• Oh hey!

    My name is Aaron Bruski. You might remember me from such films as The Last Notary Public and Fart Sound 5: Still Flatuating.

    So how ya been? The GREAT Riaz Dhanani needed a night off so I’m filling in to do this thing that I love to do and as head of this fine organization I rarely get time to do – so let’s do this!

    Editor’s Note: Hoop Ball and RotoTracker have partnered up to give our podcast listeners and premium subscribers discounts on the best DFS tracking service in the industry. You want to win and this is what we use and what the pros use. Click here to find out more.

    BOSTON BURNING

    The Celtics are the No. 3 seed in the East and sitting at 26-18 and it seems like the sky is falling but that’s what happens when expectations come into play. They lost to a Wizards squad that wore all black to the Celtics’ funeral and undoubtedly that added to the sting, as evidenced by Marcus Smart’s total meltdown when he more or less tried to bypass Brad Stevens and sub himself into the game.  It was great entertainment.

    The Celtics continue to talk about their defensive shortcomings and they have the same personnel as last season with the addition of Al Horford – so it’s interesting stuff. They’re No. 22 in defensive rating this season and they were No. 5 last year. I haven’t done enough film review to truly know the answer there but that’s the ballgame for them if they want to make things interesting in the East.

    As for the game itself, when Smart wasn’t getting into trouble with teammates and coaches he was scoring 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting with five boards, two threes and four steals in 33 minutes. He’s a late-round value for however long Avery Bradley (Achilles) is out and it really is that simple. Jae Crowder scored 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with three treys, six rebounds, three assists and one steal as he continues to roll along at a top 40-50 pace.

    Isaiah Thomas went for 25 & 13 as he continues to make Sacramento people that carried Pete D’Alessandro’s water look like carnies in need of another hit from the crack pipe, and Al Horford scored 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with just two boards, four assists and one block in a typically weird output.

    Amir Johnson played just four minutes to remind folks that he can’t really be trusted even in 14-team leagues.  The other player you wouldn’t want catching you in a trust fall, Kelly Olynyk — he managed just six points, three boards and one block in his 22 minutes. You know the drill with Canadian Larry Bird; deep leagues are best and nobody knows if he’ll ever crack the seal.

    THE UNDERTAKERS

    The Wizards walked the walk after they talked the talk and make no mistake it’s a big win for this team. They’ve bounced back from a terrible start to the season and by surging back to 25-20 this season they’ve taken a lot of pressure off themselves and their coach.  Now they’re building a cushion if injuries strike.

    And that’s a tremendous concern with this squad. They’re not deep at all and their healthiest players are Markieff Morris and 32-year old Marcin Gortat. John Wall has knee issues, Bradley Beal has whole body issues and even Otto Porter continues to shake off the effects of a hip injury.

    For now, though, they’re rolling and as long as they’re in the playoff hunt fantasy owners should be happy that shutdown talk will be kept to a minimum. Beal will always be at the top of the injury discussion in Washington and after his 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting, five assists, two steals and two threes in a statement game, it doesn’t get much better than this to try and offload the asset.

    Wall scored 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one block and one three as his profitable season continues. As the No. 9 and 14 player in 8- and 9-cat leagues respectively he’s going to be a common component of many championship squads if he can stay healthy, and as a side note it will help if his teammates stay healthy and keep defensive attention off of him.

    Porter’s six points, four boards and two treys are definitely concerning because of the hip issues, which were visible to beat writers at the game. Perhaps as a function of the attention Beal gets, but also because he is a young and surging player, his top 20-35 value (9/8 cat) seems to have more appeal in the marketplace. I have no hard data for that but it’s just an anecdotal observation, and it’s not the craziest idea to cash in the chips for a top-50 player whose arrow is pointing up. I don’t know if I’d do this deal because it’s pretty fair on both sides but LaMarcus Aldridge comes to mind.

    Morris has been surging lately and had another solid outing with 19 points, 11 boards, four assists, two blocks, one three and 6-of-7 freebies. He has been a top-50 player over the last month with averages of 49.5 percent from the field and 83.7 percent from the line – and both of those figures are begging for regression.

    His top 75-80 value on the season is mostly fair but 81 percent foul shooting would mark a career high by two percentage points and this is a fact-heavy way of telling you guys that profit can be made in a sell-high deal. Anything in the top-75 should be fair game.

    NEXT MAN UP

    The Bulls beat the Magic last night amidst their most recent point guard shuffle and like the Wizards every win they get is another step away from the dismantling. Namely, we’re talking about shutdowns and tanking. For the Bulls there’s even more at play. Gar Forman and John Paxson are in the cross hairs for any number of bad decisions and Fred Hoiberg has seemingly been put in a no-win position while also contributing to the struggles as a lot of rookie coaches would.

    Add in some Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams and a roster with both mileage and depth issues – not to mention a complete lack of shooting – and you get a combustible mix. The Carter-Williams experience might have actually ended with the DNP-CD he got last night, and some reporting after the game suggested he would be open to a move out of town. He’ll have no say in that and he shouldn’t be surprised as he has looked mostly terrible on the floor.

    So that leaves Jerian Grant as the starter going forward and he received 20 minutes of action, scoring seven points on 1-of-4 shooting (all threes) with three rebounds and three turnovers in the process. Surely he’ll get more comfortable but he’ll be spotting up off the ball and watching Jimmy Butler (20 points, eight boards, four assists, three steals) and Dwyane Wade (21 points, seven boards, three assists, seven steals, one block, one three, 9-of-23 FGs) do all the work.

    If you’re adding Grant it’s for what I’d estimate as a 25 percent chance he hits late-round value in 12-team formats, at least in the near future. The big question with this team is what happens at the trade deadline, if anything, and who might step into some value if players start resting up for next season.

    Even if the Bulls hang around and make the playoffs it’s probable that Wade isn’t going to push through March and April at the detriment of his future, and both Butler and Taj Gibson (seven points, six rebounds, one steal, one block) have a ton of Thibs minutes that beg the question of whether or not they should hang back a bit.

    Cristiano Felicio (12 points, 10 boards, 21 minutes) isn’t a must-stash player at this time and neither is Nikola Mirotic (four points, three rebounds, one steal, one block, 1-of-5 FGs) for that matter. In the case of Mirotic he simply can’t get any traction with this squad and the same thing that would spring a guy like Felicio loose is the same thing that will spring him loose – total tankage.

    No, I’m not giving Doug McDermott (12 points, one rebound, four threes, 17 minutes) much attention in this scenario, but a guy I have preemptively stashed in 14-team leagues is Denzel Valentine (DNP-CD). He brings a solid stat set from college into the NBA, this might be as healthy as he ever gets, he dropped in the draft due to those injury concerns, and his development is something the organization can get behind.

    GET INTO POSITION

    The Magic started off the season as overachievers and have settled back into a more reasonable range at 18-29 with nothing other than Elfrid Payton’s recent surge to hang their hats on. Maybe that’s a little harsh since I’ve generally been good with the job that Frank Vogel is doing, but I’m less than impressed with the way Aaron Gordon has been handled and I’m not entirely sure who to peg that on.

    The easiest thing to do would be to trade a big man (or not trade for one or sign one) when you don’t need to and the result has been Gordon pretending like he’s a perimeter player.

    Yes, he has improved and you can see that but it’s a severe misappropriation of his talents and the defense doesn’t care if he can execute a double-crossover into a stepback jumper. Knock yourself out. It just steals from the real threat he poses and that’s on the backside of the pick-and-roll as a rim runner, as a cutter and yes as a spot-up shooter when he spaces the floor.

    He or Jeff Green (13 points, seven rebounds, one steal, 3-of-11 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs) started at shooting guard, depending on what you believe, and sure it was because the Bulls are doing their own version of the big backcourt but it’s a mess.

    Gordon finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, six boards, two assists and one three in his 36 minutes. It’s not his worst performance but it’s the type of line we’ve seen as he has moved further and further away from the hoop.  And that almost always triggers a loss of fantasy value.

    Gordon has doubled his 3-point attempts this season (1.8 to 3.6) and he has barely improved, jumping up from 29.6 to 30.3 percent. His dip in field goal percentage from last season to this season is 47.3 to 43.9 percent.

    It’s no surprise that his confidence at the foul line has dipped as he sees more shots clank off the rim and gets fewer attempts because he’s further away from the contact zones. Gordon is hitting just 61.7 percent from the line this season compared to 66.8 percent last year on 0.2 less attempts per game, despite a four minute per game increase in playing time.

    His rebounds are down (6.5 to 4.7) and well as his blocks (0.7 to 0.4). Again, there is more fantasy value to be had as players play closer to the rim.

    Either Gordon turns into the next Giannis Antetokounmpo or he’s missing out on valuable development as an interior presence. With less natural skill and feel for the game than Alphabet, he could be the most recent casualty of the movement to make big men into guards.

    Serge Ibaka had another game to try and prove me wrong about his fantasy value, scoring 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks and three treys. With top 35-40 value on the season so far and a long way to go, he’s still barely beating his ADP and he has a long way to go before he falls to my top-75 B150 rating.

    His numbers have shifted the ways that I expected, but he hasn’t experienced any slippage relating to performance on the floor. If he a) can’t keep up the current pace because b) he deals with injuries or c) gets ready to get paid, my prediction is still easily in play. And that’s good for business I suppose…

    As for Payton’s surge it’s been mostly cosmetic as his fantasy value hasn’t truly entered anything but the late-end of the middle rounds. He scored 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and eight turnovers last night with no money counters, and this isn’t the greatest game to do this with but I’m all about selling high at this time.

    Once GM Rob Hennigan’s hold on this squad is loosened, anything goes with the way Payton is deployed. The win-loss record will have a lot to do with that and at 5.5 games back of eighth place – and four teams to jump – that moment might hit right around the trade deadline. And what better time to try and move a young, enigmatic reality asset before that value ceases to exist.

    No, you’re not picking up Jeff Green.

    MISS ZERO BEATS

    The Spurs were just so Spursy last night with their 108-106 road win in Toronto despite being down one Kawhi Leonard (hand). His hand was swollen over the weekend and then a missed game turned into two and owners should take solace in Pop’s strong comments that this is still precautionary after the game. For what it’s worth I believe that to be true.

    David Lee scored 11 points with five boards and two assists in 21 minutes to more or less fit in with his late-round valuation post-Pau Gasol injury.  Dewayne Dedmon didn’t pay owners off with seven points, four boards, two assists and no steals or blocks in his 19 minutes. I think he’ll have value in 14-16 team leagues but that’s about it.

    Dejounte Murray (11 points, three boards, two assists, one block, 4-of-7 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs, 23 minutes) has received a lot of attention lately and for good reason, but he’s still just a low-end play in fantasy leagues until Tony Parker (foot) returns as soon as later this week.

    Patty Mills is the better fantasy bet while Parker is out and he put up 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting with two treys, three assists and three steals in 30 minutes.  He’s just a late-round guy under those circumstances.

    Kyle Anderson started for Leonard and scored eight points on 2-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists and a block in 32 minutes, and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting with seven boards, two assists and one steal. LMA has fallen off a bit the last two weeks but his month-long value is still in the top 20-30 range. With Gasol out and Aldridge profiling as a guy that might take a while to get going, this is a perfect buy low moment for him.

    Danny Green did Danny Green stuff with four points on 2-of-12 shooting (0-for-8 3PTs), seven boards, two assists, one steal and a season-high four blocks. He’s a late-round value for the foreseeable future and must-own player in 12-team leagues.

    BEBE A MUST-OWN PLAYER FOR MONTHS NOW

    The Raptors were without DeMar DeRozan and that was enough to throw things off for them, which is to be expected as he’s a massive cog, but the opposing Spurs showed their class by being able to withstand their loss of Kawhi Leonard.

    Norman Powell drew the start and scored 16 points on 8-of-16 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 39 minutes. The Raps have to find a way to get him more minutes but for fantasy owners he’s a deep league asset only.

    Kyle Lowry had a boost in scoring with 30 points but as is the case when heavy usage guys go out Lowry’s efficiency hit the skids at 9-of-23 from the field. He was saved by 11-of-12 hits from the foul line to go with a pedestrian five boards, two assists, one block and one lonely triple. Nevertheless, he’s still holding strong as the No. 9 and 12 fantasy play on the season in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively.

    As for selling Lowry high? It’s absolutely an option as he’s shooting an unsustainable 47 percent from the field and career-high 42.9 percent from the 3-point line. He’s typically a 38 percent shooter from distance and 42 percent shooter from the field. He also has a history of running out of gas late. This is an easy by-the-book sell high call and anybody in the top 15-20 (9/8 cat) is worth examining.

    Jared Sullinger started and logged 12 minutes in a two-rebound, one-steal night. He missed all four of his shots and Dwane Casey is high if he thinks he can play both Sully and Jonas Valanciunas together, let alone start them. And of course I mean high on life…

    DeMarre Carroll missed all six of his shots and finished with two rebounds, four assists and one steal over 15 minutes. These are the games that make you wonder how his knee is doing but Carroll has made me look bad a few times this year.  I’m not going to bite unless this becomes much more common, and especially not on a night with some outlier characteristics.

    Valanciunas went for nine and 13 with one steal and two blocks as his tepid top-75 season moseys along, while Lucas Nogueira still can’t buy a must-own recommendation out of big box sites after six points, 10 boards, one steal and two blocks in 26 minutes. He’s a top 75-100 value (9/8 cat) after 36 games into the season in just 21 mpg. Maybe when he’s rolling in top-40 value after climbing to 25 mpg they’ll wake up. Their loss is your gain.

    Terrence Ross scored 21 points and he’s always good for a scoring explosion every once in a while. He’s bringing back top 95-125 (9/8 cat) value on the year and in 9-cat leagues that’s too hard to pass up. In 8-cat leagues it’s easy to walk away from due to the lack of upside. Patrick Patterson (knee) played 21 minutes and scored 12 points with four rebounds and two threes. If he can stay healthy this is probably a better than average night for him.

    WELCOME BACK

    Blake Griffin made his return after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.  Along with his rust, the lack of perimeter defense for the Clippers got them beat as the Sixers came back from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to win. Griffin hit just 3-of-11 shots and 6-of-10 freebies for 12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal and six turnovers.

    Yes, he’ll be a lot better than this and yes he’ll start to take over this squad as he gets healthy. But as we’ve discussed in various places around here the Clippers’ schedule is not helpful over the next month and a half as they have 3-of-5 weeks with the disadvantage of only three games.

    They do have a three-game week coming off the All Star break and a five-game week in the fantasy playoffs, but in the short-term I’m not sure owners should bet their house on early round returns. That’s more of a 50/50 proposition I think.

    Elsewhere it was typical Clippers as J.J. Redick got loose for 22 points and five treys, Austin Rivers battled through an ankle injury to score 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four treys, two boards, three assists and a steal, and Raymond Felton was the odd man out with two points, one board, three assists and one steal in 17 minutes. Part of being killed on the perimeter might have contributed to Felton’s low minute totals, and there are some sore owners that made some massive FAAB bids over the weekend.

    Jamal Crawford’s 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six treys, two assists and one steal probably had something to do with it too, and his big minute total was also why the Clippers got crushed by the Philly guards. Chicken, meet egg.

    Mo Speights (two points, five boards, 12 minutes) might join Crawford as sub-late round value guys now that Griffin is back, while I still have Rivers and Felton pegged as must-own players in 12-team formats after tonight. I had Rivers a shade below Felton due to his stat-set and they’ll probably see-saw in terms of production. Crawford is much too inconsistent to be on their level.

    THE FIRST NOEL SIGHTING

    As mentioned the Philly guards T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez combined for 18 points and 17 assists but the real story out of Philly was Nerlens Noel. I’ve had to beat you guys with a stick to hang on to Noel and he finally paid me off last night. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting (3-of-3 FTs, eight boards, five assists, two steals and three blocks over 29 minutes as the starter and it’s going to get harder and harder for Brett Brown and the Sixers to conjure reasons to keep him off the court.

    Jahlil Okafor missed the game because of soreness in the same right knee that caused him problems last season and he’s questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. Joel Embiid will miss the game with his not-an-injury left knee issue (hyperextension) from over the weekend.

    To be clear I don’t trust anything Philly says about injuries and it didn’t look great. Embiid looks and talks like a guy that won’t miss time but that’s also what he said right after he injured himself. Regardless, Noel showed you why it’s ridiculous to consider dropping him and hopefully you guys made out like bandits there.

    Robert Covington had a big night with 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting (including two threes), eight boards, three steals and two blocks. He was on the cover of our money counting stat section of the draft guide for a reason and he has clawed up to top-75 returns now that he’s up to 37 percent shooting on the year. Imagine if he can hit 38 … or 39 … or 40!

    McConnell went for nine and 10 with no money counters but he’s still a hold as a late-round value, but call this a minor win for Rodriguez (nine points, three boards, seven assists, one three, 20 minutes) in the position battle. The Sixers won and they love McConnell so it’s not a loss for him in that regard.

    Dario Saric went for 16 & 8 with two assists, one steal, one block and 8-of-9 makes from the stripe. He’s ranked outside of the top-200 on the season and it’s because he’s hitting just 37 percent of his shots. If he could ever find a way to get easy looks on the inside it would be a game-changer for his value. I tried to drop him in my rankings late in the preseason and failed miserably having him just outside of the top-50.

    Richaun Holmes scored 18 points with three boards, one block and a three in his 19 minutes to remind folks that he’s a better player than Okafor. Bryan Colangelo, reality is calling on Line 1. Cut your losses and make the deal while you still have one to make.

    FAVORABLE

    The Jazz were playing their fourth game in five nights and lost to an improving Nuggets squad and that’s really the only story from tonight’s game on their side.

    George Hill scored 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting with three boards, five assists, one three and one steal over 35 minutes. He has slid down to top-50 value when on the floor and his season-long field goal percentage is at 48.5 percent, down from the 55 percent that carried him into that small sample size top-20 value earlier this year. He’ll probably improve on some counting stats as he gets healthy and offset the further erosion to his field goal percentage and stay in the top-50 range.

    Derrick Favors scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting with five boards, one steal and one block to keep the faith going for stashers. The outing put him within reach of the top-150 over his last seven games and that’s a whole lot better than what his rank previously was. He’ll get back to the top-75 where he belongs so buy low and/or hold.

    My guy Smokin’ Joe Ingles only managed three points with three boards, one assist, one steal and one three in 20 minutes. I swear the few moments I could focus on that game he was doing great stuff. He’ll be one of those guys that in a few years everybody will be shocked about how good he is.

    And yes, I like him as a must-own player even with the Jazz at full strength. I like him more than Rodney Hood and his stat set and injury issues. They’ll find ways to get him 24 mpg because nobody puts Smokin’ Joe Ingles in the corner.

    Sleeper and Stash of the Year Trey Lyles had a green shot chart, maybe a Vine video and possibly three emojis to go with six points, five boards and a 3-pointer. Don’t get attached to your Summer League predictions, kids.

    THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

    Every time I think it can’t get better for our industry leading rank of Nikola Jokic another game happens and things get better. Watching the Nuggets went from watching somebody scratch their nails on a chalk board as Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay traded off misguided one-on-one plays, to the Beautiful Game as directed and narrated by the basketball Joker. He’s a wild card if you will, mostly because you don’t know if he’s going to pass, shoot or do that other thing that’s the perfect thing to do.

    When he was struggling and big box sites were hitting you with such pearls as ‘you gotta hold him’ or ‘if somebody gives you a reasonable offer you should consider it,’ we went to the film and saw a player that was doing precisely those same great things night in and night out.

    Sure, he had some bad moments but nothing that should have changed one’s analysis. If you couldn’t see that the showcasing of certain assets and the one-on-one play that the Nuggets deployed was the problem then you probably need to be in another business.

    Alas, it did not take much for Jokic’s selfless game to infect his teammates and change the way they do business. The piling on of Michael Malone and the doomsday predictions for this Nuggets squad seem hilarious in retrospect, and if they can trade 1-2 players at the deadline – and they will – this is going to be a very fun squad in both fantasy and reality.

    As for Jokic, he scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals, three blocks and 5-of-5 freebies. He did not hit any of his four 3-point attempts because he wanted to keep my fluttering heart from exploding. He’s the No. 3 and 5 fantasy play over the last two weeks (9/8 cat), the No. 4 and 7 play over the last month, and the No. 9 and 14 play over the last two months.

    We ranked him at No. 12 and 14 in the B150 and made him our No. 1 player to reach for in our draft guide. We’re not out here hiding from our low Giannis Antetokounmpo ranks, because for you to believe in our good picks you have to know that we know when we make bad ones.  And on the flip side we get to party when we crush a high-profile pick like this.

    The other more current development in Denver is the injury to Emmanuel Mudiay (back), who doesn’t sound like he’s being pushed back into a return. This is very interesting because you have to know he’s feeling the heat to get back after a season of lackluster play and Jamal Murray (five points, two boards, five assists, one steal, 17 minutes) nipping at his heels. I stashed Murray in 14-team big money league after his five-game week and I’m hoping something budges here.

    The reality of this has to be that Denver knows he’s not their point guard of the future. He can’t shoot and that’s probably not going to change, but even if it does, his feel for the game is not great. They’ve got a better shooting chucker in Murray and like all teams this is the perfect time to deal their asset – while it still has some higher-end appeal. I know if they picked up the phone and called the Kings they’d probably trip and fall on their way to hitting the accept button, and yes the locals will totally overvalue the asset in the process. Luckily for Kings fans there will probably be some other teams that can do better in terms of an offer of this theoretic deal.

    Still the reality of this situation is that Murray has some stash appeal and right now it’s very speculative. He’s not making things happen currently and with the Nuggets in the playoff chase (and probably the favorites), it’s likely that Jameer Nelson (17 points, seven assists, three treys) would carry the torch if anything happened with Mudiay. But still, Nelson is old and anything can happen.

    The other, better stash on the roster is Jusuf Nurkic (two points, two boards, one steal, one block, eight minutes). He’s not doing himself any favors by putting out crappy film but everybody knows he’s in a minutes-based funk. That he can get into that funk is why the Nugs are dealing him in the first place. But with just weeks to go until the trade deadline and an all-but-guarantee relayed via Marc Stein that he’s going to be moved, it’s probably a 2/3 chance he’s getting moved and getting 20-plus mpg in his new location. And yes, they’ll want to show off their new toy.

    Wilson Chandler (three points, three boards, two assists, one steal, one three, 20 minutes) isn’t going to be productive with the offense running through Jokic so if you wanted to preemptively cut him I wouldn’t blame you. Maybe try to deal him first. Gary Harris scored 10 points with two boards, two assists and a three in 27 minutes and as long as he’s not getting hurt I’m good with it. He has Otto Porter-like potential to break out, especially if the Nuggets lose some players.

    No, you’re not caring about Darrell Arthur’s 16 points and eight boards with three treys. Yes, you are a little bit worried about Will Barton’s five points on 1-of-7 shooting with four boards, two assists, one block and one three. They’re not terrible numbers but they are a reflection of Harris’ return and the logjam around him. He’s a good player and one that the Nuggets should be looking to keep and I like his chances of surviving what will likely be a 1-3 week slump.

    CHIEF WIGGINS

    The scuffling Wolves are starting to wake up as they’ve won three straight games and six of their last 10, but last night’s game-winner from Andrew Wiggins might have marked a small turning point. They have now won three games in a row that were decided by three points or less, and they lost their first seven such games this year according to venerable Wolves Radio man Alan Horton.

    In the West’s race for the eight seed they have as much chance as anybody not named the Nuggets to move up as they’re sitting just 2.5 games behind (and three teams in-between). The usual suspects did their thing – Ricky Rubio scored 14 points with four rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one three and 5-of-6 freebies in his return from bereavement leave.

    Gorgui Dieng went for 16 and nine with two assists, one steal and three blocks, and Wiggins finished with 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting, six boards, three assists, two steals, two threes and 7-of-8 makes from the foul line. If only he could be that versatile every night. No, I don’t think he’s changing his game anytime soon but that’s a story for a different Dish.

    Kris Dunn speculators hoping for some short-term love got slapped back into reality as he played just 14 minutes with two points, three boards, two assists and five turnovers. He hit just 1-of-7 shots and highlighted why he shouldn’t be rated as more than a late-round asset after a theoretical Rubio trade. Still, one game between now and the trade deadline shouldn’t move the needle with Dunn, who is a pure stash and not a must-stash player.

    Karl-Anthony Towns’ trend toward not taking threes and rehabbing his fantasy value continued and owners should be thrilled. He hit 7-of-12 shots for 18 points, 10 boards, two assists, two steals and a block and SURPRISE, SURPRISE when the big man doesn’t shoot threes he has better fantasy value. He has been a top-5 value for the last month while hitting 55.5 percent of his shots.

    His owners have been staring at late-second round value prior to this hot streak, which is only a few weeks old. They might be wondering if it’s a blip on the radar or they might not even know what’s going on. This is your time to get a top-5 asset at a top-12 price. Be aggressive and make the deal.

    TEACH THEM WHILE THEY’RE YOUNG

    I get sick watching Devin Booker play basketball, which was exactly the opposite of what you’d have thought anybody would say heading into this year. Sure, you could have had concerns about his stat set, but there weren’t a whole lot of people saying ‘this dude is going to jack up a bunch of shots, play practically no defense and not even try to rebound.’

    But that’s what it has been and I don’t know what to make of it. He came into the league as a guy with intangibles and smarts and has morphed into something else. I’m not particularly impressed with Earl Watson or the Suns organization and it feels like they’re ruining this player, but Booker has to take ownership of this situation too.

    He has been shooting the ball better lately but had a stinker last night, hitting just 9-of-23 shots (including four threes) to finish with 26 points, two boards and four assists. The 44 percent mark he has sported over the last month had pushed his valuations (50/80 per-game, 8/9 cat) back in the ballpark of where I had him in the preseason (35/71 cumulatively, 8/9 cat).

    Until he diversifies his game – and I’m afraid Phoenix is going to ruin him in that respect – it will be entirely dependent upon volume and that percentage. He’ll have the ability to sink teams relying on him for that mid-round value if he goes into a slump.

    Tyson Chandler continues to reward owners that eschewed the old man logic as he put up a season-high 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting with 17 boards and two blocks. He has brought back top-75 value over the last two months and it’s anybody’s guess if he can keep it up, and while it would be ridiculous for the Suns to keep Alex Len on the shelf so they can trot Chandler out there – that could easily be the case. Len had his first decent game in a while with 11 points, 10 boards and no steals or blocks in 24 minutes. He’s another guy it feels like the Suns have ruined.

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