Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Spurs seeing solid start to season

Sports

The San Antonio Spurs have enjoyed a quietly solid start to the season thanks to the emergence of several young wings. Just last night, third-year shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV produced 24 points while leading his team to a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder to put the Spurs over .500 on the season. Second-year wing Keldon Johnson paced the Spurs in minutes played and was second to Walker in scoring with 18 points on just 11 shots. The fantasy market has finally noticed Johnson’s emergence, as he’s now rostered in nearly 72% of ESPN leagues. However, Walker is still available in more than 80% of leagues.

For some context, DeMar DeRozan‘s absence last night certainly boosted Walker’s upside, but there is also some real momentum here given that the Miami product has scored 49 points over his past two appearances — including two of his three highest scoring games of his young career. Walker, who had just one 20-point game in his first two NBA seasons, has now logged back-to-back 20-point games.

Tuesday recap

Highlights

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: 45 points (16-23 FG), 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, 4 TO

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: 23 points (8-17 FG), 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 7 steals, 1 TO

Lowlights

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: 4 points (2-7 FG), 10 rebounds, 1 TO

Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers: 6 points (2-11 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 TO

Tuesday takeaways

  • “The Process” was again in MVP form last night for Philadelphia, as Embiid needed every one of his 45 points to help defeat an under-manned Heat roster. How unique was Embiid’s effort? Well, it’s the only line on record since 1984 to include as many points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

  • It wasn’t just Embiid putting up a unique statistical effort against the Heat, as veteran wing Danny Green sinking nine out of an unbelievable 21 3-pointers. Green had missed all nine of his 3-point attempts against Atlanta on Monday, so his ability to shake off a bad night is admirable. In fact, Green tied Dana Barros for the 76ers record for made 3-pointers while also contributing 16 combined rebounds and assists. You should probably consider leveraging Green as a streaming option until Philadelphia gets Tobias Harris and Seth Curry back. Shares of rising rookie Tyrese Maxey, who nearly delivered a double-double, continue to be intriguing.

  • Speaking of Miami’s taxi squad, rookie Precious Achiuwa was excellent, delivering his first career double-double in a tough spot against Embiid. Acquiring this rising rookie in free agency ahead of a rubber match with Philadelphia on Thursday could pay off for fantasy managers, as Achiuwa should again play heavy minutes, given how health and safety protocols have decimated the Miami rotation.

  • Indiana’s Aaron Holiday was asked to help the offense a bit more last night with Victor Oladipo resting for the second leg of a back-to-back. The youngest Holiday brother delivered 16 points and 12 assists (with just a single turnover) off the bench to become the first Pacer with at least 15 points and 10 dimes off the bench since Travis Best did so back in 2001. Holiday won’t maintain fantasy relevance when Oladipo is active, but he could resurface as a helpful streaming option whenever either Malcolm Brogdon or Oladipo do miss time this season.

  • The Warriors lost to Holiday and the Pacers last night in a low-scoring affair, but at least Andrew Wiggins was again impressive on defense. The Kansas product produced a career-high five blocks, giving him nine blocks over his last two games. Golden State is asking for more of Wiggins on that end of the court and he’s responding with some of the best defensive rates of his career.

  • The NBA has postponed two games on Wednesday’s schedule due to health and safety protocols. The Jazz-Wizards and Magic-Celtics games will both be rescheduled for later in the season.

Injuries of note

  • Cleveland’s injury woes continued last night, as Andre Drummond joined the starting backcourt on the sidelines with an Achilles ailment. It doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue for the All-Star center, but it’s certainly worth monitoring in the games ahead.

  • The Pelicans will be without Lonzo Ball this evening due to a knee ailment. Eric Bledsoe is questionable due to eye irritation, but would become a strong DFS play if active given that he has enjoyed a team-high 5% boost in usage rate and a sizable leap in fantasy points per 36 minutes with Ball off the floor this season.

  • The Mavericks will be without both Jalen Brunson and Josh Richardson tonight against the Hornets due to health and safety protocols, making Tim Hardaway Jr. a strong streaming play and solid DFS investment.

Analytics advantage for Wednesday

Ja Morant remains sidelined tonight for the Grizzlies due to an ankle injury. This signals another busy outing for PG Tyus Jones, who has produced an awesome assist percentage of 37.4% over his last four games (while also producing an elite steal percentage of 3.6% during this stretch). Given how scarce assist production can be on the waiver wire in competitive fantasy formats, Jones is a fine plug-and-play option tonight against the Timberwolves.

Top players to watch on Wednesday

  • The battle of New York airs on ESPN this evening with the Nets crossing the East River to face the Knicks in Manhattan. While Kevin Durant nearly notched a triple-double last night, I’ll be watching to see how Caris LeVert produces as the high-usage bench microwave for the Nets. LeVert has averaged 25.7 points, 8.4 assists, and 6.5 rebounds with Kyrie Irving sidelined this season. If you are interested in securing a high-ceiling building block at a discount in DFS play this evening, LeVert might be your man.

  • Meanwhile, Julius Randle of the Knicks is one of just four players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis on that exclusive list. The Knicks have never had a player average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game for a full season.

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