• With the core changing in Houston, James Harden has remained as the constant at the center of everything the Rockets do. That goes for both the good and the bad.

    Speaking with NBA.com’s Lang Whitaker, Harden talked about D’Antoni’s system, the team’s defensive reputation and touched on his new teammates.

    Harden said that he’s been watching tape of D’Antoni-run teams and is eager to get going. While scoring didn’t seem to be the problem in Houston it’s hard to deny that D’Antoni knows how to coach up an offense. While we won’t see the return of Seven Seconds or Less, there could be some seriously fun nights for the Rockets. Harden also said that his new coach is prepared to get things clicking already; not just for The Beard but for new acquisitions Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon as well.

    As far as those new guys, Harden had an interesting take: their arrival will allow him to better exert himself on defense this year. The logic here is that they’ll take some of the offensive burden away from Harden, meaning he can save some energy for the other end of the floor. While it’s nice that he’s talking about a commitment to both sides of the game, we’ll believe it when we see it. Gordon and Anderson are hardly good defenders in their own right, and even if Harden sees a drop in usage it’ll be hard for the Rockets to work with three bad defensive guys on the floor at any given time.

    To be fair to Harden, he did lead the league in minutes played and had a sky high usage rate. It just doesn’t seem like the new arrivals will help him out all that much.

    The Rockets have an entirely new coaching staff so it’s certainly possible to see some defensive uptick in the aggregate if not on an individual level. They have Memphis’ former defensive coach Jeff Bzdelik in the fold now and while it’s always tough to separate the coaching from the personnel, it’s hard to argue with his track record.

    One thing to note from the interview is Harden’s repeated mention of preparation. While it’s not an outright shot at previous coaching staffs, it does seem to be something that wasn’t necessarily emphasized.

    Coming off a listless year, the Rockets will take any improvement they can get.

Fantasy News

  • Goran Dragic
    PG, Miami Heat

    Goran Dragic posted a team-high 23 points (6-of-14 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs) with two boards, four dimes, two swipes and a trey in 30 minutes in a loss to the Celtics on Tuesday.

    Dragic has been little more than a low-end assists and threes source this season. This still gives the 33-year-old value in standard leagues given the scarcity of assists. However, if you do rely on Dragic as one of your starters and you find yourself hurting in steals and rebounds, that may be part of the reason why.

  • Daniel Theis
    PF, Boston Celtics

    Daniel Theis was productive once again on Tuesday, double-doubling with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 30 minutes against the Heat.

    With the other Celtics' bigs struggling to stay healthy, Theis has surprisingly provided top-60 value in 9-cat leagues over the last month. He's a must-start player while Enes Kanter (right hip contusion) remains out, but he'll likely be back in the streamer class after that.

  • Jaylen Brown
    SG, Boston Celtics

    Jaylen Brown had a strong performance on Tuesday with 25 points (10-of-16 FGs), three rebounds, five assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 41 minutes in a 109-101 win over the Heat.

    Brown hasn't been quite as valuable lately as he was earlier in the season, but it may not be tough to rectify. His shooting percentages have each fluctuated throughout his season (and his career) and one would expect them to settle at some point. Also, if he could ever get his block numbers up, which doesn't seem unrealistic, Brown could move into early-round territory.

  • Gordon Hayward
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Gordon Hayward had an efficient night on Tuesday, shooting 10-for-14 from the field and 8-for-10 from the line on his way to a line of 29 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes vs. the Heat.

    Hayward was great in this one. His drafters are getting a great return on their investment, seeing as Hayward sits just inside the top-50 for the season. Look for more of the same as the second half rolls on.

  • JA Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant was great again in a 104-96 home win over the Nuggets on Tuesday, going for 14 points (6-of-11 FGs), six rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 30 minutes.

    For as exciting as Morant and the Grizzlies have been of late, he may not be as great in fantasy as most would expect. Morant's assist numbers are excellent and his steals and field goal percentage are great, but that's really where the impressive stats end. He's fun to watch, but if you've got him, there's a great chance you can deal him for more than he's actually worth right now.

  • Jonas Valanciunas
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas posted a big double-double on Tuesday vs. the Nuggets with 23 points (11-of-19 shooting), 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 34 minutes.

    Valanciunas has crept into the top-40 for the past month but he still has spots where he can easily improve. He's seen a dip in free throw percentage recently that should get corrected. He was only outscored by one Grizzly, Dillon Brooks, who had 24 points, one rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one triple in 33 minutes in this game.

  • Jaren Jackson Jr.
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. threw a block party on Tuesday with seven rejections in a win over the Nuggets, adding 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, two rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes.

    Jackson's blocks have been trending up for quite a while now, putting him near the top-30 for the last month. He still has plenty of room for improvement, but for the month, the blocks are elite (2.4 per game), and the threes are great too (2.9 per game).

  • Davis Bertans
    F, Washington Wizards

    Davis Bertans had a good showing for himself on Tuesday, notching 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-for-4 from deep, chipping in three rebounds, one steal and two blocks.

    Bertans found his shooting rhythm once again tonight and should be good for a massive end-of-season run. As long as he's healthy, he will be one of the league's best sources of 3-pointers and a sprinkling of peripherals.

  • Monte Morris
    PG, Denver Nuggets

    Monte Morris came off the bench for the third straight game but still put up good numbers in 34 minutes including nine points (3-of-8 shooting), five rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers vs. the Grizzlies on Tuesday.

    Morris is still worth starting in standard leagues while Jamal Murray (left ankle sprain) is out, even if he's coming off the bench. He specializes in assist-to-turnover ratio and has had connected at a high field goal percentage for a guard for most of his career.

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Bradley Beal did his best to carry the Wizards on Tuesday on the shoulders of his 47-point effort on 13-of-31 shooting, addign six assists, four 3s, one steal and one block.

    Beal got outdueled by Khris Middleton, who popped out a career-best 51 points. Still, Beal appears to be churning out big games night in and night out. As long as he's not shut down by his team, Beal is a lock for top-10 value at this rate.