Fantasy 30: Kevin Durant’s incredible shooting efficiency and other NBA noteson December 22, 2022 at 8:48 pm

The best fantasy basketball managers make a habit of looking at the NBA schedule, examining box scores and scouring the news for any tidbit that can help give them the edge in their leagues.

Luckily, Eric Moody does all that work for you each and every Thursday with the Fantasy 30, helping answer the tough questions such as whom to start, who are the best fantasy basketball sleepers out there and what’s the latest injury news with key players around the league.

Here’s the latest fantasy news from each of the 30 teams around the league.

Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young has underperformed this season and is shooting a career-low 41.1%. However, Young has scored 40 or more fantasy points in four consecutive games, including one with 61 points. Rumors surfaced Thursday that Young could be the next NBA superstar to request a trade, which adds some volatility to Young’s fantasy value. That’s worth keeping tabs on in the weeks and months ahead.

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Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum continues to make Celtics franchise history. He’s averaged 30.6 PPG this season, which is meaningful because no Celtics player has ever averaged 30 points for an entire season. Tatum is also the first player in franchise history to average 30 PPG through his first 30 games of a season. He also leads the league in plus-minus. Robert Williams III is rostered in only 69.5% of leagues and should be higher. Additionally, fantasy managers should prioritize him in trades. He’s scored 22 or more fantasy points in three consecutive games despite playing 19.3 MPG. As he gets back into playing shape, that number will rise.

Brooklyn Nets: Fantasy managers are not complaining about Kevin Durant‘s performance this season. He’s averaged 53.5 fantasy points per game and has a true shooting percentage of 67.2%. He currently has the highest true shooting percentage for a player averaging 30 points in a season since Stephen Curry in 2015-16 (66.9%). Meanwhile, Nic Claxton continues to produce in points and category formats. He’s averaged 34.4 fantasy points per game and providing contributions in multiple categories including the highly coveted categories of steals and blocks. It’s been fun to watch Claxton’s breakout season.

Charlotte Hornets: After an injury-plagued start to the season, LaMelo Ball has performed well since returning to the court. Five consecutive games have seen him score 45 or more fantasy points. Against the Clippers on Wednesday night, he had his seventh career triple-double, tying Anthony Mason for the most in franchise history. Also, don’t overlook Mason Plumlee, who is only rostered in 32.6% of ESPN leagues, if you need help at the center position. He has scored 30 or more fantasy points in six of his last seven games.

Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic have each scored 20 or more points in the last three games for the Bulls. That streak is tied for the longest by a trio in franchise history. In December 1984, Michael Jordan, Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey did this for Chicago. There are apparently issues between LaVine and DeRozan on the court, though, and it is worth monitoring this situation closely.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Donovan Mitchell is on pace to shatter his previous career high in scoring (26.4 PPG), as he’s putting up 29.5 PPG in this, his sixth NBA season and first with the Cavs. A big reason for the increase? Efficiency. Mitchell 64.4 True Shooting Percentage is well ahead of anything he put up in his five seasons in Utah, with last season’s 57.2 TS% being his previous best.

Dallas Mavericks: Even though Tim Hardaway Jr. doesn’t contribute much outside of points and 3-pointers, he remains a viable streamer since entering the Mavericks’ starting lineup. In the last 12 games, he has scored 25 or more fantasy points nine times. Meanwhile, Luka Doncic continues to impress in nearly every way. On Wednesday night, he had his 95th game with 10 or more assists. He is three games away from tying and four away from passing Steve Nash for third most in franchise history.

Denver Nuggets: Aaron Gordon is in the midst of the best fantasy season of his career. On the court, he’s averaged 17.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG while shooting 60.9% from the field. He has scored 26 or more fantasy points seven times over the last seven games, including four games with 40 or more points. Gordon is still capable of being productive for fantasy managers even when Michael Porter Jr. returns within the next two weeks.

Detroit Pistons: Even though the Pistons rank 24th in points scored per 100 possessions, Jalen Duren should be rostered in more fantasy leagues. While Duren struggled against Joel Embiid on Wednesday night, he has scored 31 or more fantasy points in each of the four games prior. It’s worth considering Marvin Bagley III in deeper leagues if you’re looking for a big. He’s scored 19 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games and is only rostered in 13.6% of ESPN leagues.

2 Related

Golden State Warriors: Now is the perfect time to take a flier on James Wiseman. In his biggest workload of the season, he finished with 50 fantasy points against the Nets on Wednesday. Wiseman became the first Warriors player with 30 points on 85% shooting in a game since Klay Thompson back on Jan. 21, 2019 against the Lakers. Wiseman is only rostered in 10.8% of ESPN leagues.

Houston Rockets: Alperen Sengun is one of the Rockets’ most reliable fantasy players. Over the course of only 26.6 MPG, he has averaged 14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 2.3 APG. Sengun could be much more productive if the Rockets gave him more playing time, so keep that in mind in case it starts to happen.

Indiana Pacers: Since Aaron Nesmith has been in the starting lineup, he has had stellar statistical results. In the last five games, he has played 28 minutes four times and scored at least 33 fantasy points three times. Nesmith is only rostered in 2.1% of ESPN leagues and should be considered by fantasy managers in deeper formats.

LA Clippers: The Clippers roster is at full strength for the first time this season with several key players returning. Having one more game left this week should allow Los Angeles to become even healthier. It is unknown whether Kawhi Leonard will be available for back-to-back games but he’s scored 31 or more fantasy points in each of the last four games, including two with 49 or more.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis for the next month as he recovers from a right foot injury. Considering Davis’ injury history and the Lakers’ 13-18 record, he could be out longer. Thomas Bryant is the primary beneficiary and is still shockingly rostered in only 16.6% of ESPN leagues. In four consecutive games, he has scored 24 or more fantasy points, including two with 39 or more.

Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant recorded his 11th career game with 30 points and 10 assists against the Nuggets on Tuesday. All other players in franchise history have combined for eight. Morant has also averaged a career high 7.8 APG this season. The defensive contributions Jaren Jackson Jr. has made since returning from injury have been outstanding, with him putting up 6.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 3.2 BPG.

Miami Heat: Whenever the Heat are without members of their backcourt, Victor Oladipo is a viable streamer. He is only rostered in 11.1% of ESPN leagues and fantasy managers should keep him on their watch lists as he has scored 25 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games. In category formats, Oladipo’s also a great source of steals.

Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton is still dealing with right knee soreness and has missed the Bucks’ last three games. In seven games, he’s averaged 11.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 4.4 APG. With a 22-9 record, the Bucks can afford to ease him back into the lineup. Fantasy managers need to remain patient. Just last season Middleton was recognized as an All-Star and averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 5.4 APG.

Wednesday, Jan. 4

Bucks-Raptors, 7:30 p.m.Heat-Lakers, 10 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 6

Bulls-Sixers, 7:30 p.m.Heat-Suns, 10 p.m.

*All times Eastern

Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards has had four straight games with five or more assists, which is the longest streak of his career. December has been a phenomenal month for him, as he has averaged 46.1 fantasy points per game.

New Orleans Pelicans: Herbert Jones was one of my favorite preseason sleepers. So far this season, he hasn’t exceeded expectations statistically, and he has missed nine games due to injury. With that said I believe now is a perfect time to stash him. In three consecutive games, Jones has scored 23 or more fantasy points. As of right now, he’s only rostered in 27.1% of ESPN leagues, and his minutes are on the rise. Jones can provide fantasy managers in category formats with points, rebounds, assists and steals.

New York Knicks: Due to a right ankle sprain, Quentin Grimes missed Wednesday’s game against the Raptors and may miss Friday’s game against the Bulls. Meanwhile, Immanuel Quickley has back to back games with 32 or more fantasy points. He is only rostered in 4.0% of ESPN leagues and if Grimes is out and you need a streamer you should consider Quickley.

Oklahoma City Thunder: After missing the last two games with a non-COVID illness, it was great to see Josh Giddey back in the fold. Over the last nine games, Giddey has scored 30 or more fantasy points six times. The dominant play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues. He has averaged 51.4 fantasy points per game this season. Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey continue to handle most of the heavy lifting for a Thunder team that ranks 23rd in points scored per 100 possessions.

Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero recorded his sixth career 20-point and 10-rebound game against the Rockets on Wednesday night. He’s the first player to record six such games in 26 career games or less since Blake Griffin during the 2010 to 2011 season. Furthermore, this was Banchero’s 20th career 20-point game. The last two players to score 20 or more points in 20 of their 26 games were Zion Williamson and Michael Jordan. Banchero has averaged 34.4 fantasy points per game as a rookie and delivered on all the preseason hype.

Philadelphia 76ers: As James Harden and Tyrese Maxey have missed time this season, Shake Milton has performed well in the additional minutes provided to him so far. 76ers coach Doc Rivers revealed earlier this month that Milton will remain in the rotation when everyone is healthy. He is only rostered in 6.0% of ESPN leagues.

Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton had his 58th career game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards. He’s one shy of tying Tom Chambers for ninth in Suns franchise history. It was Ayton’s fourth career game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. In other news, Chris Paul injured his shoulder against the Wizards when he was bumped on a screen that looked similar to the injury he sustained in the 2021 playoffs, and that played a role in his suboptimal statistical production. Paul’s situation should be closely monitored by fantasy managers.

Portland Trail Blazers: In the nine games since Damian Lillard returned, Anfernee Simons has remained productive. In seven games, he has scored 23 or more fantasy points. The Trail Blazers rank ninth in points scored per 100 possessions which bodes well for Simons in fantasy hoops. He also benefits from Portland’s defensive woes.

Sacramento Kings: Domantas Sabonis has been phenomenal recently. He is the first player with 75 rebounds and 30 assists over a four-game span since Wes Unseld in 1970. Sabonis has scored 55 or more fantasy points in four consecutive games, including three with 60 or more.

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