Karl-Anthony Towns posted an 18-point, 14-board double-double during Sunday’s blowout win over the Pacers, adding four assists, one 3-pointer, two steals, one turnover and a career-high tying six swats in 38 minutes. I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately asking whether or not we should be concerned with the heavy minutes that Tom Thibodeau is dulling out to his starters, so here’s my take. Yes, Thibodeau has a history of running guys into the ground (see Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, etc.), but it takes a while to get to that point, and Towns is still just 22 years old without a history of injuries. In fact, he didn’t miss a single game through his first two years in the league, and he also averaged 38.0 minutes per game after the break last season, so he has a history of being able to withstand Thibs’ grueling minutes management practices. Not only do I think he’ll be fine, I think he’ll only continue to get better as the year goes on, and I think he could realistically close out the year as a top-5 competitor.
Sweet Lou Goes for 40
Lou Williams helped lead the Clippers to a New Year’s Eve victory over the Hornets on Sunday, scoring 40 points on 12-of-21 shooting to go with eight assists, six trey-bombs, two rebounds, one steal and just one turnover in 37 minutes off the bench. Williams did an excellent job of attacking the rack and went 10-of-11 from the charity stripe for a sterling 77.4 TS% to accompany his 33.4 usage rate. The 12-year vet has been one of the few constants for the banged-up Clippers this season, and he’s currently hitting career-highs in points (20.8), assists (4.7) and triples (2.6), which has him flirting with top-50 value in 9-cat leagues. However, this does feel like a bit of the high-water mark, as he could lose some usage once Danilo Gallinari (glute) gets back into the mix, so he’s a guy I’m strongly in favor of trying to sell-high on.
Blake Griffin looked great in his second game back, recording 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two 3-pointers, one steal, two blocks and four turnovers in 33 minutes. It looks like no minutes limit for Blake, and with the Clippers not having a back-to-back set until mid-January, that might not be an issue either.
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Julius Randle had his best game of the season on Sunday, hitting season-high in points and rebounds with 29 points (13-of-19 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), 15 boards, six assists, one block and four turnovers in 33 minutes. Luke Walton recently spoke on why Randle’s minutes have been all over the place this season, crediting some of that to the depth at his position and also partly to his, at times, lackadaisical play, but Sunday’s stat line gives us a glimpse of what he’s capable of bringing to the box score when given the minutes. Unfortunately, I think his minutes will be yanked around a lot this season if he remains in Los Angeles, so he’s someone I’d think about selling-high after this impressive performance.
In the Clutch
Dennis Smith Jr. came through in the clutch for the Mavericks, scoring 13 of his 19 points through the final frame of action, to go with three 3-pointers, four boards, six assists, one steal and three turnovers in an impressive 116-113 win over OKC. This was a nice game coming of DSJ’s triple-double on Friday, and the poised he showed during crunch time was very impressive. Turnovers, up-and-down shooting and a lack of steals has weighed down Smith’s value in fantasy hoops this season, but he’s loaded with upside and should be turned lose towards the second half of the year with 30-plus minutes a night. He’s trending up, but there’s still some room to buy-low here.
Mr. Triple Double
Russell Westbrook notched his league-leading 12th triple-double of the season on Sunday, tallying 38 points (17-of-28 FGs, 9-of-11 FTs), 15 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal and two turnovers in 37 minutes. Westbrook had a semi-slow start to the season but he’s been rolling over the past eight games with averages of 32.3 points, 9.9 boards, 10.3 assists, 2.1 steals and 3.5 turnovers per contest on 55.3% shooting from the field and 77.8% from the stripe, which has been good enough for top-3 value in 8-cat leagues. Congrats if you bought low early in the year when he was bricking his free throws.
On the Radar
Tyus Jones (finger) ripped away another two steals through 27 minutes as a starter on Sunday, adding six points, six assists, two rebounds and one turnover in the 107-90 win. He’s locked in as Minnesota’s starting point guard for at least the next 2-4 weeks with Jeff Teague (knee) on the sidelines, and with averages of 9.8 points, 6.2 dimes, 1.0 triple, 0.6 turnovers and an elite 3.8 steals (!) per game in 36.4 minutes a night as a starter this season, he needs to be owned in all leagues. Seriously, go grab him if he’s available, the fact that as I’m writing this he’s available in 30% of Yahoo! Leagues is embarrassing.
Marquese Chriss had another solid outing on Sunday, tallying 12 points (4-of-6 FGs, 2-of-3 FGs), seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists, one steal, two blocks and four turnovers in 20 minutes. He could have had an even nicer stat line if he didn’t foul out (something that has been a consistent issue this season), but this was still a solid showing as he continued his hot streak. Over the past four games, Chriss has put in averages of 11.0 points, 7.5 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.5 treys, 1.0 steal, 1.8 blocks and 3.0 turnovers per game on 65.2% shooting from the field and 47.1% from the line, which has been good enough for top-40 value when punting free throws. While Chriss could fall off at a moment’s notice, he’s absolutely loaded with upside and this sort of production does seem sustainable (aside from the sky-high FG%), so he’s worth a long look in all leagues.
Terry Rozier went 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe on his way to 14 points, seven rebounds, two 3-pointers, three assists, one steal and zero turnovers in 24 minutes off the bench on Sunday. He’s been hot over the past four with averages of 14.5 points, 5.8 boards, 2.5 dimes, 2.8 triples, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks and just 0.8 turnovers per contest on 58.3% shooting from the field and 83.3% from the line, so give him a look if those numbers work for your squad.
Tyler Ennis posted a 20-point, 11-dime double-double as a starter on Sunday, adding four boards, two steals and three turnovers in 45 minutes. With Lonzo Ball (shoulder) set to spend Monday’s game on the sidelines, Ennis will have another opportunity to start, putting him on the radar as a potential deep league streamer or DFS punt play.
Josh Hart also found himself in the starting lineup with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (suspension) unavailable, and he finished with 26 points (9-of-13 FGs, 4-of-8 FTs), six boards, four triples, one steal and one assist in 37 minutes. KCP won’t play Monday either, so Hart will be another Laker to consider as a DFS punt or deep league streamer.
Gerald Green scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with two 3-pointers, three boards, two steals and one turnover in 22 minutes off the bench. James Harden went down with a hamstring injury on Sunday night, and if he needs to miss time, Green would assuredly be in line for some more minutes and he could be more involved in the offense. He’s basically just going to give you points and triples, but he could do enough in those two categories to warrant ownership in deeper leagues. He seems like a Mike D’Antoni kind of guy.