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Sunday’s schedule was a bit light as far as the games were concerned, as only five were played. And that’s how it tends to be this time of the year, as the NFL dominates the landscape. But there were some noteworthy happenings in the Association, including a future Hall of Famer continuing to show out in Los Angeles, and The Beard posting his first triple-double of the season. But we’ll begin in Charlotte, where a starter’s return ultimately benefitted the Hornets’ top reserve.
Hornets 125, Trail Blazers 113
Fittingly the man known as “Scary Terry” made his return on Halloween, as Terry Rozier (ankle) was back in the Hornets starting lineup. He played 33 minutes, recording a line of 14 points (4-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), two rebounds, five assists, one steal and four 3-pointers. Rozier attempted just one shot from inside the arc, but I’d expect the ratio to be far more in line with what we’re used to seeing from him as he gets more comfortable.
The bigger takeaway from this one was how Rozier’s return impacted Kelly Oubre, who moved back to the second unit on Sunday. And, as expected, Tsunami Papi had a big night. Shooting 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-8 from the foul line, Oubre tallied 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and six 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He’s going to play plenty regardless of spot in the Hornets rotation. But coming off the bench gets Oubre more time on the court as a primary scorer, which enhances his fantasy value.
And P.J. Washington, who got off to a slow start to the season, bounced back on Sunday. Shooting 8-of-8 from the field, he pumped in 17 points to go along with two rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes. It should be noted that Washington served as the small-ball center for all of those minutes. Hopefully we see more of that moving forward, based upon Sunday’s performance and Washington’s advanced numbers from a season ago.
According to Cleaning the Glass, he played 46% of his minutes at center last season, producing substantially higher points per 100 possessions (117.2) and effective field goal percentage (56.1%) numbers than he did at the four (108.1; 52.3%). Even if limiting Washington to the center position means that he plays less, that may actually be a good thing as far as his fantasy value is concerned. Miles Bridges (19/6/9/0/1 with three 3-pointers) keeps rolling along, while LaMelo Ball (27/9/7/1 with four 3-pointers) was outstanding at the point.
The biggest takeaway on the Portland side of things is Damian Lillard, and his continued struggles from the field. He shot 5-of-20 from the field Sunday, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, 12 assists and two 3-pointers (on 14 attempts) in 38 minutes. The good news for fantasy managers who have Lillard rostered is that he put up a high assist number while turning the ball over just two times. He doesn’t traditionally get off to the slow starts that the aforementioned Fox does, which is what makes Lillard’s start to the season so surprising. But given the overall body of work, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. And if you’re in a league with a manager who’s prone to panic sell early and they have Lillard, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to kick the tires on a trade.
C.J. McCollum (25/2/8 with four 3-pointers) and Jusuf Nurkic (13/14/1/2/1) put up solid lines, while Anfernee Simons (19/1/1 with five 3-pointers) had his best scoring game of the season to date. Unfortunately he didn’t give managers much beyond points and 3-pointers, which is a bit concerning given Chauncey Billups‘ stated desire during the preseason to have Simons get more minutes on the ball as the backup point guard. He scored 11 or more in five of his six games played, but a little more consistency is needed in the assist category.
Mavericks 105, Kings 96
Jason Kidd made a change to his starting lineup for Sunday’s game, with the move likely influenced by the matchup. Instead of having Reggie Bullock fill the void left in the starting lineup by the injured Kristaps Porzingis (back), as he did in Friday’s blowout loss to the Nuggets, Kidd went with Maxi Kleber. And Kleber got off to a good start, making all three of his field goal attempts and racking up seven points, five rebounds and one 3-pointer in seven minutes. Unfortunately that would be the last that we saw of Kleber, as he was then ruled out due to a strained back.
Should Kleber join Porzingis on the sideline for an extended period, how the available minutes are divided will likely depend upon that night’s matchup. Bullock (7/3/3 with one 3-pointer in 22 minutes), Sterling Brown (three points, one assist and one 3-pointer in 12 minutes) and Willie Cauley-Stein (4/6/2 in 14 minutes) are likely the names in play, with Bullock being the best of the bunch from a fantasy standpoint. But that isn’t saying a whole lot.
Luka Doncic (23/8/10/1/1 with one 3-pointer) posted a nice stat line, but he struggled from three (1-of-7) and the foul line (2-of-6). The foul line, even with the issues he had at certain points last season, isn’t much of a concern; Doncic entered the game shooting just over 77%. What is a concern is the 3-point shooting, with Doncic making just under 26% of his attempts (not counting Sunday). His lone triple was a shot from close to 40 feet out that gave Dallas a six-point lead with just over four minutes remaining. Doncic brings enough to the table to make up for shooting struggles, but it would certainly help fantasy-wise if he could snap out of this current slump.
Speaking of slumps, De’Aaron Fox had another rough day shooting the ball. Finishing with 14 points (5-of-16 FGs, 3-of-5 FGs), eight rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer, Fox has scored 20 points or more in just two of the Kings’ six games this season. Making matters worse are his shooting splits, which were 38.8/16.1/61.5 entering Sunday’s game. So, is it time for fantasy managers to sound the alarm? I’m not so sure, if only because throughout his career, Fox has gotten better as the season has progressed. For his career, he’s averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.8 3-pointers and 3.2 turnovers per game in October (not counting Sunday). And that’s while shooting 42.2% from the field, 24.4% from three and 67.2% from the foul line. Look for Fox to get going, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Richaun Holmes (22/13/0/2 with one 3-pointer) and Harrison Barnes (15/10/5/3 with one 3-pointer) have been two of the bigger surprises in fantasy basketball through the first week-plus of the season. No so much the fact that they’re producing, as both should be top-100 player, but the level to which they’re doing so. Both are ranked within the top-15 in 9-cat formats, with Holmes cracking the top-10. While managers shouldn’t consider selling high on Holmes, they may want to with Barnes.
He’s scored 18 or more in five of the first six games, and he entered Sunday averaging 25.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 3.8 3-pointers and 1.6 turnovers per. Barnes has never averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in his NBA career, much less 25 and 10. While it would be great to see him sustain this hot start, that may be too much to ask given the career numbers.
Jazz 107, Bucks 95
Utah was able to trot out its usual starting lineup Sunday, as Mike Conley (20/3/2 with four 3-pointers) was back after sitting out Saturday’s loss to the Bulls. The Jazz aren’t planning on using Conley in both ends of many back-to-backs this season, so that’s something fantasy managers will want to be mindful of when filling out their lineups.
Joe Ingles (5/1/1/0/1 with one 3-pointer), who started on Saturday, didn’t offer much in the way of production, and that comes as no surprise. At best, he’s a deep-league hold in case Conley is either injured or getting the night off. Utah’s next back-to-back is next Saturday/Sunday against the Heat and Magic, so Ingles will have some value in the game that Conley is not available for.
Donovan Mitchell (28/4/2/2 with four 3-pointers) scored 18 of his points after halftime, and has scored 22 or more in four of the last five games. More importantly, Spida shot better than 50% from the field (10-of-18) in a game for the first time this season. October has traditionally been Mitchell’s worst month from a statistical standpoint, so him finishing he month with an efficient outing is a positive development as the calendar flips to November. Rudy Gobert scored just nine points, but he also contributed 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal and four blocks. Given Milwaukee’s lack of interior options, this wasn’t the best matchup for the Stifle Tower, but he still managed to post a full line.
As noted the Bucks were shorthanded, as Khris Middleton (illness) joined Jrue Holiday (ankle) and Brook Lopez (back) on the sideline. As a result, usual starters Giannis Antetokounmpo (25/7/6/2/2 with three 3-pointers) and Grayson Allen (18 points, six rebounds and five 3-pointers) were joined by George Hill (11/6/2/1 with one 3-pointer), Pat Connaughton (5/5/1 with one 3-pointer) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (10/9/3/3). Thanasis got up a career-high 15 shots, making five, and the rebounding and steals numbers were encouraging. That being said, he isn’t worth streaming, especially with Bobby Portis back in the fold.
Portis is on a minutes restriction, and he finished Sunday’s game right at that number (19). He was productive when on the court, accounting for 15 points (6-of-15 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer. How the Bucks will handle Portis’ minutes in the short-term is something to keep an eye on, as the team will now begin a seven-game stretch in which six of them are played on the road. And there’s also a back-to-back mixed in, with Milwaukee visiting Philadelphia (November 9) and New York (November 10) on consecutive nights. Having Semi Ojeleye (DNP-rest) available will help with the numbers, but of greater importance to Milwaukee is to have Holiday, Middleton and Lopez back in the rotation.
Rodney Hood played just 11 minutes after suffering a bruised right hand, with the X-rays done in the immediate aftermath being inconclusive. Bucks trainers will take another look at Hood’s hand on Monday, and hopefully this isn’t an injury that will keep him sidelined for an extended period of time.
Nets 117, Pistons 91
Brooklyn announced before Sunday’s game that Nicolas Claxton would be out for anywhere from 7-10 days, as he continues to recover from a non-COVID illness. With Paul Millsap (personal reasons) also sidelined, that left a lot of the interior rotation minutes to Blake Griffin (8/5/2/0/1 with one 3-pointer in 20 minutes) and LaMarcus Aldridge (16/3/1 in 21 minutes). Aldridge is worth adding in deep leagues, due to the health issues mentioned above. He’s currently rostered in 44% of Yahoo leagues, and while the averages don’t jump off the page (12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals and 1.2 blocks), fantasy managers can do a lot worse when looking for another big for their roster.
James Harden (18/10/12 with four 3-pointers) posted his first triple-double of the season while shooting 6-of-9 from the field. He had just three free throw attempts (making two), and this is an area worth tracking moving forward. Harden hasn’t averaged fewer than six free throw attempts per game since his second season in the league, when he put up 4.2 per on a team that included current teammate Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Eventually Harden will get in his groove, as he continues to adjust to the way in which officials are calling games. There is no need for anyone to panic at present time.
Going back to Durant, he wasn’t around for the end of this one. Ejected in the third quarter due to a forearm delivered to the face of of Kelly Olynyk, KD finished with 23 points, one rebound five assists, one block and one 3-pointer. While he will be a bit lighter in the wallet, there won’t be a suspension. So fantasy managers can continue to play for Durant to play three games this week, beginning with Wednesday’s matchup with the Hawks. DeAndre Bembry (15/7/1/2 with one 3-pointer) played well in his 24 minutes on the court. and he’s played at least 13 minutes in each of the last four games. There’s no need to pick him Bembry right now, but he’s worth tracking in the short-term.
There wasn’t a whole lot to take away from this one on the Pistons side of things. With Cade Cunningham (load management) sitting out the second game of a back-to-back, Hamidou Diallo (six points, four rebounds and two 3-pointers) made a spot start. Diallo didn’t offer a great deal production-wise, and isn’t worth adding, even on nights when he may receive a starting nod. Detroit has another back-to-back on Thursday (Philadelphia) and Friday (Brooklyn), meaning that Diallo may get another opportunity to start.
Jerami Grant (11/4/0/1 with one 3-pointer) cooled off considerably after a hot start, while Killian Hayes (6/2/2/5) notched a career-high five steals. Unfortunately Hayes put up a subpar assist-to-turnover ratio (two assists, four turnovers), and remains ranked outside of the top-200 in 9-cat. Hayes has been active as a defender thus far, but the lack of offensive production makes him an incredibly difficult sell in most leagues.
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Lakers 95, Rockets 85
Anthony Davis (16/13/2/1/1) and LeBron James (15/7/8/4/1) both posted full lines after being listed on the pregame injury report, and Russell Westbrook (20/8/9/1 with two 3-pointers) had a decent night while turning the ball over just two times. The biggest fantasy-related story regarding the Lakers is Carmelo Anthony, who put forth another quality performance of the bench. Shooting 8-of-14 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line, Anthony scored a game-high 23 points, with three rebounds, two steals, four blocks and five 3-pointers in 25 minutes.
Rostered in 60% of Yahoo leagues, Anthony is currently ranked within the top-50. Expecting him to keep up this pace may feel unreasonable, but he’s a future Hall of Fame inductee for a reason. In many leagues it’s likely too late to hop on the #StayMe7o bandwagon, but do not hesitate to pick up Anthony if he’s sitting on the waiver wire. And this week’s schedule is quite forgiving, as the Lakers have home games against the Rockets and Thunder before visiting Portland on Saturday. Also of note was the change that Frank Vogel made to his starting lineup, with Avery Bradley (2/3/0/3/1) replacing DeAndre Jordan (8/3/2/1/2). The matchup likely dictated this shift more than anything, with this move (and Dwight Howard being sidelined due to a neck injury) also increasing Davis’ time at the center position.
Houston had a rough go of it, turning the ball over 25 times with Kevin Porter Jr. (13/9/4/2 with one 3-pointer and six turnovers) and Jalen Green (7/5/5/1 with four turnovers) responsible for ten of them. Growing pains were to be expected, but outside of Green’s 30-point night in a loss to the Celtics, Houston’s backcourt of the future hasn’t offered much in the way of fantasy value. Porter, whose status for the game was not officially known until shortly before tip-off due to an ankle injury, is ranked outside of the top-200 in 9-cat. Green hasn’t been much better, as he sits just inside of that marker. Green’s rostered in 88% of Yahoo leagues, and it would be wise to hold onto him for the time being. And if you can buy low, this would be a good time to make a deal.
Christian Wood (16/13/2 with one 3-pointer) had a brutal night shooting the ball, as he was 1-of-6 from three and 1-of-7 from the foul line. He’s made just 57.1% of his free throw attempts on the season, with that percentage being the biggest reason as to why Wood isn’t threatening top-50 value in 9-cat. And this will be a difficult road trip for he and his teammates, as Houston will play its next four against the Lakers (Tuesday), Suns (Thursday), Nuggets (Saturday) and Warriors (Sunday). Alperen Sengun (11/7/2/3) made the most of his 20 minutes, and those who have him rostered are hoping that the rookie will eventually leapfrog starter Daniel Theis (three points, four rebounds in 21 minutes) in the rotation.