January 22, 2021, 1:38 am
Only three games on what was a quiet night in the league, headlined by a potential NBA Finals matchup. In front of a boisterous virtual crowd, the Lakers took care of the Bucks thanks to a vintage performance, care of one LeBron James. The King showed why he is still considered the best player in the world, getting the better of the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the second game of the night, the Knicks were too good for a Warriors team on the second night of a back-to-back set. Julius Randle flirted with a triple-double, while R.J Barrett turned in one of his better performances of the season. Alec Burks made his return and while he only managed 11 points, the 31 minutes are arguably the biggest takeaway here. Curry was strong once again for the Warriors but there simply wasn’t enough steam left in the tank after a short turnaround. Finally, the Jazz proved too classy for the Pelicans, who it must be said, never stopped trying. Donovan Mitchell had himself a good night while Mike Conley just keeps on trucking, dropping in 20 points to go with six assists and three steals. Josh Hart seems locked into a 25-minute role for the Pelicans, enough to keep him standard league relevant, if only just. Williamson continues to dominate the paint but three rebounds and zero defensive stats cap what would have been another strong fantasy line.
Add(s) of the Night
Only six teams to analyze here when considering players that could be added in standard formats. That said, COVID continues to run rampant, meaning many GMs are dealing with players on the sideline. This in turn makes fringe guys a little more appealing.
Nerlens Noel, C, New York Knicks – With limited choice, Noel makes the cut but I would still view him as more of a streamer than a long-term add. He played 20 minutes on Thursday but Mitchell Robinson was in some early foul trouble. If you need defensive production and nothing else, Noel could be worth picking up for a game or two.
R.J. Barrett, G/F, New York Knicks – Barrett may have been let go in your league and if that was the case, he could be worth grabbing to see if he can maintain his current heater. He has now scored at least 19 points in five consecutive games, shooting in excess of 45 percent in all five. Prior to that, he was scoring at a rate of under 34 percent for a stretch of four games.
In much the same way, drops are tricky to navigate with the current player outages. That said, the waiver wire is typically a changing landscape right now, meaning remorse may not be as much of a driving force when deciding on who to drop.
Bobby Portis, F/C, Milwaukee Bucks – Portis began the season with a number of decent performances but has turned back into a pumpkin in recent times. Basically what we are looking at is a situation in which Portis will thrive during games where the Bucks are in complete control or simply being blown out. The games that are remotely close tend to result in Portis seeing minimal playing time.
Dennis Schroder, G, Los Angeles Lakers – Schroder is a tough one given we know he can be a 12-team asset. However, his role on the Lakers is simply not conducive to consistent production. If you only need his points, maybe you hang on. Other than that, streaming his position may be a better way to carve out some across the board production.
A number of the Lakers players continue to pop up on the daily injury report, although none of the injuries seem significant
Likewise, Derrick Favors is a regular feature on the injury report but seems to be healthy enough
Alec Burks returned from his extended layoff and should be added in all standard formats
Austin Rivers was out with an Achilles injury
Doing Things The LeBron Way
At this point, we simply aren’t surprised when LeBron decides to put his foot down and take over a game. The only issue from a fantasy perspective is that he is not doing it as often as he used to. He has a more than adequate running partner in Anthony Davis and a much-improved supporting cast. The Lakers are almost certainly going to finish as the first or second seed in the West and so LeBron can afford to take nights off.
Thursday was an example of what he can do when he feels the urge, perhaps driven by a desire to step-up against a worthy adversary. Someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo is just what he needs to turn things up a notch. He ended with a game-high 34 points on 52 percent shooting, adding six 3-pointers, six rebounds, eight assists and two combined defensive stats. The fact that we are not even batting an eyelid at numbers like this demonstrates just how dominant he has been over the past 15 years.
On the season, LeBron is the 39th ranked player in 9-category leagues. Taking a look at his numbers and it is somewhat reasonable to think this is where he could end the season. As discussed earlier, he simply doesn’t need to exert himself on a nightly basis. While this is not the news fantasy folk would like to hear, it is certainly the way the Lakers would like things to play out. Unfortunately, the Lakers coaching staff do not prioritize fantasy production over NBA titles, much to our disgust. This is just who he is at this point in his career and the days of first-round fantasy value are likely behind him.
Is Adam on the money with his Daily Dish? Let him know in our Fantasy Basketball Forums or over on our members-only Discord channel