• Wednesday night featured nine games and several breakout performances.  While Ben Simmons left the Sixers’ matchup with the Jazz due to a right shoulder sprain, it was later described as minor and he’ll be re-evaluated on Thursday.  Let’s get straight to the widely available players you may be able to grab in order to improve your fantasy team.

    Adds of the Night

    Dillon Brooks, G, Memphis Grizzlies – 30 minutes, 31 points, four rebounds, two assists, five 3-pointers, 9-of-16 FG, 8-of-8 FT

    The Oregon product came into the night scoring 16 or more points in three of his last four, but this one was a breakout.  Brooks has also hit at least one 3-pointer in all but one game so far. Suffice it to say, Taylor Jenkins has been rewarded for getting Brooks back in the starting lineup after a toe injury cost him much of 2018-19.  Brooks has found himself in foul trouble quite a bit so far, but it hasn’t stopped him from contributing offensively. It was heartening to see him shoot much better from long range against the Wolves than he did in his prior game versus the Rockets.  Right now, Brooks appears genuinely comfortable alongside rookie phenom Ja Morant.

    Alec Burks, G, Golden State Warriors – 31 minutes, 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, three 3-pointers, 10-of-18 FG, 5-of-6 FT

    Burks had himself a monster game while helping to fill the injury-related void in the Warriors’ roster.  D’Angelo Russell could return as soon as Friday, but Burks is still an interesting lottery ticket. Jordan Poole had less success against Houston, going 2-of-11 from the field. That could mean that Steve Kerr will lean on Burks more going forward.  To be honest, he has little choice these days. Keep in mind that Burks hasn’t exploded like this often: he has only reached 28 one other time in the last five seasons. Still, he is capable enough to take advantage of this sort of vacuum.

    Drop Zone

    Context is everything, but here are a couple of players who could be worth cutting if you find a promising free agent.

    Alex Len

    At the time of this writing, Len is still owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues.  He averaged 11.1 points and 5.5 boards last season in just 20.1 minutes, but those averages have fallen sharply.  While Len blocked two shots for the Hawks on Wednesday, he simply isn’t getting enough opportunities to justify ownership outside of deeper leagues.  His allotment of 11 minutes did nothing to change this trend. Lloyd Pierce appears more comfortable with Damian Jones and second round pick Bruno Fernando.

    Dewayne Dedmon

    Dedmon managed 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds when the Hawks gave him 25 minutes per night last season.  Yes, he provides blocks but he’s not playing enough to justify ownership in 40 percent of Yahoo pools. So far, Luke Walton has only allowed him 18 minutes per contest with the Kings.  As things stand now, Richaun Holmes is soaking up major minutes and starter Nemanja Bjelica is also cutting into Dedmon’s usefulness.

    Injury Report

    Mitchell Robinson was forced to exit the Knicks’ matchup with the Pistons due to concussion symptoms and it’s uncertain whether he will be available on Friday.

    Domantas Sabonis had been listed as questionable earlier in the day due to a left calf contusion but was upgraded to available.  He had 13 points and 17 rebounds as the Pacers defeated the Wizards.

    Myles Turner was considered questionable earlier in the day but could not dress due to a right ankle sprain.

    Jeremy Lamb was also unavailable for the Pacers, which isn’t shocking because he had been classified as doubtful with a sprained left ankle.

    Jordan McRae was officially questionable with a mallet finger injury, but he had been practicing.  He got into the game, but only for two minutes as the Wizards fell to the Pacers.

    Cam Reddish was upgraded from probable to available.  He played through a sore shoulder but shot 1-for-8 from the field and committed four turnovers as the Hawks lost to the Bulls.

    Eric Gordon was held out of the Rockets’ win over the Warriors due to left hamstring soreness.

    Jaren Jackson went from probable to available despite some right knee soreness.  He was held scoreless in 15 minutes.

    Jeff Teague was reclassified from questionable to out due to illness.

    Wendell Carter, Jr. was listed as probable and played through a left thumb sprain.  However, he fouled out after 13 minutes.

    Building Block Barrett

    The Knicks’ opening basket in Detroit came from rookie standout and third overall pick RJ Barrett.  He swished a three, then fed Mitchell Robinson for his first assist of the evening.  Barrett has averaged 17.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.5 steals.  The free throw shooting needs improvement, but he made 66 percent of them at Duke which is more acceptable than his current figure of 49 percent.  Despite New York’s poor record, Barrett is providing value considering his Yahoo ADP of #104.

    As beat writer Mike Vorkunov noted, Barrett ranks 20th in the league in drives per game despite having played fewer than ten NBA contests in his career.  While his finishing isn’t yet elite, close looks at the basket are a solid starting point. Barrett showed his propensity for getting to the hoop in converting a three-point play during the second quarter after drawing a foul against Thon Maker.  

    Later, Barrett found Julius Randle for a corner three, then converted a steal into a layup on the fast break.  Barrett reached the foul line twice in the next minute. He ranks fourth leaguewide in minutes per game, and David Fizdale has little interest in slowing down his pace.  He’s even bringing the ball up the court on some possessions. It wasn’t his finest shooting night, but Barrett is regularly showing off his potential to fill the stat sheet.  His line in this one included 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals.  

    L.A. His Way

    The Clippers knew that they would be without the services of Kawhi Leonard against the Bucks as they managed his workload in a manner approved by the NBA.  The team’s billboard slogan may be “L.A. Our Way” but Doc Rivers would have to make do in this one without Leonard and Paul George. The question became: who would emerge as the difference maker?  

    Lou Williams piled up 34 points, but Montrezl Harrell did the most to keep his squad in it.  Harrell has earned a reputation as a guy who crashes Southern California pickup games and plays with maximum effort even in those settings.  Harrell scored 16 before the curtain fell on the first half. While the Clippers lost 129-124, he gave it everything. Meanwhile, Rivers only awarded Ivica Zubac eight minutes.

    Harrell ended up matching Williams with a career-high 34 points of his own.  He added 13 rebounds, five assists, one block, and one steal. Even better, he’s doing it with extreme efficiency.  Harrell is leading the league in field goal shooting at 68 percent. Even if that’s not quite sustainable, who can argue if he ends up around his career mark of 63 percent?  

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