• The final half (really 1/3rd but whatever) of the NBA season is upon us, and Thursday was a great reintroduction to the madness. Our first brush with madness on the night came in the form of Detroit’s wacko lineup decisions of benching Christian Wood and Bruce Brown right at tip off. The two still managed particularly productive lines despite the lineup shifts, and could very well be Detroit’s two best fantasy players to close the season (head scratching lineup decisions aside). Meanwhile in Atlanta, Trae Young soared to new heights with a career-high 50 point performance in a clutch win over the Heat. Cam Reddish also looked terrific D-ing up everyone from Jimmy Butler to Bam Adebayo, and he looks like he’s starting to come on for the stretch run of his rookie year. The Simmons-less Sixers survived an OT push from the Kyrie-less Nets, as they continue to tinker with their lineup and salvage their season. The Kings barely beat the Grizzlies, almost blowing their lead with multiple 3-point-fouls on De’Anthony Melton in the waning minutes of regulation. And the small-ball Rockets easily dispatched the Warriors with contributions from all of their new wings, most notably Robert Covington who put up a 20-piece in 27 minutes. No matter which way you cut it, every team had something notable to keep track of in their returns to action, and that’s something you can probably expect as we march towards the fantasy playoffs and silly season in the real-life Association. 

    Adds of the Night

     

    Bruce Brown, G, Detroit Pistons

    Though he came off the bench, Brown still got himself to his now-regular 30 minute role and was three assists shy of a triple-double. He looks like he is going to have a full green light moving forward as one of the few guys in the Pistons that are worth developing, and should be owning in pretty much all standard league formats.

    De’Anthony Melton, G, Memphis Grizzlies

    His line was a little inflated by the multiple late foul calls that netted him 6-free throw opportunities, but to his credit Melton hit all of them, and rounded out one of the better performances of the night. He’s settled into a mid-20 minute role, and more importantly he is being trusted to close games pretty regularly these days. He’s a guy who should be owned in standard leagues for the stretch run.

    Malik Monk, G, Charlotte Hornets

    Monk kept his foot on the gas coming out of the all-star break with another big scoring performance. I am of the opinion that this particular stretch is a little unsustainable because of the uncharacteristically high FG% out of him (47% over his last 10 games) but it’s hard to ignore him while he’s this hot. He’s inside the standard league conversation over the aforementioned 10 games with averages of 17.8 points, 1.8 3PM, 4.1 rebounds and .919 shooting from the line on a hefty 3.7 attempts per contest.

    Drop Zone

     

    Taurean Prince, F, Brooklyn Nets

    One of the things I’ve been tracking pretty closely this year are Prince’s splits when Kyrie Irving plays and when he doesn’t. When Irving was out there, Prince was pretty close to a standard league value playing in more of a complementary role on offense. His percentages were fairly solid with defense’s paying him less attention and not having to take too many shots prevented him from shooting himself into holes. When Irving is off the floor, however, Prince’s percentages plummet to sub-40 levels, as he  is usually asked to do too much and he hasn’t responded well to more defensive attention. Now that Irving is ruled out for the remainder of the season, I fear that Prince’s run of usable fantasy value may be gone with him. While his counting stats are more or less still going to be there, his percentages are going to be so poor that he won’t be worth using outside of deep points leagues. 

    Derrick Jones Jr., F, Miami Heat

    Jones Jr. lost his starting job to Jae Crowder in this one and that looks like that all but saps him of any remaining value he was clinging to. He needs about a mid-20 minute role to be an effective defensive stat specialist type, and in this bench role that seems fairly unlikely. 

    Injury Report

     

    News came down about an hour before games started that Kyrie Irving (shoulder) was set to have season-ending shoulder surgery, ending what has been a largely disappointing fantasy season and debut season as a Brooklyn Net.

    Stephen Curry (hand) is on track to be reevaluated at the end of February, and based on recent comments from Steve Kerr it looks like he could be ready to suit up and play by the end of March. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson (torn ACL) was officially ruled out for the remainder of this season.

    Ben Simmons (lower back tightness) was scratched from Thursday’s game after playing in the All-Star game, making it a second season in a row where a Philadelphia All-star returned from the game unable to suit up. Consider him day-to-day moving forward.

    The Bulls are close to getting their full lineup healthy again, but aren’t quite there yet. The returns for Wendell Carter (right ankle) and Otto Porter Jr. (foot) are seemingly around the corner while Lauri Markkanenn (pelvic stress reaction) is targeting an early March return. The Bulls will need them soon, especially considering how defensive ace Kris Dunn (right MCL) is likely out for the rest of the season.

    Clint Capela (heel, plantar fasciitis) will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks before he can be reevaluated to make his Hawks debut.

    After meeting with a foot specialist, Marvin Bagley (foot) will be sidelined for at least the next three weeks, seemingly putting the rest of his season in jeopardy. 

    Eric Gordon (leg) was questionable heading into tonight’s game and was ultimately ruled out before pre-game warm ups. He should rejoin the rotation soon, but consider him to remain questionable moving forward

    Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) has been ruled out for Friday’s game as he seeks a second opinion on how to proceed.

    Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Damian Lillard (groin) guessed that he could miss anywhere from 3-to-6 games dealing with the injury he sustained right before the All-Star Break. We should expect a more official diagnosis later this weekend.

    Kemba Walker (sore knee) will miss Friday’s game due to maintenance, which has led to a chorus of reasonable complaints from Celtics fans as to why he was permitted to play 30 minutes in the All-Star game.

    Brandon Ingram (ankle) is off the injury report heading into Friday’s game. He is expected to make his return from a three game absence.

    Kevin Love (Achilles soreness) is good to go for Friday’s match up against the Wizards, easing the concerns of owners that that would be something that would sideline him moving forward.

    The Raptors nebulous injury reporting is still in full swing. We’ve heard reports that Marc Gasol (hamstring) is ‘getting closer’ while Norman Powell (finger) still remains without a timetable. Neither will play Friday.

    Will Barton (right knee) is questionable to play in Friday’s game against the Thunder while Michael Porter Jr. (ankle) is expected to make his return from a six game absence.

     

    Situational Stats Worth Monitoring

     

    P.J Tucker as the starting Center – 9 Games Played (since Jan. 29th)

    34 mpg / .418 FG% / 1.000 FT% / 7.2 ppg / 1.9 3pg / 5.7 rpg / 1.6 apg / 1.0 spg / 0.4 bpg / 0.6 TO

    Analysis: Tucker’s adapting to the full-time starting center gig rather decently. The Rockets are 6-3 during that stretch, and Tucker has maintained more consistency as a fantasy asset. He’s worth owning in 9-cat leagues at the end of benches for low-end rebounding numbers, a handful of steals and very low turnovers.

    Tomas Satoransky since Kris Dunn injury – 6 games played (since Jan. 31st)

    29.8 mpg / .424 FG% / .933 FT% / 12.2 ppg / 1.5 3pg / 4.0 rpg / 6.3 apg / 0.7 spg / 0.2 bpg / 1.8 TO

    Analysis: Satoransky’s versatility is going to be called upon much more frequently now that Kris Dunn is likely out for the season, and last night was a perfect example of this. Sato played pretty much every position outside center in last night’s game and he should still figure to get reps at both guard spots and small forward even once Chicago gets most of their guys back. The results have lead to a slight uptick in across the board stats for Sato, and that should hold through the rest of the season.

    Kyle Anderson since the Trade Deadline – 5 games played (since Feb. 5th)

    26.7 mpg / .613 FG% / .875 FT% / 9.2 ppg / 0.2 3pg / 6.6 rpg / 2.8 apg / 1.0 spg / 0.2 bpg / 1.0 TO

    Analysis: Even though the 5th came before the deadline we’re counting it in this equation as it marked the first game Anderson jumped into the starting lineup with Jae Crowder being held out with a trade imminent. Anderson has been quietly serviceable in this starting role with terrific percentages and decent rebounding and assists numbers. The FG% in particular figures to drop off eventually, as he has never been this efficient at any point in his career, but the low-end role suits him, and he is doing enough to get himself into the conversation at the end of benches in standard 9-cat leagues.

    Jordan Poole in the starting lineup – 2 games (since Feb. 12th)

    32 mpg / .407 FG% / .800 FT% / 15.5 ppg / 2.5 3pg / 3.5 rpg / 2.5 apg / 1.0 spg / 0.0 bpg / 2.5 TO

    Analysis: Poole has gotten two starts in a row (technically in the PG spot) as Steve Kerr looks to reward his improved play of late. This situation becomes rather moot once Steph Curry returns, but it is a nice runway to see how he is fairing through the throes of a losing season. There is a chance he could maintain a starting gig at SG over Damion Lee if he impresses enough, and could become a deep-league source of points and 3’s.

     

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