Good shooters keep shooting until they find their shooting touch, and that's been one of the big themes over the past week as Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick and Nik Stauskas all caught fire from beyond the 3-point arc. Three others who are known for their long-range shooting -- Dirk Nowitzki, Doug McDermott and C.J. Miles -- are out of action heading into this week, but each could return to the court soon.
Here's a list of the most fantasy-relevant news and notes for all 30 teams around the league heading into the fifth week of the season:
Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schroder agreed to a four-year, $70 million extension before the season to remain Atlanta's point guard for the foreseeable future, and he has delivered with career-high averages in minutes (29.6), points (14.5), rebounds (3.2) and assists (5.7). That's what made Sunday's terrible performance against New York such a head-scratcher; Schroder shot 0-for-8 from the field on his way to one point, two rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.
Boston Celtics: Al Horford made his long-awaited return to the Celtics' lineup on Saturday against Detroit, and what a return it was (18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks in 34 minutes). Look for Horford's presence to cut into Avery Bradley's high rebound totals over the first month of the season, and for Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller to see their minutes greatly reduced. Horford is a top-30 fantasy player if he can stay healthy going forward in his first season in Boston. Meanwhile, Jae Crowder also is back for the Celtics, reducing the role of rookie lottery pick Jaylen Brown.
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are taking it easy with oft-injured center Brook Lopez this season, playing him only 26.7 minutes per game so far. But to give you an idea of how gifted Lopez is as a scorer, all you have to do is look at his per-48-minute numbers. Lopez ranks 10th in the league, right behind James Harden, averaging 37.2 points per 48 minutes this season. Despite playing seven minutes less per game than last season (26.7 vs. 33.7), Lopez is actually scoring more than a season ago (20.7 vs. 20.6 points per game). That isn't likely to hold up over the long haul, but it shows you how well Lopez is putting the ball in the hoop.
Charlotte Hornets: Second-year forward/center Frank Kaminsky III has filled in nicely, while Cody Zeller has been out due to a shoulder injury, averaging 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 28 minutes over the past two games. Zeller already has been ruled out for Monday's game against Memphis, which should give Kaminsky another opportunity at extended minutes.
Chicago Bulls: McDermott has missed Chicago's past four games due to a concussion, and it sounds like there's a chance he'll miss the final two games of the road trip (Tuesday at Denver and Friday at Philadelphia) as well. One player to watch in the games ahead is Nikola Mirotic, who always has been a streaky player and is coming off a 15-point, 15-rebound game in Sunday's spot start with Dwyane Wade out of the lineup. Mirotic had been in a funk prior to that big game and can provide some 3-point shooting that the team loses without McDermott.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The season is still young, but already it is evident that Kyrie Irving has taken his game to another level. His current usage rate of 29.7 minutes would be a single-season high and his 28.4 points per 40 minutes also would be a career best. Shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range, Irving has a chance for a big game on Wednesday as the Cavs take on the NBA's worst defense -- the Portland Trail Blazers -- in Cleveland.
Dallas Mavericks: Nowitzki (Achilles) has been ruled out for Monday's game against San Antonio, but he is expected to return to practice on Tuesday. At 2-10, the Mavs are the worst team in the league and desperately could use their future first-ballot Hall of Fame power forward back, but games against the Clippers on Wednesday and Cavaliers on Friday aren't exactly soft landing spots for Nowitzki, if he does attempt to return this week.
Denver Nuggets: Many fantasy owners have been extremely frustrated by the inconsistency of Nikola Jokic in the opening month of the season, and Nuggets coach Michael Malone addressed that issue with BSN Denver over the weekend. "You guys got to understand, he's not going to be the same player he was last year," Malone said of the 21-year-old big man. "(Danilo Gallinari) was out, Wilson Chandler was out. Last two months of the season we played our young guys, we played them 35 minutes a night almost. We're healthy, we have guys playing, so everybody stop expecting Nikola Jokic to be something he's not. I think it's unfair to him. He's playing well, he's rebounding, he's looking for his offense, he's playmaking for other guys and that's all we need him to do." None of that should calm the concerns of Jokic owners, however.
Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson's return from knee tendinitis appears to still be a week or two away at the earliest, according to comments by Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy from last Tuesday. That buys Ish Smith a little more time to be a valuable fantasy contributor. Once Jackson returns to the starting lineup, Smith is expected to take over Beno Udrih's spot as the backup point guard.
Golden State Warriors: After all the early-season shooting struggles, Thompson is suddenly right back on track. He's 19-39 from 3-point range in his past five games, shooting 50.6 from the field and a perfect 16-for-16 from the free throw line. Unbelievably, all of Thompson's numbers are very close to last year's career-year numbers, aside from his 3-point shooting (34.3 percent), which will take more time to recover from the nightmarish start.
Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverley (knee) saw his first game action of the season on Thursday and Saturday, and he wasn't exactly eased back into the rotation. The veteran averaged 25.5 minutes and chipped in with 8 points, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game, which is only slightly less than the type of numbers we can expect out of him this season.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers won in Oklahoma City without the services of Paul George (ankle) or Miles (knee), their top two perimeter shooters, and both veterans will sit out Monday's home game against Golden State as well. Glenn Robinson III has filled in for George while Jeff Teague has picked up the scoring, averaging 25.5 points over the last two games.
Los Angeles Clippers: Redick has had the reputation of being one of the NBA's best 3-point shooters since the day he stepped foot on the court as a rookie with the Magic back in 2006, and his 41.4 percent career average from long range certainly backs it up. Still, he's never finished a season shooting as well as he is right now from 3-point land; he ranks third in the league with a 47.9 percent mark from that distance, trailing only Andrew Wiggins (48.9) and Miles (48.4).
Los Angeles Lakers: Much has been made of Nick Young's turnaround in Los Angeles under first-year head coach Luke Walton, but few realize that Young enters Monday as the league's best free throw shooter at 96.8 percent. He has made 30 of 31 attempts on the season.
Memphis Grizzlies: A bone bruise in Chandler Parson's left knee is expected to keep the highly paid small forward off the court for up to two weeks, leading to more playing time for James Ennis and Vince Carter, but another big story coming out of Memphis is the 3-point shooting of Mike Conley. The veteran point guard once struggled from long range, but he has improved from beyond the arc in recent years, making at least 1.3 3s per game in each of the past four seasons. This year that is all the way up to 2.4 3s per game, as the 29-year-old is attempting a career-high 5.1 3s per game and shooting 47.5 percent from 3-point range, fifth best in the league.
Miami Heat: Justise Winslow (wrist) has been ruled out for Monday's game against Philadelphia, which will be his fourth missed game in a row. Winslow had been playing just under 36 minutes a night, and as long as he remains out, it's going to continue to be up to Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson to pick up the slack. It'll be interesting to see if Winslow's role changes upon his return, as he was shooting an icy 33.1 percent prior to going down.
Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson moved into the starting lineup at center, ahead of Miles Plumlee last week, but so far the production hasn't been there and the reason is surprising -- playing time. While Henson is getting more court time than he was before the promotion, he still averaged only 20.2 minutes in his past five games, limiting him to 7.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game during that span.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn was expected to battle for NBA Rookie of the Year this season, but those expectations appear to be a bit too lofty for the Providence product. Playing behind Ricky Rubio at the point, Dunn is shooting just 32.7 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from the free throw line, and that type of inefficiency will have to improve before he earns additional playing time from Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau.
New Orleans Pelicans: If you wondered how long it would take for Jrue Holiday to acclimate back to the rigors of the NBA, wonder no more. Holiday already looks like his normal self out there. He averaged 21.5 points and eight assists in his first two games of the season, and that came in just 26.5 minutes per game. As his workload increases, expect Tim Frazier to move back to the bench and Langston Galloway and E'Twaun Moore to also have their minutes dwindle a bit.
New York Knicks: Joakim Noah was a late scratch for Sunday's game against Atlanta due to an illness, and he's considered doubtful for Tuesday's game against Portland. Expect Kyle O'Quinn and rookie Willy Hernangomez to split the minutes at center for the Knicks if Noah is unable to play against the Trail Blazers.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Everybody knew that the loss of Kevin Durant would lead to more shots for Russell Westbrook, but a look at the numbers reveals just how much that has happened. Westbrook is playing nearly the same amount of minutes per game as last season (34.8 vs. 34.4 in 2015-16) but he's attempting 5.7 more shots per game and his usage rate has gone from 33.3 minutes to a league-high 41.5. The next-highest usage rate in the league is James Harden at 35.5.
Orlando Magic: The Magic rebounded from a dreadful 69-point offensive performance in a loss to Indiana last week by notching wins over New Orleans and Dallas, but offense remains a big concern in Orlando. The Magic rank 28th in the league with an offensive efficiency of 96.5, putting them ahead of only Philadelphia (95.8) and Dallas (95.2), and are getting very inefficient shooting from Evan Fournier (41.8 field goal percentage), Nikola Vucevic (41.6), Aaron Gordon (41.7), Elfrid Payton (42.0) and Jeff Green (34.0).
Philadelphia 76ers: Don't look now, but Stauskas is starting to look like a valuable NBA player in his third season in the league, shooting a ridiculous 65 percent from the field and draining 2.6 3s per game over the past five contests. Stauskas was brought into the league to stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting and is definitely worth owning in season-long leagues as long as he continues to shoot like this.
Phoenix Suns: Alan Williams, an undrafted free-agent big man out of UC Santa Barbara who entered the league last season, recorded back-to-back double-doubles while filling in for Tyson Chandler last week. He opened eyes with 15 points and 15 rebounds in 26 minutes against Indiana, then followed it up with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Philadelphia. He also added five blocks and four steals in those two games and is one to watch as long as Chandler remains out on personal leave following the death of his mother.
Portland Trail Blazers: Many, including myself, envisioned the Blazers as one of the emerging powers out west this season, but so far they've been anything but. While Portland enters the week with a winning record at 8-7, it ranks last in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions. When you add to that Portland ranking in the top 10 in pace, averaging 101.1 possessions per game, this is a team to stack against in fantasy right now.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings have jumped up to 25th in pace after ranking last for much of the season, and that number likely will continue to rise in the weeks ahead, as new head coach Dave Joerger indicated after Friday's loss to the Clippers that changes are coming. "I've seen enough," Joerger told reporters. "We're going to play small." On Sunday against Toronto, the Kings started DeMarcus Cousins at center, Matt Barnes at power forward, Rudy Gay at small forward and used two point guards with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson both in the lineup.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker says that the knee injury he suffered in the season opener is improving. "It's starting to get better and better," Parker told the Express-News. "I just don't want to jinx it. It still has some fluid in it, but it is very low now. Hopefully, it will go away. ..." The Spurs have won all five games since Parker returned to the lineup after a three-game absence, and the 34-year-old point guard has averaged 26.5 minutes a game during that span. The healthier Parker is, the less playing time and fantasy value Patty Mills has, so that's something to think about here.
Toronto Raptors: Sunday's loss to Sacramento will be remembered only for the controversial ending you almost have to see to believe, as Terrence Ross' game-tying 3-pointer was waived off despite it leaving his hand with 0.4 seconds left on the game clock, but lost in it all was the impressive play of Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors' 7-footer used his size to an advantage against the small Kings lineup, finishing with 23 points and 14 boards, and enters the week posting career highs in points (14.4 per game) and rebounds (10.1). At this point, Valanciunas is right there with Marcin Gortat in the underrated center department.
Utah Jazz: If there's a silver lining to George Hill's thumb injury that has forced him to miss the past seven games, it's that Dante Exum has received extended minutes after missing all of last season due to a torn ACL. The 21-year-old Australian point guard has averaged 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists over the past five games, playing 31.2 minutes per game. As far as fantasy is concerned, his poor shooting (42.2 percent on the season) and minimal impact in assists (1.7 per game) and steals (0.2) give him little value in season-long leagues.
Washington Wizards: Gortat has never averaged more than 10 rebounds per game in any of his first nine seasons in the NBA, and that's what makes his 12.5 RPG so impressive for the 32-year-old veteran center. While Gortat's scoring is down from 13.5 PPG last season to 11.5, he already has seven double-doubles in Washington's 12 games; that ties him with Anthony Davis, Avery Bradley and Rudy Gobert for eighth in the NBA.