• Monday night was action-packed with a 9-game slate defined by several surprisingly big performances by some of the league’s unheralded, though talented, young reserves. One of the biggest stories of the night was Malik Monk, who shook off the cobwebs and stepped up with a gigantic effort, with Terry Rozier (ankle) sidelined. He posted 36 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 9-of-13 from three, leading the Hornets to an impressive 129-121 overtime win over the Miami Heat. Monk has, for the most part, been a non-factor in James Borrego’s rotation this season, but after a night like this fans of his are probably hoping that he has earned a consistent place in it moving forward. If not a consistent role in Charlotte, Monk has at least presented a convincing audition tape for interested teams at the trade deadline.

    Elsewhere around the Association, we saw second-year forward Keldon Johnson continue his meteoric sophomore season with a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double in a loss. Fellow second-year forward Nassir Little got a chance with the starters and popped off for a career-high 30 points in Milwaukee (albeit 14 of those points came with the game well out of reach in the 4th quarter). Rookie Immanuel Quickley continued his torrid play off the bench with a 16 point, six rebound and seven assist gem, begging the question once again: how miserable does Tom Thibodeau have to be before he makes that starting lineup switch? Second round draft pick Xavier Tillman also continued to prove other GMs wrong with his sustained productive play. He styled out with a solid 9-cat line in another spot-start for Jonas Valanciunas (health and safety protocols), scoring 10 points, with nine boards, two steals and two blocks. All of these young guns has nights to remember, though there is one in particular who grabbed my attention as a truly worthwhile add in fantasy leagues…

     

    Adds of the Night

    De’Anthony Melton, G, Memphis Grizzlies

    Melton lives! De’Anthony has played two large-minute games in a row in two wins over a decent Spurs team. You have to think the way he’s come out firing after being in the doghouse over the last several weeks could help keep him in the rotation long term even when Grayson Allen (health and safety protocols) returns. Taylor Jenkins, however, is playing with an embarrassment of riches at the guard spot, and for whatever reason hasn’t seen Melton as a potential Crown Jewel in that equation to this point of the season. He’s worth an add now with hopes this hot stretch could be parlayed into a cemented role going forward. If Melton is seeing a minimum of 25 minutes every night he could quickly rocket up the boards as a 9-cat star.

    Josh Richardson, G/F, Dallas Mavericks

    People were quick to write off Ricardson after a rocky (and rusty) first three games back following his Covid diagnosis, but tonight should make teams reconsider after he went to the wire in numerous spots. Richardson was scoring in the teens pretty consistently before he missed all of January with his illness, and Dallas is desperately in need of both more perimeter firepower and perimeter defense, two of J-Rich’s specialties. He should be considered in 14-teams leagues for his 3PM and STL upside, with high-scoring nights like these as an occasional cherry on top. 

     

    Drop Zone

    Lu Dort, G/F, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dort is a terrific defender, and undoubtedly has a solidified rotation role the rest of the way. That being said, his real-life defense barely lends itself to defensive stat production, and unless he’s hitting the 3-ball at high volumes, he’s not giving you much else in the box score to justify being on a roster in 12-teamers. 

     

    OUT – Covid Protocol

    The league has somewhat weathered the storm on this for now. This list is much shorter than it has been the previous three weeks

    Detroit Pistons: Monday’s game between the Pistons and Nuggets was postponed due to inconclusive test results for one Pistons player. Recent updates from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicate that the Pistons are planning to play in Tuesday’s game against Utah, though we’ll wait for official confirmation from the league

    Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

    Memphis Grizzlies: Jonas Valanciunas & Grayson Allen

    Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric

     

    Injuries

     

    Monday’s games

    Earlier in the day we got the unfortunate news that Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Justise Winslow (left hip) remain without timetables to return…condolences to those who drafted JJJ.

    Devin Booker (hamstring) was available to play in Monday’s game after missing his previous four games

    De’Andre Hunter missed his first game since having to have a minor procedure on his right knee to address some wear and tear and is going to miss at least the next week. It remains to be seen if he’ll need to miss more time than that.

    Larry Nance Jr. (wrist) was ruled out for Monday’s game, and appears to have persisting issues with this ailment, after sporting horrendous FG% ‘s in his two games played after missing two games with this same injury. It remains to be seen how long he’ll sit out to fully heal it. Andre Drummond (back) also missed this contest.

    Terry Rozier (ankle) was ruled out ahead of Monday’s game, allowing rookie LaMelo Ball to make his first career start.

    James Wiseman (wrist) is set to miss the next 7-10 days, which is roughly his next 4-to-6 games.

    Juancho Hernangomez (injury management) came into Monday’s game listed as questionable, indicating that he has cleared health and safety protocols. 

    Maxi Kleber (health and safety protocols) was available for Monday’s contest, capping a three-week period where the Mavericks were missing a player for Covid-19 related reasons.

    Gary Harris (adductor) missed Monday’s game after having to leave Sunday’s game with the injury. He currently has no timetable for return.

    P.J. Washington (foot) was forced to leave Monday’s game and did not return.

    Steven Adams (calf) was ruled out for Monday’s game, and his status going forward should be considered questionable. 

    The Los Angeles Lakers don’t care about your lineups. Anthony Davis (doesn’t matter) and LeBron James (who cares) played on Monday despite both, once again, being listed as questionable. 

     

    Tuesday’s games

    The Magic announced that Aaron Gordon suffered a severe left ankle sprain, and will be expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks. In a next-man-up twist of fate, forward Chuma Okeke (knee) is expected to be available for Tuesday’s game, and has a chance to crack the rotation in a meaningful way.

    James Harden (thigh) is not on the injury report after missing his previous game with the injury.

    Norman Powell (quad) went from doubtful to questionable for Tuesday’s game. Keep your eye on his status on the leadup to that one.

    Nic Batum (groin) is listed as questionable for Tuesday.

    Notable Numbers

    Damian Lillard Stepping up: Coming into tonight’s games, Damian Lillard was the 5th best player on a per-game basis in 9-cat leagues since C.J McCollumn (foot) joined Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) on the injury report. He’s not just doing it by taking ALL of the shots, which he has seen an uptick in three more FGA per-game and one more FTA per-game from his pre-Blazer injuries averages, but he’s really getting it done as a passer too. Lillard’s assists per-game have jumped from 6.8 to 8.4 since McCollumn went down, which underscores how important C.J’s facilitating has been in the grand scheme of Portland’s offense. Lillard won’t be shooting nearly 50% from the floor, another large component in his current rank, the rest of the way, but the increased passing feels pretty sustainable. He could flirt with career-high markets in that category the further we go.

    Jarrett Allen, Right at home: While most in the fantasy community feared the worst for Jarrett Allen when he was dealt to Cleveland to become Andre Drummond’s backup, most should be pleased with how the Cavs have prioritized his growth and development more than Brooklyn ever did when he was forced to backup DeAndre Jordan. Heading into tonight’s game, where he filled in admirably for the injured Drummond, Allen had been posting top-60 value in 9-cat leagues with averages of 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 68% shooting from the floor (on 7.3 attempts) in 25 minutes per game. The workload he’s seeing in this current setup already has him cruising past his ADP, and if the inevitable Andre Drummond move does come to fruition this season, watch out. If Monday’s line was any indication of what’s in store, Allen could find himself being a league-winning player during playoff season.

    What Happened Mikal?: A few weeks ago I was gushing over how Mikal Bridges was an expert at not turning over the rock, totaling a pristine 3 turnovers through, at that point, 360 total minutes of action. Since then? He’s had 12 in his last 270 minutes of game time. Gosh Mikal, clean it up.

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