On Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 141-137, scoring more points in any game since 2010. Indiana missed both All-Star Domantas Sabonis and key playmaker Malcolm Brogdon on injury, leaving backup point guard TJ McConnell to lead the show.
Even though he didn’t start, McConnell ended up leading the team in minutes and produced his second game of the season with at least 15 points and 15 assists off the bench. In fact, McConnell is now the only player in NBA history to have had multiple 15-point games and 15 assists off the bench in a single season.
Yet one way or another, McConnell is still available in almost 50% of ESPN leagues. You’ll also find him leading the entire NBA in number of flights and flights with only six weeks into the season. If you are looking to take a few steps to increase your chances of success, this might be a great place to start.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: 32 points (12-17 FG), 12 rebounds, 6 assists
Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards: 23 points (8-11 FG), 14 rebounds, 15 assists
Josh Richardson, Dallas Mavericks: 1 point (0-9 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists
From Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves: 11 points (3-11 FG), 1 rebound, 5 assists
Wednesday take away
Kevin Durant returned to the floor for Brooklyn after a 22-game absence with a hamstring injury. The superstar wing scored 17 points in 19 minutes without missing a shot.
Oklahoma City’s Aleksej Pokusevski went from being a “novelty” in the G League to a capable player in the NBA quite quickly. The rookie scored a career-high 25 points, becoming the third teenager in franchise history to have so many, joining Durant and Theo Maledon at this exclusive club. Pokusevski is still a free agent in around 86% of ESPN leagues.
Speaking of Maledon, he also scored 25 points last night. The rookie guard compiled 10 combined assists and rebounds and was hot off the ground in loss. Like his emerging teammate, Maledon will have plenty of points on the track – especially with ill Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Following a deadline sale, Orlando performed with a “skeleton crew” of sorts – and it was a fun group to follow for the fancy. Wendell Carter Jr., for example, has been quite productive since joining the Magic. Just last night, Carter produced 15 points on just nine shots. Even Mo Bamba had a solid line last night in the loss to Washington, the Texas product producing 19 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Magic’s rotation may not be very consistent, but there are emerging talents (such as Carter and Chuma Okeke) to target in this new roster.
Jalen McDaniels started off and posted a career-high 21 points for the Hornets. With Gordon Hayward likely out for the remainder of the season due to injury, McDaniels and Miles Bridges are expected to claim bigger roles for Charlotte.
Injuries to note
The Lakers should have Andre Drummond for tonight’s game against the Heat as the big man is listed as probable. It will be interesting to see how many hits in the post Drummond gets tonight.
Serge Ibaka will be for the Clippers this evening. Forward Marcus Morris Sr. has been a solid option lately.
Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic is listed as questionable tonight due to knee disease. Enes Kanter would become a must-have option if Nurkic couldn’t go.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is considered doubtful to play tonight due to knee pain.
Advantage Analytics for Thursday
Both Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry are listed as out of Toronto’s game against Chicago tonight. The lack of the team’s starting backcourt should lead to a bigger role for rookie Malachi Flynn. Flynn has averaged 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals over the past three games – all with a 20% use rate and a live-shot clip of 0.569 %. Prior to this recent surge, Flynn’s usage rate was only 15% with slow shooting efficiency. It’s time to line up Flynn before a great game with the Bulls.
Best player to watch Thursday
The Pistons will be without Jerami Grant for tonight’s tilt against the Kings. With Grant off the field for Detroit, Hamidou Diallo averages 11.3 additional DraftKings points (every 36 minutes). Streaming both Diallo and rookie sniper Saddiq Bey tonight against the league’s worst defense could be very rewarding.