In a loss to the Clippers this past Saturday afternoon, the Pelicans couldn't overcome a stellar scoring performance from Kawhi Leonard. Still, the arrow for the franchise is pointing in the right direction thanks in part to Lonzo Ball's emergence as a key playmaker. Brandon Ingram has already broken out as an elite scorer ahead of Zion Williamson's highly anticipated NBA debut this coming Wednesday, but now the team can also claim Ball's ascent as an offensive creator. In an impressive performance against the Clippers' Patrick Beverley, the UCLA product produced his sixth career triple-double -- three of which have come this month.
Since becoming a starting-lineup fixture just before Christmas, Ball has impressively produced 15.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.9 APG, 2.8 3PG, and 1.7 combined blocks and steals during this 13-game sample of statistical success. Those in keeper and dynasty formats have found a post-hype gem in Ball, while the Pelicans can clearly lay claim to one of the better player portfolios in the league.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: 3 points (1-5 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 TO
Smart's huge line this past Saturday in a loss to Booker's Suns saw him establish a new career-high in scoring while setting a Celtics franchise record with 11 made 3-pointers and 22 attempts from beyond the arc. In fact, Smart continued to challenge the idea that he's merely a defensive stalwart, becoming just the 11th player in league history with at least 11 made 3-pointers in a single game. Available in just shy of 50% of ESPN leagues, Smart is a difference-making fantasy free agent to consider ahead of this new week of competition.
On Sunday evening, the Pacers overcame Nikola Jokic's fifth 30-point performance of the season, thanks to Sabonis' first career triple-double and his 33rd double-double of the season. It places Sabonis third in double-doubles behind only Andre Drummond and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo's teammate Donte DiVincenzo makes for a savvy free-agent find this week, given his uniquely helpful blend of offense (2.0 3PG, 6.1 combined assists and rebounds) and defense (2.3 combined steals and blocks) over his last seven appearances.
If you are seeking some strong streaming options this week, Golden State's roster offers up Eric Paschall, who remains a productive playmaker for the Warriors. Deeper into the rotation, Damion Lee is enjoying his new contract with steady minutes and offensive freedom, while Jordan Poole just produced a career-high 21 points over the weekend. Poole is averaging 15.3 PPG over his last four games after having previously averaged just 6.8 PPG.
Injuries of note
Phoenix's Kelly Oubre Jr. is listed as probable for Monday's game against the Spurs. Suns wing Mikal Bridges established a new career-high with 26 points in a key win over the Celtics this past Saturday, but is likely just a streaming option with Oubre's likely return to the starting lineup.
Portland's CJ McCollum will not suit up against Poole and the Warriors on Monday due to a left ankle sprain that kept him off the floor over the weekend. Gary Trent, fresh from a career-best scoring performance, could earn more offensive equity as a result of McCollum's absence.
Boston's Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Kemba Walker (knee) are both listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Lakers. Smart is a savvy pickup no matter the status of his teammates, but he becomes a DFS building block if either (or both) miss Monday's contest.
Dallas' Kristaps Porzingis told reporters he intends to play Tuesday against the Clippers after having missed the last 10 games with a knee injury.
Analytics advantage for Monday
In one of the simpler analytical angles to consider, fantasy managers need to account for Monday's rich 14-game slate on a day celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s enduring legacy. Things tip off at 2:05 PM ET, in Washington, with the Wizards hosting the Pistons.
Highlighting a few key players to consider on the busy schedule, we begin with Toronto's Norman Powell, who is rostered on right around 65% of ESPN leagues, yet has averaged 22.8 PPG and 3.0 3PG in his four games since returning from injury. The Raptors enter their game with the Hawks with wins in four of their last five games. During that stretch, Toronto has averaged 121.6 PPG (sixth in the NBA), up nearly 10 points over their season total. Given the Hawks' porous defensive rate this season -- 27th overall, allowing 112.9 points per 100 possessions -- stacking in DFS play with Powell, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet could be rewarding amid such a packed schedule.
Top players to watch on Monday
A matchup between the Pelicans' Ball and the Grizzlies' Ja Morant awaits NBA fans on Monday evening in Memphis. Morant has led the Grizzlies to this month's third-best offensive rating at 118.8 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, Ball's ascent as the lead creator with Jrue Holiday ailing has New Orleans ranked ninth in offensive rating for the month (114.2). In a league rife with gifted young guards, today's compelling meeting between Morant and Ball stands out.