Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Khem Birch is Raptors' latest diamond in the rough

The Toronto Raptors continually turn under-performers into over-performers for fantasy teams. The latest example is Khem Birch, who had another impressive line Thursday. Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors have a knack for discovering and developing talent. Chris Boucher, Norman Powell, and OG Anunoby all became fantasy forces in just the past few seasons. Now, the team is converting Khem Birch from career backup to standout starting forward.

Birch produced an efficient 17 points and a team-best plus-minus for the Raptors in an overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday. The athletic big man swatted four shots and registered a steal to go with nine rebounds last night. Birch has now produced at least one defensive stat in all but two appearances with Toronto since being waived by Orlando in early April.

The Raptors have started Birch in place of an ailing Boucher for the past dozen games. Particularly productive lately, Birch has averaged 14 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 combined blocks and steals during his past seven outings.

It's not only established fantasy stars fueling deep playoff runs this month, but also guys who are quietly stepping up -- like Birch.

Thursday recap


Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets: 45 points (17-31 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: 44 points (17-28 FG), 11 rebounds, 7 assists


LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets: 4 points (1-10 FG), 4 rebounds, 9 assists

Thursday takeaways

  • Russell Westbrook just won't be stopped in his pursuit of history. The do-everything guard notched his 180th career triple-double last night and now sits just one shy of tying Oscar Robertson for the most all-time. Westbrook has posted 24 triple-doubles since the All-Star Break, tied with Wilt Chamberlain from 1967-68 for the most after the All-Star Break in a season in NBA history. The Wizards next play the Pacers on Saturday.

  • Zach LaVine returned to action to join with Nikola Vucevic in downing the Hornets last night. LaVine only took 11 shots and seemed rusty after enduring his longest absence from the NBA floor since 2018. The Bulls only have a four percent shot at making the play-in tournament, per ESPN's BPI, so it will be interesting to see if LaVine sees a full workload down the stretch.

Injuries of note

  • The Lakers' Anthony Davis left last night's loss to the Clippers after playing around nine minutes of game time due to back spasms. Davis struggled with his shot before leaving the game, but at least the All-Star said he planned on playing on Friday.

  • Jaylen Brown will miss another game for the Celtics due to an ankle sprain, vaulting Evan Fournier into a more prominent role.

Analytics advantage for Friday

I'm not sure I've ever seen an injury report like Houston's for tonight's matchup against the Bucks. The Rockets list eight players as out due to respective injuries, one player as doubtful, and four others as questionable. With Kevin Porter Jr. sidelined, Kenyon Martin Jr. becomes a relevant fantasy option.

Martin played a team-high 44 minutes for the short-handed Rockets on Wednesday in a loss to the Sixers and was second on the roster in rebounding chances with 15. These chances are defined as being within 3.5 feet of an available rebound. Martin was second on the team in total touches on Wednesday with 70, while another big role awaits him tonight.

Top player to watch on Friday

Denver won't have Will Barton, PJ Dozier, Jamal Murray, or Monte Morris available this evening. With so few guards active for the Nuggets, Facundo Campazzo could be quite busy.

The savvy guard has an amazing 10 steals across the last two games and should compile enough shooting and assist opportunities to deliver a fun fantasy line against the Jazz this evening.