April 4, 2021, 6:25 am
Saturday night tipped off with a somewhat uninspiring game featuring the Mavs and the Wizards, both of whom were undermanned. Boban Marjanovic moved into the starting lineup and did his thing with a double-double in 24 minutes. For the Wizards, Davis Bertans made his return to the lineup and ended with 11 points despite being on a minutes restriction. The Knicks were next up, thumping the Pistons who came out as flat as any team we have seen this season. Reggie Bullock lit it up for the Knicks, connecting on six triples, although the lack of defense certainly had something to do with that. Killian Hayes came off the bench for the Pistons in his return to the court and despite putting up just five rebounds and three assists, he did log the most minutes of any of the point guard options.
The Cavs traveled to Miami to face the Heat but came up short despite a game-high 26 points courtesy of Collin Sexton. Kevin Love player 23 minutes and finished with a double-double and maybe, just maybe, he is worth a look in 12-team formats. Duncan Robinson stayed hot for the Heat, finishing with 18 points including six 3-pointers. As long as he is shooting the ball like this, he deserves a spot in standard leagues. Joel Embiid returned for the Sixers as they took care of the Wolves to the tune of 122-113. Embiid looked great and played 29 minutes in the victory. GMs have to be thrilled but should be aware that there is a decent chance he sits on the second night of a back-to-back on Sunday. Ricky Rubio sat out for the Wolves and so Jordan McLaughlin played 42 minutes as the starting point guard. His role is almost certainly going to diminish as soon as Rubio and D’Angelo Russell return but until that happens, he could make for a sneaky streaming option.
It was basically a training run for the Jazz who easily defeated the Magic, with their starters all barely touching the court in the second half. For the Magic, Chuma Okeke continues to play well, while Wendell Carter Jr. finally moved into the starting lineup and closed with a 19-and-12 double-double in 34 minutes, adding a pair of blocks for good measure. If this is what his role is going to look like moving forward, he could be a difference-maker across many competitive leagues. The Pacers needed overtime to defeat the Spurs despite the fact they were without Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis. Caris LeVert stepped up with 26 points and nine assists, joining T.J. McConnell who also had 20 points in 34 minutes. It was an across-the-board performance for the Spurs who had seven players in double-digits including Jakob Poeltl who continues to shine as the starting center.
The Bucks were without Giannis Antetokounmpo and so it was Jrue Holiday who put the team on his back, guiding them to a narrow one-point victory over the Kings. Holiday looks to be well and truly over his illness and should be able to flirt with second-round value the rest of the way. Tyrese Haliburton recorded a double-double for the Kings as he continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year honors. However, it was Terence Davis who made a statement with 27 points in just 23 minutes off the bench. The Thunder limped to another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of the Blazers who were able to rest their starters for most of the second half. Enes Kanter had himself a big night thanks to garbage time and despite the return of Jusuf Nurkic, he can still have some limited value, at least in the short-term. Moses Brown got back on track with a 10-and-14 double-double, although he offered nothing else, highlighting why we should just temper our expectations a little moving forward.
Add(s) of the Night
Kevin Love, F/C, Cleveland Cavaliers – This one comes with a huge asterisk given what we know about his injury history. If you can afford to bide your time, Love could be worth adding just to see if he can string a few strong performances together.
Wendell Carter Jr., C, Orlando Magic – Just in case WCJ is still floating around on your waiver wire, don’t hesitate in grabbing him.
Dwight Howard, C, Philadelphia 76ers – Howard is going to lose a ton of value with Joel Embiid returning to the lineup. He could be held for one more game if Embiid does in fact sit out on Sunday.
Derrick Rose, G, New York Knicks – Rose is fine to have on a 12-team roster as long as he is playing meaningful minutes and is healthy. Both of these are far from guaranteed and so he is really more of a streaming option, at least in competitive leagues.
Kristaps Porzingis was given the night off as part of his management plan
Josh Richardson was a late scratch due to a calf injury
Likewise, Maxi Kleber was ruled out with a leg concern
Bradley Beal missed his fourth straight game
Rui Hachimura was a very late scratch with shoulder soreness
Davis Bertans and Ish Smith both returned and were on a strict minutes restriction
Killian Hayes made his long-awaited return for the Pistons
Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance were both ruled out once again
Andre Iguodala didn’t play for the Heat due to a hip injury
Malik Beasley and Ricky Rubio were out for the Wolves
Joel Embiid returned for the Sixers
The Magic were without Otto Porter, Khem Birch and Michael Carter-Williams
Mike Conley sat out on the second night of a back-to-back
Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis missed Saturday’s game
Lonnie Walker continues to deal with his wrist injury
Gorgui Dieng looks set to miss at least a couple of games with a shoulder strain
Drew Eubanks was ruled out prior to tipoff due to a migraine
Giannis Antetokounmpo is working his way through a knee injury and was given the night off
P.J. Tucker missed another game for his new team
Hassan Whiteside remains sidelined but it matters not
Josh Hall was unable to return to Saturday’s game due to a concussion
Lu Dort was ruled out but the Thunder are simply going to do this the rest of the way
Derrick Jones is going to miss a couple of games with a quad injury
The Magic Men
With the playoffs seemingly an unrealistic goal at this point, the Magic have finally embraced what appears to be a rebuild. Despite having featured in the post-season in recent years, this is a move that management probably should have leaned into already. But, you know what they say…. better late than never. For Magic fans, this is an opportunity to see what pieces are already in place and where some improvements need to be made. While this process is not typically going to lend itself to playing winning basketball, it does open up fantasy value in places where it may have otherwise been obsolete.
Wendell Carter Jr. – WCJ received a certain amount of hype coming into the season after the Bulls replaced their head coach in the offseason. He began the season well but remained somewhat underwhelming. An injury curtailed his progress and upon his return, he simply looked to be fighting an uphill battle. Eventually, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Thad Young and was relegated to the bench. At this point, his fantasy value was basically done and he gradually found himself being dropped across most formats.
The trade deadline couldn’t come soon enough for WCJ and it didn’t take long for him to be shipped out of town. He landed in Orlando, arguably the most favorable of all landing spots. With Nikola Vucevic heading to Chicago as part of the deal, there appeared to be a clear path to minutes for Carter and the eyes of many GMs swiftly changed course. To begin his Magic career, he found himself coming off the bench but it was clear from the get-go that he was the center they needed to be playing. In four games since the trade took place, WCJ is putting up averages of 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on 63 percent shooting from the floor and 82 percent from the line. This puts him inside the top-70 over that period and moving forward, there is no reason he can’t sustain similar production.
Chuma Okeke – Okeke is another player who has benefitted greatly since the trade deadline, although, unlike WCJ, he is basically the last man standing at the power forward position. For the season, Okeke is barely inside the top-200. He battled an injury to begin the campaign and it has been slow going since he returned in early February. However, over the past four games, his playing time has escalated to 31.2 minutes per game and the production has followed suit. He is the 51st ranked player over that time, thanks to across-the-board production. It is unlikely he ends as a top-50 player but the top-80 seems well within his reach, making him a must-roster player across every format.
Terrence Ross – Another player who is seemingly poised to make the most of what was an interesting trade period is Ross. The veteran has been a fringe 12-team asset for many seasons and so this is certainly not as surprising as both Okeke and WCJ. Ross sits just outside the top-100 this season and despite seeing that fall over the past week, his trajectory is firmly pointed up at this point. As the oldest player left on the roster, Ross is going to have to be out there for the Magic, if not only to provide the young core with a level-headed presence. He has never seen a shot he didn’t like and it would appear that he is going to have a green light moving forward. In a perfect world, we should see Ross end the season inside the top-80, a mark that would be the highest of his career to date.
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