Fantasy owners rejoice! Kawhi Leonard is back to save our fantasy teams. But wait, what’s that I hear? Minutes restriction for a while? Oh phooey. Well, did we really think Coach Popovich was going to throw Leonard back into his usual 30+ minutes? Of course not. Leonard sat last night on the second night of a back to back, and that will likely be the status quo moving forward. With the Spurs having another back to back on Wednesday and Thursday, expect Leonard to miss one of those games as well.
There are 17 teams with four games this week, so if you need some help from the waiver wire, there are plenty of good options this week, including a pair of teammates in the Windy City.
Games Played by Team This Week
4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, LAC, LAL, MIA, OKC, PHI, PHO, POR, SAS, UTA.
3 Games: BKN, HOU, IND, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOR, NYK, ORL, SAC, TOR, WAS.
2 Games: CLE, DET.
Bobby Portis (PF/C – CHI)
Owning Bobby Portis is like ordering fish tacos from a questionable looking food truck. They might turn out great, or you could be in store for a long night. Lately, the tacos wave been pretty darn tasty. He has eclipsed 20 points in two of his last three games and has been thriving next to Nikola Mirotic. In those three games, Portis is averaging 19.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.0 3-pointers on 56.1% from the field. He always seems to play well like this when he’s getting consistent minutes in the 20s. As long as he’s getting this level of playing time, he’s definitely worth owning.
Nikola Mirotic (SF/PF – CHI)
Speaking of Mirotic, he’s been playing out of his mind since returning from injury. Following his six-point return in 15 minutes, he’s scored 19, 24, 29, and 22 points with 3+ makes from downtown in each game. Like his teammate Portis, Mirotic has been known to be incredibly streaky throughout his career. He’s worth owning right now while he’s hot, but don’t be surprised if you’re looking to drop him in January.
Trey Lyles (PF – DEN)
Just as quickly as he entered the fantasy circle of trust, Kenneth Faried has worked his way back to the doghouse in Denver and the waiver wires of fantasy leagues. Well, his loss is Trey Lyles’ gain, for now. Who knows how long this will last with Coach Malone’s unexpectedness, but for now, welcome Lyles into your life if you need a big man.
Unlike Faried, Lyles can help you out in more than just a couple categories. Over the last two weeks, Lyles is averaging 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.1 3-pointers on 53.5% shooting. On top of that, he’s turned the ball over only 0.9 times per game. The extra triples have been an added bonus this season, and his 49.1 3-point percentage ranks amongst the league’s leaders. If you need a big man, Lyles looks like the big man to own in Denver next to Nikola Jokic.
Wayne Ellington (SF/SF – MIA)
Not every free agent you pick up throughout the season is going to help you out across the board. Some are just to help you out in one specific area like rebounds, blocks, or in this case, three-pointers. Ever since his North Carolina days, Wayne Ellington has been a threat from downtown. For his career, he’s a 38.2% shooter from deep, and that number has risen to 43.4% this season.
Ellington has also been taking more three’s over the last couple of seasons, which is an added bonus for fantasy owners. This season, he’s made 2.7 per game overall and 3.7 per game over the last two weeks as his minutes have gotten a bump due to injuries to various Heat players. If you need a boost in 3-pointers, Ellington is your guy. Just know what you’re getting here and don’t expect something that’s not going to come.
Draymond Green (SF/PF – GSW)
A sore shoulder has kept Draymond Green out of action for the last two games. This injury has been bugging him for over a week now and has limited him to just one game since December 4. You could tell he wasn’t quite right in that game, either. He scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, but he was able to still put up a gem of a line since he added six rebounds, 13 assists, three steals, and six blocks. The Warriors don’t play again until Monday night, so hopefully, that’s enough time for Green to rest up and get that shoulder good enough to return. Every game Green misses is an opportunity for Jordan Bell to shine.
Rudy Gobert (C – UTA)
Only two minutes into his sixth game back, Rudy Gobert went down with a knee injury and had to be helped off the court. It didn’t look good when it happened, but luckily, he was able to eventually get back to the locker room, albeit with a decent limp, under his own power. Initial evaluations listed it as a grade 1 PCL sprain, and a subsequent MRI confirmed that Saturday afternoon. Gobert is likely going to miss the next 3-4 weeks of action, but we’ll know more when he’s re-evaluated in two weeks. While he’s out, both Derrick Favors’ and Ekpe Udoh’s values will increase.
Kristaps Porzingis (PF/C – NYK)
The Unicorn can’t seem to shake this knee soreness he’s been experiencing this season. He left Thursday’s game early and wasn’t able to suit up last night against the Thunder. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but the fact that it keeps lingering is a little worrisome. For now, consider him day-to-day and questionable for Monday.
Clint Capela (PF/C – HOU)
A heel injury forced Clint Capella to the sideline for the first time this season. Luckily, it’s not considered serious, and he should return Monday or Wednesday, assuming there are no setbacks. Capela has been one of the biggest risers in fantasy this season, so thankfully this isn’t a serious injury.
Steven Adams (C – OKC)
Near the end of overtime Friday night against the 76ers, Adams caught an elbow to the face from Joel Embiid and suffered a concussion. These concussions are always tricky to gauge. For now, he’s considered day-to-day.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask me there.