Conducting the NBA season during a pandemic creates a nearly endless series of temporary fantasy basketball stars. The absence of Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler for the last seven games, for instance, propelled Kendrick Nunn into a major role. With 40 points across two weekend games and an average of 21.5 PPG over his last five contests, Nunn is ranked No. 9 overall on the ESPN Player Rater over the past seven days.
With Tyler Herro also having been recently sidelined for Miami, both Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson have assumed larger scoring and shooting responsibilities. Butler remains in the league's health and safety protocol and won't suit up for Monday's matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, while Herro has been ruled out with a lingering neck injury, signaling big roles for each of Nunn, Robinson, and Dragic.
Go check out the waiver wire in your fantasy league to see if Nunn is available for tonight's matchup against a porous Brooklyn defense. It's unlikely that Nunn's statistical surge is sustainable, but his window for legitimate fantasy value remains open with Butler still sidelined.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: 41 points (14-20 FG), 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 TO
Hayward hit the go-ahead basket against the Magic on Sunday night with just under one second left in the game. Up to a career-high 24.1 PPG this season, Hayward has now scored 25 points in three straight contests, tying the longest such streak of his career.
My bold preseason prediction was that Toronto's Anunoby would vault into the top 40 in fantasy value this season. I have to say, the dude is making me look good. Anunoby is No. 3 overall on the ESPN Player Rater over the last week and is breaking out as a scoring force in his fourth professional campaign. Sunday's big line saw him become just the fourth player this season to compile 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals in a single game, joining Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Vucevic. It's not just Anunoby shining for the Raptors, as Norman Powell is finally waking up from an offensive slump with 18.2 PPG during his last five.
Houston's Eric Gordon is warming up from the floor, as well. The shooting specialist scored 33 points against Dallas on Saturday in a blowout victory, his most in any game since scoring 50 against the Jazz back in January of 2020. As the Rockets' resident floor-spacer, Gordon should play an important role going forward.
Sticking with the Rockets, Cousins was stellar on Saturday in a busy role with Christian Wood sidelined. We've seen very little overlap in the lineup between Cousins and Wood when both have been active this season, so "Boogie" is likely to return to a smaller role once his teammate returns to the starting lineup.
Minnesota's Jarred Vanderbilt is starting to emerge as a worthy streaming option with Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined due to the league's health and safety protocol. Towns has already been ruled out for Monday's game against the Warriors, setting up Vanderbilt -- who has averaged 13 PPG and 7.5 RPG over the last two games -- as a solid option.
Adding to an already impressive breakout season, Boston's Jaylen Brown scored 33 points on Sunday against Cleveland in just 19 minutes of action. This marked the most any player has ever scored in fewer than 20 minutes of play in the shot clock era.
Injuries of note
Russell Westbrook returned to Washington's lineup on Sunday. While he struggled with his shot, he was still active on the glass and contributed as a creator for the Wizards.
Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr. is listed as doubtful for Monday's matchup against Boston due to a thigh injury. Lauri Markkanen should play a bigger role around the rim on defense with Carter likely to be sidelined.
Analytics advantage for Monday
Point guards facing the Denver Nuggets have averaged 51.2 DraftKings points this season. This is the sixth-highest allowance in the league and it bodes well for Jalen Brunson's value. Yet again, Josh Richardson has been ruled out for Dallas tonight against Denver, setting up Brunson as a likely starter. During the last week, Brunson has averaged 14.3 PPG with 7.8 combined rebounds and assists per game, averaging 31.3 minutes over four starts for the Mavericks.
Top player to watch on Monday
The Nuggets just downed the Suns twice, with both games going into overtime. In Friday's victory, Denver's Michael Porter Jr. returned to the lineup for the first time since December 29 and he played a large role for Denver off the bench on Saturday evening in a double-double performance. Facing a Dallas defense missing key defensive wings Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith could aid Porter's statistical upside as he gets fully re-integrated into Denver's offense.