• The week began on shaky footing on Monday night as several teams were without key starters. We expected a few absences, like Giannis Antetotkounmpo (left knee sprain) and Victor Oladipo (injury management). However, in the brief moments leading up to tipoffs, we were all taken by surprise when the likes of Malcolm Brogdon (sore lower back) and Myles Turner (sprained ankle) were ruled out at the last minute. Even the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum was a late scratch due to an illness.

    Things have already been tumultuous, to say the least, given the ongoing pandemic that the NBA is trying its darndest to play through, but add to that these last-minute absences – whew! Things are just crazy and it feels like we’re always just scampering to catch up.

    As usual, in the wake of key absences, players standing in get unique opportunities to step up and get a nice little bump in production and fantasy value.

    In NBA-rumor/Trade-Deadline-related news, Aaron Gordon has officially requested a trade from the Magic. There are already suitors and it appears that the Rockets could be frontrunners to land Gordon on or before the deadline. A straight swap for Victor Oladipo has been heard via the grapevine but all of that is speculation at this point in time.

    Add(s) for the Night

    Jeremy Lamb, SG/SF

    Lamb stuffed the stat sheet tonight with 21 points and a fat line in 27 minutes off the bench. Lamb has been dealing with a sore knee lately, the same one where he tore his ACL from and that kept him off the court for most of last season. In tonight’s game, however, he clearly was able to take advantage of the minutes that he got and converted them into meaningful production. Now might just be the time to grab him, since he was likely dropped across many leagues due to his recent poor games.

    Doug McDermott, SF/PF

    McDermott was already solid even before tonight’s absences of Turner and Brogdon. Yes, he’s still mostly a 3-point specialist, at the end of the day, but his scoring and somewhat decent rebounding numbers have been standard-league viable. It boggles the mind as to why he’s rostered in just 16% of Yahoo! leagues.

    Drop Zone

    Otto Porter Jr., SF/PF

    Porter has been on and off tonight he was off. Really off. His bad games are just too punishing right now and GMs cannot afford to absorb the losses caused by his poor output. It’s best to move on at this time and seek value elsewhere. Even if the replacement player has a lower ceiling, if he can give his lower value on a more consistent basis, then he’s definitely worth the pivot.

    Injury Report

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee sprain) was missed by the Bucks, but as expected, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton were able to shoulder much of the scoring load, allowing them to come away with the win over the also-shorthanded Pacers.

    Darius Garland (right quad contusion) was available and played tonight.

    Jarrett Culver (left great toe sprain) made his return but was silent in just eight minutes of action.

    Darius Bazley (left shoulder contusion), Luguentz Dort (left great toe sprain), Al Horford (rest) were all out for the Thunder

    Terry Rozier (left hip contusion) was upgraded in the last injury report leading up to tonight’s game and he looked great and even finished the evening with a solid 20-plus point scoring outing for the Hornets.

    Jayson Tatum (illness), Kemba Walker (injury management) were out and Marcus Smart’s minutes limit was lifted.

    Myles Turner (left ankle sprain) and Malcolm Brogdon (lower back soreness) missed tonight’s game with their respective injuries, plus it was also the back end of a back-to-back spread.

    Kevin Porter Jr., (right quad soreness), Victor Oladipo (injury management) were out for the Rockets tonight but D.J. Augustin (stomach illness) was available and played. John Wall and Christian Wood were both on minutes limits this evening but still managed to power the Rockets to a win over the Raptors, snapping a 20-game skid – one of the longer ones in NBA history.

    Rudy Gobert (left hip contusion) managed to play tonight and even hosted a crazy block party where he went crazy and blocked nine shots.

    De’Andre Hunter (right knee surgery) was questionable but in the end, was able to make his return, while Trae Young (right quad contusion) was probable but managed to

    Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) and Serge Ibaka (lower back tightness) remained on the sidelines tonight “

    When Championship Hopes Go Extinct

    A team like the Raptors is not supposed to lose to a rebuilding team like the Rockets. Not on paper, at least. It’s time for them to reconsider their future. Surely, they cannot think of themselves as championship contenders if they cannot even pull off a win vs. a team that lost 20 straight games.

    They have the veteran leadership (Lowry), the talented big man (Siakam), the blossoming elite two-way player (VanVleet) and so what if they were resting OG Anunoby? The Raptors had/have the tools to win and yet they didn’t.

    To me, it’s a sign of internal discord. Their heads aren’t in the right place and they’re playing like it too.

    Players like Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell could very well be on the move on or before the trade deadline – making even a Malachi Flynn an intriguing stash in 16- to 20-team leagues or deeper.

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