With Kyrie Irving possibly facing a lost debut season in Brooklyn due to a shoulder injury that could eventually require surgery, it's time for fantasy managers to fully appraise Brooklyn's roster for value. We all know about Spencer Dinwiddie's ascent as a key scoring force for the Nets, but last night we witnessed combo forward Taurean Prince and scoring wing Caris LeVert both shine statistically in a loss to the Thunder.
Without Irving's high-usage role in the rotation, Prince has been given additional freedom to loft 3-pointers and he was able to sink five of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc in the loss last night. Available as a free agent in more than 80% of ESPN leagues, Prince is a solid source of rebounding (nearly seven per game) and shooting success (2.5 3PG). In fact, Prince joins an exclusive group that includes Luka Doncic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Pascal Siakam, and Kevin Love as the only players producing at least 2.5 3PG and 6.8 RPG this season.
Meanwhile, LeVert has earned plenty of praise in recent weeks as a key free-agent acquisition for fantasy purposes. He's responded with awesome scoring rates even amid a slow reintegration into the rotation after a long recovery from injury. LeVert kept Brooklyn in the game last night with 16 of his 20 points coming in the second half. Once he's back to a starting role, LeVert could help win some weeks for you in category-based formats.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers: 30 points (12-15 FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 TO
Anthony was brilliant in helping the Blazers down the depleted Raptors in Toronto last night. In the contest, for the 17th time in his career, he sank a go-ahead field goal in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. That's the most by any player since Melo entered the league in 2003-04. It was his first such make since Feb. 25, 2017 against the 76ers, back when he was on the Knicks. Anthony's season-high in scoring included making a season-high 3-pointers. I've already admitted my misfire in dismissing Anthony's fantasy value upon his signing with Portland, and he continues to prove me and other doubters wrong.
Toronto's Chris Boucher was solid off the pine for Toronto in the loss to Anthony's Trail Blazers with an incredible line for just 16 minutes of play that included 12 points, nine boards, and three blocks. If he can ever earn more playing time, Boucher could become an interesting contributor down the stretch.
Dillon Brooks dropped a game-high 28 points for the Grizzlies in a win over the reeling Wolves. He is simply one of the best possible free agents you can target for your fantasy roster. Teammate Ja Morant produced 25 points and seven assists. It was his fifth game this year with at least 25 points and five dimes, tying Miami's Kendrick Nunn as the only two rookies with as many such performances this year.
In the loss to the Grizzlies, Minnesota at least enjoyed a solid showing from talented rookie wing Jarrett Culver, who poured in 24 points on 11 shots. With his team heading for a top spot in the lottery, we could see Culver get truly empowered after the All-Star break.
Injuries of note
Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns did not play last night and now has missed his last 11 games after missing just five games over his first four seasons.
The Lakers' Anthony Davis posted just five points in a win over the Knicks last night, in part due to his leaving the game early with a bruised tailbone. ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports that Davis won't join the team on an upcoming two-game road trek to Dallas and Oklahoma City. This could signal more exposure for Dwight Howard off the pine during this trip. Results from an MRI could tell a more accurate story on Davis' eventual return to the floor.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
The Houston Rockets are in Atlanta tonight to face the Hawks in a game that claims a slate-high opening total of 235 points. This signals the potential for stacking around both rotations in DFS play, while also identifying players such as Kevin Huerter, Eric Gordon, and Alex Len among widely available free agents in redraft leagues.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic meet tonight as the top playmakers for their respective conference contenders. They also represent two of the top European talents in the NBA. This should be a riveting matchup of two thriving offenses. Dallas, after all, has the league's top offensive rating, while Denver claims the eighth-best offense in the league heading into tonight's compelling matchup.