Week 9 Takeaways + Updated Rankings (2020-21 Fantasy Basketball)
With Week 10 on the horizon, we polled our experts for their biggest takeaways of the Association’s last week and what they mean for fantasy basketball. Here are Brad Camara, Alex Burns, Aaron Larson, and Zak Hanshew with their takeaways and updated Rest of Season rankings.
Week 9 was full of huge performances, as we saw Damian Lillard put Portland on his back with 36/12/5 across his last four games to lead the Blazers to a 3-1 record in that span (6-1 across the last seven). Portland is firmly in the playoff picture in the West, and the team wouldn’t be sniffing the 8 Seed if not for the Dame’s outstanding play. He’s risen above Steph Curry, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid on my MVP ladder.
my lord in heaven. Damian Lillard 23 points in the third quarter alone, capped off by this. pic.twitter.com/PV8pqmDMxe
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 21, 2021
Jamal Murray absolutely lit up the box score over the last week, going 35/6/4 in four games, including a 50-point performance against Cleveland on Friday. Prior to his recent outburst, Murray had averaged fewer than 20 points per game on the season with some respectable peripherals. He’s shown this elite level of play in spells throughout his career, but Murray has never maintained this pace consistently. He balled out in the Bubble last summer and is doing so now, but the good times likely won’t roll like this for too much longer. If Murray’s on my fantasy team, I’m selling high for as big a haul as I can get.
Jamal Murray is the first player in NBA history to drop 50 points without shooting a free throw ????
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2021
DeMarcus Cousins and the Rockets have reportedly agreed to an amicable split that’s in the best interest of both parties. Houston wants to go younger and smaller in the frontcourt, while Boogie wants to start for a contender. Unlike Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, Cousins will still play until he’s dealt or released. Prudent fantasy managers should plan ahead and try to acquire David Nwaba and Jae’Sean Tate, who stand to benefit most from Boogie’s eventual departure. -Hanshew
The 2020-21 NBA season continues to be a season unlike any other. Six more games were postponed this week due to health and safety protocols and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. It remains more important than ever for fantasy managers to remain nimble and pivot when news breaks. The Hornets were one of the teams that missed nearly a week’s worth of games but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by Terry Rozier‘s play. The Charlotte guard picked up right where he left off and is averaging 36 points/game over his last four. In Houston, DeMarcus Cousins became the latest veteran big man that appears to be on the move soon. He joins Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond big-name players on losing teams that look to be dealt soon. They’re all worth stashing for now if you have the roster space, as landing on a contending team should boost their fantasy value. Any team that actively trades for one of these players will likely do so with a role in mind.
— NBA (@NBA) February 21, 2021
On the flip side, just because the team’s looking to trade then away aren’t winning many games doesn’t mean you should avoid players on their teams. Saddiq Bey looks to soak up most of the extra minutes in Detroit, Jarrett Allen has become the full-time center in Cleveland, and the Rockets may have to turn back to P.J. Tucker if Cousins is dealt away before Christian Wood can return. Kevin Porter Jr. is another name to keep an eye on. The talented but trouble 20-year-old was shipped out of Cleveland earlier this season and has been spending time on Houston’s G-League affiliate, where he’s averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game. He could make an immediate fantasy impact whenever he’s called up, which seems like only a matter of time. -Larson
Week 9 is in the books and the biggest headlines include D’Angelo Russell out four-to-six weeks, San Antonio had four positive tests leading to more postponements, and the starters for the All-Star game were announced. D’Angelo Russell underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee and will miss the next four-to-six weeks. He will be sidelined until at least mid-March after undergoing the procedure. Ricky Rubio started all five games while Russell has been out and will remain in that role for the foreseeable future. A total of six games were postponed this week due to health and safety protocols as well as some weather issues in Texas. Another reminder that fantasy managers need to stay on top of news on a daily basis. Starters for the NBA 2021 All-Star game for both conferences were announced earlier in the week. The Eastern Conference will roll with Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving while the West will start Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard.
Speaking of All-Stars, Joel Embiid absolutely dominated the Bulls last Friday by dropping a career-high 50 points. He is playing at an MVP pace and has now scored at least 25 points in 14 straight games. Embiid wasn’t the only player to score 50 points in Week 8, Nuggets PG Jamal Murray erupted for 50 points in last Friday’s win over the Cavaliers. Murray has been on an absolute tear in his last three contests, averaging 38.3 points while shooting an incredible 64.3% (32-for-70) from the field.
Joel Embiid is the first Sixers player with a 50-Pt game since Allen Iverson in 2005 ???????? pic.twitter.com/0fyMgHv7p4
— ESPN (@espn) February 20, 2021
The Pistons lost starting PG Delon Wright for at least two weeks due to a Grade 2 right groin strain. Dennis Smith entered the starting five and logged just 15 minutes in Sunday’s game against the Magic. He finished with six points, two assists, two steals and four turnovers. Smith will have short-term fantasy value while Wright is out and should be added in all league formats. On to Week 10. -Camara
Week 9 began with news that Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell will be out four-to-six weeks after going under the knife to remove a loose body in his left knee. Minnesota played four games this week and Ricky Rubio started each of them in Russell’s place while averaging just under 30 minutes per game. He should continue to start and is worth an add if you are looking for someone with a safe floor. Jordan McLaughlin saw an increased role as well, posting 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals throughout the four-game week. These trends should rollover into Week 10 with Karl-Anthony Towns, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards all receiving a bump in usage as well.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 20, 2021
The injury news continues to pile up as Pistons guard Delon Wright will miss at least two weeks with a grade 2 groin strain. This is a big blow to not only the Pistons, but to those who were able to scoop him up off waivers after his impressive start to the year. While one would think that Dennis Smith Jr. would become the biggest beneficiery of Wright’s injury, second-round rookie Saben Lee surprised us all on Sunday night when he went for 12 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 33 minutes. Detroit is struggling and will want to give younger players more run as we inch closer to the second half of the season. As a result, both he and Smith are currently less than 10% rostered in Yahoo league’s and make for excellent speculative adds heading into a four-game week.
Aside from injuries, Shams Charania reported Friday that the Rockets and center DeMarcus Cousins will look to part ways in the coming days. Whether he is traded or bought out, Boogie is a good bet to sign with a contender. Fantasy managers should continue monitoring this rumor, as a change in scenery could affect his fantasy outlook for the rest of thte season. Unlike Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Cousins will continue starting in Christian Wood‘s absence, so things should be much of the same for Houston heading into Week 10.
As for play on the court, Bubble Jamal Murray made an appearance after averaging 35 points across four games this week. His play was highlighted by a 50-point explosion in Friday’s win over the Cavaliers in which he shot a mind-boggling 21-25 (84%) from the field. Murray has been a fantasy disappointment this season so hopefully this was a sign of things to come. Savvy fantasy managers will take advantage of recency bias and sell-high on the 23-year old point guard. -Burns