March 5, 2021, 3:34 am
With the final night of the first half of the season, we got one of the last guys playing to turn in the line of the night, just sneaking it in under the gun. Enes Kanter popped off for 22 points, 21 rebounds, a steal and a block in 34 minutes against the Kings, going 11-for-15 from the field in the process. While Damian Lillard obviously did the heavy lifting, as he always does, Kanter has become an unsung hero for Portland much like he was in his last stint with the team.
When Jusuf Nurkic went down with a fractured hand it was looking like the Blazers could be in trouble, but thanks to Lillard’s constant heroics and some role players stepping up to the plate Portland is sitting pretty in playoff position and could be truly scary once they’re back to full strength. Kanter has been a terrific fantasy player, delivering consistent top-90/75 (8/9-cat) performances since entering the starting lineup. It won’t last forever but it’s the sort of output that has flown a bit under the radar in both fantasy and reality. For a guy who gets lots of knocks on what he can’t do, Kanter has done well to play to the best of his abilities when his team needed him most.
Tip of the cap to our own Adam King for tonight’s Dish title.
Add(s) of the Night
Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Miami Heat
Olynyk got it going tonight with Bam Adebayo out against the Zion-less Pelicans, hitting 7-of-8 from the field for 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. It’s never the most consistent journey with him, but he’s been a top-125 guy on the year and seems to be elevated relatively quickly whenever Miami is shorthanded. With the Heat coming off a short offseason and grinding through this first half, you can bet on some continued absences to help keep Olynyk afloat.
Jeremy Lamb, G/F, Indiana Pacers
This one’s not a firm recommendation since Lamb still resides in the top-110/90 (8/9-cat) on the season, but there’s no denying it’s been a tough month for him. In that span he’s top-165/140 value and it looks like T.J. McConnell is stealing all the minutes in that backcourt. While Lamb has the talent and track record, you might also want to consider what will happen when Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren return (LeVert might be back in March, while Warren has no timeline). If you cut him tonight after a 1-for-9 shooting performance, it wouldn’t be hard to justify.
The last night before the All-Star break is always a mess with lots of “injuries” popping up, and tonight was no different.
Kawhi Leonard (back spasms) returned from a one-game absence while Paul George was a late scratch due to dizziness.
The Raptors remained shorthanded, missing Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby (health and safety protocols), though at least more of the supporting cast came to play tonight.
Jerami Grant (left quad contusion) missed his second straight games but has frankly earned the rest given his play this year.
Jimmy Butler (right knee inflammation) played after two games away while Bam Adebayo (left knee tendinitis) got the night off. The Heat need to find their swagger again in the second half, and keeping both of those guys healthy was probably one of the team’s primary goals in the first half of the year.
Domantas Sabonis (left ankle soreness) played through a questionable tag for the second straight night.
Al Horford got a night off for rest while LaMarcus Aldridge (illness) was out on the other side of that matchup.
Buddy Hield (right ankle sprain) suited up through his nagging injury again.
Zion Williamson (toe) did not play, but he’s expected to be a go for the All-Star game this weekend.
Steph Curry (rest), Draymond Green (injury management) and Kelly Oubre (left wrist sprain) all sat out while the Warriors got shellacked.
Derrick Rose (health and safety) sat out which is a mild surprise since he was able to fly home with the team. Looks like a glorified rest day. Elfrid Payton (hamstring) returned from a four-game absence with a full line to further complicate that messy rotation.
The Rumor Mill
With the trade deadline approaching and the rush of the season coming to a halt, get ready for more trade rumors to leak out as executives have some more time to play games through the media. We got a big drop of speculation today courtesy of Shams Charania of The Athletic, so let’s take a look at what that might mean for fantasy purposes.
Starting with the big guns — the Hornets and Celtics are reportedly interested in Nikola Vucevic. It would take a massive, massive return for Orlando to pull the trigger, so don’t get too worked up here.
The Wolves are reportedly looking at power forwards around the league, with noted interest in Aaron Gordon and John Collins. Gordon is certainly the more attainable target there and one wonders what Minnesota has to offer that Atlanta would actually want for Collins, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. A trade is probably good news for both players, as Gordon appears to have stagnated in Orlando and Collins is getting squeezed by the Hawks’ personnel moves. If anything, it’s going to be the Hawks trying to recoup something if they know in their heart of hearts that Collins is walking this offseason.
The Pistons are working towards a buyout with Blake Griffin while teams have checked in with interest in Wayne Ellington, Delon Wright and Mason Plulmlee. Not a ton of fantasy impact here, though that’s assuming that Wright and Plumlee don’t get moved. Griffin has a shot at late-round value in the right environment, but he’s unlikely to scratch the surface of what he used to be.
The Bulls reportedly have some level of interest in Andre Drummond, which would be very, very strange. Maybe there’s something up, though, going back to rumors that Wendell Carter Jr. was being offered in trades to get Chicago a higher draft pick.
P.J. Tucker is drawing interest from contenders but isn’t going to grind out standard-league appeal no matter the destination. The same can be said for the collection of Cavs on the block: Cedi Osman, Taurean Prince and JaVale McGee.
Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica are both expected to draw some interest. Barnes is in the middle of a top-100 season despite his recent cooldown, and it’s hard to envision him keeping that up on a better roster. Bjelica, on the other hand, would probably benefit from ending up with a team where he’s a regular member of the rotation. That’s a situation to watch in deeper formats.
That’s a Wrap
With the first half of the season over, it’s a good time to really dig into your own teams to see where you’re at and what has gone right or wrong. There’s a nice little break here where everyone can pick apart rosters and fire up the trade talks as everyone gears up for the stretch run. It’s going to be a wild run to the finish, so any table-setting you can get done now will only help later.
As far as for what’s transpired, now seems like a natural time to dole out some honorifics.
As far as Fantasy MVP is concerned, the discussion starts and ends with Nikola Jokic. He hasn’t missed a single game, has avoided the slow starts that have plagued him in the past and has been the top player basically wire-to-wire. There’s no debate despite a big leap forward from Joel Embiid and a relatively triumphant return for both Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
Best Value Pick likely goes to Terry Rozier. Honorable mentions to C.J. McCollum, Chris Boucher, Myles Turner and Julius Randle. Rozier earns the nod over that terrific group because his expectations were on the lower side — everyone knew that McCollum, Turner and Randle would be solid middle-round guys, whereas Rozier was slipping into the late rounds given the arrival of LaMelo Ball. Boucher, unlike Rozier, has brought some ups and downs to his game. With an ADP of 123 (Yahoo) and 81 (ESPN), Rozier is blowing past those marks with top-35 play.
We’ll stay in Charlotte for Rookie of the Year, with LaMelo Ball the clear frontrunner despite a very compelling case from Tyrese Haliburton. Ball has looked incredibly polished and has managed top-45 value in 9-cat leagues as a rookie point guard, which is basically unheard of. He’s a legitimate star and has the Hornets pointed in the right direction.
Waiver Add of the Year is probably going to T.J. McConnell so far, though Keldon Johnson could swing this battle since his role is likely to be safer all season. Honorable mention to Enes Kanter as well. Like we said about Lamb above, you might want to think about what McConnell’s role will look like when Caris LeVert returns, but for now it’s all systems go. He’s posting top-75 value and while Johnson has held standard-league value for longer, he’s faded back towards late-round territory as things have gone on.
As for the Biggest Disappointment, LaMarcus Aldridge “wins” in a walk. We got the usual offseason talk about the big man taking more threes to fit with a faster, more modernized offense, but what’s transpired has been a nightmare. Aldridge has played in systems that didn’t quite suit him before but he’s always been able to adjust and has been able to sleepwalk to top-50 output for a decade now. This year he’s a top-160/140 player and there aren’t many signs of him turning it around, though his recent move to the bench could give him more shots in the long run.