A Monday night full of dramatic endings saw three games decided by two or fewer points in the final minute of action. Detroit's Derrick Rose produced a vintage performance that included a buzzer-beater with just 0.8 seconds left to down New Orleans.
Joining Rose in the buzzer-beater club was Sacramento's Nemanja Bjelica, who sank a 33-foot jumper to secure a last-second win over the Rockets and the first buzzer-beater of his career. Filling out this trio of clutch performances was Toronto's Kyle Lowry, who finished off the Bulls with a layup in the final minute of a close contest in Chicago.
While Lowry if fittingly rostered in nearly every fantasy basketball league, we find Rose still floating in free agency in a third of ESPN leagues, while Bjelica is rostered in just around a third of ESPN leagues.
Rose sits in the 93rd percentile among point guards in assist percentage on the season and has been a clutch scoring asset for Detroit thus far, evidenced by scoring 17 of his 21 points in the final frame last night. With a usage rate above 30% and freedom to create in high-leverage possessions, Rose's revival extends to his fantasy stock as well.
Per Bjelica's recent hot stretch from the floor, "Professor Big Shots" has slashed for 16.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 2.3 3PG and 2.3 stocks (steals plus blocks) during his past six appearances. Given his ability to stretch the floor (he's hit on nearly 47% of his 3-point attempts the past two weeks), even Marvin Bagley III's impending return to action shouldn't curb Bjelica's fantasy stock.
Robert Covington, Minnesota Timberwolves: 4 points (1-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 TO
Ja Morant returned to the floor last night to deliver 26 points and seven dimes while helping Memphis net just its second win in the past 11 games. The performance marked Morant's fourth career game with at least 25 points and five assists, already passing Pau Gasol and Shareef Abdur-Rahim for the most such games by a rookie in Grizzlies history. Shooting guard Dillon Brooks continued to prove effective form the perimeter and has averaged 15.4 PPG, 1.4 SPG and 1.8 3PG during the past five games, all starts.
In the loss to Memphis, Golden State at least netted a strong showing from Draymond Green, who has been in and out of the lineup all season and has largely struggled to produce meaningful fantasy results whenever active. Last night was an exception, as Green tallied 4 stocks, 5 dimes and 16 points in keeping the Warriors competitive. I'm still intrigued by the play of Alec Burks, especially when facing subpar defenses; the wing produced 18 points on just nine shots last night, thanks to making all of his eight free throws.
Boston's Gordon Hayward somewhat surprisingly returned to action last night and proved impressive in making all but three of his 10 attempts from the floor. I'd make some buy-low offers for Hayward if possible before he fully returns to the impressive production he posted before his hand injury.
The Thunder have won four of their past five games, following a 6-11 start to the campaign. A big part of their success has been the play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who tallied 20 points and nine combined assists and rebounds in the impressive win over the struggling Jazz.
While Utah has struggled to score over the past two weeks, we still find legitimate fantasy value in Joe Ingles' ascent as the team's top creator sans an injured Mike Conley. Still available in roughly half of ESPN leagues, Ingles tallied eight assists last night and has been a strong, if atypical, source for passing production of late.
The Suns cruised to a win over Towns' Wolves thanks in part to the stellar play of Mikal Bridges off the pine for Phoenix; the Nova product tallied an awesome five stocks and pulled eight boards. Emerging as the team's sixth man of late, Bridges is emerging as a fun defensive value for fantasy purposes.
We so often hear of James Harden's historic scoring exploits and Russell Westbrook's nightly triple-double ability, but it's likely more meaningful and actionable for fantasy investors to look deeper into the rotation of 3-and-D weapons the Rockets have assembled. PJ Tucker, for instance, pulled down a career-best 19 rebounds last night and continues to rank among the league leaders in catch-and-shoot 3-point volume. Ben McLemore continued to enjoy amazing shooting freedom for a bench wing with all 13 of his shots coming from 3-point range last night.
Injuries of note
The Sixers might get Josh Richardson back in the lineup tonight after he's missed several games with a hamstring injury. The team has listed Richardson as questionable, but if he misses the game against Denver, the larcenous Matisse Thybulle merits a streaming spot on your roster(s).
Fred VanVleet didn't play in Chicago last night after enduring a knee injury on Sunday in Philly, but with a clean MRI and a looming matchup with Kawhi Leonard's Clippers in Toronto on Wednesday, it seems likely we see FVV back in the lineup.
Analytics advantage for Tuesday
Goran Dragic will miss yet another game for the Heat on Tuesday against the Hawks, leaving increased offensive equity for fearless rookie Tyler Herro. Per today's analytical insight, Herro has enjoyed the largest bump in usage among rotation regulars when Dragic sits; his usage percentage leaps a sizable 2.4% in such scenarios.
Herro also then enjoys the largest spike in fantasy points per game (using DraftKings' scoring key) with his veteran teammate sidelined. Streaming Herro against a porous defensive Atlanta backcourt could prove rewarding, per these illuminating splits.
Top players to watch tonight
I flew solo to Denver from Philly last winter to see my Sixers take on the Nuggets on a Saturday night in February. As I landed that morning, I got an alert that Joel Embiid was going to sit due to load management. While the trip was still quite fun, I wanted so badly to see Jokic and Embiid battle on the block with their wildly different skill sets.
Tonight, we all get the opportunity to see Embiid face Jokic. The Nuggets' dynamic center is starting to warm up in the scoring department with consecutive games with at least 20 points for the first time in a month. Embiid, meanwhile, has struggled badly with turnovers and late-game efficiency of late, signaling the need for a bounce-back performance in this marquee matchup amid a somewhat sleepy four-game Tuesday slate.