In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Heat are warming up down the stretch. Winners of four of five, Miami is fueled by a deep rotation, namely the dynamic play of unheralded center Bam Adebayo. Found at sixth among centers on the Player Rater -- a measure of relative statistical value -- the past 15 days, Adebayo is also helping fantasy teams contend the past few weeks.
In a rousing win over the Wizards this past Saturday, Adebayo delivered an absurdly dominant line that included 16 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 blocks en route to a net rating of plus-16 in what was a five-point victory. To put this unique performance in context, only Nikola Jokic has matched each of these statistical milestones in a given game this season. During the past three NBA campaigns, we've witnessed just eight such outings by six different players, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins, Ben Simmons and Jusuf Nurkic in addition to Bam and The Joker. You can find Miami's gifted young big man in free agency in three-quarters of ESPN leagues.
Miami is also enjoying strong offensive play from Dwyane Wade off the pine in recent weeks, as the high-usage combo guard is providing legitimate fantasy value even amid his retirement tour. Wade has averaged 17 PPG with strong peripherals during the past week and can be found in free agency in 70 percent of ESPN leagues.
You can confidently acquire Adebayo or Wade ahead of Tuesday's tilt with Orlando that could decide the division crown, especially with the Magic on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Saturday and Sunday recap
Thanks to Sunday's epic line, Aldridge became just the third player in Spurs history with multiple 45-point games in a season, joining George Gervin and David Robinson. The performance also marked Aldridge's first career 40-point game on the road, while becoming the first Spurs player with a 40-point game against the Celtics on the road. The Spurs' Derrick White struggled in this outing on offense, but I remain intrigued by his fantasy value the rest of the way, given such impressive defensive rates.
Bojan Bogdanovic was brilliant on Sunday in downing Jokic and the Nuggets, scoring 35 points on just 15 field goal attempts. It's been a breakout season for Bogdanovic, especially given how well he's responded to an uptick in usage in the wake of Victor Oladipo's season-ending injury. This marked the second game this season that Bogdanovic has scored at least 35 points within 30 minutes of play, tied with Klay Thompson for the most in the NBA. An impending unrestricted free agent at age 27, I'm guessing the Pacers make retaining this deft scorer a priority in July.
Brook Lopez made four 3-pointers in the Bucks' win over the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon. Lopez now has made 176 three-pointers this season, the most in a single season by a 7-footer. Lopez made just three of 31 3-point attempts during his first eight NBA seasons.
The Hornets won twice in dramatic fashion this weekend, first securing an epic fourth-quarter comeback against Boston on Friday night, followed by Jeremy Lamb banking in a 48-foot buzzer-beater to win the game on Sunday against the Rockets. This game-winner marked the longest since Tyreke Evans made a 49-foot game-winner in December 2010. The Hornets are getting strong play from their starting backcourt of Lamb and Kemba Walker, but there is also strong fantasy value to be found from two unheralded Hornets; Miles Bridges has been inserted into the starting lineup and is regularly flirting with double-doubles, while Dwayne Bacon led the team in scoring on Sunday, thanks to a career-high 20 points.
ESPN Stats & Info compiled a fun milestone watch rife with NBA vets chasing down history during these final games of the season. For instance, Mike Conley is just seven points away from passing Marc Gasol for most in Grizzlies history. LeBron James is nine steals away from passing Kobe Bryant for 15th on the all-time steals list. Twitter will be quite entertaining when James takes over Bryant. Houston's Chris Paul is only seven steals shy from passing Alvin Robertson for ninth on the all-time steals list, while teammate James Harden is two 3-pointers away from passing Jason Kidd for ninth on the all-time 3-point list. Klay Thompson sits 12 3-pointers away from passing Rashard Lewis for 16th on the all-time list. Meanwhile, Toronto legend Carter is just three games played from passing Karl Malone for fifth on the all-time list.
Injuries of note
Phoenix's Kelly Oubre Jr. has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a thumb injury, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. As Woj notes, Phoenix will likely make retaining Oubre, a restricted free agent, a priority this offseason.
CJ McCollum remains sidelined for tonight's matchup with Brooklyn due to a knee injury.
Analytics advantage for Monday
With McCollum ruled out, it's interesting to note that Damian Lillard is covered in chalk for tonight's DFS slate. Not only does Monday offer a somewhat modest four-game schedule, but it's also light on bankable backcourt superstars. Enter Lillard, who sees his already prolific usage rate jump to a team-high 8.6 percent when McCollum is off the floor. Undeniably the Blazers' offensive engine in such scenarios, Lillard also produces a whopping 11 more fantasy points per 36 sans McCollum from the floor, establishing him as a premier building block in DFS competition on Monday. For those seeking to stack from the Blazers' rotation, Nurkic ranks second on the team behind Lillard with a 7.1 percent surge in usage with McCollum sidelined.
Top players to watch tonight
Monday presents a great slate for the center position. In addition to Nurkic being in an ideal spot to exceed value, we find Jonas Valanciunas with 43 points and 38 boards during his past two outings and yet still found at reasonable pricing on DraftKings ahead of tonight's matchup with the Thunder. I'm even chasing shares of Nikola Vucevic and Rudy Gobert, given respectively strong matchups (Vucevic has torched the Sixers this season).