Jusuf Nurkic is becoming an instant fan favorite in Portland, and his hot start with the Trail Blazers is one of the big stories in recent weeks.
Here’s a list of the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams around the league heading into the week:
Atlanta Hawks: At 13.3 points per game this season, Dwight Howard‘s scoring is at its lowest point since his rookie season way back in 2004, when he finished with 12 PPG. Quietly, this is a part of Howard’s game that has been on a consistent decline for the past five seasons. The same can’t be said of his presence on the glass, however, as the 31-year-old continues to rebound just about as well as anyone in the game. Howard’s 12.9 RPG is his highest mark since 2011-12 in Orlando and ranks fourth in the NBA this season.
Boston Celtics: The road back to fantasy significance is a slow one for Avery Bradley, in part due to a minutes restriction that came after a lengthy absence due to a nagging Achilles injury. Boston’s talented shooting guard is averaging just 13 PPG and 3.3 RPG in seven games since returning to the court, but his minutes restriction has been lifted, so his production should increase in the weeks ahead.
Brooklyn Nets: Jeremy Lin‘s minutes continue to increase slightly with each passing game since his return from a hamstring injury, and after nine games, he’s finally approaching 30 MPG. Since getting back on the court, Lin is averaging 13.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.7 APG and 0.7 SPG in just over 21 minutes per game, and it’s clear that the Nets (12-53) need him to remain healthy to have any chance of winning games.
Charlotte Hornets: A shoulder injury has prevented Frank Kaminsky III from getting on the court since March 2, but it appears that he could return to action on Monday after a five-game absence. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said that “there is a good chance he plays tonight,” a move that would diminish Cody Zeller‘s upside in the game against Bulls.
Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic is officially out of the Bulls’ rotation, even after the trade of Taj Gibson a few weeks ago. The offensive-minded power forward hasn’t played a minute in the last three games, and it doesn’t appear likely that he’ll be back in the rotation any time soon, as Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is instead using Paul Zipser, Joffrey Lauvergne and Cristiano Felicio as the main bigs off the bench.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs made big news Monday when they announced the signing of Larry Sanders, who hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2014-15 season. According to TNT’s David Aldridge, the plan is for the 6-foot-11, 28-year-old to practice with the Cavaliers and play for the Canton Charge in the D-League for the rest of the season. It’s unlikely that Sanders will have much of an impact on the Cavs at any point this season, given his lengthy absence, but this could be the first step in the shot-blocking specialist getting back on the fantasy radar in future seasons.
Dallas Mavericks: Nerlens Noel has missed two games due to left knee soreness and has already been ruled out for Monday’s game, making it three-straight games where he’ll be watching from the bench. So when will the newly acquired big man return to game action? According to the Mavs’ Twitter account, Noel is optimistic that he’ll be back on the court for Wednesday’s game against Washington.
Denver Nuggets: Jameer Nelson is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Lakers due to a right hip flexor strain. If Nelson can’t go, expect Nuggets coach Michael Malone to hand the point guard reigns to rookie Jamal Murray ahead of Emmanuel Mudiay, who has played only three games since the All-Star break and remains on the outside looking in due to his extreme inefficiency.
Detroit Pistons: Tobias Harris played through knee pain to come up with a season-high 28 points in a win against the Knicks on Saturday, and even though he missed Monday’s practice, he is expected to be available when Detroit plays at Cleveland on Tuesday. In three games against the Cavs this season, Harris is averaging 15 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2 APG and 0.7 BPG.
Golden State Warriors: Pay attention to what happened on Sunday when Steve Kerr elected to rest his starters against San Antonio. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala off — in addition to the injured Kevin Durant — Ian Clark went off for a career-high 36 points in 34 minutes. If Kerr sits his starters again, with rest becoming a bigger emphasis leading up to the playoffs, be ready to get Clark into your lineup.
Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverley‘s 2 SPG in the last two weeks is tied for fourth in the league, and his 8.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG in that same span make him a valuable fantasy asset who tends to be overlooked and underowned. Like virtually everyone on the Rockets, Beverley can also shoot the 3-ball, making 1.7 3PPG this season.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner busted out of his recent scoring funk with 15 points on Sunday, but he jammed his finger in the process, causing concern about his availability heading into the week. The news appears to be good for the promising big man, though, as Turner is expected to play Tuesday against the Knicks, a team he has excelled against in three games this season (18.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2 BPG).
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul is scoring like you’d expect (18.3 PPG in last nine games), he’s shooting very efficiently (54.4 FG% in last five games), and he remains one of the top point guards to own in fantasy. Only one problem: the assists are way down in recent weeks. Paul, who is averaging 9.3 APG on the season, has dished out just 6.4 APG in the last five games, which is far below what we’ve come to expect out of CP3. Expect Paul to get back on track and return to his distributing ways in the weeks ahead.
Los Angeles Lakers: Fantasy owners everywhere would love to see D’Angelo Russell become more consistent. Until then, we all will have to live with a wildly talented player whose game tends to ebb and flow over the course of the season. In the last two weeks, Russell is showing why he can be so useful, not only because of his scoring (19.5 PPG) but as a distributor (5.7 APG), defender (2 SPG) and 3-point shooter (3 3PPG).
Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol is slumping at a bad time for fantasy owners. Over the last five games, the veteran is shooting just 38.9 percent, is just 4-for-17 from 3-point land, and is averaging just 15.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. There’s not much you can do other than wait it out and hope Gasol returns to form soon, because it doesn’t make sense to cut him or trade him at this stage in the season.
Miami Heat: Goran Dragic’s eye was swollen up so bad on Sunday that one might have expected the Heat point guard to miss significant time, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, there is hope that Dragic’s eye condition will improve enough for him to play in Wednesday’s game against New Orleans. That’s one tough dude right there!
Milwaukee Bucks: With Giannis Antetokounmpo seeing most of his time now at power forward, the surging Bucks are left with Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon as the main options at point guard. Winners of six straight, this is a formula that is working for Milwaukee, and the good news is Brogdon, who has missed the last two games because of a back injury, is set to return off the bench on Monday against Memphis.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Technically, Karl-Anthony Towns‘ shooting percentage this season (53.2) is still behind where he finished his Rookie of the Year campaign last season (54.2 FG%), but the star big man is making a late push to surpass his impressive rookie mark. Towns is shooting 60.7 percent in his last 10 games, and if he can manage to keep this up for the final 20 games of the season, he will leave his impressive rookie shooting percentage in the rear view mirror.
New Orleans Pelicans: Jrue Holiday is one of the most inconsistent players in the league over the past few weeks, and that was certainly the case in his last four games. Holiday sandwiched two solid double-double performances around a pair of lousy games (4 points, 3 assists against Utah and 7 points, 6 assists against Toronto), and the consistency simply hasn’t been there ever since DeMarcus Cousins joined the rotation.
New York Knicks: Remember Kristaps Porzingis‘ midseason sophomore slump? Well, it’s over. The outspoken 21-year-old future star is averaging 16.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.4 BPG in his last eight games and enters the week with 11 blocks in his last two games. When Porzingis plays like this, he’s a top-30 player in fantasy hoops, especially when you consider his 3-point prowess (1.8 3PG) on top of the scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking.
Oklahoma City Thunder: How great has Russell Westbrook been as of late? In the last two weeks, his 39.9 PPG is 9.1 PPG more than second place during that span (Kawhi Leonard, 30.8 PPG), and he has done it all while continuing to be a force in virtually every other area as well, averaging 9.7 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.9 SPG and 3.4 3PG during this torrid stretch.
Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton is quietly putting together a solid stretch of games, and it isn’t getting the attention it deserves, as he plays on the under-the-radar Magic. In his last four games, Payton is averaging 13.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 10.5 APG and 1.8 SPG. The only thing missing from his repertoire at this point — at least from a fantasy perspective — is the 3-point shot. That has been slow to develop, and he is averaging just 26 percent from long range in this, his third NBA season.
Philadelphia 76ers: T.J. McConnell‘s reputation of a pass-first point guard is being emphasized more and more these days, as the 24-year-old continues to struggle with his shot. While McConnell is a very strong asset in terms of assists (6.2 APG) and steals (1.5 SPG), he is shooting just 36.7 percent in the last five games and attempting just under six shots a game on the season.
Phoenix Suns: Finding assists on the waiver wire is always a challenge, but Tyler Ulis is one player to consider if that’s what you’re looking for. The undersized point guard has come out of nowhere in the second half of the season, getting more playing time for the young rebuilding Suns roster, and he enters the week with four assists or more in eight-straight games.
Portland Trail Blazers: Nobody in the NBA has blocked more shots per game than Jusuf Nurkic in the last two weeks. The newly acquired big man has swatted 2.6 shots a game in his last seven games, edging out Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks (2.4 BPG) in that span. There’s more to Nurkic than blocks, too, as is evidenced by 16.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1 SPG in that span. This trade is looking very good for the Blazers right now, especially with Mason Plumlee taking on a lesser role in Denver.
Sacramento Kings: It’s amazing what can happen when someone believes in you the way the Kings ownership believed in Buddy Hield. Yes, the sample size is small (nine games), but Hield is shooting 52.3 percent since joining the Kings and averaging 13.9 PPG in that span. Going forward, the question is whether Hield will do enough aside from scoring and shooting the 3-ball to be much more than a Nick Young-type of fantasy option. Never much of a passer, it will likely come down Hield’s ability to get more rebounds and steals.
San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge is out indefinitely to undergo tests on the very serious matter of heart arrhythmia, and you can expect the Spurs to use extreme caution here and only clear the veteran power forward if he passes a battery of tests. Fantasy takes a back seat to reality in situations like this, but you can expect Pau Gasol and Leonard to increase their offensive production while Aldridge is out.
Toronto Raptors: Remember when Serge Ibaka was the game’s top shot-blocker? Those days are over, but Ibaka is still one of the best, and that part of his game has been on display since joining the Raptors. In nine games with Toronto, Ibaka is averaging 1.9 BPG, giving the Raptors the rim-protector they desperately missed before his arrival.
Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors will miss his third consecutive game on Monday due to a bone bruise in his left knee. The 25-year-old showed signs of life earlier this month when he posted back-to-back double-doubles against Minnesota and Brooklyn, but the latest news about his knee makes him an iffy option at best going forward. It’s probably time to cut him and move on in this critical stage of the fantasy season.
Washington Wizards: Over the last two weeks, Bradley Beal‘s 3.5 3PPG ranks third in the league behind only Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Miami’s Wayne Ellington. The red-hot fifth-year shooting guard is averaging 28.3 PPG in his last 10 games and shooting 53.6 percent during that span. Though still mostly a scorer and 3-point shooter as far as fantasy is concerned, Beal has ascended the ranks this season while contributing 3.1 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1 SPG, and is a top-40 fantasy option heading into 2017-18.