Jonas Nader

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Lillard outduels Towns

Friday, March 2, 2018


The Process and Ben Simmons out-dueled LeBron James in Cleveland, Lonzo Ball and Isaiah Thomas looked incredible alongside each other and Damian Lillard and Karl-Anthony Towns put on a show. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

 

Lakers 131, Heat 113

 

Lonzo Ball moved back into the starting lineup probably a game or two earlier than the Lakers would’ve wanted because of his minutes restrictions, but they didn’t have a choice with Josh Hart (hand) set to miss multiple weeks. He ended up playing 34 minutes, posting eight points, seven assists, six rebounds, a career-high six steals and two triples on 3-of-5 shooting. Coach Luke Walton also called him the best player on the floor for making everyone around him better. As one of his biggest critics and a restless Lakers fan, I have to give credit where credit is due because his improvement since the beginning of the season is staggering. As my colleague Tommy Beer noted in his “Notable Numbers” column, Lonzo had historically bad shooting numbers through his first 25 games as a pro, hitting 32.1% from the field, 24.6% from deep, and 47.1% from the free throw line. 

 

Since then, it’s been a much different story — he’s shooting 44.4% from the field, 42.7% from deep and 52.6% from the line since Dec. 12. The free throw shooting is still a glaring concern, but once he figures that out he could be an early-round contributor in standard 9-category leagues. In fact, he actually has top-12 value on a per-game basis in his last eight games. "I can shoot,” Ball said. "I just missed at the beginning of the year. I told you I was going to keep shooting, and now they are going in.” He’s proving myself and other doubters wrong and is poised for a strong finish to his rookie season. 

 

Isaiah Thomas is also going to get some love tonight, as he had his best game of the season, scoring 29 points on 11-of-20 shots with six 3-pointers, six assists and four rebounds in 30 minutes. He’s going to benefit a ton from the Hart injury and logged almost 19 minutes next to Lonzo Ball, something that we should see more of. As a Thomas owner in some leagues I’ve been in panic mode for a while, but I’ll sleep easy tonight. 

 

Julius Randle had a monster night with a 25-6-2 line, one steal and one block, Brook Lopez finished with 10-2-2 along with a pair of triples and a block, while Kyle Kuzma spent some time at small forward for the shorthanded Lakers, scoring 16 points with six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three triples. The Hart injury has opened things up for a lot of the guys mentioned above, and now we’ll need to monitor the status of Brandon Ingram (19-5-5 with one steal and one block) closely as he suffered a left hip flexor strain and is questionable to play on Saturday. 

 

The Heat were without Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson as they both sat out with quad contusions, opening the door for Dwyane Wade to have another big game after hitting the game-winner and scoring 27 points vs. Philly on Tuesday. He finished with 25 points and a few assists and rebounds in 26 minutes, so it’s probably time to pick him up until the wheels fall off or until the Heat gets some bodies back. 

 

Fantasy stud Josh Richardson didn’t shoot the ball well, but notched 15 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and three triples. He has a total of 16 steals in his last four games and continues to put up early-round numbers in category leagues. One of my bold predictions before the season was that Richardson would be a top-25 player, something that would’ve been true if not for his first few weeks of the season. Kelly Olynyk finished scoreless in 13 minutes, James Johnson didn’t do much in 25 minutes and Justise Winslow had a rare productive game with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three triples. I don’t want anything to do with him or the other two guys I mentioned, as the Heat will continue to ride the hot hand every night, making it hard to know who to trust.  

 

Hassan Whiteside only played 19 minutes for matchup reasons, something his owners are very familiar with. Bam Adebayo started the second half and was rewarded for his strong play, finishing with 15 points, 10 boards and two blocks in 30 minutes. He played just seven minutes in his previous outing, and can’t be trusted outside of deeper formats in Miami’s volatile rotations. Adebayo is going to be a stud one day, but doesn’t have consistent value while Whiteside is healthy. 

 

Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.

 


76ers 108, Cavaliers 97

 

Joel Embiid gave a solid recruiting pitch to impending free agent LeBron James by leading his 76ers to a win, scoring 17 points with 14 rebounds, six assists and a block. With Philly in sixth place in the East and jostling for playoff seeding, Embiid is locked in as arguably a first-round value. Ben Simmons stepped up as well, scoring 18 points with nine rebounds and eight assists with two steals and one block. He’s one of three players averaging 15+ points, 7+ rebounds, 7+ assists and 1.5+ steals this season, joining LeBron and Russell Westbrook. He’s 21 years old and Embiid is 23. How does LeBron say no to that this summer?

 

Robert Covington may be ready to break out of his slump and posted a 10-10 double with a full line, J.J. Redick had 22 points with four triples and Marco Belinelli added 11 points off the bench. Richaun Holmes was a DNP-CD with Ersan Ilyasova making his season debut, pushing him off the radar until coach Brett Brown realizes Amir Johnson can’t make it past halfcourt in less than 15 seconds. Ilyasova played 18 minutes with a 6-2-2 line, and while he will take some minutes away from Dario Saric, “The Homie” still played 30 minutes and was productive with 16 points, nine rebounds and two triples. 

 

LeBron averaged a triple-double in February and has been superhuman lately, but he didn’t have much help tonight — he was the only Cavalier to score more than 13 points. LeBron finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and his owners may not need to worry about rest days down the stretch because LeBron said he’s trying to “lead by example.” J.R. Smith was suspended for this game for "detrimental conduct,” so Rodney Hood got the start with 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, one block and one triple in 39 minutes. He’s just not cutting it for fantasy owners since the trade. 

 

There is one good pickup in Cleveland these days and that’s Larry Nance. He had 13 points, seven rebounds, one steal and three blocks, bumping his averages up to 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals in seven games. Those are bound to come up too because he’s played 26+ minutes in three out of his last four games and he’s running circles around Tristan Thompson

 

 

Blazers 108, Wolves 99

 

Damian Lillard missed his first nine shots of the game, but then went 9-of-13 from the field the rest of the way, scoring 35 points with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and four triples. He averaged 31.4 points in February and has been the sixth best player in standard leagues in that span. If he’s on your roster, you should like your chances of winning a fantasy title with the way he’s been playing. Jusuf Nurkic played 19 minutes with 16 points, six rebounds, one steal and one block, but didn’t play down the stretch and he’s still feeling some pressure from Ed Davis (10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes). He’s still averaging around 26 minutes per game since the new year and I’d be comfortable calling him a top-100 player going forward, but Davis is a legitimate threat. 

 

C.J. McCollum added 19 points with three 3-pointers with a full line, while Al-Farouq Aminu continues to be a sneaky source of rebounds, triples and defensive stats. He had 10 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, one block and one triple tonight, and the Blazers will rely on him even more if Moe Harkless misses time with his knee injury — he has a strained left patellar tendon and his timetable is unclear. Evan Turner and Shabazz Napier would also benefit, with Napier being the better player to take a flier on in deeper leagues. Napier had 16 points in 27 minutes with three rebounds,  two assists, two steals and one triple, and he was coming off a 20-point game on Tuesday with four triples, three assists and three steals. 

 

Karl-Anthony Towns carried the Wolves, scoring 34 points with 17 rebounds, two assists, two steals, three blocks and one triple. He always seems to save his best for after the All-Star break, but the only bad news is that the Wolves have one of the worst schedules for the fantasy playoffs — they have a games played schedule of 2-3-3-4 over the next four weeks. Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points in the loss and has stepped up in Jimmy Butler’s (knee) absence, scoring 21 or more points in all four games since the break. Jeff Teague put up a 13-5-5 line, Jamal Crawford scored 10 points off the bench and Nemanja Bjelica is proving to be a nice pickup — he had eight points, 12 rebounds, one steal and one block and was averaging 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 triples in six previous starts. 

 

One thing to keep an eye on is Taj Gibson’s hip injury. He was diagnosed with a hip contusion and didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter. If Gibson does miss time, Bjelica gets another bump, but Gorgui Dieng would be the big winner and has proven top-50 upside when he gets minutes like we’ve seen in past seasons. He didn’t play well tonight, though. 

 

 

Kings 116, Nets 111

 

De’Aaron Fox sent this game to overtime with a nifty floater and ultimately led the Kings to a win, scoring 21 points with one assist, two steals and three blocks. Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two triples. Buddy Hield was hot coming into tonight’s game with 16+ points in four straight games with a combined 15 triples, finishing with 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. 

 

Those four players are the only guys you can rely on in fantasy right now, as Zach Randolph (DNP-CD) is going to be rested too much and Skal Labissiere (11-4-2 with two steals and one block) only has legitimate value when Z-Bo sits. 

 

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game that Jarrett Allen needs to rebound more and that there’s no reason D’Angelo Russell can’t average eight or nine assists, and both players got the message. Allen posted a 15-13 double-double with three blocks in 29 minutes, proving that he has monster upside when he gets close to 30 minutes. As for Russell, he dished out a season-high 11 assists, adding four 3-pointers for 15 points. 

 

DeMarre Carroll (22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three triples) and Allen Crabbe (20 points, six triples) both had monster games and are worth owning despite some ups and downs, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is still getting into a rhythm, finishing with seven points, five rebounds and one steal. Be patient with him, as coach Atkinson said he’ll be back in the first unit soon.




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