Mavericks, Pistons, Nuggets – If you’re looking for short-term help these are the only three teams that play four games for each of the next two weeks, starting on Monday. Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Svi Mykhailiuk, Derrick Rose, Michael Porter Jr., Jerami Grant and Monte Morris are all guys who might be able to give your team a boost over the next couple weeks. Porter went off on MLK Day with 20 points and 14 boards and very well may have been dropped in your league just before it happened, so make sure he’s not sitting on your waiver wire.
Monte Morris Nuggets – Speaking of Nuggets, Morris hasn’t exactly been dominating since taking over at point guard for the injured Jamal Murray, but he had eight points and eight assists on Monday and is a better shooter than he has been for his last several games. He’s hit just 9-of-32 shots over his last four games and is averaging just 6.3 points, 0.5 3-pointers, 0.5 steals and is shooting 28 percent in them. But he’s also averaging 5.3 assists during that stretch and shooting north of 43 percent on the season. My guess is that the slump ends on Wednesday night and Morris starts putting up big numbers. Murray is basically out indefinitely with his ankle injury so Morris could be primed for a big couple of weeks.
Stephen Curry Warriors – Curry now has a target date of March 1 and it sounds like there’s a real chance he could possibly give teams a boost for the fantasy playoff stretch run. I’m not completely sold on the idea, but Curry is simply too good to ignore. I still think he could bring more headaches than fantasy value if he only plays in randomly selected games, but if he does come back and play on a regular basis, you’re going to want to own him. If he does return around March 1 the Warriors final seven weeks of the schedule goes 3-3-4-3-3-3-2, which isn’t great.
James Harden Rockets – Harden hit just 1-of-17 3-pointers on Monday and is shooting 35.8 percent from the floor in his nine January games. He’s 4-of-32 from beyond the arc over his last three and stayed on the court after Monday’s game and worked on his shot while still in uniform. The Rockets have lost four straight games and Harden’s bad has been enough to offset Russell Westbrook’s good recently. Despite all of that Harden is still the No. 1 or No. 2 player in fantasy hoops and is simply mired in a bad shooting slump. But after scoring just 13 points last Wednesday and then the MLK Day disaster, Harden’s buy-low window is as wide open as it’s ever been right now.
Anthony Davis Lakers – Davis scored five points on Jan. 7 before landing on his backside and suffering his tailbone injury and then had nine points in his return to action on Monday. He played 23 minutes against the Celtics on MLK Day and looked fine, although he was a little rusty and in foul trouble. The minutes restriction shouldn’t be around for long and AD should be back to his wrecking-ball ways soon enough. But any time fantasy’s No. 1 player scores in single digits in back-to-back games and is working his way back from a nasty injury, he’s a buy-low candidate.
Malcolm Brogdon & T.J. Warren Pacers – Malcolm Brogdon hit just 2-of-11 shots for five points and five dimes in Monday’s embarrassing 118-88 loss to the Jazz. He’s scored at least 21 points in three of his previous four games and had 12 points and 10 assists in the other one, so he was clearly coming in hot. Some folks are worried about Victor Oladipo’s return negatively impacting Brogdon, which is an angle I’d focus on in trade discussions surrounding the point guard. Personally, I think Brogdon’s going to be fine and this is the perfect time to try to sneak him off an opponent’s roster. Warren was also coming in hot after scoring at least 21 points in three of his previous four games and had scored in double figures in all five of his games since posting a three-point disaster on Jan. 8. The Pacers had won five straight and got buzz-sawed by one of the best defenses in the league, so both Warren and Brogdon should look at lot better in Phoenix on Wednesday.
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Jerami Grant Nuggets – Paul Millsap has missed seven straight games with a sore left knee, and we don’t know when he’ll play again. However, once it happens it’s going to hurt Grant, who has been solid in Millsap’s absence. He’s scored in double figures in six of those seven games and blew up for 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers on MLK Day. Grant could really be on either list right now. Once Millsap is back, he’s going to take a hit, but if Millsap doesn’t come back any time soon Grant looks like a buy-low player. And his short-term schedule is great.
Derrick Rose Pistons – I think I’d plan on riding Rose for the next three weeks (four games each) and then plan on moving him for whatever you can get. He’s actually leading the Pistons in scoring and has been incredibly healthy this year, but I still don’t see how that can last all the way through the end of the season. Especially for a team that’s won just 16 games. Additionally, Reggie Jackson (back) is due back any day now and has a chance to steal some of Rose’s minutes. There are also a lot of trade rumors floating around about Rose and it’s entirely possible he could end up on a better team where he’d have a lesser role. If something looks too good to be true then it probably is, which is kind of how I feel about Rose right now. I’m really happy that he’s playing so well and defying the odds but we’re also waiting for the other shoe to fall. I hope I’m wrong.
Alec Burks Warriors – Burks had 33 points, seven boards, eight assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers in Monday’s overtime loss to the Blazers. He also had a big game on Thursday with 25 points, four rebounds, one assist, a steal and four triples in another overtime game, this time a loss to the Nuggets. In his last three non-overtime games Burks has scored 11, 10 and 13 points. I’m not saying he’s not a player you want to own, because he’s been worth having for most of the season. But given the uncertainty around the Warriors and their shaky schedule, now might be a good time to try to upgrade Burks.
Bradley Beal Wizards – We could probably name this column the ‘Bradley Beal sell-high panic weekly report’ or something because he seems to make the list every time. Beal hit10-of-21 shots for 29 points, six assists and two 3-pointers on Monday after a 14-point dud on Friday. He’s scored at least 23 points in four of his five January games and has been healthy enough to play in four straight games after missing time with a sore leg. The Wizards are 14-28 on the season and Beal’s leg issue could linger all season. I still think a shutdown is inevitable, which is a little weird to write after he played in all 82 games last year. Just like with Rose, I hope I’m wrong about Beal. But I completely regret drafting him in the first round in one of my leagues.
Karl-Anthony Towns Wolves – KAT is back for the Wolves, but they look like one of the worst teams in basketball right now after losing six straight games. I didn’t love how quiet the organization was about his knee injury when Towns was in street clothes for 15 games and saw the word ‘disgruntled’ thrown around enough times to raise a flag. It’s not going to take much more of an injury to shut him down again and the media is starting to pile on the Wolves as they tank away into oblivion. Maybe Towns is good to go and will finish out the season in Minnesota, but there seem to be bad vibes swirling around the Target Center right now and Towns can’t possibly be happy. If you do try to move him, treat him like the top player he is and don’t just give him away. He should bring back a super stud in return.
Ben Simmons Sixers – Simmons was amazing on MLK Day with his 34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, five steals and two blocks on 12-of-14 shooting, which isn’t bad for a guy who can’t shoot. That makes five straight games of at least 20 points for Simmons and he’s averaging 23.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 2.0 steals over that stretch. He’s clearly loving life without Joel Embiid (finger) on the court and the Sixers have won four straight games. Embiid should be reevaluated in the next few days and could return sometime next week. And once that happens you have to think that Simmons’ numbers will take a hit.