March 4, 2021, 2:39 am
Despite a huge game between the conference-leading Jazz and Sixers that featured some more officiating issues, postgame sniping through (and at) the media, and some general insane play from players on both sides, the attention of the fantasy community was on Indiana’s backup point guard.
T.J. McConnell put together the line of the night on Wednesday, setting an NBA record while leading the Pacers to a comeback victory over the Cavs. In case you missed it, McConnell triple-doubled with 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals on Wednesday, adding four rebounds and a block while shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the field with just two turnovers to boot. His nine steals in the first half mark a new record and though he fell short of tying the league single-game high of 11, his on-court performance was simply massive for a Pacers team that’s trying to gain some separation on the pack in a crowded Eastern Conference.
It was the first triple-double with points-assists-steals and perfect shooting in NBA history and the first points-assists-steals triple-double since Mookie Blaylock went for 14-11-10 in 1998.
In fantasy, obviously that’s incredible, but it just continues an outstanding campaign from McConnell, who is now top-75 on the year and a top-10 performer in the last two weeks. The stat set has always been unique and deep-league GMs have known about his ability to rack up assists and steals on efficient shooting with limited turnovers and no 3-pointers, this is McConnell juiced up to a level that was impossible to predict. While he didn’t really hit the scene until injuries cleared his path, he’s clearly in the running for waiver add of the year. We’ll see if he can keep it up when Caris LeVert returns in the second half of the campaign, though it’s quite obvious that McConnell has carved out an important role in the Indiana rotation.
Add(s) of the Night
With just one more night before the All-Star break, it’s probably going to make more sense to take a long view when you’re making roster decisions tonight. If you need a pickup to help you tonight, you’re essentially in streaming territory. Wayne Ellington and his eight threes are a good example and might occupy this spot on another night, for instance. Look for what you need to help win the week.
Beyond that, however, you’re going to want to line yourself up for long-term success. Now’s a great time to hit the waiver wire to see if any injured players are floating around, available for pickup. Larry Nance Jr. is probably the most obvious name there since he’s expected to get back relatively soon and has shed his hand cast. Players like Caris LeVert (who may be able to get going some point in March, reportedly), Kevin Love (for whom there was hope of a pre-break return) and maybe even someone like Killian Hayes or George Hill are names to look for. Your mileage will vary but the need for immediate production more or less stops tomorrow, while players’ rehabs will press on through the week.
Steven Adams, C, New Orleans Pelicans
It was another quiet night for Funaki, who went scoreless with five rebounds and a block in 21 minutes of action. Adams sparked some hope of a comeback with two big games last week, but even with that included he’s only been a top-175/150 (8/9-cat) player in the last two weeks. The Pelicans just don’t seem invested in having Adams play a large role, which makes sense given their performance so far and the team’s overall youth vibe, and as such he can be cut loose in competitive 12-team formats where he hasn’t been dropped already. Declining minutes are bad news for a guy that’s going to need his blocks to spike in order to land back on the radar.
P.J. Washington’s night was ended early by an ankle sprain, though with 16 & 9 and five more cash counters in 32 minutes, it’s not like fantasy players were left wanting. A blowout might’ve influenced the decision here too. Gordon Hayward (right hand contusion) returned from a two-game absence in an easy win over the Wolves, so things are trending in the right direction for Charlotte.
The Raptors were without Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (health and safety protocols) and it went as you might expect, even against a Detroit team that was missing Jerami Grant (left quad) and Josh Jackson (illness). Four of Toronto’s 10 players didn’t score.
Luka Doncic (back) sat out Wednesday’s game but is still expected to play in the All-Star game. That’s not usually how these things go, but okay.
Jeremy Lamb (left knee soreness) and Domantas Sabonis (left ankle soreness) played through questionable tags.
Tobias Harris (right knee contusion) returned to action after a scary-looking injury on the weekend.
Kelly Oubre was not so lucky, sitting out after spraining his left wrist while dunking in practice.
Eric Gordon (left knee soreness) and Danuel House (right knee contusion) both sat out and David Nwaba will miss six weeks after undergoing wrist surgery.
Clint Capela (right foot soreness) and Evan Fournier (groin) both sat out on Wednesday, taking a big piece out of the equation on either side of that Hawks-Magic tilt.
LeBron James finally got a rest day while Kyle Kuzma (heel contusion) played to solid effect despite a questionable tag.
Buddy Hield (right ankle) played through a questionable tag and was instrumental in a big win over the depleted Lakers.
For Thursday, Kawhi Leonard is questionable with back spasms.
Both Bam Adebayo (left knee) and Jimmy Butler (right knee) are questionable as the Heat limp to the halfway mark.
LaMarcus Aldridge (illness) is questionable to face the Thunder while Derrick White, Rudy Gay and Devin Vassell (health and safety) remain out.
Derrick Rose (health and safety) is questionable but he was cleared to fly home with the Knicks after their game against San Antonio, so that bodes well.
Held at Bey
While most of the Pistons got in on Wednesday’s fun, with Mason Plumlee and Dennis Smith Jr. posting triple-doubles and the team sinking 20 3-pointers, rookie hotshot Saddiq Bey was kept quiet despite Jerami Grant and Josh Jackson sitting out. He finished with 24 minutes, seven points (3-of-9 shooting), four rebounds, two assists and a 3-pointer. That calls into question one thing that has popped up about Bey’s production: he really hasn’t filled up the box score.
It hasn’t mattered much since Blake Griffin was banished to the shadow realm, with Bey posting value in the top-100 orbit thanks to some nice shooting lines, but it’s worth thinking about what a weak stat set means for our expectations moving forward. All the ingredients are there, with Bey coming in as a first-round pick on a bad team that’s making decisions to open up minutes for him, but does Bey have enough to hold up his end of the bargain?
In the last two weeks he’s top-140/110 (8/9-cat), turning 30.5 mpg into 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.9 3-pointers per game on .394 from the field and a clean 1.000 at the line with just 0.4 turnovers. It’s certainly workable, but it’s not near the top-70 value Bey was posting when his shot was falling at a crazy rate. Sometimes unlimited volume isn’t all that it seems, and with a guy like Bey you’re going to want to stay even-keeled and take his peaks and valleys with a grain of salt. It’s entirely possible that he starts adding more steals or rebounds to the package in the second half, but the rush to add him may not bear the fruit that you thought it might.
This is not to pick on Bey, who is a strong young player just learning the NBA ropes. Rather it’s an example to keep that in mind as we get into the second half of the season and previously unheralded players start to gain prominence.