• A time for a change of heart and a more open mind

    This has been an interesting season so far. Each year, I learn something new. This 2016-17, I’ve learned to let go of some of my biases. Both Dion Waiters and Nick Young were formerly in my “Never Draft” lists, but I’ve found myself adding them in a few leagues this season. They’re playing some of the best basketball of their careers and I’ve even found myself missing them, knowing that both guys will be out for a couple of weeks.

    Having biases against certain players is a habit I’m working on cutting. Pour over the numbers, study trends, then make assessments from there. That’s how to geek out on fantasy in a perfect world.

    That was just a little sharing from my personal journey of growth and improvement in this game of owning and managing make-believe NBA teams. Anyway, without further ado, here’s the dish on Wednesday night’s games.

    Detroit Pistons 121, Boston Celtics 114 – Pistons are pumping like a well-oiled machine!

    When four out of your five starters score 20 points or more, you know a team is rolling. The Pistons look like they’re finally getting it and are on the same page. Team trends and momentum are rarely tracked by most fantasy basketball managers, but it does have an impact on how well individual players perform.

    Andre Drummond bounced back from his ejection and 20-17 on the Cs. Even a previously struggling Marcus Morris filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, four boards, three blocks, and two treys. It’s a good time to own Pistons players.

    What was eye-opening on the Celtics’ end was Kelly Olynyk, who came out of nowhere to drop 19 points (3 triples) in 26 minutes of the bench. This is his second straight game to score in double digits, but the previous one was sans Al Horford. He’s still just a deep-league guy for now, considering his lack of consistent production. He’s worth a spot on watch lists though, at the very least.

    Memphis Grizzlies 105, Toronto Raptors 120 – The Andrew Harrison must-own zone

    Andrew Harrison stepped up big time in 35 minutes as the starting point guard for the Griz. Since he was just a low-end steals contributor, at best, prior to his promotion; Harrison surprised us all when he blew up for 21 points, four dimes, three steals, and four treys. It was a good night and could be the start of many more to come. Mike Conley is slated to miss 6-8 weeks, so a Harrison add is quite warranted right now.

    Patrick Patterson logged 30 minutes off the bench and dropped a 14-13 double-double on the Griz. He hit 4-of-6 shots from deep as well. Pat-Pat has been solid in a quiet, understated way as a reserve as of late. Kind of like how James Johnson has been performing for the Miami Heat. If you need a low-TO guy who can knock down threes and add a little something-something every now and again, give Patterson a look.

    Los Angeles Lakers 96, Chicago Bulls 90 – Time for some Larry Nance Jr.

    No D’Angelo Russell (could be back in a week or so) and Nick Young (out 2-4 weeks), no problem! Lakers win again!

    Even though he’s been “meh” so far this season, Brandon Ingram still projects to have strong potential for the second half of the season. He’s just a bit slow to adjust to the NBA game, but he does have the tools to be a solid fantasy asset. I’d stash him in leagues where convenient.

    The strength of the Lakers this season has been in the effectiveness of their bench players. You’ve already grabbed Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams, who are probably no long in FA pools if you’re just looking now. One guy who IS worth a look is Larry Nance Jr. He was a pick-up early on in the season, but his momentum was stymied by an injury. Nance dropped a sweet 12-11 double-double with three steals versus the Bulls. It’s his second in three games. He managed to do this with Julius Randle playing 31 minutes and dropping 13-20, as well. Larry is a low-end scorer but can contribute boards and steals to your team without hurting you anywhere. Look at him as a poor man’s Trevor Booker.

    Robin Lopez had a sweet game with 10 points, nine boards, and eight blocks. I had a recent exchange with another manager, comparing him to Andrew Bogut, I repeat, Andrew Bogut. Seriously? Yeah, the guy was off. Really. Lopez may not be wowing people with big numbers, but he’s been a solid rim protector at 1.6 BPG. He’s worth good small-time trade target if your team is starved for blocks.

    Washington Wizards 115, Oklahoma City Thunder 126 (OT) – Insert “Westbrook Title” here

    Russell Westbrook drops 35-14-11 on Wizards. Blah, blah, another triple-double, blah, blah! Yup we get it, he’s doing an Oscar Robertson, in an era when it’s not supposed to happen. I am sincerely impressed and in awe, but there’s only so much admiration I can express in an expository manner time and time again. I own him in two leagues and I’m thrilled AF. Congratulations to whoever owns him as well. He’s one hell of a player. One of a caliber so great that he makes triple-double performances ubiquitous (my word of the day).

    Moving on…

    Andre Roberson had a cool 10-5-2-2-2 line and has been teasing me in my deep leagues, as he should. The defensive numbers are there, but there’s not enough consistency and volume for me to recommend him in as an add standard leagues just yet. He is worth keeping an eye on though, as he could have Thabo Sefolosha-like appeal somewhere down the road.

    John Wall looked healthy as he did his best to lift the Wizards with his 15-6-15-1-1-2 line. Wall says his knees feel fine, but he is still a shutdown risk late in the season, should Washington miss the playoff hunt. Owners will want to time a sell-high moment for him, especially if they have other solid guards who can dish out assists. Speaking of sell-high guys, Bradley Beal is a good candidate. He knocked down four treys en route to his 31 points, but Beal is a notoriously injury prone player. If you own him, now would be a good time to find interested buyers, while his stock is up.

    New York Knicks 106, Minnesota Timberwolves 104 – KAT got your tongue?

    Finally! Karl-Anthony Towns breaks out with a career-high 47 points. He also added 18 boards, a steal, and three blocks. It took an epic mismatch against Kyle O’Quinn (who?), but KAT was finally able to show us a flash what some of us spent early first-round picks on. I know, grain of salt and all, but still, sometimes all it takes is a spark to set a guy like Towns on fire. Stay tuned!

    Update on the Ricky Rubio minutes watch: Ricky logged 38 minutes in this one, but was still underwhelming with eight points, six assists, and three steals. It’s on the low-end of his upside spectrum, but is a welcome sight compared to his previous outings. He’ll be tough to own, but a trade could easily spike his production back up. I’d say he’s a buy-low guy right now.

    Kristaps Porzingis continues to amaze everyone. He was outshined by Towns in this one, but the “PorzinGod” had a solid night with 29 points, eight rebounds, four dimes, two blocks, and three treys. He’s a buy-low candidate. No, you did not misread that.

    Courtney Lee did not return after suffering an ankle sprain. This allowed Brandon Jennings to have a nice outing with 12 points, seven assists, two treys and two steals in 34 minutes. Jennings should see a nice uptick in minutes while Lee heals up. The Knicks were also without Joakim Noah who is dealing with an ankle issue, hence the O’Quinn start. Willy Hernangomez, who played eight minutes, is still the guy to add in deep leagues.

    San Antonio Spurs 94, Dallas Mavericks 87 – When old guys need their rest

    Dewayne Dedmon was a sneaky DFS play with his 6-10-3-2 night, in his spot start for a resting Pau Gasol. Dedmon will continue to shine on nights when Pops rests Pau, which should happen at least every other week, depending on the Spurs’ workload.

    Patty Mills scored a team-high 23 points, with five treys; as he gobbled up most of the minutes at point guard (29 minutes), despite coming off the bench. Tony Parker was also a DNP-Rest in this one. Mills, however, should carry some deep-league appeal even when Parker does play; and is a must-own guy in 16-team leagues or deeper.

    Seth Curry suffered a mild knee sprain and will likely be dropped in more than a few leagues. He’s worth a grab-and-stash, because you can count on Deron Williams and Devin Harris making appearances on the injury report, again, sooner rather than later. Curry is a solid handcuff and could see a rise in value again at any time.

    Wesley Matthews is officially on a hot streak! 26 points, five triples, two steals.

    Atlanta Hawks 107, Phoenix Suns 109 – Missing my Millsap. Badly.

    The Hawks opted to err on the side of caution and rested Paul Millsap (hip). Mike Muscala started in his place, but missed all five of his shot attempts from the field. Millsap is day-to-day, but as someone who owns him in several important leagues, every day he misses is punishing. Let’s just hope that his durability allows for a swift return.

    Kent Bazemore, oh what to do with you? Good game, bad game, good game… He was a breakout candidate in my rankings and he has broken out and broken down, depending on the night. Tonight, he drops 22 points, four treys, and three steals; just after turning in an eight-point effort the game prior. Sigh. If you can stomach the inconsistency, which is something I am banking he will figure out in the end, Baze is worth a hold.

    Thabo “steals” Sefolosha ended up with the Lion’s share of minutes at shooting guard and had six points, eight boards, and five steals. Not bad, for a guy who’s going to win me the steals category this week. He’s underrated and has value in the right team build.

    Dennis Schroder busts out another good game for the Hawks with 31-9, and it looks like the buy-low window on the guy is officially closed. Sorry, folks!

    Alex Len was quiet in 23 minutes off the Suns’ bench with six points, nine boards, a steal, and two blocks. He’s a strong hold, because of his post-All-Star potential. Eric Bledsoe finally slowed down after a couple of big games with 13 points and four assists.

    Jared Dudley and P.J. Tucker chipped in 17 points each are both worth adds in deep leagues at the moment.

    Miami Heat 106, Denver Nuggets 98 – Gallo finally returns!

    Danilo Gallinari (thigh) looked good in his game back for the Nuggets as he posted a decent 17-4-4 line for the night. His return sent Wilson Chandler back to the bench, but Wilson remained productive in 29 minutes with 17 points and seven boards of his own. Keep Chandler in your lineups until he shows signs of fading.

    Jameer Nelson got another start and had 17 points and eight assists, with three triples. The Nuggets have four games next week, but Will Barton is nearing a return. Nelson is worth a keep for some low-end contributions for next week, but expect a drop-off in production once Barton gets back.

    There was also a reported Nikola Jokic sighting as the big man went for 17-14-3 against the Heat. Could this be the turnaround we’ve all been waiting for? Maybe.

    Wayne Ellington scored 22 points with five treys for the Heat and may have caught your eye, especially with Dion Waiters expected to out a couple of weeks. This is a nice outing, but Josh Richardson isn’t expected to be out too long, so Ellington is only worth a speculative add in very deep leagues, at best.

    James Johnson had another understated stat sheet-stuffing night with 10 points, seven boards, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. His across-the-board production makes him worth an add in standard leagues for teams nursing injuries. He doesn’t hurt you anywhere and does a bit of everything.  

    Indiana Pacers 109, Portland Trail Blazers 131 – Cold, Harkless killer

    Maurice Harkless is on a roll and has been a great add for the managers who had the foresight that he’d be solid. After a couple of seasons dealing with inconsistency and lack minutes, Mo has finally found a defined role with the Blazers. He had a good night with 23 points, three treys, and two steals. Al-Farouq Aminu is expected to return soon, so we should keep a close watch at how this affects Harkless’ value considering Mo has played some power forward in brief spurts. Damian Lillard was great with a stat-stuffing 28-5-10-4 line!

    I recently traded for Mason Plumlee (16-9-6), in a move to improve my team’s assists. Managers tend to hold on to their guards tightly, but Plumlee, who doesn’t block as much as most people would prefer, is an acquirable target if you need dimes. At 4.7 APG, you can’t do better from any center in the league.

    The Pacers really missed Paul George in this one, but the good news is that he should be back soon. In his absence, Glenn Robinson put up a laudable effort with 15 points. Glenn-Rob will slowly fade back into fantasy basketball obscurity once both George and C.J. Miles are healthy.

    Jeff Teague owners might be wondering if he’s a sell-high guy right now. Well, I’d say “No.” A big reason for his statistical decline last season with the Hawks was due to an unaddressed injury. He’s fully healthy now and is primed for a bounce-back year.



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