November 14, 2017, 5:47 am
After a slow week last week things picked up fast on Monday night, with nine games to kick off the week and plenty of action. The Cavs and Knicks lit up NBA Twitter with the beef between LeBron, Enes Kanter and Frank Ntilikina. Kanter got a lot of chatter for that but what you haven’t been hearing about is his surging fantasy value.
Tyreke Evans is hitting on all cylinders, John Collins is sliding, DeMarcus Cousins is kicking the ball around the yard, Rajon Rondo is back, the Suns have ceded control of their team to T.J. Warren and Devin Booker, Joe Ingles should be owned in four-team formats, Jamal Murray apologists are still apologizing and at the same time I’m not anywhere near apologizing for Richaun Holmes.
So, by all means, let’s get to this ‘sode of the Bruski Breakdown.
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ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
The Magic went into Oracle and at least kept things close in a 110-100 loss, highlighted by the continued slide for a pair of sell-high assets in Aaron Gordon (10 points, 10 boards, two threes, one steal) and Evan Fournier (16 points, two boards, two assists, two steals, two threes).
Those aren’t terrible lines, but hopefully you were all able to make a tidy profit selling Gordon for players in the top-30 or for Fournier, players in the top-50 or even top-60. Both were top-15 plays a few games ago.
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) played and finished with just four points, two boards and five assists. He’ll get better as he gets healthy and he’s not playing the Warriors.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
The Warriors rolled without Stephen Curry (thigh) and Shaun Livingston (16 points, six assists, one steal, 20 minutes) picked up enough slack to keep the other big names from posting ridiculous lines.
Kevin Durant scored 21 points with seven boards, eight assists and no money counters, and Draymond Green scored 20 points with four rebounds, five assists, two steals and three treys. Klay Thompson posted 15 points, four boards, five assists and three triples in the win. Nothing to see here and Curry could easily be back after a one-game absence.
NOT KISSING THE RING
LeBron and Co. traveled on subways to start the day and that sort of summed up this noisy matchup, which culminated in the Cavs nearly getting run out of Madison Square Garden, benching their starters early in the third quarter and then getting it all figured out for a comeback win.
Surely you’ll hear about all the postgame quotes from LeBron and Enes Kanter, or his dust-up with Frank Ntilikina. It was all classic NBA Twitter stuff and as far as the game itself went, LeBron continued his early season surge with 23 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, three blocks and two threes. He’s a clear sell-high target and if you can get anything in the top-15 it’s something to consider.
Kevin Love (six points, six boards) and Jae Crowder (13 points, two threes) were both benched and limited to 22-23 minutes, J.R. Smith continued his recent push with eight points, five boards, three assists, three steals and two threes, and Dwyane Wade was productive off the bench with 15 points, eight boards, three assists, two steals and one block in 28 minutes.
Kyle Korver got loose for 21 points, five boards, one steal and five treys in 29 minutes. I don’t trust much of anything in Cleveland these days, as the pieces surrounding LeBron could fade in and out based on the chemistry of the team at any given time. But still, Smith deserves a look in 12-14 team leagues, Wade should be watched to see if he’s turning a light switch on and Korver can be ignored.
YES YOU KANTER
Kristaps Porzingis struggled hitting 7-of-21 shots and 4-of-7 free throws, but still put up 20 points with seven boards, two threes, two steals and one block. Tim Hardaway Jr. had the big line of the night with 28 points, 10 boards, five assists, four threes, two steals and one block, highlighting why you don’t panic on players in the first week or two of the season.
Enes Kanter also popped off with 20 points, 16 boards and four assists. He has top 40-50 value on the year so far and nobody has really noticed.
His percentages are high but nothing else is truly ridiculous about his stat set. He’s just getting minutes (25.5) and duplicating what he has done at past stops. There’s some buy low appeal if his owner hasn’t figured that out yet, though you’ll need to let this last line cool off.
Frank Ntilikina needs to get more minutes if you’re a Knicks fan but he did well last night with the 24 he received, scoring seven points with three rebounds, two assists and six steals. He’s emerging as one of the better rookie defenders that we’ve seen in the past few years, and he’s a must-own player in 12-team formats.
DID WE ALL JUST FORGET TO GIVE TYREKE EVANS A NICKNAME?
The Grizzlies have fallen back to earth and are now at a much more reasonable 7-6 record, which is a big deal if you own players like Mike Conley or Marc Gasol. If the Grizz are in contention, then those guys will play through stuff toward the end of the year.
Conley appears to be playing through an Achilles injury right now and he hit just 2-of-12 shots for seven points, two assists, one steal and two threes in 33 minutes. The opposing Bucks have length but that line is a pretty good sign he’s not at 100 percent.
This is the perfect time to sell-high on Tyreke Evans, who is picking up the slack for the offensively challenged team and is still healthy to start the year. Evans has been red-hot lately and put up 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting with three treys, six boards and three assists in 33 minutes.
He has been a top 30-40 player to start the year and if you can sell him for anything in the top-75 you are doing things extremely right.
Mario Chalmers scored 14 points with five boards, six assists, one steal, one three and 7-of-8 makes from the foul line. In a deeper league you could do well adding him with the hope he can tread some low-end water while also stepping in if Conley needs time off.
HOOPIN JOHN HENSON
The Bucks took Monday’s game against the Grizzlies behind 27 points, nine boards, seven assists, two steals and two blocks from Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s just hanging around the top of the leaderboard as the No. 3 and 4 play in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively.
We saw good John Henson, who put up 17 points with eight boards, three assists and two blocks on 8-of-10 shooting. He’s a clear must-own player now, which is fun to write.
Eric Bledsoe played through a knee contusion and put up 15 points, seven boards, four assists and one trey in 27 minutes, and I’m still projecting him to be around a top-60 guy, which is definitely not what owners bargained for.
Malcolm Brogdon (10 points, two threes) saw just 19 minutes in what was the first time we’ve seen him stuck in just a pure backup role. He looked like he was going to be Teflon there for a bit. We haven’t heard of an injury and he was in early foul trouble. He also plays for Jason Kidd so there is that. I’m mostly encouraged that he’s not losing too much value post-Bledsoe trade.
JOHN COLLINS, NOT TO BE MIXED UP WITH JIM COLLINS
The Hawks put a scare into the Pelicans but Kent Bazemore, who had a productive game, got really bad down the stretch and killed any chance of the upset. Bazemore scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
He also took a really hard fall and owners should watch that out of the corner of their eye. Baze is sitting on a top 60-70 season to start the year and the only thing that is of major concern is keeping up the 2.1 steals per game.
John Collins had another rough fantasy outing with just 12 points and six boards with no other stats and that was my worry with him heading into the league. He’s now just a top-160 player in 21 mpg and it begs the question of what he can be on the higher-end of his mpg potential.
It feels like he needs to crack 26 mpg to get into the top-100 discussion and what are the odds of that happening quickly and with staying power? Is that enough upside to go through the ups and downs? I think the answers to those questions keep him from being a must-own player in 12-team leagues.
LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Watching Pelicans Twitter go nuts watching DeMarcus Cousins kick the ball around the yard is fun. At first it’s ‘oh damn this dude can do everything’ and then it becomes ‘maybe he really shouldn’t be doing everything.’ Cousins has been doing everything so far in New Orleans and it’s reflected in his fantasy rankings, where he’s No. 2 in 8-cat leagues and NO. 7 in 9-cat leagues.
Last night he was benched down the stretch (and brought back in the final moments) but still posted 22 points, 16 boards, seven assists, three steals, three treys and seven turnovers. He’s leading the league with 5.4 turnovers per game, which is because the Pellies are letting him do all of the perimeter stuff that has gotten him in trouble in the past.
Though his 3-point shooting has improved and to their credit, the Pellies have been smarter about getting him in the post, it’s still never going to work long-term and my guess is that they’ll implode before they figure that out.
Speaking of which, Rajon Rondo (groin) had a return announcement out of nowhere and was slated to play a whole six minutes. Seeing the way the bigs have dominated the touches it’s hard to see him being an impact player, even in 8-cat leagues, but it would be total Rondo to show up and demand everybody play his style to hilarious effect.
You’re selling high on pretty much any of them. Cousins because he has a history of gaining weight as the year goes on, because drama and because he’s not a spring chicken. And also because he’s not putting these numbers up all year. And also because Rondo.
You’re selling high on Anthony Davis (13 points, 10 boards, seven assists, two steals, four blocks) because he almost killed himself slipping on a mop leaning up against the stanchion tonight.
You’re selling high on E’Twaun Moore (24 points, four assists, two threes) because he’s about to get elbowed out no matter how much better he is than Rondo.
KUZ-LASH (KUZ-LASH, KUZ-LASH, KUZZZ-LASH)
The Lakers’ box score is going to take twists and turns on a nightly basis because Lonzo Ball (seven points, five boards, five assists, two steals, one three) isn’t going to be consistent and once you get past that massive domino, the team is stocked with young and inconsistent players.
Brandon Ingram is high on that list and he put up another dud last night, scoring six points on 2-of-9 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, one block and 2-of-4 FTs. There’s a reason he’s not on very many Hoop Ball teams, and it’s the 43.6 percent from the field and 63.8 percent from the line. I’d be so much more excited about his long-term future if he could dent the foul shooting issue.
Kyle Kuzma hit three treys to survive an otherwise quiet 11 points, six boards and two assists on 4-of-12 shooting. He’s rolling with top-100 value on the year and it’s taking him 31.1 mpg to get there. His lack of defensive stats (0.5 combined) makes you think he’s going to have a hard time staying afloat when his percentages take an inevitable dip.
Jordan Clarkson scored 25 points off the bench with three treys, three boards, three assists and a steal in 26 minutes. He’s hitting 51.2 percent of his shots and seeing just 21.3 mpg, which means that his late-round value is inverted right now and it’s probably a sell-high moment in deeper leagues.
Julius Randle’s nightmare start continued as he put up eight points, eight boards, two blocks and one three in his 19 minutes. That’s basically his averaged on the season minutes-wise, and one has to wonder if he’s on the outside looking in from an organizational standpoint. He’s worth owning in 12-team formats but his per-minute issues were evident at times last season.
WHAT IF WE WERE TO GET DEVIN BOOKER *MORE* SHOTS
The Suns got 47 combined shots out of T.J. Warren (23 points, 9-of-20 FGs, eight boards, three assists, one block) and Devin Booker (36 points, four rebounds, three assists, four threes, 14-of-27 FGs). Jay Triano has been letting these two get after it and the rest of the team has been struggling, which is one way to go about things.
Tyler Ulis (1-of-7 FGs) started again and finished with two points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals in 27 minutes, and Mike James (five points, one assist, 2-of-10 FGs) saw 17 minutes off the bench.
The Suns haven’t spent any time building around Ulis’ ability to get anywhere on the floor that he wants in the pick-and-roll, but they have spent time getting Booker his looks and until he can get more than three assists on a night like this they’re going to struggle.
We had a Dragan Bender sighting as he put up 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with two threes and five boards in 20 minutes. He’s at top-215 value in 20.9 mpg and outside of the current four-game week there’s no reason for 12-14 team owners to be stashing him.
Marquese Chriss scored four points with seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks, and I can’t imagine dropping him for any reason this season. He’s got too much money counting production going on (2.8) and in 21.0 mpg he’s still a top-150 value.
BRUSKI’S GORGUI DIENG UPDATE
The Wolves showed up with Jeff Teague and knocked Ricky Rubio around in Utah, with Teague finishing with 22 points, four treys, three boards, three assists and one steal. Everybody else got theirs with 15 & 10, a steal and a block for Taj Gibson, 24 & 10 with six cash counters for Karl-Anthony Towns, and 21 points to go with four rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one block and 9-of-10 FTs for Jimmy Butler.
Hopefully some of you were able to cash in on the massive buy low window for Butler.
Gorgui Dieng (finger) did not play and he has three games to impress me before I stop aggressively holding and adding in competitive 12-team formats. The injury isn’t well-timed but he’s gotta show he can get to the 18-20 mpg mark.
WE’RE NOT SURE BUT MAYBE YOU SHOULD HANG ON TO JOE INGLES
Dan and I completely jinxed Smokin’ Joe Ingles by betting our lives on the fact he would get something like a 15-4-6 line and the same type of stuff that has pushed him into the top 50-60 range on the year. He’s been about as consistent as it gets but last night with Rudy Gobert out and Ricky Rubio (three points, 1-of-7 FGs, two assists) struggling, only the pure scorers got off.
Ingles finished with zero points on 0-for-6 shooting, one rebound and five assists in 24 minutes, but it feels like we have to say that he’s a must-own player in four-team formats.
Donovan Mitchell was one of those guys and he has really proven his fantasy creds by producing in the defensive stat categories. He scored 24 points last night on 10-of-19 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block.
If he was hitting better than 38.1 percent he’d be even better than the top-100 value he is currently, bolstered by 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He’s baby James Harden if he can get the efficiency figured out.
FANTASY VS. REALITY
Denver headed to Portland and got whomped and that’s always fun because of the trade these two teams made last year. Nikola Jokic got shut down with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting, seven boards, three assists, three steals, one block and one three, and it’s those five money counters and the strength of his 3.7 per game that have kept him just behind his ADP.
The Jamal Murray stuff is so hard to watch. He scored 18 points on 7-of-19 shooting with five rebounds, one steal and six turnovers. He’s bringing back top 140-165 value (8/9 cat) in 26 mpg, with averages of 13.2 points, 1.4 treys, 2.6 boards, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 42.1 percent field goal shooting and 90.3 percent from the line.
His shooting is more or less right where it should be and all of his numbers are a stone’s throw away from where they should be. There should be absolutely zero confusion about this. It’s not a question of can the coach get old, underperforming Player X out of the way or is there some question of Player Y not getting it done.
Murray is having exactly the season he is supposed to be having – with no Jameer Nelson around no less – and what are the backers expecting if he gets 30 mpg over Emmanuel Mudiay. We actually projected him right around that mark, and if he stays true to form he’s looking at top-100 value on a per-game basis.
That’s definitely not breakout territory and it’s not mid-round pick territory and it’s not beg readers to hold on territory. I’ll do that later with Richaun Holmes because there’s actual upside there.
MAMA’S DON’T LET YOUR BIG MEN GROW UP TO SHOOT JUMPERS
Jusuf Nurkic got a little extra leash against his old squad and finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting with five rebounds, one assist, one block and seven turnovers in 30 minutes. He’s a great buy low target with just top 100-175 value (8/9 cat), though one has to wonder if the 15 percent of his field goal attempts that have shifted from 0-3 feet to 10+ feet is a trend.
Repeat after me – big men moving away from the basket is not good for fantasy value. The good news is that he’s probably due for a pretty big positive regression on the rebounding (7.3) number.
BRUSKI’S RICHAUN HOLMES UPDATE
I said it on our Weekly Lineup Show that I didn’t care what Richaun Holmes did this week. I also saw the pregame note from Keith Pompey that Brett Brown had been going to Amir Johnson to tell him he wouldn’t be playing much in the previous two games so that Holmes could play.
The end of that article noted how Brown had not done that on Monday, so it was pretty clear that Johnson would get the nod against the veteran Clippers frontcourt. Holmes had a no-show against the Kings, which given the funk of that game wasn’t without explanation, and he did alright against the Warriors but some key things like fouling did come into play.
The way I see this position battle, unless the Colangelos are going to totally screw this up, is that Brown is making Holmes turn on the afterburners before he outright gives him the job. Four games into Holmes’ season I’m okay with him not immediately taking over, though I am a bit mad at Aron Baynes for making Holmes’ Week 1 coincide with Week 5 of the calendar.
I’m making a big bet on talent here that he can wedge his way into value before the timer expires, but it’s extremely easy to make that bet with Johnson not being any good (he was a -19 in 12 minutes last night), Joel Embiid hitting the ground hard every night, and Ben Simmons having the ability to slide over and play the three.
Robert Covington – who the record should show was a Hoop Baller before Hoop Ball was even Hoop Ball – which might deflate some folks around the Internet – he went off for 31 points, five treys, six boards, four assists, four steals and 8-of-8 FTs.
Speaking of big men losing value as they move away from the hoop. Blake Griffin hit just 10-of-25 shots (including three treys) for 29 points, six rebounds, five assists and one block. He’s bringing back top 40-50 value in 35.2 mpg while hitting 43.4 percent from the field and 77.3 percent from the line. At least one of these things can’t keep up and that’s before we get to the injury risk.
DeAndre Jordan (two points, five boards, one block) got punked by Joel Embiid (32 points, 16 boards, one block) and that’s pretty wild on a few fronts. Lou Williams got loose for 31 points, seven boards, six assists, five steals, five treys and 8-of-10 freebies, which he is known to do when he gets full run of the yard.
The Kings are a mess and it’s almost not worth doing this writeup but here we go. George Hill scored 16 points by taking what the defense gave him and making open shots, but basically got benched and avoided in the third quarter as the Kings reverted back to bad offensive sets. He’s good enough to have value and the Kings would be wise to force the issue with him, but they probably won’t.
The rest of the box was classic Kings and the only players that are getting it done are Buddy Hield (12 points, three boards, three assists, three steals, two threes) and De’Aaron Fox (10 points, three boards, five assists, one three) and Fox isn’t even really doing that.
He’s just flashing his upside and getting plenty of minutes, so you know that once the Kings get some players out of his way that he’ll be good to go.
Hield is just chucking stuff up at every opportunity and as long as he stays somewhat in his lane he is a good bet to finish with late-round value.
Skal Labissiere (11 points, triple-one) is one bad play away from getting benched but when the Kings just get him the ball in spots where he doesn’t have to think he’s good. I wrote about that over the weekend so give it a look.
THE OUBRE OVER/UNDER
The Wizards played this at about half speed in the first half and then turned it on in the second half for the easy win. Markieff Morris logged just 20 minutes with four points, two boards, two assists and one steal on 2-of-9 shooting, which opened the door for a low-minute night with the game over by the end of the third quarter.
Kelly Oubre survived with 12 points, eight boards, three assists, two steals and one three in his 22 minutes. He’s still a late-mid round play on the year in 29 mpg but he’ll hang around the cut line in 12-team leagues and the goal for him will be to maintain low-end value so owners can hedge it against the upside.