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There were only four games on Sunday ahead of the massive MLK-Day slate, but it's always an exciting day of hoops in the NBA. Devin Booker helped the Suns top the Pistons in Detroit in the matinee. Christian Wood had a monster night to lead the Rockets past the Kings. The Timberwolves took advantage of the Warriors being down two All-Stars, and Rudy Gobert returned to power the Jazz past Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. With plenty of other players leaving their mark with their performances, let's get into it!
Suns 135, Pistons 108
It was a nice homecoming game for both Devin Booker and JaVale McGee. Both are natives of Michigan and both made a massive impact for fantasy teams. Booker scored 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, which is the second game in a row that he’s topped 30 points. He also added in four rebounds, four assists, and only one turnover. Playing only 30 minutes since they were up so much, this was one of his most efficient games of the season. McGee got some extra opportunities, including starting the second half, because Deandre Ayton left early with an ankle injury. McGee only played 15 minutes, but he hit nine of his 10 shot attempts to score 20 points off the bench with six rebounds, a block, and only one turnover. The free throws weren’t pretty (2-of-4), but he’s never been great from there. If Ayton ends up missing time, McGee, along with Jalen Smith and Bismack Biyombo, should be looked at as potential pickups. While McGee would likely get the most opportunity, Smith just proved what he could do when McGee and Ayton were in protocols. Don’t be shocked if the Suns give him extended minutes if Ayton misses games. Chris Paul didn’t have a great fantasy day because the score was so lopsided, but he did have a block for the second straight game, giving him 11 on the season. With Cameron Johnson out, Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet provided the offense off the bench. Payne had one of his best games of the season, recording a 20/5/5 line, while Shamet added 11 points and five assists. When the Suns play bad teams, they tend to handle their business, which allows for extra minutes for their bench guys.
Cade Cunningham was well on his way to eclipsing his career-high of 29 points. Well, until this happened. Not here to butcher the refs, but this was unfortunate to see. He finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and a rebound, four assists, one steal, and no turnovers in 25 minutes. It’s definitely a performance for him to build off of against the reigning Western Conference champions. It appears as though the Saddiq Bey hype train has started to die down. After playing like a star for about three weeks, he’s put together a few poor performances over the past two weeks, including an 8/2/1 line in 29 minutes in this one. He’s still a very talented player and should be a viable fantasy option for a long time, but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to get the chance to be the league-winner that it seemed like he was. Unless the Pistons see more injuries. The only other Pistons that did much for fantasy teams were Cory Joseph and Trey Lyles. Joseph finished with 21/2/7 and no turnovers in 27 minutes off the bench, after seeing some extra minutes after Cade was ejected. Lyles put up 18/6/2 in 19 minutes, but shot an unfortunate 6-of-13 from the stripe. He’s shooting a career-high 82.4% from the line this year, so this can definitely be chalked up to an off-night.
Rockets 118, Kings 112
What a night it was for Christian Wood. He put up a 23/14/3/2/1 line to help the Rockets get revenge on the Kings after losing to them two nights ago. Over the past two weeks, he’s been providing third round value (second round value if you punt FT%). Kevin Porter Jr. has finally started to get back to being the fantasy star that he has been for stretches throughout his career. Over the past three games, he’s averaged 19/5.7/5 with 1.3 steals per game. His turnover numbers aren’t pretty (six in this game), but he’s actually provided top-100 value this season if you’re punting that category. Jalen Green hadn’t been shooting the ball great lately, but he got back on track by scoring 15 points on 60% shooting with five rebounds and four assists. With the trade deadline less than a month away, Wood should be a hot commodity for teams looking for that last piece to help them compete for a title. If Wood gets shipped out, Green and Porter Jr. should get more shots, while other young guys like Alperen Sengun should see plenty of minutes. Sengun didn’t do much in 15 minutes in his second game back from an ankle injury, but he’s a guy that could end up paying dividends down the stretch. Eric Gordon is another veteran that could be a trade deadline target. He had a solid performance against Sacramento, putting up a 15/7/2 line with a game-best +26. Garrison Mathews was an excellent scoring option off the bench, putting up 17 points with four 3-pointers in 23 minutes. He’s been streaky this year, including missing all eight of his shot attempts over the past two games, but he got back on track in this one.
With Tyrese Haliburton in protocols and Marvin Bagley a late scratch due to shoulder soreness, other guys got some extra minutes that they normally don’t. Terence Davis started in place of Haliburton and swiped a career-best four steals to go with his 17/6/5 line in 37 minutes. He also had this dunk after one of his steals. Davion Mitchell got some extended run after De'Aaron Fox was ejected in the fourth (though his may have been a bit more justified than Cade Cunningham’s). Mitchell put up a 16/4/7 line and tied his career-high with four steals in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s known as a defensive stopper, but if he can start collecting steals more consistently, his fantasy value will rise tremendously. Fox finished with 14/3/4 before his night was cut short early. Richaun Holmes returned from protocols and immediately slid back into the starting lineup. However, he only ended up playing 15 minutes, finishing with four points, a steal, a turnover, and three fouls. Condolences to anyone who started him because he returned. Damian Jones also returned from protocols and didn’t provide much fantasy value in 14 minutes off the bench. Alex Len had been getting some starts at center with Jones and Holmes out, but he didn’t do much in 13 bench minutes. Really, if you started a Kings’ center, you probably weren’t thrilled. Chimezie Metu got another start with Bagley sidelined and made the most of it with a 14/7/1 line with a steal in 26 minutes. Metu has actually provided seventh round value over the past week, but the Kings’ frontcourt is crowded when everyone’s healthy. Buddy Hield was another King making a statistical impact on the defensive side of the floor. He tied his season-high with four steals off the bench, while also getting it done on the offensive end with a 27/5/2 line with five 3-pointers.
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Timberwolves 119, Warriors 99
The bench unit got it done for the Timberwolves. Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley combined for 33 points off the bench, and the Wolves’ bench outscored the Warriors’ bench 57-38. Jaden McDaniels added four stocks off the bench, but didn’t add much else for fantasy teams. Naz Reid had nine points and nine rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. Which of course means he’d have had about 22 points and 22 rebounds if he had played 36 minutes. That’s quite the rate. As far as starters, Karl-Anthony Towns is probably the only one that produced his average numbers. He had 26 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks. Bigs haven’t had much of an issue against the Warriors with Draymond Green not out there. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Vucevic both had monster nights against the Warriors this week. Anthony Edwards only took eight shots in 28 minutes and put up a 9/1/2/1/1 line. That ties his season low for points that he had twice back in November, but it marks a season-low in shot attempts. The Wolves rolled with what was working, and it wasn’t necessarily a bad game for Ant Man. He just didn’t put up the number we’re used to seeing. D'Angelo Russell dished out 12 dimes in only 22 minutes of play. It wasn’t his best shooting performance, and he did turn it over five times, but 12 assists in 22 minutes is a pretty insane rate. He’s averaging 20.6 points and 10 assists over his last five games.
The Warriors aren’t the same team when they’re playing without the greatest shooter ever and one of the best defenders in the league. With Stephen Curry (hand) and Draymond Green (calf) both sidelined, the Warriors struggled to get it done. Otto Porter Jr. did end up putting up a full statline with 12/9/4/2/1 in only 26 minutes as a starter. Draymond should be out at least another two weeks, so Porter Jr. should be worth the pickup as he’s only rostered in 29% of Yahoo! leagues. Jordan Poole started in place of Curry and had a 20/4/3 statline. The 20 points were a team-high, which shouldn’t be uncommon over the next few games if Curry remains out since Klay Thompson still has a minutes restriction. Thompson did have a 13/4/2 line with a steal and three 3-pointers in 23 minutes. He’s struggled with his shot in his first four games, but that’s to be expected. However, that’s not going to stop him from shooting. Jonathan Kuminga had 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The rookie has gotten the opportunity with Draymond out and has made the most of it. Over the last three games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and one block in 25.9 minutes per game. He should continue being a nice streaming option, and he’s even providing fifth round value if you’re punting free throws. Huge emphasis on punting free throws.
Jazz 125, Nuggets 102
Rudy Gobert returned after missing five games, but you would’ve had no idea he took any time off at all. He put up a monster 18/19 line with two blocks in 35 minutes. After the Jazz had the worst defense in the league without him, they held MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic’s team to only 14 points in the fourth quarter. The difference is clear when Gobert is out there. He was a +36 in his 35 minutes. He also had this pretty insane shot that unfortunately didn’t count. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz in scoring with his 31/5/4 line with two steals. He rebounded from an off night against the Cavaliers where he scored 17 points and has now scored at least 30 on three of his last four games. Bojan Bogdanovic also rebounded from a poor shooting night against Cleveland by putting up a 21/4/5 line. Jordan Clarkson had an excellent fantasy night with a 16/6/3/1/1 line. This marks five consecutive games that he’s recorded a steal. Eric Paschall only played nine minutes off the bench but scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Despite seeing his minutes decrease, he’s scored in double figures in three straight games and in four of his past five.
Here it is again. Nikola Jokic putting up insane numbers. Yet, the most outrageous stat wasn’t his 25/15/14 line with two steals against a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. It was that he was a +5 in 37 minutes in a game his team lost by 23. They were outscored by 28 during the 11 minutes that the Joker wasn’t on the floor. How his team performs shows his importance to their success, which helps make a compelling argument for him to win his second straight MVP award. Aaron Gordon set his season-high with six assists to go along with 20 points and seven rebounds. Will Barton put up a 16/2/4/1/1 line, but only shot 6-of-17 from the floor. Bones Hyland scored 13 points, but struggled with his shot (5-of-14 FGs, 3-of-10 from deep). It’s very possible that they were gassed from dominating the Lakers the night before, so it’s unfortunate if you were relying on any Nuggets to help you to victory. Unless, of course, you have Jokic.
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