Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Another nine-game NBA Monday means we have a lot of digesting and reflection to do. To give you a big picture view, the Blazers and Sixers both kicked off five-game weeks, Luka Doncic hit an early career milestone and oh yes Klay Thompson did something rather significant.
Here are 10 takeaways from a nine-game night to kick off Week 3:
Klay Day: The Warriors made a pot roast out of the Bulls (halftime score: 92-50), and Klay Thompson was the headline player in the insanity. Klay dropped 52 points in 27 minutes — that’s right, 52 in 27 — setting an NBA record with 14 treys. There are many wild aspects to Klay’s huge night, but a big one that stands out is that he came into the game having made just 5-of-36 3s this year. Alfonzo McKinnie also had a notably impressive-looking line for the Warriors (19 points, 10 boards and four treys), though I’d be inclined to let that one go unless you’re in a much, much deeper league. For the Bulls — who managed to only lose by 25 — Wendell Carter Jr. put up a season-high 18 with seven boards and four assists, and an inconsistent Cameron Payne followed up a two-point game with 15. Also, Klay Thompson had 52 points with 14 3s in case I forgot to mention that.
Zach Attack: No, that would not be Zach LaVine, who did manage to put up 21 points in that that insane loss to the Warriors. We’re referring here to Zach Collins, who popped the cork on a five-game week by putting up 17 points, three boards and three assists with a trey and a block in a season-high 27 minutes. (It honestly looked to me like he had at least one more block in this game, but blocks can be tough to get from opposing teams’ official scorers when you’re playing on the road.) It’s certainly fair to wonder if we’ve got a full-blown position battle on our hands between Collins and Jusuf Nurkic. It’s also fair to wonder if it really matters. Nurkic got into early foul trouble on Monday, and these two seem likely to split minutes pretty evenly for the foreseeable future. The good news there is that both guys can hit value in limited time. Nurkic, even after an off night, is averaging 13.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.2 spg and 0.8 bpg in 24 minutes, while Collins is putting up 11.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg and 1.0 3s in 22 minutes a night. He’s now owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues.
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This Nemanja Bjelica thing appears to be real. Coming off a 26-point, 12-rebound game over the weekend, Bjelica was all over the place in Miami, putting up 19 points, five boards, five assists, two steals, a block and three treys. He’s now averaging 18.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.7 bpg and 3.3 treys in his last three games, and is the No. 20 player in 9-category leagues on the season. Yes, that’s right: 20. (Bjelica is currently owned in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues.) His rise is certainly not good news for the anticipated fantasy breakout of Marvin Bagley (seven points, five rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a trey in 17 minutes), though he’s at least doing enough to put up some value, even if the presence of Bjelica is contributing to inconsistency.
Also apparently real — the Rudy Gay renaissance: DeMar DeRozan (34-6-9) and LaMarcus Aldridge (20-6-4) are the obvious headline performers in a post-Kawhi landscape in San Antonio, but let’s not overlook the impressive and exciting rebirth of Rudy Gay. Rudy put up 15 points with 11 rebounds, four assists, six steals and two 3s, upping his season numbers to 14.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.3 3s. That’s good for No. 50 overall in 9-category leagues so far. And speaking of Kawhi…
The Raptor rests … again: With Kawhi Leonard sitting out for the second time this season, Serge Ibaka unleashed his first 30-point game in nearly two years, and Pascal Siakam went off as well (22 points, eight rebounds, four steals and a block). Kawhi or no, the Ibaka resurgence (resergence if you want to be really clever about it) looks real. He’s now averaging 16.7 ppg and 12.9 shot attempts, which would both be career-highs. And Siakam is making some legitimate noise beyond just last night: 11.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg and 0.8 bpg in his last five games. As for Leonard, it’s pretty maddening to see him sitting out for the second time in seven games, but he’s been the No. 9 overall player when on the court, so make sure you’re not doing anything hasty.
Love Boat runs aground: The big injury news hit early on Tuesday, with Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that Kevin Love (toe) could miss more than a month. There is really no positive takeaway here, as I’m not excited about any of Love’s replacements in Cleveland, and fantasy owners probably have no choice but to wait it out (though if you can trade Love for anything of value, I commend you). I drafted Love in one of my favorite leagues, and I’m planning to just forget about him on my bench for as long as possible, and get rid of him as soon as I have the option.
In other injury news: Giannis Antetokounmpo (concussion protocol) was ruled out early in the day on Monday, cutting his three-game week down to two at most. The Bucks are now off until Thursday. Ersan Ilyasova put up 19 and 10 with three triples sans Giannis. Also, James Harden (hamstring) is reportedly unlikely to be back for Friday’s game, while Anthony Davis (elbow) missed his second straight. In happy injury news, Luka Doncic played through a sore back and busted out 31 points, becoming the third-youngest player in NBA history to rack up 30 points and eight boards in a game. The other two were LeBron James and Kevin Durant. It is worth noting that Doncic is currently No. 108 in 9-category leagues, largely because of shaky free throw shooting (72.7 percent) and high turnovers (4.3), so I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him if you think you can capitalize on Doncic Mania.
Frank Ntilikina: King of New York … would be an exaggeration if I actually wrote it and meant it. But there is something pretty significant happening at PG for the Knicks. Ntilikina put up a 16-5-4 line (with three treys and a block) on Monday, and is now averaging 14.0 ppg, 3.7 apg and 2.7 3s in his last three games. Ntilikina is owned in just 14 percent of Yahoo leagues, and is absolutely a high-priority add for me right now. Another name to seriously consider in New York is Noah Vonleh, who got his second consecutive start and posted eight points and 10 boards with a steal and a block in 29 minutes.
Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball frustration continues: Monday marked the first game back for Brandon Ingram after his suspension, and the second for Rajon Rondo. Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball both took a statistical hit. Ball put up a 4-1-1 line, while Hart went 5-6-1 — each in 24 minutes. Meanwhile, Ingram and Rondo both put up big numbers (24 points, three steals, three treys for Ingram, and a 13-6-8 line for Rondo off the bench). That makes two quiet games in a row for Ball and Hart, who suddenly look like players we need to be bench until we see some positive signals. The Lakers did drop to 2-5 with the loss, so it’s certainly possible that Ball and Hart benefit from a rotation shakeup in the not-too-distant future.
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Notable happenings for Heat: The Rodney McGruder Express stalled out a bit on Monday (a season-low seven points with six assists), but he was on the court to close out the game, so let’s not panic. Also, on the same day that his rotation spot was said to be in jeopardy, Tyler Johnson was very much a part of the rotation, putting up 11-4-4 with two steals and a trey in 25 minutes. Johnson now has double-digit points in two of his last three games as he potentially resurfaces as a useful end-of-the-roster fantasy option. Also, Josh Richardson dialed up a career-high 31 points, while Hassan Whiteside crushed his former team with 16 points, 24 boards, two steals and five blocks. Whiteside looks reenergized so far this year, putting up 16.2 boards (which would be a career-high) and 3.2 blocks. The only downside: 50.0 percent from the line on 5.7 attempts a game.
Rondae sighting: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put up his first notable line of the season (16 points, seven boards, a steal and two blocks), while Caris LeVert dropped his first dud (four points in 29 minutes). The story here though is RHJ, who some fantasy owners may be forgetting about as a potential big-time breakout. Last year he went from 8.7 ppg / 5.8 rpg to 13.9 ppg / 6.8 rpg, and another potential leap could easily be within reach for the 23-year-old.
Other Things to Know: Markelle Fultz scored a career-high 16 points (with four rebounds, seven assists and a trey), though he did so in a lopsided win against a not-good defensive team (the Hawks). … Buddy Hield went off for 23 (with season-highs of eight boards, five assists, two steals and four treys), and has now gone for 23, 22 and 23 points in his last three games. … Josh Okogie was impressive (17 points, three steals, a block and a trey) filling in for Andrew Wiggins (quad), though Wiggins was initially on track to play Monday, so there’s probably nothing to get too excited about here. … Karl-Anthony Towns put up his first truly monstrous all-around line of the season (25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, a steal, four blocks and three 3s), so we can probably stop being annoyed with his quiet early-season production. … Eight games are on the schedule for Tuesday night, including a rematch for Trae Young with the Cavs just over a week after his 35-point, 11-assist explosion against them.