This article is part of our NBA Daily Recap series.
Welcome to another edition of Around the Association. Wednesday night's eight-game slate was full of monster performances, clutch shots and impressive rookie showings. Unfortunately, we also saw numerous players exit their respective games early.
Without further ado, let's dive into to a wild Wednesday night slate.
Celtics' Stars Explode
- Boston was able to power to a 125-114 win over New Orleans behind a strong performance from its All-Star duo. Jaylen Brown was specifically on one in the win, totaling a new season-best 41 points (15-21 FG, 3-6 3Pt, 8-9 FT) to go with 12 rebounds and one block across 35 minutes of action. Brown currently sits as the 33rd overall nine-category fantasy option this year.
- Jayson Tatum also got involved in the scoring action, producing 31 points (10-22 FG, 3-8 3Pt, 8-10 FT), 10 rebounds, four assists and one steal across 35 minutes of play. This outing marked Tatum's third consecutive contest with at least 30 points and less than two turnovers.
- Malcolm Brogdon continues to bolster his case for the Sixth Man of the Year award, finishing with 20 points (7-11 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 4-4 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals over 26 minutes of play. Across his last five outings, Brogdon is averaging 17.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists while ranking as the 45th overall nine-category fantasy asset.
- CJ McCollum continues to provide scoring in bunches for the shorthanded Pelicans. The veteran guard recorded 38 points (15-24 FG, 6-12 3Pt, 2-5 FT), four rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal across 34 minutes. McCollum is off to a great start to 2023, averaging 30.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.0 blocks across his first five showings of the new year. While McCollum is playing at a truly elite level, this may not be the worst time to sell high with Brandon Ingram (toe) and Zion Williamson (knee) eventually making their returns to the lineup.
- My definition of the most underrated player in the league constantly changes as the season progresses, but right now my answer would be Naji Marshall. The 23-year-old forward dropped in 18 points (6-15 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 4-4 FT), seven rebounds, three assists and one block across 37 minutes. Marshall has started the Pelicans' last five showings, averaging 19.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals over 35.0 minutes per outing.
Kuz for the Win
- Washington was able to complete an impressive comeback Wednesday, storming back from down over 15 points in the second half to defeat the Bulls 100-97. Kyle Kuzma played the hero for the Wizards, drilling a tough three-pointer in the final seconds of the contest. Kuzma finished the game with 21 points (9-20 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT), four rebounds and three assists across 38 minutes. This marked the 27-year-old's third time topping the 20-point mark in his last four appearances.
- Zach LaVine had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but after expecting a foul to be called, he anti-climatically shot an off-balance two-pointer to end the game. Despite the late-game blunder, LaVine still recorded 38 points (15-28 FG, 4-11 3Pt, 4-7 FT), five rebounds, two assists and two steals across 41 minutes. This marked LaVine's third outing with 36 or more points in his last four showings. If DeMar DeRozan (quadriceps) is forced to miss more time, LaVine is a fantastic fantasy option in all formats.
Star Guards Exit Early
- While Wednesday may have brought us some exciting basketball, it certainly was not a great night for injuries across the league. Let's break down some of the more notable injuries Wednesday
- Tyrese Haliburton
- The All-Star candidate exited Indiana's contest in the third quarter due to a sore knee and had to leave the game on crutches. Haliburton has only missed two games all season but could be looking at an extended absence.
- T.J. McConnell emerges as a candidate to receive more opportunities if Haliburton is forced to miss time. The veteran point guard saw his second-most minutes of the season Wednesday, finishing with 14 points (6-11 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 2-2 FT), eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals over 26 minutes of action.
- Jamal Murray
- Just as Murray was looking more and more like his old self, the 25-year-old exited Wednesday's 126-97 beatdown over the Suns early after spraining his ankle. Prior to exiting, Murray had totaled 16 points (6-13 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 2-3 FT), two rebounds and six assists across 25 minutes. It would not be surprising to see Denver move with caution regarding Murray moving forward.
- Bones Hyland and Bruce Brown emerge as the main options to receive more usage if Murray is unable to suit up for Denver's next few outings. Hyland was especially on one in Wednesday's win, drilling his first five triples while totaling 21 points (7-12 FG, 5-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT), one rebound, four assists and one steal over 24 minutes of play.
- Tyrese Haliburton
Brunson Keeps Balling
- Jalen Brunson continues to play the best basketball of his career as he guided the Knicks to a 119-113 win over the Pacers. The 26-year-old guard finished with 34 points (11-20 FG, 3-4 3P5, 9-9 FT), three rebounds and four assists across 42 minutes. Across Brunson's last five outings, the first-year Knick is averaging 33.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists while guiding the team to a 4-1 record.
- RJ Barrett made his return to the court after missing the Knicks' last five contests. The forward ended with 27 points (9-23 FG, 4-12 3Pt, 5-6 FT), eight rebounds and four assists over 41 minutes. It will be interesting to see if Barrett can pick up where he left off, averaging 21.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists across his 13 appearances in December.
- Buddy Hield dropped in a new season-best 31 points (11-20 FG, 7-15 3Pt, 2-2 FT) while adding eight rebounds and one steal over 32 minutes during the defeat. The veteran sharpshooter is starting to find a scoring groove for the Pacers, topping 20 points in three out of his last four outings. While it would not be surprising to see the Pacers hold onto Hield, the 30-year-old is a name to watch out for come the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
- Myles Turner (back spasms) was a late scratch in this one, but even more surprisingly James Johnson got the start in his place. The 35-year-old big only saw 13 minutes of action, finishing with zero points (0-1 FG), three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. For now, Johnson is simply a name to monitor as this marked his first time seeing the court in Indiana's past six outings.
Bucks Hang on in Atlanta
- After being down 24 points to the Bucks early in the third quarter, the Hawks were able to storm back to make Wednesday's contest a closely contested battle. Atlanta even took the lead with under four minutes remaining on a Bogdan Bogdanovic jumper. However, Milwaukee's stars responded late and pushed through for a 114-105 victory.
- Jrue Holiday must like playing against family. The veteran point guard shined against his two brothers, totaling 27 points (10-21 FG, 3-8 3Pt, 4-4 FT), four rebounds, five assists and two steals over 34 minutes of play. This marked Holiday's first time topping 20 points since his return to the lineup from a non-COVID illness.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo neared a triple-double in the win, but surprisingly fell short in the scoring department, ending with just seven points (3-10 FG, 1-4 FT), 18 rebounds, 10 assists and one block across 35 minutes. While the two-time MVP did stuff the stat sheet, this performance easily marked Antetokounmpo's lowest-scoring outing of the year.
- Grayson Allen exited Wednesday's win early with an ankle injury. Jevon Carter finished out the game for the Bucks and would appear to be the biggest benefactor if Allen is forced to miss time. The West Virginia product drilled a clutch triple late while producing 13 points (4-7 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 1-2 FT), two rebounds, two steals and one block over 22 minutes off the bench.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic got things done for the short-handed Hawks, producing 22 points (9-18 FG, 3-8 3Pt, 1-2 FT), three rebounds, five assists and two steals over 40 minutes. While the 30-year-old guard is more than capable of providing big scoring nights, his overall inconsistency makes him a hard fantasy option to trust in all formats.
- Ja Morant looked fresh during his return to the court after missing three straight games due to a thigh injury. The All-Star guard dropped in 38 points (14-25 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 7-9 FT), five rebounds, four assists and one block across 32 minutes during Memphis' 135-129 win over the Spurs. Morant is now averaging 34.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.0 steals across his six outings this season with at least three days of rest prior.
- Steven Adams is coming for that rebounding title. The veteran center dropped 11 points (5-7 FG, 1-2 FT), 18 rebounds, five assists, one steal and three blocks across 33 minutes during the win. Adams now has at least 15 rebounds in six out of his last seven appearances while averaging 10.3 points and 16.4 rebounds over that span.
- Keldon Johnson (hamstring) also made his return to the court during Wednesday's matchup between San Antonio and Memphis. The 23-year-old ended with 24 points (6-17 FG, 1-7 3Pt, 11-12 FT), four rebounds, three assists and one block across 35 minutes of play. Excluding the game that Johnson went down with his injury, the Kentucky product has topped 20 points in five straight showings for the Spurs.
- Domantas Sabonis came just short of a triple-double during Sacramento's 135-115 win over the Rockets. The All-Star hopeful finished with 25 points (9-12 FG, 7-9 FT), 14 rebounds and nine assists in 38 minutes. Sabonis is averaging 20.2 points, 13.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists across his first six games of the new year, good for the 35th overall nine-category option over that span.
- Trey Lyles was a key factor for Sacramento late in the win, recording 15 points while making all five of his field-goal attempts in the final quarter. The veteran forward finished the contest with 20 points (6-8 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 5-6 FT), seven rebounds and two blocks across 21 minutes. This marked a new season-best in scoring for Lyles.
- Keegan Murray continues to be aggressive from three-point land, ending with 16 points (5-14 FG, 4-11 3Pt, 2-2 FT), six rebounds and two assists over 34 minutes. The Iowa product now has drilled at least four threes in three consecutive contests, averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 4.3 three-pointers on a 59.1 percent clip over that span.
- Kevin Porter exited Wednesday's loss to Sacramento early with a left foot contusion. While the exact extent of the injury is not exactly known, Garrison Mathews figures to see an increase in usage if Porter is forced to miss time. Mathews ended Wednesday's defeat with 12 points (4-8 FG, 4-6 3Pt), two rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal across 18 minutes. This marked Mathew's most time seeing the court since he played 21 minutes on November 30.
- Jalen Green also emerges as a candidate to see his numbers increase if Porter is unable to suit up for the time being. The second-year pro finished with a team-best 26 points (9-25 FG, 3-12 3Pt, 5-7 FT), five rebounds and three assists in 39 minutes. Despite the solid performance, this outing did mark yet another rough shooting display from Green. Over Green's last five outings, the 20-year-old is averaging 20.2 points per game but is shooting just 32.3 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from three.
- Alperen Sengun became the youngest Rocket and the youngest center ever to record a triple-double, ending with 10 points (5-9 FG, 0-1 FT), 10 rebounds, 10 assists and one steal across 28 minutes. This feels like what could be the first of many for the 20-year-old center.
- Saddiq Bey shined in Detroit's 135-118 upset win over the Timberwolves, finishing with 31 points (10-16 FG, 4-6 3Pt, 7-8 FT), six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 38 minutes. This marked Bey's first outing of the year with at least 30 points. Bey now has three games with over 17 points and three games with under 10 points out of his last six appearances. Overall, the wing's inconsistency makes him one tough option to trust in fantasy lineups going forward.
- Jaden Ivey impressed me with some thrilling dimes in Detroit's win while totaling 18 points (7-11 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 2-4 FT), four rebounds, eight assists and three steals. The rookie guard is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists across 29.8 minutes per game over his first six games to begin 2023.
- Rudy Gobert dropped his fourth straight double-double with 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-6 FT), 14 rebounds and two steals over 32 minutes. The big man is averaging 19.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks across his recent double-double streak, though the blocks production remains disappointing for fantasy managers.
- Anthony Edwards came into Wednesday questionable with a hip injury and even left the contest in the first half. However, the high-flying guard was able to return and finish with 20 points (8-18 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT), one rebound and six assists in 24 minutes. Edwards has now scored at least 20 points in 12 out of his last 13 showings, averaging 26.2 points, 6.5 boards, 5.1 assists, 2.6 threes and 1.2 steals over that stretch.
Best and Worst of the Night
- Stud of the Night: Jaylen Brown - 41 points (15-21 FG, 3-6 3Pt, 8-9 FT) to go with 12 rebounds and one block across 35 minutes.
- Dud of the Night: Romeo Langford - Three points (1-7 FG, 1-2 3Pt), two rebounds and three assists across 18 minutes.
- Rookie of the Night: Jaden Ivey - 18 points (7-11 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 2-4 FT), four rebounds, eight assists and three steals.