On Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 141-137, in the process scoring more points in any game since 2010. Indiana was missing both All-Star Domantas Sabonis and key playmaker Malcolm Brogdon to injury, leaving backup point guard T.J. McConnell to run the show.
Even though he didn't start, McConnell ended up leading the team in minutes and produced his second game of the season with at least 15 points and 15 assists off the bench. In fact, McConnell is now the only player in recorded NBA history to have had multiple 15-point and 15-assist games off the bench in a single season.
Yet, somehow, McConnell is still available in nearly 50% of ESPN leagues. You'll also find him leading the entire NBA in steals and steal percentage with just six weeks left in the season. If you're looking to make some moves to increase your chances of a successful title run, this might be a real good place to start.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 32 points (12-17 FG), 12 rebounds, 6 assists
D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves: 11 points (3-11 FG), 1 rebound, 5 assists
Kevin Durant made his return to the floor for Brooklyn after a 22-game absence due to a hamstring injury. The superstar wing scored 17 points in 19 minutes without missing a shot.
Oklahoma City's Aleksej Pokusevski has fairly quickly transitioned from being a G League "novelty" into a capable NBA player. The rookie scored a career-high 25 points, becoming the third teenager in franchise history to tally that many, joining Durant and Theo Maledon in that exclusive club. Pokusevski is still a free agent in roughly 86% of ESPN leagues.
Speaking of Maledon, he also scored 25 points last night. The rookie guard compiled 10 combined assists and rebounds and was hot from the floor in the loss. Like his emerging teammate, Maledon will get plenty of run down the stretch -- especially with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ailing.
In the wake of a sell-off at the deadline, Orlando has been playing with a "skeleton crew" of sorts -- and it's been a fun group to follow for fantasy. Wendell Carter Jr., for instance, has been quite productive since joining the Magic. Just last night, Carter produced 15 points on only nine shots. Even Mo Bamba had a strong line last night in the loss to Washington, with the Texas product producing 19 points and eight rebounds over 25 minutes. The Magic's rotation might not be very consistent, but there are some rising talents (such as Carter and Chuma Okeke) to target from this new-look roster.
Jalen McDaniels started and posted a career-high 21 points for the Hornets. With Gordon Hayward possibly out for the rest of the season due to injury, both McDaniels and Miles Bridges should claim more prominent roles for Charlotte.
Injuries of note
The Lakers should have Andre Drummond for tonight's matchup against the Heat, as the big man is listed as probable. It will be interesting to see how many touches in the post Drummond gets tonight.
Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful to play tonight due to knee soreness.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry are both listed as being out of Toronto's matchup against Chicago tonight. The absence of the team's starting backcourt should lead to a larger role for rookie Malachi Flynn. Flynn has averaged 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.7 steals during the last three games -- all with a 20% usage rate and a healthy .569% true-shooting clip. Prior to this recent surge, Flynn's usage rate was just 15% with sluggish shooting efficiency. It's time to roster Flynn ahead of a nice matchup with the Bulls.
Top player to watch on Thursday
The Pistons will be without Jerami Grant for tonight's tilt against the Kings. With Grant off the court for Detroit, Hamidou Diallo has averaged 11.3 more DraftKings points (per 36 minutes). Streaming both Diallo and rookie sharpshooter Saddiq Bey this evening against the league's worst defense could be quite rewarding.