No one scored more fantasy points on Tuesday night than the Washington Wizards' John Wall, but the most memorable performances were produced by the Los Angeles Lakers' Andre Ingram and the Phoenix Suns' Alec Peters.
Ingram, a 32-year-old rookie with 384 games played during a decade in the G League, scored 19 points on just nine shooting possessions while also recording three blocks in a loss to the Houston Rockets. Called up from the South Bay Lakers, Ingram sports an amazing 46.1 percent career 3-point clip in the G League, confirming the shooting stroke is legit.
Ingram can emerge as a value play in DFS and even as a source for 3-point volume in seasonal leagues for the final game against the rival LA Clippers on Wednesday. As ESPN Stats & Info reveals, it was quite the debut for the atypical rookie.
Only 3 Lakers scored more points in their career debut since the franchise moved to Los Angeles than Andre Ingram did on Tuesday.
You may have heard of them
- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2018
As for Phoenix's rare rookie performance, Peters tallied a career-high 36 points and joined the Rockets' James Harden as the only two players in the league this season with at least 35 points, 8 rebounds and 8 3-pointers in a single game. No, really.
The Suns had already secured the worst record and thus the best odds at landing the top pick in what is a loaded class. Pure speculation, but keeping DeAndre Ayton in Arizona to join a core that includes some impressive perimeter prospects could be a fun fantasy recipe if the team lands a progressive offensive coach this summer.
Looking forward to next season is what half the NBA and a majority of fantasy basketball managers are already doing, with early talk of sleepers and breakouts emerging. The twilight of the regular season is also an ideal time to review, reflect and even audit the fantasy market, as ESPN Fantasy's John Cregan deftly discusses.
With 24 teams in action Wednesday in what is the final full night of NBA action, fantasy titles, DFS winnings and the fate of the final playoff berth in the West will be decided. Good luck to all who are still competing.
Alec Peters, Phoenix Suns: 36 points (12-20 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 8 3-pointers, 1 TO
JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers: 28 points (9-17 FG), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 3-pointers, 2 TO
John Wall, Washington Wizards: 29 points (9-16 FG), 7 rebounds, 13 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 7 TO
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: 6 points (2-9 FG), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 TO
There is still a ton of mobility in regard to seeding position for most teams in each conference, making tonight more relevant for real purposes, thus creating better fantasy climates. We'll still want to closely track player and lineup updates, given that some contending teams might not actively pursue their seeding fate, but I find it encouraging that seven Western teams and five Eastern teams have yet to lock in the details of their respective berths.
The Celtics' Jaylen Brown tallied 21 points in the first quarter last night. Brown's stellar sophomore season has been lost in the shuffle a bit with the team's devastating injuries and Jayson Tatum's brilliant rookie campaign, but I'd include him on the shortlist for Most Improved Player this season. Brown has responded to increased usage with increased efficiency and versatility, upping his assist and steal rates while weaponizing his outside shot.
Getting back to Wall's wizardry on Tuesday, he produced his highest PIE rating for a single game since early November, a great sign for his DFS potential and for Washington's chance at pulling an upset in the postseason. PIE stands for Player Impact Estimate, which measures a player's overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play; akin to ESPN's PER (Player Efficiency Rating). Unfortunately for his fantasy stakeholders, Wall is expected to rest tonight on the doorstep of the playoffs.
Continuing the discussion about the Suns' relatively promising future, latent unicorn Dragan Bender quietly enjoyed a strong finish to the season with 13 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1 BPG and 2.8 3PG on 46.7 3FG% during the past five games. Granted, this was in the dregs of a lottery-bound season for Phoenix and represents a small sample, but he averaged nearly 34 MPG and flashed some unique offensive versatility that could spell an impending leap next season.
Atlanta's Prince took 18 3-pointers for the Hawks last night, sinking "just" six of them. For some context, Stephen Curry has taken at least as many treys just once in the regular season in his career. The endless heat check for Prince marked just the 17th time in league history a player has lofted as many as 18 shots behind the arc in the regular season.
The debate over the Rookie of the Year race is getting contentious, with sweatshirts and soundbites abounding, but I think objective fantasy managers can appreciate that both Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell provided major production profits this season.
The Orlando Magic drafted two of the league's better rebounders of all time, as Dwight Howard passed Shaquille O'Neal for 14th on the all-time list last night. While he's still a pariah in leagues that count free throw percentage, he conversely remains a force in points leagues and in DFS -- formats that reward volume. Howard joined another Lakers legend this season, as only he and Wilt Chamberlain have averaged a double-double in each of their first 14 seasons in league history.
Using the final month of the season as a gauge for growth among young players, I've filtered players who are 25 or younger and have averaged at least 15 MPG during this sample. Some usual high-usage options such as Joel Embiid, Dennis Schroder and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead the list, but a deeper dive reveals Malik Monk is ninth among this statistical subset with a 29 percent usage rate the past month. Chicago's Zach LaVine is just behind Monk with a 28.3 usage clip, indicating he could be a breakout candidate next season as a featured offensive cog on a Chicago team almost certain to offer him a sizable pact this summer. Buddy Hield is another notable name on this index, finally sporting a healthy usage rate (25.6 percent) and responding with nearly elite 3-point production. Hield is another young fantasy sleeper due for a larger role next fall.
Injuries of note
Antetokounmpo missed Monday's game with the Orlando Magic due to an ankle injury, as the coaching staff stated he's still not able to fully perform in practice. Tonight, the Bucks face a 76ers team on a 15-game winning streak and that will need to win to secure the third seed in the East. Antetokounmpo's status proves pivotal for both seasonal and daily fantasy purposes and is likely the major news you'll want to track today. If the Bucks win tonight, it's likely they'll end up netting LeBron James in the first round in a sort of pick-your-poison moment for the franchise.
Houston's Luc Mbah a Moute suffered a significant shoulder injury last night that could limit his playoff availability and certainly will keep him out of tonight's tilt with the Kings. The Rockets might just empty their bench tonight.
Washington's Otto Porter Jr. left last night's win over Boston in the second quarter with a right leg strain and didn't return for the second half. There isn't much information on this ailment just yet, but Porter is a crucial player for the Wizards and has been a high-floor DFS option, given his steady shooting efficiency.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
The number that might matter most tonight is how many minutes you can afford to spend on Twitter leading up to each tipoff tonight to learn the lineups of each team. I'm sort of joking, but with fantasy titles on the line, you'll want to act decisively based on which players sit out. This even means cutting superstars who are ruled out, such as Drummond, in favor of plug-and-play options.
For a more revealing bit of data, I suggest turning to the desert, as Vegas produces actionable information each day via projected point totals and even point spreads. You'll notice that many games are still off the board as of Wednesday morning, but I'm going to leverage Las Vegas information and pursue the highest point totals for making both streaming and DFS decisions.
Top players to watch tonight
I'm focusing on two high-floor veterans who serve very different, but consistently valuable, roles for their respective rosters. The Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge has produced at least 40 fantasy points on the DraftKings' scoring model in six straight and should again top 30 minutes with a rewarding usage rate around 30 percent tonight.
The other name of note is the 76ers' Redick, who is shooting a scintillating 47.5 percent from 3-point range since the beginning of March and has been leaned on as a volume scoring option sans Embiid from the lineup.