Fantasy basketball fanatics can breathe a sigh of relief as the NBA sprang back into action on Thursday night. As expected, a few teams have looked different with tank efforts in full effect. This article will recap some of the latest news and rotation changes, and there is no doubt it will be more important than ever to follow news as teams out of playoff contention race to the bottom.
Despite not entering the starting lineup, the clear winner of the Bulls tanking efforts and shift in their starting lineup is Bobby Portis. His fantasy stock was already on the rise, as his opportunity in terms of both minutes and field goal attempts have been on the rise. In the last three games prior to the break, he recorded 12, 17, and 14 field goal attempts respectively. On Thursday, he saw 34 minutes on the floor and jacked up 26 shots. With Robin Lopez out of the rotation and Cristiano Felicio looking ineffective, Portis should maintain a big role even if that doesn’t translate to 26 field goal attempts per game.
Other players with role increases include David Nwaba and Cameron Payne, with the former entering the starting lineup and the latter joining the rotation for the first time this season. Both were strong on Thursday against the Sixers, though they are still more players to watch rather than pick up except in deeper formats.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have apparently finally made the move that many have been begging for as Jarrett Jack drew a DNP-CD, opening up minutes for Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, and Trey Burke. Burke took advantage on night one, taking 22 shots and scoring 26 points. Meanwhile, Nkilitina showcased his ability to rack up defensive stats and Mudiay put up a well-rounded performance. The three will likely be inconsistent on which stands out on a night-to-night basis, but it appears that they should each have the chance to produce down the stretch.
Of course, Jack wasn’t the only player to lose playing time as a result of this shift for the Knicks. Courtney Lee, Enes Kanter and Michael Beasley all appear to be in for a hit to their minutes to close the season. Of course, one game is a small sample so depending on specific situation it would make sense to hang onto them for a few more games.
The Hawks didn’t conduct the highly anticipated firesale of their roster at the trade deadline, though they are slowly moving veterans off their team with buyouts. The first was Marco Belinelli (now a member of the 76ers) with Ersan Ilyasova coming shortly. That combination of moves will open up minutes for a number of inexperienced players, each carrying different levels of fantasy potential.
It would be burying the lede not to address John Collins first. Though he still only attempted six field goals, Collins played 30 minutes on Friday night against the Pacers, marking only the fourth time he has played 30 minutes in his rookie campaign. He should be in line to close the season strong and is still widely available in ESPN leagues. Deandre Bembry was the other beneficiary from the absence of Ilyasova and Belinelli on Friday as he drew 26 minutes. His per 36 numbers aren’t especially impressive, though for deeper leagues his potential defensive contributions are worth considering. However, he can be ignored in most league formats.
Though Dewayne Dedmon is still on the Hawks’ roster, he played just 12 minutes on Friday night without any reported injury. Though it’s unclear if this will continue moving forward, Mike Muscala and Miles Plumlee were both the beneficiaries of his benching. Much like Bembry, Plumlee is basically a non-asset for fantasy purposes. On the other hand, Muscala is a sneaky candidate to provide triple-one production down the stretch. His scoring will be nowhere near elite, but he could provide well-rounded production if he maintains minutes.
I’ll continue to monitor rotation changes throughout the week when there is a little more game action to go off of and will be back next week to fill you in with all the latest news.
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