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With 24 teams in action on Saturday, it's time to examine two studs and a sleeper who should be plugged into fantasy lineups as the week nears a close.
The Big Guns
The Portland Trail Blazers point guard has been scorching hot lately, posting point totals of 23, 36 and 36 over his past three games.
In addition, Damian Lillard is shooting 51 percent from the field in his past two games, which is more than 10 points above his season average.
For fantasy purposes, though, Lillard has also been posting some very complete lines. He dropped 10 dimes and pulled down eight rebounds against the Cleveland Cavaliers and followed that up by grabbing six rebounds, dishing out six assists and ripping three steals in Wednesday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
And according to mySynergySports (subscription required), Lillard currently ranks No. 5 overall in isolation scoring, posting 1.09 points per possession in such situations. He also leads the league in effective field-goal percentage (49.1) on pull-up jumpers among players who attempt a minimum of five per game, according to NBA.com's stats database.
However, while Lillard's play of late has turned heads, B/R's Zach Buckley is preaching patience when it comes to labeling the point guard "elite":
Those feast-or-famine box scores have made his stat line tough to interpret. He's an elite three-point artist in every sense of the term (42.2 percent, 24th among players with at least 50 attempts) but a middling contributor inside the arc (39.9 percent).
He has too much explosiveness, too many ball-handling tricks and too soft a shooting stroke to struggle off the dribble the way he does. He's made 201 drives to the basket, but finished only 31.1 percent of those shots, via NBA.com's SportVU player tracking data. For comparison, that's less than half the success Jeremy Lin has found off the bounce (64.2).
While a matchup with Jrue Holiday may very well cause Lillard some problems, the New Orleans Pelicans are currently allowing the league's fifth-most points per 100 possessions, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to gash their defense come Saturday night.
Fantasy owners of Anthony Davis were pleasantly surprised on Wednesday night when news broke that the 20-year-old was returning from a fractured hand earlier than expected.
And per usual, Davis didn't disappoint, totaling 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes off the bench against the Los Angeles Clippers.
With Davis set to return to the Pelicans' starting lineup, owners are simply elated that they're getting a first-round talent who's lived up to prime-time billing back in their lineups.
On the season, Davis is averaging a staggering 19.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, league-leading 3.4 blocks and 1.7 steals a game all while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 82.7 percent from the free-throw line.
LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers will be a stout test for Davis and the Pelicans, but he should be able to take advantage of a defense that's allowing opponents to score 107.1 points per 100 possessions (No. 22 overall).
I mentioned a key perimeter trio that's helped fuel the Phoenix Suns' electric start earlier, so it's only right to elaborate on one of the key members of Jeff Hornacek's offense.
P.J. Tucker, who's currently owned in a shade under three percent of ESPN leagues, is putting together the finest season season of his career, averaging 9.1 points while shooting 47.5 percent from three.
Tucker's also flourishing to the tune of a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game, and he has pulled down an average of 7.3 boards during the month of December.
Factor in his respectable mark of 1.4 steals per game, and Tucker is a nice sleeper with explosive three-point potential whom fantasy owners should consider as we get set to enter the New Year.