Every once in a while, a relatively unknown player rises to fantasy relevance. Saben Lee of the Detroit Pistons is one of these players. While he didn't start for Detroit on Tuesday, Lee still led the Pistons backcourt in minutes, scoring, and assists as the team snapped a three-game losing streak in a win over the Orlando Magic.
With Delon Wright and Killian Hayes both sidelined by injuries, Lee and Dennis Smith Jr. have been the only available point guards on the Detroit roster for the last two games. Smith started on Sunday and once again last night, but has averaged just 16.9 minutes, 10.0 points, and 1.5 assists in this role. Lee, the No. 38 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, has averaged 30.7 minutes to go along with 16.5 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.5 3-pointers over the last two games.
Lee attacked the rim and created open shots for his teammates with regularity in Tuesday's victory, earning praise from coach Dwane Casey after the game. Rostered in just 2.8% of ESPN leagues, Lee is one of the more promising fantasy free agents.
Detroit also netted another productive performance from sixth man Josh Jackson last night. Jackson is rostered in just 31.3% of ESPN leagues, yet scored 18 points last night and has averaged 16.8 points over the last 12 games.
Harden notched his sixth triple-double with the Nets, which somehow already places him second overall in franchise history. Brooklyn's Bruce Brown scored a career-high 29 points, but the performance seems like an outlier given he won't play such a sizable starting role once Kevin Durant is back in the lineup.
Haliburton's brilliant rookie year continued in the loss to the Nets with his third straight 20-point game. One of the best rookies this season, the versatile Haliburton is a true gem in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Luka Doncic delivered a series of clutch shots to secure a win for the Mavericks over the reeling Celtics, moving the team to 6-1 over their last seven with the Slovenian superstar averaging 34.0 PPG during this stretch. The strong play of guard Jalen Brunson, who has been thriving as the team's sixth man, is very good news for fantasy managers. Brunson has averaged 17.2 points (with eight combined assists and rebounds) in 29.0 minutes over the last five games. He remains a free agent in 88% of leagues.
In the loss to the Clippers, Washington's Moritz Wagner started at center for the sixth straight game. He scored a season-high 21 points to go along with season-bests in both rebounds and assists. Without a real low-post threat on the roster, Wagner could benefit from the Wizards decision to "go small." He is worth a look in deeper leagues.
The Houston Rockets have released center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is currently rostered in nearly 60% of ESPN leagues and, while he was productive at times with Houston, it's unlikely he will play such a large role with his next team. It's fine to keep Cousins until he signs with a new team, but he will likely serve a smaller role going forward.
Injuries of note
The Rockets won't have Christian Wood in the lineup tonight against the Cavaliers. Eric Gordon and Victor Oladipo are both listed as questionable. If either of these guards misses the game, David Nwaba becomes a solid streaming option.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
LaMarcus Aldridge is listed as questionable for the depleted Spurs this evening in a game against the Thunder. Leading scorer DeMar DeRozan will miss the game for personal reasons. Meanwhile, the team will also be without Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Rudy Gay, and Derrick White due to the league's health and safety protocol.
With so many key rotation players absent for San Antonio, it's worth noting that Aldridge's usage rate spikes by a whopping 12.9% with this collection of teammates off the court, making him an ideal pickup. He's currently rostered in just 57% of ESPN leagues. Another name to target is Lonnie Walker IV, who could shoulder a major workload. Walker has averaged a robust 8.4 3PA (per 36 minutes) with these teammates off the floor this season.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
Even with just 53 NBA games under his belt, Zion Williamson has been named to his first All-Star team -- thanks in part to his uniquely efficient offensive skills. Remarkably, Williamson is currently ranked fourth in the league in offensive win shares, just ahead of Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid. Williamson could produce one of his best games of the season tonight against a Detroit defense allowing 48.1 DraftKings points per game to power forwards, the fourth-highest rate in the NBA.