March 18, 2021, 1:37 am
A busy night around the league with 20 teams in action, headed up by James Harden carrying the Nets to their sixth straight victory over a gallant Pacers team. Harden recorded another triple-double while on the other side of the equation, Domantas Sabonis did likewise. The Bucks needed overtime to defeat the Sixers who despite the absence of Joel Embiid, probably should have won this one. Donte DiVincenzo was arguably the Bucks’ best player, although Jrue Holiday might have something to say about that. Danny Green continues to play well for the Sixers and despite not having a ton of upside, he is probably worthwhile rostering in standard leagues.
The Kings held on to defeat the Wizards, although it was touch and go towards the end. Hassan Whiteside was back in the rotation but produced very little and so I wouldn’t be rushing to add him. It was the usual suspects for the Wizards; however, Alex Len had his best game in recent memory. That said, he still only played 24 minutes and so I am not rushing to add him either. The Raptors welcomed back a host of players but were unable to get over the line against the Pistons. Norman Powell erupted for a career-high 43 points and he is simply on fire at the moment. Saddiq Bey showed why he should be rostered in most leagues, while Delon Wright and Mason Plumlee both double-doubled.
The Celtics continue to have their struggles and this time fell to the Cavs despite another breakout performance courtesy of Robert Williams. Larry Nance Jr. reminded us of his tremendous fantasy upside with a well-rounded performance, thanks, in part, to the fact Kevin Love did not play. The Warriors lost Steph Curry to a sore bottom but still easily accounted for the Rockets. Jordan Poole stepped up after Curry was ruled out and he is worth picking up if Steph misses time. Christian Wood made his long-awaited return and looked good in 26 minutes if you can overlook the 5-of-11 from the line. Kevin Porter Jr. had another productive game and given what we have seen thus far, it is hard to see the Rockets scaling him back too much, even when they get their players back on the court.
The Bulls collapsed against the Spurs, falling by seven points despite leading by more than 20 points during the first half. Thad Young remained in the starting lineup and once again did his thing. Coby White did very little in his 23 minutes off the bench and those in standard leagues can consider moving on at this point. Jakob Poeltl had 20 points and 16 rebounds and aren’t we loving this playing time. Patty Mills had another strong performance and continues to serve as a long-term streaming specialist. The Nuggets blew out the Hornets with Michael Porter Jr. going off for 28-and-13 as he continues to prove his worth. Will Barton has turned back the clock in recent times and needs to be on a roster in all formats. It was not a good night for the Hornets and so fantasy value was hard to find.
The Grizzlies upset the Heat with De’Anthony Melton the standout player, once again. In only 23 minutes he managed to produce 13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one 3-pointer. Kelly Olynyk stunk it up for the Heat, although foul trouble was the issue here. Keep an eye on your waiver wire to see if he is dropped after this dud. Finally, Luka Doncic took control as the Mavs soundly defeated the Clippers who simply continue to underperform. Doncic did a bit of everything and we are certainly watching a once-in-a-generation player at work. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were both solid for the Clippers but they received basically no support. Remember when Lou Williams was good?
Add(s) of the Night
De’Anthony Melton, G, Memphis Grizzlies – Same old story here. We know what Melton can do and we saw it again on Wednesday. He is inside the top-75 over the past month despite playing just 19 minutes per game.
Tomas Satoransky, G, Chicago Bulls – Satoransky was far from mind-blowing on Wednesday but he appears to have the starting job locked up for now. Coby White is not playing well and so that also works in Sato’s favor. He will not set the world on fire but he does have the ability to produce across the board and is worth adding in 12-team leagues.
Nicolas Batum, F, Los Angeles Clippers – Batum has been a bit of a feel-good story this season but the honeymoon appears to be over and he can now be dropped in standard leagues.
Coby White, G, Chicago Bulls – White was a fringe 12-team option even when he was starting and so it is hard to see anything improving now that he has been moved to the bench. I wouldn’t be just dropping him for anyone but there are a number of likely free agents who could easily supplant his production.
Kyrie Irving was a late scratch due to a groin issue
Seth Curry left Wednesday’s game due to an ankle sprain
Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam returned for the Raptors
OG Anunoby is the only player who remains out due to health protocols
Wayne Ellington was out with an adductor strain
Dennis Smith Jr. was available to play but did not leave the bench
Rodney McGruder was also out with an elbow concern
Kemba Walker was out for rest purposes
Tristan Thompson continues to work through the mandatory health protocols
Kevin Love did not play due to his ongoing calf issue
Taurean Prince is still battling a shoulder injury
James Wiseman and Eric Paschall have been ruled out for at least a week due to contact tracing
Steph Curry suffered a bruised tailbone and was unable to close out the game
Victor Oladipo was rested as part of his injury management
Ben McLemore is dealing with an ankle injury
DeMar DeRozan remains away from the team due to personal reasons
Keita Bates-Diop has a hamstring injury
Monte Morris and R.J. Hampton both remained sidelined on Wednesday
Avery Bradley remained out with his calf injury but he is getting closer to a return
Andre Iguodala has a hip injury
Serge Ibaka did not play due to back tightness
Dorian Finney-Smith was out for personal reasons
James Johnson is still in the health protocols
Is This The Right Time For Robert Williams?
Robert Williams is one of those polarizing fantasy players who evoke emotions out of just about every GM, no matter their opinion. His on-court play is generally where the doubters get their fuel and that is certainly not without its merit. He has always been a player who has been able to do a lot in a small amount of time. For a player in their first or second season, that can be enough to get by as they continue to learn their craft at the elite level. In only 13 minutes per game last season, Williams was still on the fringe of being a standard league asset, ending as the 161st ranked player.
Now in his third season, the time has come for Williams to take not only his game but also his role, to the next level. He comes in as the 68th ranked player thus far, increasing his playing time to almost 17 minutes per night. Over the past two weeks that has increased yet again, to 21 minutes, securing him a spot inside the first round of standard leagues. Tristan Thompson is likely to be out for at least another couple of games due to health and safety protocols, handing Williams a nice opportunity to cement his spot in the rotation.
If we look beyond the return of Thompson, the real question is whether he can maintain more than 20 minutes on a nightly basis. If you had asked me this question two months ago, my answer would have been no. Having watched him a bit closer in recent times, it is clear the coaching staff are coming around to the idea of having him on the court to close games. This is a massive step in the right direction and clearly opens up additional opportunities moving forward. The Celtics are also rumored to be in the market for a new power forward. While this doesn’t directly impact Williams, it could have a flow-on effect, depending on who they land. That said, rumors such as this are nothing new when it comes to the Celtics and so they could very well end up with no one.
Long story short here, if Williams plays at least 20 minutes a night for the rest of the season, he should be able to end the season as a top-50 player, at a minimum. Loftier expectations, while mouth-watering, should be kept in check, at least until once the trade deadline passes. If somehow, he pushes up to minutes in the mid-twenties, then the second round is well within reach, and come the fantasy playoffs, he could absolutely be a difference-maker.
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