January 23, 2021, 1:20 am
Clint Capela has spent countless hours facilitating the triple-doubles of both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but Friday night he finally got one of his own. Best of all, he did it his way, with 13 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocks. Capela has had a monstrous week and thanks in large part to his play, the Hawks crushed the Timberwolves tonight and moved to a three-game winning streak.
For the week he’s ranked inside the top-10 in both 8 and 9-cat leagues. When a guy like Capela is performing like this the sell-high alarms are triggered immediately. And certainly, there’s an element of overperformance this week with Capela playing 37, 39 and 39 minutes in the Hawks’ preceding three games. That was a result of injuries thinning out the team’s rotation and is far above where his playing time will end on a regular night. Capela’s also been helped by the low quality of his opponents this week as the Hawks have played Minnesota twice and the Pistons once.
But Capela is key to the Hawks’ success. He’s by far their best defensive player and the linchpin of their ability to stop other teams from scoring. His aggressive play and the Hawks’ comfort with giving him big minutes is a clear sign that he’s finally fully healthy. He’s not going to look like Dikembe Mutombo every day, but he produced the line of the night and is clearly in the midst of a fantastic season.
Add(s) of the Night
DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Houston Rockets
Christian Wood (ankle) missed tonight’s game after spraining his ankle on Wednesday, so Cousins got a chance to show off what he can do with 32 minutes of playing time. Once you finish double-taking the 2-of-16 shooting, the rest of his line is a great value off the wire. He grabbed 15 rebounds, dropped off seven assists and blocked two shots. Rockets’ coach Stephen Silas has already said he doesn’t expect Wood to be ready for the team’s game on Saturday, so if Cousins is still floating around on the wire, he should make a great streamer for the weekend. Don’t hesitate to drop him once Wood does return, though.
Wayne Ellington, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons
Ellington is the hottest 3-point shooter in the league over the past week, banging in roughly 5.7 threes per game on 56.7 percent shooting from deep. He’s still ranked outside the top-100 in 9-category leagues because he doesn’t do much besides hit threes, but when a guy has hands this hot you ought to take advantage of it in the short-term. Even when regression hits, Ellington may be able to stay locked-in as the Pistons’ starting shooting guard due to his strong working relationship with coach Dwane Casey.
For a greater suite of tonight’s standout performances, take a glance at the Pickups of the Night.
Cedi Osman, SF/PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Osman had the game of his life on Wednesday when he played 50 minutes in the Cavs’ thrilling double-OT win over the Nets. Even after that game though, most knew he was headed toward drop territory with Darius Garland’s return imminent. Osman still saw 28 minutes on the court tonight with Garland back, but his production fell off hard as he scored just five points with little else. His playing time should decline even further once Garland shakes off the rust. Hopefully, you made the most of his hot run.
Kevin Durant (Achilles recovery) sat out tonight’s rematch with the Cavs as part of his load management schedule. He will presumably play in the Nets’ matchup with the Heat tomorrow.
Dejounte Murray (ankle sprain) appeared to injure his ankle in the opening minute of tonight’s game and quickly limped to the locker room. He was ruled out later in the evening, but coach Gregg Popovich said after the game that Murray would be fine. Keep an eye out for an official update from the team tomorrow.
Kyle Lowry (toe infection) missed out on the Raptors’ win over Miami tonight. Norman Powell stepped into the starting lineup in his place and dropped 23 points on 56.6 percent shooting. It’s not clear how long this infection will keep Lowry sidelined.
Christian Wood (ankle) was ruled out tonight and labeled doubtful for tomorrow’s game. Coach Silas has already said he doesn’t expect Wood to play tomorrow.
LeBron James (ankle sprain) is questionable and Anthony Davis (ankle sprain) is probable for Saturday’s game in Chicago.
Wendell Carter Jr. (thigh bruise) was ruled out early in the day and coach Billy Donovan does not think he’ll play in Saturday’s game either.
Patrick Williams (right hip) returned after missing Monday’s game in Houston. The rest of the Bulls’ wings are all finally healthy and that resulted in Williams playing a season-low 16 minutes. It appears the rookie’s role is in jeopardy.
Nicolas Batum (personal) was initially ruled out but wound up playing in the Clippers’ matchup with the Thunder tonight. Batum is returning from the birth of his child and was awaiting clearance to play prior to the game.
Ricky Rubio (health protocols) was initially listed out, then labeled questionable and ultimately ended up playing in the Wolves’ loss to the Hawks tonight.
Time For Your Check-Up
Tonight’s slate included a number of performances from players returning from long absences due to injury or sickness. Let’s do a checkup to see how they fared and what effect they had on their team’s rotation.
Darius Garland was finally given the go-ahead after missing close to three weeks with a shoulder strain. He came off the bench and played 22 minutes as the Cavs knocked off the Nets for the second time this week. While that’s a promising minutes load for his first game back, he did seem rusty and only scored 11 points on the back of 30.8 percent shooting from the field. Before his injury Garland was nipping at the top-50 with per game averages of 17.2 points, 2.5 threes, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the line. None of that seems unsustainable and you can tell from watching him that he’s become much more confident in his play this season. Once his playing time ramps up and he shakes off the rust, his breakout sophomore year should be back in full gear. Garland’s return means Damyean Dotson’s playing time was reduced down to nine minutes after averaging over 30 minutes a night for the last two weeks, making him largely irrelevant for fantasy purposes. As mentioned above, Cedi Osman’s role is also likely to shrink as Garland gets back into the swing of things.
Michael Porter Jr. hasn’t played since the 29th of December due to a combination of COVID quarantining and reconditioning. His return tonight was less than spectacular as he played 19 minutes and put up just seven points with one three, six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Porter’s per game numbers from before his time in quarantine rank him as the 19th/9th overall player in 8/9-cat leagues. Those numbers appear to suggest he was in the middle of a big breakout season, but drill down and you’ll see that’s somewhat deceptive. In the four games those numbers are based on, Porter only played above 30 minutes once and played under 25 twice. Playing time will be the biggest barrier to Porter’s breakout and clearly coach Michael Malone is not afraid to play his young star like a backup if he isn’t impressing on the defensive end. Porter has too much upside to suggest shopping him, but don’t expect him to maintain his mark as a top-10 player.
Seth Curry was finally back in game shape after missing seven games due to contracting COVID-19. In his first game back tonight, he immediately jumped to playing 27 minutes. His production in that time was thin but efficient and his managers will be content enough seeing that level of playing time. A lot of people may have forgotten that before his bout with the virus Curry was having the best season of his career with per game averages of 17.0 points, 3.1 threes, 3.6 assists, 0.8 steals and an absurd 60.3 percent shooting from the field. Currently, Curry is ranked as the 49th/38th overall player in 8/9-cat and tonight’s limited production might be your last chance to buy-low.
Danilo Gallinari was placed on a 15-minute restriction in his return to the Hawks tonight. That’s not nearly enough time to discern how he’ll affect the playing time of his teammates going forward. With regard to his own role, he did himself a favor with a respectable 10-point, four-rebound performance. Gallinari has been mired with injury this season and had only played in two games prior to tonight. While he was away the Hawks’ young players stepped up, so he could be looking at a more competitive position battle going forward. If he was dropped in your league, he’s worth a flier but keep expectations low.
Cody Zeller has been sidelined since the season opener with a fractured hand and all that missed time was on display tonight as he looked very rusty. He was essentially a non-factor in the Hornets’ 110-123 loss to the Bulls, playing only 10 minutes and scoring five points with three rebounds in that time. The main question surrounding Zeller’s return though is how he will affect PJ Washington. Zeller’s absence allowed Washington to get more play at center, which bumped up his rebounding and defensive stats. Washington has played so well recently that you’d expect his role to be secure, but his production was noticeably thinner than usual tonight. It may seem small, but even if Zeller only sucks away a few minutes of Washington’s playing time at the five, that can have a big effect on his fantasy game. If you were intending on selling-high on Washington, that window is likely closed now as most managers will be aware of his and Zeller’s dynamic.