February 7, 2021, 6:01 am
11 games on a jampacked Saturday, headed up by a matinee performance by the Knicks who were able to overcome an undermanned Balzers squad. Elfird Payton was among the Knicks’ best as he continues to justify his starting role. Lillard paced the Blazers but was clearly bothered by his abdominal injury and GMs will certainly have to keep an eye on the injury report moving forward. The Kings scraped by the Nuggets who were without Jamal Murray. Nikola Jokic dropped a career-high 50 points to round out another incredible performance. Alas, it was not enough as the Kings ended with four players surpassing the 20 point barrier. Tyrese Haliburton continues to stake his claim for Rookie of the Year honors, turning in another veteran-style performance. The Bulls blew away the Magic who were forced to roll with an odd-looking starting five, while the Sixers easily accounted for the Nets who were without both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Hawks held on against the Raptors in what was an entertaining affair, headlined by a superb bounce-back performance by Chris Boucher. The Thunder exacted revenge against the Wolves, squeezing home by just two points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned for the Thunder and was easily the best player on the court.
The Wolves moved Jarred Vanderbilt into the starting lineup but unfortunately, that’s where the good news ended. He played only 18 minutes and the breakout may never come at this rate. Derrick White moved into the starting lineup for the Spurs who took care of the Rockets who were without Christian Wood. White looked very solid and there is a chance he remains in the opening unit, even when Lonnie Walker returns. With Wood on the sideline, DeMarcus Cousins played 30 minutes and was certainly serviceable. The Bucks registered another blowout victory, this time over the Cavs. Luka Doncic defeated Steph Curry in what was an epic shootout. Curry has moved up to be the sixth-ranked player in standard leagues and there is certainly a world in which he ends as the number one guy. Zion Williamson continued his impressive stretch of games, powering the Pelicans to another victory. thanks to his improved play, he now sits inside the top-70 and if things can stay the course, the top-40 is absolutely within reach. Finally, the Lakers needed double-overtime to get by a tenacious Pistons team who, it seems, is going to be without Derrick Rose moving forward. Rose was a late scratch due to ‘personal reasons’ before rumors began to swirl surrounding a possible move to the Knicks.
Add(s) of the Night
Josh Jackson, G/F, Detroit Pistons – Jackson has crept his way back into the standard league discussion, and given Blake Griffin looks completely cooked, he is worth picking up in most competitive formats.
Maxi Kleber, F/C, Dallas Mavericks – Kleber has finally gained some traction after a bumpy start to the season and while he is not a must-roster player, he has an intriguing set of skills and could be a handy addition in 12-team leagues.
Talen Horton-Tucker, G/F, Los Angeles Lakers – Much like Kleber, Horton-Tucker should not be viewed as a player who needs to be rostered. However, he has moved up the pecking order in recent times and is playing over 20 minutes a night. He can contribute in multiple categories and should at least be on everyone’s watchlist.
Seth Curry, G, Philadelphia 76ers – Curry was better on Saturday but is yet to get his feet under him since returning from illness. I wouldn’t just be dropping him for the sake of dropping him but if there is a hot free agent around, it could be worth pondering.
Marvin Bagley, F, Sacramento Kings – Despite the name value, there is simply no reason to be holding Bagley anymore, outside of points leagues and deeper category leagues.
Damian Lillard appeared to aggravate his abdominal injury but was able to finish the game
Derrick Jones Jr. returned, playing 18 minutes
Nerlens Noel was out with a knee injury
Jamal Murray was given the night off due to a left knee concern
Lauri Markkanen was ruled out with a shoulder injury
Otto Porter remains out as he battles an ongoing back injury
Evan Fournier was a late scratch as he continues to battle a back injury of his own
Kyrie Irving was out with a finger sprain but could return on Tuesday
Kevin Durant is going to be out until at least next Saturday due to health and safety protocols
OG Anunoby remains out, although it sounds as though he is getting closer to a return
Trae Young returned after missing the previous game
Onyeka Okongwu also returned but played only eight minutes
D’Angelo Russell was ruled out on Saturday
Al Horford was out for rest purposes
Isaiah Roby missed the game due to a right foot injury
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his return, along with Theo Maledon
Lonnie Walker didn’t play due to an illness
Christian Wood is going to miss a few games with his ankle injury
Eric Paschall joined a host of Warriors big men on the sidelines
Brandon Clarke was out with calf soreness
Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen both returned after an extended layoff
De’Anthony Melton was unable to finish the game due to a shoulder injury
Derrick Rose was out because of personal reasons
Blake Griffin didn’t play on the second night of a back-to-back
Wayne Ellington was also out due to his calf injury
The Difference Makers
As a change of pace, I thought I would keep it simple this week, taking a look at a few players who are inside the top-100 over the past two weeks, yet remain un-rostered in a sizeable amount of leagues.
Thad Young, F, Chicago Bulls – Young has turned back the clock over the past two weeks, clocking in as the 31st ranked player over that time. The Bulls are currently without Wendell Carter Jr, Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen. That in itself is reason enough to go and grab Young if he is available. The additional playing time has allowed him to bump up his steal numbers to 1.8 per game, something that we know he can maintain moving forward. However, it has been his passing game that has come out of nowhere and there is certainly some room for regression right there. That said, his role is very secure at the moment and he shouldn’t be on any waiver wires.
Delon Wright, G, Detroit Pistons – Wright has been fantastic over the past two weeks, putting up top-40 numbers, thanks to across-the-board production. He is averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.4 triples. His scoring is a nice bonus given you should have drafted him with reasonably low expectations when it came to putting the ball in the basket. Derrick Rose could be on his way to New York and so Wright could be the man moving forward in Detroit.
Justin Holiday, G/F, Indiana Pacers – A top-50 player over the past two weeks, Holiday continues to quietly go about his business with very little fanfare. His playing time has been consistent all season and his ability to defend the perimeter better than anyone else on the team ensures he is viewed as an integral piece. Much like Wright, his scoring can be a tad underwhelming but it is his steals and 3-pointers that hold the value. While he isn’t the flashiest of pickups, Holiday should be on a roster in just about every competitive league.
Bojan Bogdanovic, G/F, Utah Jazz – Bogdanovic was most likely drafted in just about every league this season, before being cut loose by many prior to his current form reversal. He doesn’t offer a lot outside of points and threes; however, when he is firing them in, he typically does it at an efficient clip. Over the past two weeks, he has been connecting on 53 percent of his shot attempts and for now, you have to add him and ride the wave.
Gary Trent Jr, G, Portland Trail Blazers – Trent is the 77th ranked player over his past eight games, thanks primarily to his 18.9 points and 4.3 triples per game. C.J. McCollum remains sidelined and until he gets back out there, Trent basically has the green light to fire away on the offensive end. He has been able to chip in 1.1 steals per game over the same timeframe, something that adds a little excitement to his somewhat predictable fantasy game.
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