There were only two games on the NBA schedule, as the All-Star break has begun for the other 26 teams. But there were two big developments on the injury front. Damian Lillard, who strained his groin during the second half of Wednesday’s loss to the Grizzlies, is expected to miss anywhere from one to two weeks. Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons are worth grabbing if they’re available in your leagues, and this also opens up more time as the primary play-maker for C.J. McCollum.
The other big news item was the left hamstring injury suffered by Paul George during the second quarter of Thursday’s game against the Celtics. This is the same hamstring that he injured at two different times this season, with the second resulting in his sitting three-plus weeks in January. More on George’s injury can be found below in the recap of Thursday’s games, which included Steven Adams making the first three-pointer of his NBA career.
Thunder 123, Pelicans 118 — New Orleans was once again without Brandon Ingram, who missed his third straight game due to a sprained right ankle. That meant another start for Josh Hart, who played 27 minutes and posted a line of seven points, eight rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer. He’s had better lines, especially defensively (no steals or blocks Thursday), and is worth holding onto even when Ingram makes his return to the lineup. Injury-wise there was also J.J. Redick, who briefly left the game after colliding with Terrance Ferguson and taking a shot to the head during the second quarter. Redick would return towards the end of that period after a trip to the locker room, and he finished with 24 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes. There didn’t appear to be any lingering issues, and with the All-Star break upon us there’s no need for concern here.
Lonzo Ball (16/6/5 with two blocks and five 3-pointers) and Jrue Holiday (14/6/11 with one three-pointer) also scored in double figures, with Derrick Favors adding a line of eight points, nine rebounds and two assists. Outside of Redick, Nicolo Melli was the most productive reserve as he scored six points with three rebounds and three blocked shots. The three blocks are a career-high for Melli, who had a total of 11 entering Thursday’s game.
In Ingram’s absence Zion Williamson once again led the way offensively, as he shot 11-of-19 from the field and 10-of-13 from the foul line on his way to a 32-point (new career-high), six-rebound, one-assist and one-block night. He’s the sixth rookie since 2013 to put together a streak of at least six consecutive 20-point games, and Williamson also became the fourth teenager in league history to score 30 or more in back-to-back games (LeBron, Luka and Devin Booker). And if those facts aren’t enough, according to StatMuse only two players in the 3-point era have scored at least 200 points while shooting 55% or better from the field in their first 10 career games: Zion, and Shaquille O’Neal. Not too shabby.
Fantasy-wise, the most encouraging thing about his progression has been the improvement at the foul line. After shooting 6-of-17 (35.3%) from the charity stripe in his first four games, Williamson has gone 45-of-61 (73.8%) in his last six. When you struggle with perimeter shots like Zion does, the foul line becomes of even greater importance.
Not only did Oklahoma City take better care of the basketball than New Orleans, turning the ball over just seven times compared to the Pelicans’ 17, but they were also the more balanced team from a scoring standpoint. Six Thunder players scored in double figures led by Danilo Gallinari, who shot 12-of-18 from the field and finished with 29 points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers. In nine-cat formats, he’s provided fourth-round value this season. Chris Paul, who’s been a first-round player in nine-cat, added 14 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes.
Dennis Schroder (22/3/3/1 with one three-pointer), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (17/3/7/1 with two 3-pointers), Steven Adams (11/11/2/1/3 and one three-pointer) and Mike Muscala (10 points, two rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, with Muscala playing just nine minutes. He remains third in the pecking order at center behind Adams and Nerlens Noel (two points and three rebounds), so there isn’t much use in even streaming Muscala when those two are healthy.
Abdel Nader (8/4/1/2) played 15 minutes while Hamidou Diallo was a DNP-CD, with Luguentz Dort playing 23 minutes as the starter and the aforementioned Ferguson playing 20. That appears to be the pecking order with Darius Bazley (knee) out 4-6 weeks, and I don’t think any of those three (meaning Dort, Ferguson and Nader) are worth picking up.
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Celtics 141, Clippers 133 (2OT) — It’s one thing to lose a game in double overtime. It’s another to lose it while also losing one of your most important players, which is exactly what happened to the Clippers. Paul George left the game after straining his left hamstring during the second quarter, and he was unable to return. As noted above this is the same issue that sidelined him on two separate occasions earlier this season, and teams tend to be exercise caution with hamstring injuries when it comes to the timeline for a return.
George’s absence opens the door for Landry Shamet, who started and played 48 minutes. He shot 5-of-11 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line, scoring 19 points, with two rebounds and four 3-pointers. Shamet’s value comes from points and 3-pointers, but there’s also the issue of opposing teams seeking him out on the other end of the floor as the Celtics did for much of both overtimes. Either attack Shamet immediately or involve him in a ball screen in order to get the switch, and then attack. Rinse and repeat. While this doesn’t impact his fantasy bottom line since he was never prolific when it comes to the defensive stats, struggling to guard can lead to a player ultimately being pulled off the floor in those situations.
Shamet and Marcus Morris (10/8/2 with two blocks and two 3-pointers) are the obvious pickups should George have to once again miss an extended period of time. But Morris is likely already rostered in most leagues, due to his production while with the Knicks. JaMychal Green may have some streaming value on nights when both George and Kawhi Leonard (28 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer) are sidelined, and he finished Thursday’s game with two points and eight rebounds.
Bench stalwarts Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell combined to score 59 points, with the former posting a line of 35 points, six rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers. Williams is back with the reserves after making a couple starts in place of the injured Patrick Beverley, but he’s going to produce no matter what role he’s asked to fill. Harrell added 24 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks, shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 10-of-14 from the foul line. Ivica Zubac played just 14 minutes, scoring seven points with four rebounds and one assist. He has value in deeper leagues, but he’s a long shot at best in standard leagues.
All five of Boston’s starters scored in double figures led by Jayson Tatum, who put up a line of 39 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers. He shot 14-of-23 from the field and 6-of-10 from the foul line, and the All-Star forward is currently averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots and 3-pointers. Entering the All-Star break, Tatum is providing second-round value in nine-cat formats and third-round value in eight-cat. Gordon Hayward (21/13/4/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and Marcus Smart (31/4/3/4 with five 3-pointers) also posted solid fantasy lines, with the former doing so despite shooting 6-of-21 from the field.
Kemba Walker added 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four 3-pointers, while Daniel Theis accounted for 12 points, five rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 24 minutes before fouling out. With regard to the center position the All-Star break comes at a good time, as both Theis and Enes Kanter have been sidelined due to injuries this season. Kanter played 20 minutes, scoring eight points with eight rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. He didn’t play much during the two extra periods, and in the brief periods that he was on the floor he appeared to be laboring.
Semi Ojeleye (2/1/1) and Grant Williams (one rebound, one assist, one steal and one block) played 17 and 16 minutes, respectively, but their value within the Celtics rotation far outweighs their fantasy value. Williams took over at center for the majority of the minutes that became available once Theis fouled out. Brad Wanamaker is in a similar spot with regard to his fantasy value when the Celtics’ main guards are healthy, as he played 26 minutes and finished with nine points, one rebound, three assists, one steal and one three-pointer. He’s worth tracking just in case someone goes down with an injury, but that’s his value right now.