• Monday’s slate of action-packed games didn’t lack for impressive individual performances. Rookie LaMelo Ball continued his stretch of torrid play, leading the Charlotte Hornets to a win while scoring 24 points (including a career-high seven 3-pointers) with 10 assists and seven rebounds. The Hornets are now 3-2 since LaMelo joined the starting lineup, and have won five of their last seven games overall – each of which games Ball has played over 30 minutes. Ball’s recent play is more than just him showing off his 2-steps-ahead of the game passing acumen or his impressive range from deep, the real story is that he is impacting winning in a meaningful way for this club. With how loud the criticism about his maturity level was during the pre-draft process, the team oriented way Ball has carried himself (and the way that has impacted winning) is by far his greatest accomplishment at the ⅓ point of his rookie season.

    Adds of the Night

    Jakob Poeltl, C, San Antonio Spurs

    Poeltl leaped into the starting lineup with LaMarcus Aldridge (hip) set to miss an undetermined amount of time, which means he should be scooped up in basically all 12-team formats until he returns. Through his three games he’s started, Poeltl has flashed the upside we all knew he was ready to unleash, averaging 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per-game through those contests. It doesn’t hurt his cause that the Spurs just genuinely look like a better team when he’s out there. It’s also worth emphasizing again that we do not know when Aldridge is returning, and given how aged he has looked this season, it wouldn’t hurt if he took a while.

    Hamidou Diallo, G, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Personally, I’m a little suspect of Diallo’s ability to actually return top-100 value with the newfound role he has, but until Theo Maledon is able to return from health and safety protocols, he basically has an unlimited runway to minutes at the guard spots. He played 40 in Monday’s game, and unsurprisingly double-doubled with his high-rebounding upside at the guard spot. Feel free to take a flier on him if you need PTS and REB and STL, but be aware that he does have some glaring holes in his game, particularly with his percentages and lack of 3-pointers

     

    Drop Zone

    Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Vanderbilt has been a fun stash of sorts while he’s been seeing extended playing time in the absences of Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez, but with the latter returning in Monday’s game and the former likely only a few days away, the opportunities are appearing to run thin for Vando. This isn’t to say he can’t emerge down the line, as he has flashed an upside that is worth another look for a team that is going absolutely nowhere, but I fear that the frontcourt is about to become too crowded for him to carve out a consistent role worth rostering over. 

     

    OUT – Covid Protocol

    Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday – was ruled out before tip and has been declared out indefinitely 

    Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant

    Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

    Oklahoma City Thunder: Theo Maledon

    Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric

     

    Injury Report

     

    Monday’s games

    Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) is expected to miss the next 2-4 weeks, joining Wendell Carter Jr. (quad, at least 2 weeks) and Otto Porter Jr. (back, indefinitely) on Chicago’s growing injury report. Going to be a ton of small-ball for this club going forward.

    Kyle Lowry (back) was forced to leave Monday’s game and did not return. His status is up in the air going forward.

    D’Angelo Russell came into Monday’s game listed as questionable with a quad injury, but ultimately left the game and did not return after injuring his opposite leg. There is currently no update on whether this injury will keep him out of future games going forward.

    Anthony Davis (Achilles soreness) missed Monday’s game, and his status going forward has yet to be determined.

    Chris Paul (hamstring) missed Monday’s game after coming in during the day listed as questionable…Meanwhile, Jae Crowder (foot) and Abdel Nader (ankle) missed Monday’s action.

    Devonte’ Graham (groin) was ruled out for his third straight game, continuing to pave the way for LaMelo Ball to stick in the starting lineup.

    Brandon Clarke (sore right calf) and De’Anthony Melton (left shoulder sprain) missed their second straight and first game with their respective injuries on Monday. Maybe the Grizzlies can field a completely healthy roster one day…

     

    Tuesday’s games

     

    Damian Lillard (abdominal strain) did not practice on Monday, but is not in the injury report for Tuesday’s game.

    Kyrie Irving (finger) is probable to play on Tuesday.

    Though he played in Monday’s game, Victor Oladipo is expected to sit out Tuesday’s game for rest.

    Jaylen Brown (left knee soreness) is questionable for Tuesday’s game.

    Evan Fournier (back spasms) didn’t practice on Monday and has been ruled out for Tuesday.

    Goran Dragic (ankle) is listed out for Tuesday

    Delon Wright (ankle) listed questionable for Tuesday

    Josh Hart (back) is listed as questionable for Tuesday

     

    Notable Numbers

    Pascal Siakam Turning things around

    Don’t look now, but Pascal Siakam has turned things around in a BIG way over his last handful of games. Over his last seven contests, Siakam is ranked 14th overall in 9-cat leagues, held u by averages of 2.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 triples on 50% shooting from the floor & 83% shooting from the line. This all has come after he missed two games last month nursing a groin injury. Whether the time he took off was necessary to get right, or it’s just coincidental, Siakam appears to be making good on that draft day valuation he was tagged with. On the season as a whole, Siakam now ranks juuuuust outside the top-50.

    Checking in on Darius Garland

    It’s been a decent amount of time since Darius Garland returned from a shoulder injury that cost him most of January, so where has he ranked in 9-cat leagues since then? Excluding his first three games back when he was on a minutes restriction, Garland has ranked just inside the top-120 in an eight game sample-size. It’s certainly not bad for a guy who mostly went undrafted in standard leagues, but it certainly falls below the hype he started the year off with as a guy who was being labeled as perhaps one of the biggest steals of the draft. When looking at his stat line through those games, there isn’t a glaring hole that Garland needs to improve upon in order to jump into the top-100. He’s scoring well (18 ppg on sterling percentages of 49% from the field and 82% from the line), and is putting together fine, if unspectacular, averages to the peripheral stats (5.4 assists, 1.5 triples, 1.0 steals). Considering his role on the team, you’re probably looking for him to really up his passing numbers, as that’s the one area where he can really get a leg up on the competition, and soar through the rankings if he can bump it to the 7-to-8 range on a per-game basis. The good news though is that he does look spry, and is worth monitoring as we watch his development through his second season.

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