Fantasy 30: Joel Embiid is playing at an MVP level

Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? What’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?

Here’s a look around the league at the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams:

Atlanta Hawks

De’Andre Hunter was mentioned in last week’s column, and he’s still available in 85.5% of ESPN leagues. Since returning from his nearly two-month absence due to a wrist injury, he’s been outstanding. Hunter’s has averaged 17 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG and 1.2 BPG in his last five games. Pick Hunter up now.

Boston Celtics

Dennis Schroder has thrived with Marcus Smart in the protocols. Over the last three games, he’s averaged 21 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 7.3 APG while shooting 58.5% from the field. Schroder should continue to produce while Smart is out.

Brooklyn Nets

With Kevin Durant out a month with a sprained MCL, Patty Mills becomes an instant beneficiary and a reliable source of points and 3-pointers. This season, he has averaged 7.6 triples per game, connecting on 42.6% of them. Those playing deeper formats shouldn’t overlook Kessler Edwards, who has been starting lately. In the last four games, he averaged 10.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 1.0 BPG in 34 MPG You can find Edwards in virtually all ESPN leagues.

Charlotte Hornets

Terry Rozier has been fantastic for fantasy managers in January. In five of his last six games, he has scored 20 or more points while averaging 5.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in five of his last six games. If you are looking for a short-term streamer, then I recommend Jalen McDaniels since P.J. Washington is questionable for the Hornets Friday night against the Thunder after sustaining a right hip contusion last game. He has averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per 40 minutes this.


Chicago Bulls

Ayo Dosunmu remains a viable streamer while Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine are out with knee injuries. During the past three games, he has a 76.7 FG% to go with 18 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 8.0 APG, 2.3 SPG and 0.7 BPG. Dosunmu is available in 94% of ESPN leagues.

Cleveland Cavaliers

This season, Lauri Markkanen has been a consistent scorer for the Cavaliers. Over the last five games, he has averaged 16.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG and 3.0 3PG while posting a 57 FG%. Markkanen provides plenty of points and triples and is available in 54.6% of ESPN leagues.

Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic has not met fantasy expectations so far this season, but his epic effort against the Raptors on Wednesday with 41 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and a steal hopefully represents a return to form. This was his third career game with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, which is the most in Mavericks franchise history. Doncic is only 22 years old.

Denver Nuggets

Jeff Green has scored 10 or more points in six of his last seven games,. His other counting statistics are mediocre. Green has averaged 15.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.1 3s made in the last seven games. In deeper formats, he’s someone to consider since he’s available in nearly all ESPN leagues.

Detroit Pistons

Rodney McGruder has scored 15 or more points and averaged 4.5 rebounds and 27 minutes in his last two games. He is available in virtually all ESPN leagues. In deeper formats, keep McGruder on your watch list and consider adding him if he plays well against the Jazz on Friday.

Golden State Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga has an opportunity to shine in the absence of Draymond Green, who is out for at least 10 more days with a calf injury. Over the last four games, the rookie lottery pick has averaged 18 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks. Available in 88.4% of ESPN leagues, it’s possible — but not probable — that Kuminga continues to be fantasy relevant once Green returns.

Houston Rockets

Those fantasy managers seeking points and triples should consider Garrison Mathews. He’s averaged 20 points, 4.5 triples and 26.5 minutes over the last two games. Mathews is available in 98.4% of ESPN leagues.

Indiana Pacers

Myles Turner will miss significant time with a left foot stress reaction. That opens the door for Goga Bitadze (rostered in 1.4% of ESPN leagues), who can provide rebounds and shot-blocking in Turner’s absence. Bitadze has averaged 15.2 points and 11 rebounds per 40 minutes this season.

LA Clippers

Ivica Zubac scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Nuggets on Wednesday. This performance should cement his position as the Clippers’ starting center for the remainder of the season. Zubac has averaged 10 PPG, 8.0 RPG,and 1.0 BPG this season, and is available in 41% of ESPN leagues.



Reggie Jackson tosses it up to Ivica Zubac, who finishes with a jam over Nikola Jokic.

Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook has been a liability for the Lakers, who have lost four of their last five games. He has averaged 12.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5 APG over the last seven games, numbers that are a far cry from the Westbrook we’ve come to know over the past decade. Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers marked Westbrook’s seventh consecutive game with 20 or fewer points, his longest streak since his second season in the league way back in 2009-2010.

Memphis Grizzlies

One of the reasons why the Grizzlies are among the top teams in the Western Conference is their abundance of playmakers. De’Anthony Melton is one of them, but he only has played 22.6 MPG this season. On the other hand, he has averaged 16.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per 40 minutes. Melton is available in 93% of ESPN leagues and could be a difference-maker if traded to another team and given more playing time, but his importance on the contending Grizzlies makes that unlikely.

Miami Heat

Tyler Herro has entered the league’s health and safety protocols. Fortunately, the Heat have an abundance of playmakers to fill Herro’s role considering his usage rate this season is 29%. Max Strus is my preferred streaming option. He is available in 98% of ESPN leagues. Over the past seven games, Strus has averaged 14 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.7 APG.

Milwaukee Bucks

Since returning from the league protocols, Grayson Allen has put together some solid performances. He has averaged 12.8 points, 2.0 3-pointers made, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in the last four games. Allen is available in 90.5% of ESPN leagues and is a reliable source of points and triples (39.0 3FG%).

Minnesota Timberwolves

Jarred Vanderbilt has limited his fantasy ceiling due to foul troubles, racking up a whopping 23 fouls over the last five games. That said, he is available in 80% of ESPN leagues and is a consistent contributor to defensive stats, averaging 9.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 0.7 BPG this season.

New Orleans Pelicans

Herbert Jones has averaged 14 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 32.4 minutes over the last six games, and the rookie forward is available in 83% of ESPN leagues if you are looking for a player who can contribute in multiple categories.

New York Knicks

Throughout the season, Evan Fournier has had his ups and downs. However, he has been a top-50 player in category formats for the last two weeks. The veteran swingman has averaged 18 points and 30 minutes over the last eight games. From the field, he has shot 48.5% while making 51% of his 3s. Fournier is available in 44.3% of ESPN leagues, and is a great source of points and triples if you can handle the fluctuations in statistical production.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks and 34 minutes in his last four games. With Oklahoma City sitting at 14-30, it’s possible the Thunder will initiate some random DNPs for him during the remainder of the season, so if Gilgeous-Alexander is on your roster, consider selling high.

Orlando Magic

Since returning from his thumb injury, rookie Jalen Suggs has performed admirably. He has averaged 13 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 25.3 minutes in his last four games. The Gonzaga product has a great chance to end the regular season on a positive note for a Magic team desperate for playmakers. He’s available in 41% of ESPN leagues.

Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid scored 50 points against the Magic on Wednesday night and nobody should be surprised. In his last 15 games, Embiid has averaged 33 points, 10 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 55% from the field. Fantasy managers should ride Embiid’s statistical wave, but the elephant in the room is his availability. In each of the past five seasons, he has appeared in no more than 64 games during the regular season.



Joel Embiid puts up a career-high 50 points in the 76ers’ win over the Magic.

Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Mavericks. This puts JaVale McGee on the streaming radar during his absence. While McGee has averaged only 16.2 MPG this season, his per 40 numbers (25 points and 17.3 rebounds) tell you what he’s capable of in a larger role. The veteran 7-footer is available in 91.5% of ESPN leagues.

Portland Trail Blazers

Despite missing 18 games due to a collapsed lung, an uncommon injury in basketball, CJ McCollum has played well over the last two games, averaging 20 points and 30.5 minutes. Damian Lillard (core surgery) will be out for the foreseeable future, which should lead to an increase in his usage rate. Another player who benefits from Lillard’s absence is Anfernee Simons, who is still available in 55% of ESPN leagues.

Sacramento Kings

Terence Davis made the most of his opportunity with Tyrese Haliburton in health and safety protocols, scoring a a career-high 35 points on Wednesday night against the Pistons. In addition, he had six rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and seven triples. Davis has averaged 22 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the last three games, while shooting 49% from the field. He’s available in 98.1% of ESPN leagues.

San Antonio Spurs

It is shocking to see Devin Vassell still available in 94% of ESPN leagues. He can fill up the stat sheet in a variety of ways. Vassell has averaged 12.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks during the past five games, and the trade of Bryn Forbes to the Nuggets positions Vassell for even greater things during the second half of the season.

Toronto Raptors

Chris Boucher has kept up his positive trend since I wrote about him in last week’s column. During the past five games, he has averaged 15.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.6 blocks and — most importantly — a healthy 34 minutes.Pick Boucher up if he’s available in your league — this is the guy everyone thought they were getting on draft day.

Utah Jazz

In Wednesday night’s game against the Rockets, Bojan Bogdanovic attempted 27 field goals and scored 29 points. Bogdanovic will continue to accumulate field goal attempts while Donovan Mitchell is out with a concussion. He remains available in 39% of ESPN leagues and Joe Ingles is also an option if Bogdanovic is unavailable, but Ingles has seen his offensive production plummet in this, his 8th NBA season.

Washington Wizards

Montrezl Harrell is still getting plenty of minutes even with the return of Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. He has averaged 15 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 23 minutes in his last five games, and will continue to contribute as a key component of the Wizards’ second unit.

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