Can we take a second to appreciate how good the Utah Jazz look? In a 118-102 stomping of the Pelicans on Tuesday night, Utah flexed all the reasons they’re one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. Donovan Mitchell sunk four 3-pointers, and dished four assists, using his full 6’10 wingspan to fling wrap-around passes to shooters around the arc. Rudy Gobert finished with three blocks, including a forceful one meeting Zion Williamson at the rim. And Jordan Clarkson, the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year, came off the bench for 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
The Jazz are rolling, and have won six games in a row. Five of those wins have been by double digits. Their 10-4 record is tied with the Clippers for second-best in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Lakers. Per Basketball Reference, the team ranks fifth in the league in net rating, outscoring opponents by 5.35 points per 100 possessions. That’s better than last year’s Mavericks, Rockets, and runner-up Heat. Utah’s offense and defense rank in the top 10.
Calling the Jazz a contender this early in this season is a trap, but fans have to be ecstatic with the way this team is rolling. Clarkson’s been worth every penny of his four-year, $52 million deal, and Mike Conley‘s writing off last season’s struggles as a fluke. They’ll be tested in the coming weeks against the Mavericks twice, Warriors and Nuggets. Let’s see if they hold up. But so far, so good.
Now, let’s talk about the fantasy play from all four teams who played (oddly, at the same time) on Tuesday night.
One of the best parts of a two-game night is the ability to sit and digest what’s happening in one game without panicking about the other eight League Pass channels running simultaneously. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Ok, let’s talk about the top fantasy players on the Jazz.
Jordan Clarkson — Clarkson had another great night on Tuesday, scoring 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting (four 3-pointers) with six rebounds, six assists, and one turnover. It wasn’t Clarkson’s most efficient shooting night, but sheesh has he been on fire from deep. In his last four games, he’s knocked down 17 3-pointers, and he’s added four or more assists in three of those games. Notably, this game showed that even with Joe Ingles (Achilles) back in the lineup, Clarkson’s going to get his numbers. Clarkson’s only rostered by 73% of managers in Yahoo! leagues, and anyone looking for shooting should pick him up now if he’s somehow available. He’s the No. 54 ranked player in 9-cat leagues.
Donovan Mitchell — Mitchell had a great night setting up teammates, dishing four assists to go along with 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting (four 3-pointers), and seven rebounds. The downside is he coughed up six turnovers. He shook off an 0-of-7 night from range the game before, however.
Mike Conley — Conley didn’t shoot well, only finishing with six points on 2-of-7 field goals, but he dished 10 assists with two rebounds and a pair of steals. He only made one 3-pointer, and this wasn’t his best fantasy night, but Conley still ranks No. 59 of all players in 9-cat leagues.
Rudy Gobert — Gobert logged his second straight double-double, scoring 13 points (6-of-8 shooting), 18 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and three blocks. He missed 1-of-6 free throws but didn’t turn the ball over in 30 minutes.
Royce O’Neale — O’Neale was quiet, scoring just six points on 2-of-8 shooting (both makes from distance), with one rebound, one assist, and a pair of blocks. He’s cooled off a bit after making six 3-pointers on January 8th. He’s made six in total in five games since.
Joe Ingles — Keep an eye on Ingles, who returned from an Achilles injury on Tuesday to score 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. He also added three rebounds, two assists, and a block. He’s only rostered in 27% of leagues and doesn’t need to be added now. But he should be on your radar if he continues to make an impact from deep.
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Zion Williamson — Williamson was clearly the best Pelicans player on the floor Tuesday, totaling 32 points on 14-of-19 shooting (4-of-6 free throws), five rebounds, three assists, and a steal with two turnovers. In his last two games, he’s scored 63 points on 27-of-34 shooting. That’s bonkers! His lack of outside shooting is always going to hold him back in fantasy, though.
Brandon Ingram — Ingram had a rough night, scoring just 17 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He added four assists, three rebounds, and two blocks with one turnover.
Eric Bledsoe — Bledsoe’s stock is likely headed down now that Lonzo Ball‘s returned. Bledsoe still started on Tuesday, and for that reason, he’s worth clinging on to, but on Tuesday, he made just 3-of-9 shots from the field, scoring nine points with four rebounds and two assists.
Lonzo Ball — Ball played for the first time since January 8th due to knee tendinitis. He looked… rusty. He made just 3-of-10 shots, and missed all six of his 3-point attempts. He made just 1-of-2 free throws, but didn’t turn the ball over in 23 minutes, and did snag three steals. Hopefully, he just needs time to work himself back into game shape after taking a week off to heal.
The Nuggets held off a short-handed Thunder team missing Al Horford, 119-101. Let’s talk about their top performers.
Nikola Jokic — The best fantasy player in the league continued his dominant season, scoring 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting with 12 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block, and a turnover in 28 minutes. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
Paul Millsap — Millsap had one of his strongest nights of the season, scoring 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting (two made 3-pointers) with 12 rebounds, three assists, one block, and two steals with one turnover in 26 minutes. In his last three games, he posted three blocks and five blocks. It remains to be seen how the Nuggets lineup will change when Michael Porter Jr. is re-introduced (possibly on Friday), but Millsap has strung together a few nice games now. He’s rostered in just 44% of leagues and ranks No. 143 of all players in 9-cat leagues.
Jamal Murray — Murray’s complained about his elbow bothering him when he shoots, and once again, he couldn’t buy a bucket. He scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting (no 3-pointers), with four assists, two rebounds, and two steals. At some point, Mike Malone might need to sit him to get his shot looking right again.
Will Barton — Barton’s streakiness continues, but he did knock down three triples for 13 points, six assists, three rebounds and one steal. He turned the ball over four times in just 25 minutes.
Monte Morris — On Tuesday, he scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting (one 3-pointer), with five assists and four rebounds. He’s an efficient scorer who’s averaging more than one 3-pointer and nearly one steal per game. Morris is rostered in just 27% of Yahoo! leagues but ranks No. 127 in 9-cat leagues. He’s worth taking a look at as a fill-in when needed.
Isaiah Roby — With Al Horford out for a fourth straight game due to personal reasons, Roby had a good night starting in his place. He scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting (one 3-pointer), with nine rebounds, three assists, and a season-high four steals. He had just one steal in the nine other games he played this season. I wouldn’t expect a defensive night like that again any time soon.
Luguentz Dort — Dort’s had two really impressive games in a row now, following up a 21-point night including four 3-pointers with a 20-point night on three 3-pointers. Dort made 8-of-11 shots on Tuesday with five rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Dort has top-100 player value in 9-cat leagues, yet is only rostered in 44% of leagues.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — SGA had an OK night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting (one 3-pointer) with seven assists, five rebounds, and four turnovers.
Aleksej Pokusevski — Poku saw a career-high 24 minutes, but it didn’t go so well. He missed all seven of his shots from the field including five 3-pointers. He didn’t score any points and had four rebounds, two assists, a block, and a steal with three turnovers. Please keep him on the waiver wire.