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RotoBaller NBA Recap: James Harden's Scores Over 30, Again


Welcome to the RotoBaller NBA Recap. In this feature, we will highlight three fantasy basketball takeaways from last night's slate of NBA games. James Harden scored 57 points in Houston's win over the Grizzlies, breaking Kobe Bryant's record of consecutive 30-point games in the post-merger NBA with his 17th in a row.

Elsewhere in the NBA, we saw an injured Nets team beat an injured Celtics team, the Kings take down the Trail Blazers, and a 46-point night for Anthony Davis as the Pelicans beat the Clippers on the road.

Let's take a look at the recap for NBA games on Monday, January 14th and some key takeaways from them.

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What Clint Capela's Injury Means For Houston...And You

Clint Capela will miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, which means the Rockets are in an even worse position healthwise than before. While Eric Gordon is expected to return soon from a right knee bruise and Chris Paul could be back at some point in the near future from his hamstring issue, Houston's frontcourt has a lot of work to do to make up for Capela's absence.

Monday was our first game of this Capela-less portion of the season, which meant it was our first chance to see how Houston would handle the rotation. Nene got the start and played 14 minutes, but at this point the veteran isn't a guy who can play heavy minutes. Houston has a pair of young bigs who were expected to take over the backup role, Marquese Chriss and Isaiah Hartenstein, but it's clear from how little they played that head coach Mike D'Antoni isn't comfortable with either guy.

That means more Tuckwagon lineups, with P.J. Tucker sliding down to the five and Gary Clark coming in at the four. If you're looking to highlight fantasy risers while Capela is out, it's got to be those two. Tucker isn't going to wow anyone or do too much more statistically than he was already doing, though his rebound ceiling is raised. Clark, meanwhile, is shooting the ball much better lately and could be an intriguing player to watch in deeper leagues at the moment. It wouldn't be a shock to see Chriss and Hartenstein not see the floor at all once Houston gets Gordon back and the team use Tucker and Clark plus three guards for extended periods of time.

Danuel House Jr. is also an option to play more of a role. He was already in the team's starting lineup, but he could pick up some of the scoring slack. (Or Harden could go for 57 every night, which at this point feels believable.)

 

D'Angelo Russell Hits His Stride

Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell had his sixth 30-point game of the season on Monday, finishing with 34 points, five rebounds, and seven assists in Brooklyn's win over the Boston Celtics.

The Nets have reached "oh, they're definitely holding onto that playoff spot" levels of performance lately, and Russell has been a huge part of that. The former Laker entered the year as arguably just the third most important guard on this team, but Caris Levert's leg injury and Spencer Dinwiddie cooling off lately have put Brooklyn's fate largely in the hands of Russell, and he's responding.

Even with a five-point outing earlier in the month against Boston, Russell is averaging 22.7 points per game in January and is hitting 40.7 percent from three. He's also adding in 7.6 assists. Russell is finally looking like the top draft pick that he was, and it's happening at a great time for the Nets.

 

Ish Smith Returns

Ish Smith returned to the Pistons rotation after a 19-game absence due to a torn muscle, and while he didn't have a huge impact (eight points on 3-for-9 shooting), his return does a few things from a fantasy perspective.

First, it puts Smith back on your radar, but it's important to remember that after a fairly good start to the year, the veteran point guard struggled for awhile before the injury, averaging just 8.8 points and 3.3 assists per game in November while shooting 38.3 percent from the floor and 24.4 percent from three. So, while Smith is someone to keep an eye on, it might not be the smartest move to run out and pick him up.

Reggie Jackson takes a slight hit with Smith back, because he won't be asked to play so many minutes. The Pistons ideally want to keep Jackson under 30 minutes, but Smith's absence forced him to play a little more than that over the last month. That also means that there won't be as many shot attempts for Jackson, who had double-digit shot attempts in all but two games while Smith was out, as opposed to five games with single-digit attempts while Smith was part of the rotation. Lower your expectations just a tad for Jackson.

Jose Calderon is out of the rotation. I can't imagine you actually had him on a fantasy roster, but if you did for some reason, he's very, very safe to drop now.

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