Spencer Dinwiddie couldn't miss in warmups last night. Around 90 minutes before producing a career-high 39 points in a win over the Sixers in South Philly on Wednesday night, Dinwiddie was swishing pull-up 3-pointers before fans filtered into the building.
The Nets had scored at least 120 points against the 76ers six times from 1990 through last season and yet have scored at least 120 points in all three meetings with Philly this season. The stellar scoring performance from Dinwiddie ties him for the third-most points by a Nets reserve since the team joined the NBA in 1976-77. Dinwiddie secured his second game this season with at least 30 points after having entered the campaign with one 30-point performance in his first four NBA seasons.
Dinwiddie made the cut as one of my deep-sleeper candidates entering the season and is surely awake from a statistical perspective -- he's scored at least 10 points as a reserve in 22 straight games, the second-longest such streak by a Nets player since Bubbles Hawkins had 32 in 1976-77. It's wise to consider Dinwiddie a priority free agency target in the nearly 70 percent of ESPN leagues he's still floating in free agency as of Thursday morning. For at least as long as Caris LeVert is sidelined, Dinwiddie is among the most underrated combo guards in all of fantasy hoops.
With an eye on meaningful fantasy performances and relevant statistical trends, let's delve into the night that was in the NBA.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets: 39 points (11-18 FG), 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 TO
Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers: 2 points (1-15 FG), 10 rebounds, 3 blocks
Victor Oladipo made a triumphant return to action for the Pacers on Wednesday after missing 11 games with a knee injury. In the win over Milwaukee, Oladipo lofted only 11 shots, but notched 16 combined assists and rebounds and looked like himself on the floor. It's likely safe to drop Darren Collison in 10-team leagues with Oladipo back in the fold, given fairly glaring on/off splits. Young tallied a season-high 25 points, marking his first 25 and 10 outing since December of 2015. I was intrigued by how diverse Young's line proved when we include steals and assists in the mix, and it turns out last night's line from the Pacers' forward was just the 13th time in the past 10 seasons a player has produced at least 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals.
I recognize Nurkic had a nice blend of blocks and boards last night, but that abysmal field goal outcome will tank a fantasy team's shooting efficiency for the entire week. Consider this odd bit of NBA trivia, among centers: Nurkic is the first to make just one shot on at least 15 attempts since Rony Seikaly (now a famous DJ) in November of 1997 for the Magic. The ugly outing was just the sixth occurrence of a center making only one shot on as many attempts from the floor in league history.
A positive sign regarding an injury was Wall's brilliant line in the overtime loss to Boston, a contest that featured five game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter and overtime, the most in a game this season. After dealing with a heel injury earlier in the week, Wall posted his 16th 30-point, 10-assist game over the last five seasons, fourth-most in the NBA over that span.
Luka Doncic slashed for 24 points, 10 rebounds and six dimes in a win over Trae Young and the Hawks, the team that dealt him to Dallas on draft night. Young was at least game for the moment with 24 points and 10 assists of his own, marking his fifth game with at least 20 points and 10 assists this season -- no other rookie has recorded one such performance this season. The Hawks' youth movement has some momentum, with John Collins corralling a career-high 17 rebounds last night.
The Sacramento Kings: have scored 120 or more points nine times this season after tallying a whopping 141 last night in a win over the Timberwolves. The Kings hit a franchise-best 19 3-pointers and now have won five of six games.
Kyrie Irving was brilliant in the clutch last night with 12 points in overtime against the Wizards, tying Washington himself in scoring during the extra period. Another fantasy free agent of interest would be Marcus Morris, who remains hot from the field for Boston and now has 58 points in his past two outings.
Kawhi Leonard missed his second straight contest with a bruised hip last night and yet the Raptors dismantled the Warriors with no one on the roster topping 23 points in another display of Toronto's dynamic depth. Kyle Lowry has awoken from his shooting slump, with two strong scoring efforts in a row now. Draymond Green, Curry, and Klay Thompson combined to hit only two of 16 3-point attempts in the loss. A meeting between these two teams in the finals could prove competitive if the regular season is any indicator.
Since we love high-scoring games for creating fantasy value, it's entirely worth noting that back on December 13, 1983, 35 years ago today, the Pistons beat the Nuggets 186-184 in a triple-overtime game that set NBA records for most points scored in a game by one team (Pistons, 186) and combined (370). Four players had at least 41 points in what is one of the more memorable games in league history.
Injuries of note
Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas suffered a dislocated left thumb in the win over Golden State and will surely miss multiple games. A more concrete timeline will likely emerge in the next few days.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon reports Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki plans to make his season debut in Thursday's road game against the Phoenix Suns after a longer-than-anticipated recovery from spring surgery on his left ankle.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Vegas informs us tonight's tilt between the Clippers and Spurs could be fun for fantasy purposes -- with this contest claiming the highest projected point total of Thursday's four-game slate.
Advanced data aligns with such expectations; the Spurs are 25th in defensive rating, surrendering 112.1 points per 100 possessions, while the Clippers are seventh in offense rating (111.1) and the Spurs (110.2) have the ninth-most efficient offense in the Association.
This implies that finding creative stacks (as in acquiring multiple players from one team) from both rosters could prove prudent and profitable in daily fantasy play, while streaming shares of the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bryn Forbes makes sense in redraft formats.
Top players to watch tonight
A few key members of the banana boat collective meet tonight in Houston, with the ageless LeBron James facing the potentially declining Chris Paul in a crucial spot for the Rockets. In a contentious conference that leaves little margin for error, it's time for Houston to start winning.
It might seem blasphemous to suspect some decline in Paul, but efficiency is down for the veteran guard in that he's dipped significantly in points per isolation play (1.03 this season down from a league-best 1.25 last season) and is shooting his worst clip from floater range (three to 10 feet from the rim) for his career. The sample is still quite small, and he's likely not fully healthy after another hamstring issue surfaced earlier this season. Thus it will be riveting to see if Paul can become "CP3" against Lonzo Ball's deft defense.
As for James, he faces a weak wing depth chart for the Rockets past PJ Tucker, confirming we should feel confident paying up for his services for tonight's' somewhat shallow DFS slate.