Fantasy 30: LaVine and Jokic are back on track

Zach LaVine has been on a roll lately, nearly topping the ESPN Fantasy Basketball Player Rater for the past week. Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Are you totally up to date on what's happening around the NBA? You have to be if you want to stay ahead of the competition in your fantasy league.

To help, I've done the work for you and compiled a look at the most fantasy-relevant news and notes for all 30 teams around the league.

Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young (calf contusion) is expected to play in Thursday's game against the Jazz, which should lead to a collective sigh of relief from fantasy managers everywhere. Young hasn't been shooting very efficiently lately, but his 9.0 APG during the past two weeks ranks third in the NBA and that has helped make up for it.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics are considering Gordon Hayward day-to-day with pain in a toe on his left foot, but this is something to keep an eye on. He's already had a cortisone shot to address the pain, but this is a nagging issue that has lingered for a while now. It wouldn't be surprising if Hayward misses some time if the injury doesn't improve soon.

Brooklyn Nets: Say this about the Nets' two-headed monster at center -- they make their shots. DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen both rank in the top 20 in terms of true shooting percentage; Jordan's 68.1 TS% ranks 13th and Allen's 67.0 TS% comes in at No. 19 entering play on Thursday. Allen holds the edge in playing time, though, with 26.6 MPG to Jordan's 21.3.

Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington underwent surgery Monday on his fractured finger on his right hand and is expected to be out at least through Christmas. In the meantime, Cody Zeller has filled Washington's spot in the starting lineup during the past three games and averaged 17.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.0 BPG during that stretch. Zeller is available in 66.5% of ESPN fantasy leagues and is a strong streaming option for as long as Washington is sidelined.

Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine ranks second on ESPN's Player Rater during the past seven days, and with 26.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 SPG and 2.3 3PG, it's easy to see why. LaVine has become a top-30 fantasy option in both points and roto leagues, and his 33.1 MPG and 30.4 usage rate are two numbers that fantasy managers love to see -- he's on the court a ton, and getting the ball a lot.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland has a long way to go before becoming a viable fantasy option. The fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft after an abbreviated college career at Vanderbilt, Garland has a 7.40 PER and has shown little aside from inefficient shooting thus far in his career. From a fantasy perspective, the glaring lack of assists and steals significantly limits his value going forward, barring major improvements in the years ahead.

Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic will travel with the team on their upcoming two-game road trip to Philadelphia and Toronto, but Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said it's "highly doubtful" that Doncic would play in either game. Given those comments, Dec. 26's home game against the Spurs is likely the earliest the Mavs could get their star back.

Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic appears to be over his early-season shooting slump. In nine games this month, the versatile center has a 52.2 FG% and 81.5 FT% after being down 45.1% and 73.1%, respectively, in 15 games in November. Jokic's rise has impacted the rest of this game as well, as he is ranked No. 3 on the Player Rater during the past 15 days.

Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose has played less than 25.0 MPG this season (24.4 to be exact) but he counters that with a 32.5 usage rate that ranks 10th in the league. That's enabled him to put up a very respectable 16.6 PPG through the team's first 23 games and 6.0 APG, which is the most assists per game since way back in 2011-12 in the prime of his Bulls days.

Golden State Warriors: The shine has worn off rookie Eric Paschall a bit since last month, when he broke out to average 18.1 PPG in 15 games. Paschall remains one of the better rookies in the league this season, but he is now on less than 30% of fantasy rosters in ESPN leagues as his scoring has dipped to 13.0 PPG in December and his presence on the glass has fallen to 4.0 RPG.

Houston Rockets: Former lottery pick Ben McLemore is quietly reinventing himself this season in Houston, or at least showing the scoring that made him such a big name coming out of Kansas. In seven games this month, he has put up 17.3 PPG, but the more impressive statistic is his 4.3 3PG. That ranks fifth in the league during the month of December.

Indiana Pacers: Jeremy Lamb hasn't played more than 27 minutes in any of his previous five games, which limits his fantasy value, while T.J. Warren's 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per 40 minutes are both career lows. Of the two, Lamb's versatility makes him the better fantasy option this season, but Lamb (sore right groin) and Warren (illness) are questionable for Friday's game against the Kings.

LA Clippers: After a hot start to the season while Paul George was out, Lou Williams is mired in a shooting slump seldom seen from the NBA's all-time leading bench scorer. After shooting 43.2% in October and 42.1% in November, Lou Will is down to 38.8% in seven games this month and his scoring has suffered as well (14.9 PPG).

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers dropped their fourth game of the season on Tuesday, as Anthony Davis sat out with an ankle injury. AD is listed as questionable for Thursday's monster matchup against the Bucks, so plan accordingly. The Lakers don't play again until Sunday's home slate vs. Denver, so it wouldn't be too surprising to see Davis get a few extra days to heal.

Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke scored a career-high 27 points against the Thunder on Wednesday, and judging by how well the Gonzaga product has adjusted to the NBA as a rookie, that high-scoring mark won't last long. Clarke ranks 13th in the league with a 23.76 PER -- far and away tops amongst rookies -- and his incredible efficiency as a shooter has a lot to do with it. His 64.9 FG% ranks fourth in the league, trailing only Rudy Gobert, Allen and Richaun Holmes.

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler's APG has steadily increased from month to month this season, going from 6.5 in October to 6.7 in November to 6.9 in December. This is pretty amazing, considering that Butler had only once averaged 5.0 or more in his first eight seasons in the league.

Milwaukee Bucks: Steady improvement has been Giannis Antetokounmpo's key to becoming the MVP-caliber player he is today. This is the seventh consecutive season that the Greek Freak has seen a rise in his points per 40 minutes (currently way up from 33.8 last season to 40.6 this season). He has also seen his rebounds per 40 minutes rise seven consecutive seasons and is at 16.4 in 2019-20.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns injured his knee last Friday, sat out Wednesday's game and, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, could miss the next two games on Friday and Saturday. Gorgui Dieng filled in with 13 points and eight rebounds on Wednesday and is the one to look at if KAT is ruled out Friday and/or Saturday.

New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes was the eighth pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and while his inconsistent minutes this season limit him to that of a streamer in fantasy leagues, he is certainly a big man to keep an eye on for the future. Hayes has a 17.56 PER, which is fifth amongst all rookies, and he has proved to be an efficient big man who rebounds and blocks shots when afford the opportunity.

New York Knicks: A day after sitting out practice, both Julius Randle (sore left leg) and Frank Ntilikina (illness) practiced on Thursday and are expected to play on Friday in Miami. Randle, the better fantasy option of the two, has seen his scoring slide from 28.0 points per 40 minutes last season in New Orleans to 21.9 PP40 in his first season with the Knicks.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Not only does Danilo Gallinari get to the line a healthy 4.7 times per game, he also makes his shots when he gets to the charity stripe. Gallinari's 90.9 FT% is tied for fourth in the league with Orlando's D.J. Augustin. Only Kyrie Irving, Malcolm Brogdon and Paul George have been more efficient at the line this season.

Orlando Magic: Keep an eye on the status of Jonathan Isaac when the Magic play Friday night in Portland. The bouncy forward left Wednesday's game early in Denver and didn't return due to hamstring soreness and low back tightness. Isaac is currently at a career-high pace for both usage rate (18.1) and TS% (54.6), and shot-blocking ability makes him a force in roto leagues. If he has to miss time, it will be a big loss for fantasy managers.

Philadelphia 76ers: There have been concerns about Joel Embiid all season, from his overall production to his physical fitness, but one of the things that tends to go overlooked is his decline as a shot-blocker. As a rookie in 2016-17, he ranked among the league leaders with 2.5 BPG. That number fell to 1.8 the following season and 1.9 last season. This season? He's all the way down at 1.3 BPG, which puts him behind the likes of Daniel Theis and Richaun Holmes, and reduces his fantasy impact considerably.

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker has missed the past three games due to a forearm injury, but Suns general manager James Jones indicated Wednesday that the team is hopeful that Booker will be back on the court for Friday's game against the Thunder. With games on Saturday and Monday, though, Booker likely won't have to wait much longer even if he sits out against Oklahoma City.

Portland Trail Blazers: Hassan Whiteside pulled down a season-high 23 rebounds Wednesday night against the Warriors. Don't look now, but the veteran center is playing like one of the best centers in the league this month. In fact, during the past 15 days, Whiteside ranks second behind only James Harden on the Player Rater with 18.4 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 3.0 BPG and a 68.4 FG% in eight December games.

Sacramento Kings: Richaun Holmes has seen his playing time decrease considerably in the four games since Marvin Bagley III returned to the lineup, averaging only 25.0 MPG during this recent stretch after playing at least 32 minutes in the previous six games before that. Holmes had worked his way into a top-100 fantasy player while Bagley was out, but that's not the case with the reduced workload.

San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge is still playing well for his age, but it's fair to say that there are statistical signs of decline. His current 19.82 PER is the second lowest in the past 10 years. On top of that, his 22.4 PP40 and 8.7 RP40 are both well down from last season (25.7 and 11.1, respectively). The 34-year-old could drop out of the top 50 fantasy rankings next season for the first time in more than a decade.

Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol left Wednesday's game early due to a left hamstring injury and didn't return. There's a good chance the 34-year-old center misses time and, if that's the case, it will put more on the plate of Serge Ibaka and Chris Boucher. If Gasol (6.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.4 APG this season) ends up being ruled out for any length of time, fantasy managers should consider dropping him unless they have an injury slot available.

Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell's 24.9 PPG in December makes him one of the league's top scorers this month, and his 47.9 FG% is a big reason for it. The third-year shooting guard is at a career-best pace with a 55.1 TS% and his 30.7 usage rate is only a tick behind where it was last season (31.2) but still ranked No. 15 in the league.

Washington Wizards: A left ankle injury has forced Moritz Wagner to miss the last three games, and he hasn't practiced yet, which makes his availability for Friday and Saturday's games seem unlikely at best. Davis Bertans gets an uptick in fantasy value during Wagner's absence, and Bertans took advantage on Wednesday with 26 points and seven 3-points.