Mar. 2 Box Score Analysis (6 Games)
Note: This is the last written Box Score Analysis until after the All-Star break. Tomorrow I will be putting out a pod, and I’ll be using Friday to get started on my Top-150 for the second half of the season.
Celtics 117 Clippers 112
Jayson Tatum (Buy Low): Tatum hasn’t looked the same since his bout with COVID, and it’s unclear when he’ll turn it around since he is still feeling the effects of the virus. He’s still producing a well-rounded line that would make most players jealous, but his struggles from the field are just torpedoing his value. Over the last month, Tatum has only been a top-45 player because he’s shot 39.3 percent on his 20.4 FGA. That is a massive FG% hit. If you ignore FG%, then he’s been a top-15 player. If I were punting FG%, I would be very aggressive with my buy-low offers. Tatum’s floor is extremely high in that build and his ceiling is well within the first round. Outside of that build, I’d be trying to steal him away from his owners with a top-25 player.
Robert Williams (Pick Up): Another “big minutes” game for Time Lord. Twenty-one minutes would get most players dropped, but for Williams, it is a godsend. If he can lock in even 18 MPG, he’s going to be a mid-round player. If by some miracle he starts playing 21 every night, then he could sneak into the top-50. The big man is that good of a per-minute producer. Currently, only five players have been more productive on a per-minute basis and four of those players are superstars. Over the last two weeks, in only 18.3 MPG, Williams has produced top-80 numbers that include 8.9 PPG on 71.1 FG%, 6.9 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. He should be owned in all leagues.
Jaylen Brown (Buy Low): Like many of his teammates, Brown is slumping right now. The Celtic has only been a top-130 player over the last 30 days and has been struggling with his shot and his steals. Over that stretch, the usually very efficient Brown has shot only 45.0 FG% from the field and picked up only 0.7 SPG. Both numbers should bounce back, so I would not be afraid to buy-low on the swingman. I don’t think you can go too low because his PPG has remained high, and we all know how much fantasy basketball managers love PPG, so I’d be offering up top-50 or top-60 players who aren’t a great fit for my build for Brown.
Reggie Jackson: Jackson is fine to stream if Kawhi is ruled out early for the Clippers’ Thursday night contest in D.C., but if the superstar is active, then the point guard should be sent back to the wire. In the Clippers’ previous game, Jackson only played three minutes and he’s only been seeing about 18 MPG over the last two weeks.
Lou Williams (Drop): Twenty-two minutes with Kawhi out of the lineup makes Williams a drop in standard leagues and in 14-team leagues as well. He’s a good points streamer and can give you four dimes a night (3.7 APG), but he’s not doing much else these days. Due to the drop in minutes (22.6 MPG), his FT% impact has been blunted (87.0 FT% on 2.7 FTA) and his threes have become middling (1.1 3PG). On the year, Williams is ranked just inside of the top-200.
Serge Ibaka: This wasn’t the most productive night for Ibaka, but if you own him, you have to be really happy with those minutes. This makes threes games in a row of at least 27 minutes. If he were to continue to play this much, he’d have a good shot at being a top-80 player. His current borderline top-100 numbers have come in only 24.1 MPG. If he drops back down into the low-20s, then he’ll still be a clear standard league player, but one with limited upside. In the punt assists build (1.8 APG), Ibaka has been a top-90 player this season, and in the punt steals build (0.3 SPG), he’s been a top-60 option.
Suns 114 Lakers 104
Jae Crowder (Pick Up in DL): Crowder’s top-125 ranking suggests that he’s a standard league player, but due to how inconsistent his play and role is, it’s better to view him as a 14-team league option. It’s not unusual for Crowder to follow a big three-game stretch with a string of horrendous performances. This was a nice line, but it came only one game after a 0/6/0 dud against the Wolves. Stream him in standard leagues if you are in need of help in the threes (2.4 3PG) and rebounding (5.0 RPG) categories.
Dario Saric: I wouldn’t read too much into the big minutes and nice line. Both were due to the matchup. Harrell was played off the floor and the Lakers didn’t really have a backup center, so Saric got some extra minutes at the five. The stretch big has played fairly well this year, but since he’s seeing about only 18 MPG most nights, I can’t recommend him outside of very deep leagues. As a streamer, he is somewhat useful for his low-end points and threes. Over his last six, Saric has averaged 13.0 PPG and 1.8 3PG.
Deandre Ayton: The low minutes were due to the game turning into a small-ball affair in the fourth. The Lakers went small with Kieff at the five in an attempt to come back, and the Suns decided to match them with Saric at center. Ayton has been a little more productive lately, but I wouldn’t expect more than top-50 numbers going forward. As with Booker, his disappointing season is not really due to his level of play. It’s more about how he is being used. If Ayton were to all of a sudden get 14.9 FGA like he did last year, he’d be an early-round player again, but that’s not going to happen. The Suns’ slower pace and the role players picking up more shots have led to Ayton only getting 10.5 shots a night.
Montrezl Harrell: Harrell should flirt with the top-100 all year, but I can’t see him doing much more than that. The Lakers are figuring out what the Clippers did last year. That Harrell is unplayable in certain matchups due to this defense. Only 18 minutes with Gasol and Davis out of the lineup is a very bad sign. If he goes off against the Kings’ putrid defense tonight, try to move him for a player with a little more upside.
Dennis Schroder: I don’t view Schroder as more than a streamer in standard leagues when the Lakers’ big two are healthy, but until then, he should be owned. Regardless of league size, he needs to be on a roster tonight as with James and Davis out, and a laughable Kings defense on the other side, he’s probably going to put up some juicy numbers. In the four games that he has played since Davis was shut down, Schroder has averaged 18.8 PPG and 4.3 APG.
LeBron James: LeBron will sit out his first game of the year tonight. I wouldn’t expect this to be the start of a trend. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for his MVP campaign, but I don’t think he’s going to give up on it yet. I would imagine the Lakers are just looking to give LeBron an extra couple of days off with the All-Star break being shorter than usual this year.
Hawks 94 Heat 80
Trae Young: Every time I look at a Trae Young box score the first thing I look at is his 3PA. A big reason why he’s disappointed this year is that his previously elite triples (3.4 3PG in 2019-2020) have turned into just above-average triples (2.5 3PG). That drop isn’t due to a decrease in his 3P%. The third-year man is actually shooting a better percentage from beyond the arc this year than he did as a sophomore. The drop is due to a decrease in attempts. After averaging 9.5 3PA last year, Young is sitting at only 6.6 3PA this season. For the Hawk to have a chance at coming close to living up to his lofty draft position, he needs to start playing differently, and lately, we’ve been seeing evidence that he’s doing just that. Over his last eight, Young’s three-point attempts have jumped to 8.4 a night. If the new shot distribution holds, he should get back up over three triples per game, which would be a large enough jump to get him back into the top-30 in nine-category leagues.
Kevin Huerter: Huerter could end up as just a borderline standard-league option when the Hawks are at full strength, but he needs to be rostered in all standard leagues and probably all 10-team leagues until that happens. We haven’t seen his minutes slip yet, and he continues to do good work in the threes, assists, and steals categories. Over the last two weeks, in 33.6 MPG, Huerter has been a borderline top-100 player and has averaged a helpful 11.8 PPG, 1.6 3PG, 3.1 APG, and 1.5 SPG. He’s also shot 90.0 from the line over that stretch, but he hasn’t got there enough (1.3 FTA) to have more than a small positive impact on the category.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (Pick Up in DL): Bogdanovic is fine to add in deeper leagues, but I don’t see him having standard-league appeal anytime soon. Before his injury, he was only playing 23 minutes, and while that number could go up under a new coach, it’s unlikely to end up high enough to make Bogdanovic more than a low-end option. The only time Bogdanovic was useful with the Kings was when he got to be the team’s primary ball handler. That just isn’t happening on a Hawks team run by Trae Young. If he doesn’t have the opportunity to rack up assists, he’s just a low-end points-and-threes option (14.5 PP36, 3.5 3P36) who hurts you from the floor (38.6 FG%).
Kendrick Nunn (Hold): A tough night for Nunn, but I’m not dropping until we see the minutes fall off. He’s been too good to let go of until we see what his role is going to be when the Heat are healthy. The combo guard has been a top-55 player over the last 30 days and has averaged an excellent 16.3 PPG, 2.8 3PG, 3.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG over that stretch. While I do think there’s a chance that he sticks in the rotation, I would be surprised if he had a big enough role to be a long-term standard league option. Take a look at this box score, add in 33 minutes for Buckets, and tell me where Nunn’s minutes are going to come from. It’s tough to find a spot for him.
Duncan Robinson (Pick Up): Robinson’s minutes have been way up lately, and the extra run has gotten him back on the standard-league radar. Over the Heat’s last eight games, the sharpshooter has played a whopping 35.4 MPG. His per-minute numbers haven’t really budged over that stretch, but they don’t need to if he’s playing that much. Whether or not to grab Robinson depends on whether threes is swing cat in your matchup. If you have it in the bag or are DOA in the category, leave Robinson on the wire. During weeks where threes don’t matter, rostering Robinson is like playing a man down since he is a significant drag in almost every other category (3.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 42.8 FG%).
Goran Dragic (Pick Up in DL): Dragic is on too many standard-league rosters. He shouldn’t be owned in 66% of Yahoo leagues. He’s not a useless player, but his lack of upside and mediocre current production makes him a better fit for 14- and 16-team leagues. The veteran has not cracked the top-170 in nine-category leagues since the 2017-2018 season and isn’t on pace to crack the top-200 this year. He just doesn’t contribute in enough categories to be more than a low-end player. If you look past his decent scoring (14.9 PPG) and assist numbers (4.9 APG), there is not a lot to like in his line (1.6 3PG, 3.0 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 2.8 TOPG).
Nuggets 128 Bucks 97
Jamal Murray (Sell High): Murray has been unbelievable lately. Jokic taking it up a couple of notches has killed his dimes, but he’s more than made up for the drop by hitting just about everything over the last month. Over the last 30 days, Murray has connected on 51.7 percent of his attempts from the floor, and over the last two weeks, he’s shot a stupid 58.0 percent from the field. That level of shooting is obviously not going to last, so I would put the Nugget on the block and see if you can get a safe top-40 player for him. Before this recent three-week hot stretch, Murray was just a top-80 player.
Will Barton: Not a bad line from Barton, but not something that gets me even a little interested in the standard leagues. He’s just been a streamer-level player with the Nuggets down a big chunk of their forward rotation, so there’s no reason to expect him to be more than that once Millsap, Green, and Harris are back. Even in 14-team leagues, he’s not a must-own. Over the last 14 days, Barton has not been a top-200 player and has averaged only 10.9 PPG on 42.1 FG%, 1.1 3PG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 0.7 SPG.
Monte Morris (Pick Up in DL): Gary Harris’ abductor injury sounds like it could be serious, so Morris could continue to hold borderline 14-team league value after the break. He’s only a streamer in shallower leagues, as Jokic’s ascendance has taken a bite out of both his usage rate and his assist rate. Both are down a material amount compared to last season. Deep-league players should give Morris a look if they need low-end points, assists, and a steal. Over the last week, Morris has managed 10.5 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.0 SPG.
Donte DiVincenzo: DiVincenzo is fine to move on from in standard leagues with Jrue back. He was a mid-round player for the first three weeks of the season, but since then, he’s only been a weak 14-team league option. Over the last two months, DiVincenzo has provided his owners with only top-175 numbers. The culprits behind his drop in value have been his shot and his steal rate. After shooting a solid 45.5 percent as a sophomore, DiVincenzo has connected on only 42.3 percent of his attempts from the field this year and only 39.6 percent of his attempts over the last two months. His steal rate remains strong (1.5 SP36), but has been nowhere near last year’s elite 2.1 SP36. We will need to see positive regression in both areas to get DiVincenzo out of the streamer zone in 12-teamers.
Jrue Holiday (Buy Low): Another rough night from Holiday. I’m buying low, but I would be careful what I give up for the Buck. I wouldn’t be offering more than borderline top-50 players. Holiday had a symptomatic case of COVID, and we’ve seen a lot of players struggling after picking up the virus. It’s definitely possible that gets back to this top-25 ways at some point, but it may take a while. Expect another quiet game from Jrue on Thursday against the Grizzlies. With the All-Star break just around the corner, the Bucks are likely going to play it safe with Holiday and let him get back into shape over the break. In the two games that he’s played since returning, Coach Bud has played Holiday only 18.1 MPG.
Bobby Portis (Hold): The low minutes were due to Jokic absolutely annihilating him. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Portis is an undersized five and if you’re undersized, you have no chance against Big Honey. Portis has cooled off a bit lately, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to drop him. Even in 10-team leagues, I would hold on. Despite some quiet nights over the last couple of weeks, the Buck is still ranked inside of the top-95 on the year in nine-category leagues.
Spurs 119 Knicks 93
Keldon Johnson (Pick Up): Grab Johnson if he was dropped due to his recent stint in COVID protocol. While the sophomore has cooled off considerably after his hot start, he’s still been posting borderline standard-league numbers and has more upside than most players on the wire. Over the last two months, Johnson has been a top-150 player and has averaged 14.1 PPG, 0.8 3PG, 6.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 0.6 SPG. In 10-team leagues, I would view him as more of a streamer. The early-season mid-round ranking was never sustainable as it was being driven by steal and block rates that were way out of wack with what he produced in college.
Patty Mills: Mills is a very strong points-and-threes streamer with Derrick White stuck in COVID protocol until after the break. Over his last four games, Mills has averaged a very helpful 14.0 PPG and 3.8 3PG. I wouldn’t read too much into the low minutes as they were likely due to the score. In each of the Spurs’ three previous games, the Australian played at least 27 MPG.
Trey Lyles: Lyles has no long-term value but will probably be worth streaming on Thursday with Aldridge possibly out and Keldon Johnson out of shape. Over his last three games, Lyles has averaged a useful 12.7 PPG, 2.7 3PG, and 6.3 RPG.
Frank Ntilikina: A nice game from Smokes who will be a solid streamer on Thursday for those in need of swipes. The Knick is currently producing an outstanding 2.5 SP36. He should not be viewed as a long-term hold, even in 30-team leagues, since he is out of the rotation when the Knicks’ point guard rotation is at full strength.
Immanuel Quickley: Rose is out through the break, so fire up Quickley for Thursday night’s battle with the Pistons. Payton is likely going to be out too, so close to 30 minutes for the rookie feels very doable. Assuming he gets some serious run against Detroit, expect some flashy numbers in the points and threes categories and some useful FT% impact. Quickley is currently producing an excellent 23.9 PP36 and 3.5 3P36 while shooting 94.2 percent from the line. I wouldn’t bother streaming him if you need anything else. He can give you 2-to-4 dimes on nights when he’s getting an extended look, but everything else is going to be very limited (4.5 RP35, 0.9 SP36, 39.4 FG%).
Obi Toppin: A rare big-minute game for Toppin who is well off of the fantasy radar, even in 20-team leagues. The extra run was due to Taj Gibson being out. Toppin could play a bunch again on Thursday against the Pistons, but I wouldn’t bother streaming him. That’s a very busy day, and there are likely going to be much better options out there. Currently, the rookie is only producing top-275 per-minute numbers and isn’t getting too many looks on the offensive end (16.4 USG%) despite a lot of minutes coming in garbage time against third-stringers.
Grizzlies 125 Wizards 111
Brandon Clarke: The big minutes were due to Kyle Anderson being out. Clarke is a strong hold in all leagues, but I do worry about his role going forward. In his previous three games, Clarke failed to top the 22-minute mark. As we saw last year, he can still be a no-brainer standard-league player in a small role (22.5 MPG in 2019-2020), but if he’s going to continue to play that little, he has no chance of continuing to be the top-60 player that he has been over the last two months.
Ja Morant: Finally. I don’t think Morant is going to be a mid-round player in nine-category leagues this year, but at some point, he should start outplaying his current top-125 ranking. The improvement is likely going to come from the FG% category, and to a less extent, the threes category. The drop in his FG% from 47.7 percent in his rookie year to 45.5 percent this year is due to some horrendous and likely unsustainable shooting from deep. Morant is actually shooting a slightly higher percentage this year from two than he did last year. He’s not a good three-point shooter at this point in his career, but he is unlikely to continue to shoot 23.4 percent from three. In his rookie year, he managed to hit a much more respectable 33.5 percent of his three-point attempts on only slightly lower volume.
De’Anthony Melton (Pick Up): This was the third game in a row in which Melton played well and played at least 22 minutes. I’m not sure the minutes will be there when Grayson Allen is healthy, but he’s worth grabbing just in case they are. Despite only playing 20.7 MPG this year, Melton is producing borderline top-100 numbers with averages of 10.3 PPG on 46.8 FG%, 1.6 3PG, 3.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.7 BPG.
Rui Hachimura (Drop): Just a gross night all around for the Wizards. I’m not even sure who to highlight here since everything is so ugly. Rui was rolling a week ago, but he’s back to just being a 14- or 16-team low-end option again. Over his last three, Hachimura has averaged only 5.0 PPG, 0.3 3PG, 4.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 0.7 SPG. The sophomore is unlikely to become a strong standard-league at any point this year since the current state of his game is not fantasy-friendly (0.8 3PG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG on the year).
Davis Bertans: Anddddd it’s another dud after back-to-back nice games. Bertans remains a luxury stash in standard leagues. In 14-team leagues, he should be owned, as the wire is going to be pretty thin in that setup. Bertans has been a top-120 player over the last month, but that respectable ranking is inflated by a nonexistent turnover rate (0.6 TOPG) and some fluky shooting from the line (91.2 FT%).
Alex Len: Keep an eye on Len. Wagner hasn’t been playing much lately, and Brooks may be on the verge of switching up the center rotation again. The team did well with Len on the floor last night, so maybe he gets back in the rotation or even starts. Even if he were to get the starting gig back, I wouldn’t treat Len as more than a streamer. He was only seeing about 20 MPG when he was starting, and that’s not enough run to make him worth rostering outside of the deepest of leagues.