• A lot of news to breakdown from Monday as we saw a number of players make strong returns (Gordan Hayward and Ja Morant in victory, Aron Baynes in defeat), some crazy results as the Kings and Rockets dueled in the closing minutes until we had our last-second winner (read on for the reveal), and the Thunder had no problem knocking off the Jazz despite Danilo Gallinari being ruled out with an ankle sprain. 

    I guess I should mention the Bucks took home there 15th straight victory, tying the Lakers at the top of the NBA standings as Giannis looks to take home back-to-back MVP crowns, which offers some scary implications for the Bucks resting there fantasy studs down the stretch. More on that below.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Terrence Ross, G/F, Orlando Magic – 23 points, four rebounds, one assists, four 3-pointers, one turnovers, 8-of-14 FG, 3-of-5 FT

    Make that three 20-point performances in a row for Ross, has he won you over yet, as he has over half of all Yahoo leagues? He picked up 30 minutes of action, and unlike some of the inferior competition he lit up previously (Pistons, Cavs, Warriors, Cavs again, Suns), this time Ross did it against the Bucks on the road. The Magic need all of the offense they can get as they continue to weather Nikola Vucevic’s absence, and Ross can help to fill that void with his shot making. He is well worth utilizing during this hot streak of 47 percent shooting over the past month.

    Ben McLemore, SG, Houston Rockets – 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, four 3-pointers, two blocks, 4-of-13 FG

    Not the best shooting night from McLemore, but the most important stat was the 33 minutes he picked up as the Rockets fell 118-119 to the Kings. Seven Rockets received over 33 minutes, with McLemore among them, and that shows a level of trust that fantasy owners will need to rely upon for McLemore to continue to provide the 3-pointers necessary for ownership in standard leagues. We haven’t received any updates on Eric Gordon of late, but his six-week timetable would have him returning around the end of December. That’s a nice window for McLemore to take advantage of. He’s hit three 3-pointers in five consecutive games, hop on board this train.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Bogdan Bogdanovic

    We’re in the midst of nasty cold slump that has ruined Bogdanovic’s stellar play before the calendar flipped to December. You may of forgotten, but Bogdanovic played a key role in leading the Kings out of a dreadful 0-5 start to the season as he became the lead creator once De’Aaron Fox went down. 

    In November we saw some great averages, 17 points, five assists, over three 3-pointers, and 1.7 steals a game. Tonight he went for 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep and little else, and this was his best game out of his last four. His play is likely falling apart due to injuries to his hamstring and knee, but you also have to take into account Fox’s return. Even if Bogdanovic regains his health, he won’t have much of a role once Fox is orchestrating the offense.

    Enes Kanter

    Just picking on some dead weight with this selection, but Kanter is still owned at an astonishing rate in fantasy circles, especially for a player that was not even active to open the season. Kanter has been averaging under eights points and six rebounds on the year, and below 16 minutes per game. The Celtics are regularly deploying Daniel Theis and Robert Williams at the five spot making Kanter’s role rather minimal. A big expansion in minutes is not on the horizon, and even with Kanter’s impressive ability to rack up points and boards in a hurry, this situation is not feasible.

    Injury Report

    Gordon Hayward (fractured left hand) made his return on Monday and looked healthy while dropping 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Marcus Smart (eye infection) missed this one.

    Ja Morant (back spasms) was ready to go on Monday vs. the Warriors. It was a surprisingly quick return, and he had little trouble racking up 26 points (8-of-14 FG), seven assists and three 3-pointers.

    Aron Baynes (left calf strain) made his return to the Suns and was on a 14-20 minutes restriction. He was still rather productive with 12 points, four rebounds, two 3-pointers and a block. Frank Kaminsky is no longer a 12-team streamer.

    Paul George had no problem playing on a back-to-back set, going for 36 points, seven 3-pointers, nine rebounds, two steals and a block. Kawhi Leonard was listed out with knee maintenance this time around in a back-to-back situation. Those are the breaks, or lack thereof, for Leonard.

    Mohamed Bamba suffered a left knee contusion vs. the Bucks, but was able to return to the game shortly after departing due to the injury. He should be fine, but check back for updates before the Magic’s next one.

    Jaylen Brown took a left elbow to the face, but was able to return quickly after a trip to the locker room.

    Danilo Gallinari (left ankle sprain) missed Monday’s game against the Jazz. It is a new injury but the brittle history surrounding Gallinari still has to leave his owners concerned.

    Mike Conley sat out his third straight game with a left hamstring strain. The Jazz are taking it slow with the injury, and Conley will be back and rebounding from his early season struggles soon enough.

    Derrick Favors (personal) returned to the Pelicans, but was not yet ready to take the court on Monday. He needs to get some practice reps in to get back up to speed. 

    Fred VanVleet did not take the floor on Monday versus the Bulls, but his right knee contusion is not considered to be serious. Norman Powell is still a strong backup to utilize in his absence.

    Austin Rivers (illness) was a late scratch as he dealt with flu-like symptoms on Monday. He’s a streamer for deep-leagues but little else.

    Marvin Bagley III was questionable on Monday and remained out due to his right thumb fracture. He’s closing in on a return, which should gradually dig into Nemanja Bjelica’s value, despite the fact that Bjelica hit a deep game winning 3-pointer for the Kings upset special over the Rockets. 

    Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain) is out for at least another week. It does not look like his value is going to be that high despite the Wizards’ high-octane offense. He is droppable.

    Josh Richardson is questionable for Tuesday as he continues to nurse his right hamstring strain.

    Goran Dragic has been ruled out for Tuesday with a right groin strain. Justise Winslow will be joining him on the sidelines as he is dealing with a back strain. Bam Adebayo is questionable but played through his right groin contusion previously so he should be able to suit up for the Heat.

    PJ Washington (right calf sprain) is probable for Tuesday vs. the Wizards. Marvin Williams (right knee soreness) is doubtful. 

    Deer in the Headlights

    With the Bucks 110-101 victory over the Magic on Monday they moved to 21-3 on the season and have run off an impressive 15-game winning streak. They sit three games ahead of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference, and there expected competition coming into the season, the Sixers, sit four games back in the standings. Coming off of a 60-win campaign last year this pace is not farfetched for a team with something to prove after falling to the Raptors rather easily in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Bringing it back to the realm of fantasy, could the Bucks run away with things out East, and assuming the Western Conference elite beats up on one another, the rest of the league?

    Such a scenario could have the Bucks taking it easy down the stretch as they go on a victory lap over the final month of the NBA regular season. Last year Giannis Antetokoumpo missed five out of 11 games down the stretch, Eric Bledsoe sat three of the final six games, and Khris Middleton missed two of the final six games.

    When you are sitting pretty in the fantasy playoff standings for head-to-head leagues, these are the kinds of risks you can try to avoid. By planning ahead and moving rest risks via trades before your playoffs come around you will have the extra advantage that your surging competition will lack.

    It is a long season, but that is what makes fantasy basketball a real test for the most dedicated of players. You always have opportunities to improve your roster. Just having good players is not the goal, you want a well crafted and healthy roster that will peak at the right time. 

    With that in mind, you can count on me to be peaking just in time for next Monday’s Daily Dish. 

Fantasy News

  • Zhaire Smith
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Zhaire Smith (left ankle sprain) is being listed as available to play in Tuesday's game against the Warriors.

    Smith may see a few minutes if Joel Embiid (questionable) can't go, but he is not on the fantasy radar right now.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left hand surgery) is being considered a game-time decision for Tuesday's game against the Warriors as he has yet to be evaluated by the hand surgeon.

    It would seem that Embiid is closer to sitting out than playing if he has yet to be cleared by the surgeon, though he has a shot to suit up. Al Horford would start at C again while minutes will be open for wings and bigs throughout the rotation should Embiid be unable to go for this one.

    Source: Tom Moore on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving (personal) and DeAndre Jordan (finger) are not listed on the Nets injury report ahead of Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    Irving is ready to rock after missing Sunday's game against the Knicks to grieve. He's going to be playing with a heavy heart after losing a close friend and is someone to target in DFS lineups for his ability to blow up. DeAndre Jordan may get back into the starting lineup for this one as well.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
    SG, Brooklyn Nets

    Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (illness) is being listed as probable for Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    Luwawu-Cabbarrot is merely a depth option for the Nets and can be ignored for fantasy purposes.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Victor Oladipo (ruptured right quad tendon) is expected to come off the bench and be on a minutes limit in his season debut against the Bulls on Wednesday.

    The Pacers are going to ease their star SG back into the lineup after missing just over a year of action due to the devastating injury he suffered last January. Oladipo should eventually supplant Jeremy Lamb take over the starting SG job where he'll pair with offseason acquisition Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner was sent home before Tuesday's practice as he continues to battle an illness.

    Turner missed Sunday's game against the Blazers and is in danger of missing Victor Oladipo's season debut as well. If Turner can't go, Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadze should see extra minutes.

    Source: J. Michael on Twitter

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon has two more steps to complete in the concussion protocol but stated that he is optimistic about returning to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Bulls.

    If Brogdon can go, we'll get a glimpse of what the Pacers backcourt will look like going forward, as Victor Oladipo will be making his season debut. Brogdon has battled a multitude of injuries this year, so it is not a given that he will return. If Brogdon can't go, T.J McConnell and Aaron Holiday would see extra minutes.

    Source: J. Michael on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said on Tuesday that he isn't sure if Kyrie Irving (personal) will play against the Pistons on Wednesday, but the team is 'optimistic' that he will be out there after he returned to practice on Tuesday.

    Keep tabs on the situation as more information rolls in. If Irving sits this one out, Spencer Dinwiddie would start at PG again and maintain peak usage.

    Source: Alex Schiffer on Twitter

  • DeAndre Jordan
    C, Brooklyn Nets

    DeAndre Jordan (right middle finger dislocation) will return to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Pistons.

    With Jordan back in the lineup, Jarrett Allen will take a hit as the two will presumably return to splitting C minutes. Nicolas Claxton had seen extra run the past few games, but he will be relegated to deeper-reserve status for this one.

    Source: Alex Schiffer on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis (left knee) is being listed as questionable to play against the Suns on Tuesday.

    Porzingis has been a top-45 9/8 cat asset over the past week on the back of 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 steals and 2.3 treys per game in 26.1 minutes. Although he has shot poorly, 37 percent from the floor, his ability to hit threes and contribute in stocks has been a boost to owners who were waiting for his return. If Porzingis is held out of the back-end of the back-to-back, look for Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein to see extra minutes.

    Source: NBA Injury Report