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Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Caris LeVert is nearing a return to action

All signs are pointing to Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert returning from his nasty ankle injury as soon as next week. Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

With phones buzzing around the league with the trade deadline just two days away, the Nets are about to gain an impact talent without even making a call. After suffering a brutal foot injury in November, Brooklyn's breakout wing Caris LeVert is set to return to action as early as next week, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

LeVert enjoyed a sizable leap in statistical success to start his third season, averaging an awesome slash that includes 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.2 SPG. For some context, just 15 other NBA players have matched these milestones this season; every All-Star selection save for Jimmy Butler and Luka Doncic.

The Nets made just five of 42 3-pointers on Monday night, with their 11.9 percent clip the lowest by any team in a game this season. This Brooklyn team has lived off perimeter playmaking and shot creation, while LeVert can bring needed aggressiveness as a slasher to the floor. As ESPN's Ian Begley reported last night, LeVert will practice with the teams' G League affiliate on Tuesday, signaling an imminent return to NBA action.

Available for the cost of a roster spot in 70 percent of ESPN leagues, it's time to acquire LeVert and enjoy what should be an impressive finish to the season for this promising Brooklyn squad.

Monday recap

Highlights

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: 30 points (12-19 FG), 15 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 blocks

James Harden, Houston Rockets: 44 points (15-26 FG), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 TO

Lowlights

Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards: 2 points (1-3 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Cory Joseph, Indiana Pacers: 5 points (2-7 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists

Monday takeaways

  • The Pelicans and Lakers might be at a stalemate of sorts in navigating a potential Anthony Davis blockbuster, but that's not stopping Jahlil Okafor from continuing his offensive surge. The Duke product has averaged 18.9 PPG and 10.4 RPG in his past eight games. The Pelicans suffer in net rating with Okafor on the floor, but frankly, that doesn't matter for fantasy purposes if it doesn't affect his playing time or usage rate.

  • If you have the energy to stay up and the access to watch the Sacramento Kings on most nights, it's quite the spectacle. Already ahead of their projected win total for the season, the Kings secured consecutive wins against the Spurs for the first time since Chris Webber's heyday in 2001-2. Marvin Bagley III started his rookie season somewhat slowly, especially in the context of Doncic's exploits, yet he just delivered a career-high 24 points against a capable Spurs frontcourt, his third game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. The Kings, who wisely adapted their scheme to their roster this season and sit second in the league in pace, are riding a seven-game home winning streak, their longest since 2005-6.

  • The Wizards are 22nd in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and 27th in rebounding percentage during the past 10 games, making them a nice streaming target for frontcourt players. With a penchant to get into high-scoring games, such as ceding 137 points in regulation to the Hawks last night, there is a good bit of underappreciated offensive value found on this Washington roster, given the need to keep pace with a porous defense. Trevor Ariza (rostered in roughly 55 percent of ESPN leagues) has been a stellar source of defensive production in addition to increased playmaking on offense, as he's slashed for 17 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.5 APG and 2.5 3PG his past 10 games, all starts. Fellow veteran wing Jeff Green (15.5 percent) has averaged 16.2 PPG, 6.1 combined assists and rebounds and 2.4 3PG during his past 11 appearances. Eligible at both backcourt positions in ESPN leagues, combo guard Tomas Satoransky (39.3 percent) keeps flirting with triple-doubles and is among my favorite fantasy free-agent acquisitions of the week.

  • Last night marked the most points allowed by a Hawks team in a regulation victory since back in Dec. 1990, when they beat the Golden State Warriors 134-130, overcoming 84 points by the "Run TMC" trio, thanks to 45 points on 25 shots from Dominique Wilkins and 13 dimes from Spud Webb. The Hawks' 20 3-pointers last night are tied for the second most in franchise history. While John Collins and Trae Young rightfully earn recognition for their impressive offensive games, we're also finding real value in rookie wing Kevin Huerter, who has made 40.6 percent of his 6.7 attempts per game from beyond the arc the past month. Particularly torrid (51.9 percent) from deep the past four games, Huerter is a nice pickup for those in need of a shooting specialist.

  • Harden tallied his 27th straight game with at least 30 points, while only Wilt Chamberlain has a longer streak in NBA history. Harden now has 18 games this season with at least 40 points and five assists, tying the NBA record for such games in a season, while no one else in the NBA has more than four such performance.

Injuries of note

  • Boston is resting Kyrie Irving for tonight's visit to Cleveland, while the Celtics' backup center, Aron Baynes, will miss the next few weeks with a foot ailment. Terry Rozier becomes a savvy streaming option against a porous Cleveland defense.

  • The Raptors have listed Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas as doubtful for tonight's game in South Philly. It's worth noting, however, that Lowry was listed as doubtful for the team's last trip to Philadelphia and he ended up playing.

Analytics advantage for Tuesday

The Clippers visit the Hornets tonight in a quietly strong Vegas matchup that opened with a healthy total of 226 points, second only to the Raptors visiting the Sixers, a matchup featured below. On a somewhat busy eight-game slate, finding a game that could fly under the radar, such as this cross-conference battle, could prove rewarding.

Given that the Clippers struggle on the glass (20th in rebounding percentage), I'm game to stream Marvin Williams in redraft formats while also getting shares of the veteran forward in DFS play. Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is another streaming gem ripe for value in this matchup, as he has scored in double-figures in five straight.

Top players to watch tonight

The new year has been good for Ben Simmons thus far, as he's averaged 19.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 8.4 APG with two combined blocks and steals while shooting 58 percent from the floor in 16 games. Simmons, however, has struggled against defensive stalwart Kawhi Leonard, presenting a formidable challenge for the colossal point guard.

Leonard, meanwhile, has scored fewer than 20 points in consecutive games for the first time this season, suggesting a positive correction could be on the way. In a switch-centric league, we'll surely see Butler and others help cover Leonard tonight, but it's his direct battles with Simmons that should prove most compelling.