• I thought it was going to be an easy eight-game night but last night was a fantasy behemoth, not because we had major injuries or show-stopping performances but because there are a lot of opportunities for owners to cash in.

    I also got offered swag by Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee who happens to be a podcast listener, and that’s my wife and I’s favorite coffee so little does she know I have all the bragging rights. Anyway, with that humble brag out of the way and a lot of ground to cover let’s get right to it.

    SELL MORTIMER

    The Bulls are bad and that’s not news but they seem to have found some semblance of a rotation now that they’ve given up on Cameron Payne. That doesn’t mean it’s time to pick up Ryan Arcidiacono (three points, 1-of-6 FGs, two boards, three assists, one steal, 29 minutes), but rather that they might cruise through the next two weeks with some stability.

    After that, Lauri Markkanen (elbow), Bobby Portis (knee) and Kris Dunn (knee) will return and things will get tighter for everybody.

    Jabari Parker (21 points, eight rebounds, three assists, 34 minutes) is basically an auto sell-now, Zach LaVine (15 points, 6-of-20 FGs, five boards, four assists, one steal, one block, one three) is an easy sell-high that should start to settle in around the top 40-50 range, and Wendell Carter (12 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, 25 minutes) will still be good but he’s also going to take a hit with two frontcourt players returning.

    GIANNIS CLIMBING

    The Bucks pushed their record to 11-4 with the beatable Bulls in town and everybody you wanted to do well did well, at least if they were on your squad. Giannis went for 23 & 13 with four assists, three blocks and two threes, though the 5-of-9 mark from the foul line highlighted one of his big blemishes.

    We’ve looked at him in this space over the last few weeks and he has been a lightning rod asset, with both buy low and sell high appeal and right now he’s righting the ship. He’s bringing back top 10-20 value (8/9 cat) while starting to recover on the percentages a tiny bit, though not evidenced by tonight’s foul shooting, and he has crept up to 2.8 combined steals and blocks per game.

    In short, he’s on his way back to the neighborhood in which he was drafted but the defensive stats are the big issue and his current 68.1 percent foul shooting probably heads back up to the 75 percent range. So I think it’s a buy low moment again but if the owner thinks he’s a top-5 asset that seems to be unlikely.

    Khris Middleton is on so many of my teams and I cannot thank him enough for how consistent and good he is. He put up 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting (including two threes) with 10 boards, eight assists and two steals as his top-20 season continues.

    Brook Lopez hit four treys and had two blocks and that’s what you’re here for, but if you care about the rest of his line it was 14 points with five rebounds in 30 minutes. With John Henson out for a few months, he only has to deal with Thon Maker (nine points, three treys, three boards, one block, 18 minutes) and that’s going to cinch his mid-round value. Maker needs to do it again (and probably again and again) for me to put him on any standard league radar.

    Eric Bledsoe was a buy low recommendation – an easy one – and he is righting the ship. He put up 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block over 30 minutes. Malcolm Brogdon is going to silently destroy his ADP and he put up another 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting with three triples, four rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. He’s rolling at a top-100 level.

    RODNEY DANGEROUS GETS NO RESPECT

    The Heat lost to a better clogged rotation in Indy last night and dropped to 6-9 and maybe the mediocrity will push them to make a move. Or not. Despite the inconsistency, Rodney McGruder (11 points, five rebounds, one steal, one three, 31 minutes, 5-of-11 FGs) has been anything but that.

    You can worry about the eventual returns of Dion Waiters or James Johnson or for McGruder to start being past versions of McGruder, but he looks spry out there and there’s no reason to fade him at this point.

    He’s currently a top-100 guy whose percentages can be quibbled with, as well as his rebounding and assist stats, but we just don’t know what he is. Last season he logged 16.6 mpg in 18 games. In the season before he saw a healthy 25.2 mpg in 78 games and didn’t do anything with it.

    His role has been upgraded and on a night-to-night basis his stats don’t move. Am I betting he does it the rest of the season? That’s probably not a great bet. But we do have to give him that respect until he gives us at least a modicum of indication that he’s taking a dip.

    Josh Richardson (28 points, 10-of-16 FGs, seven treys, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, 41 minutes) is the other consistent asset. He is probably looking at further erosion to his field goal percentage if he continues to take 16.4 shots per game, but as the Heat add players he probably keeps a high volume, improves some efficiency and gains a little in the defensive department. In other words, it’s all good.

    Hassan Whiteside is returning value for owners but man, stories about losing guns and general injury concerns and just knowing he’s Hassan Whiteside don’t make this an easy ride.

    He’s bringing back top-45 value when on the floor and much of that is on an eye-popping 3.2 blocks per game, hearkening back to his 3.7 bpg campaign of 2015-16, but the difference is that instead of the 11.8 boards per game he had that season – he’s hauling in 14.8 per game this year.

    That has covered up a 58.6 percent mark from the line on a career-high 5.4 attempts per game, which he’s getting because he’s way more athletic and skilled than he has ever been. You never want to bet on a bad free throw shooter to do anything predictable, but when that regresses back up to the 63-70 percent range he’s back up in the top-24 discussion in fantasy leagues.

    So yeah, the risks are real and at the same time he seems to be undervalued, with people probably thinking these numbers are high. It’s buy-low-while-confusing territory if you can get comfortable with the risks.

    Goran Dragic (eight points, 3-of-8 FGs, three assists, one steal) is going to be a late-round point guard without much upside and a good amount of durability risk.

    Kelly Olynyk, who has gotten favorable projections and treatment around here, is going to be inconsistent and is definitely droppable while he’s floundering in the wake of Whiteside’s success. I do think he’s going to get loose at some point and the upside is there, but the presence of Bam Adebayo (eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks) is too much for a rotation that is both too tight and also missing two contributors.

    That said, it sure seems like Waiters and Johnson aren’t coming back until there’s space in the rotation.

    TYREKE TIME

    The better, equally clogged team won when the Pacers rode a Tyreke Evans hot streak past the Heat. Evans, who cost a late mid-round or early late-round pick, has killed owners all season but got back in the add column with 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting, five threes, 10 rebounds, two assists and a block in 25 minutes.

    The numbers aren’t pretty for Evans. He’s hitting just 40.6 percent from the field with just 11.2 points, 2.9 boards and 2.4 assists per game in 20.1 mpg. He has been called out by Nate McMillan, basically for being Tyreke Evans.

    A key question here is if McMillan can get Evans to change who he is and buy into the team concept, which will be a prerequisite for the 23-27 mpg he needs to be consistent for standard league owners.

    The threes tonight illustrate a new part of his game from last season that made him a nice little force to be reckoned with.  Without that, I’m not sure how much faith I put in him.

    It’s a classic risk-reward situation and because he could theoretically have late mid-round value, it’s worth taking the risk. I don’t think he’ll get there.

    This is all about what’s in-between the ears, and also whether Darren Collison (four points, two assists, 1-of-7 FGs, four steals, one three, 24 minutes) and Cory Joseph (12 points, two rebounds, five assists, three steals, two threes, 30 minutes) cede any ground to him.

    As for Collison, the five cash counters definitely cushion the blow of yet another absent evening. I don’t think anybody should be breaking their neck to keep Collison in a 12-team format that isn’t abnormally deep, but he’s due regressions in both 3-point shooting and from the line and that will push him up into the top-125 or better, including whatever erosion we want to assign to him for mpg loss.

    Joseph has actually been a better value this season and he’s looking at the opposite scenario, where his field goal percentage (51.8) is going to dip and 25.8 mpg would seem to be a high water mark, especially if Evans starts getting more run. With upside extremely capped, I’d still put him a cut or two beneath Collison despite the head start this season.

    Myles Turner (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks, one trey, 28 minutes) gave owners a line to sell high with. I just don’t see him being the guy folks think they drafted, and Domantas Sabonis (15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) is going to push him not just in fantasy leagues but also in real life value to the team.

    Bojan Bogdanovic (16 points, 6-of-10 FGs, two threes, six boards, one steal) has cruised under the radar this season with top-120 value, as his minutes (30.7) and role are consistent. He’s looking at a pretty hefty, negative field goal percentage regression, which will be somewhat balanced out by a positive free throw percentage regression.

    If he was a low-end, 14-team asset last season he appears to have graduated into a 12-teamer and with a good durability outlook he could crack the top-100 at the end of the year.

    Victor Oladipo owners are dealing with a top-24 asset and not the top-12 asset they hoped for on draft day. After last night’s eight points on 3-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, five assists and one block, this is the perfect time to float a buy low offer.

    He can get better looks and improve his 44.2 percent mark from the field but he’s almost a lock to jump up 10 percent from the foul line on a solid five attempts per game. His steals have dipped from 2.4 to 1.7 per game, which was the chief concern among detractors on draft day, but it’s early and either way the buy low recommendation is the takeaway here.

    EFFICIENCY BE DAMNED

    I’m going to pick the pace up here because we have a lot of ground to cover and the Jazz are an easy read. After losing by 50 points in the last one, they played a normal game against a Sixers squad rebounding after an inevitable get-to-know-you game with Jimmy Butler.

    Donovan Mitchell (31 points, 13-of-35 FGs, 1-of-11 3PTs, zero assists, four steals, one block) has efficiency issues and that happens when a) teams load up on you and b) you don’t appear to have all of the explosion you had in the previous season.

    Mitchell can get it back but he has to improve at the finer points of the game, including how he gets shots and his array of finishing moves. Teams are sitting on the spins and rangy extension scoops and aren’t afraid of him pulling off the dribble.

    It’s obvious buy low territory and though I don’t own him anywhere because I came in lower than the other sites here, I’d still rate him as a strong bet to finish in the top-36 by season’s end. If you want to call that top-40 in 9-cat formats I’m good with it.

    THREE’S A CROWD

    The Sixers are a much more interesting situation and after Joel Embiid asserted his place in the pecking order for Game 1 of the Jimmy Butler era (period?), we saw Butler join Embiid at the top of the food chain against the Jazz.

    We’ll deal with the right hand injury that Embiid reported after last night’s game in a few graphs.

    Butler scored 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting (2-of-3 3PTs, 2-of-5 FTs) with three rebounds, seven assists and two steals to put a jolt in the idea that he can continue flirting with first round value in Philly.

    The pendulum here is with Ben Simmons (10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block, 2-of-5 FTs) and he might be too soft-spoken to force the action early on. He will force the action eventually as his game is predicated on aggression, but the question is where everything settles.

    Butler is probably best evaluated as a second round asset going forward, which is purely a balance between his upside and the chance he slides for whatever reason, including any injury risk you want to assign.

    Simmons is already struggling this season, with just top 50-80 value on the year (8/9 cat).

    The second year player is getting hit on all sides right now, with dips in field goal attempts over last season (-1.7) and combined steals and blocks (0.5), while increasing his bad free throw attempts (+0.6) without improving his percentage enough to keep it from being overly prohibitive.

    Now he’s looking at erosion of his ballhandling duties and scoring potential, with no clear path to increased value unless he reduces his free throw attempts, which will probably happen, but not without continued erosion of his playmaking stats.

    I think you have to evaluate Simmons as a late early round guy in 8-cat leagues and an early-mid round guy in 9-cat formats, which is a far cry from the top-15 status that was bestowed upon him during draft season.

    Embiid is the immovable force here and he put up 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting (1-of-4 3PTs, 8-of-9 FTs) with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in just 26 minutes. He’s rewarding owners that bet into the hype with top 5-7 returns on a per-game basis and because he has played more than everybody else ahead of him he’s actually on top of the leaderboards.

    Now he comes out with a story about having a hurt/swollen, right (shooting) hand essentially dating back to December of last year. Embiid added that he’s not missing any time and this most definitely should be monitored, especially since he has a history of not sitting when he should and the Sixers have a history of aiding and abetting that.

    However, it’s not hard to see Embiid amplifying the volume on something that’s not necessarily a big deal, and one has to think if it was a real concern that something would have happened throughout these many months to deal with it. I’m not altering any projections based on this.

    Wilson Chandler (two points, five boards, 22 minutes) isn’t doing anything with his opportunity but Mike Muscala (nine points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, three treys) has been a Hoop Ball deep (deep) sleeper for a few years. As long as the Sixers don’t add a player he sits in a really good spot. Look at him in tougher 12-14 team leagues.

    J.J. Redick (16 points, one steal, one three, 34 minutes) owners don’t have to worry about production now. He’s going to get enough minutes and touches for owners to worry about durability, however.

    LIFE WITHOUT LEVERT

    I’ve mentioned here a few times about how I chickened out on the Nets in the playoffs (and if I knew DAR was going to be traded that I’d be on board). The Caris LeVert injury definitely doesn’t help them in the win column, but one of their issues has been a trio of ballhandling playmakers when there’s only space for two.

    Their win last night over the Wizards in Washington could easily be dismissed as an opponent crumbling, but their newfound balance might help keep them competitive.

    Last night they got good D’Angelo Russell, who hit 8-of-16 shots (1-of-4 3PTs, 6-of-8 FTs) for 23 points, three rebounds, six assists, two steals and four turnovers in 30 minutes. He has been a top 80-100 value (8/9 cat) on the year, which is in line with projections, and he should see a round to round-and-a-half jump in value going forward.

    If you’re the Nets this is your ultimate sell high/now window.

    Spencer Dinwiddie was better than Russell as usual and finished with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 3PTs, 6-of-9 FTs), four rebounds, eight assists and three steals in 31 minutes off the bench. He has been returning top 90-100 value in 27.5 mpg and has regressables in both directions, with an added mpg expectation to push those values upwards.

    Jarrett Allen (illness) returned and put up 16 points, 12 boards, one steal and two blocks in 32 minutes. LeVert isn’t the distributor that Dinwiddie and Russell are, so it’s possible we see an uptick in Allen’s production. Nothing against LeVert, but he got to the rim so much that a pass wasn’t quite as necessary.

    Jared Dudley has been ‘not horrifically terrible’ to the extent in which I looked up his value. He’s just outside of the top-200 in 24.3 mpg. No, I’m not picking him up.

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) did not play and folks are fading him hard right now. He’s a key cog for the Nets and he’s practically a lock to slide into minutes and production, so long as he can stay on the floor. With LeVert around he lost a lot of usage on offense. Look for him to get some of that back in the next 2-3 months.

    WOEFUL WIZARDS

    The Wizards might be a slow-rolling train wreck all year long. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but it’s definitely taking its toll on Otto Porter, who played 29 minutes and scored eight points on 3-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    It’s by no means his worst outing but this comes on the heels of Scott Brooks basically ethering him in the press.

    Fantasy GMs just want more, faster.

    I still think this is buy low territory because the Wizards sitting on Porter, considering their lack of overall depth and his big contract, doesn’t seem wise.

    The smart money is still on Porter getting back into the flow sooner rather than later. His percentages are a bit down and the snap-back there will help matters, but mostly his mpg rising from 28.0 to the expected 31-32 mpg is what we’re looking for.

    John Wall (16 points, 6-of-19 FGs, seven assists, triple-one) seems to be all over the board right now and if he stabilizes he might also help bring Porter back.

    It could easily come down to Brooks, but I’m still buying low here and I’d think you could swing that for a sixth rounder right about now.

    Dwight Howard had his best line of the year with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting (7-of-10 FTs), 17 rebounds, one steal and one block in 27 minutes. He’s going to have another year of doing what he does, it appears. #analysis

    SIAKAM? HE WRECKEDUM

    The Raptors lost to Dwane Casey and the Pistons on their home floor and traveled to Boston yesterday only to suffer another tough loss. After holding an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter they let the game get to overtime and eventually Kyrie Irving took over.

    Depth is always the story for Toronto and they keep trading players on and off the injury list. OG Anunoby left this game in the third quarter due to a right wrist injury and did not return, while Danny Green (back) and Serge Ibaka (knee) both played.

    Until a big injury strikes, for players not named Kawhi or Kyle, the minutes are going to be doled out based on matchups and how well guys are playing.

    That means that Pascal Siakam, an HB6er nominee, will continue to have a big role going forward. He saw 39 minutes last night with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, which isn’t surprising as he has been doing it all year.

    It’s been good for top 40-50 value on averages of 14.3 points, 0.6 treys, 6.6 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks and marks of 63.3 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the line.

    The field goal percentage (and to a lesser degree the 3-point percentage) is way above career norms but everything else is mostly in place, with the very real question lingering ‘can he get better?’ The field goal percentage is unsustainable and the minutes (28.8) are high if we’re projecting the rest of the year, but I’d be shocked if he drops out of the top-75 on a per-game basis. I’m pretty sure the market doesn’t recognize him as such so you know what to do.

    Kawhi went off with 31 points on 11-of-25 shooting (0-for-3 3PTs, 9-of-11 FTs), 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals. While he has been on the floor he has been as advertised with top 9-12 value (9/8 cat).

    Delon Wright (seven points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block, one three, 26 minutes) won the ‘Raptors waiver-level player of the night’ award, while Fred VanVleet missed all six of his shots and crapped out in 22 minutes.

    VanVleet hasn’t gotten it going this season with percentages of 36.1 from the field and 66.7 from the line in 23.4 mpg. Wright is in the same ballpark of the ranks as they float in the top 200-250 and he has logged just 16.1 mpg.

    It could be sub top-150 returns for both of them if their roles don’t increase and they simply get up to full speed, but the ideal play here is that you get that and the opportunity for them to step up if injuries strike. They’re both good players and Wright has a particular nice stat set.

    Owning them is an exercise in the long game and depending on your league’s depth you can definitely get off that position while the going isn’t good. I’m trying to hold my Wright assets as long as I can.

    TIME TO GEL

    The Celtics turned in a big time performance in the big game against the Raptors and it was capped off by Kyrie Irving going absolutely nuts in overtime. He finished with a season-high 43 points on 18-of-26 shooting with 11 assists, three steals, one block and three treys in his 39 minutes.

    The effort was good enough to push him into a No. 6 overall ranking in 9-cat leagues when on the floor, and a No. 11 ranking in 8-cat leagues. As you might have guessed, it’s sell high territory for an injury risk but mostly because the percentages are a tiny bit rich, the rebounds and assists are coming back and the steals aren’t going to continue at the current rate.

    Elsewhere, the Gordon Hayward (15 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals, one trey, 6-of-6 FTs) buy low window isn’t shut but it would have been a whole lot cooler if you sold him yesterday. It’s just a matter of time before the players optimize within the rotation’s minute restraints and this was an example of that tonight.

    TODAY IN KNICKS

    The Knicks are going to be up and down all season and they put a tiny scare into the Pelicans, but ultimately fell short while giving owners some fatty fantasy lines.

    Mitchell Robinson (ankle) played and kept owners’ confidence by registering another solid defensive line, and also added some mpg with 24 minutes, seven points, seven boards, one steal, one block and five fouls for good measure. He’s an obvious hold and after some see-sawing I’d say I’m more regretful than thankful for getting him in just 1-of-3 big money leagues during FAAB bidding.

    Emmanuel Mudiay started and put up 19 points on 8-of-1 shooting with two threes, six boards, two steals and two blocks in 23 minutes, but I’m not going out of my way to buy it. Is there flier potential? Sure, but probably at about 5-10 percent chance of hitting.

    Kevin Knox scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting (including three treys) with five rebounds, two assists and one steal over 21 minutes, continuing on a trajectory of forgettable lines. He did clean it up over the last game, however, and I think we’re getting to the point where we know he’ll score and hit threes with consistency the rest of the year. Everything else is up in the air. I’m not going out of my way to buy it.

    Trey Burke went big with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting with just one rebound and one assist but he did rake in a triple-one in 26 minutes. I’m not going out of my way to buy it.

    Enes Kanter (eight points, five rebounds, one steal, four fouls, 15 minutes) was not in foul trouble but he saw a diminished role in this one. This is going to happen from time to time and it’s moved him from a top-50 expectation to the top 70-80 range on the year.

    The only variable here is that he hasn’t seen his minutes increase over last season’s 25.8. It’s possible that doesn’t change as Robinson has been forced into the team’s plans earlier than many drafters (including this one) thought it would.

    KILLING THEM SOFTLY

    I don’t really know anything but hearing Anthony Davis talk about how his team isn’t enough and how “usually when I have those numbers, we’re up 12, 15, 20 … But they were up damn near the whole game. We just had to fight back and I was just trying to do my part,” it’s either a guy who’s just matter-of-fact like stating the truth – or a guy laying the groundwork to get out. I don’t quite know and that’s more of an aside than anything.

    The Brow put up 43 points on 16-of-25 shooting (1-of-4 3PTs, 10-of-15 FTs) with 17 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block over 40 minutes. It pushed him back up into a top 1-2 position (9/8 cat) when on the floor and there are no surprises there.

    Elfrid Payton’s broken left pinkie finger was the biggest story on their side as that could easily keep him out for weeks, which puts Davis, Jrue Holiday (24 points, 9-of-18 FGs, four rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block, three treys), E’Twaun Moore (13 points, two rebounds, one three), Nikola Mirotic (12 points, 10 boards, one block, two threes) and Julius Randle (19 points, 11 rebounds, one steal) into mostly maxed out roles.

    Wesley Johnson (five points, triple-one, 12 minutes) has been a top 180-200 (9/8 cat) producer in about 20 mpg this season and he is back on the very deep league radar.

    ZACH ATTACK

    The Blazers went into Minny and faced a team wanting to prove itself in the wake of the Jimmy Butler trade, and were served with their second straight loss – their first consecutive losses of the season.

    They’re a stable fantasy squad with no real storylines other than the slide of C.J. McCollum (18 points, 8-of-16 FGs, two assists, one steal) and the tepid fantasy lines of Zach Collins (five points, eight boards, one three, 24 minutes).

    McCollum is returning just top 70-80 value and a closer examination of his numbers shows erosion across the board due to mpg loss (-3.4 compared to last year), but the percentages are in the right places.

    With offseason PRP therapy to his knee it seems like a reasonable place to look for reasons why. Yes, there is some buy low appeal here as nobody on the Blazers should be overly threatening his minutes, otherwise, and some mpg gain should be expected.

    Collins is a more interesting fantasy story because of his fast start and also the fact that despite a quiet two weeks, his season-long values are still playable in 12-team formats as he’s sitting in the top-140 range in 21.1 mpg. I still subscribe to the theory that he’s going to have an upward trajectory and this type of floor is appealing. If you dropped him, I get it, but I like the math here.

    WIGGIN OUT

    For the Wolves, the biggest story since Jimmy Butler’s departure (other than the wins) is the surge by Andrew Wiggins, who scored 23 points on 9-of-21 shooting with three treys, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block in 37 minutes.

    Between the absences and the drama very few would have guessed that he’s producing in the top 40-50 range on the season when on the floor. Now that Butler is gone, harmony is up and usage is available, a once boring fantasy player is on the front burner for evaluation.

    The big push in his value has come from two areas of criticism in his game – defensive production and 3-point shooting. He’s hitting 41.2 percent from deep this year, which is about 5-8 percent too high, and he’s raking in 1.8 steals per game which is almost double his normal rate.

    Regressions can be expected in those departments but the potential for a step forward can’t be ignored, even if Wiggins has become a poster child for not doing that. Given his youth and durability, he could very easily rack up top-75 numbers if everything tilts his way and ride that wave to a top-60 season.

    The other interesting fantasy situation is Taj Gibson (12 points, four rebounds, five assists, no money counters, 21 minutes) and Dario Saric (nine points, seven boards, two assists, triple-one, 27 minutes off the bench).

    Thibs said after the last game that he might have to get Gibson more minutes at the five and what actually happened is Anthony Tolliver got cut from the rotation (and complained). It didn’t help the power forward bucket and Gorgui Dieng (14 minutes) fit snugly into KAT’s backup minutes.

    Tonight’s Taj minutes would be the hope if you’re a Saric backer but unless Thibs gets creative (not his strong point) then it could be tough sledding for both Saric and Gibson. I’m holding Saric and Gibson until this situation plays itself out.

    Both Saric and Robert Covington (14 points, four treys, five boards, three steals, 23 minutes, five fouls) will have organizational support to improve their standing, though Covington has already secured an almost identical position as he had in Philly.

    SACRAMENTO STABLE

    The Kings are getting easy to read and that’s great for fantasy owners, as the offense will vary from merely decent to very potent on most nights. Last night they bogged down because they’re still not quite sure how to play off of De’Aaron Fox, but it didn’t matter in the box score as the second year player still posted 23 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one three and six turnovers.

    Both he and Buddy Hield (16 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block, two threes) are locked in for mid-round value the rest of the way. Bogdan Bogdanovic struggled in this one but still put up 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two threes in 24 minutes, highlighting how he has a real good chance at top-100 value once he’s at full strength.

    Nemanja Bjelica (eight points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, two threes, 28 minutes) has looked like Minnesota Bjelica for the last week or two, reminding folks not to make big bold predictions in the beginning of the season unless they’re good at this. I’m not saying he’s bereft of fantasy value, but that he’s getting exposed now and that should have been an easy call for fantasy or regular basketball analysts. You gotta hold him to see if he can rekindle the past dynamic value but the leash is about 1-2 games long in 12-team standard leagues.

    THE JACKSON III

    The Grizzlies are fun for fantasy purposes and to hell with it they’re fun in real life as a team with major depth issues and a 9-5 record. I think we walked the line perfectly with Jaren Jackson valuations in the preseason, not getting too high but also being aggressive enough to have him on a lot of Hoop Ball teams.

    He scored 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting (1-of-1 3PTs, 4-of-6 FTs) with six rebounds, four steals and two blocks as he repeatedly punished Bjelica and Co. last night. It’s all good for a top 60-75 start (9/8 cat) in just 24.9 mpg and though the 1.3 steals per game seem high, the 1.7 blocks don’t and any way one slices it it’s all upside from here.

    Kyle Anderson isn’t breaking down doors but seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block to go with those mighty two points is yet another step in the right direction. He’s sitting tucked inside the top-200 after a slow preseason and a slow start in Memphis, partially due to injuries and the rest probably being due to assimilation.

    His current 41.0 percent shooting is possibly 10 percent shy of where he will be, and his defensive stats probably have another increment or two to climb. If we want to nibble and talk about value gain in the free throw category it’s easily on the table, as his 57.1 percent mark should also jump another 10-15 percent.

    The idea was that he would finish in the top 70-90 and with those corrections he can get there, so I still think he should be owned or bought low because the late-round floor with upside is there.

    Shelvin Mack is going to be a late-round producer for the foreseeable future and he had another solid night with nine points, two rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two threes in 27 minutes off the bench. Both he and Garrett Temple (14 points, five rebounds, three steals, three treys) are the veteran beneficiaries of a wide-open rotation – and Temple is also a late-round value for the foreseeable future.

Fantasy News

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    According to Anthony Puccio of SNY, there's mutual interest between Kyrie Irving and the Nets.

    Irving reportedly likes what the Nets have been building, and the fact that he grew up as a Nets fan certainly doesn't hurt either. The Celtics and Knicks are also known suitors in the Irving sweepstakes, with the Lakers becoming a more popular rumored destination by the day. Brooklyn would love to pair Irving with D'Angelo Russell and have room to add a max free agent.

    Source: SNY

  • OG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors

    OG Anunoby was spotted on the court before Saturday's Game 6, where he was taking jumpers and working on dribbling and footwork drills.

    Anunoby still has no timetable to return but he is trending in the right direction. Should the Raptors make the Finals the general expectation is that Anunoby would at least be an option at some point, but there's not much to act on until we get a more concrete update from the team.

    Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter

  • Jimmy Butler - G/F - Philadelphia Sixers

    Arash Markaz of the LA Times said on Colin Cowherd's show that he's been told the Clippers do not want to sign Jimmy Butler.

    Markaz hinted that the Clippers will go after bigger names than Jimmy Butler this offseason and that the Lakers would likely land him if they were to offer him the max. LeBron James has reportedly already reached out to Butler as well. He will be 30 years old at the start of season and should remain in his prime for at least a couple more seasons. Over 12 playoff games with the 76ers, he averaged 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.0 triples while shooting 45.1 percent from the field.

    Source: Arash Markazi on Twitter

  • Taylor Jenkins - C - Milwaukee Bucks

    The Grizzlies have interviewed Bucks assistant coach Taylor Jenkins for their vacant head coaching position.

    Jenkins has been on Mike Budenholzer's staff over the last six years with the Hawks and Bucks and was a head coach for the Spurs G-League team prior to that. He is the sixth known candidate to interview for the position with the others being Alex Jensen, Nate Tibbetts, Jarron Collins, Igor Kokoskov and Adrian Griffin.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Mike DAntoni - Coach - Houston Rockets

    Despite Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta stating his intention to bring back coach Mike D’Antoni, recent departures of key staff may indicate that the team is trying to nudge MDA out according to NYT’s Marc Stein.

    Large parts of D’Antoni’s staff including assistant coach Roy Rogers, assistant Mitch Vanya, video coordinator John Cho and player development coach Irv Roland (noted for his work with James Harden) will not be returning next season for the Rockets. There’s some speculation that despite Fertitta’s comments, GM Daryl Morey isn’t fully on board and might be the primary reason behind the recent firings. D’Antoni has one more season on his contract and it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be another shoe to drop.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant (calf strain) still hasn’t progressed to on-court work.

    Durant has already been declared “unlikely” for Thursday’s Game 1 of the Finals and considering DeMarcus Cousins has practiced in full and scrimmaged with the team, it’s looking like he might return to action before Durant. There’s almost a week until the Finals start so we’ll have an update before then.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • DeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors

    DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quad) scrimmaged on Friday with coach Steve Kerr adding that he looked good.

    It's still unclear what the timetable is for Cousins but he hasn't yet been ruled out for Game 1 of the Finals. We'll have an update as we draw closer to the start of the Finals next Thursday.

    Source: Nick Friedell on Twitter

  • Adam Silver - Commissioner - Free Agent

    The NBA has moved the start time of free agency to 6 p.m. ET on June 30.

    Previously, free agency officially kicked off at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 but the league is moving it up by six hours to accommodate an extra evening in the news cycle. Additionally, teams have permission to set up free agent meetings starting at 6 p.m. ET on June 29.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Neil Olshey - President - Trail Blazers

    The Blazers have extended the contract of President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey through 2024.

    Olshey was being courted by the Wizards but will stay in Portland along with coach Terry Stotts. They’ll look to run it back next season, hopefully with a full roster intact.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Patrick McCaw - G - Toronto Raptors

    Patrick McCaw (personal) has been ruled out for Saturday’s Game 6 vs. the Bucks.

    McCaw hasn’t played all series and has pretty much been a non-factor all playoffs.

    Source: NBA Injury Report