November 5, 2018, 12:19 pm
It was a dandy seven-game slate on Sunday featuring some high-scoring games, some wild blowouts, and impeccable shooting.
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All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men
Failed to stop Giannis from scoring again. Boy did he score, finishing the matchup with the Kings with a juicy 26-point, 15-board, 11-assist triple-double as the Bucks stampeded the Kings, 144-109. In their last game, the Kings hung 146 on the Hawks, tonight they did their best to return the favor and roll over as Giannis filled the box. In all, there were eight Bucks who scored in double digits with the team shooting 91 percent from the line on 33 freebies. The Bucks also hit a franchise record 22 triples, with Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell all chipping in three apiece.
Outside of the Bucks starters, the only player worth a roster spot as of now is Ghost-Faced Ilya, who is a top-120 option in 8/9-cat leagues. He’s proven that he can maintain value as a 6th man in the past and looks to be poised to pick up and slack when Giannis or Middleton miss time.
The Kings of Flop
It’s hard to take solace in a blowout like Sunday’s as a Kings fan — luckily, we play fantasy and care more about the numbers. Justin Jackson and Troy Williams put up stats but neither guy is a standard league option and both of them shot the lights out in a blowout. Jackson scored 22 points with four triples and an assist but failed to record any other stats in 25 minutes. I view him as a future Danny Green style player who needs time to mature and become an every night contributor on both sides of the ball. It’ll take a very long time and that’s the ceiling, however.
De’Aaron Fox was productive in his 26 minutes, scoring 15 points with six boards, six assists and three triples. Backcourt-mate Buddy Hield held serve with an efficient 8-of-15 shooting night to score 19 points on two triples, an assist and four boards. Hot pickup Nemanja Bjelica was a flop but this was an ugly game, don’t worry about the four points and four boards.
You’re a Wizard, John!
John Wall might want to give the NBA a call and see if they can’t schedule a few more games against New York as the Wizards snapped their five-game losing streak with a 108-95 drubbing of the Knicks. Wall was dominant on both sides of the ball, recording five steals with three triples to finish the evening with 26 points, seven assists and two boards. Fellow All-Star Bradley Beal did his part with 22 points, eight boards, a career-high tying four blocks and a triple for good measure.
In his second game as a Wizard, Dwight Howard did his job, recording a double-double while hitting 2-of-4 free throws. It’s not impressive to see Howard score 10 points while grabbing 10 boards but it does speak volumes about the improving health of his back. Speaking of returning from injury, Markieff Morris played well on Sunday, scoring 16 points with two blocks, six boards, five assists and a steal. His blocks are off the charts right now at over a block a game. Expect this to normalize back to the half a block that Morris has averaged over his last four years.
+1 Life Mario
Mario Hezonja has been a disappointment this season, being outplayed by players like Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. On Sunday he struck back with his finest game as a Knick, scoring 10 points with eight boards, three steals, two triples and three assists. The majority of his value came from his steals and triples, which he’s struggled to string together this season. I dropped Mario for Elie Okobo in a 30-team league and even with this line I find it hard to trust him without the Knicks suffering even more injuries. Expect ownership to focus on player development, which means the aforementioned Dotson and Trier will likely get longer leashes as the season progresses, as well as rookie Kevin Knox’s once he returns.
Mitchell Robinson had himself another solid game against the Wizards, clocking in 10 points, six boards and a block with 4-of-4 shooting from the line. Robinson spent some time alongside Enes Kanter, which is a great opportunity for him to get used to playing alongside a more traditional big, something that he’ll be doing a lot more once Kristaps Porzingis returns. Kanter did his part to show the rookie the ropes, finishing with 18 points and 12 boards. Unfortunately, he left the rest of the box score untouched.
The Nets are on fire!
No, don’t pull the fire alarm… I’m talking about the team.
Brooklyn welcomed the Sixers into their arena on Sunday and proceeded to show one of the East’s elite teams a thing or two about team ball. The Nets had a 27-9 assist to turnover ratio while the Sixers delivered a stinker going 16-27!
Digging into the goodie bin we see the Nets top-6 suspects producing in a meaningful way on Sunday. Jarrett Allen double-doubled with 15 points, 10 boards and two blocks while maintaining sterling percentages. D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell) did his “thang” with 21 points, six assists and a triple while hitting 48 percent of his shots. MIP frontrunner Caris LeVert tied last season’s output of six 20-point games on the 10th game of the season. For good measure, he nabbed four steals against the Sixers on Sunday to finish with 20 points, five boards, two assists and a triple. You don’t have to take my word for it but I’m a firm believer in Caris as a top-60 lock with upside to outperform based on the health and availability of Russell.
Rounding out my Nets top-6 are Joe Harris, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Spencer “I should be starting but I’m the 38th pick” Dinwiddie. Harris brought it with the deep ball, scoring 11 points with three triples, three assists and a steal. RHJ had his first big game of the season, scoring 21 points with six boards and three assists. This should be the end of the line for Jared Dudley, get ready for RHJ to take his place in the starting five as early as Monday vs. the Knicks. Last but not least, Dinwiddie led the Nets in assists with eight, adding a dozen points, two triples and a board. While D’Angelo seems to have the upper hand due to being three years younger, as well as the second overall pick. Dinwiddie often times has the Nets playing like a team. If the Nets get any indication that they will struggle re-signing Russell, or if they choose to go another direction, Dinwiddie could see a windfall in value.
Philly, assisting the other team
It’s hard to win when you assist the other team more than your teammates. That’s exactly what Philly did with 27 turnovers compared to only 16 assists. Ben Simmions, Joel Embiid and Robert Covington each chipped in five. Both Simmons and Embiid double-doubled with healthy lines but only Simmons picked up the counting stats with four steals compared to Embiids lonely block. These two will deliver for years to come for owners.
Given how ugly the game was it’s hard to have many takeaways besides the issue of playing five-games in a seven day period. Landry Shamet had a prototypical game with 12 points, two triples, a board and an assist. He’s not going to do much except hit threes and score but there’s value there for deep leagues. Shamet ended the week as the 101st ranked player in total value in 8-cat and even higher in 9-cat leagues. Don’t rush to pick him up but keep him in mind on weeks when Philly plays 4 games.
Want to see a Magic trick?
Who would have thunk that the Magic would have 6-of-7 of their top scorers shoot 50 percent or better against the Spurs? Not I. The result was an unexpected 117-110 victory in San Antonio on Sunday. Led by Aaron Gordon’s 26 points, eight boards and four triples, the Magic almost ran away with the game before the Spurs closed the gap late to make it look respectable. It’s strange, but the Magic seem to have more flow without Jonathan Isaac on the court. Tonight, Terrence Ross was a key cog, spreading the floor to score 17 points with three triples, four assists and three boards. Ross has the talent — staying healthy and in the rotation are his two main challenges. Ross was sandwiched between D.J. Augustin (18 points), and Evan Fournier (16 points) who was the only player to shoot below the 50 percent mark. Fournier hit 7-of-15 shots so he wasn’t off by much.
Look for the big men, Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba, to continue to split time. Tonight they split every center minute, with Bamba coming out with a 12-point, 11-board double-double in only 16 minutes. Vooch was productive as well with 13 points, eight boards, a steal and a block.
(Not) Having a Gay time
It only took Rudy Gay 9 games to get “Popped,” or as the rest of the world knows it, a night of rest. With the Spurs taking on what seemed to be an overmatched Magic team at home on a back-to-back Rudy took a night off, and so did the Spurs’ chances to win.
Besides DeMar DeRozan, who scored 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, the rest of the Spurs starters struggled to produce against the magic. LaMarcus Aldridge turned into a pumpkin against the Magic with 15 points, six boards and three assists. He didn’t contribute a single counting stat and only hit 6-of-14 shots. In pure Pop fashion, the Spurs took it all in stride and almost rode their bench to a comeback.
Patty Mills has his most compelling game of the season with 16 points, four triples, three assists, a steal and three boards. Unfortunately, while his minutes have seen an increase, Mills’ usage has plummeted to a career-low since joining the Spurs. Maybe this game can help get him back on track. Joining Patty were Pau Gasol and Marco Belinelli, scoring 12 and 15 points respectively while providing owners fodder across the box score. With the Spurs only playing two games this upcoming week consider everyone outside of DeRozan and Aldridge as risky plays.
There goes that Booker!
Devin Booker hit a game winner! If he missed they’d be going to overtime, but it was still a beautiful step back going left as the righty swished it through. Booker led the Suns with 25 points, seven assists and two triples but this game was more about a different swingman delivering for the Suns. Mikal Bridges.
Bridges, a rookie, has been behind Josh Jackson for much of the season, but on Sunday he took a step forward by hitting 5-of-6 shots for 14 points, four triples, two steals and a block. This is the kind of line that owners were hoping for from Jackson, who on the other hand has looked lost and confused. It’s worth mentioning that T.J. Warren was out after being listed as questionable heading into the game. Bridges should be able to absorb some of Ryan Anderson’s and Jackson’s minutes as the season goes on and in deep leagues, I’d already place him ahead of both guys.
Shmacking you up
Shelvin Mack has been on fire! On Sunday he dropped a season-high 21 points, right after setting the mark two other times with 14 and 19 points. What’s most impressive is Mack is finding time alongside Mike Conley and is producing across the box. He won’t continue shooting 65 percent as he has over his last three games but Mack has established himself as a clear-cut rotation player at this point of the season. While he’s hot consider using him in DFS and possibly in week 5 and 6 when the Grizzlies play four times.
Slo-motion for you. Kyle Anderson hit double-digit scoring for the first time as a Grizzly. He was also one of two starters to get to double-digits as only he and Mike Conley showed up ready to take on the Suns. Looking at the box the main winners for the Grizzlies were their bench guys in Dillon Brooks and MarShon Brooks who both logged extra minutes as David Fizdale didn’t take the Suns seriously. At the end of the night, it bit him in the behind as the Grizzlies 12-point fourth quarter lead evaporated and Booker stood victorious as the Grizzlies faded into the night baffled.
Who wins a fight between a mountain lion and a wolf?
On Sunday it was the “Trail Cat” as the Blazers dispatched the Wolves 111-81. While the Blazers’ mascot might not strike fear into the hearts of most opponents, the Blazers’ big-3 might be getting there.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum logged an identical 28 minutes on Sunday as the game had clear makings of a blowout early in the second half. Dame dropped 18 points with five boards and five assists while C.J. chipped in 16 with two steals and some sprinkles across the box. Their big-man Jusuf Nurkic did one better, scoring 19 with 12 boards and a block in just 23 minutes. Nurk hit 8-of-11 from the field and played the more-talented Towns to a standstill.
The rest of the box is a bit of a mess with Meyers Leonard popping up as the main beneficiary of the blowout. Meyers won’t have any value unless he ends up on a different team, likely overseas. Nik Stauskas dealt with a quad contusion late in the game, but considering the Blazers were up over 20 at that point view his absence as precautionary as the training staff likely used the opportunity to get started on his rehab. Zach Collins is for real. Make sure he’s not on any wires (unlikely given the five-game week) and pick him up if anyone dares drop him.
You have died of dysentery
Dysentery is spread when you come in contact with contaminated food or water. Right now, it seems like the Timberwolves are dealing with their own contamination, of the Jimmy Butler kind. With Butler seemingly sitting out a game of every back-to-back the Timberpuppies are struggling to adapt. They’ve lost 2-of-3 games when Butler sits out, their lone victory being Derrick Rose’s 50-point outburst. On Sunday they faltered against the Blazers, despite solid games from Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Towns was productive in 26 minutes with 23 points, five boards, three assists and two triples, while Wiggins threw in 17 points, three steals and two triples. Besides these two elite scorers, the Wolves failed to produce another double-digit performance. Taj Gibson did a workmanlike job with eight points and eight rebounds, adding two steals and a block. Until Jeff Teague proves that he’s healthy it will be hard to trust anyone outside of these three players. The good news is Butler doesn’t have any back-to-backs this week and should be able to suit up for all three games on the docket.
Raptors able to hold-Serge
The last time a player hit his first 14 field goals it was 2006 and his name was Shaquille O’Neal. On Sunday Serge Ibaka achieved that feat and a few more as he scored a career-high 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting, with 10 boards, two steals, two assists and a triple. He also canned all three free throws. He also outscored the Lakers in the first quarter, 20-17. This will be Serge’s finest game of the season but it might not be the best time to sell high as his stock seems to be steady.
Playing more center has Serge focused on playing closer to the basket and it’s paying dividends as he’s shooting over 50 percent from the field. While this is expected to fall from the curernt 57 percent, he’s currently at he could sustain something around 52 percent as long as he stays committed to staying away from the 3-point line, where he’s only hit 17 percent of his shots on the season. As Serge’s threes rose over the last few years his blocks and boards slowly fell. With Nick Nurse now running the show it seems like there’s a clear direction for Serge and the rest of the Raptors bigs. Shoot threes from the corners but stay close to the hoop otherwise.
Kyle Lowry didn’t let Ibaka get all of the limelight though, as he brought his own brand of goodies to Staples Center to hand out 15 dimes with 21 points and six boards. He collected six money stats on the night and helped ice the Lakers late. With Kawhi Leonard out Danny Green had a chance to deliver and he did, hitting 5-of-8 shots to finish the evening with five triples, two blocks, three assists and three boards with 15 points. Rounding out the productive bunch of Raptors were Jonas Valanciunas who was effective in 17 minutes with 14 points, eight boards, a block and a steal while Pascal Siakam continues to hold down the starting power forward slot with 16 points, 13 boards and a steal. There was some doubt about if Jakob Poeltl or Siakam was the better prospect heading into the season, with Siakam’s improved consistency it looks like the question is answered.
It’s all smoke and mirrors in La-La-Land
The Lakers played themselves on Sunday. Coming in off a great win in Portland on Saturday they started the game flat against a motivated and more talented Raptors team. By the end of the first quarter, the game was basically over as the Lakers tried to battle back. Late in the fourth quarter, they managed to cut the lead down to a dozen with about three minutes to go, but the game was never in jeopardy. The best news to come out of this game for Laker fans is Lonzo Ball’s continued improvement.
Ball was embarrassed by the Blazers, only logging 19 minutes with 1-of-6 shooting on Saturday so he came to ball on Sunday with 12 points, nine boards, four assists, two steals and two triples on 5-of-7 shooting. Ball has shot 50 percent or better in every game that he’s reached double figures in and been way off that mark in all the others. On the season he’s at 46 percent which is a massive improvement from last season but his free throw shooting is still lagging behind. He’s also yet to record a block this season, despite averaging 0.8 blocks a game last season. Expect Ball to continue to rise as he learns to play alongside LeBron, Rondo and McGee.
The King faltered with only 18 points to go with six assists, two boards and two triples. LeBron forever changed the face of the Toronto Raptors last season when he dismantled the team in four games and forever stamped his moniker on the franchise. The LeBronto Raptors.
He also used the post-game conference after the sweep to speak about how much he learned when he lost to a Dwane Casey-led defense as a member of the Heat when the Mavericks won the title. He made it clear that he would never lose to Casey in the playoffs again. A few days later the coach of the year was fired and Nick Nurse had a team to manage. On Sunday LeBron lived up to his word and came out flat against a franchise he used to dominate, all because Coach Casey was no longer there.