Success in fantasy basketball doesn't always align with success in the NBA standings. The Sacramento Kings, for instance, have lost seven straight games -- all by at least eight points -- but that hasn't stopped Marvin Bagley III from thriving as a statistical contributor. Averaging 19.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over the last seven days, Bagley has emerged as a strong fantasy play despite Sacramento's struggles.
There have been seemingly minor shifts in how Bagley is being used around the rim on offense for the Kings. However, collectively, they've been meaningful. During the last five games, Bagley has averaged 10 paint touches and a team-leading 3.5 post-up shots per game, compared to just 5.1 paint touches and 2.3 post-ups prior to this recent surge.
The absence of center Richaun Holmes in several recent outings has likely played a role in Bagley leading Sacramento with an average of 18.7 rebounding chances over the last five games (compared to 10.9 per game previously), but it's still encouraging to see the young big man thriving when given more opportunities.
If the Kings either deal or negotiate a buyout with backup center Hassan Whiteside, maybe there would be more minutes with the second unit for Bagley as a primary post option down the stretch. Rostered in just 60.4% of ESPN leagues and eligible at both power forward and center -- notably shallow positions in most fantasy formats -- Bagley could help fantasy managers in the second half of the season.
Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings: 26 points (10-19 FG), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Charlotte's Rozier has been on a tear of late, becoming the third player in franchise history to score at least 30 points in four straight games, joining Glen Rice and Kemba Walker. Rozier sank a buzzer-beater to down the Warriors on Saturday. It was the first game-winner of his career -- and the first by any Hornets player since Malik Monk back in 2019.
Vucevic became just the fourth player in Magic history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in a single game, joining Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard and Tracy McGrady. Even with Orlando having lost so many players to injury this season, Vucevic continues to post elite performances.
Miami's Kendrick Nunn scored a season-high 27 points in Saturday's win over the Lakers. Miami is now 3-0 when Dunn scores as many as 25 points. With Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley ruled out of Miami's game tonight against the Thunder, Nunn should enjoy another big offensive workload.
In that loss to the Heat, one bright spot for Los Angeles was Kyle Kuzma, who scored a season-high 23 points for his fourth 20-point showing of the season. Rostered in just about 50% of ESPN leagues, Kuzma should play an important role for the team until Anthony Davis is back in the mix.
The Sixers fell to the Raptors on Sunday, but Ben Simmons continued his recent scoring binge with 28 points on just 11 shots. Simmons has gone to the free throw line 27 times over the last two games. That's a great sign of increased aggressiveness and it's the element I've always argued would truly change his scoring profile, rather than any cries for a reliable outside shot. Since a successful late-game blitz against Boston in mid-January, Simmons has averaged 19.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.8 APG and 1.8 SPG while shooting 62.8% from the floor and 69.8% from the stripe. While fantasy managers endured a slow start from Simmons this season, there could be a sizable shift in scoring efficiency underway.
Injuries of note
Detroit's Delon Wright has been diagnosed with a significant groin strain will miss a minimum of two weeks. Dennis Smith Jr. got the start on Sunday but wasn't very productive in limited action. Wright's injury might signal more usage for Josh Jackson in the weeks ahead.
Charlotte's Devonte' Graham is listed as doubtful to play tonight in Utah due to a left knee injury.
Boston could really use injured dynamic combo guard Marcus Smart in the lineup. Smart is aiming for a return to action after the All-Star break in March.
Analytics advantage for Monday
The Rockets have listed guard Victor Oladipo as doubtful for tonight's matchup against the Bulls due to a right foot injury that has held him out of the last five games. Christian Wood also remains out with a significant ankle injury. Jae'Sean Tate and David Nwaba are two key options to pick up the slack. Tate has averaged 16.3 points and 1.9 combined blocks and steals (per 36 minutes) with both Wood and Oladipo off the floor this season. Nwaba, meanwhile, has averaged 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds (per 36 minutes) under the same circumstances. He could well play heavy minutes as an important defensive counter to Chicago's Zach LaVine.
Top players to watch on Monday
Not only is Gordon Hayward returning to Utah to play against the team that once drafted him, but hoops fans also get to see a marquee matchup of young guards in Salt Lake City. Dazzling rookie LaMelo Ball, the red-hot Rozier (and the rest of the Hornets) face Donovan Mitchell and leading "Sixth Man of the Year" candidate Jordan Clarkson in an entertaining setup of backcourt talents.