December 7, 2019, 3:17 am
Friday night had 10 games, which means a ton of fun and compelling fantasy lines, but perhaps no game featured more goodies than Minnesota vs. Oklahoma City.
You had Chris Paul coming through for 30 points, four boards, seven assists, two blocks, a 3-pointer and no turnovers in 37 minutes, plus one snitch on Jordan Bell for having his jersey untucked. Considering that led to the Wolves’ second delay of game and a technical free throw in a game that ultimately went to OT, give Paul another big assist that’s not in the box score. Remember when people were freaking out about CP3 a week or two into the year? He’s returning third-round value now.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put up 29 on 8-of-13 from the floor and 12-of-12 at the stripe, and he’s the most boring of the big guns from this game.
Steven Adams, another Thunder vet who was nearly left for dead by the impatient crowd, is going bananas over the last handful of games and kept that up tonight. He put up 22 points, 11 boards, two steals and four blocks, though it was one of his two assists ended up saving the game. A last second, full-court heave to Dennis Schroder (25 points and a triple-one) resulted in the game-tying layup. The Thunder took it to improve to 9-12, and they’re not all that far off in the playoff chase. A lot of people wrote them off as a clear rebuilding team, but the bones of this roster are absolutely good enough to earn a playoff berth…
As for Minnesota, the absence of Andrew Wiggins led to Jeff Teague rejoining the starting lineup and he posted a monstrous line of 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, five boards, nine assists, two steals and four triples. The Wolves have committed to a starting backcourt of Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie, which makes the most sense considering Teague won’t be back next season, but he’s clearly a starting-caliber player. He’s getting undervalued in fantasy again. Teague isn’t a league-winning player but a lot of fantasy GMs seemed quick to write him off after his first bad year in a while last season. Seems like the selective excuses are in play again.
Lastly, we have to take a second to talk Karl-Anthony Towns. He was a game-time call because of right knee tendinopathy but that definitely wasn’t an issue. 30 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks, five 3-pointers, 11-of-16 shooting. Good lord.
In fantasy, it’s common to be annoyed when a gifted giant decides to spend too much time on the perimeter. Those shots can help space the floor and make the team better, but over time they’re a major drag on field goal percentage. This season, Towns is quieting anyone who dares complain about his elite production. He’s taking an absurd 8.7 3-pointers per game this year. Eight point seven 3-pointers per game. That’s sixth most in the entire NBA. He’s also hitting them at a sterling .427 clip. KAT’s hitting a career-high percentage after nearly doubling his volume. Towns is insane.
Add(s) of the Night
Kent Bazemore, G/F, Portland Trail Blazers
Bazemore didn’t do anything to wow us tonight, but he might start doing that immediately from here on out. Rodney Hood’s torn Achilles blows a hole in the Portland rotation, and Bazemore is the obvious (and maybe only) option to soak up those minutes. He was sitting just outside the top-200 in 22.4 mpg prior to tonight, and the Blazers now have to replace Hood’s 29.5 mpg. The other candidates include Gary Trent, backup point guard Anfernee Simons and a miscast Mario Hezonja, so Bazemore has big minutes coming until/unless the team decides to bring in outside help.
He’s produced top-90 value in past seasons as a starter. At the very minimum he should start pinging on the radar as a steals specialist. There’s no reason for Bazemore to be on the wire in competitive leagues by this time tomorrow. Don’t let tonight’s line of 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes throw you off.
Our Pickups of the Night column will have the full rundown for you.
Just a reminder — you don’t have to cut these guys, but they’re players that you shouldn’t necessarily feel terrible about letting go in 12-team formats.
Danny Green, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Green’s just a late-round guy and is playing only 25.5 mpg between the Lakers’ depth on the wings and the fact that he doesn’t play deep into blowouts. There’s not a ton of upside, and while he’s still chipping in enough threes, steals and blocks to make him worth the frustration in roto formats, H2H players can squeeze more value out of a streaming spot. DG had three points, a steal and a block in 21 minutes tonight.
Jordan Clarkson, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have given Kevin Porter Jr. more run that expected earlier than expected, and it seems to be coming at Clarkson’s expense. A steady top-115 type last season, Clarkson has seen his minutes and scoring numbers dip. For a volume guy that does most of his damage by scoring 15 points and grinding out just enough to stay useful elsewhere, that’s a bad recipe. Clarkson had eight points and two triples on putrid 2-for-11 shooting in 21 minutes against Orlando.
Ky Bowman, PG, Golden State Warriors
Bowman’s in an interesting spot because the Warriors seem ready to dial back the minutes on Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell, which does open up PG work. Bowman will be harder to cut if you need assists but it’s going to be hard for him to deliver standalone value with the Dubs quasi-healthy.
Rodney Hood is out for the season, and maybe parts of next year, after suffering a torn left Achilles. Bazemore, Ant Simons, Nassir Little and Mario Hezonja are about to play some important minutes.
Marcus Smart was able to return from a two-game absence (illness/abdomen) and played 28 minutes in a blowout win, so he’s good to go. Elsewhere around the Cs, Gordon Hayward is expected to get back to practice this weekend and Christmas has been floated out as a super late return date, so expect GH back in the next week or two.
Otto Porter and his strained right foot won’t be re-evaluated again for another two weeks and is pretty tough to hold unless you’ve got an IR spot.
Stephen Curry underwent another surgery on his fractured hand, but no worries there — he’s still going to be re-evaluated in February as originally planned.
Andrew Wiggins sat out with a sprained left thumb but he was a game-time decision, so hopefully it’s not a big deal.
Kevin Love didn’t play due to illness and now the trade winds are swirling.
Goran Dragic (right groin strain) and Justise Winslow (back) both missed Friday’s game as Miami’s quest to never have a healthy roster continues.
Isaiah Thomas (right calf strain) sat out and Ish Smith makes sense as an assists guy whenever that happens.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee contusion) and Cory Joseph (back) ended up playing on Friday but neither had their best nights; BogBog deserves some leash while CoJo is only a deep-league guy.
Marvin Bagley also missed another game with his fractured right thumb but a return should be on the horizon.
LaMarcus Aldridge (sore thigh) came back from a two-game absence and had 19 & 13.
Luke Kennard checked back into the lineup despite bilateral knee tendinopathy and looked no worse for wear.
Joel Embiid has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the Cavs with a “left hip contusion,” which is a funny way of saying “we’re not wasting him against the Cavs.”
Aron Baynes is doubtful for Saturday with his left calf issue, and he’s running out of time to continue mounting his case to stay in the starting five. It’s wild that we’re even at this point considering he’d be bumping Deandre Ayton, or at least playing alongside him, but that’s just how good Baynes has been when healthy this year.
Mike Conley (hamstring) is questionable, and he’s basically been as disappointing as Baynes has been good.
Lastly, Ja Morant, who was said to be week-to-week, took part in portions of practice and the Grizzlies had no comment about his status for Saturday. That’s not much of an update, but it’s also not a normal thing that’s happening.
How Deep is Your Love?
In a twist that everyone saw coming, Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Cavs have started listening to trade offers for Kevin Love. That’s going to be a tough deal to trade with three years and $90 million left for a guy who has battled plenty of injuries, and the set of teams who feel that they need Love and those who can afford him without blowing up their current rosters is basically nonexistent. A great rebounder and floor-spacer that plays power forward would be an ideal fit for a team like the Blazers, for example, but adding that deal to their books guarantees that they’ll be in cap hell for three years.
The Cavs are said to be after young players and picks, which, duh, but the value of that contract — which is locked in for the summer of 2021 when everyone is ready to throw max money around again — cannot be great around the league. Nothing wrong with the player at all, though.
From a fantasy perspective, we can’t really draw any conclusions about this hypothetical trade. Love’s landing spot is going to be the determining factor but there are two main angles. Firstly, Love is highly unlikely to be the top dog on any team that trades for him, barring a weird situation where a team that definitely shouldn’t be trading for Kevin Love decides to trade for Kevin Love (Steve Mills, the floor is yours). Secondly, Love going to a team that has legitimate aspirations is probably going to help guarantee that he stays on the floor deep into the season. It’s a tricky needle to thread, as a full year of Love is probably better than 55-65 games with a shutdown, but what if he ends up on a team like the Celtics where he could be the third, fourth or fifth option on a nightly basis?
Obviously the H2H/roto dichotomy comes into play, but would you prefer another 40 games of top-35 Love or 55 games of top-80 Love? Something to chew on as the trade winds start to swirl.
In a similar but far more clear-cut vein, it might be wise to divest yourself from the name brand Warriors whenever the opportunity arises. D’Angelo Russell dropped a D’ud against the Bulls on Friday with seven points in 29 minutes, though his role seems relatively safe. He’s going to be like a fish in water as a chucker on a team with nobody else who can get their own shot, and him also being the guy who gets to try and create for the others is going to lead to a lot of hilarious box scores and crooked usage numbers. For now we’ll chalk up the low minutes — in a competitive game against the Bulls, of all situations — as the team being cautious considering he just returned from a thumb sprain. That said, do the Warriors really have a reason to push Russell into big minutes, even when he’s healthy?
The guy who you should really start to sweat about is Draymond Green. With an ADP of 51/33 (ESPN/Yahoo), fantasy GMs already have to be upset with top-90 returns as the team has completely crumbled around him. What’s more, they’re is already starting to manage his minutes. In the last five, Dray has played 24, 19, 23, 25 and 30 minutes.He’s shooting a seven-year low .402 from the field, has watched his assists drop as his teammates can neither make shots nor run the seamless movement offense that the Warriors have become known for (at least this one’s understandable and might improve), and has seen his blocks cut in half.
Between overall non-competitiveness, nightly blowout risk, the Dubs trying to protect their long-ish term investment in Green and the fact that he’s just due for rest after five years of extremely taxing seasons, this is a perfect storm of events. He might be the biggest back-to-back risk of anyone this side of Kawhi Leonard, and he’s having his playing time soothed a quarter of the way in.
The Warriors are an absolute wasteland right now and this is the sort of ugly situation that does end up producing league-swinging performances — they just happen at the end of the year when a bunch of random guys start playing 38 minutes a night because players like Russell and Green are out with “injuries.” If Green can string together a few good games, you have to see what you can get. Golden State is full of red flags for anyone that came with an initial investment.