• After dropping in a Rockets career-high 45 points on a night when James Harden scored a season-low 12 points, it is now more clear than ever that Russell Westbrook is no mere sidekick in Houston. While the Rockets are Harden’s team, Westbrook has been kicking into high gear in a way we’ve nevers seen a Rockets teammate of Harden produce ever. More on how Westbrook can “Russ-cue” the Rockets later, first, let’s check in on our add/drops and injury update from another Friday night in the Association.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Daniel Theis, C, Boston Celtics – 32 minutes, 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, one block, 7-for-12 FG

    Enes Kanter is hurting and looking likely to miss the weekend so if you’re in need of some big man stats give Daniel Theis a look. He was putting up solid value even before the Kanter injury and may warrant holding even beyond the time that Kanter is hurt. He is looking strong for the Celtics lately and it won’t be too hard for him to carve out a consistent role considering their need for good play from their big men.

    Elfrid Payton, PG, New York Knicks – 34 minutes, 13 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, one triple, two steals, 5-for-11 FG

    The Knicks seemed determined to give Elfrid Payton as many minutes as he can handle which means he is more than worth a look for your fantasy team. With assists being so scarce, Payton shouldn’t be available on any waiver wires given the role he has been playing for this Knicks team. It won’t feel sexy, but grab Payton and enjoy the well-rounded production for your team.

    If you’re looking for more potential adds, check out our Pickups of the Night, part of the Hoop Ball Gametime Premium package.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Tomas Satoransky

    Tomas Satoransky came into this season with a promising role as the starting point guard for a lowkey talented Chicago Bulls team. With the Bulls still several seasons from seriously competing among the NBA elite, head coach Jim Boylen has even more reason to mess with rotations and play some younger and more developmental options in the rotation, causing Satoransky’s minutes to come down. I think you can do better at the end of your roster fishing for upside and Satoransky is safe to drop.

    Monte Morris

    When it was announced that Jamal Murray would miss some games due to injury, many fantasy players rushed to add Monte Morris – the presumed backup that would get a boost in value while Murray missed time. Unfortunately, Morris hasn’t done anything with the extra time and on Friday he moved back to a bench role. It seems there is nothing to see here after all and fantasy players can move on from this situation and look elsewhere form some waiver value.

    Injury Report

    Jimmy Butler sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not return to action

    James Harden left the game on Friday with a thigh injury before returning later on.

    Alex Len suffered a left hip flexor injury on Friday and did not return to the game.


    “Russ-cuing” the Rockets

    It’s no secret that the Houston Rockets have been struggling to string together wins lately, but on Friday night Russell Westbrook offered some reasons for optimism in the Space City. Westbrook finished the game with 45 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, one steal and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line. This comes one game after Westbrook scored 28 points with 16 rebounds, 8 assists and four steals. Over his last six games, he’s averaging 32.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 9 assists on excellent efficiency – especially from the free throw line, where he’s struggled in recent seasons.

    This is significant for a few reasons. First of all, these numbers are crazy and would be impressive regardless of the context. However, you consider the fact that Westbrook has really turned it on ever since James Harden started to really struggle, it shows how this Rockets team has a new dynamic that it’s been missing in recent years thanks to Russ. 

    Perhaps more importantly than the numbers themselves, is what the shot selection can tell us about Westbrook’s mentality playing with his old pal Harden in Houston. Without attempting a single three-pointer on Friday, Westbrook has now only attempted one triple in his last four games. For a guy who is frequently criticized for not being aware of his own flaws, this is a major development.

    Westbrook is being real with himself and committing to taking the types of shots that are most valuable to him – attacking the basket – rather than the contested middies and long-range triples that have often plagued him in recent years. This, more than anything, should give Rockets fans hope that he can “Russ-cue” them from the team’s recent struggles.

    Kawhi Leonard notches first triple-double

    On Friday, Kawhi Leonard notched a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. This doesn’t seem that crazy because Kawhi is an excellent basketball player and we’re used to seeing him do crazy things on the court. However this was crazy because it was actually the first triple-double of Leonard’s career.

    Leonard is always going to be load managed this season, but when he gets opportunities to play without Paul George like he did on Friday night it seems he has the potential to be even more special than we are used to on a regular basis.

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