• An exciting four-game slate on Thursday was filled with big fantasy performances. Even though the Suns have cooled off, Devin Booker hasn’t. Their playoff dreams might have to wait, but the return of Deandre Ayton has the Suns and fantasy owners chomping at the bit for December 16th. Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre and Devin Booker have all thrived playing off of each other as Rubio is posting his best fantasy season since 2016-2017 in Minnesota. Oubre’s energy and defense has him locked in as the wing in Phoenix and Booker has seen a rise in efficiency thanks to playing with actual NBA-level talent. The Suns’ momentum slowed down a bit, but they’re definitely a team to watch throughout the year, especially with one of their centerpieces re-entering the fold. Now, Deandre Ayton was a monster in his first game this year, but we’ll see if he can stretch that defensive effort over the span of 50+ games.

    Line of the Night

    Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns – 44 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals and five triples. 12-for-24 FG, 13-for-13 FT

     

    Add(s) of the Night

    Danuel House, SF, Rockets – 16 points, one rebound, three assists and three 3-pointers (5-of-11 FG, 3-for-3 FT)

    There are actually a decent amount of adds tonight, but for the rest of them, you can check out our Pickups of the Night article. Since I’m a Rockets fan I can give you a deep dive on the workings of House. He’s the Rockets’ best wing player by far which means he’s easily locked in for 30+ minutes a night. He’s hitting .444 from deep and even though the Rockets love to shoot 3s, none of their players shoot at an elite clip besides House. The defensive upside is there for House as well and he also puts the ball on the floor more than you would expect, which means if his shot isn’t falling, he’ll still be valuable to the team. This is vital, because he isn’t a one-dimensional player and gives him a higher floor to work with than other players such as J.J. Redick. If you need triples and steals, House is definitely the guy to go to.

    Drop Zone

    Aron Baynes, C, Phoenix Sus – I’m putting him here to scare you guys. I know Baynes is hurt and that Deandre Ayton is returning soon, but Baynes has been too good to drop. His production was off the charts and I’m suggesting you hold onto him for a bit if you can to see how things shake out with a healthy roster. He might be able to provide some solid peripheral stats with enough rebounding to keep his value afloat, similar to P.J. Tucker.

    Injuries

    Bogdan Bogdanovic is listed as questionable for Friday’s game with a right knee contusion.

    Marvin Bagley has been cleared for contact on Thursday and is nearing a return within the next few weeks.

    Aron Baynes missed Thursday’s game against the Pelicans with a calf injury.

    Isaiah Thomas didn’t play in Thursday’s game because of a left calf strain.

    Derrick Favors missed Thursday’s game against the Suns due to personal reasons.

    Andrew Wiggins is listed as questionable for Friday’s game with a left thumb sprain.

    Karl Anthony-Towns should play through his right knee tendinopathy on Friday.

    JaMychal Green is questionable for Friday’s game against the Bucks with a bruised tailbone.

    Tristan Thompson is expected to play in Friday’s game against the Magic.

    D’Angelo Russell should play against the Bulls on Friday.

    Gordan Dragic has been ruled out of Friday’s game against the Wizards.

    Justise Winslow has a lower back strain and is questionable for Friday’s game.

    LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing with a sore thigh and is questionable for Friday’s game.

    Marcus Smart has a bruised abdomen and is questionable for Friday’s game against the Nuggets.

    Landry Shamet is doubtful for Friday with a sprained left ankle.

    Gordon Hayward may return to practice this weekend, per Danny Ainge’s comments.

    Kyrie Irving could miss several more weeks with a shoulder injury. The Nets are redshirting this season and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Irving miss extra time.

    Mt .Zion

    There’s been a lot of chatter about Zion Williamson lately, mainly due to the fact that he hasn’t resumed basketball activities after six weeks of missing time. Obviously there will be some nervousness around the Pelicans and fantasy owners, but as a guy who owns a ton of Zion stock, if you have him, hold on and don’t panic. This doesn’t look like an issue where they’ll shut him down for the remainder of the year based on what we’ve heard and it’s pretty unprecedented for a player to miss an entire season after there have been reports of zero setbacks. David Griffin explicitly stated recently that there were no setbacks and that he may return outside the eight-week time table, which is perfectly normal in many cases.

    Now what does this mean with people who own the other Pelicans players? Nothing really. Jrue Holiday remains a strong hold, Lonzo Ball has picked up steam and his value doesn’t come from points anyways. The biggest question mark is Brandon Ingram. I’ve touted him as a sell-high guy all season and I’ll continue to do so, as long as you can get a top-20 asset for him. I think Ingram is maturing and developing into the player that the Lakers wanted him to become, but Zion will come back eventually and he’ll be the clear-cut No.1 option on offense. Ingram will still get his, but it won’t be as much as he’s getting now.

    Forever Young

    This section is dedicated to Dan Besbris. We love the old guys here, well most of them. I’ve been wrong about Paul Millsap so far, but guys like Marc Gasol (five points, six boards, five assists, four steals, two block and one triple), P.J. Tucker (18 points, 11 boards, two assists, a steal and five triples) and Al Horford (11 points, five boards, one assist, one steal, one block and three triples) all delivered tonight. They’ve been delivering all season. There’s no reason to think they can’t keep it up and guys like this help propel your team to championships, especially in roto leagues. You need some explosive upside for head-to-head, but these old timers can still get it done. There’s a strong chance that Marc Gasol was dropped in your league when he was posting value outside of the top-250 to start the season and I hope you swooped in on him.

    Then there’s a guy like Draymond Green. I’ve had many people ask about whether or not to drop Draymond Green. the Warriors are in full tank mode, but even with him missing random games and seeing a dip in all of his stats, he’s posting top-100 per-game numbers. He’s a strong hold. He might be infuriating to own, but in fantasy it’s all about the long haul. Don’t be the guy who drops Draymond Green or Marc Gasol in your league. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s the right move, you can always hit my line @HB_Nate on Twitter. I’ll make sure you’re not the Boo Boo the Fool of your league, unless you’re in mine of course.

Fantasy News

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker (sore left knee) is questionable to play on Saturday against the Suns.

    This is the first we are hearing of the knee issue for Walker but hopefully it's nothing serious. With Jaylen Brown already ruled out, Marcus Smart could potentially see upwards of 40 minutes if Walker is ruled out as well. Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker would also see more minutes while Tremont Waters was called up from the G League for this game as well.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Tremont Waters
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Tremont Waters called up for Saturday's game against the Suns.

    Waters gets the call-up ahead of Carsen Edwards in this one and might play a few minutes with Jaylen Brown ruled out and Kemba Walker questionable. He has barely played for the Celtics this year but the 2019 second round pick is averaging 20.3 points, 7.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 3.0 triples in 20 G League games.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Jaylen Brown
    SG, Boston Celtics

    Jaylen Brown (right thumb sprain) will not play on Saturday versus Phoenix.

    Brown's scan showed no issues and he was close to playing so there is a decent chance he is back on Monday against the Lakers. He missed Thursday's game in which Marcus Smart filled in admirably with 24 points, five triples, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block so fire him up on Saturday as well.

    Source: Chris Forsberg on Twitter

  • Derrick Walton Jr.
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clippers have called up Derrick Walton Jr and Terance Mann for Saturday's game against the Pelicans.

    Both players have played sporadically for the Clippers this season with Walton making 22 appearances at 9.8 minutes per and their 2019 second round pick Mann making only 12 appearances at 10.0 minutes per. This call-up makes sense with Paul George and Moe Harkless both hurt but neither player is expected to play much.

    Source: Lucas Hann on Twitter

  • Allonzo Trier
    PG, New York Knicks

    Allonzo Trier is staying positive despite reduced role.

    As an undrafted rookie last season, Trier averaged 22.8 minutes across 64 games. This season has a much different outlook as he has appeared in less than half the team's games so far at only 12.0 minutes. Interim coach Mike Miller praised Trier's professionalism this year, saying he is one the first ones in the gym every day as well as being focused and providing excitement on the bench, cheering on his teammates. Trier himself spoke about how he is trying to be the best teammate he can be, constantly trying to find holes in the defense to point out to his teammates Mitch Robinson and Marcus Morris and his team-first, continue to work hard every day attitude is a great sign that he will be ready when his number is called. He can be ignored for fantasy purposes in the meantime.

    Source: SNY

  • Jeff Teague
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    Coach Lloyd Pierce said he expects new acquisitions Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to be available on Saturday versus Pistons.

    Teague was looking like a solid drop candidate as a backup for the Wolves lately with his minutes down. That is unlikely to change with the Hawks as they are set with Kevin Huerter and Trae Young as big-minute starters but maybe you'd like to wait a game or two to make sure. Teague has maintained late-round value thanks to his early-season production mostly due to assists and free-throw percentage although his steals rate is down significantly from prior seasons. He would likely need an injury in front of him to get back on the standard league map.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic was sublime in Friday's 120-112 win over the Blazers, dropping 35 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and eight 3-pointers.

    Doncic had an answer for everything that the Blazers threw at him and even responded to some signature stretches out of Damian Lillard that put the game back in the balance. He did go 5-of-8 at the free throw line and has shot just .681 on his freebies over the last two weeks but we're hoping that will correct given the much larger sample of great shooting from earlier in the year. It's a joy to watch him play.

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Tim Hardaway Jr. was feeling it on Friday night, helping the Mavs to a home win with 29 points, a steal and five 3-pointers.

    Hardaway goes on runs of big production but overall he's still outside the top-150 on the year. His poor shooting nights can ruin your week but THJ has started to level out to a certain extent, scoring in double digits in each of the last seven after a three-game absence. That sounds good, but only two of those games feature 20-plus, while four are games of 15 points or fewer. THJ is boom or bust and it's just a matter of getting on board at the right time.

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell had a mediocre game on Friday night, dropping eight points (3-of-6 FG), six rebounds and two assists against Hassan Whiteside and the Blazers.

    Powell has a nasty habit of posting uninspiring lines like this right after he gets people back on the bandwagon. Still, he's been an easy middle-round value over the last couple of weeks thanks to an insane .783 mark from the floor and is now up to top-150 value on the full season. It's been a disappointing year overall, but Powell is at least trending in the right direction.

  • Maxi Kleber
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Maxi Kleber logged 33 minutes on Friday night and was able to post 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two 3-pointers.

    Nothing too special, but it'll certainly play. Kleber's up to top-155/140 value on the full year and has been a top-90/75 player while starting for Kristaps Porzingis (knee) over the last two weeks. Keep him locked and loaded until KP returns.