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Friday’s busy nine-game slate ended with a bang, as Cameron Johnson capped a career night with a game-winning 3-pointer. He and Julius Randle appear to have a bit of a rivalry going on, and that was just one of the big happenings on Friday. Tyrese Maxey continues to flourish now that he’s back to playing off the ball, while DeMarcus Cousins made the most of his spot start.
Pistons 111, Pacers 106
Cade Cunningham (wrist) was originally listed as questionable, but he ultimately started and logged 32 minutes for the Pistons. The rookie shot 8-of-20 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line, scoring 20 points with nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two 3-pointers. The other big injury note for the Pistons was the return of Marvin Bagley, and he had himself a good night. In 22 minutes off the bench, he accounted for 18 points (9-of-16 FGs), eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Bagley’s return impacts Kelly Olynyk the most, and he accounted for six points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two 3-pointers in 14 minutes.
Managers who still have Olynyk rostered in standard leagues will want to strongly consider dropping him, as Bagley’s return will cut into his usage/fantasy value. Saddiq Bey (25/2/4/0/1 with six 3-pointers) had another good night offensively, and he’s closing in on top-50 value over the last month. Jerami Grant (8/5/5/1/3) didn’t offer much as a scorer, but the defensive production helps to make up for that. Detroit will play four games with no back-to-backs next week, which makes them a team worth targeting if you’re heading into fantasy playoff action.
Moving over to the Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon (26/5/4/1 with two 3-pointers) played 36 minutes and recorded another solid stat line. But managers did take a hit in the field goal percentage category, as he was just 9-of-23 on the night. No need for concern there, however. So long as the Pacers don’t decide to shut Brogdon down, his fantasy value is safe. Just as exciting are young bigs Isaiah Jackson (12 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks) and Jalen Smith (12 points, 11 rebounds, one block, and one 3-pointers), who recorded double-doubles in the same game for the first time since the latter was acquired from the Suns.
Those two and Oshae Brissett (10/8/2/0/1 with one 3-pointer) should be in the high-20s in minutes on a nightly basis which, under normal circumstances, would make all three worth rostering. However, the Pacers will only play three games in each of the next three weeks. Managers in leagues where the playoffs begin next week will need to take that into consideration, and this may give the edge to Jackson since he’s in the starting lineup. Tyrese Haliburton (8/8/7/1/2 with one 3-pointer) was quiet despite the full line, shooting 3-of-8 from the field, while Buddy Hield (16/7/9/1 with one 3-pointer) shot 1-of-10 from three (7-of-20 from the field overall). They’ve been consistently playing into the mid-30s in minutes since arriving from Sacramento, which preserves their respective fantasy values heading into the postseason.
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76ers 125, Cavaliers 119
For all the attention that has been paid to James Harden (25/3/11/1 with two 3-pointers) and Joel Embiid (22/9/5/2) in the aftermath of the trade, the biggest development from a fantasy standpoint may be the improved play of Tyrese Maxey. He went off Friday night, scoring 33 points while also tallying four rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, and five 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Maxey was incredibly efficient, shooting 10-of-15 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line. Since Harden’s arrival, Maxey is ranked 3rd in 9-cat formats according to Basketball Monster. Harden is first during that stretch and Embiid eighth.
Tobias Harris (15/4/1/1) hit double figures for the second straight game, and while he feels like the “odd man out” from a fantasy standpoint, there isn’t much that managers who have him rostered can do at this point in the season. Just have to ride it out and hope that Harris can up his production in categories other than points. Georges Niang (17/2/0/1/1 with five 3-pointers) and Shake Milton (11/4/1 with two 3-pointers) had good nights off the bench, but neither offers much in the way of fantasy value.
Cleveland had four players score at least 20 points, but it still wasn’t enough to hold off the 76ers. Darius Garland (26/4/19/2/1 with four 3-pointers) established a career-high in assists and was outstanding throughout, ultimately playing 43 minutes. The workload is notable, in that he played 33 minutes in his first game back on Wednesday, and the Cavaliers are still without backup point guard Rajon Rondo. Brandon Goodwin (2/2/1) played just five minutes on the night, while Tim Frazier was a DNP-CD. While it’s difficult to envision Garland playing similar minutes on Sunday against Toronto, there isn’t any room for a backup to present himself as a possible deep-league option until Rondo returns.
Isaac Okoro scored a season-high 22 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists, but it isn’t realistic to expect this kind of production from him on a consistent basis. Averaging 8.8 points per game on the season, Okoro scored a total of 27 points in Cleveland’s first four games after the All-Star break. And with the inconsistent defensive production, being a starter is the only reason why he’d have any fantasy relevance at all. Jarrett Allen (20/7/0/1/1) and Cedi Osman (20/0/1/1 with three 3-pointers) rounded out Cleveland’s 20-point quartet, and the latter is averaging 15.4 points per game over the last two weeks. That isn’t enough to merit being rostered in standard leagues, however, especially with Cleveland only playing three games next week.
Hawks 117, Wizards 114
John Collins made his return to the Hawks rotation, and with him being on a minutes limit he came off the bench. Collins played 25 minutes, serving as the backup center with Onyeka Okongwu (concussion) sidelined, finishing with nine points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one blocked shot. Atlanta doesn’t play again until Monday in Detroit, so Collins should be back in the starting lineup. This would move Danilo Gallinari (10/3/1 with two 3-pointers in 27 minutes) to the bench, but he may not be an automatic drop due to Okongwu’s absence. Gorgui Dieng, who played 15 minutes off the bench in Thursday’s win over the Bulls, was a DNP-CD Friday night. And that was with Washington playing two traditional centers.
De’Andre Hunter (26/2/1/1 with three 3-pointers) matched his season-high point total, one night after tallying 18 points against Chicago. Over his last two games, Hunter’s shot a combined 15-of-25 from the field (5-of-9 3-pointers). While you’d like to see a bit more in the way of defensive production, the fact that his offense seems to be coming around is a great sign as far as his fantasy value is concerned. Rostered in 35% of Yahoo leagues, this could be a good time to take a flier on Hunter as the Hawks will play four games next week. What could also boost his short-term value is the left shoulder injury suffered by Kevin Huerter (5/2/1 with one 3-pointer), who logged 22 minutes and did not return. Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic (17/6/2/2 with three 3-pointers in 35 minutes) stand to take on even more responsibility on the wings if Huerter has to miss time.
Washington’s center rotation remains a roll of the dice, with managers who gambled on Thomas Bryant being the big winner on Friday. He played 22 minutes off the bench, tallying 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one blocked shot. Starter Daniel Gafford struggled with foul trouble, finishing with four points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 18 minutes. Gafford remains the better option due to his being the starter and the shot-blocking, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. Rui Hachimura (19/6/1/1 with three 3-pointers) was one of the reasons why Washington was able to rally in the fourth, along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (28/5/5 with six 3-pointers).
KCP made all six of his 3-point attempts, and he’s putting up top-40 value over the last two weeks. Still rostered in 39% of Yahoo leagues, the schedule works against Caldwell-Pope from a fantasy standpoint. Washington doesn’t play its first game of next week until Wednesday against the Clippers, and they’ll only play three games. Kyle Kuzma (22/5/11/0/2) didn’t shoot the ball well on Friday, but he remains Washington’s lone “lock” with regard to fantasy. Raul Neto (7/5/7 with one 3-pointer) was solid, dishing out seven assists without committing a turnover in his 27 minutes.
Bucks 118, Bulls 112
For matchup reasons Billy Donovan went big, starting Tristan Thompson alongside Nikola Vucevic. With regard to the former’s production, the switch did not work, as he accounted for four points, three rebounds, and one assist in 20 minutes. Vucevic, on the other hand, was efficient, tallying 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers, shooting 8-of-13 from the field. At best, Thompson is a DFS roster-filler for players who want to allocate more of the cap space to other positions. And even that is a stretch. Javonte Green moved to the bench with Thompson starting, finishing with a line of nine points, three rebounds, one assist, one block, and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. Rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues, he’s a deep-league option at best.
Zach LaVine (30/8/6/1 with three 3-pointers) and DeMar DeRozan (29/3/5/1/1 with two 3-pointers) had their usual high-scoring nights, but the latter was just 11-of-30 from the field. No need to worry there, as DeRozan has been playing on an All-NBA level all season long. He’ll bounce back. Ayo Dosunmu (8/5/7/1) put together a decent fantasy line, but the Bucks were able to attack him down the stretch. So long as Lonzo Ball (knee) and Alex Caruso (wrist) remain sidelined, the rookie is a perfectly fine fantasy option.
Milwaukee received some good news before the game, as it was reported that Brook Lopez (back) has been cleared to practice. How much time he’ll need to get back to game speed remains to be seen, but this is something that will have more of an impact on the Bucks in the actual playoffs as opposed to fantasy playoff action. Bobby Portis (12/7/0/1/1 with two 3-pointers) remains a safe option, and even if Lopez were to be a full go that would not change much regarding the fantasy value of “The People’s Champ.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo (34/16/5/2/1) was his usual dominant self, while Jrue Holiday (26/8/5/0/1 with three 3-pointers) and Khris Middleton (22/6/7 with one 3-pointer) were also productive for the winners. Wesley Matthews (7/1/1/1 with one 3-pointer) sprained his ankle but played 23 minutes, and his availability moving forward won’t have an impact as far as fantasy is concerned.
Magic 103, Raptors 97
Orlando didn’t have any big stat lines in their road victory, but the team’s balance is what got the job done. Seven scored in double figures, led by guards Jalen Suggs (15/6/7/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and Cole Anthony (15/12/5 with one 3-pointer). But neither was particularly efficient, shooting a combined 9-of-30 from the field. Franz Wagner (10/11/2/1 with two 3-pointers) posted his third double-double of the season, while Chuma Okeke (10/11/2/1 with two 3-pointers) started with Wendell Carter Jr. (illness) sidelined. Okeke is a deep-league option when Carter is active, and it’s worth noting that he’s providing top-100 value in 9-cat formats. With Orlando having four games next week, I’d hold onto Okeke even if Carter is back in the lineup. Mo Bamba (14/5/1/0/1 with one 3-pointer) was limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble, and this could have been a big night for him if that were not the case.
For Toronto, it was reported before the game that Fred VanVleet (knee) and OG Anunoby (finger) will be with the team on their upcoming road trip. Anunoby will be out another two weeks, so there is a concrete timeline there. There isn’t one for VanVleet, so managers who have Malachi Flynn rostered need to hold onto him. Flynn was one of Toronto’s better performers, tallying 20 points (7-of-14 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block, and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes. Pascal Siakam (34/14/2 with two 3-pointers) led the way offensively, while Scottie Barnes (10/5/4/0/2 with one 3-pointer) had a rough night offensively, shooting 4-of-15 from the field.
Toronto’s center position isn’t as jumbled as Washington’s, even with Nick Nurse using three players at that spot. Khem Birch may be the starter, but he only played nine minutes, and Chris Boucher (seven points, nine rebounds, one block, and one 3-pointer) and Precious Achiuwa (11/6/1/0/2 with two 3-pointers) are both better fantasy options. Boucher started the second half on Friday, but it should not be assumed that he’ll replace Birch in the starting lineup moving forward. Achiuwa’s rostered in 36% of Yahoo leagues, which is fair, especially when considering the upcoming schedule. Toronto plays three games next week, and none until Wednesday.
Pelicans 124, Jazz 90
New Orleans jumped Utah early and did not let up, winning each quarter on the way to a 34-point pasting. The partnership of Brandon Ingram (29/8/6/1 with one 3-pointer) and C.J. McCollum (24/5/4/1 with two 3-pointers) gets stronger by the game, with the duo combining to shoot 21-of-34 from the field Friday night. Their play more than made up for Jonas Valanciunas (4/6/1) being limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble, and there were some key contributions from the bench as well. Willy Hernangomez (13/8/0/1/1) played 24 minutes but he is not worth picking up, as this was his first game action since Sunday’s beating of the Lakers.
Tony Snell (11 points, five rebounds, and three 3-pointers) and Naji Marshall (10/3/1) are in similar spots, in that they don’t figure prominently enough in the Pelicans rotation to merit being rostered in any fantasy league. Herb Jones (2/2/4/3/1) did not offer much offensively, but his defending of Donovan Mitchell (14/2/2/1 with three 3-pointers) was a big reason why this game turned into a laugher. Mitchell shot 5-of-18 from the field but still led the Jazz in scoring.
The center position may have been the lone bright spot for Utah, as Rudy Gobert (10/11/1/1) and Hassan Whiteside (13 points, 12 rebounds, and one block) both recorded double-doubles. Whiteside can still have value in deeper leagues, especially in instances where a fantasy manager is in dire need of center help. But that’s his ceiling when Gobert is healthy. Mike Conley (2/1/2/3) only played 24 minutes so we don’t know what his increased workload will look like. However, due to the nature of this game, there was no reason for Quin Snyder to extend his starting point guard. Bojan Bogdanovic (five points, five rebounds, and one 3-pointer) had a terrible night, shooting 1-of-11 from the field. He’s rostered in 79% of Yahoo leagues, and the fact that Utah will play four games next week could be the only thing that’s keeping the percentage that high.
Timberwolves 138, Thunder 101
Minnesota was once again without Anthony Edwards (knee), so Jaden McDaniels (16/1/2/2/1 with three 3-pointers) remained in the starting lineup. He’s an obvious streamer for now and could retain some value once Edwards (who remains without a timeline) is cleared to return. Also worth streaming with Edwards sidelined is Malik Beasley, who put up 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, and five 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. Averaging 4.8 3-pointers per game over the last two weeks, he’s providing 6th-round value during this stretch. Jarred Vanderbilt (quad) was able to play, finishing with four points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks in 24 minutes. The offense hasn’t been there for him, and it can be argued that managers are better off with McDaniels than Vanderbilt at this point in the season.
Karl-Anthony Towns (20/8/3/3/1 with one 3-pointer) didn’t have to do too much, while backup Naz Reid (20/5/2 with two 3-pointers) did not miss a shot, going 8-of-8 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line. While impressive there’s no need to consider picking Reid up, as the 20 points were two fewer than his tally in the prior three games combined. It’s obviously difficult for him to get on a roll with Towns healthy, as the playing time is limited.
While the Thunder were beaten like a drum, it was good to see Isaiah Roby (21/10/1/3 with one 3-pointer) and Aleksej Pokusevski (12/5/2/1 with two 3-pointers) record lines that did not let down the managers who hopped onto their respective bandwagons. Tre Mann, on the other hand, turned the ball over eight times on the night. He did account for 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals, and three 3-pointers, but that isn’t enough to make up for the combination of turnovers and poor field goal percentage (he was 5-of-13). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (33/5/7/1 with one 3-pointer) had another big scoring night, but he was also a bit loose with the basketball (five turnovers). Expect more nights like this from him until Josh Giddey (hip) gets cleared to play.
Nuggets 116, Rockets 111
Denver was without Nikola Jokic (illness) for this one, as he was ruled out a few hours before tip-off. Enter DeMarcus Cousins, who started and put on a show for the home team. Shooting 10-of-14 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line, he tallied 31 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block, and three 3-pointers in just 24 minutes. If not for his being in foul trouble, it isn’t far-fetched to say that this could have been a game in which Cousins posted a 40-point double-double. He was that good. In total seven Nuggets hit double figures, including Jeff Green (14/4/2/0/1 with one 3-pointer) and JaMychal Green (14/9/2/2/1).
While Uncle Jeff can still have some value when the aforementioned Jokic is in the lineup, JaMychal’s line feels like a clear byproduct of the MVP’s absence. Good on him for taking advantage, but this kind of line isn’t sustainable based upon his production for the season as a whole. Denver hosts New Orleans on Sunday, so keep an eye out for those Saturday night injury reports. If Jokic isn’t listed, then the few who streamed JaMychal will need to drop him immediately. Will Barton (11/3/2/0/1 with two 3-pointers) didn’t record a high-level line, but he did become the Nuggets’ all-time leader in made 3-pointers (passing J.R. Smith).
Bones Hyland (11/2/5/3 with two 3-pointers) had another good night and has made the backup point guard position his own. We’ll see what happens with his minutes, and where he gets them, once Jamal Murray (knee) returns. But by the time that occurs, it may not have an impact on fantasy leagues. Hyland was only 2-of-7 from the field, but he is still worth rolling out in deeper leagues.
For the Rockets, Christian Wood (22/10/5/0/1) put up a solid line, and he was 8-of-8 from the foul line. Given his struggles from the charity stripe, this was a welcome development. The good news for managers in category leagues is that Wood is averaging 4.8 free throw attempts per game, so the poor foul shooting isn’t too much of a killer on most nights (that 3-of-13 effort against Orlando on February 25, however…yikes). Jalen Green (18/5/7/0/1 with two 3-pointers) had another efficient night, as he also committed just one turnover. Those who remained patient with the rookie as he endured his struggles during the first half of the season are being rewarded at just the right time.
Last but not least is Alperen Sengun, who may be eliciting Michael Corleone’s reaction in “The Godfather 3” (or the Silvio Dante impersonation, if you prefer) from fantasy managers. The rookie finished Friday’s loss with a line of 11 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one blocked shot in 22 minutes. The foul shooting (1-of-4) wasn’t great, but Sengun made the most of his time on the floor. Denver’s rotation may have helped, as the absence of Jokic shifted everyone up a spot in the Nuggets’ interior pecking order. Sengun has hit double figures in three of his last four games, but the fact that he hasn’t consistently surpassed the 20-minute mark has limited his fantasy value.
Suns 115, Knicks 114
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Knicks, their star player getting ejected was the turning point of Friday’s defeat. Julius Randle (25/7/4/1 with one 3-pointer) was playing well until he got into it with Cameron Johnson late in the third quarter. If you consider the double technicals handed out to be the proverbial cake, Randle pushing through a ref in order to make another run at Johnson was the icing. His night ended after 28 minutes. And what did Johnson, who took a Randle shoulder to the sternum during the first quarter and headed into the tunnel briefly, as a result, do? He went off.
Johnson scored 21 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, the final three coming on a banked-in triple at the buzzer to give Phoenix the victory. Shooting 11-of-16 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line, Johnson established a new season-high with 38 points while also tallying two rebounds, one steal, and nine 3-pointers. Even when Devin Booker (protocols) returns Johnson is worth holding onto, as there’s a need for his scoring with Chris Paul (thumb) likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Cameron Payne also had a career night, scoring 17 points while also racking up 16 assists (career-high). He also accounted for three rebounds and one steal and should be rostered in far more than 46% of Yahoo leagues.
Mikal Bridges (20/6/4/2 with three 3-pointers) and Jae Crowder (14/7/0/2 with two 3-pointers) also played well, which helped make up for a pedestrian night from Deandre Ayton (8/3/1/0/1). And could Aaron Holiday (10/2/4 with one 3-pointer) be worth streaming, at least in deeper leagues? I’d lean no because he only played 15 minutes Friday night. With Payne no longer on the minutes restriction that he was subject to in his first game back, 15 minutes feels like Holiday’s ceiling.
Moving back to the Knicks, RJ Barrett shot 6-of-26 from the field but still managed to score 20 points. Also responsible for five rebounds, five assists, and one 3-pointer, Barrett shot 7-of-10 from the foul line, which helped to make up for the rough field goal percentage. Mitchell Robinson (17/15/1/4/3) thoroughly outplayed the aforementioned Ayton, while Alec Burks (16/9/6/1/1 with four 3-pointers) and Evan Fournier (16/1/2 with four 3-pointers) played well. Immanuel Quickley (13/8/2/1 with three 3-pointers) logging 27 minutes was a positive development, especially for managers and Knicks fans alike who want to see the team’s younger player on the court more. Obi Toppin (hamstring) was ruled out, while neither Taj Gibson (DNP-CD) nor Nerlens Noel (foot) saw action. Noel’s case is strange, in that he still isn’t being listed on the injury report despite his issue being known. Rookie Jericho Sims (1/1/2/0/1) played 11 minutes off the bench, and there is no need to even consider streaming him.