March 11, 2020, 2:15 am
The Spurs are one of the league’s most dependable teams, and while some fantasy GMs like that kind of consistency, others can find the Spurs pretty darn boring. It’s not that they don’t have good fantasy players; it’s just that the Spurs rarely weave too far out of the lane that everyone predicted for them. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and on Tuesday that rang true for San Antonio. What was old was new again and on this night the Spurs were a fantasy delight.
Firstly, the return of LaMarcus Aldridge from a six-game absence was great to see. It was expected that he’d be eased back into things after the layoff, but LMA had other plans. He wound up leading the team in both scoring and minutes, dropping 24 in 37, while also chipping in three steals, four blocks and a 3-pointer. Only two rebounds and a 10-for-23 shooting line left room for improvement but those are really the last things you worry about with Aldridge.
Secondly, Trey Lyles managed to stay relevant even with Aldridge going big in his return. The young Canadian kept the top-50 lines flowing with 14 points, 11 rebounds, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes, starting alongside the vertically-challenged Aldridge. The real test will come in matchups against bigger bodies and teams that don’t have floor-spacing centers, but so far so good for Lyles and LMA coexisting. Stuff like this is why we try to give players a game or two when their circumstances change. You never know who will keep on trucking.
Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, Derrick White took full advantage of his new starting gig. Dejounte Murray’s calf will keep him sidelined for an undetermined amount of time, which makes White the belle of the ball in fantasyland. He needs to be on rosters in every single league right now. White put up 14 points (5-of-11 shooting), seven rebounds, nine assists, a 3-pointer two steals and four blocks. That’s no fluke either, as he now has four career four-swat games.
White has the stat set that dreams are made of, at least if you’re a weird hardcore fantasy player who dreams about stat sets.
Per 36 minutes, White is averaging 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers. The defensive stats stand out, and they dwarf those of his positional peers.
Filtering out players who have averaged under 10 minutes per game this season, only Andre Iguodala (2.2, and generously included here as a “wing/guard” even though he’ll play a lot of PF), Dion Waiters (1.7, somehow) and David Nwaba (1.6, and also more of a combo forward than a guard) outproduce White as a non-PF/C shot-blocker. There’s some sample size issues at play there too, with Waiters only playing in three games, Iguodala only checking in for 13 appearances and Nwaba stuck on 20 after tearing his Achilles.
White has the ability to post modest point guard lines, and he’s going to be able to tide you over if you need some assists. Where the money gets made, and where he has the potential to win leagues, is on the defensive end. Assuming Dejounte Murray is able to return this season, one wonders if a hot streak from White will finally force Gregg Popovich to play the two defensive studs together. It’s curious that that hasn’t happened much with San Antonio fighting for their playoff lives, but that’s another story for another day.
And for those of you who like to shoo away per-36 numbers immediately — there are flaws and holes in that basic analysis, surely — White played 35 minutes tonight and should have no trouble repeating that moving forward.
Add(s) of the Night
Derrick White, PG, San Antonio Spurs
This is low-hanging fruit but White is only rostered in 45% of ESPN leagues and 52% of Yahoo leagues. Run, don’t walk, to see if you’re one of the lucky ones who can still add him. That the Spurs have four games in each of the next two weeks is icing on the cake.
Tomas Satoransky, PG, Chicago Bulls
A few weeks ago it was rumored that the Bulls were just waiting for the right opportunity to feed Coby White more minutes. White took matters into his own hands with his crazy scoring binge of late, Tuesday was the day that Chicago made it official, swapping White into the starting five and taking Tomas Satoransky out. Sato’s a fine player but he’s been a little lost in the shuffle this year. He’s been under-owned all year considering he is sitting with top-100/125 value (8/9-cat) on the full season, but it’s time to let go in a lot of leagues. He’s only been returning top-175/225 value over the last month — which only serves to underscore how good he was before that, really — and is well outside the top-200 in the last two weeks. It’s been fun, but most GMs can’t put up with that kind of production any longer.
Satoransky still played 29 minutes on Tuesday off the bench but turned it into five points, eight rebounds, five assists and a triple on 2-of-7 shooting. With White entrenched in the starting five and Zach LaVine likely to return and eat up tons of backcourt minutes, Satoransky looks to be in tough the rest of the way.
Devin Booker left Tuesday’s game after taking a hard fall and said he hurt his hip on the play, but also added that he expects to play in Phoenix’s next game. It helps that the Suns are off until Saturday. One wonders if Deandre Ayton is able to return from his left ankle sprain then as well.
Steph Curry sat out his second straight game because of an illness, which means his big game back has been the only action we’ve seen from him of late. It’s got to be frustrating for fantasy GMs who have hung in there without Curry til now, and he should be back on Thursday.
Draymond Green (sore left knee) missed this one as well, and the Warriors’ depth was tested by Juan Toscano-Anderson leaving just one minute in because of a left ankle sprain and then Marquese Chriss leaving (but returning) after bumping knees.
Lou Williams (sore right calf) also sat out on Tuesday night, not that the Clippers needed him to dispatch the Warriors. Odds are he’ll be back for the next one.
LeBron James (groin) was a surprise questionable this morning but played through it, because of course.
Vic Oladipo played through right knee soreness and dropped a cool 27, so maybe this stretch without Malcolm Brogdon (quad, week-to-week) can get him going.
Zach LaVine remained out with his left hamstring strain but he’s hoping to return within a week — not a super helpful timeline, but he was questionable to play on Sunday so some optimism might be warranted.
Tristan Thompson’s right corneal abrasion kept him out on Tuesday and allowed the three Cavs bigs to get their numbers. It seems like three is the magic number, and when Thompson gets back there could be tough nights for everyone. Darius Garland (groin) and Kevin Porter Jr. (concussion) are also still hurt, allowing Matthew Dellavedova to post lines that make some sense if you need PG numbers.
Luka Doncic put up another massive game despite playing with a sprained right wrist while Dorian Finney-Smith returned from a two-game absence (hip problems) with 15 points and his usual low-end numbers. The Mavs go B2B tomorrow which puts doubt over the status of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and it seems unlikely that Seth Curry (ankle sprain) and the sick bunch, Willie Cauley-Stein and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, will be back.
Eric Gordon (knee) and Ben McLemore (illness) were both back in action on Tuesday if you need triples.
Dennis Smith Jr. returned from his concussion and might siphon minutes from Elfrid Payton, though that’s unlikely after Frank Ntilikina had a big game tonight.
Deep-league GMs were happy to see Jerome Robinson back in action, even if he was invisible in 14 minutes. Hope he can find his pre-injury form quickly.
In Detroit, Bruce Brown (right ankle sprain) is questionable for Wednesday while John Henson is looking at a lengthy absence with his left ankle sprain. Is that Thon Maker’s music?
Miami had a busy day as well, with Tyler Herro (ankle sprain), out since before the All-Star break, upgraded to questionable, Kendrick Nunn out sick today but questionable tomorrow, Jae Crowder set to return from his concussion and Jimmy Butler missing practice with a toe problem.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (hip) missed his first ever game on Sunday but is expected to suit up tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Joel Embiid is questionable for Wednesday’s matchup against the lowly Pistons.
No word out of Toronto on Norman Powell yet, sadly.
Back to those Mavs real quick — who schedules a back-to-back in a three-game week? Just a brutal break for fantasy GMs, who are already contending with an ugly slate that features just six teams with four-game weeks and a matching six who play just twice. That quirk has affected fantasy stalwarts like Domantas Sabonis, Christian Wood, Kyle Lowry, De’Aaron Fox, Devin Booker and whichever Sixer you’d like with the big guns out.
Some of tonight’s absences mess with things as well, as Steph Curry got knocked down from three to two games. The same might be coming for Porzingis, who has yet to play B2B this season. Same for all the Bucks who sat on Monday night. The Cavs have a back-to-back set coming up too, so anyone relying on Kevin Love or Andre Drummond should be sweating.
It’s a really tough schedule here, especially with many leagues opening their playoffs this week. Stuff like this does happen, though, and it’s not like you haven’t had time to prepare. If you’ve been churning and burning to just get into the dance, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. There’s no sense in looking too far ahead when tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. For teams who have been comfortably in a playoff position since mid-season, however, there was ample opportunity to get out of this pickle, especially if you’re now stuck holding the bag on a handful of two-game players.
Looking ahead, things get back to normal next week, though it’ll be a downgrade for five of the six teams who play four times this week. The Celtics, Hornets, Bulls and Nuggets all play three times next week while the Nets get just two games. The Jazz are one of the lucky ones, as they’ll get four games next week.
As for those two-game teams, everyone gets bumped up to at least three next week while the Kings, Raptors and Sixers double up in going from two to four. If any of those fringe guys were dropped in the shuffle, start considering your next move. These two players are hardly comparable, but a weekend drop of a guy like Joe Harris for someone in the Harrison Barnes vein would probably serve you well. At this point, names should be out the window as we get into the portion of the calendar where simple volume can make all the difference.
While the Bulls are still dealing with various minutes restrictions and absences and weird Jim Boylen decisions, Shaq Harrison looks like a guy that will stick. He’s a decent defender — active, at least — and frankly it’s a little surprising that he wasn’t in the rotation to start the year. Over the last month Harrison has been a stunning top-80/60 player with averages of 9.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks and 0.8 threes while shooting .506 from the floor in just 22.0 mpg. He’s like the Nerlens Noel of guards, and if you squint there’s almost a bargain basement version of the must-add White here.
Harrison has at least one steal in 13 of 14 games since February began. He’s racked up at least three defensive stats in each of his last five games. He’s averaging an absurd 2.8 blocks per game this month. He, just like White, averages 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes.
On Tuesday, Harrison played a team-high 30 minutes and put up a beautiful line of eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks. Unless your team is only hurting in the scoring department, odds are you’ve been making up excuses to pick up guys other than Harrison lately. He’s not the sexiest name out there but at this point his production speaks for itself. The Shaq Harrison bandwagon is leaving the station whether you’re on it or not. It should’ve left awhile ago already.