The big news Thursday night was the announcement of the ten players who will start next month’s All-Star Game in Chicago. Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James were the leading vote-getters in their respective conferences, meaning that they’ll be the team captains and will be the ones picking the teams. In addition to Antetokounmpo, Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid landed starting spots out of the East. As for the West, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis will be making the trek to Chicago. The reserves will be revealed a week from Thursday.
Wizards 124, Cavaliers 112 — Since being limited to 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field in a loss to the Raptors on January 17, Beal has been red hot. He’s scored 29, 38 and 36 points in the three games since, shooting 15-of-22 from the field to rack up that last number Thursday night. Beal also accounted for two rebounds, eight assists and four 3-pointers, which he made on eight attempts. Over the last two weeks he’s been Washington’s lone top-50 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, ranking within the top-25 in eight-cat per Basketball Monster. The only question worth asking now is whether or not he’ll be one of the coaches’ picks for the All-Star reserves.
Davis Bertans and Ish Smith scored 17 points apiece off the bench, and despite their status as reserves both have value especially in deeper leagues. Bertans played 27 minutes and also accounted for two rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers, while Smith supplemented his 17 points with four rebounds, five assists, two steals and one three-pointer in 26 minutes. While Bertans has remained a constant in fantasy, as he’s rostered in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues. Smith, on the other hand, is rostered in just 28 percent of those leagues.
With Gary Payton II remaining in the starting lineup but only playing six minutes Thursday night, someone is going to claim those available minutes. Smith and Troy Brown Jr., who finished with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer in 26 minutes, are the most likely candidates. Isaiah Thomas started and played 22 minutes, scoring 13 points with three rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. The aforementioned Smith would be a better option than Thomas in most leagues. In the frontcourt Ian Mahinmi, who over the last two weeks has provided top-100 value, had a relatively quiet night and finished with seven points, seven rebounds and one assist in 28 minutes.
Thomas Bryant was in a similar spot production-wise, as he accounted for nine points, three rebounds and one three-pointer in 17 minutes, and Isaac Bonga posted a line of nine points, five rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes. Bonga, who’s rostered in just one percent of Yahoo leagues, is ranked just outside of the top-100 in nine-category formats. He’s played at least 18 minutes in each of the Wizards’ last ten games, but the lack of scoring makes him a tough sell outside of extremely deep leagues.
For Cleveland, Collin Sexton had one of his more efficient games this season. In 37 minutes he shot 10-of-15 from the field and 7-of-7 from the foul line, finishing with 29 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and two 3-pointers while turning the ball over just twice on the night. Over the last two weeks Sexton has provided fifth-round value in both eight- and nine-category formats, and he’s averaging 3.1 assists per game. That figure may not seem like much, but for a guy who at times can go into “feels like leather” mode it’s an encouraging development (Sexton’s averaging 2.4 assists per game on the season).
He was one of three Cavaliers to score at least 21 points on the night. Kevin Love accounted for 21 (8-of-19 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs) with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes, while Larry Nance had one of his best games of the season. In 28 minutes off the bench he shot 10-of-14 from the field, scoring 22 points, with 12 rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers. Prior to Thursday, Nance last scored 20 points or more in a game back on November 25. Over the last two weeks he’s been a top-100 player in nine-cat.
Tristan Thompson, a player worth watching with regard to the trade deadline, accounted for six points, three rebounds and one assist in 21 minutes, while Cedi Osman accounted for nine points, two rebounds, five assists, two steals and one blocked shot. Osman was 0-of-6 from three, but the assists/steals/blocks salvaged something from what was a tough shooting night for the young forward. Speaking of tough shooting nights, Darius Garland was just 4-of-17 from the field. He finished with 13 points, one rebound, four assists and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes, and both he and Sexton are going to get plenty of run as the Cavaliers aren’t going to be a playoff team.
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Lakers 128, Nets 113 — In addition to the Lakers boasting two All-Star Game starters, the franchise’s coaching staff will also be headed to Chicago with that honor being clinched in Brooklyn Thursday night. LeBron led the way offensively with 27 points (11-of-19 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) while also accounting for 12 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. He’s closing in on Kobe Bryant on the league’s all-time scoring list, and there’s a chance that James moves into third on the list Saturday night in Philadelphia. He’s produced at a first-round level all season long, which is to be expected despite the fact that LeBron in his 17th season.
Five other Lakers scored in double figures, with Davis playing 27 minutes and accounting for 16 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer. He was once again listed on the pregame injury report, but unless the issue is along the lines of the tailbone bruise that kept him out of the lineup it’s a safe bet that Davis will be playing.
There was a change in the Lakers frontcourt, as Dwight Howard started in place of the ill JaVale McGee. Howard played 23 minutes, scoring 14 points (7-of-10 FGs) with 12 rebounds, one assist, two steals and one blocked shot. He continues to produce in the middle, be it as a reserve or occasional starter. It’s safe to say that Howard has made the most of his second chance in Los Angeles, and he should probably be rostered in more than just 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. McGee’s absence freed up some playing time for Jared Dudley, who played 17 minutes and finished with eight points, five rebounds, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers. That qualifies as a good night for Dudley, but he isn’t worth a look in most leagues.
Kyle Kuzma finished with 16 points, two rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. His fantasy value as a reserve isn’t as high as it is when he starts, as evidenced by the fact that he’s ranked outside of the top-150 in eight- and nine-category formats over the last month. And that stretch included starts that came as a result of Davis’ injury. Kuzma’s rostered in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues, and that number’s about right. Danny Green (14 points, one rebound, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (11 points, two rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, and Rajon Rondo finished with seven points, four assists, ten rebounds and one three-pointer in 23 minutes off the bench.
Alex Caruso played just ten minutes, finishing with eight points, two rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. He and Rondo are both better choices in deeper leagues than Avery Bradley, who was just 1-of-8 from the field and finished with two points, one assist and one steal. He starts because of what he brings to the table defensively, but that doesn’t do much good fantasy-wise as Bradley isn’t making shots. Over the last two weeks, he’s shooting 38.0 percent from the field and averaging 0.6 three-pointers per game. Bradley’s rostered in two percent of Yahoo leagues, and given the production that figure is higher than it should be.
Kyrie Irving was deemed to be healthy enough to start this one despite dealing with soreness in his right hamstring, and he would ultimately play a team-high 33 minutes. In that time on the court he posted a line of 20 points (7-of-17 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, four assists, two steals, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. Backcourt partner Spencer Dinwiddie shot just 3-of-9 from the field, scoring seven points, but he also accounted for seven rebounds, 13 assists, one steal and one three-pointer to make up for the lack of points.
Unfortunately he hasn’t been as productive as he was when Irving was first sidelined with the right shoulder injury, with Dinwiddie providing 18th-round value in eight-category formats over the last month. He should definitely be rostered in standard leagues, but you have to wonder if Kenny Atkinson will look to get Dinwiddie more minutes playing without Irving on the court. Such a change would also impact Caris LeVert, who in 23 minutes off the bench produced 16 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 2-pointers. His production has also been down, as over the last two weeks LeVert is ranked well outside of the top-200 in both eight- and nine-category formats.
Taurean Prince accounted for 18 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 29 minutes, while Wilson Chandler finished with 15 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench. Chandler had to spend some time at the center position, as the Nets were without DeAndre Jordan (dislocated right middle finger), and he’s worth a look in deeper leagues in the short-term as a result of the change to the Nets’ rotation. Starting center Jarrett Allen’s role remained unchanged, and in 30 minutes he tallied seven points, eight rebounds and one blocked shot.
Since going on a run of three straight games in which he scored in double figures, Allen’s been inconsistent in that regard in Brooklyn’s last five (all losses). Over the last two weeks he’s provided 11th-round value in nine-cat and 12th-round value in eight-cat; he certainly should be rostered in standard leagues but the production hasn’t been what you would hope for from Allen. Garrett Temple scored 11 points with six rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers, while Joe Harris accounted for six points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Rodions Kurucs (eight points, one rebound, one assist and two 3-pointers) was 3-of-3 from the field, but he should be left alone.
Mavericks 133, Trail Blazers 125 — Dallas and Portland combined to tie the NBA record for the most three-pointers made in a regular season game, as the two teams made 43 on the night. Four of Dallas’ five starters made at least three, with Doncic being the exception. The All-Star Game starter was 2-of-11 from deep on the night, but he finished with an overall stat line of 27 points (11-of-25 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), six rebounds, nine assists and two steals in 35 minutes. Doncic appeared to tweak his right ankle, which he injured earlier this season, late in the first quarter but there was no change to his workload. He’s probably fine, but that’s something to keep an eye on ahead of the Mavericks’ game in Utah Saturday night.
This was also Dallas’ first game without the injured Dwight Powell, who will miss the remainder of the season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. But instead of Maxi Kleber it was Seth Curry who moved into the starting lineup, and he finished with 17 points, one rebound, two assists one steal and four 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Curry being able to play more alongside Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis would increase his value, especially when it comes to made three-pointers, if Rick Carlisle were to stay with this lineup. Kleber played 23 minutes and he was also good, accounting for 15 points, four rebounds, one assist, three blocks and two 3-pointers. Over the last two weeks he’s been a top-100 player in nine-cat, and even if he comes off the bench he’ll be of even greater value with Powell out of the lineup.
Porzingis was much better in his second game back from the knee injury that kept him on the sideline for nearly a month, as he shot 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from the foul line. In 25 minutes he scored 20 points to go along with five rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers. The minutes will increase in time, and as long as Porzingis can stay healthy he’ll been a valuable frontcourt option in most leagues. Dorian Finney-Smith (10 rebounds, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (one rebound, four assists and three 3-pointers) scored 11 points apiece, and Jalen Brunson put up 17 points, three rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers in 17 minutes.
Delon Wright (nine points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Justin Jackson (six points, three rebounds, five assists and one three-pointer) rounded out the scoring for Dallas, with the latter’s 26 minutes being the most that he’s played in a game since January 4. Jackson may have more opportunities to produce since some minutes have opened in the rotation, but it’s unlikely to be enough to make him a player worth picking up in most leagues.
Damian Lillard followed up his 61-point performance on Monday with 47 points (16-of-28 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs), six rebounds, eight assists, one steal and eight 3-pointers in 42 minutes. There really isn’t much more to be said of Lillard’s value at this point, but over the last week he’s ranked second in both eight- and nine-category formats. Two other Blazers scored at least 20 points on the night, with one being new addition Trevor Ariza. He started and played 36 minutes, scoring 21 points with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and four 3-pointers. The trade saved Portland $12 million in the luxury tax, and Ariza is an upgrade on Kent Bazemore. He’s worth picking up in standard leagues, even if he’s unlikely to score 21 points on a consistent basis.
Gary Trent Jr. was the other 20-point scorer, as he shot 7-of-10 from the field and tallied two rebounds, one assist and six 3-pointers to go along with his point total. He and Anfernee Simons, who struggled Thursday night, will both be worth long looks later in the season should Portland remain well off the pace for a playoff spot. Simons shot 2-of-7 from the field, scoring five points with one rebound, two assists, one block and one three-pointer in 23 minutes. C.J. McCollum could be back as soon as this weekend, and his return would likely have a greater impact on Trent’s fantasy value than that of Simons.
Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside both posted double-doubles, with Anthony finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. He shot 7-of-21 from the field, but Anthony filling the stat sheet made up for that. Whiteside, who has been dealing with a groin contusion that he suffered on Monday, added 14 points, 10 rebounds and one blocked shot.
Caleb Swanigan played 23 minutes in his return to Portland, scoring two points with five rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. Portland’s injury situation in the frontcourt may get him a few minutes, but Swanigan should remain on the waiver wire. The same can be said of Mario Hezonja, who in 14 minutes missed all four of his shots and accounted for just one rebound. McCollum’s return will likely drop him completely out of the rotation.
Friday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Milwaukee vs. Charlotte, 3 PM (in Paris)
Memphis at Detroit, 7 PM
Boston at Orlando, 7 PM
Toronto at New York, 7:30 PM
Sacramento at Chicago, 8 PM
Atlanta at Oklahoma City, 8 PM
Houston at Minnesota, 8 PM
Denver at New Orleans, 8 PM
LA Clippers at Miami, 8 PM
Phoenix at San Antonio, 8:30 PM
Indiana at Golden State, 10:30 PM