In a night of vintage performances for Portland, the Trail Blazers had four different starters score at least 20 points in a game on Wednesday night for first time since April of 2010.
In the win over Sacramento, Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points for his third 20-point game of the season, matching his total with the Rockets last season. Hassan Whiteside helped fuel the offense with a career-best seven dimes for his first ever game with at least 20 points, 15 boards and 5 assists. CJ McCollum got in on the fun by posting his 10th straight 20-point game, tying the longest streak of his career.
The Trail Blazers have now won four of their past five games after losing their first three games in the wake of signing Melo. I was admittedly dismissive of Anthony's fantasy utility at first, given his early lack of scoring efficiency mimicked his poor stretches with the Rockets and Thunder, but he's been genuinely effective in both real and fantasy regards during the past two weeks -- including his recent and somewhat ceremonial Player of the Week honors in the Western Conference.
In the loss for the Kings, emergent center Richaun Holmes continued to prove productive with 28 points on just 14 shots. Even after spending big on stretch-five Dewayne Dedmon in the offseason, Holmes has claimed a starting role with Sacramento and now ranks fourth on the Player Rater among centers during the past 15 days. You can still find Holmes in free agency in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers: 22 points (8-10 FG), 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, 2 TO
Graham continues to shine for Charlotte. Even as the Terry Rozier acquisition seemed questionable to many, the Hornets still somehow landed a star combo guard to replace Kemba Walker's creation in Graham. With 10 made 3-pointers and zero successful 2-point attempts, the ascendant guard tied Joe Dumars in league history for most the most made shots in a game in which all the makes were from 3-point range. Graham is still a free agent in almost 30% of ESPN leagues.
Dwight Powell left the Mavericks' win on Wednesday in the final quarter with an arm contusion but appears to have avoided injury, per post-game interviews. Before leaving the floor, Powell had produced 24 points without missing any of his nine shots from the floor, good for his most made shots without a miss in his career. Powell has strung together consecutive strong showings, signaling some momentum if this arm ailment doesn't keep him off the floor.
Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr. hasn't made many headlines in his second season but was decidedly impressive on defense last night in producing a career-high four blocks to go with a strong double-double performance.
Brooklyn continued to cruise sans Kyrie Irving, with Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen both thriving. Dinwiddie has averaged 24.9 PPG in 10 games without Irving, compared to 17.1 PPG when Irving has been active.
Indiana's T.J. Warren continues to score at an efficient clip after producing a game-high 24 points as the Pacers have now won seven of eight games.
Orlando's Gordon became the third player in Magic history with 30 points while shooting at least 85% from the field in a game, joining Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, who both accomplished this rare feat four times for the franchise. The Magic have now scored more than 125 points in consecutive games for just the second time in franchise history. Markelle Fultz's revival continues, as he produced 13 points with nine combined rebounds and assists Wednesday and has scored in double figures in 10 straight games. His longest double-digit point streak prior to this stretch was just three games.
Injuries of note
Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic sat out Wednesday night with a knee contusion, which is in addition to the hamstring tightness he's experienced lately. It's worth keeping an eye on this new injury ahead of the Kings' next game, as Bogdanovic has been a critically important playmaker for Sacramento.
Detroit's Luke Kennard missed last night's loss to the Bucks with a knee ailment, but the issue isn't considered serious. Kennard, after all, is impressively ranked 11th in the league in offensive win shares in a quiet breakout campaign for the Duke product.
Derrick Favors and Kenrich Williams are listed as questionable for the Pelicans' meeting with the Suns tonight, while Phoenix is likely to again be without center Aron Baynes. In Baynes' absence, Frank Kaminsky has been hot from beyond the arc of late.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
You probably wouldn't be able to guess the player taking the most catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game in the league at the moment. If the first name that came to mind is Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards, then congratulations on knowing this random bit of NBA trivia. Bertans has lofted a league-leading 6.7 such 3-pointers per game while sinking an absolutely elite 44.9% of them, thus he's netting a league-best 9.1 PPG on such shots this season.
This proves relevant for today given the Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers and gamers can find Bertans as a solid streaming option for the price of a roster spot in more than 80% of ESPN leagues while productive teammate Rui Hachimura has averaged 20.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG during the past week and remains available in more than 60% of leagues.
Top players to watch tonight
Pascal Siakam is making his bid not just for his first All-Star appearance this season, but to be a viable MVP candidate, given his ascent as the Raptors' best player on both sides of the floor. A whopping 48.5% leap in scoring output from last season to this is just part of the story, as he's ranked eighth overall in defensive win shares.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook rightfully earn tons of attention for their unique and often historic statistical exploits, but for tonight's matchup with the Raptors, it's time to give Siakam some shine for his rapid rise to stardom.