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RotoBaller NBA Recap: The KAT Is Out Of The Bag

Welcome to the RotoBaller NBA Recap. In this feature, we highlight three fantasy basketball takeaways from last night's slate of NBA games. Saturday was a competitive day in the NBA with all eight contests decided by 10 points or less. The Minnesota Timberwolves squeaked by the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106. Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for Minnesota, posting a monstrous stat line of 27 points, 27 rebounds, three assists, two steals, four blocks and three three-pointers on 10-for-23 shooting from the floor. The 27 boards were a career-high for Towns and are also the most that anyone has recorded this season. The 23-year-old looks like he is starting to round into form under new head coach Ryan Saunders, and he has provided absurd production over his previous nine games, averaging 28.3 points, 16.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 3.1 blocks and 1.7 threes on 53 percent from the field. It is safe to say that the KAT is out of the bag.

The Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104. Blake Griffin played his first game against the Clippers at Staples Center on Saturday, scoring 44 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. In one of the more iconic moments of the night, Griffin snubbed Clippers owner Steve Ballmer before the game as Ballmer was attempting to shake his hand. The story has been blown up by the media, but it does add to the narrative of one of your classic revenge spots.

And the Utah Jazz outlasted the Chicago Bulls 110-102. Donovan Mitchell continued his scorching pace, providing 34 points on Saturday to go with six rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and four three-pointers. Mitchell has scored at least 33 points during the past three games of Ricky Rubio (hamstring) and Dante Exum (ankle) being out. The 22-year-old has been playing point guard for the Jazz during their absences and is also contributing 7.3 assists in his last three games. Rubio and Exum should remain out for at least the next few contests, which means Mitchell should continue his sweltering momentum. Our three main fantasy takeaways of the night are still to come, so without further ado, let's dive deeper into the January 12th slate.

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Will Barton Makes His Return To The Lineup

After being out of action since October 20th, Will Barton made his return for the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, tallying six points, five rebounds, three assists, and one three-pointer in 16 minutes versus the Phoenix Suns. Barton is going to be on a minutes restriction for the foreseeable future, which is understandable given how much time he has missed this season.

There is a ton of upside for the 28-year-old in the Nuggets fast-paced offense, but it is going to take some time to get the return you are expecting. For that reason, he is virtually unplayable in DFS lineups for the time being and remains a better hold in season-long formats. However, it seems likely that many owners could become fed up with his production if he provides a few more shaky games, so be on the lookout for some unwarranted drops. Barton has top-50 potential once he gets back into gear, and you should be able to find a nice buy-low window in the next few weeks.


Kelly Oubre Jr. Matches Career-High On Saturday

Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career-high of 26 points on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. The 23-year-old has been up-and-down since being acquired by the Phoenix Suns 14 games ago, but his 26-point effort is the second time in three games that he has equaled his career-high in scoring.

Oubre is currently owned in just 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, but his defensive prowess does make him a speculative add in standard settings. The University of Kansas product should be a steady contributor in three-pointers made, free throw percentage and points scored. As long as Devin Booker (back) is out, Oubre will take on more of the offensive load and can be looked at as a streaming option. Unfortunately, his inconsistencies do not make him a must-own at this very moment. If you have an empty spot and can afford to see what happens in the next few weeks, go for it. But things will most likely look much different once Booker can return.


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Has Hit Rookie Wall

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander failed to eclipse 25 minutes of action for the eighth straight game on Saturday, scoring seven points to go along with one rebound, four assists and one steal against the Detroit Pistons. Gilgeous-Alexander did not play the final 18:45 of the contest and continues to have Patrick Beverley eat into his playing time.

Coming into the season, Beverley was always going to be an issue to surpass on the depth chart because of his defensive abilities, but the young rookie did have a short period where he was averaging around 30 minutes a night. However, those days are long gone with his suspect performances over the past month. The 20-year-old does carry some slight value due to his pickpocketing ability, but he is tough to roster in a standard league because of his inferior production everywhere else. It is possible that the rookie bounces out of his funk eventually, but outside of his upside, there isn't much reason to hold onto him right now.

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