In a fitting tribute to a franchise legend on Monday evening, Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander joined Russell Westbrook as the only guards with a 20-rebound triple-double over the past 30 seasons.
In the win over the reeling Timberwolves, Gilgeous-Alexander became the youngest player (21 years, 185 days) with a 20-rebound triple-double in NBA history, this while entering the contest with just one game with at least 10 rebounds in his career.
As a central part of the haul from the surprising late-night Paul George deal with the Clippers back in July, Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a key building block for the Thunder and for fantasy managers in keeper and dynasty formats.
On the losing side for Minnesota, we continue to find Shabazz Napier starting over Jeff Teague and proving respectable in such a role. After enduring a scoring lull the past several games, Napier bounced back with 16 points and nine combined assists and rebounds on Monday and is found in free agency in nearly 95% of ESPN leagues.
We also find promising rookie combo guard Jarrett Culver earning more opportunities with the Wolves lately; the Texas Tech product produced 14 points on a team-high 15 shots from the floor last night and could claim even more offensive usage deeper into the season as the team heads towards a top spot in the lottery.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings: 5 points (2-8 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 TO
Even with Marvin Bagley III back in the rotation, Sacramento's stretch forward Nemanja Bjelica continues to shine as a scoring source for the Kings. Last night, "Belly" tallied a career-high 34 points, thanks to sinking a career-best eight 3-pointers.
Dwight Howard delivered a vintage performance for the Lakers on Monday against a depleted Cleveland frontcourt to the tune of 21 points and 15 rebounds, becoming the only Laker in the past 30 seasons with as many points and boards in 25 minutes or less. This is likely just an outlier surge for Howard but makes him an intriguing streaming play whenever facing poor rebounding opponents, especially when Anthony Davis is sidelined.
Okafor set a new season-high in rebounds and is proving that he, and not rookie Jaxson Hayes, is the intriguing interim play whenever Derrick Favors is down. With Jrue Holiday ailing, Lonzo Ball finished one assist shy of a triple-double for the second straight outing and has finally found his footing with the Pelicans.
In the loss to New Orleans, Detroit's exciting rookie Sekou Doumbouya produced 16 points and eight rebounds and has consistently proved to be effective on the glass. It was a good game for the Pistons' complementary players, as Bruce Brown -- who now has point guard eligibility in ESPN leagues -- delivered five dimes and has some nice defensive rates over the past month. The true statistical star for Detroit was Christian Wood, who tallied 18 points and nine pulls to go with five combined steals and blocks. Wood is a stellar free-agent target in all formats with Blake Griffin sidelined.
Even as they continue to struggle into the new year, Chicago is at least getting strong play from scoring savant Zach LaVine, who poured in 30 points against the Celtics last night and is averaging 30.1 PPG in January thus far.
Injuries of note
Orlando's Aaron Gordon returned to the floor for the Magic on Mondays and played 30 minutes seemingly without restriction and nearly notched an efficient double-double.
Detroit's coaching staff suggested shooting guard Luke Kennard might not return from a knee injury until after the All-Star break.
The Clippers' Paul George will miss tonight's meeting with the Cavaliers due to a hamstring ailment that has sidelined him the past several games.
Analytics advantage for Tuesday
While I delve into some amazing scoring achievements produced by Houston's prolific James Harden in the section below, it's also worth focusing on the fringe contributors in this contest.
The analytical advantage present in this matchup focuses on the fact Houston and Memphis love to push the tempo, as the Rockets sit second in the NBA in pace (104.2 possessions per 48 minutes) and the Grizzlies rank third in the league in pace with 103.7 possessions per 48 minutes.
Thus, we find tonight's matchup with the highest opening total of the slate at a robust 238 points, the highest mark by at least 13.5 points for Tuesday's six-game schedule.
This signals value for the likes of PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, Jae Crowder, Brandon Clarke, Dillon Brooks and even Ben McLemore for tonight's contest. In both DFS and redraft play, this game proves quite fantasy friendly.
Top players to watch on Tuesday
Harden faces Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies in a matchup that offers the bearded one another shot at creating NBA history. Harden, after all, is averaging 50.3 PPG over his past four games against the Grizzlies dating back to last season. No really.
Harden has scored at least 43 points in each of those games and would be the first player since the merger with 40 points in five straight games against a single opponent. Only three players have done so in NBA history: Wilt Chamberlain (10 different times), Elgin Baylor (six straight vs. 76ers) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six straight vs Celtics).