Ryan Knaus

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Pelicans' Trifecta

Friday, March 23, 2018


The Pelicans pulled off an NBA trifecta with three wins in three nights, the Rockets won despite missing Chris Paul (hamstring), and Kemba Walker delivered 46 points in the biggest blowout of the 2017-18 season. It was a busy six-game Thursday in the NBA and there's a lot to discuss, but we’ll begin with the prospect of more DNPs for Houston's key players.

 

Rest for the Rockets?

 

The hamstring injury Chris Paul suffered late on Tuesday kept him out of Thursday's game. It's a predictable move from the Rockets since CP3 is 32 years old and they're easily in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed (up 4.5 games on Golden State), but it’s still a bitter pill for owners in the fantasy playoffs.

 

Mike D'Antoni said that Paul will "probably" be cleared to practice on Thursday, adding, "He has a good chance of playing this weekend. We'll see." The Rockets play home games on Saturday (vs. New Orleans) and Sunday (vs. the lowly Hawks), so there's a chance that CP3 will still miss one of those games even if he does return this week. If he does miss more games, James Harden's assists should get a boost and Eric Gordon is usually the big winner rotation-wise...more on that below.

 

The broader injury news for Houston is that CP3's absence is part of what could become a trend – D'Antoni said Houston wants to strategically rest players when they can get as many days off as possible. "We'll look at the schedule and probably take advantage of a game [followed by] a couple days off," D'Antoni said. "If they're going to rest, [give them] three days off, try to get the max out of it. We might do a couple shifts like that with different guys."

 

Looking at Houston's schedule, that could mean certain players rest vs. the Bulls next Tuesday – they don't play again until Friday, for a total of four days off. A home game vs. OKC on Apr. 7 also gives a lengthy break in the schedule, but that might hinge on how much breathing room Houston has for the No. 1 spot. In terms of which players beyond CP3 might be rested – James Harden is an obvious candidate, with his 35.6 minutes per game ranking top-15 in the league. Houston doesn't exactly have a young roster, of course, with 10 different players age 29 or older, so there could also be DNPs coming for Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and even Joe Johnson. We already know Luc Mbah a Moute (left knee tendinitis) will miss a few games after leaving Thursday's game early.

 

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Rockets 100, Pistons 96 (OT)

 

As for the game itself, Eric Gordon was Houston's only real headline from a fantasy perspective – he played 42 minutes as a starter, scoring 22 points (8-of-19 FGs) with five assists, three 3-pointers, three rebounds and two steals. Clint Capela had another double-double, Trevor Ariza hit three more 3-pointers with a steal, P.J. Tucker scored 10 points with eight rebounds, and the bench was led by Joe Johnson's 11 points. Assuming they stay active, those last three guys could all get more minutes while Luc Mbah a Moute is on the shelf.

 

Meanwhile, James Harden's streak of three games with 30+ points ended vs. Detroit. He shot 4-of-20 from the field (0-of-8 from deep) but was also 13-of-18 at the line with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Mike D'Antoni recently called him the "best offensive player [he's] ever seen" – that may have been intended to bolster Harden's claim to the MVP award, but that doesn't mean it was hyperbole. His offensive arsenal is ridiculous, but his ability to draw – and make – free throws is almost unparalleled. He made six freebies in the OT period alone on Thursday, and that was basically the difference. Just keep an eye on his status down the stretch – in addition to Houston's desire to rest key guys at opportune moments, Harden did tweak his ankle after landing on Blake Griffin's foot during tonight's game.

 

On the Pistons' side, Reggie Jackson struggled in his second game since Dec. 26, scoring four points on 2-of-13 shooting with three rebounds and one steal in 20 minutes. Significant rust was predictable since he missed 37 straight games, but remember that R-Jax was only posting top-120 overall value (9-cat) while healthy to begin the season. I'm not enthusiastic about his rest-of-season value, especially with Blake Griffin facilitating the offense more often than not these days.

 

Because of R-Jax's return, Ish Smith has shifted to the bench, but he was productive on Thursday with 18 points on 8-of-14 FGs, eight rebounds, three assists, two triples and one block. That makes three consecutive solid games for Ish. The first two came against the Kings and Suns, but maybe playing extra minutes against second-unit competition will get him going. Luke Kennard was also impressive off the bench with 14 points, four rebounds, two dimes and two steals in 33 minutes. The rookie seems to have found his niche as a score-first guard with 3-point specialist appeal. He'll help your FT% on the rare occasions he gets to the line, and might chip in a steal and a few combined dimes/boards, but the upside remains quite low.

 

Getting back to Blake Griffin...he was coming off a 10-assist game vs. the Suns on Tuesday, his highest since joining the Pistons, and proceeded to drop a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Thursday. He's averaging 24.0 points over the past 10 games and has flipped the switch after an awful stretch around the All-Star break. He'll always be more valuable in points-leagues, but he's showing versatility with 1.9 triples and 79.2% FTs on the season…both of which are easily career-highs. I'm still not drafting him in roto leagues next season.

 

Stanley Johnson tied his career-high with five steals in his previous game vs. Phoenix, but played just 14 minutes tonight to finish with five points, three rebounds, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer. Andre Drummond did his thing with 17 points and 20 boards, and the remainder of Detroit's active roster was too mediocre to merit discussion.

 

 

Hornets 140, Grizzlies 79

 

The Hornets destroyed the Grizzlies with the largest margin of victory in the NBA all season, and it was all about Kemba Walker. The All-Star scored 46 points on 13-of-18 FGs and 10-of-10 FTs, with a whopping 10 three-pointers. He joins Steph Curry as the only players this season with double-digit triples in a game, and could have gone even higher if he weren't limited to 28 minutes in the blowout. Charlotte has given no indication that they’ll rest veterans, at least so far, so Kemba's owners should keep their fingers crossed.

 

Dwight Howard's owners had a bittersweet experience on Wednesday, when his monster 32-point, 30-rebound game was coupled with his 16th technical foul of the season. Because of his mandatory one-game suspension, Willy Hernangomez moved into the starting lineup and had 10 points, 12 rebounds (five offensive), two assists and two blocks. There are multiple asterisks, though, since he played 19 minutes and this came against a Grizzlies team without Marc Gasol. Willy is worth grabbing in deep leagues as a flier, but I'm still not picking him up while Dwight is active.

 

Jeremy Lamb has been the highest-scoring bench player in the East this season, but Thursday's line as a starter was all about the extras – 12 points with nine rebounds, six assists, two 3-pointers and one steal. He's basically must-start in fantasy with Nicolas Batum (Achilles) out indefinitely. Frank Kaminsky added 14 points and four 3-pointers in 20 minutes off the bench, and even Dwayne Bacon had 15 points, five assists, three boards and two steals in 31 minutes. Bacon's minutes have crept up in a hurry without Batum, but tonight's line has all the signs of a blowout-based fluke.

 

Memphis was playing the second of back-to-back games, so as usual they rested Marc Gasol, and the result was this almost unwatchable blowout. That makes four consecutive back-to-back sets in which Gasol has missed a game, and the only good news is that the Grizzlies have just one more set on April 8-9. Gasol’s absence allowed Deyonta Davis to start at center – he was coming off a solid 16 & 11 double-double, but finished Thursday's game with just four points, two rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes. If Gasol isn't shut down there's no way to trust Davis.

 

Tyreke Evans was back with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in just 19 minutes as a starter. He's going to be extremely annoying to own thanks to DNPs, so use him with caution. Andrew Harrison (wrist) was out tonight and a lingering wrist injury could explain his lousy game in just 16 minutes on Wednesday. Or it could be a simple precaution in the second half of a back-to-back set...it's hard to tell with the Grizzlies these days. Harrison was actually quite good for points-league value prior to his injury, but owners should look for safer options.

 

Jarell Martin scored 12 points with eight rebounds and nothing else – that's his 19th game with double-digit scoring over the past 36 games, after doing it just once in his first 28 games. Despite the increased role, he's not helping owners in leagues with fewer than 20 teams. JaMychal Green flopped with five points, seven rebounds and one assist, Dillon Brooks flopped with five points and one rebound in 16 minutes, and the only bench player of note was Wayne Selden (18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes). The Grizzlies have now lost 17 consecutive road games.

 

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Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Ryan Knaus



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