December 27, 2020, 6:03 am
Boxing Day delivered with 10 games on the card, many of which came down to the final few shots. We saw the Rockets and the Thunder in action for the first time as well as a couple of surprise teams who continue to impress with their early-season play. Despite the season only being days old, fantasy managers across the world seem to have grown impatient when it comes to adding and dropping players. We do need to remember that there are 72 games to be played and for a number of players, this is their first real action in almost nine months. Remember why you drafted each player and trust in the process before making any rash decisions.
Add(s) of the Night
10 games certainly deliver plenty of highlights as well as players that could be worth some consideration in standard formats. We won’t go into too much detail but for those looking for a couple of potential pickups, look no further…
Kyle Anderson, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies – Anderson had arguably the best game of his career on Saturday, recording 20 points and 14 rebounds to go with a pair of blocks. That makes two straight games in which Anderson has impressed, although there are a couple of contributing factors. The Grizzlies were without a number of players and the second unit was torched during the first half, giving the starters a boost. His long-term value is somewhat uncertain but for now, he needs to be rostered in all leagues.
Terrence Ross, G/F, Orlando Magic – Ross is no stranger to this kind of list and is possibly one of the most waiver-wire prone players around. His role basically stays the same from one season to the next and this looks like no exception. You know exactly what you are going to get from Ross and so there is very little room for movement. If you need points and threes with a smattering of steals, look no further than Mr. Ross.
George Hill, G, Oklahoma City Thunder – Hill started and played 24 minutes for the Thunder, ending with 21 points on close to 90 percent shooting. He is certainly not going to be this good on most nights and the shooting is highly unsustainable. The Thunder also like the looks of Theo Maledon, who played 20 minutes in the loss. The path for Hill is far from clear, although if you need some cheap guard stats in the short-term, Hill could be worth a look.
As is the case throughout the first couple of weeks, dropping any player does come with an element of risk. A small sample size can often lead to misinformation, in turn leading to players hitting the waivers when perhaps that should not be the case. However, there are instances where a player looks to be far from what we had expected, and given the number of hot pickups at the moment, making the hard decisions can be warranted.
Elfrid Payton, G, New York Knicks – Payton has looked dreadful through his first two games and the Knicks are by no means attached to him as the starting point guard. His only real upside comes in assists and steals and so when he is failing to deliver in either of those categories, streaming his position or taking a gamble on another option is not the worst idea.
Deni Avdija, F, Washington Wizards – Avdija had a certain amount of hype coming into the season but has yet to live up to any expectations. As with any rookie, there are going to be ups and downs throughout the season, and chances are he is in a down period at the moment. That said, Rui Hachimura will soon make his return and with Avdija’s role far from set in stone, parting ways could be a viable option.
Danilo Gallinari was a late scratch due to left foot soreness
Rajon Rondo was available to play on Friday but failed to leave the bench
De’Anthony Melton was unavailable for the Grizzlies but is unlikely to miss significant time
Theo Maledon saw his first action in the NBA after earlier being ruled unavailable
Jahlil Okafor left Friday’s game with a right ankle injury
Russell Westbrook played on Saturday but could sit on Sunday in the second game of a back-to-back
Obi Toppin was ruled out prior to tipoff and will miss at least the next week of action with a calf strain
Victor Oladipo is also a chance to miss Sunday’s game given it is the second of a back-to-back set
Derrick White is progressing well in his rehab but is still a couple of weeks away from returning, at best
Karl-Anthony Towns left Saturday’s game with a wrist injury but was able to return. Itis something that appears to be bothering him and he should be considered questionable moving forward
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon all missed Saturday’s game due to isolation protocol. All three have been ruled out of the Rockets next game
The Champ Is Here
James Harden played in his first game of the season, once again showing why he should be considered the number one fantasy player. Despite limited preparation, he poured in 44 points on 55 percent shooting, adding 17 assists and six triples in the process.
Harden has been one of the more captivating players this offseason, primarily due to his off-court antics. He has made it clear he does not want to be in Houston, something that is yet to play out completely. That said, he showed no signs of disinterest on Saturday, at least on the offensive end of the floor. He had a nice combination going with Christian Wood, who himself went off for 31 points and 13 rebounds in his Rockets’ debut.
Where Harden ends up remains a mystery and the impact that has on his fantasy value could be far from insignificant. For that reason, he was not the unanimous number one selection in drafts this season, allowing managers to land him as low as the middle of the first round. As demonstrated on Saturday, he could easily end as the number one player whether he remains in Houston or not. At this point, there is no real reason to sell high if you have shares in Harden. You simply have to sit back and enjoy the show…
The Real Beal
Coming into draft season, Beal tumbled down many boards after the arrival of Russell Westbrook. He fell outside the first round almost everywhere, and even into the third round in certain situations. There were certainly a number of valid reasons for his presumed decline, many of which could still come to fruition. Westbrook is a ball-dominant player, something that Beal has not had to deal with for the past two seasons. The assist numbers are almost certain to take a hit, making Beal more of a true shooting guard.
However, on the flip side, he is going to be playing off the ball a little more which could benefit his scoring prowess. He will not be required to create his own shot every time down the floor which could in turn increase his defensive production. As we have seen across the first two games, Beal is still the number one option on offense. His scoring numbers have been fantastic, as have his steal numbers.
Paul George had the best season of his career playing alongside Westbrook, and so we have proof that it can be done. While it is unlikely Beal returns first-round value, he could end up being a bit of a draft-day steal should things continue to play out as they are right now.