• The biggest news item from Thursday was the Nikola Mirotic trade. The Bulls sent him and a second-round pick to the Pelicans for Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, and Tony Allen.

    Winners: Pelicans, Nikola Mirotic, Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Dan “Niko Fanboy” Besbris

    Losers: Dante Cunningham, the five guys who owned Dante Cunningham in fantasy basketball, Cheick Diallo fans

    We had ourselves a five-game slate on Thursday night and it was a doozy.

    Supercharging the New-look Pistons, Reke stuck in Limbo

    We got our first look at Blake Griffin in his Pistons debut and he looked with a 24/10/5 double-double performance. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies held Tyreke Evans out of this game and will continue to do so until he is traded. That combination allowed the Pistons to come away with the 104-102 victory.

    With Griffin now in Motown, there were concerns that he’d slow down Andre Drummond and his bounce-back season. Well, Drummond allayed those fears with a 14-15 dub-dub of his own. It looks like the Pistons’ towers are already able to share both the paint and the glass, which is obviously good for their respective fantasy values. The duo’s supporting cast of Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, and Ish Smith played fairly well. The notable letdown of the night was Luke Kennard who was limited to four points in 21 minutes off the bench.

    Obviously, Marc Gasol had his hands full. He ended up getting limited to 19 points on 6-of-21 shooting from the field. Andrew Harrison outplayed backcourt partner Wayne Selden with his 18 points and eight dimes. Selden had the better game last time around. Yeah, both guys will be inconsistent and projecting which one will have the good game, will cause migraines. Bad ones.

    The Real Deal Beal

    Bradley Beal outplayed the Raptors’ backcourt duo with 27 points and a full stat line. He did get some much needed help from both Otto Porter and Markieff Morris and the Wizards wound up getting the 122-119 win.

    Beal will be hot while John Wall (knee) is out. Expect the offense to flow through him, allowing the guard to flirt with top-15 value on most nights. That is, of course, under the assumption that the Wiz don’t secure another playmaker to act as a placeholder for Wall.

    Speaking of the Raptors’ backcourt duo, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 52 points, with DeRozan struggling with his shot in this game. Serge Ibaka was a no-show on defense and failed to record a steal or a block. He did manage to chip 16 points on some efficient shooting from the field. Jonas Valanciunas stayed hot with 17 points and six boards.

    Oh Deer! The Injuries! Please Stop!

    The Bucks were already without Eric Bledsoe (ankle) and they lost Malcolm Brogdon (quad tendon) early in this game as well. As expected, the Timberwolves attacked like a pack of, uh wolves, and destroyed the Bucks 108-89.

    Andrew Wiggins disappeared with seven points to his name, so Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler handled things with 24 and 28 points, respectively.

    To add injury to, uh, more injury. Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted that he twisted his ankle late in the game and had trouble putting weight on it. He did finish with a 17/15/6 line for the night but should be expected to miss a few games. With their ranks decimated by injuries, expect the Bucks to lean on Khris Middleton, John Henson, and eventually Jabari Parker (ACL) for some extra production moving forward.

    The Beard for MVP

    James Harden and Clint Capela systematically destroyed the Kawhi-less Spurs 102-91, with respective double-doubles. Harden fell back to Heaven after his historic 60-point trip-dub and delivered 28 points, 11 dimes and a bunch of other fantasy goodies. He’s been crazy-good this season and is a strong contender for MVP, both in real-life and fantasy.

    Chris Paul showed a bit of rust in his return from a one-game absence with a groin injury. He scored 10 points and handed out two assists in 30 minutes. The key takeaway here is the 30 minutes the coaching staff allowed him to play. Expect him to return to his 1st-round-value form soon enough.

    When Danny Green is your top performer with a ridiculously rare (like a Blood Moon) 22-point, full-stat-line game, then you know the Spurs are in trouble. LaMarcus Aldridge was the only other starter to chip in with double digit scoring 16 markers and eight boards. Don’t go out of your way to grab Green after this explosion. He’s a fantasy tease at times and can just easily toss up a 4-point dud on horrible shooting in his next game. You’ve been warned.

    A Fantasy Buffet of Big Lines

    This was a fun game. Russell Westbrook went off with 20 points, nine boards, and 21 dimes. Paul George erupted for 43 points. George sank a clutch three to tie the game 124-124 with hardly any time left on the clock.

    Unfortunately, PG13’s heroics was in vain. Nikola Jokic dished out a bullet-inbounds pass to Gary Harris who sank a triple to nail down the 127-124 win. Eyes were on Russell Westbrook, who was accused of falling asleep on D in that last play.

    To the Nuggets’ credit, Jokic dropped a sweet 29/13/14 triple-double and Gary Harris was spectacular with 25 points and five triples. Jamal Murray earned himself a nice sell-high window with his 33-point performance.

    Entertaining game, huge stat lines, and some on-court action with Westbrook shoving a fan who rushed the court. What more can you ask for?

    -0-

    The trade deadline is just around the corner. To find out who the Hoop-Ball community are stashing, head to our FORUMS for some interactive crowdsourcing.

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