• Friday ramped us right back up to 13 games after a restful and food-filled Thursday, which means we have plenty of stuff to get to. Before we dive into the main courses, however, let’s give a shoutout to a few interesting spot performances.

    Fred VanVleet grabbed seven steals against Orlando, producing the third seven-steal game of the season. The other two belong to Ben Simmons. Last season saw just two such games, courtesy of PJ Tucker and Kyrie Irving. It really opens up after that, with nine such games in the 2017-18 season.

    Norvel Pelle logged 13 minutes and picked up four swats against the Knicks, taking full advantage of a thinned out rotation.

    LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl both blocked four shots for the Spurs. LMA is averaging 1.7 swats, with a previous career-high of 1.3 per game, while Poeltl has blocks in each of his last six, with a three-block, four-block and five-block game in that span.

    Nothing really crazy to gain from all that — just a shoutout for interesting games from a smattering of names that cover the entire fantasy spectrum.

    Add(s) of the Night

    It’s got to be Norman Powell, who exploded for a career-high 33 points in a road win against the Magic. Powell shot 12-of-18 from the field with five threes, and while the boards and assists were basically nonexistent he did manage two steals and a block. Norm outscored the entire Magic team in the third quarter and was in complete control tonight, confidently stepping into threes and then blowing past defenders for good looks at the rim. He’s been inconsistent, to the point that even Nick Nurse has called him out for it, but the Raptors need scoring badly and Powell can be a viable option even when he’s not hitting his ceiling like this.

    There’s obviously a lot of potential pickups to go through, so head on over to our Pickups of the Night in the Gametime Premium package for a full write-up.

    Drop Zone

    Remember, these are guys you can feel alright dropping in 12-team leagues, not players you have to cut.

    Joe Ingles – Man, this is not fun. Ingles strings together a couple good games to get you interested and then drops another dud, as he did with tonight’s 1-for-6 shooting game. The worst part is that he didn’t even get the additional stats that keep his value afloat with just a solitary rebound to his name. The percentages are so far out of whack that he’ll be able to improve without trying all that hard but the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley has crushed him. Suddenly the Jazz have another source of perimeter scoring, as well as a playmaker who can handle every aspect of starting on a title hopeful.

    Dwight Powell – Huge shoutout to you if you’ve hung on this long already. He’ll get snapped up in hyper-competitive leagues but unless you’re in comfortable standing, burning a roster spot on a top-240 guy any longer just can’t be recommended.

    Mikal Bridges – Bridges has gotten squeezed with the Suns finding time for Cam Johnson and Frank Kaminsky, of all people, plus the quality play of Kelly Oubre and Dario Saric. He’s still averaging 1.5 steals per game but he was picked with hopes of top-80 value. The minutes are flighty, and the other numbers just aren’t there.

    Kyle Kuzma – Kuzma’s had a terrible stat set, and at the risk of dropping a spicy hot take, nobody would care at all about him if he played for literally any other team. He’s a stretch four that’s not a great 3-point shooter. Four points in 17 minutes on 2-of-7 shooting should be the final straw for a lot of people out there, though value outside the top-200 should be the real deal-breaker.

    Isaiah Thomas – Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Thomas is going to get enough touches to make it work as a member of the starting five. That, plus Scott Brooks is keeping the timeshare with Ish Smith pretty tight.

    Injury Report

    We got a few guys returning to action tonight, with none more important than Aron Baynes in Phoenix. He needs to be plugged back into all fantasy lineups right away, and the real test will come when Deandre Ayton gets back on the court in eight games.

    Jimmy Butler returned from illness, which isn’t really an injury, but here’s your update.

    Ed Davis came back from his left fibula fracture, and while there’s no fantasy impact it’s good to see one of the league’s certified Good Guys back on the floor.

    Kyle Anderson returned after a one-game bout with right heel soreness, though he wasn’t quite himself in 14-minute clunker. Back to the more important guys.

    The Warriors are hopeful that Kevon Looney can play as soon as Monday, which means you should start looking his way if he’s on waivers.

    Josh Richardson (hamstring) and Al Horford (rest) sat out against the lowly Knicks, and you can guess which one of those is an actual concern.

    Cody Zeller (hip) went from probable to out in a hurry, giving Bismack Biyombo another night of streaming appeal.

    On the flip side, Aaron Gordon (right ankle sprain) went from doubtful to in, though he played limited minutes and might have some light restrictions for the next couple games.

    Tomas Satoransky played through a toe injury to log his usual minutes in the Bulls’ new guard-heavy Frankenlineup.

    Clint Capela and Danuel House are both sick and doubtful for Saturday, which is just terrible. It looks like Capela will miss the entirety of Houston’s two-game week, though if you had him benched anyway you might be feeling alright.

    Marvin Bagley (right thumb) is out for Sacto’s next two at least, while Trevor Ariza should be returning from his personal absence shortly. Bagley’s getting close, which means the clock is ticking for Nemanja Bjelica.

    Kenrich Williams suffered a left ankle sprain that looks like it’ll cost him some time, which opens the door for frontcourt guys like Nicolo Melli and Jah Okafor depending on how the Pels want to play it.

    Daniel Theis banged his knee early in Friday’s matinee, and while he was cleared to return, he never did. Which leads us to…

    Can’t Play Kanter?

    This looks like the moment of truth for Enes Kanter this season. Despite Theis’ seemingly constant injury troubles, the Celtics have plugged him back into the starting lineup at every single turn. Kanter has been a background character after hurting himself in the opener, and Boston looks like they really want to use Theis and Robert Williams as their center group given their profiles and Kanter’s terrible defense. There are only so many opportunities for Kanter to steal his job back, and we’re now at a point in the season where his limited usage is a clear pattern — this isn’t the team working him back in slowly.

    Since returning, Kanter has played 6, 25 (Theis and Williams both out), 15, 19, 5, 12, 14, 25 (Theis out),14 and 21 (Theis injured) minutes. That’s pretty inconsistent, and also pretty bad.

    He’s returning top-210/195 value to this point, and while we’ve seen that he only needs 22 mpg to return late-round numbers in the past, this is a very different team. Boston’s deep enough that they don’t necessarily need Kanter’s scoring to keep them afloat, and he just doesn’t fit with their defensive ideals. If Kanter can’t take advantage of Theis’ latest absence, should it even result in missed games, it’s looking like time to move on.

    The Celtics appear content to run a center hydra, with Theis’ versatility giving him the edge in all matchups. If Kanter settles in around 16 mpg, which looks about right when you ignore games where Theis/Williams are ailing, then there’s just not enough to believe in.

    Where has Mike Conley gone-ly?

    Mike Conley has had a rough start to his Utah career, that’s no surprise. The extent to which his assumed slump has lasted, however, is a shock. One of the most consistent players in the league has been nothing but consistently dreadful.

    A player with an early-middle round ADP is producing top-170/210 value through his first 19 games. Obviously there’s a major adjustment period, both on and off the court, and Conley is still providing on-court value for the Jazz. From a fantasy perspective, Conley is posting career-worst numbers in field goal percentage (.361 on 12.7 shots per night) and steals (0.7 per game). His scoring is down 7.2 points from last season — from 21.1 to 13.9 points per game. To put that differently, Conley’s scoring is down by over 34 percent from last year.

    Conley’s assists have also dipped, and that in particular is starting to look like a feature of Utah’s PGs, and not a bug. Ricky Rubio went through the same phenomenon while he ran the Jazz.

    While Conley is obviously better than this, it’s time to ask the question of where exactly he’ll end up at the end of the season, and whether or not that is going to float your boat. We’re essentially a quarter of the way through the year, and Conley hasn’t even been worth deploying in 14-team formats yet. Let’s say that he returns to top-30 form overnight. What does 3/4 of a year of that do to his value? He’s certainly not going to meet his peak and probably won’t sniff his ADP.

    At this point, it’s probably safest to count on Conley for something like top-100 value on the full season. Depending on your league, you might be fine with that as an end product. In other scenarios you might want to make a move if someone is still a big believer in Conley’s rebound potential (again, Conley’s really good and is going to turn this around to some extent). Either way, his current production has shifted his expectations substantially. It’s a fascinating case of asset management with a player whose consistency (tonight’s theme, apparently) has been taken for granted for so many years.

Fantasy News

  • Dennis Schroder
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder knocked in four threes on Saturday on his way to scoring 22 points with five rebounds and four assists.

    Schroder is just outside the top-120 on the season but is trending up over the past two weeks, averaging 21.0 points, 1.9 assists and 2.4 threes on .509 shooting from the floor. That's good for top-50 value over that stretch. Schroder's shooting will cool down and he will probably settle in around the top-100, but he is a strong hold in standard leagues and has upside if Chris Paul is traded or rests later in the season.

  • Will Barton
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    Will Barton was his old reliable, thrilling self on Saturday as he posted 18 points (7-of-14 shooting) with six rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer and two steals.

    Barton has been the Nuggets' pillar of stability when it comes to the arena of fantasy basketball. He's as steady as they come and is locked in to flirt with top-50 value while sporting a top-75 floor all season long.

  • Steven Adams
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Steven Adams double-doubled with 18 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes on Saturday.

    Adams is on a roll over his past seven games, averaging 15.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting .683 from the field. That's good for top-20 value over that stretch. Owners should try to sell high on Adams as the block numbers are unsustainable and his ROS outlook is murky with the possibility of being traded. Its hard to imagine him going to a better situation than OKC.

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Nikola Jokic was fantastic in Saturday's 110-102 win over the Thunder, triple-doubling for 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 14 rebounds, 12 assists, three treys and one steal.

    Jokic is trending up and fast. His buy-low window was shut with extreme prejudice with this favorable-matchup performance. He's ramping up closer to the top-15 zone of last season with each passing game.

  • Jerami Grant
    SF, Denver Nuggets

    Jerami Grant started for Paul Millsap (right quadriceps strain) on Saturday and delivered as expected with 13 points (4-of-8 shooting), four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 32 minutes.

    It was just a matter of time until this scenario emerged and now here we are. Grant is a must-grab guy, while Millsap is sidelined. He's able to give your fantasy team a dazzling 1-1-1 production with other solid counting stats on a nightly basis.

  • Abdel Nader
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Abdel Nader started on Saturday and scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with two assists and one three in 26 minutes.

    Nader is coming off of a 15 point and five threes performance on Wednesday and can be a streamer for threes while Terrence Ferguson is out of the lineup. Nader doesn't have much appeal though and there are probably better streaming options in standard-leagues.

  • Ben McLemore
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Ben McLemore scored 13 points with three steals and one 3-pointer in a start on Saturday.

    McLemore started for Russell Westbrook (rest) but was unable to do much with the opportunity. McLemore has been hot lately but will probably regress soon, especially when Eric Gordon returns. He can continue to be started until he goes cold, then he will return to being a 3-point streamer only.

  • Austin Rivers
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Austin Rivers scored 14 points with five assists in 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday.

    Russell Westbrook (rest) sat out of this one opening more ball handling opportunities for Rivers. Rivers can be used as a streamer when Harden or Westbrook are out, but he should return to the waiver wire when the Rockets are at full strength.

  • Chris Clemons
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Chris Clemons shot 5-of-11 from deep on his way to scoring 17 points in 16 minutes on Saturday.

    Clemons isn't afraid to shoot when given the minutes and added two steals and one block in this game. Clemons can be left on waiver wires and is too unpredictable to deploy as a streamer.

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Markieff Morris just missed a double-double on Saturday with 15 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench.

    The Pistons needed scoring badly with Andre Drummond (eye) out and Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) exiting early. Morris should see a boost if Griffin misses time, but he is outside the top-150 on the season and has limited upside. He can be left on waiver wires.