Speculating ahead of the looming trade deadline, which is next Thursday afternoon, can prove rewarding for fantasy managers. For instance, Golden State's roster is ripe for some deals, particularly given that Alec Burks, who has been quite productive on a one-year deal with no team control past this season, is likely to be dealt.
Sifting through last night's box score from the Warriors' loss in Boston, we find Glenn Robinson III continuing to shine in a busy role as a perimeter scorer for Golden State. Robinson and fellow wing Damion Lee both scored 11 points in the loss and each topped 28 minutes of exposure, meaning we can look for them to earn more usage if Burks is moved. Former lottery selection Marquese Chriss also merits mention, as he's rostered in just shy of 15% of ESPN leagues and is already earning more burn since Willie Cauley-Stein's departure to Dallas.
Even if Golden State's roster doesn't appeal to you or your fantasy team's needs, rosters such as Detroit's, where Reggie Jackson could ascend if Derrick Rose is dealt, or San Antonio's, where Lonnie Walker IV could shine if Derrick White is moved, could prove helpful. The larger point is to begin leveraging those depth spots on your fantasy roster to speculate as the rumors build and develop into actual deals.
• Young became just the second player in NBA history to average 30 PPG and 15 APG over a five-game span, joining Nate Archibald in 1972, per Elias. Young netted his 33rd career game with at least 30 points in downing Philly last night, breaking a tie with Shaquille O'Neal for the fifth-most 30-point games before turning 22. Atlanta also enjoyed another promising showing from rookie Cam Reddish, who continues to prove helpful off the pine for the Hawks.
• Utah has lost three straight after winning 19 of 22, but reserve Jordan Clarkson did his best to keep the Jazz competitive against Denver last night by scoring 37 points, the second-highest tally of his career and the most by a Jazz player off the pine since Thurl Bailey scored 38 back in the spring of 1988. Clarkson isn't consistent enough to roster in standard ESPN leagues, but is making a push for relevance in deeper formats.
• In the win over Utah, the Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. was impressive with an efficient double-double in just 25 minutes of play. Back in action after dealing with some back soreness, MPJ is a fun addition to consider for the stretch run.
• The 76ers' Shake Milton earned a rare start with Al Horford resting in Atlanta and produced a career-high 27 points, but like Clarkson, will be of help only in truly deep leagues given his variant offensive role.
• Arguably the top All-Star snub from Thursday's release of reserve selections, the Wizards' Bradley Beal finished last night's victory over the Hornets one rebound and one dime shy of a triple-double. I don't often chase narratives, but I do buy one that suggests Beal is going to be a statistical monster in the wake of being left off the All-Star roster. Deeper into the Wizards' rotation, Isaiah Thomas scored 18 points on 14 shots on Thursday and now has scored in double figures in five straight games, his third-longest such streak of the season.
Injuries of note
Analytics advantage for Friday
The Mavericks' Luka Doncic will miss tonight's Texas tilt with Houston to an ankle injury suffered in a recent practice. The analytical insight for today stems from Doncic's absence, as he's among the league leaders in usage rate.
No single player on Dallas will replicate Doncic's busy role, but the numbers suggest that Tim Hardaway Jr. earns a team-high 4 percent leap in usage rate (estimate of team possessions he consumes) whenever Doncic is off the floor. Delon Wright is also expected to take on more passing and rebounding duties sans Doncic, while sharpshooter Seth Curry also sees a sizable boost in opportunity rates in such scenarios, confirming that this trio makes for solid streaming candidates for Friday's slate.
Top players to watch on Friday
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant will square off for the first time in their NBA careers in New Orleans on Friday evening. In Zion's absence, Morant became the betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
The Pelicans have certainly felt the positive impact Zion has on the team when he's on the court. In the 96 minutes he's played thus far, the Pelicans have outscored their opponents by 26 points. New Orleans has been outscored by eight points with Zion on the bench over the past four games.
Catching Morant in the ROY race might be tough to do, as the Grizzlies rookie is making history of his own. He is on pace to become the seventh rookie to average 17 points and seven assists per game in NBA history. He would join Trae Young, Allen Iverson, Damon Stoudamire, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.