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New this season, ESPN Analytics will also generate daily NBA fantasy projections. By combining historical player and team data and specific game factors ESPN is able to accurately predict player box score stats. Accounting for injuries, trends in playing time, and other factors impacting future performance the statistical models can be used to help NBA fantasy players gain an edge in their league.
What you need to know for Sunday’s games
By Steve Alexander
Sunday’s nine-game slate features a matchup with the Kings and Mavericks in the West that should offer plenty of entertainment. Luka Doncic is coming off a big game of 39 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a loss to the Bucks on Saturday, when Giannis Antetokounmpo got the best of him with 40 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. Keep an eye on Tim Hardaway Jr., who backed up his 31-point performance from Wednesday with 17 points and four triples. He’s now scored at least 15 points with two 3-pointers in eight straight games. Kevin Huerter is questionable for the Kings with a left finger sprain.
Markelle Fultz will miss his fifth straight game due to a knee injury, clearing the way for guys like Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Gary Harris and Anthony Black to all shine again for the Magic, as long as they are all healthy and playing. Still, none of them is a guarantee for success, unfortunately. The Pacers are healthy and the injury report is clean except for Andrew Nembhard, who is dealing with a back injury.
Donovan Mitchell will miss his second straight game for the Cavaliers due to a hamstring injury which will mean more minutes and fantasy goodies for Caris LeVert, Dean Wade and Max Strus on Sunday. LeVert looks like a must-play option at this point, although he cooled off on Friday with just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting after scoring between 17-29 points in his previous four games. Strus is also hot, scoring at least 10 points with a 3-pointer in seven straight.
Jaylen Brown (groin) is questionable for the Celtics today after scoring 23 against the Raptors on Friday. Given that the Celtics have won five straight and the Grizzlies are so banged up, I could see Brown sitting today. The Grizzlies will be without Marcus Smart (foot) for the foreseeable future and Ziaire Williams came off the bench for 17 points, seven rebounds, five dimes, a steal and two 3-pointers against the Spurs on Friday, making him worth a close look in all formats.
Bradley Beal (back) is out for the foreseeable future clearing the way for both Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon to continue to have fantasy success for the Suns. Both are not only streaming options on Sunday but play four times next week, as well.
Both Tari Eason (leg) and Amen Thompson (ankle) have been ruled out for Sunday, clearing the way for Jabari Smith Jr. to have a solid share of minutes tonight. He’s coming off a disappointing 4-of-12 shooting performance for nine points on Friday, but I would not be surprised to see him finally break out against the Lakers. Anthony Davis (hip) is probable and LeBron James is questionable for the Lakers due to a calf injury. The Rockets have a real chance of winning this game after having their six-game winning streak snapped on Friday by the Clippers.
Sunday’s Stream Team
This segment nominates three key streaming options ahead of that day’s action. A streamer, by our standards, is a player available in at least half of ESPN men’s basketball leagues.
Robert Covington, SF/PF, Sixers (1.5% rostered in ESPN leagues): Do I trust Covington? Not completely, but I do believe in him as long as Kelly Oubre Jr. (ribs) is out. He went off for 16 points, six rebounds and two steals against the Celtics on Wednesday and played 20 minutes against the Hawks on Friday night, where he had six points, seven rebounds, three assists, one block, one steal and two 3-pointers. Those are the only two meaningful games for Covington this season and Nicolas Batum (personal) could eventually come back and ruin him, but Covington is currently the only option the Sixers have at small forward against the Nets. I’m expecting at least one more decent line out of him.
Malik Monk, SG/SF, Kings (27.1% rostered): Monk, who was already hot, had one of his best games of the season on Friday with 20 points, four rebounds, eight assists, one steal and a season-high six 3-pointers in 26 minutes. The Kings have now won five straight games. Monk looks like a solid “Sixth Man of the Year” candidate and the only downside is the Kings play just three games in both of the next two weeks. He has a nice matchup against Doncic and the Mavericks on Sunday.
Keyonte George, SG, Jazz (8.1%): George is the new starting point guard for the Jazz and is officially hot, averaging 15.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.5 3-pointers over his last two games. Utah only has three games next week, but then plays four times in seven of the next 10 weeks. That’s a big deal in head-to-head leagues.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Nuggets (6.4%): I name drop Jackson everywhere. He’s available, the Nuggets play four games in both of the next two weeks and Jamal Murray isn’t coming back until December. Jackson has scored between 14-20 points in four straight games and, while his assist and steal numbers won’t blow you away, he’s hitting 3-pointers and playing at a fairly high level for Denver right now.
Isaiah Stewart, PF/C, Pistons (12.7%):Jalen Duren is out again on Sunday due to his ankle injury, so Stewart will get another chance to shine against the Raptors, who will finally welcome back O.G. Anunoby from his finger injury. “Beef Stew” has averaged 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers in November, playing well with or without Duren in the lineup.
Projections and Injury Reports
Fantasy projections powered by ESPN Analytics.* Projections assume all players who are listed as GTD will play. Injury aggregation by Rotowire.com. Players available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues are listed in italics.
*NBA fantasy projections are generated by ESPN Analytics by combining historical player and team data as well as specific game factors ESPN to accurately predict player box score stats. Accounting for injuries, trends in playing time, and other factors impacting future performance the statistical models can be used to help NBA fantasy players gain an edge in their league.