February 1, 2021, 12:13 am
The Clippers took care of business in the early game, accounting for the Knicks who certainly never gave up. Kawhi Leonard was a standout for the Clippers and he just keeps on rolling as a top-5 fantasy player. Immanuel Quickley had yet another impressive performance and is fast-tracking himself to becoming a must-roster player. Nikola Jokic was on another level as the Nuggets blew the Jazz off the court thanks to some incredible shooting early on. The Joker did it all in the victory and has to be considered one of the favorites for this season’s MVP award. The Jazz had to cool down at some point and so this is really nothing to worry about. On a positive note, Bojan Bogdanovic is beginning to turn things around and he led all Jazz scorers with 29 points including five triples. The Sixers rallied to defeat the Pacers despite being without Joel Embiid, while the Raptors soundly beat a disappointing Magic outfit. Aaron Gordon was unable to return after appearing to sprain his ankle and he should be considered questionable moving forward. For the Raptors, Baynes continues to log heavy minutes and has relegated Chris Boucher back to a role similar to that which he had last season. The Wizards came from nowhere to beat the Nets thanks to a pair of 3-pointers in the dying seconds. This was easily the best game of the season for Russell Westbrook and so hopefully he can build off this performance. Finally, the Wolves snuck home against an underwhelming Cavs team who struggled to score down the stretch. Anthony Edwards was good again in a starting role and while I am not sure he has a ton of upside, he is worth picking up if he is going to play 30 minutes a night.
Add(s) of the Night
Anthony Edwards, G/F, Minnesota Timberwolves – Edwards doesn’t have the most fantasy-friendly game but if they are going to trot him out there with the starters, he is at least worth a flier in standard formats.
Jeff Green, F, Brooklyn Nets – It appears as though the playing time is real and given the lack of options the Nets have at center, Green should be added in most leagues.
Immauel Quickley, G, New York Knicks – Quickley is fast becoming a fan-favorite and his recent production has to be leading to something. Do remember that Tom Thibodeau could go away from him at any time but for now, you add him and see what happens.
Mo Wagner, F/C, Washington Wizards – Wagner turned in his best performance of the season and is clearly the best center left on the Wizards’ roster. There are no assurances here but you could pick him up in the hope his playing time increases over the coming games.
Ricky Rubio, G, Minnesota Timberwolves – Rubio just simply hasn’t got it at the moment and unless you are desperate for assists, he is better left on the waiver wire.
Alec Burks, G, New York Knicks – Burks has struggled since returning from his ankle injury and given the lack of upside, there is only so long you can hold on before cutting him loose. His playing time has been down and while there is a reasonable chance he gets going at some point, waiting for that to happen could be costly in the short-term.
Nic Batum was a late scratch due to a groin injury
Likewise, Nerlens Noel say out with a groin concern of his own
Derrick Favors played despite yet another questionable tag
Gary Harris suffered an adductor strain, playing only nine minutes
Joel Embiid missed Sunday’s game due to his ongoing back issue
Aaron Gordon rolled his ankle and played just 23 minutes
OG Anunoby was out again and it sounds as though he could miss another week of action
Norman Powell was also out for the Raptors but sounds as though he may return for their next game
James Harden missed his first game for the Nets with a thigh contusion
Nikola Is No Joke
The abbreviated offseason was for many players, a real challenge. Many came into the season underdone and fatigue was an issue from the get-go. Nikola Jokic is typically a player who takes up to a month to get into shape and his final few months are mostly spectacular. While the Nuggets were able to make a deep playoff push during the Orlando bubble, Jokic has certainly not skipped a beat over the first 20 games. In fact, the lack of ‘down time’ appears to have limited him in terms of ‘letting himself go’. He is clearly in the best shape he has ever been, especially for this time of the season. Maybe he should just play all year long?
Joker currently ranks as the number one player in fantasy in both per-game value and totals. When we dig into his numbers, there are certainly a couple of areas in which regression could be a factor as we move through the season. His scoring is up from 19.9 points per game last season, to 26.8 this season. That is a significant jump and could have something to do with the fact that Jamal Murray continues to struggle from the field. His rebounds are up from 9.7 to 11.8 while his assists sit at a career-high of 8.6 per game. The improvement are not limited to the offensive end either and his steal rate has been a real bonus thus far. His per-game numbers sit at 1.8, well up from 1.2 during the 2019-20 season. So there is clearly some scope for him to see a reduction in the near future, although we have never seen him game-ready to begin a season and so maybe this is who he is now.
Looking ahead, I do believe he will slow a little, especially as the other players around him begin to find their rhythm. The top-eshalon of the fantasy ranks is more wide open than it has been in recent memory and the difference between the first ranked player and the seventh ranked player may not be as significant as we think. For that reason, he could take a small hit to a couple of categories and still be in the discussion to end as the fantasy alpha. Chances are you drafted him in the middle of the first round and if that is the case, he is almost certainly going to return value.
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