January 3, 2020, 12:52 pm
The busiest NBA night of the 2020’s was chock full of interesting tidbits. We saw fantastic performances from young guys like Luka Doncic and De’Aaron Fox who could very well make this decade theirs. We saw glimpses of greatness from another young guy in Michael Porter Jr., who is starting to make an NBA name for himself after nearly two years of battling injuries. We even saw a callback to the type of games we used to see before the NBA changed through the 2010’s, with a 84-76 clunker between two of the NBA’s best: the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors. With so many story lines to hit on we have little time to lose, so let’s get to it!
Adds of the Night
Michael Porter Jr,, F, Denver Nuggets
I’m going to try to not get too swept away by MPJ mania, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t impressed by what I saw from him on Thursday. The scoring touch is as silky as advertised and he may have himself a role to play for this team as he continues to progress through his rookie season. I think he’s more of a stash than anything, but it is worth noting that Michael Beasley, who has been all over the trade rumor mill this season, got a DNP-CD in this one. He’s Denver’s main scorer off the bench, and with him out of the way, that mantle could very well go to Porter Jr
Shabazz Napier G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Napier is finally healthy, and it’s coming at a time where virtually nobody else around him is. He’s got runway to do as much as he wants on offense as long as all of these Wolves are out and is worth a stream until they start coming back. Jeff Teague (knee) is a name in particular to watch out for. He came into today’s game as doubtful and is likely to be sidelined a little while longer than some of these other Wolves. Napier could hold onto low-end value should Teague specifically miss a lot of time.
Miles Bridges, F, Charlotte Hornets
This might have been the nail in the coffin for me personally when it comes to Miles Bridges. A Bridge too far if you will. He was about as bad a fantasy play as anyone tonight, and coming against this Cleveland Cavaliers team that is just unacceptable. He’s now sitting around the top-160 in 9-cat leagues on the season, and could be one of the worst returns on investment for drafted guys who haven’t suffered some catastrophic injury. For every game he looks to be turning a corner, he has another one like this one where he turns right back.
Gary Harris (left shin contusion) was able to return to the starting lineup after a two-game absence.
Malcolm Brogdon (back) returned to the sidelines, allowing Aaron Holiday to continue his torrid pace as a starter.
D’Angelo Russell (right shoulder) and Willie Cauley-Stein (illness) did not suit up against the Timberwolves
The Timberwolves were once again down several bodies in this game. Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) continued to sit out, Andrew Wiggins (illness) and Treveon Graham (illness) missed their fourth and third games in a row respectively, and Jeff Teague (knee) missed his second game in a row coming in on a doubtful tag.
Caris LeVert (right thumb) did not play, but could be back for the Nets’ next game this Saturday.
Kristaps Porzingis (knee) did not suit up for this one and is being considered unlikely for his next game on Saturday.
Luka Doncic (right thigh) was able to suit up without any limitations.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) is now without a timetable to return.
Blake Griffin (knee) was ruled out for his Clippers reunion. He was listed as doubtful heading into this matchup.
Paul George left Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury and did not return. There are no updates regarding the severity of the injury, and it is possible he didn’t return because of the substantial lead the Clippers had over the Pistons.
Trae Young (ankle) is expected to make his return against the Celtics on Friday after missing his last two games.
Jabari Parker (right shoulder) is considered probable for Friday after missing his last three games.
Kemba Walker seems to have caught the bug going around the Celtics’ locker room. He is listed as questionable for Friday. Jaylen Brown (illness) meanwhile is listed as probable.
Bradley Beal (leg) is listed as questionable for Friday.
Aaron Gordon (Achillies) is considered questionable for Friday’s game against the Heat
Joel Embiid (knee) is expected to suit up for Friday’s game against the Rockets
Ricky Rubio (hip) is expected to play Friday after having to leave Wednesday’s game with the injury.
Bend won’t Blake
Blake Griffin missed his 17th game of the year on Wednesday, and talks about whether he could soon be shut down for the year rage among fans, media and apparently also Pistons’ owner Tom Gores. Speaking with The Detroit News reporter Rod Beard, Gores stated that the team wasn’t considering shutting down Blake Griffin…yet, stating “No, we’re not that far, and we’re just gonna assess it in the next week or so. He’s a trooper.”
Now look, I don’t like extrapolating information that isn’t explicitly there, but whenever a team owner has to get publicly involved in a discussion regarding something involving the team, be it a coaching change, trades or in this case a chronic injury to a player, that generally means that damn near everyone in the organization has been talking about it themselves. We all know that Griffin has been far from healthy this year, and it seems like a guaranteed likelihood that his year could end earlier than others.
So for now, just zone in on that line “we’re gonna assess it in a week or so” as we await the next update on his status.
Devonte’ Down in the Dumps
There is not a lot to keep track of when it comes to the 2019-2020 Charlotte Hornets, they’re are predictably a bottom feeding team despite occasional competitive play from their young core. Among that core has been fantasy waiver add of the year contender: Devonte’ Graham, who finds himself mired in a truly horrific shooting slump that extended in Thursday’s win over the Cavs. Over the last month, Graham is shooting 33 percent on 17.5 shot attempts per game. In case you needed confirmation on this, that’s the most harmful FG shooting number in all of fantasy hoops during that stretch. No doubt he’s been hurting your fantasy team’s percentages during this time, but what role does this shooting slump play in his real life team’s success? Taking a look at his splits between wins and losses, the obvious shined through:
Wins MIN FG% 3P% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 35.6 .440 (7.0 / 15.9) .476 (4.5 / 9.5) 22.0 4.6 7.3 0.9 0.3 2.6 Losses MIN FG% 3P% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 34.3 .340 (5.4 / 15.9) .342 (3.3 / 9.5) 17.1 3.5 7.9 0.8 0.3 3.2
Though it’s not surprising to see he’s a worse shooter in the games the Hornets lose compared to the ones they win, it is quite staggering to see how definitive it is. He’s taking the exact amount of shots from the field, and from 3-point land, in both wins and losses. The only major difference in these stat lines is how many shots and 3-pointers he hits. Even the other statistical categories are all relatively the same whether it is a win or a loss. The one main difference is how many of his shots go down. So what does it all mean? Should the Hornets try and limit Graham’s volume so that he’s not clunking all of these possessions? That sort of worked tonight, seeing how the Hornets won with Graham only taking eight shots. But if he’s not taking all of these shots, does that sap him of the appeal that has made him so fun to watch this season? What would you prefer from a fantasy perspective? Would you rather Graham have better efficiency or would you prefer him to keep getting you high 3-point numbers? Coach James Borrego is probably asking himself similar questions as he continues to navigate this season with his newfound upstart guard.