• Last week the announcements of the All-Star starters came with little controversy, which set up today’s announcement of the reserves to possibly fill that void. We certainly got some of that with this year’s most noteworthy snubs: Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. 

    Before we get into their all-star cases, let’s focus on some of the feel-good stories of those who did make the cut. Longtime All-Star snub Rudy Gobert received his first nod, Brandon Ingram’s impressive breakout season now gets an all-star appearance to accompany it and the surprising Miami Heat were graced with two well deserved selections for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The teams themselves do not really feature anyone who shouldn’t be there, which makes the case for the snubs a little more difficult. 

    Devin Booker’s absence has probably caused the biggest stir. Fans of the Suns and Booker alike were up in arms, Suns GM James Jones released a public statement slamming his absence, and several of Bookers’ peers, such as fellow snub Karl-Anthony Towns, came to his defense. The stats are all there for Booker. He’s averaging career-highs in points per game (27.1), FG% (51%) and FT% (91.7%) while maintaining his usual marks of about four rebounds, six assists and two triples per game. 

    Likewise, Bradley Beal is also averaging career-high marks in the scoring department and was actually voted as a starting caliber player by his peers in the starter’s vote. Many players and fans alike have expressed similar disdain for Beal’s absence, as has Beal himself.

    While I’m not one who enjoys playing the game of who’s more deserving than who, I do find it interesting how team success seemed to play a bigger role in these reserve selections than individual success did. I made not in my piece from last week how I think the will of the fans is the most important factor for these games, and that team success should be factored into more important awards at season’s end like all-NBA. Booker and Beal absolutely have cases to be on these squads based on talent alone, and may find their way there through injury replacements. It’s all just part of the All-Star circus that we have come to enjoy over the years.

     

    Adds of the Night

    Jalen Brunson, G, Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavs didn’t play on Thursday, but that doesn’t change the fact that Brunson is the most appealing add out there at this moment. Luka Doncic is set to miss at least his next two games, and probably more, with an ankle sprain he sustained in practice. We saw last time how good Brunson was filling in as the lead guard, posting top-80 value in 9-cat leagues with averages of 14 ppg, 5 rpg and 9.2 apg. He’s worth a look for any point guard needy teams as long as Luka is out.

    Dewayne Dedmon, C, Sacramento Kings

    Dedmon has been back in the rotation of late and has been a serviceable fantasy option as we all assumed he could have been had he not been lept by Richaun Holmes earlier in the year. He’s been a top-105 player in 9-cat leagues over his last five games. With Holmes still out indefinitely, Marvin Bagley (foot) out for the next three weeks, and no momentum on recent trade talks surrounding Dedmon, he could actually have some value should he stick in this role. He’s worth a speculative add in 12-teamers as long as he has this type of role.

    Willy Hernangomez, C, Charlotte Hornets

    Hernangomez has jumped Bismak Biyombo in the Hornets’ rotation and has put together two solid ball games in a row in 19 minutes each. He’s not a high-end type of fantasy add by any means, but has shown us flashes in the past when given enough burn. He’s creeping onto deep-league radars.

     

    Drop Zone

    Eric Paschall, F, Golden State Warriors

    Paschall had some nice scoring outings over his last couple of weeks, and there was some optimism that he could step into a larger, and more consistent, role with the Dubs after Willie Cauley-Stein was shipped out of town. We haven’t really seen that, however, as Paschall’s minutes have been all over the map with 27, 11 and 23 in each of his last three games. His fantasy game is one that demands more consistency than that, and though the scoring upside is appealing, you could probably do better.

    Injury Report: 

    Luka Doncic turned his ankle in practice on Thursday and looks like he could be faced with an extended absence. He’s set to miss at least the next two weeks and there could be more after that as well.  

    Kawhi Leonard (back) was a surprise late scratch right before Thursday’s game. He went through pre-game warmups but went to the locker room and never returned. We’ll consider him questionable moving forward.

    Paul George (hamstring)and Patrick Beverley (groin) made their returns from nine-game and three-game absences respectively on Thursday.

    Ben Simmons (upper respiratory illness) managed to overcome his illness to play against the Hawks on Thursday. Al Horford (knee) meanwhile, was unable to play.

    Jayson Tatum (groin) returned from a three game absence and played on a minutes limit Thursday. He should ramp back up to full speed over his next couple of games.

    It has been determined that Marvin Bagley (foot) will miss at least the next three weeks with his foot injury, continuing what has been an incredibly disappointing season of injuries for the second-year forward.

    Mike Conley (rest) sat out the second game of a back-to-back, a trend we could see continuing moving forward.

    OG Anunoby (shoulder) was able to suit up for Thursday’s contest.

    Jaren Jackson Jr., Elfrid Payton and Marko Guduric were each suspended one game for their roles in Wednesday’s scuffle. 

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (shoulder) was listed as questionable for Friday’s game but has been ruled in.

    Anthony Davis (glute) is listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Blazers.

    Carmelo Anthony won’t play in tomorrow’s matchup with the Lakers due to personal reasons

    De’Anthony Melton (hand) is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game.

    Daniel Gafford (thumb) is also listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game, pushing his return date back at least another game.

     

    Playing Out of Tune

    The Jazz have more interesting story lines than their most recent all-star selections. The return of Mike Conley to the rotation has not gone as smoothly as the Jazz may have hoped. He is still not seeing much more than 20 minutes a night, and it appears that he could be resting the second halves of back to backs moving forward as well. His return has also done no favors to Joe Ingles, who has struggled mightily since his reintroduction. From a fantasy perspective, these two appear destined to take away from one another, especially as Conley ramps up and potentially makes a return to the starting lineup. From a real life perspective, Utah has lost their last three games in a row to quality opponents, and while nobody should be all that concerned about their prospects moving forward, one does have to wonder if they will find the right balance between their core group of guys and their prized free agency acquisition. Both Ingles and Conley should be held onto in standard leagues for at least a little bit longer, as we cannot say definitively that neither will be able to attain some semblance of fantasy value at some point. The early returns thus far, however, have been very rough to say the least.

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