• Perhaps the Wolves aren’t quite ready to be anointed among the other major players in the Western Conference. It’s only one matchup of four so far but the Rockets aren’t impressed.

    It was an ugly game throughout for the Wolves. The Rockets started out cold from beyond the arc, opening the first quarter going 2-of-12 from beyond the arc. The Wolves were only able to build a one-point lead at 15-14.

    The player of the game then took the floor and erased all of that. Gordon scored nine points in the final minute of the quarter, going 2-of-2 beyond the arc and converting a 3-point play.

    From there the Rockets hit 15-of-27 from beyond the arc and really controlled the rest of the game. The Wolves tried to climb back into it at times, getting to within 10 points a few times but Houston just doesn’t let up from beyond the arc.

    Against a team like the Wolves, who will not win any 3-point shooting contests, it makes it tough to hang around. Of course the Rockets and Warriors, two of the three teams ahead of the Wolves, are both in the top-five in 3-point makes as a team so perhaps the Wolves need to make some sort of change.

    The aforementioned Gordon finished the game with 30 points and seven 3-pointers off the bench for the Rockets. Chris Paul was excellent as well with 19 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three steals and four 3-pointers on 6-of-12 shooting.

    He won the point guard battle running away, dominating Jeff Teague who finished with just six points on 3-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and three assists. Teague struggled to run the offense and couldn’t get by Paul whatsoever.

    The Wolves offense as a whole just never got anything consistent going. Karl-Anthony Towns came to play but lacked much support. He finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals, five blocks and one 3-pointer on 10-of-19 shooting. He only shot 1-of-7 from beyond the arc though.

    Jimmy Butler finished with 23 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block shooting 8-of-15 form the field. Outside of him and Towns it was a rough night.

    Andrew Wiggins made three 3-pointers but generally wasn’t involved in the offense. Taj Gibson couldn’t get anything going. The Wolves’ bench struggled with Jamal Crawford going 0-of-6 from the field, Dieng quiet and Bjelica not being able to beat Ryan Anderson. Tyus was energetic as usual but hasn’t earned Thibs’ good graces just yet.

    The Wolves generally rely on great individual offense from their starting unit. They have enough deep threats that teams have to honor the outside shots and it allows the offense to operate. The bench heavily relies on Jamal Crawford’s ability to space the floor and to an extend Bjelica and whoever is playing the wing, whether it be Butler, Wiggins or Bjelica.

    Of course on nights like tonight when Crawford doesn’t have it the Wolves do become a bit easier to defend in spurts. As a team they only shot 33 percent, 8-of-24, overall. The Wolves don’t really have a true guy they can run a few plays for to get some quick 3-pointers. Crawford is a career 34.9 percent deep shooter, and is at 34.1 this season.

    This upcoming trade deadline perhaps the biggest add for the Wolves is someone as simple as Marco Belinelli, a career 37.8 percent 3-point shooter, including 38.7 this season.

    Being able to bring Belinelli off the bench at the wing and stretch the floor, and being able to keep up with these teams that keep bombing from deep, could be a key difference in the stretch run and perhaps the playoffs.

    Of course when examining Thibs’ rotation the problem always comes back to where the minutes will come from. It’s unlikely that Butler sees any decrease. Crawford recently complained openly and saw his minutes stabilize as a result. Teague is oddly secure. Does that mean Wiggins and Jones are the main losers in a hypothetical move?

    The Wolves have some ammo for this deadline but it remains to be seen of they use it. Tonight’s game against the short-handed Rockets shows that the up-and-coming Wolves are still a ways off and can improve many areas.

    For now the Wolves return home for another tough matchup with the Toronto Raptors before heading back out on the road for a west-coast trip.

Fantasy News

  • Delon Wright
    PG, Dallas Mavericks

    Delon Wright scored an efficient 15 points off the bench for Dallas on 6-of-8 shooting, adding four rebounds, one assist and three steals in Saturday's win over Toronto.

    Wright played well and was extremely efficient for the Mavs. The three steals are great and his value lies within his abilities to generate defensive statistics.

  • Jerome Robinson
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    A career night for Jerome Robinson who scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, adding five 3's, four rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks in Saturday's win over the Hawks.

    Robinson got an extended run in tonight's 150-101 blowout win over the Hawks. A nice game for the second-year player.

  • Terance Mann
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Getting the start, Terance Mann scored a career-high 13 points in 33 minutes of action, adding six rebounds and eight assists in Saturday's blowout win over the Hawks.

    With teammate Patrick Beverley out, Mann got the start and made the most of it earning career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. This is a great game for him, and something for him to build off of, but this type of output should not be expected again pending prolonged injuries to Beverley.

  • Paul George
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Paul George was on fire in Saturday's 150-101 blowout win against the Hawks scoring 37 points in 20 minutes, adding four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

    In only his second game back from injury, George has scored 70 points in 44 minutes of total play. Needless to say he has already found his groove. Had the game not been a blowout from the start there is no telling how many more points he would have racked up. It is also worth noting that he shot 11-of-11 from the line tonight-coupled with the 10-of-10 from last game- he has not missed a FT yet. This torrid pace is probably not sustainable but the high usage and excellent efficiency, paired with "load-management" nights for teammate Kawhi Leonard, make George a possible top-10 player this year pending any re-occurring shoulder issues.

  • Trae Young
    PG, Atlanta Hawks

    Trae Young scored 20 points (4-of-16 from the floor and 10-of-12 from the line) on Saturday with six assists and two threes in a 150-101 blowout loss vs. the Clippers.

    The Hawks were destroyed on Saturday so throw this game out the window. Young is a top-30 player so far with averages of 26.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 3.3 threes. Forget about this game and enjoy watching Trae post top-20 value this season.

  • Ivica Zubac
    C, Los Angeles Clippers

    Ivica Zubac fouled out in only 17 minutes of play after scoring seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks in Saturday's win over the Hawks.

    In less than 16 minutes a game this season Zubac is providing top-100 value thanks to highly efficient FG and FT percentage, high rebounds and good blocks without hurting owners anywhere. He is an easy player to own that can be picked up and dropped on the waiver-wire without raising too many eyebrows.

  • De'Andre Hunter
    SF, Atlanta Hawks

    De'Andre Hunter struggled from the floor on Saturday, shooting 5-of-14 on his way to scoring 12 points.

    Hunter added a steal and a three but he is hurting more than he is helping by shooting .369 from the field this season. The drag on field goal percentage is too big to warrant rostering Hunter right now outside of deeper leagues.

  • Montrezl Harrell
    PF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Montrezl Harrell scored 17 points in a blowout win over the Hawks, adding four rebounds, two assists and a block in 23 minutes off the bench Saturday night.

    Harrell would have picked up a few more boards and points had the game been tighter but found his services not needed in this blowout win. He will continue to provide great energy off the bench for the Clippers and a high FG percentage, points, and rebounds for fantasy owners.

  • Lou Williams
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams scored an easy 25 points off the bench in Saturday's win over the Hawks on 5-of-13 from the field and a perfect 15-of-15 from the line, also adding six rebounds and six assists.

    In 23 minutes off the bench Williams scored 25 points, making more free throws than shots attempted. In this crazy game Williams was able to get to the line with ease and made a mockery of the Hawks' young defenders, who failed to adhere to the scouting report and fell for pump-fakes. This was an excellent game for the 14th-year guard.

  • Damian Jones
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    Damian Jones started and scored 11 points (4-of-7 from the field) on Saturday with three rebounds and four blocks in 23 minutes.

    Jones and Alex Len (five points in 18 minutes on Saturday) are currently fighting for playing time at center. Jones and Len are both low-end streaming options for big man stats, but neither player can be relied on right now.