T.J. McConnell has been uniquely larcenous for the Indiana Pacers this season. The NBA leader in both steals per game and steal percentage recorded a rare type of triple-double in Wednesday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. McConnell helped Indiana snap a four-game losing streak while producing just the 11th triple-double on record with at least 10 steals -- and he's the first ever to do so off the bench.
McConnell hit all eight of his shots from the field while dishing 13 dimes on top of his 10 swipes in Wednesday's epic outing. The last triple-double to include steals was recorded by Mookie Blaylock in the spring of 1998.
A regular endorsement in my weekly waiver-wire piece, given he's rostered in just 46% of ESPN leagues, McConnell merits immediate attention from managers, thanks to his helpful blend of elite passing and defensive rates.
Detroit moved the ball well in a win over the depleted Raptors, as their 39 assists as a team marked the most for the franchise since 2008. Mason Plumlee and Dennis Smith Jr. became just the second pair of teammates in Pistons history with triple-doubles in the same game, joining Donnie Butcher and Ray Scott from way back in 1964. Entering the season with none in his first 532 career games, Plumlee has impressively produced two triple-doubles this season. Smith wasn't very effective as a scorer but flashed fun playmaking for Detroit and is currently rostered in just 21.5% of leagues.
Chicago's Zach LaVine delivered the 48th 30-point game of his Bulls career, amazingly already tied for fourth-most in franchise history with Scottie Pippen and Derrick Rose. A free agent in 2022, LaVine will be a major name to watch this summer, given he'll be on the last year of a reasonable contract.
While Damian Lillard delivered the winning shot for Portland, the Trail Blazers got another vintage scoring performance from Carmelo Anthony, who now has 51 points in his past two games, good for his most in a two-game span this season.
Atlanta's Danilo Gallinari was brilliant in helping new coach Nate McMillan move to 2-0 at the helm of the Hawks. Gallinari was one rebound shy of a double-double and played a major role as a creator for the team. John Collins had five personal fouls and was limited to just 26 minutes, while no other starter played fewer than 32 minutes. This marks two straight games with a somewhat limited role for Collins under McMillan.
LeBron James did not play for the first time this season as the Lakers lost to the Kings. Los Angeles has now lost seven of its last 10 games after starting the season 21-6. A bit of promising news is that the Lakers had three players with 25 points on 50% shooting in the same game for the first time since March of 2009. Kyle Kuzma paced the team in rebounding last night and remains a top fantasy addition until Anthony Davis is back in the rotation.
Complementary players Bruce Brown and Nicolas Claxton were both productive for Brooklyn as the Nets cruised to a victory over the Rockets in Harden's return to Houston. If Kevin Durant isn't ready to return to action -- or whenever one of the team's trio of stars is sidelined -- it appears Brown, who produced 15 combined assists and rebounds last night, is a capable streaming option. Claxton, meanwhile, tallied 16 points and eight boards in just 16 minutes against Houston, evidence he's a fun target in truly deep leagues.
Injuries of note
Kawhi Leonard is listed as questionable due to back spasms for tonight's matchup against the Wizards. Marcus Morris Sr. won't play for the Clippers, which means Serge Ibaka could play a larger role as a scoring option.
Facundo Campazzo and Gary Harris have been ruled out for Denver's game against the Pacers this evening. Guard PJ Dozier just scored a season-high 19 points with both Harris and Campazzo sidelined this past Tuesday against the Bucks.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Rose is considered questionable due to the league's health and safety protocols. The Knicks have listed Elfrid Payton as doubtful. If both veteran guards miss the game, rookie scoring sensation Immanuel Quickley becomes a compelling fantasy option. With Rose and Payton off the floor this season, Quickley's usage rate has spiked to a team-high 29.7%, and he's averaged a team-high 25.1 points in such scenarios.
Top players to watch on Thursday
A meeting of superstar guards takes place in Phoenix this evening. Devin Booker and Chris Paul form an All-Star backcourt, while Golden State's Stephen Curry is enjoying another wildly efficient offensive season. In addition to the marquee matchup of guards, it will be interesting to see how James Wiseman handles Deandre Ayton in the post.