• Twas the night before Christmas Eve, when 22 teams suited up to give the ball a heave. Your belief in Old St. Nic Batum (five points, four boards) may begin to fade, but Deandre Ayton (top performer tonight) continues to clear the way. As the children get ready to sleep, dreaming of playoffs, 11 Western Conference teams (4th seed through 14th) are separated by just a peep. Out in the East, arose a clatter, as Myles Turner (career-high in boards) continues to prove that defensive stats matter. A Markkanen by any other name may just be Lauri, as he hit five triples while dropping in thirty. If you need a Buddy, he just hit six threes, and yes, crowds he did please. A Curry, a Dame, and a Kyrie will return on Tuesday if you care, tonight all three emerged victorious, will sleep without a scare.

    Hawks Fly High

    The Atlanta Hawks started off the Sunday festivities with a 98-95 win against the Detroit Pistons thanks to an all-around team effort. Six Hawks scored in double-figures, with Vince Carter leading the way with 18 points, seven boards and three triples off the bench in 28 minutes. Alex Len drew a start in John Collins’ (ankle) stead and double-doubled with 15 points, 17 boards, three blocks and a steal while Dewayne Dedmon added 11 points, five boards, and one of each of the counters. Trae Young and Jeremy Lin both shot 28.6 percent from the field, with Young launching 14 shots for 12 points while Lin launched seven to score 10. Kent Bazemore was the most impressive contributor on the evening with three blocks, two steals, and a triple with 13 points.

    Pistons Misfire From the Line

    It’s hard to win in the NBA when you shoot under 65 percent from the line as a team, as the Pistons proved on Sunday. The blame doesn’t all sit with Andre Drummond (13 points, 15 boards, five blocks) as he only attempted six of the team’s 27 freebies. Langston Galloway led the way with 18 points, three triples and two boards, but his value is only as a DFS punt on any given night. Zaza Pachulia produced his best game of the season with two blocks, two steals, eight boards and seven points while Reggie Bullock snapped his four-game streak in double-digit scoring to finish with eight points, three assists and two triples.

    My-Oh-Myles!

    Myles Turner is outplaying Victor Oladipo on a nightly basis, sitting as the 19th overall player in 8-cat leagues over the last month while Dipo clocks in at 20th. On Sunday he led the Pacers to a 105-89 win over the Wizards with 18 points, a career-high 17 boards, two assists, two blocks, one steal and a triple. Oladipo struggled, hitting 4-of-13 shots, but swiped three steals with two triples, nine assists and six boards. Domas Sabonis continued his 6th Man of the Year campaign with 15 points, 10 boards, three assists and two blocks on 6-of-7 shooting.

    Nothing Surprising about the Wizards

    The Wizards didn’t have either of their All-Star players in double-digits in the game, with John Wall and Bradley Beal both scoring seven points on the night while shooting under 20 percent apiece. Markieff Morris was the most productive Wizard, if you can call it that, with 16 points, six boards, a steal and a triple. Thomas Bryant followed up his explosive performance with a solid 11 points and seven boards in 18 minutes. The game was a blowout and Washington mailed it in with no starter logging over 28 minutes.

    One Last Wade Into The Swamps

    Dwyane Wade (10 points, four assists, one triple) and the Miami Heat emerged victorious in Orlando, 115-91 on Sunday thanks to a spirited performance by Justise Winslow. After struggling to find his shooting touch since coming into the league Winslow has been having some out-of-body performances in December. On Sunday he scored 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with three triples, four steals, five assists and six boards. He’s scored 20 or more in 4-of-8 despite missing time due to an injury during that stretch. He’s still a borderline 12-team candidate but if he’s on your wire I recommend that you pick him up in case he’s figured something out. Tyler Johnson led the Heat with 25 points and six triples while Josh Richardson double-doubled with 15 points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals and two triples.

    The Most Magical Time of the Year?

    Sometimes playing at home during the holidays can be distracting, and that’s exactly what apparently happened to the Orlando Magic tonight. Only three players made it into double-digits, led by Evan Fournier’s 17 points, six boards, four assists and three triples. Jonathon Simmons scored 11 with little else, while Aaron Gordon had a massive block to go along with 14 points, six boards, four assists, two triples and a steal. Nikola Vucevic put up a rare dud against the Heat with eight points and seven boards despite taking a team-high 12 shots.

    Nothing Synthetic About These Nets

    The Brooklyn Nets sit one game outside the Eastern Conference playoffs after securing a 111-103 win vs. the Suns on Sunday. Six Nets scored in double figures while Jared Dudley scored eight points with four assists. Spencer Dinwiddie continued his scoring spree off the bench with 24 points, two triples and seven assists. He’s scored in double-digits off the bench in every game this season save one. He’s a top-90 value on the season and has a shot as maintaining that with Caris LeVert still out. Rodions Kurucs is a baller — he will be a standard league play next season and might even manage it this year if the rotation works out in his favor. He double-doubled with 16 points, 10 boards, a block and two assists. Jarrett Allen scored 11 with a triple and nine boards.

    Welcome to Ayton-zona!

    Deandre Ayton is a throwback player, capable of scoring in a variety of ways. On Sunday he led the Suns and the NBA in productivity with 26 points, 18 boards, three blocks, two steals and an assist on 13-of-16 shooting. Ayton tied his career-high in both scoring and boards. Mikal Bridges didn’t want to be outdone so he added five steals with a block, four assists, three boards and nine points while logging a team-high 36 minutes. Kelly Oubre only logged 20 minutes, trailing Josh Jackson’s 23. Neither player will be useful but if you had to pick one go with Oubre. Devin Booker scored 25 points with nine assists and a triple.

    Ky-rie Ir-ving is Com-ing to Town!

    Kyrie and Kemba are two of the East’s premier floor generals, and on Sunday they met for battle. Irving emerged victorious 119-103, scoring 25 points with four triples, five assists, four boards and a block on 9-of-12 shooting. Marcus Smart chipped in three steals, five assists and two triples for six points. Al Horford returned from injury and logged 19 minutes to score 10 points with six boards and five assists. Gordon Hayward is playing worse now than he was early in the season, scoring eight points with seven boards and two dimes on 2-of-7 shooting.

    Old St. Nic Batum

    Nicolas Batum is a drop candidate in your 12-team league. That’s how bad the perennial top-100 lock has become in his age-30 season. Batum is outside the top-270 over the last week in 8-cat leagues and is outside the top-120 on the season. He hasn’t hit a free throw in two weeks and is averaging under 1.0 combined steals/blocks over that period. Kemba Walker, on the other hand, is the real deal, scoring 21 points while filling the box on Sunday. The three triples, two steals and block are nice as is the 8-of-15 shooting. Willy Hernangomez woke up with 19 points, 10 boards and two blocks in the blowout loss.

    Justin Time for the Holiday

    The Baby Bulls are special, and Lauri Markkanen is leading the way with 31 points, five triples, four boards and three assists on Sunday in the 112-92 whooping of the Cavs. Kris Dunn continued his triumphant return from injury with 17 points, eight boards and seven assists while adding a steal and a block. Justin time for the Holiday hit three triples with three takeaways, 15 points and five boards. Ryan Arcidiacono played well in a start for Zach LaVine, finishing with 12 points, eight assists, four boards and three steals. His value is just that of a streamer as LaVine will likely return after the first week of the New Year.

    No Gifts From the Cavs

    The Cleveland Cavaliers handed out a Sunday-low 11 assists as a team, highlighting their struggles without a true leader. Collin Sexton hit 3-of-16 shots to finish with six points, three assists, three boards in 33 minutes… he shouldn’t be owned anywhere right now. David Nwaba went down with an ankle sprain. Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman were the most effective fantasy players tonight with 20 and 17 apiece on solid shooting. Given the lopsided scores, it will be difficult to trust any of the Cavs moving forward besides Nance Jr, at this point.

    A Christmas Miracle fit for a King!

    Willie Cauley-Stein pulled down a career-high 17 boards on Sunday against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the 122-117 victory. He added 22 points, three steals, a block and two assists. Buddy Hield continued his torrid shooting with six triples, 28 points, six boards and an assist. He’s averaging six triples per game over his last four games on over 47 percent shooting. Nuff said. De’Aaron Fox knows how to run a team, handing out 11 assists with 19 points, two steals, a block and a triple. Bogdan Bogdanovic didn’t want to be forgotten and logged 31 minutes off the bench with 24 points, seven assists, four boards and two triples.

    The Brow Gets Plucked

    Anthony Davis is a top-3 fantasy asset when healthy, and on Sunday he delivered with 26 points, 17 boards, four assists, four blocks, two steals and a triple. He would have had an even better night had he hit more than 7-of-20 shots. Tim Frazier capped off the week with a full box, scoring 12 points with seven assists, four boards, two triples, two steals and a block. Jrue Holiday led the team with 27 points, six assists and seven boards while Julius Randle fouled out late in the game with 18 points, nine boards and two assists.

    Big KATs Aren’t Scared of the Weather

    Karl-Anthony Towns had a modest game due to foul trouble on Sunday in the 114-112 win over the Thunder, scoring 18 points with five boards, six assists, two triples and a block. Gorgui Dieng found extra playing time with Towns on the pine and delivered 11 points, two blocks, two steals and a triple in 21 minutes. He’s unlikely to find a consistent role with Dario Saric (10 points, eight boards) and Taj Gibson (11 points, five boards) also jostling for minutes. Andrew Wiggins had a nice scoring game with a season-high 30 but failed to post any defensive stats. Bob Covington scored 13 with three triples, two steals and five boards.

    When it Thunders, it Pours

    Paul George has been the Thunder’s best player this season, on Sunday the trend continued with George scoring a team-high 31 points with 11 boards, three triples, three assists and two steals. Russell Westbrook triple-doubled with 23 points, 11 boards and 10 assists. He only hit 2-of-4 freebies and is now a punt free throw guy. Jerami Grant scored 14 points with seven boards and two blocks. The Thunder had 10 blocks on the night and five players had exactly two blocked shots each. Steven Adams did not have a block, but he did score 12 points with four boards. Dennis Schroder struggled with his shot, scoring 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting and 1-of-2 from the line.

    A Game-Winning Curry

    Stephen Curry scored 42 points on Sunday in the 129-127 win over the Clippers. He hit six triples and pulled down six boards while his co-pilots, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, both filled the box score. Durant did it with scoring and boards, 35 and 12, while adding three swats and three triples while Green started off with five steals while adding a team-high six dimes and 14 points in the start at center. Klay Thompson scored 12 points with two triples and two blocks but is still slumping, only hitting 4-of-15 shots. Durant briefly left the game at one point to get his ankle taped up after he hurt it, but he said he’d be ready to play on Christmas day. DeMarcus Cousins will return in January, feel free to pick him up if you’re able to live with the limitations he’ll have early on.

    Gallo, Harris and Williams… Oh My!

    Three of the Clippers players combined for 82 points on Sunday but they still came up short against the defending champs. Tobias Harris scored a team-high 32 points with nine boards and six triples while Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams each scored 25 with the former pulling down 11 boards while the latter gave out nine assists. Avery Bradley had a solid game with 12 points, two triples and three boards on 4-of-8 shooting. Montrezl Harrell scored 14 but didn’t do much else with three boards and two assists. We missed Boban tonight, who could have terrorized the undersized Warriors.

    Revenge is Best Served From Deep

    Seth Curry spent two seasons in Dallas and on Sunday night he scored 12 points on four triples against his former team to help the Blazers emerge victorious, 121-118. Damian Lillard dropped 33 with seven assists, two triples, a block and two boards. C.J. McCollum had a monster dunk to start overtime and finished with 22 points, five assists, five boards and a steal. Jusuf Nurkic double-doubled with 10 points, 12 boards, six assists and two steals while Moe Harkless scored 13 with a triple and a steal. Meyers Leonard has eaten away at any value that Zach Collins had a shot at this season, he scored 13 tonight while Collins scored five with six boards and a block.

    Doncic is Clutch, but It’s Not Enough

    Luka Doncic double-doubled on Sunday with 23 points, 11 boards, six assists and two triples, one of which sent the game into overtime. He only hit 7-of-21 shots though, which prevented the Mavs from collecting a road win. Harrison Barnes led the team with 27 points on five triples but only managed to add a single board to the line. DeAndre Jordan scored 14 while pulling down 10 boards. The Mavs miss Dennis Smith Jr. who’s out with a wrist issue. They’re on a league-leading six-game skid but still lead the Wolves and Pelicans in the Western playoff race.

    Grizzlies Collect a W to End Their Skid

    The Grizzlies came into Sunday’s matchup with LeBron’s Lakers on a five-game skid. By the end of it they stopped the bleeding with a 107-99 win. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored a team-high 27 points with nine boards and a triple. Garrett Temple filled the box while hitting four threes to score 14 points with seven boards and two blocks. Dillion Brooks returned from a five-week absence and could take Temple’s time, and ultimately his starting spot away if all goes well for him. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both scored 17 points with eight assists each. JaMychal Green filled it up with 12 points, two triples, two steals, five boards, two assists and a block on 4-of-6 shooting.

    No McGee, No Problem

    Ivica Zubac is officially more than just a big body. On Sunday night the third-year player scored 19 points with four swats and four boards in 33 minutes. The Lakers were without JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler and once those two return Zubac will struggle to sniff the court. View him as a DFS flier in the future if McGee is out. LeBron James is good at this basketball thing, scoring 22 points with 14 boards, seven assists, two triples, a steal and a block. Brandon Ingram scored 20 points in his second game back from injury after scoring 18 on Friday. Maybe he doesn’t want to get traded, or maybe he’s ready to leave town. Either way if he keeps scoring like this the Lakers will be hard to beat when they get healthy. Lonzo Ball struggled in 27 minutes with four points, three steals, three boards, two assist and two blocks. The defensive stats saved his night but the lack of confidence is alarming and he now has Rajon Rondo to worry about.

Fantasy News

  • OG Anunoby
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."

    With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Daryl Macon
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have signed Daryl Macon.

    Macon getting picked up by another NBA squad after a solid Summer League campaign is not a shocker. If he were to crack the rotation he would post a nice assist rate, but it is unlikely Macon will be getting playing time unless something goes terribly wrong for the Heat this season.

    Source: NBA

  • Tahjere McCall
    F, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Tahjere McCall from their Summer League team.

    This is just a depth signing for the Hawks. He shouldn't see much court time on the NBA floor if he makes the main roster out of camp

    Source: Kevin Chouinard on Twitter

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Marc Stein is reporting that the Rockets will sign Thabo Sefolosha.

    Sefolosha was among the names at a recent mini camp, and he should make for a nice fit as a defensive stopper off the bench. The Rockets have a pretty thin group of reserves so we'd expect Sefolosha to be a regular rotation player, which puts him on the board as a steals specialist in deep leagues.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Tyler Zeller
    C, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets have signed C Tyler Zeller to the training camp roster on Thursday.

    Zeller played all of six games last season with the Hawks and Grizzlies. Zeller will try to latch on as a third-string C for the Nuggets' deep frontcourt. Zeller is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Chris Dempsey on Twitter

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey said that he is not sure if he will start Luke Kennard or have him run a lot of the second-team offense.

    In addition, Casey mentioned that Kennard dealt with some knee tendinitis earlier this summer. Kennard is likely competing with Bruce Brown Jr. for the starting two-guard spot. We'll see how the rotation starts to shape in the preseason, but both players will get minutes either way.

    Source: NBA

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey revealed that although the team's training staff is easing him into things, Blake Griffin (knee) is back on the court and playing.

    Coach Casey added that the team expects Griffin to be at 100% with "no lingering effects." It looks like Griffin is progressing nicely in his return and should be all systems go for the start of the season. With Griffin's extensive injury history, the team may manage him more this year. Coming off a career year, he's expected to be an early middle-round selection.

    Source: NBA

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Coach Nate McMillan said that Victor Oladipo (knee) probably wouldn't play on opening night.

    Videos have surfaced this summer of Oladipo doing on-court work, and by all accounts, he is progressing well. Coach McMillan said that Oladipo isn't playing live yet and it would seem he still has hurdles to climb. Even when Oladipo does return, he will likely be facing minute restrictions and frequent days off, at least initially. Jeremy Lamb figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Oladipo's absence.

    Source: NBA

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com