• Only four games tonight, but we got to finish the evening with an awesome Blazers-Clippers post-load management battle. Hassan Whiteside looks like he’s keeping his head straight with Damian Lillard and Portland, displaying some awesome team play while Kawhi Leonard continues to be a fourth quarter cheat code. There are so many strong teams in the Western Conference that you can bank on almost any team being competitive. It’s beautiful to see all of htis talent in the league which also makes for great fantasy seasons. Young guys are blossoming while established stars continue to shine. Let’s dive into the action.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Devonte’ Graham PG, Hornets – 30 minutes,15 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals, two 3-pointers, 5-of-14 FG, 3-of-5 FT, 2-of-10 3PT

    Graham is a stud. He showed some promise as a rookie last year, but there was zero opportunity with Kemba Walker in town. There was skepticism about his fantasy potential because of the signing of Terry Rozier, but Coach Borrego has let Graham get a real chance to show his chops this year and he’s been running away with it. Rozier is still logging big minutes, but Dwayne Bacon’s minutes have dwindled. He’s a starter, only in name as Graham averages over 30 minutes a night and has a game that is perfect for the modern NBA. His 3-point shooting has regressed, but the sustainable assits and steals are still there and the volume of 3-point attempts means that he’s guaranteed for a couple long balls each night. If he’s still floating on your waiver, go run to grab him as he’s one of the most exciting young players in the league. P.J. Washington got a lot of the hype, but Graham will end the year as a better fantasy player.

    Drop Zone

    Mikal Bridges – It’s so tough to hang onto Bridges. I love him, he’s a smart player, great defender and plays hard, but the Suns aren’t making it easy for him. Kelly Oubre, Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes have all played well while Bridges has struggled. The latter two are power forwards, but their strong play leads to less small-ball lineups for Bridges. He had a solid game against the Sixers on Monday, but there isn’t playing time for a low-usage guy like Bridges to make much of a standard-league impact. Now, keep in mind, I do think he turns it around eventually and gets things going so it depends on your situation. If you’re dealing with suspended players or dead weights, then moving on from Bridges to grab hot agents is the right call. If you’re sitting pretty and can handle the ups and downs, hang tight. I still believe in him as a prospect and a future fantasy asset.


    Injury Report

    Justise Winslow sat out Thursday’s game with a headache but it doesn’t look like he’ll miss much more time.

    Kyle Kuzma is expected to play on Friday which is good news as he’s increasing his activity while recovering from a stress reaction.

    Jordan Bell might miss Friday’s game against his former team, Golden State, with a shoulder injury.

    Shabazz Napier left Wednesday’s game early with a hamstring strain and it’s looking doubtful for him to play on Friday.

    Jeff Teague is still dealing with an illness and might miss Friday’s game as well. This news alongside Shabazz Napier missing time means Jarrett Culver makes for an interesting speculative short-term play.

    Emmanuel Mudiay will miss Friday’s game with a hamstring injury and is looking like a day-to-day case.

    D’Angelo Russell could make his return on Friday as he recovers from a right ankle sprain. He’s listed as probable.

    Ben Simmons has been ruled out for the next three games at a minimum with a sprained AC joint. The Sixers might play it slow with him as they’re talented enough to get by without him for a week.

    Harry Giles may suit up on Friday as he’s officially lsited as questionable with a sore right knee.

    Dewayne Dedmon is listed as questionable with a right knee sprain, but has lost his job to Richaun Holmes.

    Terrence Ross has been struggling lately and is now listed as doubtful for Friday’s game with a sore right knee.

    Tim Frazier is doubtful for Friday with a shoulder injury.

    Derrick Rose won’t play on Friday with a right hamstring strain and the mileage is starting to show on him.

    J.J. Redick is questionable for Friday with a left knee bruise.

    Lonzo Ball suffered a right adductor strain, but is listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Raptors.

    Cam Reddish is probable to play on Friday with shoulder soreness.

    Gary Harris had to leave Wednesday’s game early with an ankle injury but will start on Friday.

    Paul Millsap suffered a facial laceration on Wednesday, but will also suit up and start on Friday.

    Changing of the guard

    Young players growing into their potential. I love it. It’s awesome to see guys who have all the arrows pointing upwards finally begin their path upwards to what we all saw glimpses of. Some guys on that list are Jayson Tatum, cutting out the bologna shots, Devonte’ Graham finally getting his shot at playing and Dejounte Murray staying healthy (knocks on wood). Then you have guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is in the midst of a breakout season and potentially most improved player. Advanced analytics all pointed to these players being capable of delivering the fantasy goodies and they are.

    One of the most important factors in fantasy is minutes played. A player may have all of the advanced analytics in his favor, but if he can’t get on the floor, it’s all for nothing. This leads back to coaching, which is why guys like Mitchell Robinson are so hard to own as Coach Fizdale is arguably the worst coach in the league, right next to Jim Boylen. The reason the Hornets are playing above expectations this year have a lot to due with Devonte’ Graham’s awesome point guard ability. He’s averaging 6.7 assists to 2.6 turnovers in 31 minutes off the bench. It speaks volumes that Coach Borrego is allowing him to run and build off his strong play alongside rookie P.J. Washington, who looks miles ahead with his offensive decision making.

    Some per-minute guys that played tonight who catch my eye would be Robert Williams, Nerlens Noel, Derrick White, Anfernee Simons and Kelly Olynyk. The road blocks for most of these guys are capable starters ahead of them, but the fantasy potential is right there so keep them on your watch list and be ready to dive in if any news breaks.

    Get a load of this

    Load management has become one of the most polarizing issues of today’s sports. I get the side to both arguments for and against it, but there’s no doubt that science has proven that it works to keep players fresh. People who claim that players were tougher back in the day are looking with rose-tinted lenses. Players logged more minutes because the intensity and pace of the game were lower. I’m not really here to fight this fight since you’ll want to believe whatever you want, but I totally understand why teams use load management.

    Spinning this back to fantasy, it adds even more value to iron man type players and guys who can stay on the floor. Now you’ll have to be more cautious when drafting guys like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. Any news from coaches or teams talking about how they’re going to go easy on their players should be taken more seriously than ever now. Look in Memphis, where they’re limiting Ja Morant’s minutes as a rookie. Now in Ja’s case, it seems a bit extreme to play a 20-year old rookie under 30 minutes a game for load management, but I rest my case. These factors have real ramifications on fans who watch and pay to see them play and for fantasy owners who are expecting them to.

    For fantasy GMs, it puts a greater emphasis on drafting a deep team while also giving certain coaches, teams and players a higher risk profile. Also, if you don’t want to deal with these situations, especially in daily lineup leagues, then trading that player off for a more dependable guy is totally reasonable. I wouldn’t fault you for it all and would even encourage it in many circumstances. It’s still early in the year so it hasn’t been that big of a deal, but expect to see a lot more load management days coming in December and onwards. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HB_Nate for any fantasy related questions and I’ll be happy to give my two cents.

Fantasy News

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverly had a monstrous stat line against the Celtics in a 107-104 overtime win on Wednesday, ending the night with 14 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers.

    It's really hard to ask for a better game than this. Beverly was a machine in this one and had easily his best game of the year. Unfortunately, this performance was more of an outlier than the norm. It's tough to count on him for consistent value in standard leagues, but could have merit in deeper leagues. This was the Clippers' first game with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so it's possible this dynamic creates more chances for Beverly, but we'll have to wait and see.

  • Paul George
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Paul George racked up 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting in Wednesday night's contest against the Celtics, in addition to five rebounds, eight assists, a block and four 3-pointers.

    George had another solid outing and shows that he can contribute across the board. Although he has only suited up four times this year, he is a top-10 player on a per-game basis along with his teammate, Kawhi Leonard. He should have the opportunity for some huge games when Kawhi takes his days off.

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Kawhi Leonard did a little bit of everything in his return on Wednesday night, putting up a line of 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers.

    Simply put, Leonard can ball. It's just a matter of how often. Fantasy players drafted him for nights like this, but have to live with the fact that he'll be missing games every now-and-then. That being said, on a per-game basis, he is still a top-10 player this year and someone you can count on to end the season around that mark.

  • Montrezl Harrell
    PF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Montrezl Harrell logged 31 minutes off the bench on Wednesday, and turned it into six points, six rebounds, three dimes, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a quiet night on offense for Harrell as most of the Clippers' shots came from their guards and wings. However, he was still able to contribute a couple steals and blocks tonight. Even after the low offensive output, Harrell is sitting inside top-80 value on the season. Ivica Zubac and Maurice Harkless also had quiet nights with five and three points respectively.

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Lauri Markkanen woke up with a team-high 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting with six boards, three treys, one steal and two blocks in a 109-89 win over the Pistons on Wednesday.

    Markkanen has not delivered anything close to his mid-round ADP so far this season, mostly the result of his .362 shooting from the field. He could warm up soon and his buy-low window would slam shut. Act accordingly.

  • Lou Williams
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams took over for the Clippers on Wednesday night, ending the contest with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and three 3-pointers but also seven turnovers.

    In a night where all eyes were supposed to be focused on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court for the first time, Lou Williams stole the show. He led the team in both points and field goal attempts. Williams has had a great stretch of games and has played at a top-50 value recently. However, his season marks are more realistic and have him just inside the top-100.

  • Wendell Carter Jr.
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Wendell Carter Jr. played well in a tough matchup against Andre Drummond, posting 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting with 15 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 33 minutes.

    WCJ is a top-120 value on the season, but has the tools to pull that needle closer to top-75 before the 2019-20 dust settles. Consider floating a buy-low offer right now.

  • Shaquille Harrison
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Shaquille Harrison drew the start for an injured Otto Porter (righ foot bone bruise) and thrived with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, one trey and one block in 26 minutes on Wednesday.

    Porter is out for at least a couple more weeks. Harrison has outplayed Chandler Hutchison with this spot start, making him a speculative add in case Harrison sticks with starting five.

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Jayson Tatum balled out on Wednesday, dropping a season-high 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting, and adding, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers.

    This was one of Tatum's best lines of the season. He has strung together a couple of solid outings with Gordon Hayward out. Tatum is currently a top-40 player and should settle somewhere around there as the season progresses.

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker had a rough night on Wednesday, scoring 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting, with only two assists and six turnovers, but somehow managed nine rebounds.

    Kemba's night was salvaged with his nine rebounds, but other than that it was one he'd like to forget. It was his season-high in turnovers and tied his season-low in assists. He is still a top-20 guy and he'll move past this. It just wasn't a great game, simple as that.