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Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: James Johnson making the most of his minutes

James Johnson has been around the league a long time and always comes through for fantasy when he gets enough minutes. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Would you be interested in a fantasy basketball free agent providing efficient scoring and elite defensive production? There's a 34-year-old forward for the New Orleans Pelicans you might want to meet. After swatting three shots last night, James Johnson is averaging 2.5 blocks to go with 14.8 PPG in four appearances with the Pelicans.

Johnson was dealt by the Dallas Mavericks to New Orleans for JJ Redick last week in a somewhat sleepy transaction in regards to expected fantasy impact. But New Orleans has since lost Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to multi-week injuries and have had both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram dealing with ailments. A depleted rotation has led to steady minutes for Johnson, who has responded with stellar statistical production.

Maybe it's a blip of great production and Johnson will sink back to playing merely a marginal role in an NBA rotation. Maybe it's a savvy veteran taking advantage of a unique opportunity, just as he did with Minnesota last season. It won't cost you much to find out, as Johnson is a free agent in roughly 85% of ESPN leagues.

Tuesday recap

Highlights

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 41 points (14-21 FG), 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls: 32 points (14-29 FG), 17 rebounds, 5 assists

Lowlights

OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors: 2 points (1-3 FG), 0 rebounds, 3 assists

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies: 10 points (3-8 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 TO

Tuesday takeaways

  • The Clippers debuted DeMarcus Cousins at center last night. Boogie tallied seven points and four rebounds in eight minutes of action. With Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac both ahead of him for minutes at center, Cousins isn't likely going to help fantasy rosters this season.

  • One of the key positives for Detroit this season has been the play of rookie Saddiq Bey. The Villanova product scored 25 points last night in a loss to the Nuggets. This marked his seventh game this season with at least five made 3-pointers, while no other rookie has more than three such performances. With Detroit likely to field one of the youngest lineups in the league next season, Bey could really ascend as a fantasy force.

Injuries of note

  • Boston's Evan Fournier is unlikely to play this week due to placement in the league's health and safety protocols.

  • Orlando lists Cole Anthony as questionable for tonight's matchup against Washington. The rookie guard hasn't played in weeks due to a rib injury but would serve a sizable creation role once back.

  • Bradley Beal is questionable to face the Magic due to a hip injury that has cost him the last few games.

  • James Harden is listed as out Wednesday due to a hamstring injury and is scheduled to be reevaluated in around two weeks. Kevin Durant is listed as probable to return from a multi-week absence due to a hamstring injury of his own.

Analytics advantage for Wednesday

Gordon Hayward will miss around a month of play due to a foot injury. It might not make sense to roster Hayward outside of truly deep leagues given the real potential he doesn't play again in the regular season.

Miles Bridges should net a larger role with Hayward sidelined, as the young forward has averaged nearly 14 points and 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes with Hayward off the floor this season. Ahead of an inviting matchup with a depleted Thunder lineup, you can still find Bridges in free agency in nearly 40% of ESPN leagues.

Top player to watch on Wednesday

All eyes are on Durant in Brooklyn. The superstar is likely to make his return to action this evening and could enjoy facing a Pelicans defense allowing 115.3 points per 100 possessions, third most in the league.