• Oh, what do you know – James Harden scored 54 points on Friday night only one game after scoring 55. It’s hard to decide what’s more surprising: the fact Harden is able to produce these ridiculous numbers as consistently and easily as he is, or the that seemingly nobody bats an eye when he does because…well…we expect it at this point. We will try to shed some light on just how crazy Harden’s numbers are after we look at some adds and drops from another night in the NBA.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Derrick Jones Jr., SF, Miami Heat – 28 minutes, 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, two 3-pointers, two steals, 4-for-6 FG

    Derrick Jones Jr. has played six games since returning from a ten-game absence due to a left groin/hip injury and there are some encouraging signs that he might be worth a pickup. Most notably, Jones has played 25 or more minutes in four straight games including Friday. It needs to be noted that the Heat are currently missing Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic which is contributing to the increased minutes, but who’s to say when those guys will return. Besides it seems someone is always missing time in Miami and Jones has a nice skillset as a 3-and-D wing.

    Alex Len, C, Atlanta Hawks – 22 minutes, 11 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, four three-pointers, one steal, one block 4-for-8 FG

    After Friday night’s solid showing, Alex Len has now scored double-digit points in seven of his last eight games. He’s averaging about 20 minutes per game in that stretch, and seems capable of producing serviceable lines off the bench. What makes Len intriguing is even with the eventual return of John Collins, he should have a similar role as Collins tend to play power forward. Give Len a look if you could use some efficient scoring and complementary rebounding.

    If you’re looking for more potential adds, check out our Pickups of the Night, part of the Hoop Ball Gametime Premium package.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Kelly Olynyk

    Here’s the main issue with Kelly Olynyk: the Heat were down a few rotation pieces tonight and were forced to play a tight nine-man rotation and Olynyk still barely cracked 20 minutes with 21. The only player to play fewer minutes off the bench than him was Chris Silva with eight. With Derrick Jones Jr. seemingly moving ahead of him in the rotation and the Heat due to get healthy at some point, the upside seems really limited for Olynyk and in most cases you’re better off streaming for an upside play at the end of your roster.

    Injury Report

    Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to action on Friday night from a sore right quad tendon and looked quite healthy scoring 37 points in 27 minutes.

    Eric Bledsoe limped to the locker room on Friday night before being diagnosed with a right shin contusion and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. If Bledsoe should miss any time, George Hill becomes an intriguing pickup.

    De’Aaron Fox provided an encouraging update on his ankle injury Friday, saying that he worked out hard on Thursday and isn’t experiencing any pain. A return seems likely at some point next week.

    Fred VanVleet remains doubtful for Saturday’s game as he continues to deal with a right knee contusion. His continued absence makes Norman Powell a standard-league option for a little while longer at least.

    Devin Booker is questionable for Saturday’s game with a left forearm contusion. 

    The Harden Way

    James Harden’s polarizing game has been scrutinized to no end over the years. He doesn’t play defense. He flops. He is a ball hog. He is a product of the system. He’s ruining the game. He can’t score without free throws. Pick a criticism and it’s likely Harden has heard it. All of these things can be argued ad nauseum, but you know what can’t be argued? Harden is the best scorer in the NBA today, and is putting up numbers the likes of which we haven’t seen since color television was a brand new technology. But don’t just take my word for it – just take a look at the history books.

    After Friday’s explosion – which came on the heels of Wednesday’s 55-point outburst – Harden is the first player in the history of the league to record consecutive games with 50+ points and 10+ made threes. For the “Harden is only good because free throws” crowd – he shot a combined 11 free throws across both contests and now joins Rick Barry as the only players to score 50 points with five or fewer free throw attempts. The 54-point night was Harden’s 12th game scoring 50 or more in the calendar year of 2019. LeBron James has 12 50-point games in his entire career.

    Harden is now tied with Elgin Baylor for the fourth-most 40-point games in NBA history with 88. The twenty three-pointers in two games were enough to vault him past Paul Pierce on the all-time three-pointers made list where he now sits at eighth. Harden’s 39.3 ppg average on the season so far would rank third all time behind only a couple Wilt Chamberlain seasons from the early sixties.

    Will all that production translate in the playoffs for the Rockets and will Harden finally capture that elusive title? Who knows. Will his haters ever concede he’s an all-time talent? Hell no. But honestly, who cares. When it comes to fantasy basketball no way is better than the Harden way right now.

    Kawhi and PG flex their muscles

    Ever since that fateful night where Adrian Wojnarowski flipped the NBA world upside down with his reporting of the Clippers pairing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, basketball fans everywhere have been fantasizing about how that duo will wreak havoc on the rest of the league. Due to a couple bum shoulders from George and load management for Leonard, we were delayed in seeing these two go to work together. Things are starting to come together for them now, and on Friday night George (46) and Leonard (42) combined for 88 points marking the first pair of teammates to each score 40 points in Clipper history. It has only happened 20 other times in the history of the NBA. 

    The Lakers are stealing all the early-season headlines with their fast start and impressive record, but Friday night offered a glimpse into why many pegged the George/Leonard pairing as the most lethal in the NBA. 

Fantasy News

  • Zhaire Smith
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Zhaire Smith (left ankle sprain) is being listed as available to play in Tuesday's game against the Warriors.

    Smith may see a few minutes if Joel Embiid (questionable) can't go, but he is not on the fantasy radar right now.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left hand surgery) is being considered a game-time decision for Tuesday's game against the Warriors as he has yet to be evaluated by the hand surgeon.

    It would seem that Embiid is closer to sitting out than playing if he has yet to be cleared by the surgeon, though he has a shot to suit up. Al Horford would start at C again while minutes will be open for wings and bigs throughout the rotation should Embiid be unable to go for this one.

    Source: Tom Moore on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving (personal) and DeAndre Jordan (finger) are not listed on the Nets injury report ahead of Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    Irving is ready to rock after missing Sunday's game against the Knicks to grieve. He's going to be playing with a heavy heart after losing a close friend and is someone to target in DFS lineups for his ability to blow up. DeAndre Jordan may get back into the starting lineup for this one as well.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
    SG, Brooklyn Nets

    Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (illness) is being listed as probable for Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    Luwawu-Cabbarrot is merely a depth option for the Nets and can be ignored for fantasy purposes.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Victor Oladipo (ruptured right quad tendon) is expected to come off the bench and be on a minutes limit in his season debut against the Bulls on Wednesday.

    The Pacers are going to ease their star SG back into the lineup after missing just over a year of action due to the devastating injury he suffered last January. Oladipo should eventually supplant Jeremy Lamb take over the starting SG job where he'll pair with offseason acquisition Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner was sent home before Tuesday's practice as he continues to battle an illness.

    Turner missed Sunday's game against the Blazers and is in danger of missing Victor Oladipo's season debut as well. If Turner can't go, Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadze should see extra minutes.

    Source: J. Michael on Twitter

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon has two more steps to complete in the concussion protocol but stated that he is optimistic about returning to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Bulls.

    If Brogdon can go, we'll get a glimpse of what the Pacers backcourt will look like going forward, as Victor Oladipo will be making his season debut. Brogdon has battled a multitude of injuries this year, so it is not a given that he will return. If Brogdon can't go, T.J McConnell and Aaron Holiday would see extra minutes.

    Source: J. Michael on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said on Tuesday that he isn't sure if Kyrie Irving (personal) will play against the Pistons on Wednesday, but the team is 'optimistic' that he will be out there after he returned to practice on Tuesday.

    Keep tabs on the situation as more information rolls in. If Irving sits this one out, Spencer Dinwiddie would start at PG again and maintain peak usage.

    Source: Alex Schiffer on Twitter

  • DeAndre Jordan
    C, Brooklyn Nets

    DeAndre Jordan (right middle finger dislocation) will return to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    With Jordan back in the lineup, Jarrett Allen will take a hit as the two will presumably return to splitting C minutes. Nicolas Claxton had seen extra run the past few games, but he will be relegated to deeper-reserve status for this one.

    Source: Alex Schiffer on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis (left knee) is being listed as questionable to play against the Suns on Tuesday.

    Porzingis has been a top-45 9/8 cat asset over the past week on the back of 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 steals and 2.3 treys per game in 26.1 minutes. Although he has shot poorly, 37 percent from the floor, his ability to hit threes and contribute in stocks has been a boost to owners who were waiting for his return. If Porzingis is held out of the back-end of the back-to-back, look for Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein to see extra minutes.

    Source: NBA Injury Report