Friday, January 28 2022

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Saturday was a busy 11-game night in the NBA while my Atlanta Braves pulled off another incredible win. In case you were watching that, here are 10 big things you might have missed in the Association last night. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!

1. What in the world is wrong with Michael Porter Jr.?

When my buddy Andy Hull drafted MPJ under my advice for the second straight year he said “Doc, are you sure? He kind of burned me last year.” Of course, I assured him that MPJ is some sort of god and there was very little risk in drafting him. “He simply cannot fail,” I said. Welp, even his biggest supporter (me) is growing a little skeptical after his 3-of-14 shooting performance on Saturday that netted him just seven points. After shooting over 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown over his first two seasons, MPJ is hitting just 33 percent of his shots thus far and 25 percent of his 3-pointers. Most of his stats have dried up as well as MPJ is averaging just 10.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 3-pointers and 0.2 blocks on the season. “I know he’s capable of playing at a much higher level, from the point of view of shooting, efficiency, rebounding and defense,” coach Mike Malone said earlier in the week. “We have to get more out of it.” My advice is to just hang in there with him, as he has nowhere to go but up. Maybe he’ll get it going on Monday against the Grizzlies and with four games this week, I’m starting MPJ despite his horrid slump. And if you want to make a low-ball offer for him to a disgruntled fantasy manager, now is the ultimate time to try to steal him. It’s been a really rough ride with MPJ thus far, but there’s no way he is this bad for too much longer. Go get him if you can pull it off. It’s fine. Everything is fine. At least, I hope it is. As for the Nuggets, the good news is that Nikola Jokic’s knee looks fine. So at least there’s that.

2. Streak over – Bulls beat Jazz

The Jazz are no longer the NBA’s lone undefeated team after the Bulls beat them 107-99 on Saturday night. And speaking of the Bulls, they look really good and now sit at 5-1 on the season, good for the league’s best record along with the Knicks, Wizards, Heat and Warriors. That’s an interesting list of teams and no NBA team is undefeated at this point. DeMar DeRozan had 32 points, six rebounds and three assists on 13-of-22 shooting and looks revitalized in Chicago. Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine are all playing at a high level and the Bulls suddenly look like one of the NBA’s most dangerous teams. Javonte Green started for Patrick Williams (out for season – wrist) and only had five points and two rebounds, but he’s at least worth keeping an eye on as long as he’s starting.

The Jazz got 30 points in the loss and Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 19 rebounds, a steal and three blocks, but it wasn’t enough, dropping them to 4-1 on the season.

3. De’Anthony Melton is here to stay

Melton went off for 20 points, three rebounds, five assists, three steals, a block and four triples on Saturday and remains a fixture in the starting five for the 3-3 Grizzlies. Memphis is getting strong play from Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Melton, Steven Adams and Kyle Anderson and they’re all reaping rewards for their fantasy managers. Morant is ranked No. 10, Melton is 39th, Bane is 40th, Adams is 69th, JJJ is 81st and Anderson is 136th. Melton is averaging career highs in points (13.7), rebounds (5.0), steals (2.0), blocks (0.8) and 3-pointers (2.7) and the only hole in his game appears to be free throw percentage (66.7), but he’s shot between 75 and 80 percent in his first three seasons. It will come around. If you drafted Melton It looks like congratulations are in order.

4. Deandre Ayton suffers leg injury

Ayton hit 8-of-10 shots and 1-of-3 free throws for 17 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes on Saturday night before exiting with a right leg contusion. The Suns were up big when he left and we can only hope that this was a precautionary move. Ayton has played really well this season and recently had a 21-point, 21-rebound game, sitting at No. 52 on the season. Hopefully, the injury isn’t serious and he’ll be good to go against the Pelicans on Tuesday. The Suns only have three games this week so if you’ve got options at center and are worried about his status, benching him in some instances might make sense. Hopefully, we get more detailed information about his status on Sunday. If he’s going to miss time, JaVale McGee could become an intriguing pickup over the next few days.

5. The tale of two Wolves – Beasley up, Vando down

Jarred Vanderbilt started again on Saturday but had just six points, six rebounds and a block on 3-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes. He was in some foul trouble and never got on track in that one after going for 10 points, 13 boards and a steal on Wednesday. I’m ready to give him a long leash for the next week but he’s let us down before. If he’s still struggling a week from now it might be time to move on.

On the flip side of the coin, Malik Beasley went off for 18 points, two rebounds, two assists, a steal and six 3-pointers on 6-of-14 shooting against the Nuggets. This was Beasley’s first meaningful line of the season as he continues to play his way into shape. If he’s sitting out there on the wire in your league, he’s probably worth a flier in case Saturday wasn’t a fluke. The Wolves play three times in the upcoming week.

6. Are the Spurs finally fun?

The Spurs are just 2-4 on the season but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been fun in fantasy thus far. Keldon Johnson had 12 points, 11 boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer last night, Derrick White scored 17 with four assists, a block and three 3-pointers, and Dejounte Murray kept his foot on the gas with 23 points, five boards, nine assists, three steals and a 3-pointer on 9-of-17 shooting. Lonnie Walker IV had a dud with four points on 1-of-8 shooting but has been playing well this year. Murray is ranked No. 20, Jakob Poeltl is 55th, White is 72nd, Walker is 125th, Devin Vassell is 132nd and Johnson is 190th. Johnson’s ranking is low because of his lack of blocks and threes, while he’s hitting just 65 percent of his free throws. He’s a career 74 percent shooter and the steal, block and 3-pointer on Saturday were a step in the right direction. But if you drafted Murray this season, your team is better for it. He’s been awesome.

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7. Ben Simmons is still lurking around in Philly

Simmons has been working out with the Sixers and was at shootaround on Thursday and Saturday, although we still don’t know when he’s going to play. “He’s been working out,” said Doc Rivers. “He did a lot of shooting and a lot of stuff with [skills and development coach Spencer Rivers].” That doesn’t mean a whole lot but at least he’s interacting with the team and has a chance to play at some point. Tyrese Maxey is going to continue to have a big role as long as Simmons is out and may hold a little value if Ben ever gets well enough mentally to join his teammates. But even though there is a glimmer of hope with Ben potentially playing again at some point, I’m just thankful I didn’t mess with him in any of my leagues. Just keep him stashed away in case he gets traded, as I think that’s his only hope for any meaningful success this season.

8. Caris LeVert is back

LeVert made his season debut on Saturday and lasted 19 minutes for 15 points, one rebound, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer. He scored nine of the Pacers’ first 13 points and put up a fun stat line despite the low minutes. If you drafted him and stashed him in hopes of this moment it looks like he’s going to be worth the wait. The Pacers play four games this week and while LeVert’s not a lock to play in all four of them, they don’t have any back-to-backs and he has a chance to go in all of them. Now if he can just stay healthy…

9. Cole Anthony is not messing around

Cole Anthony hit 6-of-11 shots and three more 3-pointers for 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and just two turnovers in Saturday’s loss to the Pistons. Anthony is averaging 17.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.7 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting. Those are all career highs, he’s shooting 81 percent from the line and the only negative is that he’s yet to block a shot. You’re not looking for blocks from Anthony and he’s sitting as the No. 57 fantasy player this year. What a steal.

10. Cade Cunningham makes his NBA debut

Cade Cunningham made his NBA debut on Saturday and hit 1-of-8 shots for two points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block in 19 minutes. He missed all five of his 3-pointers and certainly didn’t look great but was at least on the court after missing the first couple weeks with a sprained ankle. It’s going to be baby steps for Cunningham for the next 10 days or so, but at least he’s out there. He’ll get another shot at it on Sunday and then the Pistons play three times next week. He’s not a must-start player right now, obviously, but he will be sooner than later. Start him at your own risk for the next 10 days but expect him to figure this out fairly quickly.

Be sure to check our NBA Injury Page before setting DFS and fantasy league lineups on Sunday and for the upcoming week. Guys like Brandon Ingram, Robert Williams, Daniel Gafford, Malcolm Brogdon and Bam Adebayo sat out on Saturday.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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