• Saturday night began with the Sixers hanging on to defeat a gallant Pistons team. The Sixers ran out basically a full-strength outfit and so we got a good look at what their rotations might look like moving forward. Joel Embiid continues to play at an MVP level and certainly has to be in the discussion for the coveted award. Ben Simmons is looking much better and Seth Curry has slotted in right where he left off. The Nets finally won a game, overcoming a fast-finishing Heat squad, minus a number of their regular pieces. James Harden finished with just 12 points on 2-of-8 shooting, something I never thought I would be saying. Bam Adebayo had himself a career-night, netting 41 points to go with nine assists. Kendrick Nunn continues to play well off the bench and should be rostered everywhere until the troops are back on the board. The Wolves and Pelicans battled in what was a must-win encounter for both teams. The Wolves held on but it certainly wasn’t pretty. Jarred Vanderbilt is yet to be fully unleashed but the upside is quite apparent. Bledsoe had his best game of the season and I would be trying to sell wherever I can. The Lakers easily accounted for the Bulls in a one-sided affair, resulting in some wacky minutes and very little fantasy news. The Rockets followed suit, taking care of the Mavs who were without Kristaps Porzingis. This was simply a night off for KP and so there are no concerns regarding his health. DeMarcus Cousins took advantage of what the Mavs threw at him, dropping 28 points to go with 17 rebounds. People are going to go crazy after this performance, although there are a few caveats that need to be addressed. As we mentioned, the Mavs were very thin in their frontcourt and so Boogie basically had free reign. Christian Wood was sidelined with his ankle injury but is slated to return early next week. Factor in that he played significantly more minutes than he has thus far, and it is unlikely he repeats this effort all too often. The Nuggets won a double-overtime thriller over the Suns on the back of another dominant performance by Nikola Jokic. Michael Porter Jr. double-doubled in 35 minutes and it is fair to say he should be activated in all formats. Devin Booker was ruled out with a hamstring injury prior to tipoff, resulting in Jae Crowder re-entering the starting lineup. Crowder was solid, as was Cam Johnson, both of whom are backend 12-team targets. Finally, the Jazz blew out the Warriors in what was another one-sided encounter. Steph Curry was the only Warrior to make any noise, although James Wiseman is beginning to trend in the right direction. The Jazz are arguably the most predictable fantasy team around and that was on full display with another clinical victory.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Wayne Ellington, G, Detroit Pistons – Ellington is going on one of his patented heaters and the Pistons seem to be willing to run with it for now. As long as he is playing significant minutes, Ellington can be an elite source of points and 3s.

    Kendrick Nunn, G, Miami Heat – Likewise, Nunn is getting a ton of playing time right now as the Heat continue to battle through COVID-related absences. Until such time that they start getting bodies back on the floor, Nunn makes sense as a 12-team pickup.

    Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Minnesota Timberwolves – Vanderbilt is creating quite a reputation for himself thanks to his tenacious play on both ends of the floor. His playing time is yet to top-out but the Wolves simply have to have him out there based on what he is doing. Whether he remains in the starting lineup moving forward remains to be seen but for now, he is at least worth a flier.

    Drop Zone

    Paul Millsap, F, Denver Nuggets – Michael Porter Jr. is back and Millsap is going to take a step back, as evidenced during Saturday’s victory.

    Shake Milton, G, Philadelphia 76ers – Milton is not a player you have to drop but it is clear that his role is going to regress now that they are back to full strength. He likely won’t be this bad moving forward but his ceiling is capped given the assumed drop in playing time.

    Injury Report

    Despite a few players who were in some doubt, the Sixers had basically everyone available

    Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose were both out for rest purposes

    Moe Harkless suffered a quad contusion and was unable to close out the game

    D’Angelo Russell was given the night off

    Ricky Rubio started and played 28 minutes despite a questionable tag

    The Lakers ‘questionable and probable’ gang were all available

    Otto Porter sat out the game as part of his injury management

    Wendell Carter Jr. missed the game but sounds as though he is feeling a lot better

    Victor Oladipo was another player resting on Saturday

    Christian Wood missed his second straight game but could return on Tuesday

    Kristaps Porzingis rested on the second night of a back-to-back

    Devin Booker missed the game with a hamstring injury

    Bang For Your Buck

    We are now dialed in for what has been a season like no other. For many of us, our rosters have been decimated by COVID-related issues as well as players simply not living up to the hype. However, there have been a handful of players who have managed to put all the distractions aside and turn out what has been a fantastic few weeks of basketball.  As a change of pace, I thought I would outline a few of the players who have been able to blow through their preseason ADPs. As with any list such as this, it is not going to be extensive enough to look at every single player who falls into that category.

    Chris Boucher (Rank:25 ADP:135) – Boucher has been arguably the most talked-about fantasy player this season thanks to his sterling performances. He has tailed off over the past two games which has thrown some doubt over his future endeavors. The per-minute production has always been there for Boucher but it is only now that he is actually playing significant minutes on a nightly basis. His competition for playing time is nothing write home about and so as long as he is healthy and playing at a high level, the opportunities should be there. Looking ahead, the top-30 may be wishful thinking but then again, who’s to say he can’t maintain third-round value?

    Richaun Holmes (Rank:29 ADP:89) – Holmes is a little less surprising given what we saw from him last season. Coming into this year, the hesitation came about because of the addition of Hassan Whiteside. Any fears we had were quickly laid to rest as the Kings figured out the Whiteside is not a player you can have on the floor if you hope to win basketball games. Marvin Bagley has not taken the steps they would have liked and he is not coming for Holmes’ playing time either. That really leaves the ball in Holmes’ hands when it comes to the road ahead. As long as he can remain healthy and barring any trades, he should be able to also flirt with third-round value moving forward.

    Larry Nance Jr. (Rank:35 ADP:124) – Much like Boucher, Nance has always had the ability to put up standard league numbers in very few minutes. Heading into this season, the thinking was that Nance would be playing 20 minutes off the bench, much like he has throughout his career. An early-season injury to Kevin Love (which we all should have seen coming) opened the door for Nance and thus far, he has grabbed it with both hands. He has added a semi-reliable 3-point shot to his game, giving him the ability to stretch the floor next to the likes of Andre Drummond and now, Jarrett Allen. The big question mark here is where does he fit in once Love returns to action. Love is obviously not a part of their future but they are invested in him to the point where they almost need to be giving him the playing time. We need to wait for that to happen before making any proclamations but it is fair to say that regression could be coming at some point.

    Seth Curry (Rank:39 ADP:120) – Curry joined the Sixers during the offseason in what was a quietly astute pickup by the franchise. He is a perfect fit next to Ben Simmons, spreading the floor and allowing Simmons to go to work. Curry is one of those players who has been impacted by COVID, having only returned to game action on Friday. Therefore, the sample size here is quite small and so we do not want to be jumping to any conclusions. I think it is reasonably safe to say that Curry will not finish inside the top-40; however, a mid-round end to the season is more than attainable.

    Nicolas Batum (Rank:52 ADP:478) – Batum is an interesting case as a player who was generally not drafted outside of the deepest formats. He barely touched the court for the Hornets last season and many of us thought he was done as a contributing NBA player. Along came the Clippers and gave him a new lease on life, turning him back into not only a role player but a starting option on a championship quality team. We know what Batum can do when he is on the floor, with his well-rounded skill set leading itself to roto formats. He is obviously not going to dominate any one category but can help you across the board, making him a very versatile option. The top-50 is going to hard to break through when all is said and done but there is certainly a world in which he closes as a top-100 player in 9-category leagues.

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