• Today was supposed to be the exciting day that Kawhi Leonard made his return, but we’re going to have to wait a bit longer and it seems like we can’t go two days without another player being carried off the court or going down with a multi-week injury. Today was no different as Robert Covington hurt his back and was carried to the locker room, but today was a great day for Dan Besbris and all those who listened to him about Nikola Mirotic.

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    Spurs 104 @ Suns 101

    The Spurs rested their old guys on the second night of a back-to-back and Danny Green sat out with a groin injury which set up the perfect storm for Bryn Forbes to play 36 minutes and hit the go ahead 3-pointer to get the W. LaMarcus Aldridge had another strong showing with 20 points, nine boards and three blocks and is a guy that should see a hit in value with Kawhi Leonard’s return on Tuesday.

    Phoenix is still a mess and the rotations remain unclear which makes finding the right fantasy player a crapshoot. Marquese Chriss had a decent game with 15 points and eight boards, but only one 3-pointer and no defensive stats. Alex Len was the odd man out of the rotation for big men tonight and Greg Monroe was solid with eight points and 11 boards. He has the most potential in this crowded frontcourt and attained a top-50 season not too long ago.

    Thunder 102 @ Grizzlies 101

    OKC is played without Paul George again and Carmelo Anthony’s inefficient chucking is still a problem. Russell Westbrook notched another triple-double and the Thunder barely got the win against a depleted Grizzlies team. The Thunder aren’t looking anywhere near title contending form, but Steven Adams is having a career year and fantasy value should remain somewhat the same for the big 3 + Adams.

    Marc Gasol is putting up numbers each night and remains an early round guy while Tyreke Evans is still torching the league. He dropped a 29-13-5 line with a block and two 3-pointers, if he remains healthy he could have another top-50 season, but the health is a major concern. Mike Conley remains out with an Achilles injury which means Mario Chalmers, Dillon Brooks and Ben McLemore are all playing more, but none are appealing options especially with Conley set to return sometime soon.

    Jazz 100 @ Bucks 117

    Alec Burks scored 20 points off the bench and is filling in nicely without Rodney Hood playing. Ricky Rubio was just okay and Donovan Mitchell continues to impress and should have a real shot at delivering mid-round value this season. We love Joe Ingles here and he gave owners a steal and three triples, he’s hitting 2.6 a game and is just outside of the top-60. He shouldn’t be on any wires.

    For the Bucks we’re starting to see a clearer picture for fantasy purposes as John Henson blocked four shots while Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton scored 20 a piece. Bledsoe and Middleton have not impacted each other’s value in a negative manner and both should roll through the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped a casual 37-13-7-2 with a 3-pointer and 8-of-9 foul shooting which were marks of concern prior to this year. It’s good to see Malcolm Brogdon get back into the swing of things, playing 26 minutes en route to 16 points and two steals. He’s still a standard league hold.

    Knicks 102 @ Bulls 104

    Kristaps Porzingis didn’t get much help from any of his teammates in this one as the Knicks are still playing without Tim Hardaway Jr. The Unicorn should be good for early-round value as long as he can put the injury woes behind him, but it’s not a good sign that the Knicks are below .500 because of the potential shutdown factor for Porzingis.

    The Bulls are getting their guys back from injury, most notably Dan Besbris’ favorite, Nikola Mirotic. Mirotoic played 20 minutes in his second game back and scored 19 points with five 3-pointers. Not bad for a guy who was about to get shipped back to Europe two months ago eh? Now Lauri Markkanen still played 30 minutes and scored 15 points, but he’s definitely not ready to be the number one option for the entire season. Once Zach LaVine returns and Mirotic’s conditioning gets back up to speed we’ll get a better idea of what this team will look like at full strength. Bobby Portis should be an afterthought now as Mirotic has already leapfrogged him.

    Sixers 98 @ Cavs 105

    With the Jahlil Okafor trade the Sixers really threw a wrench into the heart of Richaun Holmes truthers. In his first game with the Sixers, Trevor Booker logged 20 minutes as did Holmes, with Booker providing the better line. We saw Robert Covington give owners another beautiful line with five 3-pointers and four steals, but he hurt his back diving for a loose ball and his status for the next game is up in the air.

    The King is having a rejuvenated season and dropped a triple-double to the tune of 30-13-13 in a victory, but there should be some regression coming eventually. It’s been a fun third of the season for LeBron James owners, but it’s unlikely he keeps flooring it like this with Isaiah Thomas back. Outside of James, Dwyane Wade has been the best fantasy player for the Cavs with Jae Crowder popping up every other game trying to fool owners into picking him up.

    Magic 110 @ Hawks 117

    Aaron Gordon sat this one out with a concussion which meant Nikola Vucevic had a bigger opportunity and he seized his moment, tallying 31-13-10-1-1. He got help from Jonathon Simmons who added 29 points and should have some low-end value in standard leagues with Terrence Ross out of the picture.

    With John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon sidelined for a few more weeks Ersan Ilyasova should be able to provide some standard league value during this stretch. Tonight he scored 26 points with five 3-pointers, but is just a short term plug and play. We saw Kent Bazemore have an efficient shooting night going 7-for-12 for his 19 points and Dennis Schroder continues to be a usage monster. Taurean Prince had 10-6-3 with three blocks and a triple and is also a guy that should be owned everywhere.

    Heat 101 @ Nets 89

    The Heat have been using different starting lineups each game, but the fantasy impact remains mostly the same. Goran Dragic played well while Tyler Johnson was hot off the bench. James Johnson had a nice game with 17-7-3-1-2 and his versatility will be relied upon all season. Kelly Olynyk is another standard league guy who gets a major boost when Hassan Whiteside sits and filled up the stat sheet with 11-5-3-1-1. Josh Richardson cooled off a bit, but is still worthy of a hold while Dion Waiters remains streaky and more of a points league guy.

    We got another strong game from Caris LeVert with 12 points, five dimes and two steals in 31 minutes. There will be ups and downs with Levert and he’s worth an add in standard leagues, but just know that he’s prone to go on a prolonged cold spell. Tyler Zeller made the start and was decent, but Jarrett Allen played the same amount of time, logging 22 minutes and blocking a shot. Jahlil Okafor should be implemented soon and it’ll be interesting to see how the Nets play him as they love to split their minutes among all their guys. Ronade Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points with eight boards and two blocks and is going to be trucking through this year. Spencer Dinwiddie is another Hoop Ball favorite who has been stellar for the Nets and tonight he scored 15 points with nine dimes, a steal and three 3-pointers. When D’Angelo Russell returns you can expect Dinwiddie to maintain a healthy workload and owners can safely view him as a long term option.

    Wizards 112 @ Clippers 113

    Bradley Beal scored 25 points with five triples while Otto Porter handled business with 27-11-5 with three steals and four 3-pointers on 10-of-16 shooting. Porter is exceeding our own lofty expectations and is an early round asset and owners shouldn’t be worried about the eventual return of John Wall.

    The Clippers are now Lou Williams’ team as he sank the game winning 3-pointer against the Wiz kids playing without John Wall. Sweet Lou scored 35 points with eight dimes and four triples. He should give you mid-round value and is going to be a monster all season. Danilo Gallinari had a much better showing after his awful outing last time, scoring 25 points with a steal and two 3-pointers.

    Rockets 124 @ Blazers 117

    Portland shot 51 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from deep and still lost. That’s how good this Rockets offense is. Chris Paul had 26-3-7-2 with a 3-pointer on 8-of-14 shooting and looks like he’s in midseason form while Trevor Ariza grabbed four steals and hit three triples. Clint Capela didn’t block a shot but had 10 points and 11 boards on 4-of-5 shooting and his improvement this season has him at an early-round valuation. The Beard put on another masterful performance, scoring 48 points with eight boards, three assists, three steals and four 3-pointers on 16-of-29 shooting. His efficiency has increased this season and has been amazing with or without Chris Paul. We’re looking at another MVP campaign and a potential top-3 finish in 9-cat leagues for James Harden.

    It’s more of the same for the Blazers who are playing without Jusuf Nurkic. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum did all of the heavy lifting, but got some help from Al-Farouq Aminu who had 15-5-2 with a block. Aminu was rolling before his injury and he’s worth a roll of the dice to see if he can continue to impact the game on the defensive end.

    Lakers 110 @ Hornets 99

    The Lakers are another team that likes to split minutes sporadically and ride the hot hand, especially with their glut of forwards. Larry Nance Jr. is still the most dependable one in fantasy due to his consistency with steals and his value not being tied to scoring well, but this game we saw Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma fill up the box score. Jordan Clarkson got hot for 22 points but is a late-round guy as that’s all he does. Lonzo Ball is still a punt percentages guy while Brook Lopez gave owners 13-4-1-1-1 in 19 minutes. There’s just not enough minutes for the amount of bigs the Lakers have. Brandon Ingram had 18-6-1-1 with 4-of-6 foul shooting and has been showing strong signs of improvement, he’s still a guy with some efficiency issues and inconsistency tallying defensive stats, but he’ll be a fantasy force within the next few years.

    Charlotte is skidding and Jeremy Lamb was out due to an injury but Nicolas Batum couldn’t take advantage, scoring two points with a steal in 19 minutes. Dwight Howard is having a nice year and had a nice night with 21 & 12 to go with two blocks, but went 3-for-6 at the stripe and is a punt build guy. Kemba Walker had another nice outing with 23 points, three 3-pointers and a steal and is a lock for this type of production.

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