jackson was a dud on Monday, despite Rose’s absence, but is still someone to keep a close eye on going forward. After this week plays out, the Pistons only have two four-game weeks left on the schedule.
LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs – Aldridge missed Monday with a sprained right thumb and he’s only missed three games this season. But if the thumb issue lingers and the Spurs continue to be on the outside looking in for the playoffs, LMA’s DNPs could become an issue. The Spurs are just 2.0 games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed, but are being stalked by the Blazers, Suns, Pelicans and Kings. The Blazers are 0.5 games behind the Spurs, the Suns are 1.0 games back, the Pelicans are 2.5 games back and the Kings are 3.0 games behind San Antonio right now. Aldridge is 34 years old and Gregg Popovich won’t hesitate to start resting him if some of those teams overtake the Spurs and make it apparent the playoffs aren’t going to happen. If the Spurs start making free throws and winning games, Aldridge will be fine, but that’s a big if. The good news is they have five four-game weeks left on their schedule.
Al Horford Sixers – Joel Embiid’s been out for several games now and Horford’s been manning the middle in Philly. Embiid is questionable for Tuesday night and once he’s back, Horford’s going to take a hit. He hasn’t been dominating with Embiid in street clothes, but he’s been pretty good, averaging 13 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers in January. But I imagine his February numbers will take a dip with Embiid on his way back. Horford still has plenty of fantasy value, but now might be a good time to move him with Embiid approaching the runway. Philly still has four four-game weeks left on their schedule.
Schedule Chatter – Remaining four-game weeks on the schedule
Five four-game weeks: Nets, Grizzlies & Spurs.
Four four-game weeks: Celtics, Mavericks, Rockets, Pacers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Kings, Jazz & Wizards – The Jazz have a great playoff schedule.
Three four-game weeks: Hawks, Hornets, Cavaliers, *Clippers, *Lakers, Thunder & Blazers. The Clips and Lakers now have a two-game week this week and will have a game added to their schedule, likely on Feb. 19 or April 10. Owners should hope for April 10, as it would turn their three-game week into a four-game week with fantasy championships on the line.
Two four-game weeks: Bulls, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Pelicans & Thunder.