The Oklahoma City Thunder is a legitimate threat to take the Western Conference Finals this season. The sheer explosive power brought to the table by their stars is something that the rest of the NBA cannot ignore. In the Thunder’s overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets, we caught a glimpse of what happens when three of its four cylinders go into overdrive.
Line of the Night: Of course the Thunder was led by its best player, Kevin Durant (3.77), who blew up for 51 points via an efficient 19-28 from the field which included five treys. He rounded out the line with eight boards and four steals. As of this post, Durant is now tied with LeBron James on GMTR’s player rater at 1.27 “WARP-to-date”. With Dwyane Wade now healthy and taking on some of the work James had to do early in the season while he (Wade) was out due to various injuries, expect Durant to eventually pull away, game by game.
Kyle Lowry (3.55) snuck into the second spot for the night off as he torched the Utah Jazz and simply couldn’t be stopped. His shots just kept on falling (9-13 from the field and 7-7 from the line). He finished the night with 32 markers, including seven threes. But it was not all about him hogging the ball and taking control; as he also distributed the ball well with nine dimes.
Alright with that Lowry-interlude out of the way, we can get back to more Thunder players. Russell Westbrook (2.92) was more than an impressive foil to Durant. He was legitimate co-threat himself! It’s a real headache for their opponents. You can’t stop Durant. And if anyone does try, then Westbrook can drop 40 points on your team. And he doesn’t just burn you that way, as exemplified by the addition of nine assists and three bombs from downtown to his line.
Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins was playing through a knee injury, but the Thunder opted to lean on Serge Ibaka (2.90) who played 40 minutes in the overtime win. Ibaka responded with an eye-popping triple-double line with 14 points (6-7 from the field), 15 rebounds, and 11 blocks. Boom! Ibaka has been so dominant lately, that he’s allowed my small-ball team in a deep league win the blocks category. Virtually by himself! My team finished the week with 36 blocks. Out of those 36 rejections, Ibaka contributed 23 to my team’s cause. I’m now officially ecstatic that I didn’t fall prey to the temptation to trade him at a loss during the early going of the season.
Ersan Ilyasova (2.74) had his best line for the season, arguably for his career with huge double-double. He had 29 points and 25 rebounds for the night and rounded out his line with a steal, a block and two treys. Ilyasova is projected to do well moving forward. After last night’s performance, however, his stock price has just gotten a big upward bump.
Oh yeah, there’s some forward from the Miami Heat who did well too. His name is LeBron James (2.52) and from what I hear, he’s pretty popular in this thing called fantasy basketball. James was two assists shy of a triple-double. He went for 25-11-8 with two steals just to give his owners a little something extra to smile about.
Interestingly enough, if you’re playing in an 8-cat league (without turnovers), then Jeremy Lin (2.40) was actually the third-best player for the night. He once again led his, HIS (did you read that, Mr. Anthony?) Knicks to victory with 28 points, 14 assists, and five steals. For 9-cat leagues however Lin’s owners will have to settle for him having the seventh best performance. Not bad considering he committed seven turnovers versus the defending Champions, Dallas Mavericks. When it comes to Jeremy Lin and fantasy basketball, most owners have learned to take the bad along with the awesome.
Waiver Wire Line of the Night:Isaiah Thomas (2.28) had his second start of the season for the Sacramento Kings in their recently effective three-guard assault configuration, where he, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton all start and attempt to dazzle their opponents with offense. Thomas had a very good night running the offense at the point for the Kings with 23 points, eight boards, and 11 assists. He also added three treys to round out his great performance. From what I hear, fantasy hoops geniuses are tweeting add recommendations for Thomas. At only 5’9″, this Nate Robinson-like dynamo may encounter some defensive concerns every now and again, but should remain fantasy-viable as long as he can keep the Kings’ offense well-oiled and running.
Pick Up Lines: Steve Novak (1.35) probably had his “last hoorah game” for his owners (for now at least) as Carmelo Anthony is expected back in action soon enough. Novak nailed four three-bombs and 14 points. Don’t bother adding him, even as streaming fodder come post-all-star-break. (5% owned)
Jermaine O’Neal (1.17) had a rarely seen (nowadays) productive outing for the Celtics as he was finally able to decently anchor their in-paint defense with five blocked shots and eleven boards. It should be noted that Kevin Garnett was a DNP for the night and J-O only had Chris Wilcox to share the paint with. (4% owned)
Patrick’s a tad worried about his consistency, but I recently added Tristan Thompson (1.12) in my 16-man H2H league after he went for 15 and 12 while adding three blocks. Let’s put it this way, I trust his upside and potential almost as much as I can expect Semih Erden to wind up disappointing enough for Tris-Thom to steal away some quality playing time. I’d say he’s a deep-league add for now and a watch list candidate in standard-sized leagues. (9% owned)
Chris Andersen (1.01) is officially on the Nuggets’ trading block and (if you get lucky) might end up in a team where he can wind up as a better contributor for fantasy. I’d only speculate on him in very, very deep leagues for now. But with guys like Thompson, Ayon and Biyombo, I’d say you can have the luxury of waiting on what comes next for this shot-blocking specialist. He chipped in 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in Denver’s losing effort versus the Thunder. (6% owned)
Hedo Turkoglu (-1.24) was atrocious for his owners, on a critical Sunday game at that. He had one point and three assists to his name and went o-4 from the field. Awful. Simply awful! Expect the Magic to want to offload him and his lack of productivity if ever they get a sign-and-trade deal done for Dwight Howard.
Corey Maggette (-1.00) killed his owners’ chances at winning FG% for the week as he missed 10 of his 14 shot attempts from the field to finish with 10 points and two rebounds.
Boris Diaw (-1.00) also was terrible as he was shutdown last night and only managed 4 assists to go along with 4 turnovers.
Daily rankings and stats come from the GMTR H2H Player Rater (beta version). They are based on the stat Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) an estimate of the number of wins a player produces per week in H2H leagues over a replacement (waiver wire) player.
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