The Atlanta Hawks held the Miami Heat to a season-low 80 points in a rousing victory in interim coach Nate McMillan's debut with the team on Tuesday. Some key takes from the coach's first game include a smaller role for former fantasy star John Collins and an impressive, if limited, return to action for Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Collins did not play at all during the fourth quarter, in what was described as a matchup-driven decision. My impression is that McMillan, known for heavily valuing defensive effort and acuity from his days with the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers, didn't trust Collins to defend Miami's Bam Adebayo down the stretch. With the Hawks drubbing the Heat by 17 points and holding Miami to a sluggish 14 points in the decisive quarter, McMillan's decision was validated.
We'll want to allow more games to unfold before getting worried about Collins, but it's also possible a more enduring solution for this situation surfaces by the trade deadline. Collins and the team weren't able to agree to a contract extension before this season, so it's natural to wonder if he's part of the team's long-term vision.
Bogdanovic played just 16 minutes in his first action since suffering a knee fracture in early January. The minute limit was deliberate, but it's worth noting the combo guard scored all five of his points in the fourth quarter and was successful in creating opportunities for teammates with four assists. Rostered in just a fifth of ESPN leagues and with more time to work his way back into condition over the All-Star break, Bogdanovic could become a helpful fantasy contributor relatively soon.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: 11 points (3-8 FG), 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Immanuel Quickley scored 26 points as the Knicks' premier backcourt playmaker last night with Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton sidelined by injuries. The rookie now has five 25-point games this season, the most by a Knicks rookie since Kristaps Porzingis in 2015-16. The last Knicks rookie with more than five 25-point games in a season was Patrick Ewing in 1985-86 (16). Given his impressive trajectory, Quickley could become a fantasy star as soon as next season.
Jokic secured his 50th career triple-double in an impressive blowout win over the Bucks. He's just the ninth NBA player to ever to tally 50 career triple-doubles and joins Wilt Chamberlain (78) as the lone centers in this club. Doing so in just 416 games, Jokic is the third fastest ever to 50 triple-doubles behind just Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Despite losing to the Celtics, thanks in part to Kawhi Leonard being scratched just before the tip with back spasms, the Clippers got a great performance from guard Reggie Jackson. For a team that badly needs more scoring and playmaking from its backcourt, Jackson's season-high 25 outing was a rare positive for the team in the defeat.
For Boston, center Robert Williams III was again the team's best interior defender and provided some key offensive rebounds in the process. The "Time Lord" could really ascend as a statistical force if the team affords him more minutes in the weeks ahead.
It's likely just a single strong performance, but it was nice to see De'Anthony Melton serve as the sixth man for the Grizzlies with 20 points and five assists off the pine in a win over the Wizards. Melton is a gifted playmaker and could be a steady complementary scorer if the team chooses to consistently empower him with minutes and shots. Keep an eye on Melton when the team comes out of the break.
Injuries of note
Philadelphia's Tobias Harris is questionable to play against Utah this evening due to a knee injury that has kept him from playing the team's past two games. Shake Milton becomes a fun streaming option if Harris sits again.
Devonte' Graham will miss another game for the Charlotte Hornets due to a lingering knee issue. With Graham's scoring out of the lineup, Malik Monk has been brilliant off the bench in recent games. Gordon Hayward in questionable to play for the Hornets. If Hayward can't go, Miles Bridges becomes a high-end streaming option and a strong DFS value.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
LeBron James scored 38 points in a loss to the Suns last night -- his second most in a game this season. Given the back-to-back setup with Los Angeles playing against tonight against the Kings in Sacramento, James has been ruled out by the team due to load management.
With both Anthony Davis and James out of the rotation tonight, the Lakers' lineup is suddenly rife with real streaming options against a Kings defense that ranks last in the league.
Kyle Kuzma is an obvious scoring option, while Markieff Morris has averaged 8.1 rebounds per 36 minutes with his star teammates off the floor this season and should start and enjoy rewarding shooting freedom. Montrezl Harrell becomes a DFS building block, given averages of 27 points and 11 rebounds per 36 minutes in such scenarios.
Maybe the largest leap in value is Talen Horton-Tucker, as the young forward has seen his usage rate leap 7.1% with James and Davis off the floor -- and in such looks, he has averaged 19.5 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per 36 minutes.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
Chris Boucher and Norman Powell could surface as statistical stars this evening. With Toronto's Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby all ruled out for tonight's game due to the league's health and safety protocols, Boucher and Powell should serve huge roles for the Raptors against the Pistons.