• It was a good Thursday night overall. We were greeted with the news that D’Angelo Russell and Rudy Gobert are expected back in their upcoming games. In last night’s games, James Harden, who was out for a couple weeks with a hamstring injury, made his return for the Rockets. Out much longer for the Cavaliers, Derrick Rose played on a minutes limit off the bench. He’s not quite the impact player he once was, but should he come close to 80 percent of his former self, then Rose could prove useful to some managers in deep leagues.

    Missing Kyrie Irving

    The Sixers defeated a Kyrie-less Celtics team 89-80. As expected they leaned on the production of their dominant big man, Joel Embiid. The Process did not disappoint with 26 points and 16 boards. Ben Simmons had a quiet night, while Robert Covington underwhelmed with a 5-point performance. With J.J. Redick out, T.J. McConnell stepped up for the Sixers with 15 points and three steals off the bench. As expected, Marcus Smart slid into the starting lineup for the Celtics. He uncharacteristically had just one assist to go with his 13 points. Young studs, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown buckled under the pressure and struggled with their offensive games. Thankfully, Marcus Morris provided a spark off the bench with 14 points and six boards.

    The Book of Isaiah

    Isaiah Thomas led the Cavaliers to this close 104-103 victory over the Magic with 21 points, four dimes, and three triples. This allowed LeBron James, who was the focus of Orlando’s defense, to take a backseat in a while. He finished the game with 16 points, six assists and six turnovers.  Kevin Love had an off shooting night (30% from the field) but still ended up with a double-double and some peripheral contributions. As mentioned earlier, Derrick Rose returned after an extended absence from the game and scored nine points in 13 minutes. He will be eased in slowly. A now, deeper Cavs squad means that LeBron could throttle down a bit and just might slip out of fantasy’s top-8. Elfrid Payton was the top performer in fantasy for the Magic with 19 points, eight assists and a full stat line.  Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier chipped in with 17 points apiece, while Bismack Biyombo‘s scoring finally fell back down to Earth with his 8-point, 10-rebound game.

    A Beard in the Hand is Better than Two Suspended Guys

    The Rockets steamrolled over the Timberwolves 116-98, despite the absence of Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, who were both serving out suspensions after they decided to re-enact the invasion of Normandy in the Clippers’ locker room. Houston got James Harden (hamstring) back in this game but he was clearly dealing with some rust, as he ended up with just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the field. No problem. Chris Paul (19 points, nine assists), Clint Capel (20 points) and Eric Gordon (30 points, seven threes) took care of business. The Rockets’ solid team effort overshadowed the monster line dropped by Karl-Anthony Towns who stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, 16 boards, three dimes, two steals and five blocks. Of course, Jimmy Butler did his thing with 23 points and a diverse stat line. Unfortunately, Chris Paul got the better of Jeff Teague in this game and Wolves guard was limited to six points and three assists.

    Nurk It Like It’s Hot

    This game was all about the “Lillard-Nurkic Show” as the duo ran rings around the Pacers to lift the Trail Blazers 100-86. Lillard finished with 26 points and eight dimes, while Jusuf Nurkic finished with a 19-point, 17-rebound double-double. Shabazz Napier delivered off the bench with 13 points and a full line.

    Darren Collison and Victor Oladipo were the lone bright spots for the Pacers, who missed Myles Turner‘s (elbow) presence in the paint. The guard duo combined for 46 points but the rest of the team did not step up to their level of play in this outing.

Fantasy News

  • Nassir Little
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Nassir Little got his first career start on Wednesday and ended with seven points (3-for-10), five boards, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer.

    It's worth keeping an eye on Little if he continues to start and picks up his production. But for the moment, he hasn't done enough to warrant picking up outside of deep leagues.

  • Fred VanVleet
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Fred Vanvleet had a monstrous line, ending with 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting, four rebounds, seven dimes, two steals, a block and sinking four from deep on Wednesday night.

    VanVleet has been blowing his ADP out of the water this season. He is right on the cusp of top-25 production, and while he might not end the season there, he has the potential to put up big numbers with Kyle Lowry (fractured thumb) watching from the sidelines.

  • Pascal Siakam
    PF, Toronto Raptors

    Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring with 36 points (15-for-28 shooting), along with six rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on Wednesday night.

    Pascal Siakam continues to have huge games and proves that he was worth an early-round pick. He contributes across the board, and the injuries to the Raptors will only provide higher upside for Siakam.

  • Norman Powell
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell couldn't find his shot, ending the night with two points on 0-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks against Portland on Wednesday.

    Powell got the start with Kyle Lowry out, but tonight just wasn't his night. That being said, he has provided decent out of position blocks recently, and should still be a valuable asset with Lowry out.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol racked up four blocks to go along with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers on Wednesday.

    Gasol has strung together a couple meaningful lines now and the four blocks help ease the disappointing start to the season. With Serge Ibaka sidelined by injury, Gasol has the opportunity to start working his way back to the top-100 value many were expecting.

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had his best game of the season, putting up 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 11 boards, one assist, a block and a steal on Wedensday.

    The Raptors have caught the injury bug and Hollis-Jefferson is making the most of his time. He could be a productive streamer if OG Anunoby continues to miss time.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns had another fantastic night, finishing with a line of 28, 11, 4 and three 3-pointers in a 129-114 win against the Spurs on Wednesday.

    This was Towns' first game without a block this season, but made up for it with two steals to his name. He continues to dominate this season and is a top-5 player.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Andrew Wiggins continued his tear on Wednesday night, putting up 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.

    Wiggins turned in another great game and is currently returning top-25 value. This screams sell-high opportunity as it's hard to imagine him finishing the season this high. However, if you want to ride this one out, it's hard to find fault with that either.

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington didn't contribute much on Wednesday, finishing with 10 points, five boards, and a steal.

    Covington is currently hovering around his ADP of a top-50 player, and while he had a quiet night, by his standards, he'll bounce back.

  • Jarrett Culver
    G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarrett Culver started again and contributed across the board with 12 points (6-of-10 shooting), four boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks on Wednesday.

    It's good to see the field goal percentage trending the right way and the defensive stats were a nice addition. Culver isn't worth owning outside of deeper leagues, but could be an interesting steamer if Jeff Teague goes down again.