On a Thursday slate without a marquee matchup, the Memphis Grizzlies provided the buzz in producing the largest win in NBA history, downing the Oklahoma City Thunder by 73 points. Memphis has now won three straight games since losing Ja Morant to a knee injury, with Jaren Jackson Jr. leading the way as he takes his fantasy profile to a new level.
Jackson impressively paced the Grizzlies with 27 points in just 20 minutes of run in the blowout victory and has averaged 20.8 points, 2.3 blocks and 2.8 3-pointers the last six games. In his last two games, Jackson has made an absurd 71% of his 3-pointers while averaging 26 PPG. As I mentioned in our recent fantasy hoops roundtable, Jackson has seen his usage jump a team-high 6.8% with Morant off the floor this season, leading to league-winning per 36 rates of 26.1 points, 8.4 boards and 4.0 blocks in such scenarios.
Beyond Jackson, Memphis has leaned on its unique depth and balance while Morant heals, recording 93 bench points in last night's historic win, the second most in a game since starters were first tracked in 1970. I'd love to be able to endorse De'Anthony Melton and his awesome defensive and rebounding rates, but the team continues to start Tyus Jones as the lead distributor, curbing hopes of a rewarding new role for Melton. Desmond Bane was cold last night and yet the team still cruised, further evidence this might just be the "JJJ" show until Morant is back in action.
San Antonio's Murray has now compiled five games this season with at least 10 dimes and multiple steals, trailing only Chris Paul in that regard. Last night, he fittingly became just the second Spurs player under Gregg Popovich to produce at least 10 points and 10 assists in the first half, joining franchise icon Tony Parker. Murray, who paces all guards in rebounding this season, currently sits 32nd on the Player Rater amid a breakout fantasy campaign.
Speaking of career seasons, Toronto's Fred VanVleet has been tasked with even more scoring responsibilities with OG Anunoby sidelined, as the dynamic combo guard is up to career-high 20.3 PPG this season after last night's 29-point performance in a win over the Bucks. He's making a bid for his first All-Star selection.
A less encouraging statistical story from Toronto has been Chris Boucher, who played just 12 minutes last night and can be let go into a free agency in nearly every format. Last season saw Boucher produce an elite block rate and respectable shooting and rebounding results in a busy bench role, but he's been pushed to the fringes of the rotation this season.
Injuries of note
Portland's backcourt injury issues continued on Thursday, with Anfernee Simons leaving the team's loss to the Spurs in a walking boot.
The Timberwolves list Karl-Anthony Towns as questionable to play this evening due to a tailbone contusion suffered in the team's last game. Anthony Edwards is probable and would serve as a DFS building block if Towns sits this one out.
In a swing of good news for the Rockets, Christian Wood is listed as probable to play against the Magic after suffering an ankle injury earlier this week. Kevin Porter Jr. is questionable due to a thigh injury. Jae'Sean Tate makes for a solid streaming play after he posted one of the best overall fantasy lines of the season in a win over the Thunder on Wednesday (32 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 5 blocks).
Analytics advantage for Friday
The Heat will be without Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Markieff Morris for tonight's matchup against the visiting Pacers. With Butler and Adebayo off the floor this season, Dewayne Dedmon has posted 13 points and 14 boards per 36 minutes for Miami, making him an ideal streaming option at a shallow center position.
Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic: Facing a smaller Houston lineup could help both Carter and Mo Bamba deliver surplus fantasy value on Friday. Carter has posted between 26 and 48 DraftKings points in six straight, aiding a solid projection in a plus matchup.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards: It's safe to assume Gafford will play a sizable role for the Wizards this evening given his size, as Washington faces a large Cleveland frontcourt that does damage in and around the paint. Gafford has topped 30 DraftKings points in four straight games and yet is found nearly at punt pricing for tonight's game.