• Saturday night saw a handful of guards go absolutely bonkers in the scoring department. Gordon Hayward was one of those guys as he dropped 32 points on the Nuggets. He’s having the best NBA season of his career thus far and he’s going to command a max offer sheet in free agency this off season. He’s the engine that’s propelling the Jazz through Derrick Favor’s (knee) and George Hill’s (big toe) injuries. The Jazz sit at 12-9 despite regularly missing two of their four best players and look poised to finally make the push to the playoffs that hasn’t been there since Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were starting in the front court. They’re my favorite team to watch right now as they have the most intriguing collection of young rising talent and depth in the NBA at the moment and should start to climb the rankings with healthy bodies returning. The Jazz weren’t the only team to eat though, let’s dive into the Dish!

    Nets 103 Bucks 112

    Anthony Bennett drew a unicorn start with Trevor Booker (illness) missing this game, and Bennett somehow managed to pull down 14 rebounds to go with seven points and not much else in 24 minutes. I’d have to see it a half dozen more times to make something of it. Jeremy Lin (hamstring) missed this game as well and is reportedly “progressing.” Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 but just doesn’t seem to contribute enough outside of the scoring and threes categories to be a true waiver wire star this year, though he’s currently making for a great points and threes specialist. He should be owned going forward. Brook Lopez was in foul trouble but still had an okay game while Bojan Bogdonich scored 24 points in one of his typical explode then disappear games.

    John Henson had another good game, and though I don’t think it will last he should absolutely be owned across the board. He’s shown great per minute production in the past but with low free throws that can hurt you. The starters were great for the Bucks as all five scored in double digits. Matthew Dellavedova scored 18 with six assists and remains a low end asset in deeper leagues. Greg Monroe is showing sings of life again as he posted 13 points in seven rebounds. His skill set allows him to post solid numbers against bad second units in a hurry so he should be held everywhere.

    Timberwolves 125 Hornets 120

    Karl Anthony-Towns put on a show with 27 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and a perfect 7-0f-7 from the line. Andrew Wiggins is busting through his recent shooting slump and contributed a team high 29 points with four assists, three steals, two 3-pointers and 11-of-20 shooting from the field. He’s still capable of putting together the kind of statistical profile he had the last half of last year. Ricky Rubio was not benched for Tyus Jones at any point in this game and had nine points, seven rebounds, and 12 assists. Zach Lavine scored 17 points with three 3-pointers of his own while nabbing two steals.

    Frank Kaminsky exploded for 21 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block on 8-of-16 shooting. He’s been putting together some good offensive games in the last few weeks and should be owned in all leagues with Marvin Williams (knee) still hurting. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 15 points with six rebounds, but had no steals or blocks. After a promising start to the season in the defensive statistics MKG is now averaging .3 steals and .8 blocks on the season, making him nothing more than an out of position rebounds specialist. Kemba Walker scored 22 points with eight assists and chipped in else where. Nic Batum nearly triple-doubled after scoring 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and 12 assists. Marco Belinelli has quietly been a steady low end guy in Charlotte and contributed 15 points himself. Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert absolutely killed the Hornets off the bench in this one and don’t warrant your attention in any size league.

    Celtics 107 Sixers 106

    Isaiah Thomas propelled the Celtics to a road win by dropping 37 points with seven assists on 11-of-19 shooting from the field and a 13-of-15 from the line. Avery Bradley continues to be a revelation in fantasy this season as he scored 20 points with nine rebound and two assists. Al Horford was more facilitator than anything tonight and contributed 11 points to go with four boards and three assists. Jae Crowder played a full 33 minutes in this one but is still rounding into form as he only scored 10 points with four boards and three assists. Marcus Smart is a really up and down player and tonight he was down with seven points in 32 minutes. The Celtics four spot was a rotating mess as Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko, and Jaylen Brown all saw time there. It’s a situation to avoid.

    On the Sixers side Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Robert Covington (knee sprain), and Joel Embiid (rest) all sat out this game. That opened the way for Nik Stauskas to start, he scored 10 points with a couple 3-pointers and a steal with two blocks. He’s had some success this year and has shown some of the ability that got him drafted in the lottery this year, but he’s going to need to show it a lot more to earn fantasy owners trust. Sergio Rodriguez played well and scored 15 points to go with eight assists and four 3-pointers. He’s provided solid low end value all year and should be owned for those lacking assists. Dario Saric came off the bench and dropped a team high 21 points with 12 boards and a full line. Every time he disappears he seems to string together a couple good games, and that’s probably due to the constantly shifting rotation and minutes distribution. Jahlil Okafor played his second game in a row over 30 minutes which is great news for owners. He contributed 15 points with a smattering of other stats but the important thing is he didn’t kill you in free throws (3-of-4) or the field (6-of-9). He should be owned going forward and is a great target for those needing cheaper points as he still has other fantasy deficiencies. Ersan Illyasova scored 18 points with six boards, but I think we’ve all seen this show one too many times to know it won’t last.

    Hawks 84 Raptors 128

    Mike Muscala was absolutely brutal in another fill in start for Paul Millsap (hip). Muscala was a team low -24 in plus/minus while contributing seven points and four boards to the box score in just 24 minutes. This was a blow out from start to finish but Dennis Schroder still managed 15 points and six assists on good efficiency. Dwight Howard scored 10 points with 17 rebounds and was the only true bright spot for the Hawks all night and all the other Hawks lines are pretty brutal. Keep an eye on Kris Humphries, he played 17 minutes off the bench and could take over the power forward situation any second with how Mike Muscala is playing. Humphries isn’t a great fantasy asset in full minutes but he’s more than serviceable.

    The big winners were the Raptors bench players, four of which scored in double digits to really make this game noncompetitive. DeMar DeRozan did his thing and scored 21 points with three rebounds and four assists. Kyle Lowry scored 17 points with eight assists along with three 3-pointers. Patrick Patterson came off the bench to score 17 points with four boards, a steal and four 3-pointers, he’s been great lately. Corey Joseph scored 10 points with six assists and Lucas Nogueria scored 11 points with eight rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas was a no show to the party with a paltry two points and five rebounds. He was great to start the year but it looks like J-Val is going to continue to tease and never quite deliver.

    Lakers 100 Grizzlies 103

    Holy Lou Williams! He scored 40 points with (only) four 3-pointers and a pair of steals while getting to the line to hit 14-of-14 free throws. He’s been great this year for the Lakers and fantasy owners should pray he’s not traded away from Luke Walton’s loving embrace. Luol Deng returned from the grave to score a season high 18 points with five boards and four steals in 36 minutes, he may continue to benefit from injured Lakers. Brandon Ingram started another game at shooting guard and scored nine points with five rebounds in 39 minutes. The minutes are massively encouraging but what’s not is his five attempts from the field. He’s just not getting any usage, but that’s likely to change as the season goes on and he should be owned in all formats. Julius Randle was quiet in 29 minutes and Jordan Clarkson struggled with his shot in his 27 minutes. Jose Calderon technically started at point guard but played eight minutes and was abysmal.

    Troy Daniels was big time in Memphis as he dropped 31 points and four assists off the bench while hitting six 3-pointers. He played 39 minutes and after this game should be added as he played 28 minutes the game before and put up 19 points. He may end up being the prime beneficiary of the Mike Conley injury. Marc Gasol continues to be a stalwart, he scored 19 points with three rebounds and eight assists. JaMychal Green had a nice game with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks. He’s been a low end value all year and could continue to see extra shots with Conley out. Andrew Harrison was quiet but still managed to contribute across the board with six points, four boards, three assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. Troy Williams started at shooting guard for James Ennis (calf) and played 35 minutes. He made low end fantasy contributions but hasn’t done enough to warrant a pickup spot quite yet.

    Bulls 82 Mavs 107

    The second night of the back to back might have caught the Bulls off guard, but even with the lack of rest it was a terrible performance. Nikola Mirotic started at small forward for Doug McDermott (concussion) and was so bad there he only played 13 minutes to get a -24 plus/minus differential. I’m one of Mirotic’s biggest proponents for his upside, but I can’t defend it anymore. He’s inconsistent and Fred Hoiberg is putting him in absolutely no position to succeed. Without consistent playing time at the four Mirotic will continue to struggle and it’s as simple as that, cut him if you must. Rajon Rondo was horrific in his 24 minutes, scoring only two points and adding two assists while turning the ball over five times. He’s not been good this year while on the court for the Bulls and I really wonder how long it’ll take for Fred Hoiberg to actually do something about it. Dwyane Wade sat out this game in DNP-Old fashion and is clearly needed as a ball handler for the team. Jimmy Butler is really good at basketball and the lone bright spot here, he scored 26 points with nine boards, four assists, and two steals.

    Wesley Matthews continues to shoot well as he scored a team high 26 points with three boards, two assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers. I don’t expect his shooting to last, he’s still a good shooter but he’s not going to be near his Portland level efficiency. Still, if you can take the field goal hit he’s going to pour in triples for you. Harrison Barnes scored 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting and added five rebounds with a steal. He’s rolling right along as the primary scorer for Dallas. Dwight Powell had a nice game off the bench and scored 17 points with eight rebounds, he’s got upside but it may be a couple more months until we see Rick Carlisle give him more free run. They’re still trying to compete at the moment. Dorian Finney-Smith seems to be a favorite of Carlisle’s, DFS scored 11 points with two assists in 35 minutes and needs to have an eye kept on him going forward. Finney-Smith is clearly benefiting from Seth Curry (knee sprain) being out.

    Nuggets 98 Jazz 105

    Nikola Jokic sat this game with a wrist injury and is not expected to miss “at least” the next three games. Jokic was really starting to put it together which makes the cut that much deeper for owners. Jusuf Nurkic did not benefit from the absence as the Nuggets opted to go small the majority of the game with Kenneth Faried at Center. Nurkic played only 13 minutes, scoring eight points with four rebounds. Faried played 28 points and only scored 10 points with six boards in his time on the floor. Danilo Gallinari played 35 minutes but struggled with his shot on his way to 12 points with five boards, two steals and a 3-pointer. Will Barton is finally showing signs of life as he scored 20 points to go with five rebounds, four assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers. His party might end early though with Gary Harris coming back soon. Jamal Murray disappeared in this one with only 18 minutes of playing time and a big zero in points. Wilson Chandler is balling this year and he played 40 minutes on his way to 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. He’s one of the most injury prone players in the league over the last few seasons but ride him out as long as you can.

    Gordon Hayward is one of the most under appreciated basketball players in the NBA and he’s having a terrific season. He scored 32 points with four boards and two steals while hitting 9-of-18 from the field (3-of-4 from three) and 11-of-11 from the line. Boris Diaw started at power forward and scored four points with six boards and four assists in 22 minutes. I wrote about it in the Dish a couple of weeks ago as well but it bears repeating here: as long as Diaw is healthy it’s going to kill Trey Lyles fantasy value. Lyles played 20 minutes and scored 12 points with four rebounds. Rodney Hood made his return from a hamstring injury and kept rolling with 15 points, six rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer. He’s at 93rd overall in nine-cat right now which I think is a bit low, his scoring has maintained with Hayward’s return but his free throw percentage is about 10 points below last year’s, so he’s got some room to improve as long as Derrick Favors remains out indefinitely. Rudy Gobert scored seven points with 11 boards and another couple of blocks.

    Heat 92 Blazers 99

    Wayne Ellington got another start at small forward with Justice Winslow (wrist) still hurting. Ellington played 38 minutes and scored 12 points with two boards and three assists. He’s not really worth a look as he needs Dion Waiters (groin) and Josh Richardson (ankle) have to both miss time along with Winslow for Ellington to crack starting minutes. Josh McRoberts played 28 minutes and scored 13 points with two boards, four assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. I was always a fan of the signing but injuries have been a huge issue for him the last two years, and I’m going to need to see him play decently a couple more times before considering a pickup. McBob moved James Johnson to the bench and Johnson played only 17 minutes and disappeared. Goran Dragic nearly triple-doubled with 18 points, nine boards, eight assists and two steals. He’s rolling right now. Hassan Whiteside posted another massive line with 28 points with 16 rebounds and five blocks in 40 minutes. Tyler Johnson played 34 minutes off the bench but had a rough time from the field as he shot 3-of-14 to produce nine points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and a block. He’s ranked 107th on the year with a 40.7% field goal, that will probably end up closer to 45% when it’s all said and done.

    Maurice Harkless has excelled with Al-faroq Aminu nursing a calf injury. Harkless scored 17 points with seven boards, an assist, a steal, a block and one 3-pointer. Damian Lillard scored 19 points but struggled to shoot the ball as he was 6-of-19 from the field. C.J. McCollum did the same as he shot 7-of-18 to end the game with 17 points and four assists. Ed Davis drew the start at the Blazers rotating power forward position to block three shots and not much else in 26 minutes. Allen Crabbe was big for the Blazers off the bench as he scored 16 points with four triples in 28 minutes. Terry Stotts kept his rotation tight tonight which led to Mason Plumlee playing 33 minutes, scoring 11 points with nine rebounds.

    Suns 109 Warriors 138

    Eric Bledsoe played 30 minutes and scored 27 points with five boards, four assists, five 3-pointers and a whopping five steals. He’s climbing the rankings with his performance over the last two weeks, and it’s probably not a coincidence that T.J. Warren (head) has missed time during that stretch with Devin Booker some to boot. I think those players really limit Bledsoe’s upside who would otherwise be in a tremendous position to produce. Phoenix has too many guards, go figure. Brandon Knight played 22 minutes and scored 14 points with two assists. He’s been better but he’s not going to be anything more than a low end asset unless he finds himself leaving via trade, which may be probable considering there’s several point guard needy teams out there. Devin Booker played 32 minutes and scored 21 points to go with five assists. His scoring is great, his peripherals are not. Alex Len and Tyson Chandler have fallen back into their time share and will continue to leach the fantasy value out of each other. I’m not interested in Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender unless Phoenix can clear the decks some via the trade market.

    It was business as usual for the Warriors who went 13 deep in their rotation with this game well in hand by the third quarter. Kevin Durant only needed seven shots to get to 20 points and added four rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks. Draymond Green found a way to get it done as he posted nine points with five rebounds, 13 assists, three steals and a 3-pointer. Klay Thompson poured in 26 points with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and six 3-pointers. Stephen Curry added 31 points with two rebounds, two assists, a steal and five 3-pointers. JaVale McGee sighting! He scored 11 points in 12 garbage time minutes. That’s fun.

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