NBA Observations: Nets Lose KD, Bam and CJ Return, Bucks Struggles + More Fantasy News and Notes

NBA Observations: Nets Lose KD, Bam and CJ Return, Bucks Struggles + More Fantasy News and Notes

This article is part of our NBA Observations series.

It's already Week 14 of the NBA season, which brings us past the halfway point in the league calendar. The All-Star break is just over four weeks away. In fantasy basketball, that means it's time for managers to buckle down and begin to evaluate their rosters to identify any lingering weaknesses. In many leagues, the playoffs begin in mid-March, so time is of the essence when it comes to working the waiver wire and the trade market.

Thankfully, this week is once again light on COVID-related news. A few notable players around the league are still dealing with protocols – Marcus Smart, Kelly Oubre, Tyrese Haliburton – but the numbers are down massively from the spikes that engulfed the league around Christmas.

Let's dig into the biggest fantasy storylines around the league in Week 14:

CJ McCollum back in action

Portland may be without Damian Lillard for several more weeks, but the Blazers got a major piece back Monday in the form of CJ McCollum, who made his first appearance since Dec. 4. McCollum looked good in 28 minutes of action, finishing with 16 points, two assists, one rebound, one steal, one block and two three-pointers in Portland's 98-88 win over Orlando.

  • With Lillard out until at least mid-March, the Blazers' offense will be McCollum's to lead for the next two months. On the season, McCollum is averaging 20.4 points, 4.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 3.2 threes per game with a 43/40/70 shooting line. The

It's already Week 14 of the NBA season, which brings us past the halfway point in the league calendar. The All-Star break is just over four weeks away. In fantasy basketball, that means it's time for managers to buckle down and begin to evaluate their rosters to identify any lingering weaknesses. In many leagues, the playoffs begin in mid-March, so time is of the essence when it comes to working the waiver wire and the trade market.

Thankfully, this week is once again light on COVID-related news. A few notable players around the league are still dealing with protocols – Marcus Smart, Kelly Oubre, Tyrese Haliburton – but the numbers are down massively from the spikes that engulfed the league around Christmas.

Let's dig into the biggest fantasy storylines around the league in Week 14:

CJ McCollum back in action

Portland may be without Damian Lillard for several more weeks, but the Blazers got a major piece back Monday in the form of CJ McCollum, who made his first appearance since Dec. 4. McCollum looked good in 28 minutes of action, finishing with 16 points, two assists, one rebound, one steal, one block and two three-pointers in Portland's 98-88 win over Orlando.

  • With Lillard out until at least mid-March, the Blazers' offense will be McCollum's to lead for the next two months. On the season, McCollum is averaging 20.4 points, 4.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 3.2 threes per game with a 43/40/70 shooting line. The free throw shooting should improve, as McCollum has shot at least 81 percent at the charity stripe in five of the last six seasons.
  • The absence of Lillard has also propped the door wide open for Anfernee Simons, who should be in position to continue starting alongside McCollum. Over his last seven games (all starts), Simons is averaging 26.1 points, 8.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 4.6 made threes (42.7% 3Pt). During that stretch, he ranks as a top-10 fantasy value in 8-cat leagues. The 2018 first-round pick had a composite preseason ADP outside of the top 200. McCollum's return – as well as the expected return of Norman Powell this week – diminishes his upside a bit, but Simons is still in a great spot to return top-100 value for the next several weeks.

Heat get Bam back

Another key player made his return to the floor on Monday, as Bam Adebayo was back in action for the first time in a month-and-a-half following thumb surgery. Adebayo, who last played on Nov. 29, finished Monday's 104-99 victory over Toronto with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 32 minutes. While Adebayo got off to a slow start, it's encouraging that his workload was not at all limited despite the lengthy layoff.

  • The Heat opted to roll with Dewayne Dedmon as the backup center Monday over Omer Yurtseven. Dedmon finished with eight points, nine boards and three blocks in 16 minutes, while Yurtseven was a DNP-CD.
  • Yurtseven – a COVID protocols cult hero – will likely be out of the rotation going forward, putting an end to an extremely solid, 14-game run in which he posted 11.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game (28.2 MPG). Over the final 10 games of that stretch (Dec. 26 through Jan. 15), Yurtseven ranked as a top-70 fantasy player in 8-cat leagues.
  • Whether Adebayo can rebound from a relatively underwhelming start to the season will be worth monitoring closely over the next few weeks. Prior to the thumb injury, Adebayo ranked just 68th overall in per-game value – a far cry from his preseason ADP of 18.0 in Yahoo fantasy leagues.

Nets lose Durant to knee sprain

Over the weekend, Kevin Durant became the latest big-name player to suffer an injury, as he departed Saturday's game against the Pelicans with what was later diagnosed as a sprained left MCL. Thankfully, Durant avoided any significant ligament damage, but the injury will likely keep him out through the All-Star break.

  • Joe Harris (ankle), Nicolas Claxton (hamstring), DeAndre' Bembry (back) and James Johnson (illness) all missed Monday's game against the Cavs, so it's difficult to assess exactly how the Nets' rotation will look without the MVP candidate. Expect a heavy dose of James Harden and Kyrie Irving (when available), while Kessler Edwards, Cam Thomas and Bruce Brown should all see bumps in minutes. On Monday, Brooklyn started Harden, Irving and Patty Mills together with Edwards at the nominal power forward spot.
    • Of that group, Edwards, a 2021 second-rounder out of Pepperdine, is probably the most intriguing fantasy flier. He doesn't have an overly high ceiling, but in five starts this season he's posted 10.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.8 threes (40.9% 3Pt).

Bucks struggling without Holiday

The Milwaukee Bucks blew another double-digit lead Monday against Atlanta and ultimately lost for the sixth time in their last eight games. Milwaukee now sits in fifth place in the East – a half-game behind the Cavaliers, who improved to 27-18 with Monday's win over Brooklyn. In part, the Bucks' struggles can be traced back to the absence of Jrue Holiday, who missed his sixth straight game, and his 13th overall, due to an ankle injury. With Holiday in the lineup, the Bucks are 24-9. When he sits, they're just 3-10.

  • Before the ankle injury, Holiday was in the midst of his best stretch in a Bucks uniform. Over his last 10 games, Holiday ranks as a top-10 fantasy asset behind 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 threes per game on 56.1 percent shooting.
  • While it hasn't necessarily led to winning, Khris Middleton has officially bounced back from a sluggish start to the season. Over his last 13 games, Middleton is up to 22.4 points, 5.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.8 threes with a 47/45/91 shooting line.
    • Over that same stretch, Grayson Allen has gone ice-cold, hitting just 29.4 percent of his 5.7 three-point attempts per game.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo remains an elite fantasy player, despite his up-and-down free throw shooting. On the season, he's sitting at 71.3 percent (up from 68.5% last season), but since Christmas the two-time MVP is getting to the line 12.5 times per game and hitting 77.4 percent.

Quick Hits

  • The first semi-significant trade of the season went down last week when the Hawks shipped Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill and a future second-round pick to the Knicks in exchange for Kevin Knox and a protected 2022 first-rounder. The trade reunites Reddish with former Duke teammate RJ Barrett.
    • Reddish is currently dealing with an ankle injury and is yet to debut for the Knicks. Tom Thibodeau said Friday that he expects Reddish to remain out for "a while", and he noted that the 2019 first-round pick won't be guaranteed minutes every night.
    • Reddish showed some flashes during his two-and-a-half seasons in Atlanta, but he missed all but 26 games in 2020-21. This season, he's been able to stay mostly healthy, but the decision to trade him signals that Atlanta perhaps viewed him as the odd man out in a deep wing rotation featuring Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, De'Andre Hunter and the recently re-signed Kevin Huerter.
      • Through 34 appearances for the Hawks, Reddish averaged 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals and shot 37.9 percent from deep (career-high 1.7 3PM/G). Once healthy, he'll compete for minutes with Barrett, Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes.
  • Zach LaVine put a scare into fantasy managers when he abruptly departed Friday's blowout loss to the Warriors with an apparent left knee injury. A subsequent MRI cleared LaVine of any structural damage, but the Bulls will be cautious with their star, who suffered a torn ACL back in 2017 as a member of the Timberwolves.
    • Rookie Ayo Dosunmu started the last two games in LaVine's place and averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 threes. Chicago was also without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso for both contests, however, so Dosunmu will likely return to a reduced role off the bench within the next few games.
    • Coby White's last 14 games: 17.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 3.1 threes, 51/47/86 shooting.
  • Klay Thompson check-in: Now four games into his comeback, Thompson has scored in double figures and hit multiple threes in all four appearances. HIs minutes are still being closely monitored, but Thompson's workload should continue to creep closer to 30 minutes per night. He finished Sunday's loss to Minnesota with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and three three-pointers in 23 minutes.
  • The absence of Draymond Green (back/calf) has led to more opportunity for rookie Jonathan Kuminga, who posted 19 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes against Minnesota on Sunday. That came on the heels of a 25-point, three-rebound, three-assist, three-block effort in just 26 minutes Friday in Chicago. With Green set to miss at least another week-and-a-half, Kuminga makes for a decent, high-variance streaming option.
  • Stephen Curry will return to action Tuesday night against the Pistons after missing one game with what the team called a sore right hand. Two more lackluster games from Curry before the injury caused him to fall down to fifth in per-game fantasy value on the season. Since the start of December, Curry ranks outside the top 20 in 8-cat value thanks in large part to an uncharacteristic field goal percentage (38.7%) during that 19-game stretch.
  • It's officially time for fantasy managers to worry about Daniel Gafford. One of the most-dropped players in Yahoo leagues this week, Gafford's roster rate is down to 68 percent as of Tuesday afternoon.
    • The big man's workload has declined in each of the last six games, and he bottomed out with just eight minutes of action Monday against the Sixers. That was partially due to some early foul trouble, but Gafford sat the final 21 minutes of game time, despite having only four personals. Gafford saw 16 minutes against Orlando last Wednesday and just 11 minutes against Portland on Saturday.
    • Meanwhile, Thomas Bryant shined in 16 minutes off the bench Monday, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and a block in what was easily his best showing since returning from a torn ACL. At this rate, it's very possible Wes Unseld Jr. could pivot to Bryant as the starter at some point.
  • Monday's loss to the Clippers marked Malcolm Brogdon's 17th absence of the season. This time it's a sore Achilles bothering the oft-injured guard, who's missed significant time in all but one of his six NBA seasons. By now, fantasy managers are aware of the risks, but Brogdon is once again killing managers who took a stab at him in the middle rounds (composite ADP: 59.7). As has been the case in recent years, Brogdon is a top-55 player on a per-game basis, but all of the missed time knocks him out of the top-120 in total value.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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