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RotoBaller NBA Recap: Giannis and Harden, Again!


Not to get too existential here, but is there ever going to be a time when I open up RotoBaller, head to the "new post" section on a Monday night, and don't end up forced to write about how James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo are insanely talented basketball players who exist in a plane above the rest of the league? Harden went for 44 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, while Giannis dropped 30 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists against the Nets. (He was also playing really late into the fourth of a huge win -- chasing that triple-double, perhaps?)

Anyway, welcome to the RotoBaller Recap for Monday, February 4th. You'll find three key takeaways from last night's NBA games here, and today none of those three things will revolve around Giannis or Harden. I promise.

There were six games around the NBA, headlined by a Kings/Spurs clash that in previous years would have been a completely forgettable, unwatchable affair, but now takes on some meaning as both teams try to sneak into the tail end of the Western Conference playoffs. The Bucks/Nets game was the only other game between above .500 teams. What did we learn on Monday? Let's get to our main takeaways.

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Reminder: Kenneth Faried Is The Perfect Fit For The Rockets

I watch a lot of Nets basketball, and before the season started I was really excited about Brooklyn's addition of Kenneth Faried, as he's the kind of fast-breaking, rim-running big who could have provided some Clint Capela-esque production off the Nets bench.

That didn't happen, and for a long time, I wondered how I got things so wrong. It turns out, though, that Faried could only become an approximation of Capela if he was literally filling in for an injured Clint Capela.

Faried scored 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting on Monday and also grabbed 14 rebounds. He's started seven games for the Rockets and finished with a double-double in five of them. He's used his ability to finish as a roll man and in transition to give him a double-figure scoring output in all eight of his Rockets games. Faried is perfect for an offense run by James Harden.

Faried's aggression on the offensive glass -- he grabbed seven offensive rebounds and scored on four tip-ins on Monday -- is a big key to his success:

As long as Faried maintains his current role with the Rockets -- and he should for most, if not all, of February with Capela still out, he'll be a hugely beneficial fantasy play for anyone lucky enough to have the foresight to grab him off waivers. I'd be worried about what he'll do when Capela is back, but at this point, I'm sure 100 percent of fantasy basketball players share that concern, so you're not going to be able to flip Faried for long term help.

 

The Pistons Dominate Denver: Does It Matter?

The big shock of the night was Denver losing 129-103 to the Detroit Pistons. Detroit got some good production from some unexpected sources, so let's play a quick game of buy or sell this game being indicative of good things for them.

Stanley Johnson: 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting off the bench for Johnson, who was 4-for-5 from three and grabbed seven rebounds. The last he reached or exceeded those numbers? Points: November 27th. Threes: December 17th. Rebounds: December 5th. This was the classic oh, Stanley Johnson exists game and it'll mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. SELL.

Luke Kennard: Kennard had 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists off the Pistons bench, but the second-year guard reached double-digit points for just the second time over the last seven games. Still, Kennard has shown promise, including a four-game stretch in January where he averaged 16.3 points and shot over 55 percent from the field and from three. There's maybe something there for Kennard, though it would be tough to trust that something down the fantasy stretch. SELL, FOR NOW.

Langston Galloway: Really, it's the same story for Galloway (who scored 18 points) as it is for the others. Inconsistent production lately, a floor that's far too low for him to be a nightly fantasy option, and a Pistons team that isn't going to have these explosive nights too often. This whole game feels incredibly fluky. SELL.

 

Keep Taking Jah Seriously

I definitely talk about Jahlil Okafor too much, but Monday he continued to show why he's a great fantasy option right now, finishing with 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds.

The Pelicans built a team that was designed to score through its big men, but none of those three big men (Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle) are currently healthy, and Davis and Mirotic are both prime candidates to not play for the Pelicans again this year, whether through trade or through being sat to preserve trade value in Davis's case. That leaves Okafor playing an oversized role on a team that suddenly finds itself tanking.

Okafor is a great tank commander -- he puts up stats that look good, but he finishes as a net negative when he's on the floor more often than not. Plus/minus isn't a fantasy stat, though, so you can rest easy in knowing that Okafor is set to produce in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage for you.

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