The rebuilding Houston Rockets have now won consecutive games for the first time this season thanks to a win over the Charlotte Hornets in an epic overtime battle on Saturday. The game featured the second-most made 3-pointers in NBA history and Houston's Kevin Porter Jr. finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
Porter has all of the ingredients necessary to become an interim statistical star, especially with top pick Jalen Green missing time due to a hamstring injury. Another key element driving Porter's recent surge -- 21 assists over his last two games -- is, simply, more playing time. He has averaged 39.4 minutes in his last two games, with a Westbrookian 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 10.5 dimes. Admittedly, it has also come with 5.0 turnovers per game, but such is the tax due on high-usage creators.
Porter is rostered in just 57.5% of ESPN leagues, despite flashing serious triple-double abilities in the second half of last season and again over the past weekend.
Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles Lakers: 0 points (0-7 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists
The Cleveland Cavaliers got top pick Evan Mobley back in the lineup over the weekend, but it was encouraging to see Lauri Markkanen remain productive. The stretch forward has averaged 18.7 points and 8.0 boards in three games since he returned to the lineup. With Mobley back in the fold on Saturday, Markkanen started and lofted a team-high eight 3-pointers, proving he can indeed co-exist with the Rookie of the Year candidate.
The New York Knicks run a deep and often vexing rotation for fantasy purposes, but Alec Burks is beginning to differentiate himself as a helpful shooting and scoring option. Burks shined as a spot-starter over the weekend, but has also thrived as a "microwave" off the bench recently, averaging 15.3 points, 2.8 3-pointers and 1.8 steals over his past six games. If Tom Thibodeau trusts Burks, maybe we should too.
The Milwaukee Bucks signed DeMarcus Cousins over the weekend. The team has been without Brook Lopez as he deals with a back injury, so Cousins could provide some needed size in the paint. There's likely not much here from a fantasy perspective, however, save for how Cousins might limit the value of Bobby Portis, who has thrived in recent weeks.
Injuries of note
In a scary scene on Friday, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies suffered a knee injury in a loss to the Hawks. We'll learn more about Morant's injury in the coming days. Until then, scooping up Dillon Brooks could make sense. The shooting guard paced the team in shots on Sunday without Morant in the lineup. Tyus Jones started at point guard and delivered eight assists, but I'm more intrigued but the upside of De'Anthony Melton as a creator with his star teammate sidelined.
Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the Pelicans announced on Friday evening. While there's still no official timeline for his return, it's encouraging to note some progress.
Warriors swingman Klay Thompson participated in a full team practice on Tuesday for the first time since the 2019 Finals. A return around Christmas appears realistic.
Atlanta keeps getting hit with injuries on the perimeter. Bogdan Bogdanovic suffered a sprained ankle and will miss a few weeks, while Cam Reddish has a sprained wrist. Gallinari and Kevin Huerter figure to play larger roles in the rotation.
Analytics advantage for Monday
Do you remember when Chris Boucher had seven blocks against the Spurs last season? Well, he did. Toronto's slim rim protector went on to finish sixth in total blocks last season while providing impressive fantasy value.
On Friday night, Washington's Daniel Gafford posted eight blocks against the Thunder, pushing him to seventh in total blocks and fourth in swats per game this season. While he doesn't possess the shooting prowess that helped Boucher become a 3-and-D source last season, Gafford's efficient scoring, solid rebounding, and this atypically great block rate merits more interest from fantasy managers.
Rostered in just around 12% of ESPN leagues, Gafford plays the Spurs this evening and could shine in rim protection against a team that features several interior scorers.
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers: While going after the Pacers' point guard on the second leg of a back-to-back isn't ideal, Brogdon is due for a bounce-back in assist production. He will face a Minnesota team light on defensive guard depth.