One of my favorite concepts in fantasy sports is that of the post-hype sleeper. Marquese Chriss of the Golden State Warriors embodies the concept, as he's a former lottery pick of the Phoenix Suns who lost some of his luster after a few disappointing seasons in the NBA, only to re-emerge as a surprisingly productive contributor from the Warriors' frontcourt this season.
Just last night, Chriss returned to the floor from a minor calf injury to deliver 21 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to the Kings. In addition to scoring in double figures in seven of his past eight outings, Chriss has at least nine rebounds in four of his past five games. In the month of February alone, he has had five games with multiple blocks. Fantasy managers seeking support in the frontcourt should note that Chriss is a free agent in roughly 60% of ESPN leagues.
Damion Lee also continues to produce solid lines for Golden State, as he tallied 14 points and 10 combined assists and rebounds on Tuesday. The wing has averaged 17 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 3.0 3PG, and 1.4 SPG during his past five games. Despite this recent run of solid statistics, for some reason he remains a free agent in nearly 80% of ESPN leagues.
In Chicago's loss to the Thunder last night, LaVine finished one field goal shy of becoming first Bulls player with 20 made field goals in a single game since Michael Jordan achieved the feat back in April of 1997. The key fantasy story from Chicago remains Coby White who, on Tuesday, became the first player in Bulls history with five made 3-pointers in three consecutive contests. White and LaVine also became the first duo this season to both score 35 points in a loss. White is currently a free agent in more than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Sabonis tallied a career-best plus-minus of +39 in Indiana's drubbing of the Hornets last night. He continues to prove he's a fantasy superstar with such robust lines. Myles Turner continues to struggle on offense, but he did register eight blocks last night, good for the most by any Pacers player since Roy Hibbert back in the fall of 2013.
Denver's Jerami Grant isn't as fun of a fantasy force now that Paul Millsap is back in the mix, but he did deliver a career-high 29 points off the bench last night for Denver. That's the most bench points by any Nuggets player since Will Barton in 2017.
If Damian Lillard's groin injury keeps him sidelined for several more weeks, CJ McCollum could become a league-winning fantasy force given that he has averaged 32 PPG during his past three outings without his All-Star teammate.
Zion Williamson was stellar in a loss to LeBron James and the Lakers last night, producing at least 20 points for a ninth consecutive game. That ties him for the longest such streak by a teenager in NBA history (Carmelo Anthony did that twice in 2003-04). Williamson has also now tied Luka Doncic (2018-19) and Anthony (2003-04) for the NBA record for consecutive 25-point games by a teenager with five.
Injuries of note
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday afternoon that Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has a nerve impingement in his lower back and is expected to be sidelined for an extended period of time.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
Diagnosed with a broken wrist, Karl-Anthony Towns remains out for the Timberwolves for tonight's matchup in Miami. Streaming shares of Juan Hernangomez and James Johnson are now interesting, given their recent success without Towns. During the past five games, Hernangomez leads the Wolves with 13.8 rebounding chances (defined as being within 3.5 feet of available rebounds). Johnson, meanwhile, has tallied 32 points and 10 rebounds thanks to a surge in both minutes and usage across his past two appearances. He could be a fun "plug-and-play option" facing his former team this evening.
Top players to watch Wednesday
Ja Morant and the young Grizzlies have slowed down lately after an awesome January but remain an exciting team to watch. Memphis heads to Houston and will face a "small-ball" Rockets roster in a game that should be played at a healthy pace. In fact, Vegas predicts it to be the second-highest point total of Wednesday's slate. Seeing how Russell Westbrook and James Harden match up with Morant and Dillon Brooks will be worth watching closely.