Thanks to the emergence of several young wingers, the San Antonio Spurs have started the season quietly and confidently. Last night, third-year guard Lonnie Walker IV scored 24 points in his team’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, bringing the Spurs’ scoring total to over .500 for the season. Sophomore forward Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 18 points on just 11 occasions and was the second-leading scorer alongside Walker. The fantasy market is finally taking note of Johnson’s rise, as it now owns nearly 72% of ESPN leagues. However, Walker is still available in over 80% of leagues.
In some ways, DeMar DeRozan’s absence last night certainly bolstered Walker’s ranking, but there’s also real momentum here, as the Miami native has scored 49 points in his last two appearances – two of the top three in his young career. Walker, who has only played one 20-point game in his first two seasons in the NBA, has now recorded two consecutive 20-point games.
Highlights of the year
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: 45 points (16-23 FG), 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, 4 TO
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: 23 points (8-17 FG), 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 7 steals, 1 TO
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: 4 points (2-7 FG), 10 rebounds, 1 TO
Larry Nance Jr, Cleveland Riders: 6 points (2-11 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 TO
- Process was back in MVP form last night in Philadelphia as Embiid needed each of his 45 points to help the undefeated Heat win. Was Embiid’s performance unique? Well, it’s the only record since 1984 that includes as many points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
- Not only did Embiid achieve a unique statistical feat against the Heat, but veteran Danny Green sunk nine of an incredible 21 3-pointers. Green missed all nine of his three-point attempts on Monday against Atlanta, allowing him to recover from a bad night. In fact, Green set Dana Barros’ 76ers record for 3 points and also contributed 16 rebounds and assists. They should probably use Green as a streaming option until Philadelphia picks up Tobias Harris and Seth Curry. The stock of rising recruit Tyrese Maxey, who nearly doubled up, continues to intrigue.
- Speaking of the taxi crew in Miami: Rookie Precious Achiuwa was terrific, recording a double for the first time in his career in tough competition against Embiid. The acquisition of this young recruit in free agency for Thursday’s match against Philadelphia could prove a payoff for fantasy managers, as Achiuwa is expected to play for many minutes as health and safety protocols have decimated Miami’s rotation.
- Indiana’s Aaron Holiday was invited to help on offense last night as Victor Oladipo rested in the second phase of the collision. Holiday’s younger brother managed to come off the bench with 16 points and 12 assists (with only one change), becoming the first Pacer to come off the bench with at least 15 points and 10 cents since Travis Best in 2001. Vacation will be irrelevant to fantasy if Oladipo is active, but it could be a useful streaming option if Malcolm Brogdon or Oladipo run out of time this season.
- The Warriors lost to Holiday and the Pacers in a low-scoring affair last night, but at least Andrew Wiggins was impressive defensively again. The Kansas product reached the pinnacle of his career with five blocks, giving him nine blocks in the last two games. Golden State asked Wiggins for more on that side of the court, and he responded with some of the best defensive figures of his career.
- The NBA postponed two games on Wednesday due to health and safety protocols. The Jazz-Wizards and Wizards-Celtics games will be moved to later in the season.
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- Cleveland’s injuries continued last night when Andre Drummond joined the starting backcourt on the sidelines with an Achilles tendonitis. That doesn’t seem to be a long-term problem for the All-Star center, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on the next few games.
- The Pelicans will be without Lonzo Ball tonight due to a knee injury. Eric Bledsoe is questionable due to eye irritation, but would be a good DFS player if active given that he has hit 5% of the ground running with the ball this season and made a significant jump in fantasy points in 36 minutes.
- The Mavericks will be without Jaylen Brunson and Josh Richardson tonight against the Hornets due to health and safety protocols, making Tim Hardaway Jr. a key player in the streaming game and a solid investor in DFS.
Environmental benefits of analysis
Yes Morant remains unavailable to the Grizzlies due to an ankle injury. This tells us that PG Tyus Jones, who has scored a staggering 37.4% in his last four games (while posting an elite steal percentage of 3.6%), is back in action. Given the dearth of production support on the galvanizing wire in competitive fantasy formats, Jones is a great plug-and-play option tonight against the Timberwolves.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
- The Battle of New York will air on ESPN tonight as the Nets cross the East River to take on the Knicks in Manhattan. While Kevin Durant nearly scored a triple-double last night, I’ll be looking at Caris LeVert as an expendable microwave bench for the Nets. LeVert averaged 25.7 points, 8.4 assists and 6.5 rebounds this season, while Kyrie Irving was on the sidelines. If you’re interested in securing high ceiling building blocks at a great price in tonight’s DFS game, then LeVert might be your man.
- Meanwhile, Knicks’ Julius Randle is one of only four NBA players to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game. He joins an exclusive list that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis. The Knicks have never had a player with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game all season.