• Jimmy Butler might be the early season MVP.

    I say that tongue-in-cheek, but after watching the Wolves in their last two games without him, and then tonight’s game when he made his triumphant return, you might agree.

    Okay, we don’t need to get carried away with the accolades here, but this was an impressive performance given the circumstances.

    Butler was out with illness the prior two games and his return tonight was a much needed shot in the arm. At the same time, Butler admitted that he felt significantly below 100 percent and it was tough to gauge what we could expect out of him tonight.

    What we got was vintage Butler. He scored a season-high 25 points (his first game with 20), with seven assists, five rebounds and he was able to get to the free throw line 13 times after only reaching the free throw line three times on the season. Last year, Butler was third in the NBA in free throw attempts.

    On the defensive end, he wasn’t as active as his normal self, which is to be expected, but late in the game when the Wolves needed some stops, Butler was the guy on the ball, or when the Wolves needed a rebound, it was Butler jumping in with the giants to grab it.

    Butler was the player the Wolves bargained for tonight, and it’s abundantly clear they need him out there as often as possible.

    Jimmy was so committed tonight, he ended up leading the team in minutes. He’s the cog that steers the ship. The Wolves managed to hold on for a 119-116 victory.

    Big KAT was able to out up a monster line, leading all scorers with 33 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks. He gathered seven offensive rebounds and was able to put them back up for two points on numerous occasions.

    Most impressive tonight was his interior defense. Towns showed the flashes of his tantalizing defensive upside, locking down the paint and holding that second line of defense. Towns was not shy at all to attack the ball, but he was also smart, seemingly on time with his help all night.

    This is the type of effort the Wolves are looking to get from him on a nightly basis. That is what will take this team from a mediocre, middle of the pack team to a playoff contender. We know Towns has all the offensive potential in the world, but it was defensive action tonight that stood out.

    Much like Sunday’s game, Thibs saw that the bench wasn’t going to cut it and ran with the starters, all going at least 36 minutes. Teague’s two best games have come against the Thunder, this time going for 17 points and 10 assists. He shot 50 percent from the field as well with two 3-pointers, but also had six turnovers.

    Taj Gibson had a well-rounded line with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. Wiggins scored 15, but only on 5-of-15 shooting with three rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks. He was not nearly as sharp tonight, throwing up more than a few bad shots that didn’t fall.

    As a whole, the Wolves looked more active and engaged than they had at any time their previous two games. The defense wasn’t perfect, but it looked improved. The offense broke out a few new set plays.

    I expect we’ll see even more wrinkles added by the team’s next game on Monday. They’ll have two days to prepare for that game on the road versus the Heat.

    For the Thunder, their “big three” all scored at least 23 points, Westbrook leading the way with 28. Steven Adams scored 20 points on the night as well, a season-high for him. Outside of those four, there was no reliable source of offense, which will be fairly typical going forward.

    It just so happens the Thunder don’t usually need other guys to step up. Oklahoma City has only given up more than 100 points on two occasions this season. Tonight versus the Timberwolves, and last Sunday… versus the Timberwolves.

Fantasy News

  • Jared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets

    Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) was scheduled to be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

    Dudley has already made it known that he's planning to return right out of the All-Star break, so unless today's checkup revealed some kind of further issue we're expecting him to be ready for Brooklyn's two games this week. His biggest fantasy impact will be taking minutes from more intriguing players.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Caris LeVert - G - Brooklyn Nets

    Caris LeVert will undergo an evaluation from the Nets medical staff on Tuesday.

    There's no sign of any setbacks from LeVert but the team will obviously keep a close eye on him after he's returned from a dislocated foot. This shouldn't be anything more than routine maintenance, so fantasy owners don't need to worry about it.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Ray Spalding - F - Phoenix Suns

    The Suns are expected to sign Ray Spalding to a 10-day contract.

    Spalding was the 56th pick in last summer's draft but only appeared in one NBA game this season with the Mavs. He was waived at the trade deadline with Dallas taking on one more player than they sent away, and will look to make an impression in a crowded Phoenix rotation. His college numbers (12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game) make him a name to file away in deep dynasty leagues.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • MarShon Brooks - G - Chicago Bulls

    Marshon Brooks has agreed to terms with the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Sportando.

    Brooks played 29 games for the Grizzlies this season averaging 6.6 points and he is expected to replace Malcolm Delaney. Leave him on the waiver wire.

    Source: Sportando

  • Kristaps Porzingis - F/C - Dallas Mavericks

    Mark Cuban said that Kristaps Porzingis won't play this season, even if the Mavs somehow are able to make the playoffs.

    The Mavs want to put their world-class training staff, led by Casey Smith, to work, strengthening Porzingis’ body the rest of this season and throughout the summer to hopefully prevent similar injuries in the future. And after all, given the amount of money the Mavs could be committing to KP this summer, a max salary of $158 million, there is no need to risk something happening to him in a season where making the playoffs seems unlikely. Kristaps remains a great stash in redraft leagues.

    Source: 247sports.com

  • LeBron James - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Joe Vardon of The Athletic is reporting that the Lakers are "somehow a little concerned" about LeBron James.

    LeBron hasn’t been showing the same speed or overall movement lately and the team is concerned that he’s not fully recovered from the groin injury that cost him to miss a career-high 18 games. The Lakers are in the 10th place in the Western Conference, three games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot and they will need LeBron to be healthy for the rest of the season. James is averaging 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in 35 minutes per game, while his shooting percentage (51 percent), 3-point percentage (35 percent) and free-throw percentage (68 percent) are all down from last season. He is still returning borderline top-15 value in standard leagues and owners can only hope he doesn’t suffer a setback.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Michael Beasley - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    Ex-Lakers forward Michael Beasley is finalizing a deal to play with Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Beasley returns to a league he is familiar with after an up and down season with the Lakers where he failed to produce consistently. It’s the smart thing to do since the Chinese team is offering him a lucrative deal and we wouldn’t expect to see him play again in the NBA, at least this season. Drop him if you haven’t already.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    There are people within the Pelicans organization that feel Anthony Davis has played his last game with the franchise.

    This is according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate who also reminds us that AD says he wants to continue playing. This is just a reminder that Anthony Davis can realistically be anywhere from the most valuable to the least valuable player in fantasy for the rest of the season. The Pelicans are also tied for the fewest games during the head-to-head playoffs.

    Source: Scott Kushner on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer - G/F - Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have signed Corey Brewer to a second 10-day contract.

    Brewer has yet to make an appearance with the Kings, so there’s no fantasy relevance here. He would need a few wings to go down to even make him a potential streamer.

    Source: James Ham on Twitter

  • Chandler Parsons - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he's open to giving Chandler Parsons (knee) some playing time going forward.

    "I think it’ll be good that we’re coming out of the break and we’ll have a few days to practice just to get him on the court, get him back with the group, see where he is," Bickerstaff said. "It’s been a while since he’s played as well. So it’ll be good to have him on the floor, get up and down a little bit, see where he is physically and mentally and then we’ll go from there." This is softer than the Shams Charania reports about returning to the Grizzlies lineup, which were curious at best, and owners should take a wait and see approach to his playing time. He hasn't been playing for multiple reasons.