Despite losing his starting spot upon Kyle Lowry’s return to the starting lineup, Norman Powell insisted on keeping his fantasy stock relevant as a pure points-getter this past week. Powell managed to score 55 points off the bench in three games, squashing any worries that he’d succumb to his normally inefficient offensive role as the team’s sixth man.
While he isn’t first on many fantasy owners’ free-agent lists, he’s grinding out a nice place in Toronto’s offense that’s allowed him to become a reliable scoring option for Nick Nurse to turn to. Monday evening in Chicago, Powell really pulled out all the stops in his return to the starting five in place of the injured Fred VanVleet. He scored 17 points and added three assists and two steals in the grind-it-out win against the Bulls. Powell’s emergence is something to keep an eye on, as he could become a mainstay in the fantasy basketball world.
Marc Gasol has been a defensive stat machine these last few weeks. He’s averaging four assists and 2.5 combined steals and blocks per game in December, and just completed a ridiculous periphery-stat line of nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals against Chicago on Monday. He’s struggling to put points up or gobble up boards, but those secondary stats are critical when coming from the centre position. Add to it the fact that he’s made eight threes in six December games, and you have yourself something resembling a roster-worthy centre play.
His Spanish Basketball brother, Serge Ibaka, is also returning to form at just the right time. Ibaka has scored in double digits in each game since returning from injury. He averaged 12 points, six rebounds and 1.5 3PM in Week 7, adding in a few assists for good measure. His long range shot looks promising, but overall his field goal percentage has dipped drastically as he looks to shake off the rust of sitting out for a month.
On to the good stuff!
Line of the Week:
Kyle Lowry vs Philadelphia
Philly had no answer for a determined Kyle Lowry on Sunday, as he spearheaded a late push to get the Raptors back in the game despite being down by 20 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. KLOE returned in full force, knocking down clutch threes, playing voracious defense and really hunting the win in his home town. Unfortunately they fell just short, but fantasy owners don’t tally wins and losses, just stats!
Pick of the Week:
Rack it up Danny G!
Kyle Lowry vs. Brooklyn
I’m going with Kyle Lowry two weeks in a row here. His matchup against Spencer Dinwiddie (whom I spoke about last week) and the Nets backcourt is just too juicy to pass up. The Nets as a team allow 113 points per game to opposing offenses, and have a hard time defending the three point line. All of this points to a high scoring affair for Lowry and his club.
News Around the League:
The Cinderella star of the early season, Aron Baynes from Phoenix, flew too close to the Sun and has apparently been bit by the injury bug. After missing five games with a hip ailment, Baynes (suffering from a calf strain) was immediately sidelined for four more games in his first game back. Baynes had been a top ten centre play at the time of his first injury, but has plummeted both in stock and in ownership rates.
When he’s on the floor, he produces at a pretty high rate, but the problem in the immediate future is just that — his playing time. With De’Andre Ayton’s return looming, and the threat of small injuries, owners might fare better looking elsewhere for help.
That brings us to Nemanja Bjelica — a power forward currently lighting the nets on fire in Sacramento. If you need an immediate plug in for the week, look no further than Bjelica, a clunky 6’10” scoring machine. Nemanja is averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 “stocks” over his last five games, not including Monday evening’s 17 point, four assist and three steal outing (including the game winner) against the Rockets. In fantasy basketball, you never turn down a guy doing his best “Prime Chandler Parsons” impression — especially when those numbers come with 2.2 3PM per game.
The situation in Sacramento is pretty bleak at the moment. They aren’t winning games, and the lineup seems to be in a constant state of flux. With Marvin Bagley returning from a thumb injury soon, Bjelica appears to be making his case to remain with the starting group when Bagley does return. If he’s available in your league, go grab him and play him confidently this week as he auditions for a permanent starting spot.