• Tuesday only had three games on the docket, which means fantasy GMs can break things down into nice, digestible chunks.

    The Hawks played the Clippers’ spare parts and took home a big win. After a one-game absence, Clint Capela (right hand soreness) was back and stayed rolling with 13 points, 18 boards and four defensive stats. That Trae Young slump appears to be over too, as he dropped 38 points on 12-for-23 shooting in his return from a one-game absence (back). John Collins was able to post 11 & 11 and saved the day with five blocks, so while that’s not exactly repeatable fantasy GMs will take whatever they can get from a player who’s been one of the more confounding to work with so far. On the other side of the ledger is Danilo Gallinari, who played through an ankle sprain and put up two points in 14 minutes.

    As for LA, things ended predictably with the team down three starters, including Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard moved into the starting lineup with Jackson emerging as the top play of the trio, posting 20 points, seven boards, eight assists, two steals, a block and two threes. We wouldn’t bet on another line like that but he’s at least got a puncher’s chance if the Clippers remain shorthanded. Kennard did set a new career-high with four steals but 13 points on 5-of-13 from the field isn’t ideal — though it’s not outright bad or anything. The 28 minutes are the most encouraging sign there, especially as Lou Williams (4-for-14 FG in 22 minutes) continues to lay bricks. Mann actually played a team-high 34 minutes and turned in a usable 10 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a triple. The usual complementary Clippers didn’t have it tonight, but the fill-ins sure did.

    The Rockets-Wizards matchup brought us a fun PG battle, with John Wall stoking the fire pregame but saying that the Wiz were dishonest in the lead up to his trade to the Rockets. He and Houston got the last laugh tonight, with Wall scoring 24 points in 24 minutes. You’ve also likely seen the clip of him and Russell Westbrook getting matching technicals for some trash talk, too, though that seems much ado about nothing. DeMarcus Cousins is putting up some vintage work with Christian Wood sidelined, notching 19 & 11 with five steals, a block and four threes again tonight. Hopefully he can keep this momentum for when Wood returns. Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon rounded things out with twin 20-point games.

    The Wizards are still missing a number of regulars so you’ll have to take their results with a grain of salt. Anthony Gill drew his first NBA start but scored just two points in 22 minutes, though eight boards and a steal are better than nothing. Jerome Robinson followed up an interesting game with four points in 30 minutes, so that settles that. Robin Lopez only had 10 points and three boards but did play 30 minutes, which is something to keep an eye on. Russell Westbrook was neither here nor there with 19-11-7 and six turnovers plus a 4-for-8 night at the free throw line. Bradley Beal keeps doing his best with 33 points, but the lasting image from tonight will be him muttering to himself on the bench as the Wizards take another L. Wonder how long before the dam breaks there…

    The nightcap featured the Jazz steamrolling the Knicks despite a 3-for-15 shooting night out of Donovan Mitchell, who you should not worry about. You might want to worry a bit more about Bojan Bogdanovic, who shot just 2-for-10 and has yet to find a rhythm this season. Mike Conley’s bounce-back campaign continued with 19-7-5 and three triples while Rudy Gobert and 18 & 19 with four swats and Royce O’Neale delivered 20 points, six rebounds, a block and two threes. Utah’s a pretty straightforward team in both fantasy and reality, and in both arenas O’Neale is severely underrated.

    The Knicks got their typical nights from Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, and tonight Austin Rivers caught fire for 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Because the New York backcourt appears to be a zero-sum game, that means Immanuel Quickley plummeted back to earth with six points on 1-for-11 shooting while Alec Burks shot 3-for-14 from the field. Elfrid Payton was no great shakes either with 4-2-2 in 21 minutes. Yuck all around, though Burks and Payton are still the players of choice. Nerlens Noel also handled himself alright with five more defensive stats in 17 minutes. Mitchell Robinson avoided foul trouble but still got eaten up, tallying 7 & 7 with two swats in 31 minutes. Could’ve been worse.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Aka the unofficial Royce O’Neale spot. We’ll leave the latest O’Neale sermon to Souriyo Dishak in this week’s edition of Working the Wire, however.

    Instead, let’s highlight David Nwaba. The full-season numbers are better than you’d expect but not exactly world-beating at just top-170/140 (8/9-cat) per game value, but Nwaba has been absolutely frying lately and is a top-70/45 guy in the last two weeks. In that time he’s averaging 10.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.7 threes in 24.4 mpg, shooting .538 from the field and .929 from the line. He’s a career .662 shooter at the stripe, so watch out for that eventual regression, but Nwaba belongs in all fantasy lineups right now.

    Drop Zone

    Elfrid Payton is almost guaranteed to pop off now that he lands in this spot, but right now the Knicks’ backcourt is just too volatile and it looks like Payton will be stuck in a secondary role (despite his starting spot) unless he turns in a massive game. He has been well outside the top-200 on the full season and tonight has the looks of a game that serves as the final straw for many fantasy GMs. He played the least of New York’s four guards and turned his 21 minutes in two four points, two rebounds and two assists on 2-of-7 shooting. Payton’s appeal is that he can usually get about halfway to a triple-double with some defensive stats mixed in, but he’s had major difficulties separating from the pack enough for it to happen.

    Injury Report

    Trae Young (back), Clint Capela (right hand soreness) and Danilo Gallinari (ankle sprain) all played on Tuesday to varying degrees of effectiveness, as we mentioned. Cam Reddish (Achilles soreness) sat this one out.

    Christian Wood missed his third straight game with a right ankle sprain. Meanwhile, Boogie Cousins was spotted laying cobblestones and loose marbles around the Rockets’ locker room…

    Raul Neto (groin) returned from a one-game absence but won’t need any attention when the Wizards get their normal rotation back.

    Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sat out for health and safety reasons while Patrick Beverley sat out for a sore right knee.

    Larry Nance Jr. (right wrist sprain) is questionable to play tomorrow, while Blake Griffin (rest) will sit out on the other side of that matchup.

    Domantas Sabonis (left knee bruise) is also questionable after knocking knees on Sunday.

    Devin Booker (hamstring) has already been ruled out, and it sounds like he has more absences in his future, unfortunately.

    Jimmy Butler (health and safety) won’t play tomorrow but there’s speculation that he’ll be back on Friday. Avery Bradley (health and safety), Tyler Herro (neck) and Goran Dragic (groin) are all questionable and the Heat might have just nine guys available tomorrow if every one of their dinged up players trends in the wrong direction.

    Pascal Siakam (left knee) is trying to avoid a three-game absence and is currently questionable to face the Bucks.

    Al Horford (personal) and George Hill (thumb sprain) are both questionable for Wednesday.

    Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell (health and safety) are all questionable to return tomorrow. Anyone looking at the Mavs runs the risk of a major headache; that’s a third of the team’s rotation and odds are they’ll be on some kind of minutes limit. Tomorrow’s playing time numbers could be infuriating for anyone besides Luka and KP.

    D’Angelo Russell (quad contusion) is questionable for Wednesday’s tilt with the Warriors, and a return will probably take Jordan McLaughlin off the DFS radar.

    Abundance of Caution

    Everyone started holding their breath for the next wave of postponements when Monday’s Spurs-Pelicans game got pushed back, but thankfully it appears that both teams will be ready to rock on Wednesday. That’s huge, and points to the league really increasing their efforts to stop any potential spread. We saw more significant action when the Grizzlies had three games postponed despite only one positive test among the player group, and it looks like that should ensure the bulk of Memphis’ schedule at a short-term cost. There’s a lesson there to be learned about the season as a whole here but anyway…

    That shift in mentality does crack the door a bit for less-lengthy COVID-related absences going forward, which is particularly important for anyone with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on rosters. If they avoid positive tests, the rest of the Clippers should be free and clear, and everyone wins. We’ve seen a few players get lucky with only single-game absences as a result of the health and safety protocols (namely Zion Williamson) but perhaps a more cautious and proactive approach can help us see more of those instead of entire teams being put on ice for over a week.

    RIP Sekou Smith

    Apologies for ending the Dish on a down note, but we should all take a second to recognize and mourn the passing of Sekou Smith. Today we lost one of the brightest and most beloved voices in the NBA community, gone far too soon. He’s not the first NBA personality to be lost to the pandemic and he won’t be the last, sadly, but tonight offers a chance to reflect on all of the stories he shared over his last two decades of covering basketball. Rest easy, Mr. Smith.

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