November 12, 2018, 11:28 am
Happy Veterans Day everyone. Thank you to all of our troops and their families for all of the sacrifices you make on a daily basis on our behalf.
Sunday brought NBA fans a solid slate with six games closing out the fantasy week. In a week that saw 11 teams play four times, we had nine of these teams finish out the week with us on Sunday. As a weekly fantasy player, this made for a must-watch night as many of my streaming options were active late into the evening. Besides the ugly foul by Blake Griffin that led to his ejection and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s foot injury we saw a clean night of fun basketball with only the Knicks getting blown out. Keep an eye out on Carmelo Anthony (and Gary Clark) as there might be a bit more emerging on Melo possibly being waived by the Rockets.
Throw a wrench at it!
Starting off the slate with an early game in Detroit, the Charlotte Hornets came ready to entertain despite what seemed to be a mostly empty stadium. What started off as a back and forth affair quickly dissolved into a Hornets win as the Pistons lost three straight quarters. Buzz City was in full swing as the little pesky guards, Kemba Walker and Tony Parker, tormented the giants of Detroit for 24 points apiece. Kemba and Tony combined to shoot 20-of-35 including two made triples each to drown out the humming of the Pistons with the buzz of their hive. In a negative piece of news, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ended up in a walking boot after the game after he landed on a player’s foot. MKG considers himself day-to-day but this could be the opening that Miles Bridges needs to build some more confidence. Bridges finished the night with eight points, eight boards and a few impressive dunks in the 113-103 win.
Help! I’ve sputtered and I can’t turn over
On the Pistons side, Andre Drummond and Reggie Bullock were most impressive with 23 points each. Drummond added 22 boards, three steals and two blocks for the second-most impressive line of the night. Bullock stepped up in his own way by hitting six triples and 7-of-13 shots overall to keep the game close in the first half. As the game started to get out of reach for the Pistons (down 79-98 at the time) we saw one of the uglier plays of the week as Blake Griffin leaned into and undercut an airborne Malik Monk to deliver a flagrant-two inducing shoulder. It wasn’t a basketball play, and Griffin showed no remorse after the act. It’s unlikely that the league will issue further punishment but I wouldn’t be against it personally.
The Houston Hardened Streets
If you forgot James Harden is an MVP, if you wanted to see this sentence written out in a box score line it might look something like this. 40 points, nine assists, eight triples, seven boards, a steal and a block on 14-of-15 from the line and 9-of-20 from the field. Pure dominance and it was necessary as the Rockets are only 1-4 on their home court this season.
Joining James in the productive group of players was CP3, who turned his own struggles around by scoring 26 points with five boards, five triples, five assists and three steals. Despite a knee bruise Clint Capela returned to the game after being examined in the locker room but then chose to sit out late. He added 18 points with seven boards in the 115-103 win.
Quick note, Gary Clark seems to be outplaying James Ennis, with Carmelo possibly on the way out we could see Clark continue to gain steam. Clark played the fourth most minutes, only trailing Tucker and the guards mentioned above.
Turner, why have you forsaken me so?
While Benjamin Button was curious for a whole other reason Myles Turner could start giving him a run for his money. Turner continues to keep owners engaged by returning top-100ish numbers thanks to a career-high 2.4 blocks per game while completely faltering elsewhere in his production. Compared to last season his threes have disappeared and his steals, points, assists and boards are all down. Yet somehow his percentages are slightly up from last season. I believe in Turner, but it might come down to him needing to get out of his own head, or traded away from Indiana for him to finally start delivering on his potential on a daily basis. He finished Sunday with nine points, three boards, three blocks and an assist.
For the Pacers it was the Dipo and Bojan show as both players hit three triples, with Dipo scoring a team-high 22 points with 10 boards, seven assists and two steals. Bogdanovic didn’t want to be outdone though so he added onto his 20-point performance by handing out six dimes, grabbing six boards and swiping the ball three times.
T-Ross by any other name still shoots as sweet
22 points in 22 minutes! Mama, there goes that man!
Sure it was against the New York Knicks but Terrence Ross delivered on Sunday with a dynamic line that featured two blocks, five triples and three assists on 8-of-12 shooting. While some of his opportunity stems from Jonathan Isaac being out it’s far from a certainty the Ross loses value with his return. The reason I bring this up is that 24-year-old Wesley Iwundu (33rd pick in 2017) has been starting in Isaac’s stead and has yet to prove that he belongs in the rotation. I view Ross, Jerian Grant, Mo Bamba, and Jonathon Simmons as locks for the second unit with Jarell Martin making spot appearances based on matchups.
With both Isaac and Aaron Gordon out on Sunday Nikola Vucevic went off for a double-double with 21 points, 14 boards and a bit of everything across the box. Fellow sweet-shooting big Mo Bamba scored 15 points with eight boards and two blocks. Bamba will be a top-100 producer for stretches this season, he’s already broken the top-150 in 8-cat while playing under 20 minutes a game. The Magic took the win on the road, 115-89.
Shoo fly, don’t bother me – Mitchell Robinson
This week we had two players swat nine shots, one is named Hassan Whiteside and he’s known for getting double-digit blocks, the other was Mitchell Robinson on Sunday vs. the Magic. Despite only scoring four points with four boards, Robinson was the Knicks’ top fantasy contributor with nine swats in 22 minutes. Fellow center Enes Kanter got productive with 16 points and 15 boards while rookie Allonzo Trier locked in defensively to swat three shots, a career-high. The Knicks are a mess, stay away if you can for now. On the bright side rookie, Kevin Knox led the team with 17 points, tying his season-high.
Who’s big and capable of spreading the Nuggets thin?
Bro-Lo! And boy, did Brook Lopez ever spread the Nuggets!
On Sunday night Brook Lopez became the NBA’s premier 3-point making big man by tying a league record of eight made triples by a 7-footer, joining the likes of Dirk and Lauri Markkanen. Besides Lopez’s inability to miss a three in the third quarter the most impressive thing about this win was how 4-of-5 starters scored 20 points for the Bucks, with Eric Bledsoe being the sole outlier with 12 points. There is little to no value on the Bucks bench with Ersan Ilyasova struggling over the last week. The Bucks won 121-114 thanks to a lack of attentiveness by the Nuggets.
Blue Arrows have no chill, with multiple miscues late
The Denver Nuggets are on a three-game losing streak after starting the season 9-1 and it looks like no one wants to shoot late in the game. To make matters worse, emerging star Jamal Murray spent the final minutes of Sunday’s game throwing it away with head-scratching mistake after mistake. In the last thirty or so seconds alone Murray committed a foul pressuring in the backcourt while the Bucks had a three-point lead and there was plenty of time left on the clock for a rebound and shot. To add on, Murray failed to secure the inbounds pass after the second freebie to turn the ball back over to the Bucks. Murray single-handedly accounted for four of the seven points that made up the final margin and heard a mouthful from the coaching staff.
On the bright side for Nugget fantasy owners we saw Paul Millsap score a team-high 25 points with eight boards, six assists, five triples and two blocks while the Joker filled it up with 20 points, four triples, six boards, six assists, a steal and a block. Everyone else on the Nuggets was productive but unamazing and it’s evident that the team might be a bit emotionally drained after their third straight loss.
P-Town clamps, crushes, sips Bean Town
The Portland Trail Blazers moved into second place in the West with a 100-94 win on Sunday against the Boston Celtics, improving to 10-3 while extending their streak to four straight wins. What should be most concerning for opponents is that the Blazers won with a different style on Sunday, holding Boston to under 39 percent shooting while spreading around the scoring, with no Blazer exceeding Damian Lillard’s team-high 19.
Jusuf Nurkic continued his strong campaign with 18 points and 17 boards while Dame dropped his own double-double with 12 assists and the aforementioned 19 points. C.J. McCollum scored 14 points while The Chief, Al-Farouq Aminu, hit two massive threes late in the game to clinch it while finishing with 11 points, nine boards, two steals and three triples. Three other players scored eight or nine points for the Blazers who saw production from all ten players who touched the court on Sunday.
Tat-um up! Shots go down!
Was Jayson Tatum slumping? Because he’s probably out of that after hitting 50 percent of his shots for two straight games while averaging 24 points per game in those two outings. Kobe recently told Tatum to continue shooting to get out of his slump, on Sunday he did just that to score 27 points with five triples, eight boards and two blocks. Kyrie Irving didn’t want to be forgotten either with five steals, six assists, three triples and 21 points on the night.
Now the bigger issue, the Celtics are 1-4 in their last five games, only managing to dispatch the lowly Suns in that span. Their five-game road trip couldn’t end any sooner but they’ll only get a one-game reprieve against the Bulls before the Raptors visit Boston on Friday of next week. It’s likely that the Celtics just need more time for their new group to mesh, and Gordon Hayward will continue to improve by simply getting more reps in. That said if the Celtics continue to struggle after facing the Bulls, Raptors and Jazz in Boston don’t be surprised if Brad Stevens goes back to his old ways of mixing and matching his lineups based on matchups. It has seemed like the Celtics have attempted to maintain a static group to help build continuity, but at some point, they’ll need to start winning to get their juju in order.
Get that weak Trae out of here!
It’s amazing what an old vet with a beard can do in L.A! No I’m not talking about LeBron James, there’s a guy named Tyson Chandler who’s undefeated as a Laker. On Sunday night Chandler delivered a rarity in the NBA, a game-winning block.
What could have easily been a Trae Young game-winning floater was erased as time expired by Chandler. The Lakers improved to 7-6 on the season and we’ll get to see the two longest win streaks in the Western Conference duke it out on Wednesday when the Blazers visit the Lakers.
Back to Sunday, it was an ugly game by many standards. An overmatched Hawks team stretched the Lakers till the final second of the game, yet the box score doesn’t care. Lonzo Ball had a full sheet with eight points, 11 assists, six boards, two triples, a steal and a block. LeBron brought his A-game, save his inability to hit free throws (3-of-7), with 26 points, seven boards, four assists, three triples and two steals. Kyle Kuzma scored 18 with eight boards and two steals. JaVale McGee continued to split time with Chandler but played well despite a poor shooting night with eight points, nine boards, three blocks and a steal. McGee also attempted a triple, which he missed, the crowd would have gone wild had he made it. McGee has one made triple on the season, on the road at Phoenix.
Baze-more or Baze-less, we lost by 1
Kent Bazemore had a late technical foul that may have ultimately lost the game for the Hawks as the final score settled at 106-107. You can’t fault his effort otherwise as he swiped a season-high five steals while scoring 21 points with four boards, three assists, three triples and a steal. One key takeaway was that the Hawks were comfortable leaving Omari Spellman on the court in the waning minutes of the game. The rookie has operated as a PF and C and logged the fourth most minutes tonight after Trae Young, Taurean Prince and Bazemore. While he’s still a bit raw, he’s proven his upside and could end up as the starting center alongside John Collins before the All-Star break.
Doing his best to prevent that is Alex Len, who double-doubled with 17 points, 11 boards, a triple and a steal in 27 minutes, one less than Spellman. It looks like Collins will at least miss the next but of the two players, Spellman is quickly gaining ground. The Hawks take on the Warriors, Denver and Pacers next week, Spellman projects as a solid play against all three while Len looks solid in the last two games.
If you’ve been under a rock and didn’t know, Trae Young is the real deal. The rookie racked up his fifth double-double of the season with 20 points, 12 boards, four triples, a steal and a block in 35 minutes. He was almost at the Lakers logo for one of his shots and he was wily enough to break free from Brandon Ingram on the last play to get a great shot at the hoop, save Tyson Chandler’s game-winning block. His shooting could continue to creep up as he gets used to the league but he could also run into some rookie walls at some point. Feel free to treat Trae as a top-80 option with top-50 upside.