A lot has happened since our last meeting! Many trades took place, the Golden State Warriors lost a game, and two players dropped 50-plus points! One of the players scoring 51 points in a game is the reason the Warriors actually lost that game. Damian Lillard’s career-high 51 points proved to be too much for Stephen Curry and the Warriors, resulting in their fifth loss of the season. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis decided to one-up Lillard with a 59-point, 20-rebound performance. Forget video game numbers because a stat line like that is hard to get even in a video game. Davis joined Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber as the third player to score 50-plus points and grab 20-plus boards in game since they started recording rebounds as a stat back in the 1983-84 season. Flat out ridiculous. Nonetheless, as I predicted, many trades have opened up playing time for new faces in new places. Let’s get to it.
It truly is a great time to be named Mack (or Mac). Not only is Shelvin Mack taking over as the point guard of the Utah Jazz, but also Shane-O-Mac made his return to WWE! It was reported the Jazz were interested in bringing in point guard help following a rumored Trey Burke for Ty Lawson swap. Instead, they opted to go down the less expensive route and brought in Mack from the Atlanta Hawks. Mack is now reunited with his buddy Gordon Hayward, whom he played with in 2009-10 at Butler University when they made the National Championship. Now it’s only been one game but Mack exceeded expectations and then some. He played 24 minutes Sunday, scoring 16 points with six assists, three rebounds and one 3-pointer made. He’s never really had an opportunity at big minutes and is still loaded with potential at just 25 years old. Raul Neto is obviously not the future in Utah and Trey Burke is more of a scoring guard off the bench. Mack has a real opportunity here to take over the starting job on an up-and-coming team. In category leagues he will contribute points, assists, and decent 3-point shooting. If you saved that FAAB like I told you to, or have high priority on the waiver wire, Mack is a must-own player.
Looking Deeper: D.J. Augustin has now played for seven different teams during his eight-year NBA career. At this point we know what kind of player he is and the upside is definitely capped. That doesn’t mean he’s useless for Fantasy purposes, however. In the Nuggets’ most recent game, Augustin played 30 minutes to Emmanuel Mudiay’s 31. He’s a proven veteran backup to Mudiay and Jameer Nelson likely won’t be back anytime soon. In that game Augustin scored 13 points with four assists and two 3-pointers made. If he’s consistently playing 24-plus minutes in a backup role, Augustin will be able to contribute decent points and assist numbers moving forward.
Whether it’s blowing air on grown men’s faces or doing this in your Grizzlies debut, Lance Stephenson is always up to something. Lance is an immensely talented player, but really his mind isn’t always in the right place. Maybe being surrounded by veterans like Zach Randolph and Vince Carter will do some good for him. He’s only played one game with the Grizz so far, but he managed to put that talent on display. Stephenson scored 16 points on 6 for 10 shooting, with 16 points, three rebounds, and two assists in his debut. He’s just two years removed from being a pivotal piece of the Pacers’ run in the 2013-14 season. Lance recorded five triple-doubles that season and was often in the running for more. He’s a stat stuffer and could be a pivotal Fantasy piece down the stretch here. It’s just a matter keeping his head in the game, which has been extremely difficult in recent years. For any team looking to make a run towards their Fantasy playoffs, Stephenson is definitely worth an add.
Looking Deeper: Last year I wrote about Maurice “Moe” Harkless, mainly because he’s a Queens, New York native like myself, so I figured I’d do it again this year. In all seriousness, Harkless has been flying under the radar for the Blazers and should be targeted in deeper Fantasy leagues. Over his last five games he’s averaging 14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds with at least one 3-pointer made every night. Harkless is loaded with talent; it’s just a matter of him putting it together on a consistent basis. He’s still only 22 years old, so perhaps the consistency will come. He’s leapfrogged Meyers Leonard and has taken over as the starting power forward. Time is running out before others find out about him.
Both of these next two suggestions are deeper league suggestions, but if you’re really hurting at center feel free to snag either one. There’s no logical reason for why Greg Monroe has been benched for the Milwaukee Bucks but because of that, Miles Plumlee has been getting the nod. Plumlee is a solid big man and has definitely proved his worth as a willing rebounder and defender throughout his time in the NBA. He’s coming off a season-high 14 points while grabbing five rebounds with one block. He’s recorded at least one block in 10 straight games with multiple blocks on four different occasions. John Henson has been banged up all season, which has also probably led to more playing time for Plumlee. He won’t hurt your field-goal percentage (52.3-percent career shooter) but will hurt your free-throw percentage if he gets to the line (55.8-percent career free-throw shooter). He did manage a plus-12 plus/minus rating to Monroe’s minus five, so perhaps there is some validity to this move for the Bucks.
Looking Deeper: For a second straight year, Chris Bosh is dealing with blood clots in his lungs, and while it is unfortunate news, the Heat are trying to find ways to fill the void. While Luol Deng has been tearing it up recently, Josh McRoberts is a name that has picked up some of the slack as well. He had a 19-point, 10-assist game over the weekend, and followed that up with 10 points and six rebounds against the Pacers on Monday night. If his minutes consistently stay in the mid-20s, McRoberts can contribute decent scoring and rebound rates while sprinkling in some 3-pointers from the center position. Anytime you can steal some downtown shooting from your bigs, it’s a plus move. He’s worth taking a look at in 14-team leagues or deeper.