• The biggest news to digest today is the cluster of injuries, spot DNPs, and their subsequent impact in fantasy basketball.

    Personally, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for me. Several of my fantasy teams have been devastated by injuries to guys like Jae Crowder, Jeremy Lin, and Derrick Favors. News broke today that Favors is dealing with a bone contusion in his left knee. Expect him to miss several games. The Jazz only play two games next week, so hopefully the timing will be good for some rest.

    With these injuries, come opportunities. Sometimes we find players who work out as a short-term fix, but there are times that we get our hands on gems that provide favorable, longer term outlooks. So take a ride with me today as we navigate through the aftermath of an injury-riddled day(s).

    Washington Wizards 102, Philadelphia 76ers 109

    It looks like the Wizards missed the scoring punch of Bradley Beal (hamstring) in this one. Despite starting in Beal’s stead, Sheldon McClellan was only able to muster up six points in 20 minutes of action. Marcus Thornton played 37 minutes and posted 10 points on     ugly 4-of-13 shooting from the field. Both their per-minute production is nothing to get excited about, but deep-league managers can give Thornton a look for some points and treys, albeit at the expense of field-goal percentage.

    John Wall returned to action after missing a game due to rest. He was solid in this game with 27 points and six assists. This could be a recurring theme throughout the season and his owners may want to handcuff him by stashing Tomas Satoransky. Despite him being one the more talented guys off the bench, it’s clear that he has been deployed as a back-up PG and Tomas may get only a slight bump by Beal’s absence.

    On the Philly side of things. Joel Embiid missed another game due to the team’s preservation protocol. He’s worth a stash, but has been hard to deploy due to his missing back-to-backs. He’s worth trading away in leagues with daily roster changes, but is a must-hold in weekly changes leagues due to his upside.

    Dario Saric headed to the bench in this one and was replaced by Ersan Ilyasova in the starting lineup. Ersan hit four treys en route to a respectable 16-point performance, while Saric managed a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. Regardless of who is starting, both figure to deliver some value, with Saric clearly holding the higher upside.

    New Orleans Pelicans 82, Orlando Magic 89

    The big news here was a missed game by fantasy basketball stud Anthony Davis (quad). He is day-to-day. Terrence Jones started in his place and was excellent with 26 points, nine boards, a block, and two treys. At this point, Jones is no longer a deep-league target, but is clearly worth a stash even in standard leagues due to Davis’ injury history.

    Jeff Green posted another dud as a starter for Orlando, going 0-for-9 from the field in 20 minutes. Aaron Gordon was by far the better player with a 10-4-1-1-1 line. Don’t be surprised if Gordon eventually earns his starting job back. Consider Gordon a buy-low target at the moment.

    Cleveland Cavaliers 93, Indiana Pacers 103

    With LeBron James (DNP-Rest) out of the picture in this one, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving thrived and dropped some big games for their respective owners. James owners should be acutely aware of the correlation between the Cavs’ success and his potential for missing games. The better they do and more dominant they are this season, which appears to be the case so far, the greater the likelihood James and possibly Love and Irving will be rested to preserve them for the post-season.

    J.R. Smith missed another game, but Iman Shumpert showed that he was/is not worth a fantasy roster spot with his two points in 28 minutes.

    On the topic of the Cavaliers, I’ve been adding Channing Frye in my deep leagues (where available) lately. He’s been a quiet but steady source of threes despite his low minutes. He’s a specialist who doesn’t hurt you anywhere and has the chance to thrive in games when Cleveland stars rest or miss time due to injury. Frye had eight points, two treys and two blocks tonight.

    The Pacers’ starting five had a full load of minutes and produced well for their owners tonight.

    Dallas Mavericks 83, Boston Celtics 90

    Dirk Nowitzki missed another game and it appears that this is the season where his past allure has officially been overtaken by his decline due to wear and tear. I’d wait for him to make his return and get what I can in a trade.

    Deron Williams returned to action, only to log 10 minutes and to be ruled out for the rest of the game. He’s a drop candidate at this point, even in standard leagues. J.J. Barea, who has been a great pick-up early in the season, suffered a calf strain and had to be helped off the court. It looked bad and he should be expected to miss time. These injuries now thrust Seth Curry (six points, four assists) into the must-own zone. He will get all the minutes he can handle in the short term and should provide some decent return.

    On the good news front, Wesley Matthews bounced back with 22 points, six treys, and two steals.

    Al Horford missed this game, but is making steady progress. Expect him back any game now. Kelly Olynyk (10 points, four rebounds), who has been filling in for Horford, will surely take a hit. Kelly can still retain minimal deep-league value, but owners will have to monitor his production closely.

    Jae Crowder (ankle) still has not returned to practice and missed this game. Marcus Smart drew the start, but filled the stat sheet in a ho-hum way with four points, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block. Smart has seen little improvement with his shot this season, but if you’re looking for those counting cats out of your guards, he’s worth a low-end trade deal at this point.

    Detroit Pistons 102, New York Knicks 105

    Andre Drummond was back in action after missing one game due to a sprained ankle. He logged 29 minutes and scored 15 points, and pulled down nine rebounds. He’s been one of the league’s most durable players in recent years. Owners can freely deploy their 23-year-old rebounding machine as normal.

    Jon Leuer shared in some of Drummond’s minutes at center and he was great with 17 points, nine boards, two treys, and a steal.

    Kristaps Porzingis had a lovely game against the Pistons. He made full use of his ability to spread out the defense and his uncanny speed for a 7-footer to wreak havoc on Detroit. He was great with 35 points (13-of-22 from the field), seven rebounds, three triples, a steal, and a block.

    Milwaukee Bucks 100, Atlanta Hawks 109

    Mike Muscala stepped into the starting lineup for the Hawks, replacing an injured Dwight Howard (quad). He’s a fantastic short-term add in standard leagues due to his roto-friendly lines. Muscala played 33 minutes tonight and rewarded his owners with 16 points, five boards, three assists and a trey.

    Freshly minted Bucks starting center John Henson played 20 minutes and recorded seven points, seven boards, and no blocks. Owners who swooped in to snatch Henson off the wires after the announcement of his promotion will have to be patient and bear in mind that coach Jason Kidd is notorious for his penchant for tinkering with his lineups and rotations too often for comfort. Henson is a hold for now.

    As expected, Giannis Antetokounmpo was his usually “fantasy-tastic” and filled the stat sheet yet again with 26 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and two blocks.

    Houston Rockets 103, Oklahoma City Thunder 105

    Finally! A game recap that is not about a DNP or an injury…Yay! That said, not much to discuss here.

    Russell Westbrook (30 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) and Victor Oladipo (29 points, 10 rebounds, five treys) did the heavy lifting here and it was enough to outdo a Rockets team that saw seven players score in double figures.

    Clint Capela had a nice double-double for the Rockets with 13 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks. I regret dropping him early in the season in a couple of leagues. Sigh.

    James Harden had a subdued game, by Harden-standards, with 13 points, seven boards, 13 assists, and three steals.

    Admittedly, I may have overvalued Ryan Anderson coming into this season and am now utilizing a him as a 3-point specialist and not much else. That said, he’s still been reliable on that front, although his shooting accuracy from the field leads a lot to be desired.

    Golden State Warriors 127, Toronto Raptors 121

    Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 65 points on some solid shooting, accompanied by useful peripheral cats. Draymond Green filled the stat sheet in Draymond Green-like fashion. Klay Thompson struggled with his shot in this one (15 points, 4-of-15 from the field, 3-of-11 from 3-point range). And all is normal in the fantasy Shangri-La we know as the Golden State Warriors.

    DeMar DeRozan is quickly becoming the first-ever “vanilla” scorer, well since that one time I drafted Carmelo Anthony, that I’ve been actually tempted to own this season. Damn, I’m impressed. He was overpriced in some drafts this season, but has shown some good early returns so far. He posted another 30-plus point game with 34 points and a staggering 17-of-17 shooting from the line.

    This marks the second game that Lucas Nogueira has posted a dud. He had grabbed five rebounds (no points, no blocks) in 13 minutes. He was a hot pick-up last week, so I’m sure the question we’re all asking ourselves now is, “Do we drop him?” My answer is give him another week, at least. Bench him if you want/must, but let’s see if this is just a mini-slump for now.

    Pascal Siakam earned himself some brownie points tonight, by playing 30 minutes and missing a double-double with 10 points and nine boards. Keep a close eye on this rookie as he’s clearly earned his coach’s trust. Add him to your watch lists.

    Phoenix Suns 104, Denver Nuggets 120

    Tyson Chandler returned to action after missing a few games due to the death of his mother. He reclaimed his starting center job, but was quiet with five points, five rebounds, and two blocks. Alex Len, who was a decent fantasy asset filling in for him during his absence, felt the impact of Chandler’s return. Len was limited to seven points and four boards in 21 minutes.

    Eric Bledsoe disappeared tonight, scoring just eight points while handing out five assists. Brandon Knight was the hot guard, between the two and Earl Watson went with him. Knight broke out with 32 points, four assists and three triples.

    Both Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, who came into draft day with a lot of hype, had forgettable games and burned their owners. Nurkic went scoreless in 15 minutes, while Jokic was a bit better, managing to put up 10 points in 19 minutes. Wilson Chandler has had back-to-back excellent games now and is worth an aggressive add in standard leagues at this point. He filled the stat sheet tonight with 28 points, 11 rebounds, five dimes, two treys, a steal, and a block. Grab him now and enjoy his streak of hot games while they and his health lasts. Kenneth Faried has been the big man to own from Denver lately. He had a monster game with 20 points, 15 boards, four steals, and a block.

    San Antonio Spurs 110, Sacramento Kings 105

    The Spurs did a number on the Kings with their new “Big 3” of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol combining for 65 points. Pau Gasol dealt with a neck issue in their last game, but his 24 points and nine boards tonight are a decent indication that he’s fine moving forward.

    DeMarcus Cousins had a nice double-double in a losing effort for the Kings. His 26-17-6 line was a big boost to his owners tonight. Rudy Gay had an uncharacteristically off night 11 points (3-of-11 from the field), three rebounds, three assists.

    Matt Barnes had a solid showing in 28 minutes on the floor with 15 points, two treys, a steal, and a block. He was in a slump recently and may have been dropped in your league. Barnes is worth a stash, as he could be a beneficiary in fantasy should either Gay or Cousins be moved this season.

    Memphis Grizzlies 111, Los Angeles Clippers 107

    This game boiled down a to a 3-point duel between Mike Conley and J.J. Redick, Redick was solid with 29 points, seven triples, a steal, and a block, on efficient shooting. Conley matched his seven treys, but raised him with a much more efficient game. He also added eight assists and three steals. Conley is having the best season of his career and is worth making a play for in a trade deal.

    Marc Gasol had a nice game with 26 points, six boards, and six dimes. He added a 3-point shooting dimension to his game this season, and got in on the long-range bombing tonight with his 4-of-5 shooting from downtown.

    Chandler Parsons started, but had a “meh” 14 minutes and gave owners a 4-point, 2-rebound, 1-block game. If you’re willing to take on his injury risk, you can make a play for him, but he’s a shaky asset to own this season. Best play the wait-and-see game as he rounds out into game shape.

    Chris Paul was mildly disappointing with nine points and six dimes. He did make up for it with five steals.

    P.S. Sorry for the Milli Vanilli song lyrics in the title, but yeah, I couldn’t resist. And if you had to look it up, yes we have a big age gap between us.

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