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For my first Daily Dose magic trick of the season, I will attempt to make all three of Thursday night’s games appear to be scintillating and exciting, all while not slicing my gorgeous assistant in half with a sword. Actually, I don’t think there’s any magic that will help make the Hawks and Heat’s blowout wins look exciting, unless, of course, you are a fan of the Hawks or Heat. In any case, in addition to two blowouts, we also got a classic Stephen Curry/Warriors game in their thrilling win over the Clippers. Here’s what matters in fantasy.
Hawks 113, Mavericks 87 – The Hawks and Mavs made their season debuts on Thursday, and I was actually in attendance with my son. He was wearing a Luka Doncic jersey and I was wearing a Braves shirt. Let’s just say things didn’t really work out for either of us, although I was happy to see the Hawks play so well and win in their opener. Shout out to Boris Diaw, who was sitting a seat down from us. My son, with a little help from Matt Stroup, recognized him from playing NBA2K. He told Diaw that he loved playing him in 2K and that “he’s awesome.” Later on, I said how about the power of 2K, to which Diaw said “I knew he wasn’t old enough to watch me play. It’s pretty cool.”
Trae Young got off to a really slow start but was able to turn it on in the second half and finished with 19 points, two rebounds, 14 assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 6-of-16 shooting. John Collins was fun with 16 points, nine boards, three assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting, Clint Capela did his thing with 12 points, 13 assists and two blocks on 6-of-6 shooting, and Bogdan Bogdanovic was active, but a little quiet, with 11 points, three boards, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers. But the Hawks are deep and it’s going to be tough for anyone but Trae to really be a fantasy beast from night-to-night. But the two guys I found most impressive last night were Cam Reddish (off the bench) and starter DeAndre’ Hunter. Reddish was instant offense off the pine with 20 points and three 3-pointers on 7-of-15 shooting in 21 minutes, and Hunter’s defense (mainly vs. Luka) was on full display all night to go along with his 11 points, three boards, steal, two blocks and 3-pointer. I’m just going to say it – Hunter’s defense might be the key to the entire Hawks’ season, and he should already be rostered in most fantasy leagues. The Hawks are simply too deep for Reddish to be relied upon every night in terms of fantasy right now, but he should at least be on your radar. If he does this another time or two in their next couple games he’ll emerge as a hot pickup, although he might nearly be there already. Again, the Hawks depth is great for the Hawks, but not great for fantasy usage. But both guys were fun to watch last night. Danilo Gallinari didn’t play as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury and his return could negatively impact Reddish.
The Mavs just couldn’t hang with the Hawks’ depth in the second half and ended up getting run out of the gym, suffering their worst opening-night loss since 1991. To put that in perspective, I wasn’t married at that time, but I’m quickly approaching my 30th wedding anniversary. Like Trae, Luka Doncic got off to a slow start but managed to finish with 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 6-of-17 shooting with five turnovers, four of which came in the first half. However, in a bit of positive news, he hit all four of his free throws. Unfortunately, I made a roster move in Yahoo! via the waivers process and my entire lineup was reset for the week, so I had Luka and Collins on the bench last night. I simply didn’t have time to screw with it yesterday and I get burned like that at least once per season. Maybe I’ll learn one day, as it’s standard operating procedure there. I’m just so busy that once I set my lineup, I tend to just let It ride. And that’s dumb of me, as I got burned in both of my NBC Sports Edge leagues. But it’s totally my fault, and not Yahoo!’s.
The Mavs shot a miserable 33 percent from the floor last night and only Jalen Brunson managed to hit more than 50 percent of his shots for any player who took more than three of them. Brunson had 17 points, three boards, three assists and three 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting, but keep in mind that this game was a blowout. I was happy for him, as the last time he played in Atlanta he suffered an injury that lingered with him for a long time. Kristaps Porzingis hit just 4-of-13 shots for 11 points, five rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and Tim Hardaway Jr. hit 4-of-9 shots and two 3-pointers for 14 points, two rebounds and a steal. The Mavericks are going to throw this box score into the garbage and look ahead to visiting the Raptors on Saturday, and you should do the same. Jason Kidd’s start as the Mavs’ coach was rough, but he wasn’t the one shooting the ball.
Heat 137, Bucks 95 – Speaking of blowouts, my son and I noticed the score pop up at State Farm Arena for this one – 40-17 in favor of the Heat at the end of the first quarter. What? The Heat never let up, winning every quarter and blowing the champs out of the gym and into the warm Miami night. Tyler Herro led the way with 27 points, six boards, five assists and four 3-pointers on 10-of-18 and might be the most underrated player in the league. Jimmy Butler hit 6-of-10 shots and 9-of-11 freebies for 21 points, four boards, six assists and a steal, and Bam Adebayo added 20 points, 13 rebounds and a steal on 9-of-13 shooting. He had just one assist, which was a little weird, but then again, he said in the preseason that he was worried about Kyle Lowry stealing all of his dimes. Lowry was quiet with just five points and six assists, but also had a steal, block and 3-pointer on 1-of-8 shooting. He should bounce back quickly and continue to steal Bam’s dimes Duncan Robinson hit just 3-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers and it’s going to be tough for both him and Herro to go off on the same night, while Dewayne Dedmon came through with 13 points and nine boards in just 15 minutes off the bench.
The Bucks got 15 points, 10 boards, three steals and a 3-pointer from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Grayson Allen added 14 points and two 3-pointers, and Khris Middleton had a miserable night with 10 points and some other stuff on just 4-of-14 shooting. Jordan Nwora had some garbage time stats with 11 points, five boards, two assists and two 3-pointers, but hit just 3-of-12 shots. Nwora is a guy to keep an eye on, while Allen and Pat Connaughton should have some decent nights as long as Donte’ DiVincenzo is recovering from his ankle injury. But this Bucks’ box score is a tough one to look at, as well as a tough one to learn anything from. Brook Lopez sat this one out with a sore back and is day-ot-day, while Bobby Portis was out with a hamstring injury. Giannis actually started at center in a game that was over as soon as it started.
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Warriors 115, Clippers 113 – Stephen Curry bounced back from his “trash” shooting game to hit 16-of-25 shots, 8-of-13 3-pointers and 5-of-5 free throws for 45 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a block in the close win. He hit some big threes and free throws down the stretch and the 2-0 Warriors simply look like they’re back, even without Klay Thompson. If you took Curry with a Top 3 pick it looks like he’s going to be an MVP candidate as long as he can stay out of street clothes. Andrew Wiggins, whom I badly want to call ‘Andy’, had 17 points, six boards, three assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers, Draymond Green had 10 points, six boards, seven assists and a steal, and Damion Lee came off the bench for 11 points and a couple 3-pointers in the win. Draymond hit just 2-of-9 in a free-throw disaster while Jordan Poole cooled down with nine points and seven turnovers on 4-of-14 shooting. He should bounce back in the next one. Otto Porter was invisible with four points, seven rebounds and two dimes in just 18 minutes and I’m fine with dropping him for a hot free agent like Chris Duarte or Cam Reddish for now.
Not surprisingly, the Clippers were led by Paul George’s 29 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal and five 3-pointers on 12-of-23 shots. I took him in the first round of a couple leagues and he was another Yahoo! acquisition lineup casualty for me, unfortunately. Eric Bledsoe, who I also drafted late in a few leagues, was a pleasant surprise with 22 points, three boards, two assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 10-of-16 shooting. I think he’s going to have a productive season as long as Klay is out and is worth grabbing if he went undrafted in your league. Just don’t expect him to be quite this good every time out – he’s still Eric Bledsoe, after all. All five started scored in double figures and point guard Reggie Jackson came through with 11 points, five boards, six dimes, a steal and three 3-pointers, despite hitting just 4-of-19 shots. He’s another guy on waiver wires that deserves an early look. Terance Mann played 39 minutes off the bench but hit just 4-of-7 shots and two 3-pointers for 11 points, seven boards, three assists and a steal. If he keeps getting that kind of run, he’s going to be fun to roster once he puts it all together and he made some big plays last night. Luke Kennard was disappointing with just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes. I think he’s going to be more of a factor on most nights, but that might be tough if Mann’s going to get 39 minutes a night.
Shout out to my guys Dominique Wilkins and Reggie Miller who were named to the Top 75 NBA players of all time last night. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get over ‘Nique being left off the original Top 50 list, which was a crime.
Matt Stroup, Jonas Nader and yours truly will be hitting the podcast at noon on Friday to talk about Waiver Wire pickups so please plan on joining us or listening later. It’s going to be a fun one.