Bismack Balls, Masterful Mobley

·9 min read

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We had an unusually slim three-game Saturday in the Association, but that certainly didn't leave us lacking for fantasy-relevant topics to cover. Let's get into all of the action from this miniature NBA slate!

Bucks 133, Kings 127

There was no doubt this one would be high-scoring, and there were plenty of points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals to go around for both teams. This game featured two notable returns: Tyrese Haliburton’s return to the Kings’ lineup after two games in protocols and Jrue Holiday’s return to the Bucks’ starting lineup after two games off the bench. For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out due to a knee issue, and Grayson Allen was sidelined due to a hip injury. On the Sacramento side, De’Aaron Fox was a late scratch due to an ankle injury.

Haliburton’s brief layoff certainly didn’t hamper his performance, as he notched a 24-point, 12-assist double-double to go with six boards and five triples. This game marked his fifth straight double-double in games without De’Aaron Fox in the lineup. Haliburton has certainly proven himself capable of running this offense, so if Sacramento is considering moving Fox by the trade deadline (for Domantas Sabonis, perhaps), the team would be in good hands with Hali in control. Fantasy managers should keep a close eye on the Kings as the deadline approaches, as this team figures to be one of the biggest movers.

Speaking of the trade deadline, a player whose name has been featured in rumors is Harrison Barnes. The veteran started the season on fire, and despite his cool down, he’s remained a top-90 player on the season. He led the Kings in scoring with a 29/6/3 line that marked his first time scoring 20 in consecutive games since Nov. 7-8. The 29 points were his second-most of the season and his most since way back on Oct. 20. He’s still got a lot to offer a potential contender, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him moved.

With Fox out, Terence Davis remained in the starting lineup and had another strong performance with a 22/7/3/1 line. He tied for the team lead in shot attempts with 18 and certainly isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. Davis scored a career-high 35 in his last game out, and he’s now averaged 24.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals in his current three-game stretch in the starting five. If the Kings make moves at the deadline and Davis remains on the roster, there’s a good chance he continues to be fantasy relevant for the rest of the season. He’s certainly deserving of a roster spot in 12-team leagues.

Richaun Holmes has been unbelievably frustrating over the last month and a half. The last time he double-doubled was Dec. 1, and since then, he’s averaged 5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks across 21.1 minutes in nine appearances. In that span, he missed 15 games due to an eye injury and a stint in protocols. There’s no reason to drop him, but he’s likely been languishing on your bench, reminding you of good times long past. Holmes’ 17/7/2/1/1 line Saturday was one of his best games in some time, so managers will have to hope it’s a sign of things to come.

Surprise, surprise. Khris Middleton absolutely rolled yet again, going for 34/6/5/1. He’s been a top-5 player in 9-cat over the last two weeks, taking advantage of Jrue Holiday’s absence and limited minutes and Giannis’ absence Saturday. This pace is unsustainable, especially with Holiday and Antetokounmpo likely healthy together this week, but Middleton can absolutely sustain his season pace of top-40 value.

Holiday started his first game since Jan. 5 and went 26/5/4/2 while shooting 10-of-20 shooting from the floor. Fantasy managers should start him with confidence moving forward. Pat Connaughton went 15/5/1 with four steals and 5-of-10 from distance. It marked his fourth game of the season with five threes and matched his season-high in steals.

George Hill went 17/4/2/1 with three triples and notched a season-high in scoring. He’s still just a deep-league guy. Donte DiVincenzo had 20/3/2/1 in 25 minutes. The points were easily a season-high, but DiVincenzo likely won’t have value in 12-team leagues this season. Milwaukee’s guard and wing rotation is loaded, and the opportunity to score 20 probably wouldn’t have been there had Grayson Allen been available.

Cavaliers 94, Thunder 87

Cleveland reeled off another victory, and OKC (+12) covered yet again, continuing to be one of the best teams ATS this season. From a fantasy standpoint, there aren’t too many exciting options on the Thunder outside of the usual suspects: Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and sometimes Luguentz Dort. SGA is ranked 45th in 9-cat this season after being drafted in the top-30 in most fantasy leagues. That’s due in large part to his 41.9 FG% and 27.4 3PT%, easily the worst shooting of his career. He’s turned it around as of late, averaging 27.0 points, 7.0 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 47.1 FG% over six games leading into this one.

He delivered another strong performance Saturday with 29 points, nine boards, six dimes, three steals, three triples and a block while shooting 12-of-23 from the floor. His is the only performance worth mentioning in this one, as this was a pretty dismal performance from the team overall.

Lauri Markkanen left this one after 13 minutes with a right ankle sprain and did not return. There’s no firm timetable on how long he might be out, so fantasy managers should keep their eyes peeled. If Markkanen is forced to miss some time moving forward, Cedi Osman would be the best available pickup (assuming Kevin Love is already rostered). Osman averaged 14.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 triples in seven games with at least 30 minutes this season. Lamar Stevens would also be in line for more minutes, but he’s been rather disappointing with his opportunities this season. Stevens averaged just 9.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in eight starts and is not worth an add.

Jarrett Allen provided his 25th double-double and third in a row with a 14/3/3 line that included two swats. Allen ranks seventh in the NBA in double-doubles. Evan Mobley had a monster night with his second double-double in 14 games since returning from the health and safety protocols. He went for 15 points, a career-high 17 boards, two assists and a block. The elite big man tandem has played lights out all season, but it wasn’t surprising to see the pair get a little extra juice against one of the worst frontcourt defenses in the NBA.

Darius Garland recorded his sixth double-double in his last seven games with a 23-point, 11-assist performance that was blemished only by his eight turnovers. In a battle of young, up-and-coming point guards, Garland has been the better fantasy player (ranked 21 in 9-cat) and the better NBA player than SGA this season, despite their respective performances Saturday.

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Suns 113, Pacers 103

Indiana continues to compete with quality opponents despite being without Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. After beating Golden State in overtime Thursday, the Pacers hung around with Phoenix and weren’t blown out. Much like Sacramento, Indiana is a fascinating team as we approach the trade deadline. Sabonis, Turner, LeVert and even T.J. Warren have been named in recent trade rumors, so there’s a good chance this roster looks completely different after Feb. 10.

Goga Bitadze (16/11/2/1) provided his third career double-double and first of the season while matching his career-high in rebounds and finishing one point shy of his career-best mark in the scoring department. In his two straight starts, he’s averaged 14.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 blocks. If he’s somehow available on your waiver wire, he’s a priority add. Isaiah Jackson (6/3/2 with two blocks in 13 minutes) is a guy to add in deep leagues or stash on your bench in 12-team leagues if you have the space. If given the minutes, he could provide monster fantasy value, but his playing time is too scarce for now.

Lance Stephenson went 17/3/1 in just 18 minutes off the bench, Jeremy Lamb went 14/7/2/1/1, and Chris Duarte went 17/4/4/1. All three have value moving forward if Brogdon or LeVert continues to miss time or are moved by the deadline. Duarte is the most valuable of the three, while Stephenson and Lamb could be viable in deeper leagues. Torrey Craig (8/6/2/1) is hit-or-miss on any given night and doesn’t need to be rostered in 12-team leagues.

Mikal Bridges provided another useful line of 23/6/4/1 and matched his season-high in scoring. Chris Paul had a huge night with 18 points, 16 assists, four rebounds and four swipes. This marked his 21st double-double of the season and his second-most assists of 2021-22.

The biggest performance of the night came from Phoenix’s newest center, Bismack Biyombo who absolutely balled out with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. His points, assists and field goal attempts (12) all matched career highs for a guy who didn’t have a team until his Suns debut on Jan. 7. Biyombo is now making meaningful contributions for a title contender and thriving as a backup center.

JaVale McGee started and went for 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks across 18 minutes. He nearly equaled his production from two prior games (14 points, 12 rebounds, one block). In three recent games with Deandre Ayton out of action, McGee has played 59 minutes compared to Biyombo's 83. For as long as Ayton is out, Biyombo is the preferred streamer. It wouldn't be surprising to see Biyombo overtake McGee as the team's No. 2 center given the playing time and production of each in the aforementioned stretch.

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