As I pointed out earlier this week, the circus surrounding LaVar Ball can often eclipse what's going on around it. On a side note, despite his universally low approval rate, I think LaVar's often crazy like a fox. I was one of 120,000 people who took the time yesterday to watch a Lithuanian basketball game, solely to see what happened in the professional debut of the younger Ball brothers. The fact that LaVar could create that kind of interest in a game taking place in the tiny town of Prienai is amazing -- just don't tell anyone I said so.
Just as LaVar often overshadows Lonzo, the Ball family often overshadows the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers. From a fantasy perspective, the other Lakers are pretty interesting in their own right. So, let's take a moment to look at the games of "the other guys" on the Lakers, as there is some good value to be found.
Julius Randle led the way in the scoring column on Tuesday with 22 points (8-13 FG, 5-6 FT), 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 3-pointer and 1 steal, but also a whopping 6 turnovers. Randle has re-earned a bigger role in the Lakers' rotation of late, especially with the departure of Andrew Bogut, and is averaging 15.2 points (53.1 FG%, 85.2 FT%), 10 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 steals in 26 minutes over his last five games.
Brook Lopez (available in 35.9 percent of leagues) is back from injury and has resumed his role as a scoring center with 3-point range who can contribute in both categories, even in limited minutes. He was hot on Tuesday with 18 points (6-9 FG, 1-2 FT), 5 3-pointers and 3 assists in 22 minutes before his five fouls forced him to the bench. He has made at least two 3-pointers in all four games since his return from injury.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (available in 44.6 percent of leagues) has been playing through legal troubles which haven't allowed him to leave the state of California for the last few weeks. Tuesday was a home game, so he was able to play and he put up a strong 16 points (5-11 FG, 4-5 FT) with 4 rebounds, 2 3-pointers, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 1 turnover in 33 minutes of action.
Brandon Ingram rounded out the non-Ball starters on Tuesday with a solid 15 points (6-9 FG, 2-1 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block, but also with a whopping 7 turnovers in only 24 minutes. Ingram is considered to be the other Lakers' foundational piece with long-term star potential, and he's been much improved this season. This week, he has averaged 19 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 3-pointers in three games.
Kyle Kuzma is back to a role off the bench, but he produced a category-filling 9 points (4-9 FG, 0-1 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 3-pointer in 24 minutes on Tuesday. The all-around effort shows improved balance for the rookie, who has already established himself as a scorer with more games of 30-plus points scored this season (three) than any Lakers rookie since Magic Johnson in 1979.
Larry Nance Jr. (available in 83.5 percent of leagues) is also back to a bench role, but he managed to contribute on Tuesday with 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-5 FT), 8 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 assist in 19 minutes. He has the upside for more, but minutes are hard to come by on this deep Lakers squad.
Jordan Clarkson (available in 53.4 percent of leagues) rounds out the other primary rotation players for the Lakers. He had a down game on Tuesday with only 4 points in 14 minutes, but he can be instant offense off the bench on any given night, as evidenced by his six games with 17-plus points in his last 10 outings.
Lonzo Ball had an outstanding game himself on Tuesday (see below), and his game is teammate-friendly enough to help foster the environment of sharing that leads to good across-the-board nights. However, in terms of fantasy, the Lakers have a lot more to offer than just the talented rookie.
Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers: 5 points (2-10 FG), 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals, 1 block, 1 3-pointer, 1 TO
Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat: 4 points (2-5 FG), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 TO
For disciplinary reasons, Aaron Gordon had to come off the bench on Tuesday for Orlando, but he still had a strong game with 19 points (6-16 FG, 6-8 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a 3-pointer in 33 minutes of action. D.J. Augustin (available in 99 percent of leagues) also had a strong outing with 18 points (5-8 FG, 4-4 FT), 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench, but unless Elfrid Payton is injured, Augustin won't normally get enough run for fantasy relevance.
Dallas had a very balanced effort on Tuesday, with five players scoring 15-plus points. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. led the way with 20 points (8-19 FG, 2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 3-pointers, 1 steal and 1 block, and is now averaging 16.7 points, 6.5 assists, 4.7 boards, 2.5 3-pointers and 1.5 steals in his last six games. Yogi Ferrell (available in 94.8 percent of leagues) and J.J. Barea (available in 67 percent of leagues) were the other noteworthy efforts for the Mavericks, both off the bench, with Ferrell producing 15 points (6-9 FG, 1-1 FT), 8 boards, 4 assists and 2 3-pointers in 33 minutes, and Barea dropping 12 dimes with 8 points (4-8 FG) and 2 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The lingering story of the night could be the fisticuffs (see below), but Dragic was the player of the game among the Miami starters. Off the bench, though, Bam Adebayo (available in 98.3 percent of leagues) exploded for 16 points (8-14 FG), 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 blocks in 33 minutes on the same night that Hassan Whiteside produced his own double-double in 30 minutes.
Delon Wright (available in 85.6 percent of leagues) performed well in his spot-start in place of the injured Kyle Lowry, scoring 13 points (5-9 FG, 2-2 FT) with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 3-pointer, 1 steal, 1 block and 0 TO in 29 minutes of action.
Shabazz Napier (available in 86.7 percent of leagues) also did his thing in place of the injured Damian Lillard, scoring 21 points (5-10 FG, 9-10 FT) with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers and 4 turnovers in 34 minutes. McCollum led the way for the Trail Blazers, but Jusuf Nurkic was also strong with 20 points (8-15 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.
Injuries of note
James Johnson and Serge Ibaka got in a fight on Tuesday night, with both throwing punches and getting ejected. The question now is whether either player will face additional suspension. There was a second scuffle later in the game where DeMar DeRozan took a swipe at Goran Dragic as they were getting separated, so keep an ear out for news about what the NBA decides on both situations.
Tyler Johnson injured his left shoulder in morning shoot-around and missed Tuesday's game. It's unknown, as yet, whether Johnson will miss more time. His absence left more time for Wayne Ellington (available in 91.1 percent of leagues), who hit the game-winning shot on Tuesday.
Kevin Durant (calf) practiced on Tuesday and is probable to play on Wednesday.
Jeff Teague (knee) also "has a chance" of returning on Wednesday, though he is still questionable.
Myles Turner (elbow) has been downgraded to doubtful for Wednesday.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled on defense of late, giving up at least 114 points in four of their last five games. The Minnesota Timberwolves, on the other hand, have been on fire offensively, with three games of at least 114 points scored in their last five outings -- and three games of at least 121 points scored in their last nine.
The Timberwolves have also picked it up on defense of late, with the fifth-best defensive rating in the league in the last 10 games. Add in the fact that the Thunder are on the second half of a back-to-back, and that Minnesota is playing at home, and it would appear that the Timberwolves might make good streaming options on Wednesday in a game where they would be expected to put up good team numbers.
Top players to watch tonight
On Tuesday, New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said there is a "good chance" that Anthony Davis (ankle) misses Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are a tough defense, but any time that Davis sits, the other Pelicans all have the potential to go big. DeMarcus Cousins is a given, but Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and E'Twaun Moore are all also on the radar for potentially strong nights.
Will Damian Lillard (calf) be able to return? If not, Shabazz Napier and CJ McCollum are both candidates to have another strong game, even in the second half of a back-to-back on the road.