This article is part of our NBA Daily Recap series.
Welcome back to another edition of Around the Association. This weekend we saw the returns of numerous All-Stars, dominating performances throughout and rookies starting to get more playing time.
Without further ado, let's dive in:
- Anthony Davis has been incredible all season for the Lakers, but the star big was on another level over the weekend. The 29-year-old began the weekend by dropping 44 points (18-27 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 6-7 FT), 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks over 40 minutes during Friday's 133-129 instant-classic win over the Bucks.
- Davis followed this up with 55 points (22-30 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 9-9 FT), 17 rebounds, one assist and three blocks in 38 minutes during Sunday's 130-119 victory over the Wizards. The 6-foot-10 force has now recorded at least 30 points in six out of his last nine appearances and furthered extended his lead as the No. 1 overall nine-category fantasy option this season. While Davis is playing at perhaps a career-best level, given his past injury record (80 missed games since the start of the 2020-21 season), this may be a great sell-high opportunity for the veteran big.
- Davis wasn't the only Lakers star to shine over the weekend with LeBron James averaging 28.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.5 steals across 35.5 minutes over Los Angeles' two victories. In his first six games since returning from his adductor injury, the future Hall-of-Famer is averaging 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.3 steals while ranking as the 15th overall nine-category option over that span. Winners of their past three games, things are trending upward for the Lakers.
Trail Blazers Win the Weekend
- The Trail Blazers had lots to celebrate this weekend. The team began it with Anfernee Simons exploding for a new career-high 45 points (15-25 FG, 7-12 3Pt, 8-8 FT) to go with four assists, two rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 41 minutes during Saturday's 116-111 win over the Jazz. Simons has taken his game to another level this year, averaging career-highs across the board with 24.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals across 37.1 minutes per game.
- Things got even better for Portland on Sunday when Lillard returned to the court after missing the team's previous seven games due to a calf injury. Portland walked away with a 116-100 win over the Pacers while Lillard finished with 21 points (7-16 FG, 5-10 3Pt), four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block. With the veteran point guard seeing over 30 minutes in his first contest back, I would feel very confident throwing Lillard back into all lineups in season-long fantasy formats.
- With Lillard back in the swing of things, Simons' and Grant's usage numbers should both take a dip.
- Simons with Lillard (12 GP): 21.1 points (17.7 FGA), 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds across 34.8 minutes per game.
- Simons without Lillard (10 GP): 29.0 points (21.0 FGA), 3.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists across 39.9 minutes per game
- Grant with Lillard (11 GP): 19.5 points (13.5 FGA), 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists across 35.7 minutes.
- Grant without Lillard (12 GP): 26.1 points (17.8 FGA), 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists across 36.9 minutes.
- With Lillard back in the swing of things, Simons' and Grant's usage numbers should both take a dip.
More Superstars Return
- Lillard was one of several All-Stars who returned to the floor this weekend:
- Jimmy Butler
- The 33-year-old missed Miami's last seven games due to a knee injury, but was able to return to court for Friday's matchup against Boston. The Heat were able to survive an absurd Jaylen Brown game-tying shot, while Butler ended 25 points (12-21 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-3 FT), 15 rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in 35 minutes.
- Jimmy Butler
- With Miami on an upcoming back-to-back set, Butler is questionable for Monday's contest against Memphis. On a per-game basis, Butler ranks as the 10th overall nine-category fantasy option this year.
- Khris Middleton
- After missing Milwaukee's first 20 games of the season, Middleton made his return to the floor finishing with 17 points (6-11 FG, 3-4 3Pt, 2-2 FT), seven assists and two rebounds in 27 minutes during Friday 133-129 loss to the Lakers. The veteran forward was held out of the Bucks' win against Charlotte on Saturday but is probable for Monday's contest against Orlando. While it would not surprise me to see the Bucks take things slower with the 31-year-old during their upcoming four-game week, I would still advise owners to place Middleton back into season-long lineups due to his rock-solid play.
- CJ McCollum
- The veteran guard made his return to New Orleans' lineup after missing four straight games due to COVID protocols. The veteran guard struggled all weekend averaging 6.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 22.7 percent shooting across 33.0 minutes per game. Better days are surely ahead for McCollum fantasy owners
- After re-tweaking his groin earlier in the weekend, Tyrese Haliburton was sidelined for the first time this season during Indiana's 116-100 loss to the Trail Blazers on Sunday. The 22-year-old point guard has already been ruled out for Monday's contest against the Warriors. The plan is for Haliburton to be ready to go for Wednesday's matchup against the Timberwolves. While nothing is a guarantee, with the Pacers' on an upcoming four-game week, Haliburton still does have room to succeed in fantasy lineups over the next week.
- With the team also without T.J. McConnell (illness), Andrew Nembhard took over the majority of the playmaking duties during Sunday's loss. The rookie out of Florida ended with 16 points (7-12 FG, 2-6 3Pt), six rebounds, eight assists and one steal across 37 minutes. Nembhard has started each of Indiana's past three games while averaging 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.0 steals across that span. If McConnell remains out Monday, Nembhard is one of my favorite DFS value plays for the slate.
Kings Stay Hot
- Sacramento continues to roll in the wins this season, cruising to victories over both the Clippers and Bulls over the past weekend. The Kings' playoff drought is seriously looking like it will be snapped this year with the team currently fifth in the West at 13-9 and winners of seven out of their past 10 games.
- It was pretty balanced play all around for Sacramento this weekend, but I was impressed with what I saw out of Keegan Murray. The No. 4 overall pick finished with a career-high 23 points (8-15 FG, 3-8 3Pt, 4-5 FT) to go with seven rebounds, one assist and two steals in 28 minutes during Saturday's win over Los Angeles. The Iowa product is starting to turn things around as the season progresses, averaging 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while making 2.3 threes per game at a 39.1 percent clip over his past four outings.
- De'Aaron Fox was a bit quieter over the weekend, averaging 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steals across 30.0 minutes per game. While the 24-year-old is averaging 23.1 points per game this season, Fox has failed to reach the 20-point mark in four straight contests.
Walk This Way
- Speaking of impressive rookies, Walker Kessler continued his strong play over the weekend. The rookie out of Auburn finished Friday's 139-119 victory over the Pacers with multiple career-highs, ending with 20 points (7-7 FG, 6-8 FT), 11 rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 25 minutes.
- Kessler is beginning to see the floor more, recording 20 or more minutes in four out of his last seven showing while averaging 7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks across 18.3 minutes over that span. The 7-foot-1 center's 3.9 blocks per 36 minutes rank second in the entire league.
- With Jazz slowly falling back down to earth (4-6 over their last 10 games), it would not surprise me to see the team's younger players continue to see the floor more. If Utah moves Kelly Olynyk, Kessler would be in prime position to benefit.
Magic Get Healthier
- The Magic are starting to get healthier as the season moves along. Markelle Fultz (toe) and Cole Anthony (oblique) each appeared in Orlando's past three games after both missing substantial time with their injuries. Orlando was still defeated by both the Cavaliers and Raptors over the weekend, but overall it is encouraging to see the team's backcourt getting back to nearly full strength.
- Fultz started each of the team's past three games while averaging 8.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals across 22.0 minutes per contest. While those numbers don't quite stand out, the former No. 1 overall pick looks fresh and I am bullish on his fantasy value for the rest of the season.
- Coming off the bench for the Magic, Anthony averaged 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists throughout his first three games back. With Jalen Suggs (ankle) not even in the mix yet, it looks likely that Anthony might be sticking to this reserve role. However, the 21-year-old may still be able to provide for fantasy lineups coming off of the bench, ranking as the No. 50 overall nine-category fantasy option since returning to the court. Anthony has reached double-digit scoring totals in all four of his appearances off the bench this season.
Poole Back to Splashing
- After a sluggish start to begin the season, the Warriors continued to find their stride over the weekend, taking down both the Bulls and the Rockets. Golden State has now won seven out of its past 10 showings.
- Jordan Poole has had a pretty inconsistent season thus far, but the 23-year-old looked sharp over the weekend averaging 25.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals across 25.5 minutes during the team's victories.
- While this strong play is encouraging, one should still proceed with caution with Poole. The Michigan product has seen under 30 minutes in 12 straight contests and currently sits as the 157th overall nine-category fantasy option. Poole might even have to wait to keep his hot play alive as he has popped up as questionable for Monday's contest against Indiana due to left ankle soreness.
Alvarado's Career Day
- The New Orleans Pelicans had a great weekend, defeating both the Spurs and Nuggets. While Zion Williamson was his usual dominant self averaging 27.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks across 35.0 minutes per game, it was Jose Alvarado who stole the show for New Orleans.
- The second-year pro first scored a season-high 15 points (5-12 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT) to go with two rebounds, five assists and two steals in 24 minutes during Friday's 117-99 win over San Antonio.
- Alvarado then crushed that total with a personal best 38 points (12-19 FG, 8-11 3Pt, 6-7 FT), three rebounds, two assists and one steal over 27 minutes. Alvarado has clearly shown he in fact can shoot the ball and that he is much more than just a pesky defender. Over his last six showings, Alvarado is averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals while ranking as the 56th overall nine-category option over that span.
- The Memphis Grizzlies were yet another team to go undefeated over the weekend, defeating both the 76ers and Pistons while Ja Morant led the way. The electrifying point guard dazzled his way to averaging 30.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists across 35.5 minutes over the weekend.
- With the Hawks without Trae Young (shoulder), De'Andre Hunter (hip) and John Collins (ankle) the team was able to defeat the Nuggets 117-109 behind a strong game out of Dejounte Murray. The first-year-Hawk totaled 34 points (13-22 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 4-6 FT), three rebounds, eight assists and one block across 35 minutes acting as the team's lead option.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic made his season debut during the victory, ending with five points (2-9 FG, 1-6 3Pt), two rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes. While this outing was not exactly pretty, Bogdanovic is owned in just 28.6 percent of ESPN leagues and is a must-add if he is available in your fantasy league. The 30-year-old ranked as the No. 70 overall nine-category option last season.
- The season debut of T.J. Warren may have gone a bit under the radar. The 29-year-old forward made his first appearances since the 2020 Bubble and averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds across 17.5 minutes per game over the weekend. While expectations should certainly be tempered right now, Warren is a solid fantasy addition this week.
- The Boston Celtics were certainly tested this weekend. The team came up just short in a 120-116 loss to the Heat in overtime Friday. Boston was able to rebound with a gritty 103-92 win over the Nets on Sunday. Jaylen Brown was the top option for the team over their weekend, averaging 35.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.
- Rudy Gobert was ejected from Minnesota's contest against the Thunder on Saturday after tripping Kenrich Williams. While it has only been two games since Karl-Anthony Towns suffered his calf injury, Gobert is still looking for his first monster outing with his frontcourt teammate on the sidelines.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander carried OKC to a 135-128 win during this contest, finishing with 33 points (10-17 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 12-12 FT), one rebound, six assists, one block and three steals across 35 minutes. SGA appears to be a lock for his first All-Star appearance and even has a chance to be a starter.
- The Rockets pulled off the upset of the weekend, rallying back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth to defeat the Suns 122-121. Jalen Green did not have the most efficient outing, but still ended with a team-high 30 points (8-24 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 12-16 FT), three rebounds, two assists and three steals in 37 minutes. Green has now gone for 30 or more points five times this season, but his overall inconsistency, and lack of efficiency, has him ranked as the 179th overall nine-category fantasy option thus far.
- Despite the loss, Devin Booker was incredible once again finishing with 41 points (15-25 FG, 4-6 3Pt, 7-10 FT), four rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes. This marked Booker's third straight 40-point outing before he broke his streak when ending with "just" 20 points (7-16 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 5-5 FT) during Phoenix's 133-95 beatdown over the Spurs on Sunday.
- Zach LaVine erupted for a season-best 41 points (16-28 FG, 3-9 3Pt, 6-7 FT), eight rebounds, two assists and four steals in 36 minutes during Sunday's 110-101 loss to the Kings. Over his last five showings, LaVine is averaging 26.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals while ranking as the 47th overall nine-category option. Despite LaVine improving his play, the Bulls have gone 1-4 over that same span.
Best and Worst of the Weekend
- Best of the Weekend: Anthony Davis - 49.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.0 blocks in 39.0 minutes.
- Worst of the Weekend: CJ McCollum - 6.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 22.7 percent shooting in 33.0 minutes per game.
- Rookie of the Weekend: Keegan Murray - 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 26.0 minutes per game.