• I could open with a tragic tale about the injuries looming over the fantasy landscape, but let’s enjoy the live bodies while we got them. Luka Doncic exploded for a 42 point triple-double, potentially putting the Spurs into their grave in the process. Harden did some major scoring, Westbrook triple-doubled, and Capela dropped a massive double-double on the Blazers, sending them into a plot neighboring the Spurs. Finally, let’s pour one out for the champs, as the Raptors continued a strong title defense by deploying an eight pack of powerful lines in thrashing the Hornets.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Milwaukee Bucks – 29 minutes, 15 points, four assists, four rebounds, three 3-pointers, three steals, 5-of-9 FG, 2-of-2 FT

    Khris Middleton is not expected back until December, and DiVincenzo has made the most of the hole in the lineup over his last two games. The last three games have produced season-highs in playing time, and this is the second-year guard’s second consecutive steady boxscore. He has always looked NBA ready with the level of agility he brings to the court, and Giannis will still ensure he receives plenty of strong looks in the Bucks’ system. Don’t forget the impressive 1.2 steals average in 16 minutes per game DiVincenzo has to his credit.

    Aaron Holiday, PG, Indiana Pacers – 31 minutes, 24 points, 13 assists, six rebounds, four 3-pointers, two turnovers, 10-of-19 FG

    The thinner the Pacers guard rotation gets, the more Aaron Holiday rises up to fill the void. He started the season as an afterthought, but over the last two weeks, he has been steadily delivering late-round value for standard leagues. Tonight he was controlling the Pacers’ offense with pull-up jumpers and crafty passing, as Indiana was missing Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell.

    Unfortunately for Holiday, the good times may abruptly end in the near future. The Pacers’ next game is not until Saturday, and Brogdon and Lamb may both be back in the rotation for that affair. Nonetheless, it would not hurt to handcuff Holiday to your bench if you have the room to carry a Pacer insurance policy. One really has to give a hat tip to Chad Buchanan and Nate McMillian for developing the entire roster into a cohesive unit.

    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.

    Thaddeus Young

    Young has always been a unique fantasy asset, making a name for himself through a strong steals rate out of the forward position. The steals are just not potent enough this season, and the minutes are not high enough, to justify carrying him on a 12-team roster. Tonight he provided nine points, three rebounds, three assists, two blocks, two turnovers and a 3-pointer. It was one of his better lines of the season, but at the end of the day Thad is still receiving minutes in the low-20s on a nightly basis, and his field goal percentage (43.5 percent) and free throw percentage have (57.9 percent) have dipped to dangerous levels. With the chaos currently engulfing the Bulls’ roster, you can find promising players elsewhere.

    Dwight Powell

    I was a big-time investor in Powell coming into this season, and I was pumped for his efficient big man numbers to serve as exquisite late-round glue to piece my roster together. Instead, we all had to waste an initial couple of weeks with Powell on our bench as an injury stash and face utter disappointment when he did nothing with nearly 30 minutes a night. The entire Powell proposition was a well-earned bump in minutes would lead to Powell blowing past his 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, .6 steals, .6 blocks and .5 3-pointers from last year. All of those numbers went in the opposite direction, as should you, cut the man loose.

    Injury Report

    Let’s start with the positive news. These updates tend to get ignored nowadays. Don’t let the twitter cesspool weigh down the bright side of fantasy hoops. Guys do eventually get healthy!

    Domantas Sabonis returned from a hip issue on Monday that had kept him out down the stretch on Saturday against the Bucks. You may now return to your daily nightmare of the Sabonis-Turner coexistence drama.

    Danuel House was back in action for Houston and will get plenty of run as long as he is healthy.

    Clint Capela also made his return to the roster from concussion issues, and that probably had a large impact on the decision to rest Tyson Chandler.

    Unfortunately, that is it for the returns on Monday. Hide your children before proceeding…

    Kawhi Leonard is out again with a left knee contusion. He has not played since Wednesday, missing three straight games after Doc Rivers thought he would be ready for this one. Things are getting ominous here.

    Jeremy Lamb was held out for the seventh straight game on Monday as he continues to recover from his ankle injury. The Pacers don’t play again until Saturday, one would hope today’s questionable tag has improved by the weekend. Lamb is on the cusp of returning.

    Kevin Love (lower back contusion) sat out Monday’s tilt with the Knicks. Nobody had any warning of the issue before this afternoon, and Love said he will be back out there on Wednesday. Larry Nance Jr. (left thumb sprain) also missed this one. Nance recently saw a specialist but no information has been shared to date.

    Kyrie Irving missed the Nets-Pacers game to rest his shoulder that has been limiting him of late. We’ll have to see if he returns for Wednesday vs. the Hornets. Spencer Dinwiddie had a big night in his absence.

    Ricky Rubio was a last-minute scratch tonight due to back spasms. Perhaps they popped up during warmups, either way, this should be a short-term issue.

    Hamidou Diallo (left knee sprain) did not suit up on Monday vs. the Clippers, but should still have a chance to return on Tuesday when the Thunder clashes with the Lakers.

    T.J. McConnell missed his second straight game with a groin issue.

    Marcus Smart was helped off the floor after spraining his right ankle vs. the Suns. This one could be on the serious side so check back tomorrow for further information.

    Jake Layman lasted 14 minutes before departing with left foot soreness.

    Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness) and Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) are both questionable for Tuesday to face the Blazers, and it should not be a long wait for either player’s return at this point. However, Josh Hart will remain out with a left ankle sprain on Tuesday.

    Anthony Davis is probable for Tuesday with the same right shoulder soreness that caused him to miss a game last week. He is capable of playing through it without any drawback to his production.

    Goran Dragic (illness) missed practice on Monday with a bug that is nailing the Heat locker room. We’ll have to see if Dragic is ready to play when Wednesday’s matchup with the Cavs comes around.

    Stanley Johnson is going to take a rest for two weeks in hopes of eliminating his left groin stress reaction. He did not have much of a role for the Raptors before this injury, but they are awfully thin so you never know what will happen if Johnson were to get healthy.

    True Mavericks

    Has anybody matched initial expectations on the Mavs this season? Without a doubt, Luka Doncic has exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams. He crushed the Spurs tonight with 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. The real question is whether or not any of his teammates can join him as a fantasy success story.

    Kristaps Porzingis is most certainly roster worthy in the shallowest of formats, but his percentages have dragged him down thus far, and his 18 points per game average is a letdown. It saddens me to report the Hoop Ball value plays of Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright, and Dwight Powell have failed many fantasy owners to date.

    Kleber, you can at least imagine a path forward to deep-league value, he is basically already their thanks to increasing attention on 3-pointers (1.7 average), and combining that focus with decent contributions as a rebounder and shot-blocker. That still only equates to top-125 value. Delon Wright has returned better value thanks to fantastic percentages, but Luka’s excellence has largely absorbed Wright’s point guard opportunities, leaving him to drift into a handful of steals and assists, but little else over 23 minutes per game. Dwight Powell was projected for an expanded role this season, but instead has seen his minutes gradually decline, and as we outlined above, he is now on the cut line for standard leagues. The Luka effect in combination with Rick Carlise’s substitution patterns are potent weapons.

    Naturally in fantasy hoops all of this advice is situational. Perhaps your team is dominant enough that you can carry Kleber, Wright and Powell on your roster and see if they all emerge in another ten games. However, in most cases you are trying to squeak out a category or two every week and that means you have to be realistic about the luxury stashes.

    Now if you will excuse me I am about to go on Holiday for the fantasy week, preferably somewhere warm and Donte’s Inferno like temperature-wise.

Fantasy News

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon (sore right hand) participated in all of the drills during Monday's practice and is likely to play Monday night against the Clippers.

    His injury was never too serious and they exercised caution last night against a weak Knicks team. He'll be back against much stiffer competition tonight vs. the Clippers, who should remain competitive even without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. Brogdon's cooled down a bit after his hot start, due in part to a litany of injuries, but he was never going to fall too far down the rankings since his hot start included a career-low FG% which he has since corrected. Fire him up to night and don't fret too much about Victor Oladipo's eventual return. Brogdon is set up to continue to be the Pacers' best player for the duration of the season, barring injury.

    Source: Jeremiah Johnson on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have a plan to "ease back" Deandre Ayton into game action upon his return from a 25-game suspension.

    No explicit mention of a minutes restriction was made, but that's the implication here despite the fact that Ayton has been allowed to practice with the team to keep up his conditioning during the suspension. The expectation, given how well they've played without him, is that Aron Baynes will retain a large role when Ayton returns, and the possibility of playing them together was also floated. Of course, that would be disastrous and it's unlikely that the Suns pursue extended runs with two-center lineups given how well they've played with small lineups. Still, this is a reminder for those of you who have been staring at Ayton at the top of the player rankings for over a month that his ceiling may be hard-capped by the presence of Baynes.

    Source: AZ Central

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    Nikola Vucevic (right ankle sprain) has progressed to on-court shooting drills, but his timetable remains unclear.

    Vucevic initially suffered the injury on November 20, so he's nearing the three-week mark in his rehab. He given an official timetable of at least four weeks but some contradicting information popped up that he could return sooner. The Magic will likely announce a re-evaluation soon, so stay tuned. Those reports that came out a few days after his injury about his return coming "sooner rather than later" turned out to be a bunch of malarkey and this injury figures to keep Vuc out of action for the foreseeable future. Mo Bamba and Khem Birch will hold down the C spot in the mean time, but they won't do it well enough to be considered as anything more than block and rebound streamers.

    Source: Joshua Robbins on Twitter

  • Mike Conley
    PG, Utah Jazz

    Mike Conley (left hamstring strain) will miss a 3rd straight game Monday night against the Thunder.

    Kudos to the Jazz for treating a lower-body soft tissue injury with the seriousness that it deserves. The odds of reinjury for hamstring strains are high, so while this may be frustrating if you have Conley on your team, this is how you'd prefer a team manage his injury and it bodes well for long-term availability this season. At this rate, Conley's slump may bleed into the new year, but he's a useful fantasy player once you get over the diminished early-season returns. Patience is warranted.

    Source: Erik Walden on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart (eye infection) may be out for Monday night's game against the Cavs.

    Smart has dealt with a bruised abdomen, the flu, an ankle sprain, a jammed finger and now an eye infection within the last 2.5 weeks. He's earned a day off against the lowly Cavs, but stay tuned to our news feed to confirm his absence before making any lineup decisions. Smart will be fine.

    Source: Celtics on Twitter

  • Malik Beasley
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    The Athletic's Shams Charania reports that the Nuggets have been taking calls from other teams doing "due diligence" on SG Malik Beasley.

    Beasley has been a frequent subject of the rumor mill this season, in part due to a rocky offseason in which he was punched by a former NFL player, his impending free agency and his unclear role in the Nuggets' rotation. That said, Beasley proved that he could be a valuable piece for a winning team last year, putting up 50/50/90 shooting splits as a starter last year and generally outplaying every other wing in Denver. This season, he's been relegated to a bench role. It's hard to say what Beasley would fetch on the market and the Nuggets' priority would be to try to shed some depth, so Beasley might find himself in another minutes logjam no matter where he goes, but he's a player to monitor as one of the most efficient scorers in the league last year.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Gordon Hayward
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Gordon Hayward (fractured left hand) went through practice to day and intends to play on Monday against the Cavs.

    Hayward makes a sudden return, but don't rely on him for fantasy just yet. He recently said that his extended participation in games will depend on his ability to tolerate pain in is hand and that he expects his injury to bother him for the rest of the season. Since this was an upper body injury, the presumption is that Hayward was able to stay in shape and that no minutes restrictions will be placed on him upon his return, but given the C's depth and play of late, we may not see the early-season top 40 version of Hayward right out of the gate.

    Source: Celtics on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Coach Doc Rivers said that one of his two stars, either Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, would rest against the Pacers on Monday, but the expectation is that the former will be taking the day off.

    It makes sense, since Paul George would likely appreciate a chance to play against his up-and-coming former team. As for Leonard, you get what you bargained for and you should expect more maintenance throughout the season. That said, Kawhi has been incredible this season and could get even better when he actually starts hitting his two-pointers at his career rate.

    Source: Jovan Buha on Twitter

  • Josh Okogie
    SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Josh Okogie played well against the Lakers on Sunday as he put up 18 points and four rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting.

    Okogie knocked down three triples and made all seven of his attempts from the stripe. Jarrett Culver chipped in 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and Keita Bates-Diop scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with two blocks. All three should not be on standard league radars, but Bates-Diop offers the highest upside.

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier put up 13 points with six dimes in a loss to the Lakers on Sunday.

    Napier shot 5-of-9 from the field and put up solid numbers in just 15 minutes of action. Jeff Teague contributed with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 24 minutes. Teague is a late-round value, while Napier is a deep-league assists and steals specialist.