Fantasy basketball 30 – Who’s hot, who’s cold, and who’s coming back?
Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? And what’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?
Here’s a list of the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams:
Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter moved to the bench in Friday’s game against Golden State and he has remained there for the two games since – with Bogdan Bogdanovic moving into the starting lineup in his place. This could be something that sticks under interim coach Nate McMillian, and it hasn’t helped Huerter’s production so far; while he has played at least 23 minutes in all three games since the move, he has averaged just 8.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG and 3.3 APG.
Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown (left hip) is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks. Brown missed Monday’s game against the Pelicans while dealing with this injury, leading to a huge 34-point game by Jayson Tatum and 23 from Kemba Walker. If Brown misses this one, too, the Celtics can count another those two and newly acquired Evan Fourier – who was scoreless in 33 minutes against New Orleans – to carry the scoring load.
Brooklyn Nets: Blake Griffin has played four games with the Nets, and even with Kevin Durant still sidelined and LaMarcus Aldridge still not having played a game with Brooklyn, the results are less than impressive. Griffin’s 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.8 APG in 18.3 MPG leave him well off the fantasy radar at this point, and it’s difficult to imagine the numbers improving much once Durant and Aldridge are back up to speed. Griffin is still rostered in 49.5% of ESPN leagues.
Charlotte Hornets: With LaMelo Ball sidelined, the Hornets need all the scoring help they can get, making Malik Monk’s absence due to a sore right foot especially tough. The good news is Monk is probable to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against Brooklyn. Monk, who scored 32 points and connected on five 3-pointers in the win over Miami last Friday, is posting a career-high 13.2 PPG and 2.2 3PG in this, his fourth NBA season.
Chicago Bulls: Coby White (neck spasms) missed the first game of his NBA career on Monday – a 116-102 loss to the Warriors – and the scoring point guard missed practice on Tuesday as well. These type of injuries tend to linger, and White’s status figures to be iffy for Wednesday at Phoenix and Friday at Utah. Make sure to keep tabs on this leading up to tip-off. Any absence by White leads to extended minutes for Tomas Satoransky.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. (illness) and Jarrett Allen (concussion) missed Cleveland’s last game, and their status is iffy heading into Thursday’s game against Philadelphia. Both missed Wednesday’s practice, which could set up the Cavaliers to use Isaiah Hartenstein and Dean Wade as their primary frontcourt options for the second straight game. Kevin Love, who missed Monday’s game due to a calf injury, could be another option if he’s able to return against the 76ers.
Dallas Mavericks: Aside from this Luka Doncic guy, the Mavericks lack young, athletic players on their roster this season. But according to a source of Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Mavs are one team believed to be eyeing Mitchell Robinson over the summer. The 22-year-old center has a team option at $1.8 million for 2022, and the Knicks could decline and make him a restricted free agent or accept it to allow him to be unrestricted in the summer of 2022.
Denver Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. may never contribute enough assists, steals or blocks to be an elite option in roto leagues, but his scoring, rebounding and 3-point shooting is a tantalizing combination that makes him very appealing in points leagues – even with the addition of Aaron Gordon. In the two games since Gordon joined the team, Porter has erupted for 21.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG while adding 3.5 3PG. Good times are ahead with this fun and exciting group in Denver.
Jamal Murray comes up with the steal and launches the pass to Michael Porter Jr. for the massive dunk.
Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith Jr. is slated to miss his fourth consecutive game for the Pistons due to a back injury, sitting out Wednesday’s tilt against the Trail Blazers. That paves the way for another start by Saben Lee. The second-rounder out of Vanderbilt put up 19 points and five assists in a win over the Raptors on Monday, while the newly acquired Cory Joseph added 17 points and five assists off the bench.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry’s return to the lineup on Monday led to immediate improvement by the Warriors, which snapped their losing streak with a win over the Bulls. And Curry’s presence also made a big impact in the rotation, as recently red-hot guard Jordan Poole moved back to the bench and finished with seven points, one rebound and one assists in 18 minutes, and Nico Mannion was relegated to seven minutes. While Mannion remains well off the fantasy radar, Poole’s downturn in playing time is a concern. If the trend continues, it will be time to send Poole back to the waiver wire.
Houston Rockets: Kelly Olynyk’s fantasy value has fluctuated greatly during his NBA career, with the versatile big man proving capable of being a factor whenever he gets extended minutes. With his new team in Houston, the minutes figure to be there, even when Christian Wood returns from an illness that forced him to miss Olynyk’s first two games with the Rockets. The Gonzaga product has averaged 20.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 3.0 APG since the trade, and is still available in 68.2% of ESPN leagues.
John Wall throws over the top to Kelly Olynyk, who finishes through contact for the Rockets’ bucket.
Indiana Pacers: Caris LeVert has now played nine games with the Pacers, and if anyone thought he’d be eased into the rotation after all he’s been through – think again. LeVert’s 32.1 MPG in Indiana is a hike up from the 27.8 MPG in Brooklyn this season. That being said, LeVert’s shooting and distributing hasn’t yet reached the levels it was at with the Nets (47.1 TS% compared to 51.6 TS%, 3.9 APG vs. 6.0 APG). It would be fair to expect things to settle somewhere in the middle for both TS% and APG for the duration of the schedule.
LA Clippers: According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, DeMarcus Cousins could be back in the NBA soon, as the Clippers are planning to sign to former All-Star center to a 10-day contract. Cousins, who last played on Feb. 17 with the Rockets, hasn’t been the same since being ravaged by injuries in recent years, and figures to have a minimal fantasy impact as he provides depth behind Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac. He averaged 9.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 1.6 3PG in 25 games with the Rockets before being released.
Los Angeles Lakers: Andre Drummond will make his Lakers debut on Wednesday and is set to replace Marc Gasol as the team’s starting center. How much Drummond plays remains to be seen; he hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 12. Drummond is capable of putting up terrific fantasy numbers, even with Gasol and Montrezl Harrell in the picture, has a chance to do so with his new team – at least until LeBron James and Anthony Davis return to the lineup.
Memphis Grizzlies: With the recent news that Jaren Jackson Jr. could return by late April, there is natural speculation that the Grizzlies could elect to shut down the young forward who has already missed most of the season. Will that happen? Who knows. What it does mean, though, is at least three or four more weeks for Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke and company to rack up a ton of stats before Jackson could suit up and return to the lineup.
Miami Heat: It remains to be seen how well Victor Oladipo will adapt to playing on the Heat, his third team this season after stops in Indiana and Houston. The expectations are low, considering the amount of scoring options in Miami compared to his situation with the Rockets, where he was counted on to be one of the main scorers night in and night out. As far as Miami’s other trade deadline acquisition goes, Nemanja Bjelica, the early returns are not good. Bjelica, who has proven to be a versatile presence when afforded the playing time, logged just five minutes in his Heat debut against the Knicks on Monday.
Milwaukee Bucks: We mentioned the Austin Rivers-to-Milwaukee rumors last week, and after Rivers was traded to Oklahoma City and subsequently bought out by Thunder in the past week, the Bucks remain a strong landing spot candidate for the veteran scorer. Rivers has played in only 21 games this season, though, and his 21.0 MPG is his lowest since the 2014-15 season with the Clippers.
Minnesota Timberwolves: As a freshman at the University of Washington last season, Jaden McDaniels appeared to be a long ways away from making an impact in the NBA. One year later, the lanky forward and No. 28 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft appears well ahead of schedule. McDaniels has played at least 33 minutes in each of his last three games, scoring 14, 14 and 13 in those contests. With his confidence on the rise, this is one young player to keep tabs on in the years ahead.
New Orleans Pelicans: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle referred to Zion Williamson this week as Shaq with point guard skills, and while that caused quite a stir on social media it’s hard not to notice the way the second-year forward is distributing of late. Williamson, who is up to 3.5 APG on the season, has dished out five or more assists in seven games this month alone. That, along with his improved free throw shooting (70.6% this month) and 1.0 SPG, has Zion continuing to rise on the fantasy rankings.
New York Knicks: How has it gone for RJ Barrett during the month of March? Pretty darn well. The second-year shooting guard has averaged 20.0 PPG in 12 games, shooting 46.7% from the field, while adding 6.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.8 SPG and 1.2 3PG. Confidence continues to rise for the No. 3 pick from 2019.
RJ Barrett flies to the bucket and drops in a tough layup while drawing a foul.
Oklahoma City Thunder: In the two games since the Thunder announced that Al Horford would be shut down for the season — a trend that many fantasy managers alike certainly wish would go away forever – it’s worth looking closer at how the young frontcourt has performed in Horford’s absence. Moses Brown (31.5 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG during the past two games) is the one to go after, and is still a free agent in 49.0% of ESPN leagues. Isaiah Roby (30.5 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG) would be next, with Mike Muscala and Tony Bradley behind those two.
Orlando Magic: Wendell Carter Jr. is available in 60.4% of ESPN leagues and Otto Porter Jr. is a free agent in 33.4% of ESPN leagues, and both new members of the Magic could be worth a look based on how they started their tenure in Orlando. Carter hasn’t played huge minutes (19.0 MPG) in his two games with the Magic thus far, but his 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks Tuesday against the Clippers was an encouraging sign. Porter, meanwhile, went for 13 points and added seven rebounds and four assists in that game. Both are worth watching closely.
Philadelphia 76ers: The subject of trade rumors leading up to last week’s deadline, Danny Green ended up staying with the 76ers after all. And the veteran has been scorching hot from beyond the arc as of late, averaging 5.0 3PG during the team’s last three games. Green’s 2.6 3PG this season is on pace to set a new career high, besting the 2.5 3PG he had with the championship Raptors team in 2018-19.
Phoenix Suns: With 42 games under his belt this season, we now have a solid sample size to compare Devin Booker’s numbers to last season – the pre CP3 era in Phoenix. After a closer review, what stands out is the consistency. Booker’s FG% of 48.9 is identical. His 3FG% is nearly the same as well (from 35.4 to 35.0). His scoring has taken only a slight dip (26.6 to 25.0) as has his rebounding (4.2 to 4.1). Really, the only significant change is the one we could have predicted when you bring in one of the best point guards in NBA history – fewer assists. Booker’s APG is down from 6.5 to 4.5.
Portland Trail Blazers: In the two games Jusuf Nurkic has played since his return, the lumbering big man has put up 9.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 19.0 MPG while Enes Kanter – who filled in well in Nurkic’s absence – has still led the way with 12.5 PPG and 11.5 RPG in 23.5 MPG. This figures to change as Nurkic gets back into playing shape and isn’t so much an indicator of anything other than the fact that Kanter remains a force even with Nurkic back in the lineup.
Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes is mired in quite a shooting slump from long range. The veteran forward, who made 45.8% of his 3s in January and 38.1% of them in February, is at an icy 23.3% clip in March, connected on only 0.8 of 3.3 attempts per game. When Barnes isn’t making the 3-ball, his scoring suffers as well, reducing him to a fringy option in 12-team leagues.
San Antonio Spurs: Gorgui Dieng is another player worth rostering when he gets the minutes, and the question is whether that will happen on his new team in San Antonio. Dieng was buried behind Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke in Memphis, but the Jakob Poeltl is the main competition for minutes with the Spurs and Dieng can offer scoring, rebounding and efficient shooting in the right situation. He hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 28, so it could take a few weeks for him to get up to speed in San Antonio.
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Thunder due to a foot infection — the same issue he was able to play through in Monday’s loss to the Pistons. With Lowry out, Fred VanVleet could be in store for a big game – you remember, he has done this before – but Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher all get a bump in scoring with Lowry and his 17.0 PPG sidelined.
Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell (personal reasons) will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies, leaving the Jazz without their leading scorer. How will Utah replace Mitchell and his 25.7 PPG? Well, it won’t be easy, but there’s a good chance Joe Ingles will make his 12th start of the season and that Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley will get more shot attempts than usual. Plan accordingly.
Washington Wizards: Russell Westbrook’s poor shooting percentages this season have made him a perplexing option in roto leagues, but the athletic point guard’s incredible production of late makes him dominant in points leagues. Westbrook’s averages over the last four games? 22.3 PPG, 16.5 RPG, 13.5 APG, 1.5 SPG and 1.3 BPG. Yowza!