In a crucial win over the Mavericks on Tuesday night that vaulted the team into the sixth seed in a contentious Western Conference, the Spurs’ star duo of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge produced at least 25 points in the same game for the sixth time this year. Surging second-year combo guard Derrick White also helped the winning cause with 23 points, his fourth career 20-point game, all of which have come this season.
An excellent free-agent acquisition to consider for the fantasy playoffs, White has a Dwyane Wade-like block rate for a guard, as only John Wall and White have produced a block percentage of at least 2.2 percent this season among players 6-foot-4 or shorter. White dropped seven dimes and secured three steals last night, good for his fifth-highest game score (a linear estimate of player efficiency rating) of the season.
White is slashing for 14.7 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.8 APG and a stellar 3.3 combined blocks and steals during his past six appearances and yet is still floating for the price of a few clicks in three-quarters of ESPN leagues.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks: 34 points (12-16 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 TO
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs: 33 points (11-19 FG), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 TO
Elfrid Payton, New Orleans Pelicans: 14 points (6-15 FG), 15 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 TO
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets: 6 points (2-9 FG), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 TO
Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks: 10 points (4-13 FG), 4 rebounds
Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: 11 points (4-17 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 TO
- Payton is thriving from a statistical perspective with Jrue Holiday sidelined, producing consecutive triple-doubles for the first time in his career, and he’s now averaging 14 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 9.0 APG, 2.0 3PG, and 1.7 combined blocks and steals the past three games. Holiday is likely to miss several more games. You can find Payton in free agency in roughly 30 percent of ESPN leagues.
- It was a particularly rough night for star rookie Luka Doncic, who netted only 12 points on 18 shots and made just one of nine free throw attempts while turning the ball over a career-high nine times. With the Spurs swarming Doncic at the point of attack on defense, led by White, it’s best to chalk this up as an outlier poor game for the gifted rookie. Fellow NBA freshman Brunson was brilliant in producing a career-best scoring effort as a pro. ESPN’s Tim McMahon noted this was Brunson’s top scoring performance since high school. In 10 games since the All-Star break, Brunson is averaging 16.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG and 1.6 3PG in 29.6 MPG, while he’s currently rostered in only 3.4 percent of ESPN leagues.
- The 76ers have held opponents under 100 points in consecutive games for just the second time this season after downing the Cavaliers last night. Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman delivered strong fantasy performances for Cleveland, while Philly’s Ben Simmons tallied 26 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, good for his fourth career game with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists; and second such outing this month.
- The Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum poured in 35 points in a big win over the Clippers on Tuesday night. This marked the Lehigh product’s 14th 30-point game this season after posting seven such games all last season. McCollum’s 23 points in the final frame last night marked the most he’s ever scored in a fourth quarter in his career.
Injuries of note
- Andrew Wiggins was a late scratch on Tuesday night with a quad ailment and is considered day-to-day.
- Golden State’s Kevin Durant is expected to miss tonight’s tilt with Houston due to a right ankle injury suffered in this past Sunday’s loss to the Suns.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
Two teams heading in opposite directions meet on Wednesday when the Thunder host the Nets at 7 ET on ESPN. Brooklyn has won four straight and is 28-15 since Dec. 6, tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA during that span, trailing only the Bucks, Rockets and Warriors. The Nets were 8-18 before that stretch.
The Thunder, meanwhile, are 4-6 since the All-Star break, tied for 11th in the Western Conference over that stretch. Paul George is shooting just 31 percent from the field in four games since returning from a shoulder injury.
The Nets are averaging 47.6 bench points per game this season, second most behind the Clippers (53.0). Brooklyn has outscored the opposing bench a league-high 58 times this season, thanks in large part to the work of Spencer Dinwiddie, who is averaging a career-best 17.4 points this season. That’s the second-highest scoring average by a bench player this season, trailing only Lou Williams (20.4 PPG). While Williams is a respected fantasy contributor, the market is still sleeping on Dinwiddie (rostered in just 61 percent of leagues).
Top players to watch tonight
The Warriors visit the Rockets Wednesday at 9:30 ET on ESPN. The Rockets have won four straight regular-season meetings against the Warriors by an average of nine points. Houston has a chance to become the first team to sweep a four-game season series against Golden State in the past five seasons, per ESPN Stats & Info.
We’re always watching James Harden, as the bearded one is averaging a ridiculous 36.1 PPG for the season, on pace for the most by any player since Michael Jordan in 1986-87 (37.1 PPG). This would mark the second-highest average over an entire season in the past 50 seasons.
With Durant sitting this one out, it’s worth noting Klay Thompson consumes a team-high leap in usage (an estimate of team plays consumed by an individual player) of nine percent in such scenarios.This means Thompson’s usage roughly doubles when Durant isn’t on the floor, while Stephen Curry is second on the roster with a 6.8 percent boost in usage rate. Even if you missed out on drafting the “Splash Brothers” in season-long leagues, stacking the Warriors’ backcourt in DFS could prove rewarding, given these impressive opportunity rates with Durant on the pine.