• The NBA scheduling gods have blessed us with a two-game night, allowing our American readers a quiet night of hoops before the family gatherings really commence over the next two days. If you’re cynical, you might actually appreciate that Wednesday has 14 games so you can keep dipping away from small talk to check on your teams and players. Thursday is all on you though.

    Despite just two games to digest, and one that featured the predictable exploits of the championship-hopeful Clippers, there’s still plenty to cover.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Jerami Grant, F, Denver Nuggets

    Look who decided to finally show up this season.

    Grant came through with a team-high, and season-high, 20 points on Tuesday night, adding four rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer in 28 minutes against the Wiz. It’s been a really rough fantasy start to his Denver career, as Paul Millsap has stayed healthy and effective. Grant, who some were aggressively forecasting to take on the lion’s share of power forward minutes, is only clocking in at 21.9 mpg.

    All of his numbers are down accordingly, but it’s Grant’s plummeting block rate that’s been the biggest cause for concern. He’s averaged at least 1.0 per game in every season of his career but is down at just 0.6 this season, and if that can rebound then we’ll really have something to work with again.

    It’s hard to get really excited about a top-275 guy in a clear backup role, but two-game nights don’t give us a lot to work with now, do they?

    As always, you can head over to our Pickups of the Night coverage in the Gametime Premium package for a more complete rundown of the festivities.

    Drop Zone

    The nebulous Mavs guys certainly fit, though Delon Wright is still producing just enough to avoid the drop in 12-team leagues even if he’s turning your hair gray. If you’re in a 10-teamer you can probably play the wire game a little more aggressively.

    Gary Harris sadly fits into this neighborhood as well, as he’s been a major disappointment even with the Nuggets turning Malik Beasley and/or Torrey Craig into a nightly DNP. The upside remains but it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, and he doesn’t even have injuries to blame this time around.

    As for the other half of that Nuggets-Wizards tilt, we’ll get into it shortly.

    Injury Report

    We’ve got some big names to run through ahead of an extremely busy night, though not all fantasy managers are going to be happy about the news.

    Could this be the start of Kevin Love’s attendance troubles? He’s smashed ADP so far but the missed games would always be the limiting factor. He’s questionable for Wednesday with more back problems.

    Khris Middleton says he’ll be making his return from a right thigh contusion, which should be a nice boost for the Bucks and fantasy players alike. The Donte DiVincenzo experience might be over.

    Draymond Green is questionable with right heel soreness, and he figures to be a headache all year long with the Dubs firmly planted in the basement.

    The Pelicans got some good news on the injury front. While Derrick Favors and Josh Hart remain questionable, Lonzo Ball is no longer under the weather and will play on Wednesday.

    That illness theme is common around the league, as Jimmy Butler and James Johnson also got upgraded and cleared, though you only care about one guy there.

    The same can’t be said for Clint Capela, who is questionable. That’s brutal news considering the Rockets are already working with a two-game week.

    R.J. Barrett is also sick and also questionable for a trip to his native Canada.

    Elsewhere in South Beach, Justise Winslow looks ready to return from his concussion with a probable tag. He’s only played five games this year thanks to several injuries.

    Serge Ibaka is likely to go through a full practice before the Raptors clear him, and he was unable to make that happen today. He’s doubtful.

    The always-thorough Hawks have DeAndre’ Bembry questionable and Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and Trae Young as probable. At least those courtesy ‘probable’ tags give us blurbs to write.

    Even better, Kevin Huerter’s shoulder re-eval went well and he’s expected back “sooner rather than later,” whatever that means. He was just getting going before the latest injury so keep an eye on him. There’s must-add potential there.

    Aron Baynes is still getting ruled out a day ahead of time, which isn’t great, but Ricky Rubio (back spasms) is probable.

    The Magic curiously upgraded Aaron Gordon to doubtful but bumped him back down to out in a couple of hours, though it does seem like his right ankle sprain is healing at a reasonable rate.

    Fail Fast Mavs

    To borrow from another industry, a “fail fast” system is one where failures show themselves immediately in a process. They’re meant to weed out bad ideas quickly so managers (fantasy and reality), among others, can turn to new approaches rather than spend time sinking resources into flawed processes. In essence, something designed in a “fail fast” spirit will quickly reveal ways of how not to accomplish the thing we’re trying to accomplish.

    In the fantasy space, it’s pretty clear what works and what doesn’t. This is a pure numbers game, after all. Even so, most fantasy managers are hardwired to gut it out. It’s not easy to admit that you misfired on some of your supposed sleepers or value picks, especially so soon. As a group, we’re quick to find excuses to wipe away the bad times.

    “Well, if you don’t count the first nine games…”

    “He was just shaking off the rust, he’ll be back to normal…”

    “That early injury set him way back…”

    Now it’s not wrong in every case, but it’s wrong enough to have a major effect on plenty of fantasy seasons. Everyone probably has a story about hanging onto that 10th round pick for too long, costing them a chance to snag an eventual top-75 guy off the wire. Which brings us to the Dallas Mavericks!

    The Mavs have a few players who were expected to pop on the late-round radar at least (depending on your league size), and all are massively underperforming to this point, none moreso than Delon Wright and Dwight Powell.

    Wright was touted as the team’s starting point guard, and that lasted less than a month. His ability to rack up all kinds of fun stats was on full display with the Grizzlies last season, and while those numbers would never be repeatable on a functional team he was expected to be a solid middle-round choice. So far it’s been a slog to just top-150/135 value, and the way in which Wright is letting people down is the most frustrating part.

    Wright has more games with five or fewer points than he does games with 10-plus. He’s only exceeded 24 mpg five times all year. He has four multi-steal games and is working on two straight without either a steal or a block. The numbers are there in the aggregate, kind of: 7.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 0.5 threes. Wright’s probably killing H2H players that were leaning on him as a second or third point guard.

    Powell entered the season hurt, which some interpreted as a red flag and others viewed as a buy-low opportunity. It also hasn’t helped that Kristaps Porzingis has looked great, and has yet to really bask in the load management, but any way you look at it Powell has been a massive disappointment. Powell is returning only top-220 value to this point, and despite a current career-high in minutes nearly all of his counting stats are down. He can leapfrog a lot of players in the rankings by improving his .538 free throw shooting — he’s a career .743 guy — but the rebounds, scoring and blocks have fallen in unexpected ways.

    You can certainly keep hanging on here (that’s still the play with Wright) but it’s worth remembering that sometimes, the end result reveals itself quickly. It’s okay to cut the cord fast, especially because in fantasy basketball, unlike business, you’re not necessarily starting over from square one. There are a couple reasons to talk yourself into Powell, but at some point the early returns are clearly pointing you in a different, more viable direction. It’s okay to admit defeat so long as you’re setting yourself on another path to victory.

    One-Tier Wizards

    The Wizards are a great, if surprising, environment where you’d expect fantasy success. They have one star guard and a lot of complementary pieces but are somehow second in offensive rating. Even better, they give it all right back with the third-worst defensive rating in the league. Their games are high-scoring and the offense is rolling right along without Bradley Beal needing to put up Hardenesque numbers. And yet, outside of Beal and Thomas Bryant, the Wizards have just two other players on the map as standard-league fantasy plays, and they’re not really the guys you’d expect: backup center Mortiz Wagner (93/95) and backup forward Davis Bertans (98/74).

    Bertans is basically riding elite 3-point output (3.3 per game, and that tracks with three more on Tuesday night) with passable production everywhere else, while Wagner is deriving most of his value from a .640 mark from the field, 0.7 blocks and 5.5 rebounds per game, all in just 19.3 minutes a night.

    You’d think that a team with an offense this strong could get more than two starters into fantasy relevance. Not even the point guards are in the mix.

    Isaiah Thomas has been very up and down since moving into the starting five, and having to share more of his time with Beal is probably not helping his ability to score or drop dimes. He’s just not packing enough punch to be in 12-team lineups these days, and the issue is that he can probably outplay Ish Smith by enough to discourage another lineup change. IT returned to Denver and dropped an immense 1-for-8 dud, scoring three points in 20 minutes.

    Rookie Rui Hachimura got hyped after a strong Summer League and preseason but the growing pains are there, as his night-to-night production has predictably wavered. He’s only on the fringe of 12-team relevance because he’s shooting .488 from the floor, otherwise he has the same popcorn stat set that worried us in the offseason. Tonight he didn’t do much to change that impression, scoring seven points on 3-of-10 from the field to go with four boards, a steal and a 3-pointer.

    Troy Brown was supposed to be the under-the-radar asset but, like Thomas, hasn’t really found his footing with the starters yet. He was the best of the bench on Tuesday with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 23 minutes, but his current top-175 standing belies what he’s truly capable of. The problem there is that Bertans has been good enough to prevent Brown from really taking off, and that doesn’t look like it’ll change barring a nasty shooting slump.

    There’s definitely room to improve and the Wizards’ effectiveness probably remains enough of a secret that people aren’t sniffing around the underperformers yet, but it appears that this rising tide has not floated every boat just yet.

Fantasy News

  • Dennis Schroder
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder knocked in four threes on Saturday on his way to scoring 22 points with five rebounds and four assists.

    Schroder is just outside the top-120 on the season but is trending up over the past two weeks, averaging 21.0 points, 1.9 assists and 2.4 threes on .509 shooting from the floor. That's good for top-50 value over that stretch. Schroder's shooting will cool down and he will probably settle in around the top-100, but he is a strong hold in standard leagues and has upside if Chris Paul is traded or rests later in the season.

  • Will Barton
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    Will Barton was his old reliable, thrilling self on Saturday as he posted 18 points (7-of-14 shooting) with six rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer and two steals.

    Barton has been the Nuggets' pillar of stability when it comes to the arena of fantasy basketball. He's as steady as they come and is locked in to flirt with top-50 value while sporting a top-75 floor all season long.

  • Steven Adams
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Steven Adams double-doubled with 18 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes on Saturday.

    Adams is on a roll over his past seven games, averaging 15.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting .683 from the field. That's good for top-20 value over that stretch. Owners should try to sell high on Adams as the block numbers are unsustainable and his ROS outlook is murky with the possibility of being traded. Its hard to imagine him going to a better situation than OKC.

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Nikola Jokic was fantastic in Saturday's 110-102 win over the Thunder, triple-doubling for 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 14 rebounds, 12 assists, three treys and one steal.

    Jokic is trending up and fast. His buy-low window was shut with extreme prejudice with this favorable-matchup performance. He's ramping up closer to the top-15 zone of last season with each passing game.

  • Jerami Grant
    SF, Denver Nuggets

    Jerami Grant started for Paul Millsap (right quadriceps strain) on Saturday and delivered as expected with 13 points (4-of-8 shooting), four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 32 minutes.

    It was just a matter of time until this scenario emerged and now here we are. Grant is a must-grab guy, while Millsap is sidelined. He's able to give your fantasy team a dazzling 1-1-1 production with other solid counting stats on a nightly basis.

  • Abdel Nader
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Abdel Nader started on Saturday and scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with two assists and one three in 26 minutes.

    Nader is coming off of a 15 point and five threes performance on Wednesday and can be a streamer for threes while Terrence Ferguson is out of the lineup. Nader doesn't have much appeal though and there are probably better streaming options in standard-leagues.

  • Ben McLemore
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Ben McLemore scored 13 points with three steals and one 3-pointer in a start on Saturday.

    McLemore started for Russell Westbrook (rest) but was unable to do much with the opportunity. McLemore has been hot lately but will probably regress soon, especially when Eric Gordon returns. He can continue to be started until he goes cold, then he will return to being a 3-point streamer only.

  • Austin Rivers
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Austin Rivers scored 14 points with five assists in 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday.

    Russell Westbrook (rest) sat out of this one opening more ball handling opportunities for Rivers. Rivers can be used as a streamer when Harden or Westbrook are out, but he should return to the waiver wire when the Rockets are at full strength.

  • Chris Clemons
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Chris Clemons shot 5-of-11 from deep on his way to scoring 17 points in 16 minutes on Saturday.

    Clemons isn't afraid to shoot when given the minutes and added two steals and one block in this game. Clemons can be left on waiver wires and is too unpredictable to deploy as a streamer.

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Markieff Morris just missed a double-double on Saturday with 15 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench.

    The Pistons needed scoring badly with Andre Drummond (eye) out and Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) exiting early. Morris should see a boost if Griffin misses time, but he is outside the top-150 on the season and has limited upside. He can be left on waiver wires.