Kyrie Irving torches Hawks in return

Sunday’s NBA schedule featured a lot of comebacks, as in players returning to action after missing time due to injury. Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell put up nice stat lines in their returns, while Washington welcomed back Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant and Toronto did the same for Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell. Among those who were ruled out Sunday: Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell

Injuries & Headlines 

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder) makes his return: Having been out of the lineup since mid-November due to a right shoulder injury, there were conflicting reports as to when Irving would be healthy enough to play again. He was back on the court Sunday evening, starting at the point for the Nets in their 108-86 win over the Hawks. And with Trae Young out with a sore left hamstring, Atlanta wasn’t able to offer up much in the way of resistance at the point. Irving played 20 minutes, shooting 10-of-11 from the field and finishing with 21 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one three-pointer. He’ll likely be on a minutes restriction for a bit longer, but even with that being the case Irving should start whenever he’s cleared to play. Brooklyn has a back-to-back coming up, with Utah visiting Tuesday followed by a game in Philadelphia the following night, and Irving said after Sunday’s win that he plans on playing in both.

With Irving back Rodions Kurucs (three points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal in 23 minutes) being moved back to the second unit and Spencer Dinwiddie remained in the starting lineup. Dinwiddie played 25 minutes, accounting for seven points (2-of-7 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four rebounds, eight assists and one three-pointer. Not the best line, but those who have Dinwiddie rostered shouldn’t panic. Dinwiddie’s a top-100 player in eight-category formats per Basketball Monster, with turnovers (four vs. Atlanta) keeping him below that threshold in nine-cat. The fantasy value of players such as Kurucs and Garrett Temple (eight points, four rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer in 21 minutes) decrease with Irving back in the fold. 

Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell return in Toronto: The Raptors welcomed back two key members of their rotation Sunday, as Siakam (strained groin) and Norman Powell (shoulder) both started Sunday’s 105-104 loss to the Spurs. Both were on minutes restrictions, but ultimately Siakam (15 points, five rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers) would play 30 minutes and Powell (20 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and four 3-pointers) 31. Those who rushed to pick up the likes of Patrick McCaw and Terence Davis would be well-served to drop them and free up a roster spot, as even though both remain in the rotation their opportunities decrease significantly with Siakam and Powell back. 

Another player to keep an eye on is OG Anunoby, who has been a top-100 player in nine-cat formats over the last two weeks. He played 29 minutes against the Spurs, shooting 3-of-5 from the field and finishing with eight points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer. In five of the six games prior to Sunday, Anunoby attempted at least eight shots. Siakam and Powell are going to get shots, and among the starters OG is the one who’s going to lose out as a result. He should still be rostered, but his value will take a hit in most leagues. 

Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant return for the Wizards: Sunday was a busy day for Washington, as it began with rookie center Anzejs Pasecniks’ two-way contract being converted to a standard contract after C.J. Miles was waived. And in the Wizards’ 127-116 loss to the Jazz Sunday night, two key members of the rotation made their returns to the court. Beal (leg) made his first appearance since New Year’s Day, starting and playing 27 minutes with Jordan McRae returning to the bench. Beal finished the loss with 25 points, one rebound, four assists and one steal, shooting 11-of-25 from the field. McRae was solid coming off the bench, tallying 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 25 minutes. His value decreases with Beal back in the lineup, but not to the point where you should immediately drop him. 

Bryant (foot) was the other returnee, but unlike Beal he was brought off the bench and is under a stricter minutes limit. He played 15 minutes Sunday, finishing with eight points, three rebounds and one assist. Eventually Bryant will be back in the starting lineup, which would cut into the value of Ian Mahinmi. But until then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hang onto Mahinmi, who played 31 minutes and posted a line of 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and one three-pointer. Over the last two weeks he’s provided 11th-round value in both eight- and nine-category formats, which isn’t great but worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues. 

D’Angelo Russell returns, goes off for 34 points: The Warriors point guard, making his first appearance since December 28 due to a right shoulder injury, started and played 35 minutes in Sunday’s 122-102 loss to Memphis. Russell shot 12-of-24 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, scoring 34 points with seven rebounds, four assists and five 3-pointers. The shoulder that Russell injured isn’t his shooting shoulder, and given Golden State’s need for scoring he’s going to get all the shots that he can handle. That lowers the value of Alec Burks, who accounted for 13 points, six rebounds and one three-pointer in 28 minutes. 

Damion Lee, whose conversion from a two-way to a standard contract has not been completed, did not play since he’s used up his 45 days. Glenn Robinson III (eight points, seven rebounds, two steals and one three-pointer) remained in the starting lineup and played 29 minutes, and Jordan Poole (13 points, three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers) played 27 minutes off the bench. Those two would likely be the ones who lose some playing time once Lee’s contract is taken care of. 

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Trae Young (left hamstring) sits, so Brandon Goodwin starts: As noted above the Hawks were without their starting point guard in Brooklyn, which meant a rare start for the two-way contract recipient out of FGCU. Goodwin played 27 minutes in the loss to the Nets, posting a line of eight points (3-of-12 FGs), four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one three-pointer. Young’s absence also meant more shots for Cam Reddish, who shot 6-of-16 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line and accounted for 20 points, two assists, five steals and four 3-pointers in 29 minutes. He stands to see an uptick in his usage whenever Young is out due to injury. 

Emmanuel Mudiay starts for injured Donovan Mitchell: Mitchell missed Utah’s win in Washington due to an upper respiratory infection, which meant a rare start for Mudiay. The former Knick played 30 minutes, posting a line of 14 points (6-of-10 FGs), five rebounds, five assists and one three-pointer with no turnovers. A good night for him to say the least, but his value drops considerably when Mitchell is healthy enough to play. If Mitchell is good to go Tuesday, Mudiay would only be worth considering in deeper leagues until Mike Conley (hamstring) is healthy enough to make his return. 

Sunday’s rotation changes also meant more playmaking opportunities for Jordan Clarkson. Normally a guard with a one-track mind (to score points), not only did Clarkson get up an ample number of shots (22) but he also dished out three assists to go along with his 23 points, two rebounds, two steals and one three-pointer. The three helpers are the most that Clarkson’s had since being acquired from Cleveland just before Christmas. 

Doc Rivers shakes up the starting lineup: Landry Shamet, who started Friday night in place of the injured Paul George (hamstring), and Moe Harkless moved to the bench for Sunday’s game vs. Denver, with Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson receiving starting nods. Williams played 35 minutes in the 114-104 loss to the Nuggets, accounting for 26 points (8-of-17 FGs, 7-of-9 FTs), four rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers, while Patterson played 13 minutes and finished with just one assist while shooting 0-of-4 from the field. 

Shamet also put up a donut in the scoring column, shooting 0-of-5 from three, while tallying two assists. Harkless played 21 minutes, scoring six points with one rebound and two steals. With George out the Clippers needed another scorer to supplement the efforts of Kawhi Leonard, hence Williams moving into the starting lineup. But it also left the bench with one less reliable scorer, with Montrezl Harrell doing the heavy lifting. While Williams has been a must-have all season long, Harkless is worth the occasional look in deeper leagues while neither Patterson nor Shamet should be considered. 

Deandre Ayton comes off the bench for second straight game: Monty Williams stayed with the lineup that he put on the floor for Friday’s win over the Magic, with Aron Baynes starting at center and Deandre Ayton coming off the bench. Ayton will still have the edge in minutes played, so there shouldn’t be any concern there. He played 26 minutes in Sunday’s 100-92 win over the Hornets, shooting 9-of-15 from the field and finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Baynes played 22 minutes, finishing with eight points (4-of-7 FGs), seven rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot. This setup improves Baynes’ value slightly, but not enough to push him past Ayton in that regard. 

Knicks down two point guards, but Julius Randle returns: Ntilikina was held out due to a sore groin, and Smith missed his ninth straight game as he continues to work his way back from a strained left oblique. This didn’t change anything at the top of the Knicks’ point guard rotation, as Elfrid Payton (10 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals) remains the starter and played 31 minutes in New York’s 124-121 win over Miami. On the back end Kadeem Allen played 17 minutes, accounting for 10 points (4-of-7 FGs), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one blocked shot and one three-pointer. Allen should be left on the waiver wire, especially when taking into consideration the fact that Frank Ntilikina was considered to be probable before being ruled out shortly before tipoff. 

Randle, who missed time due to the death of his grandmother, played 33 minutes in his return to the starting lineup. He shot 10-of-21 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, scoring 26 points with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and one three-pointer. Over the last month Randle has been a top-60 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, and he’s the best fantasy option in the Knicks frontcourt thanks to Mitchell Robinson’s inconsistent play (and minutes). 

Sunday’s Standouts & Other Numbers

RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox had good afternoons for the Knicks in their win over Miami. Barrett played 40 minutes and was very efficient, shooting 7-of-10 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line. The rookie guard finished with 23 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one three-pointer with no turnovers. As for Knox, he shot 6-of-8 from the field and scored 17 points with five rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 20 minutes. This was his first double-digit scoring effort since December 21, and the lack of consistent production is why he should be left on the waiver wire. 

James Johnson had his best game of the season in a losing effort for the Heat, posting a line of 19 points, four rebounds, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers in 21 minutes. Kelly Olynyk was a DNP-CD, and he hasn’t appeared in a game since January 3. Johnson is worth a look in deeper leagues, especially with Justise Winslow (back) not appearing to be all that close to making his return. Jimmy Butler (25 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and one blocked shot) and Kendrick Nunn (20 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers) led the way offensively for Miami. 

Bojan Bogdanovic surpassed the 30-point mark for the second time in his last four games, as he tallied 31 points (12-of-23 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), three rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in Utah’s win over the Wizards. For the month of January he’s averaging 20.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.6 three-pointers per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field. Rudy Gobert (21 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks) and Joe Ingles (20 points, two rebounds, nine assists, two steals and four 3-pointers) also scored at least 20 points, as did the aforementioned Clarkson. 

Davis Bertans shot 4-of-7 from three for the Wizards, finishing with 18 points, four rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s provided fourth round value in nine-category formats this season, and in most leagues Bertans qualifies as a steal given the preseason expectations. Ish Smith added nine points, four rebounds, seven assists, one blocked shot and one three-pointer in 28 minutes, and Troy Brown Jr. nine points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer in 31 minutes. 

— Outside of Cam Reddish, Atlanta’s starters had a rough go of it in Brooklyn. John Collins shot 2-of-11 from the field, scoring eight points with five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in 28 minutes, with Kevin Huerter (eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers) and De’Andre Hunter (two points, one rebound and one assist) also failing to score in double figures. While Collins and Huerter are clearly players who should be rostered at this point in the season, Hunter is well off the radar. 

DeMar DeRozan (eight rebounds, four assists, two steals) and Derrick White (four rebounds, four assists and three blocks) got hot in the second half for the Spurs, with the former scoring 18 of his 25 points in the final 16 minutes and the latter scoring nine of his 13 in the fourth quarter. DeRozan is a fixture in standard leagues, but the same can’t be said for White. The need for spacing means that the Spurs have to pick between he and Dejounte Murray, with the latter getting starter’s minutes. That limits White’s fantasy value to that of a streaming option, and while that can be a crapshoot he’s capable of delivering nights like Sunday on occasion. 

Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka posted double-doubles for Toronto, with Lowry finishing with 16 points (5-of-15 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), three rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and four 3-pointers. Ibaka led the Raptors with 21 points (9-of-16 FGs), 14 rebounds, one assist, one block and three 3-pointers. Marc Gasol (strained left hamstring) will eventually make his return, and while that will affect Ibaka’s fantasy value it won’t be to the point where he doesn’t offer anything of note. He’s a solid asset to have, especially when sinking 3-pointers and blocking shots. 

Draymond Green had an interesting night from a statistical standpoint in the Warriors’ loss to Memphis. He shot 1-of-5 from the field, finishing with three points, but outside of the scoring he put forth a solid stat line. Eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocked shots in just 23 minutes of action. His minutes moving forward are a concern, as the Warriors don’t have the talent required to make a run at a playoff spot and the hole they’re currently in is likely too deep to crawl out of. That will hurt Green’s fantasy value, making it difficult for those hoping to move him for players whose teams will have more to play for down the stretch. 

Jonas Valanciunas was nearly unstoppable for Memphis, as he tallied 31 points (13-of-17 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), 19 rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one three-pointer in 29 minutes. Over the last month he’s been a top-25 player in nine-category formats, joining Jaren Jackson Jr. as Grizzlies that can make that claim. Jackson finished Sunday’s win over the Warriors with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Ja Morant scored 11 points and dished out 10 assists. 

— While Denver was in control from the second quarter on in its 114-104 win over the Clippers, the game produced a fun duel between Nikola Jokic and Montrezl Harrell. Jokic played 31 minutes, accounting for 20 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, one steal and three 3-pointers for the winners, while Harrell countered with 25 pints, eight rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 30 minutes off the bench. While Jokic is approaching first round value after getting off to a slow start to the season, Harrell’s outside of the top-100. But even with that being the case, he’s a must-own in standard leagues. 

Jerami Grant made another start in place of the injured Paul Millsap, who missed his third straight game due to a bruised left knee. Grant finished with 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocked shots, shooting 7-of-12 from the foul line. Also of note was the line produced by Michael Porter Jr., who played 19 minutes and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, one steal, one blocked shot and one three-pointer. Grant and Porter have value when Millsap is out, but the standard league value takes a serious hit when he’s good to go. 

Malik Beasley was a DNP-CD for the Nuggets Sunday night, and has appeared in just three games this month. The back end of Mike Malone’s rotation has been a bit unpredictable this season, and for now it appears that Beasley is the odd man out. 

Dwayne Bacon had one of his best games of the season in Charlotte’s loss to Phoenix, as he shot 10-of-15 from the field and scored 24 points with five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. But that and Devonte’ Graham going for 22 points, one rebound, eight assists, three steals, one block and four 3-pointers didn’t make up for Terry Rozier shooting 1-of-10 from the field and finishing with five points, two rebounds and two assists. Bacon’s fantasy outlook is similar to that of Malik Monk, in that the lack of consistent production makes them nearly impossible to roster. Hopefully Bacon can build on his effort Sunday night. 

Kelly Oubre has been really good this season, ranking within the top-50 in both eight- and nine-category formats this season. He accounted for 25 points (10-of-19 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), 15 rebounds, one assist, three steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 40 minutes against the Hornets. Oubre’s performance helped Phoenix overcome Devin Booker’s 12-point, nine-assist, seven-turnover night. Oubre’s rostered in 92 percent of Yahoo leagues, and the percentage should be threatening 100 at this point. 

Monday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

New Orleans at Detroit, 7 PM 

Philadelphia at Indiana, 7 PM 

Chicago at Boston, 7:30 PM 

Oklahoma City at Minnesota, 8 PM 

Orlando at Sacramento, 10 PM 

Charlotte at Portland, 10 PM 

Cleveland at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM