• Welcome back everyone to the Sunday edition of the Hoop Ball Daily Dish!

    It’s me, Erik, and I’m back again with another slight experimental tweak in my delivery of The Dish. My main goal here is to provide everyone with an informative and entertaining snapshot of key moments and stat lines from a particular day while highlighting fantasy basketball impact that’s accompanied by my expert insight – all delivered in a quick and easy-to-read format.

    In the last iteration of my modification, I threw out a paragraph or two on each game that was played from the night that was being reviewed. While that was cool and all, I felt at times that there some details (and even games) that didn’t really need to be recapped or highlighted. This time around, I’m going to do a bit more cherry-picking with what and who I talk about in The Rundown section. This way, I hope to be able to insert more insight and advice into the post.

    Let’s give it a go.

    The Rundown

    There were a few notable things that came out of the Hawks-Hornets game. Unsurprisingly, the Hawks came away with the win despite being shorthanded, playing without the services of John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Danilo Gallinari. Mostly, the Hawks learned on the dominant force of nature in the paint they fondly call Clint Capela. He was a beast with a 20-15-3 line, soured only by the lack of blocks and a 4-of-6 run at the line. The Hornets lost P.J. Washington during the game due to a sprained ankle, which hopefully won’t cause him to miss too much time. Another item of slight note was the pullback in the production of Jalen McDaniels, the recent hot-commodity pickup from the FA market. He posted just nine points, three rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and one block. Well, first of all, the diversity in his stat spread was still there, so there’s that. Second, he did have to deal with Capela, who is no one to be trifled with inside the paint. I’d say to keep on holding McDaniels for the time being. Only consider dropping him if he completely falls off a cliff and delivers something like a low-scoring Kyle-Kuzma line. Yuck.

    The Celtics stunned the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 31-8 to pull off an upset victory, 105-87. This was simply a Brad Stevens special, a reminder that you can never underestimate the impact of transcendent coaching. I’m sure this was a rude wake-up call for the already-scary Nuggets. Fantasy-wise, Nikola Jokic was unperturbed as he still managed to squeeze out a triple-double of 17-10-11 in the midst of his team’s fourth-quarter implosion. On the other side of the court, it was nice to see that this time around Robert Williams III did not get his Thunder stolen by the irritating Tristan Thompson. RW3 was solid and delivered 10 points, eight boards, one steal and two blocks.

    No one really doubted that the Pelicans would defeat the “SexLand-less” Cavs (missing Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, just in case you didn’t get the reference and had a dirty mind at work somehow). Zion led his Pels to the 1116-109 victory with 38 points, nine rebounds, four dimes and two blocks. He scored 25 of the points in the first half, a personal-best milestone for the phenom. I recently said on a podcast that he might be the next player to average 40 points per game in a season. I was probably a bit too generous. And after some hindsight calibration, I’d probably scale that down to 35 PPG and likely hit the mark within the next three years of his already exploding career. There was still no Lonzo Ball tonight, who is still nursing his hip flexor soreness, which wasn’t too much of an issue as Brandon Ingram played the role of point-forward and dished out a team-high eight dimes to go with his 27 points. Yes, he’s trending up again nicely.

    Allow me to shine the spotlight briefly on Dean Wade, who valiantly led the Cavs in scoring with a career-high 21 points, thanks to impressive 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. This explosion aside, Wade has already been sneaky-good and has been a must-roster guy thanks to his efficient scoring and ability to contribute some diverse peripherals. He could be lying around in your standard-sized league somehow, so go and quickly rectify that travesty. Still no sign of Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance Jr. last night and until they return to action, this is gonna be “Wade’s World” in Cleveland.

    The Bucks regular starters, sans Giannis, all returned to action tonight which allowed the Bucks to easily crush the rebuilding Magic 124-87. Khris Middleton led the charge with 21-8-5, delivered in efficient Middleton fashion. The Magic had a lone bright spot but boy was he a blinding flash of brilliance – yes, brighter than that dentist’s light that shines on your face while they pull your teeth out – not that watching the Magic play nowadays is as painful as pulling teeth. Anyway, I digress. Mo Bamba was who I was referring to and he blew up for 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting with 5-of-6 made 3-pointers. Yes, he’s actually head and shoulders a better player than Wendell Carter Jr. and is finally healthy enough to log some serious minutes. Two words (hyphenated), “must-start”

    Despite Kyle Lowry’s (toe infection) return the Raptors still somehow fell to the not-so-lowly Knicks, 96-102. That’s even with Gary Trent Jr. going off for 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting and Chris Boucher playing like his “don’t drop me this time self,” posting 17-14-4 on the night. Still no Fred VanVleet though, which saddens me, because I own so many FVV shares. (sad face emoji)

    The Spurs overcame a 31 & 15 game from Kristaps Porzingis which came with three treys and two blocks and edged the Mavs 119-117 thanks to DeMar DeRozan sinking a game-winning shot. The win was well-earned though as both Dejounte Murray and Derrick White came through with fantastic yet very different stat lines to help San Antonio defeat their Texan rivals. Nicolo Melli started for Maxi Kleber (right leg soreness) and was so unremarkable that I wasted a few precious seconds of my life typing out a mention of that. (shakes head in disappointment – both at Melli and the wasted time).

    Old D’Angelo Russell, at least his pre-injury self is officially back! Yup, he was great tonight and instrumental in leading his pack to a win over the Bulls 121-117 on the shoulders of his 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Take a look at Troy Brown Jr. and Daniel Theis in deep leagues as they both played well of the bench with their respective laudable performances.

    Both Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter needed to head to the locker room in tonight’s game with respective ails. For Nurk, who was still on a minutes limit, it was his tailbone and for Kanter, he took a shot in the head but a concussion was ruled out. But even if you set those challenges aside, you cannot overlook the fact that Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum struggled in this one, allowing the Heat to come away with the 107-98 win, thanks to a combined 42 points from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The notable bit of news coming from the South Beach squad was the return to the starting lineup of Kendrick Nunn, who put up 15 points and a full line.

    It was Kawhi Leonard’s turn for a rest day on Sunday, but it was no issue as Paul George, who returned from his own rest day, dropped 32 points and nine dimes to lead the Clippers to a win over the Pistons 131-124. Nic Batum played well (again) with a crazy-good stat-sheet-stuffing effort with 14 points and a full line in 31 minutes off the bench. He’s worth adding again, though don’t get too attached as he can fall off his fantasy cliff on any given game moving forward. It’s a Batum thing.

    In case you didn’t get the memo, Cory Joseph is playing out of his mind in recent games and has already dipped his toe in the must-start pool of standard leagues. If his 18 points, 13 assists and two steals aren’t enough to reinforce that, I don’t know what is… Seriously.

    Ok, so that Rundown didn’t go quite as planned. I initially visualized talking about 4-6 guys, but I couldn’t help myself and ended up discussing/mentioning too many items and stat lines in this one. I will work on delivering a more concise version in the coming iterations. In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying the discourse and cheap attempts at humor on the side.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Kendrick Nunn, PG, Miami Heat

    Nunn escaped the Spoelstra doghouse and free and roaming with viable value once again. While he’s starting and playing at this level, he should be rostered everywhere. There’s some solid on-court rapport between him and Bam Adebayo and it looks like that the Heat want to milk that synergy moving forward.

    Drop Zone

    Hamidou Diallo, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons played five games this week and Diallo was nothing else but underwhelming. I had high hopes for his run this week but he wound up falling flat. It looks like his initial displacement of Josh Jackson was just something short-lived. He had five games to shine and not a single one of his games this week was standard-league viable or even remotely of interest. Au revoir!

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