The NBA season is a marathon, and this far into it, we can see injuries influencing nearly every team's rotation. The Nets, for instance, somewhat surprisingly got superstar guard Kyrie Irving back from a 26-game absence on Sunday. He responded with a career-best 90.9% from the field. Although Irving played only 20 minutes, Brooklyn had a plus-22 point differential while he was on the court. Spencer Dinwiddie's turn as a fantasy star could be coming to an end with Irving's efficient and high-usage game back in the fold. However, scoring wing Caris LeVert, who also recently returned from an extended injury absence, should remain valuable in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, in Motown on Saturday, the absence of All-Star forward Blake Griffin has fueled an uptick in fantasy value from journeyman Christian Wood, who delivered 17 points on 12 shots. That impressively went along with 14 rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes of play for the Pistons forward in a loss to the Bulls. Wood won't always be so statistically prolific, but with Griffin expected to miss a long stretch of time after his knee surgery, the versatile forward should provide managers with some fun lines along the way.
Tatum produced his career-high 41 points on Saturday, yet didn't play the fourth quarter as Boston cruised to a win over the Pelicans. Tatum became the first Celtics player to score 40 through three quarters over the past 20 seasons. He is also the first Celtics player with a 40-point game in 30 minutes or fewer since Larry Bird achieved the feat on March 18, 1986 (29 minutes). Tatum is just the second Celtics player at age 21 or younger to score 40 points in a game, joining Antoine Walker, who did it twice.
On Sunday evening, Oubre produced his first career game with at least 25 points and 15 boards. He now has 18 20-point games this season after tallying only 23 such games across his previous four professional seasons.
In the loss to Irving's Nets on Sunday, rookie Cam Reddish led a depleted Hawks roster with a team-high 16 shots and a career-high five steals, marking the second 20-point game of his career. Strangely, both have come against Brooklyn. With Trae Young missing the game due to a hamstring ailment, Kevin Huerter (available in half of ESPN leagues) becomes a stellar free-agent acquisition. Meanwhile, Reddish's streaming value is clearly on the rise.
Injuries of note
Sharpshooter Davis Bertans made his return to the Wizards' rotation over the weekend and resumed his strong play off the pine for Washington. Thomas Bryant played 15 minutes off the bench for the Wizards in his return from a 20-game absence.
Derrick Favors of the Pelicans is dealing with another injury. This time, it's a right hamstring strain. He's considered questionable for tonight's game against Detroit. Jrue Holiday is also questionable ahead of Monday's cross-conference matchup.
On Sunday, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam both returned to the floor for Toronto while Fred VanVleet was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Siakam was eased back into the fold, but was healthy enough to take a potential game-winning shot. Even though it didn't drop, it was nice to see the emerging star back on the floor for the first time in nearly a month. Powell, meanwhile, delivered 20 points and is among the best midseason waiver additions to consider.
Analytics advantage for Monday
As the Pelicans could be without Favors tonight, Jaxson Hayes' rebounding opportunities should soar. Hayes leads New Orleans in rebounding percentage whenever Favors is off the floor. If Holiday sits, combo guard Josh Hart should enjoy a sizable spike in minutes per game and in fantasy points per minute, making him a fun streaming option. Lonzo Ball also becomes a strong DFS building block in such a scenario.
Top players to watch on Monday
LeBron James will face the Cavaliers on Monday night for the 15th time in his career. James is 13-1 in the previous 14 games facing Cleveland, the best record against the Cavaliers by any active player (minimum 10 meetings) and the fifth-best record by any player in NBA history against a former team. James is Cleveland's all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists, steals, games and 3s. No other player in franchise history is close in any category. With at least three assists tonight, James will pass Isiah Thomas for eighth on the all-time list.