March 1, 2021, 1:28 am
The league-wide explosion in offense isn’t exactly a new trend at this point, as it feels like every year we’re seeing new records shattered in a bevy of offensive categories. Sunday was no different, as Buddy Hield became recorded his 1,000th 3-pointer in his 350th game, becoming the fastest player in history to hit the 1,000 mark. Of all the records in the book, that seems like one that will be broken fairly easily with the way the game is being played. For now, kudos to Hield on his sharpshooting prowess. It’s been a rough month for Hield, who has now fallen outside the top-100 on the season. That’s an obvious buy-low opportunity, so try and get out in front of the turnaround, with bonus upside if the Kings decide to make some organizational changes with their season circling the drain.
Bonus shoutout to P.J. Washington, who cooked the Kings for 42 points on 15-of-23 from the field with two steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers. Somewhat quietly, he’s now up to top-65/80 (8/9-cat) value on the year. What a season for the sophomore. On to the rest of the night.
Add(s) of the Night
Davis Bertans, F, Washington Wizards
Slowly but surely, Bertans has been chipping away after a poor start to the year. After scoring 19 points with five threes on Saturday, he kept pace on Sunday with 20 points and five more threes, shooting 5-of-9 from the field (all behind the arc) and knocking down all five of his free throws. The issue with Bertans has been obvious: he hasn’t been making it rain from distance yet. The Latvian sharpshooter was anything but to open the season, hitting .285 from deep in December and then a more acceptable .348 in January. In February, Bertans went .425, much more in line with the .429 and .424 marks he posted over the last two seasons. He’s still at .376 on the season, which would be the second-lowest mark of his five-year career and five percentage points below where he’s been at the last couple of years, so we’re anticipating more buckets to come.
Bertans is top-185 on the season but finished February — when his shooting was in line with expectations — as a top-145/115 (8/9-cat) player, and there’s more room to go.
Danilo Gallinari, F, Atlanta Hawks
Gallinari cruised back into the hearts and minds of fantasy players with an explosive outing last week where he hit 13-of-16 from the field and 10 3-pointers en route to 38 points, but alas, that was just a blip on the radar. In the two games since, Gallo has combined for 14 points on 4-for-18 shooting, including six points on 2-for-10 tonight. Beyond that, he’s only hit double-digits twice in the last two weeks, including that 38-point game. He’s shooting .364 on 9.4 shots a game in the month of February. He hit the 25-minute mark just six times all month. He’s outside the top-220 on the year. You can stop chasing this ghost unless the Hawks move some other players out at the deadline.
Jrue Holiday (health and safety protocols) returned from a 10-game absence on Sunday afternoon but was quiet in the box score with two points and three assists in 18 minutes. He came in off the bench and the Bucks might take it slowly here considering how other players in the league have struggled to find their rhythm post-COVID.
Trae Young (adductor soreness) played through a minor issue, which shouldn’t come as a shock considering he had a probable tag.
On the other side of that matchup, Tyler Herro (right hip contusion) returned from a three-game absence and Bam Adebayo (left knee tendinosis) played through his own probable tag. Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, sat out with right knee inflammation.
Draymond Green left Sunday’s game early with an ankle issue, though the Warriors were also getting dismantled so it’s not like there was any incentive to get him back on the floor.
Buddy Hield tweaked his ankle late in Sunday’s contest but said in post that he’d be ready for the next game, so it looks like he’s avoided something serious.
Victor Oladipo (injury management) sat out on Sunday but is expected to return for Monday, while John Wall played tonight and is questionable for tomorrow for maintenance reasons.
Grayson Allen (concussion) sat out, which means another few days will pass without any long-term clarity about the Grizzlies rotation. Desmond Bane started but Justise Winslow cost the most to acquire and De’Anthony Melton is probably the best player of the bunch. It’s a mess, but one or two guys might be able to hold on for some kind of value.
Tyrese Haliburton (left calf soreness) missed another game, and it’s probably not great for the Kings that losing a rookie stings to the extent it does.
Gordon Hayward (right hand contusion) did that thing again, going from probable to out in 24 hours. Tough one for fantasy GMs, who can no longer assume “probable” means anything in Charlotte. Cody Zeller (hip) sat out as well.
Malcolm Brogdon (right knee soreness) and Jeremy Lamb (left knee soreness) are both questionable for Monday, and if both sit it’ll blow up the backcourt rotation. Streaming value will be all over the place.
Joel Embiid (left ankle soreness) and Tobias Harris (right knee contusion) are questionable for Monday as well. Get ready for Dwight Howard and Mike Scott! We’ll see if the Sixers take it easy on their studs with the break coming up.
Keldon Johnson (conditioning) is questionable for Monday after coming out of the health and safety protocols, which would be a huge lift for the Spurs.
Kristaps Porzingis (back) is probable, but that’s a situation that you’ll want to monitor until he’s officially good to go.
VO Ov-er in Houston?
It was reported on Sunday that Victor Oladipo turned down a two-year, $45.2 million max extension from the Rockets. That’s the most that Houston can offer before the season ends.
It should come as no surprise that Oladipo rejected such an offer, as it’s been clear since he was a Pacer that a max contract — not just a mid-season max — is the goal. Houston has a very short ramp to figure out where Oladipo fits in the big picture. They acquired him as part of the James Harden trade, but it’s entirely possible that the Rockets get the sense that he’s set on testing the open market. With the way team ownership has been putting the clamps on the checkbook, perhaps they’d like to flip him again and recoup more, and cheaper, pieces in return.
The Rockets could just as easily be using this time to find out how Oladipo fits, with every intention of ironing out the longer-term extension that he’s obviously seeking. Beyond that, Houston could work out a sign-and-trade in the offseason, though they might end up in the same situation as Boston where they don’t get much more than a big trade exception that may or may not get used. There’s plenty of risk in waiting any way you slice it, as Houston could end up either losing Oladipo for nothing.
For the present, fantasy GMs should brace for another batch of clouds over Oladipo’s near future. Another trade seems like bad news for his value, as the Rockets would likely be fielding offers from teams that are trying to launch themselves into the contender tier. I.e., teams that have good players in place already, meaning that Oladipo might not become a premier featured player. The nightmare scenario is that the Rockets decide to trade Oladipo and put him on ice, like the Cavs and Pistons have done with their big names. This first step of the game isn’t shocking in any way, but it’s a process that bears watching with the trade deadline just over three weeks away.
We’re approaching the All-Star break, which means that most head-to-head fantasy leagues have a mega week upcoming. Rather than run a matchup from Monday to Thursday, it’ll cover two weeks on the calendar, running from March 1 to March 14. With weekly leagues having those lineups lock tomorrow, it means that fantasy GMs will need to make some important decisions without important info.
Normally, you can rely on the All-Star break as a time for players to rest and recover before they hit the ground running in the second half. This season we’re not going to get that as cleanly. Firstly, the health and safety protocols are going to be a major issue. Toronto had Sunday’s game postponed, and it’s possible that they could be done for the first half. Pascal Siakam is likely out for whatever games do get played. Now, as we saw with Jrue Holiday, landing in the health and safety protocols can take you way past the 14 days that the next fantasy matchup will hold. With no trust that the Raptors play at all in the lead up to the break, and no clarity that they’ll be ready to play coming out of it, are you willing to take the plunge?
There’s also the fact that this year has far more potential for players to sit coming out of the break. Usually nobody picks up an injury during their week off, but it’s foolish to think that nobody in the league will skirt COVID protocols during the mid-season break. Realistically, 10 days from now someone’s going to be placed in the health and safety protocols that isn’t in them currently.
Add to that all the usual lack of clarity that can come with injury reporting. Who knows what the deal is with Jaren Jackson Jr., for instance? Or whether Elfrid Payton’s hamstring will be healed by the second half? Or Delon Wright’s groin strain?
For fantasy managers, the best course of action is to probably play it straight up and hope for some injury news as soon as possible. It’s going to be hard passing up on someone like Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet in your lineups, even if it’s for potentially half the matchup. You’ll need to read the tea leaves to a certain extent but everyone’s going to be making educated guesses, so at least the playing field is somewhat level beyond the typical random chance. This season is more unpredictable than any other, so it’s only natural that one of the only solid re-set points on the calendar might only add more variability to the mix.