• 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.

Fantasy News

  • Tyrese Maxey
    SG, College

    Tyrese Maxey has declared for the NBA draft.

    The freshman from Kentucky finished the college season with averages of 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.1 threes per contest. Maxey is gifted with a tremendous knack for scoring and has the looks of a lottery selection, though obviously this draft season could be a very strange one.

    Source: Malika Andrews on Twitter

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
    PG, New York Knicks

    Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that with new leadership in place for the Knicks, the team is likely to shop Dennis Smith Jr. this offseason.

    Knicks President Leon Rose has no attachment to Smith, and with head coach David Fizdale and assistant coach Keith Smart no longer around to justify his retention, there is little reason for the Knicks to continue relying upon DSJ's services. He struggled all season, from a back injury, to the loss of his stepmother, to an obscure oblique injury, and a concussion in February. Smith will be worth a flyer for another team to roll the dice on, but it is unlikely he gets a real chance to be the Knicks point guard of the future again. It will be difficult for Smith to become a standard league option no matter where he is playing next season. He is simply too lousy a shooter from the field and free-throw line. His turnover rate also remains an issue in 9-CAT formats.

    Source: NY Post

  • Ashton Hagans
    PG, College

    Sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans announced his intention to leave Kentucky and enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Hagans is projected to be a late second-round target for the draft and is unlikely to make noise as a rookie in the NBA. One has to hope he lands on a team devoid of point guard options to let Hagans emerge with much fantasy value as a rookie. He averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game while serving as the starting point guard throughout this season with the Wildcats.

    Source: UK Athletics

  • Theo Maledon
    PG, International

    French point guard Theo Maledon has completed all of the required paperwork to make himself eligible to be selected in the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Maledon is an up-and-coming prospect who will be only 18 years young on draft day. He was a contender to take home the Rising Star award based upon his play in the Euroleague this season before the action was cut short due to the coronavirus. He's been in the French system since he was 14 and is considered a pick just outside the NBA lottery on many draft boards. He was averaging 7.1 points and 2.3 assists in 17 minutes of action.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Pacers GM Chad Buchanan declined to interview for the Bulls' top basketball operations position.

    Buchanan said he and his family are happy in Indianapolis and he is not interested in leaving. The Bulls are clearly moving fast with building their new front office after the announcement that GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Ops John Paxson are expected to move to different roles in the organization. A change in the front office and coaching staff could only be positive for fantasy purposes as the Bulls rank 29th in offensive rating this season. Hopefully a change would bring a more fantasy-friendly system with an emphasis on developing the younger talent on the roster.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The NBA and ESPN are working together to televise a H-O-R-S-E competition with several high-profile players.

    Woj reported that the details of this competition are still being finalized, but it sounds like players will shoot in isolation, most likely in their home gyms. This would be a much needed source of entertainment for everyone who loves the NBA and, with bragging rights on the line, we would likely see some stellar performances from the NBA's best players.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Lauri Markkanen had been unhappy with the direction of the Bulls organization even before the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Markkanen was so displeased, in fact, that he went on to state that if the situation were to remain unchanged, he'd prefer to be elsewhere. The Bulls power forward was a fantasy mess in 2019-20 and some of that could be attributed to the coach and some of it, to his injuries. Still, his statements put the team in a rough spot. considering Markkanen has been widely regarded as a core piece of their future plans. The Bulls are already shaking things up though, making moves towards freshening things up in the front office. The Markkanen-Bulls relationship is a must-watch storyline, especially given his potential in fantasy hoops.

    Source: Chicago Sun-Times.

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Speaking on ESPN on Friday, Brian Windhorst said that there has been increasing pessimism about the NBA season resuming.

    Windhorst noted that the league has begun to discuss the financial ramifications of shutting the league down, and we've seen reports about the league looking for players to take paycuts as a result of the season's uncertain future. The fact that the CBA in China was set to resume and then delayed again is an ominous sign with NBA markets nowhere near the apex of COVID-19.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kobe Bryant
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will be inducted into the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Formal announcements will be made on Saturday, but it appears to be a done deal. The three aforementioned players helped define and then redefine the sport during their primes, making the 2020 class one of the most star-studded since Michael Jordan was inducted. Bryant, especially, who was often compared to his "Airness" will be a bittersweet entrant as the NBA and the world is still dealing with his sudden passing.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Bulls have begun their search for a top executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions.

    Interviews will begin next week, with Toronto GM Bobby Webster and Denver GM Arturas Karnisovas on Chicago's wish list. Ownership will have discussions with current GM Gar Forman about his place in the organization moving forward, whlie VP of Basketball Ops John Paxson is expected to move to an advisory role with the franchise. The Bulls have been lost in the wilderness for some time now, and it's mildly surprising that it's taken them this long to hunt for someone to take the power out of GarPax's collective hands.

    Source: ESPN