• Entering a 12-game Wednesday, there were lots of angles that emerged.

    For the more observant fantasy GMs, we had the new Nuggets backcourt now that Jamal Murray has been lost for the season. Monte Morris drew the start but had a rather hollow 11 points in his 26 minutes, chipping in three rebounds, two assists and a 3-pointer. Facundo Campazzo, who had been starting during Murray’s recent bout with knee soreness, got just 20 minutes off the pine, scoring eight points with five assists and two 3-pointers. The surprise entrant to the fantasy space tonight was P.J. Dozier, who led the charge with 15 points, four assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Tonight’s game was leaning towards a blowout, so you’ll want to see how that plays in more competitive contests.

    For the masochists, De’Aaron Fox had another outstanding game as the Kings scooped another L to toss on the pile. Swipa put up 33 points (13-of-28 FG), five rebounds, six assists, six steals, a block and a 3-pointer in 40 minutes.

    If not for Fox and all those steals, Steph Curry would have pretty solid claim to the line of the night as his torrid tear continues. The Warriors absolutely torched the Thunder for 147 points and Curry did a lot of the damage, tossing in 42 points, six rebounds and eight assists on 14-of-20 from the field and 11-of-16 from the 3-point arc. That’s 19 career games of 10 or more triples for Curry, pushing him 14 ahead of second place all-time (good buddy Klay Thompson).

    And yet, all of that got wiped away because everyone’s talking about Luka Doncic.

    What the hell even is that? Dude just dropped in a floater from 3-point land while stumbling. What the hell. He was 2-of-9 from deep before that miracle, but it’s not like we haven’t seen his prayers answered from that spot on the court before. He’s up to top-15/30 (8/9-cat) on the year and while there’s a cap on how high he can climb, there are few players on the planet that are more fun to watch.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Khem Birch, C, Toronto Raptors

    Birch has arrived too late to save the Raptors’ season, but he’s been a boon to the team in his short time on the roster. On the year, the Raptors have been outrebounded by 255. Since Birch arrived two games ago, the Raptors are up 96-81. It’s a very small sample but having an athletic big man who knows the fundamentals of glass work has been hugely important in the team looking a bit more competent of late. Birch moved into the starting lineup on Wednesday and posted 14 points, six rebounds, a steal and two blocks in 29 minutes while shooting 6-of-9 from the field. He’s been a top-50 player in his first two games as a Raptor and while that’s not going to last, he should be able to sustain late-round output with solid contributions in boards, blocks and FG%.

    If you’re on the hunt for a center with way more upside that’s way more frustrating, don’t you worry…

    Hassan Whiteside, C, Sacramento Kings

    Look, I don’t like this any more than you do. It sucks. But Richaun Holmes has a hamstring injury and Luke Walton clearly envisions Whiteside as part of the answer in the interim. He blocks enough shots to swing a whole category, so if he’s going to get 20 minutes a night you have to pay attention — even though it sucks. Whiteside turned 23 minutes into 12 points, nine rebounds, a steal and four blocks against Washington on Wednesday.

    Drop Zone

    Josh Richardson, G/F, Dallas Mavericks

    Richardson has cooled off substantially over the last month, posting value outside the top-160 in that span. While we know that he can be a smooth top-90 player with well-rounded lines, those are more hot streaks than the norm in Richardson’s campaigns at this point. He could only muster nine points, three rebounds, three assists and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes on Wednesday and is safe to cut loose in 12-team leagues if you were trying to squeeze every last bit of value from his previous run of quality play.

    Injury Report

    Karl-Anthony Towns (personal) missed his second straight game but is expected to return for Friday’s game.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee soreness) took it right down to the wire but was ultimately ruled out. Maybe he’s getting close?

    LaMarcus Aldridge (illness), Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin (injury management) all sat out on Wednesday but there doesn’t look to be any long-term issues there.

    Jimmy Butler (ankle sprain) made good on his word and played in Wednesday’s tilt with the Nuggets after getting hurt on Tuesday.

    Jerami Grant was never listed on the injury report for tonight but still looked great in his return from a three-game absence, dropping 28 points on a dollar store version of the Clippers.

    P.J. Washington (sprained ankle) went from probable to out on Tuesday and never got the chance to suit up on Wednesday. At least Terry Rozier (left knee tendinitis) was able to get back on the court.

    Kyle Lowry (rest), Fred VanVleet (suspension) and Gary Trent Jr. (ankle) all sat out on Wednesday but it sounds like all three have a good chance at returning on Friday. Malachi Flynn watch is on.

    The Clippers played without four of their five usual starters tonight as Kawhi Leonard (foot soreness) missed his third straight game, Paul George got a rest night and Marcus Morris (rest) was scratched for rest shortly before tip. That’s on top of Patrick Beverley’s hand fracture.

    Mo Bamba (hip contusion) was unable to play on Wednesday. Just when he was starting to get minutes, too.

    Myles Turner (left ankle sprain) sat out again.

    Lonzo Ball (hip flexor) can’t shake the hip issues, as he was unable to play after initially being listed as doubtful. He had a great three-game stretch after returning from an earlier hip problem but appeared to aggravate it, causing this disappointing absence.

    Richaun Holmes (hamstring) didn’t play but Buddy Hield (illness) did, and the Kings lost again. Some playoff chase this has turned out to be.

    Thursday doesn’t have a ton of injury news out yet but Trae Young (left calf) and Danilo Gallinari (right foot soreness) are both questionable.

    Buncha Bull

    The Bulls went all in on having a front-heavy lineup at the deadline, and we’re starting to see some of the ramifications that choice is having for fantasy managers. The fact that they lost the game in the third quarter on Wednesday might sour things a bit, but the box score is extremely ugly.

    Nikola Vucevic is basically bulletproof and still delivered 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight cash counters in 34 minutes, but it gets very ugly after that.

    Next up in line is Daniel Theis, who is the sort of versatile jack of all trades that can help almost any lineup configuration — basically any group where he’s not sharing the floor with a plodding non-shooter like Tristan Thompson. Can’t think of anyone who would try to make that work. Anyway, Theis logged 27 minutes on Wednesday night, filling up the stat sheet with 16 points (7-of-12 shooting), six rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. While that’s a nice line, the German is still outside the top-200 over the last two weeks. The larger issue is that he’s suddenly handicapping a pair of former standard-league assets by simply being around.

    Lauri Markkanen was already trending towards drop territory and probably would’ve been cut from most rosters even if the Bulls stopped their deadline tinkering at adding Vucevic, but adding Theis has just crushed him. He’s been outside the top-250 in the last couple of weeks and is approaching rock bottom with six points in 17 minutes tonight.

    The real disappointment out of this whole situation is Thad Young. He’s remained in the starting lineup but will be subject to lower minutes whenever one of the bench bigs plays well. Considering Markkanen and Theis are both quality players, that’s going to happen more frequently than you’d like to see. Young was limited to 14 minutes on Wednesday, scoring two points with two rebounds and two assists. After a lengthy middle-round run, Thad is now a top-175 guy in the last couple of weeks in 23.0 mpg.

    The Bulls tried to load up for a playoff run and ended up turning four standard-league guys into one. At least they’re… only up one game on the Wizards for the last play-in spot.

    Convening Cavs

    Speaking of crowded frontcourts, the Cavs got a few key players back on Wednesday with Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) returning to the court.

    Allen said early on Wednesday that he was feeling great and he walked the walk, going back into the starting five and turning in 15 points, eight rebounds and a block in 30 minutes. He’s got the full green light in fantasy again.

    Nance’s condition is more concerning, as he reportedly lost a ton of weight over the last couple of weeks. Understandably, he looked a bit rusty and could only cook up five points, two rebounds and one assist in 20 minutes off the bench, shooting 1-for-7 in the process. Now, because Nance is a must-start fantasy guy, he did deliver four steals. Just know that it could be a slow ramp up as Nance plays his way back into shape.

    The Cavs have had some productive frontcourt guys that have shined while Allen and Nance have been out, too, so fantasy GMs should start looking for alternatives. The easiest one to let go of will probably be Dean Wade, who has been a top-100/70 guy in 8/9-cat over the last two weeks. He did start on Wednesday with Collin Sexton out, but he’s going to head back to the bench whenever Sexton (or Nance) is ready to go again.

    This is the first time all year the Cavs have had Allen, Nance and Kevin Love all rolling at once, too, which is another wrinkle. Love has been just outside the top-100 over the last couple of weeks and if anything this might give the Cavs some cover to give him rest nights. It also helps that he and Nance offer enough to slide over to PF for a few minutes if need be, as a lack of flexibility made earlier versions of this frontcourt extremely irritating.

    Isaiah Hartenstein might feel the biggest squeeze. The youngster has been a top-90 player over the last fortnight but will now have to contend with the Cavs’ top two center options. He still stayed productive on Wednesday with eight points, four rebounds, a steal and three blocks in just 13 minutes, but the playing time is concerning. Nance isn’t at full strength and Hartenstein lost basically a third of the workload that’s allowed him to get into the top-100 (21.3 mpg).

    Heck, even Taurean Prince has been a top-140 option of late, and if this is it for him he closed it out right with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting with a steal, a block and six threes.

    There’s a lot of value in this rotation, albeit from some unexpected sources, but this found wallet might be running dry.

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