March 22, 2021, 12:58 am
The news of the day was, unfortunately, LaMelo Ball’s wrist fracture. It’s expected to sideline the Rookie of the Year favorite for the rest of the season and it’s a massive blow to a Hornets team that was finally on the upswing after years in the wilderness. They still have a chance at earning a play-in spot but Ball’s absence will take them off the must-see list.
It’s also curious that the Hornets had Ball listed as probable for Monday’s game before the big reporters all broke news of the fracture, but that’s another story for another day.
The book is likely closed on Ball’s first NBA season, and it was a smashing success in fantasy. On track for early-round value, it’s going to push the pedal to the metal on the hype train for next season’s drafts. He’ll be an interesting case study, as there’s limited room for profit margin up in that echelon, but we still don’t have a real sense of what Ball’s ceiling can be — both as a fantasy asset and an NBA star. It’s a little bit like the Zion Williamson situation entering this season, only without the obvious fantasy flaws and insane pre-rookie hype.
As for this year, Devonte’ Graham gets a new lease on life as the likely replacement starter. Fantasy GMs were going to have to try and calculate whether or not Graham could get enough threes and assists off the bench to overcome his woeful efficiency, but there’s no math anymore. Late-round value should be the floor. Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward will also handle more playmaking work and we could see P.J. Washington get a larger share of shots. Malik Monk also figures to be busier off the bench. We’ll see if James Borrego leans away from multi-guard, small-ball groups, even with Charlotte’s weak center depth.
Graham’s the clear add with Monk in the deep-league conversation, but we’ll need to see how the rest plays out before anyone unknown enters the add-drop discussion.
Add(s) of the Night
Danny Green, G/F, Philadelphia 76ers
Green has been a top-45/20 (8/9-cat) player in the last month so everyone should stop dragging their feet here. Yes, he can have offensively bad shooting nights and he’ll never score a ton. Doesn’t really matter. Green put up 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, five steals, three blocks and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes against the Knicks on Sunday. That’s massive stuff, and probably won a ton of matchups. He’s an 3-and-D producer when he’s on, and it’s safe to say that he’s all the way on right now.
Eric Bledsoe, G, New Orleans Pelicans
To be honest, there weren’t a lot of droppable lines out there today, and even among the ones that were many came from guys who are worth a little bit of extra patience with the trade deadline right around the corner. (We’re looking at you, Aleksej Pokusevski). As such we’re going to re-hash an old case with Bledsoe in case anyone has still clung to the faintest of hopes. Considering that Bledsoe is still rostered in over two thirds of leagues, someone out there still needs to hear this.
Even Lonzo Ball sitting out couldn’t throw Bledsoe a lifeline as he put up six points, two rebounds, two assists and a block while shooting 3-for-8 from the field in 31 minutes on Sunday. If the Pelicans trade Ball but not Bledsoe, that runway is being cleared for younger guards. If Bledsoe himself is dealt, it’s become clear that he’s a low-usage defensive specialist. His prospects of regaining 12-team legitimacy are slim. He’s now fallen outside the top-200 on the year.
It was mostly good news on the injury front today, Ball aside.
Kevin Porter Jr. (right quad) ended up playing after being listed as out yesterday, and Kenyon Martin Jr. (self isolation) did as well. Martin’s sure seemed like a clerical error but he was able to play, so we won’t dwell on it.
Ty Jerome (ankle) and Theo Maledon (not with team) also played despite being listed as out yesterday, and those also seemed like mistakes on the team side. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right shoulder soreness) sat out and Al Horford (rest) got his customary day off.
Lonzo Ball (right hip flexor strain) sat out after being a game-time decision.
Ben Simmons (knee) returned from a one-game absence.
Mitchell Robinson (right hand fracture) was back after 15 games on the shelf, logging 17 quiet minutes off the bench. Immanuel Quickley (left ankle) was able to return to the starting five after missing just one game.
Hamidou Diallo (groin) has no timetable for return.
Blake Griffin (left knee injury management) finally made his Nets debut and even threw down a dunk to prove he’s still got juice in the tank.
Terry Rozier (left hip) is probable for Monday while Cody Zeller (left hip) is out.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee sprain) is doubtful to play on Monday, and that sounds a bit more serious than all the usual disguised rest that the Bucks cook up.
De’Andre Hunter (right knee) is questionable while Trae Young (quad contusion) is probable for Monday, which means that the Hawks are getting close to having their full starting unit available again.
Rudy Gobert (left hip) is questionable to face the Bulls, and while he was noticeably hobbled in Utah’s last game against the Raptors it didn’t stop him from producing.
Serge Ibaka (back) is out for tomorrow. It could just be the Clippers giving him a full recovery day rather than trying to have him ramp up with a pregame routine, but after being listed as questionable before the team’s last couple games this seems like a step back.
LeBron-less Lake Show
The first game without LeBron James and Anthony Davis wasn’t a great one for the Purple and Gold, and they’ll need to get used to it with both players likely out for the next couple of weeks at minimum. Fantasy GMs get to pick through the wreckage and try to find some value, so let’s make that process quick and easy.
The three main suspects got the shot volume you’d expect to see.
Kyle Kuzma’s the direct beneficiary given that he plays forward, though his game tonight was nothing special: 36 minutes, 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, six assists, a steal and two 3-pointers.
Montrezl Harrell will get tons of shots and should be one of the team’s primary scorers going forward: 34 minutes, 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds and a block. He also went 3-of-8 from the free throw line, so watch out for that.
Dennis Schroder is going to handle the playmaking and should be right up there in terms of offensive burden: 30 minutes, 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, three assists and two 3-pointers.
Talen Horton-Tucker was the surprise of the bunch; not that he got more work, but that he was right up there with the veterans who have scoring experience: 28 minutes, 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.
That quartet consists of the priority adds (obviously Harrell’s already rostered), with down-roster beneficiaries like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (seven points in 30 minutes), Alex Caruso (7-5-4 in 25 minutes) and Markieff Morris (two points and eight boards in 23 minutes) on the map in deeper leagues.
Stash and Grab
With the trade deadline coming up on Thursday, it’s a joyous time of year for the rumor-thirsty among us. Reports are flying every day and teams and agents are playing their games through the media. Everything that comes out has an agenda attached, and learning to read between the lines can help you figure out what’s real and what’s just nonsense to drive some leverage in negotiations. For our purposes, though, it means that we could have a ton of new fantasy-viable players in four days’ time.
Let’s run through some of the names that might make sense to stash away in case the right dominos fall. Not every manager can afford to burn a spot like this but the payoff could be large.
The Hawks appear to be in John Collins discussions, with Danilo Gallinari the obvious stash in case he’s not rostered despite his recent hot streak.
If the Magic finally pull the trigger on an Aaron Gordon deal, Chuma Okeke should be the guy getting most of the vacated minutes. James Ennis should also factor in but he’s a low-upside plodder.
Houston’s a real mess in general but pretty much everyone has some level of stash appeal. Kevin Porter Jr. is obviously a must-roster already, but guys who are a bit less buzzy are still in the mix too. Jae’Sean Tate, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Danuel House could all easily hold standard-league value down the stretch. In deeper leagues you’ll want to take a look at Sterling Brown, Ben McLemore and Mason Jones.
The Thunder have basically been in stash mode for the full year already, and Moses Brown, Isaiah Roby and Aleksej Pokusevski have already popped. An Al Horford trade will only open things up further for that trio, and George Hill has already been out of the lineup long enough that we won’t see too much shift for Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome.
The Spurs might deal DeMar DeRozan, which would elevate Lonnie Walker. He’s going to be hit-or-miss, though. Drew Eubanks, Trey Lyles and Luka Samanic are deep-league stashes in case Rudy Gay gets moved.
Keep an eye on Gorgui Dieng, who is a buyout candidate in Memphis. He’s been a middle-round player whenever he rises into starter’s minutes so that could be a big one.
If the Kings finally give up the ghost, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and maybe Buddy Hield look like the possible movers. There won’t be a ton of impact there unless Hield goes but DaQuan Jeffries, Justin James and Robert Woodard II could all get in the mix.
New Orleans is a big one, as they have both Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball on the block. Those moves would be made in part to open up minutes for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. NAW started with Ball out today and put up 20 points (8-for-15 FG), three rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. A glimpse of things to come perhaps? Lewis was less effective with six points and a steal in 17 minutes. A trade of either Bledsoe or Ball would also give a boost to Josh Hart, who has been on the 12-team radar all season anyway. He had 12 points, nine boards, six assists, a steal and two threes. He and Alexander-Walker are profiling as must-adds if Ball gets moved.