Dec 30, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) looks on during the second half against the Miami Heat at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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Isaiah Thomas closed out 2016 with a career-high 52 points and enters 2017 as an elite point guard option in FanDuel NBA leagues.
The Boston Celtics essentially threw out the playbook in the fourth quarter Friday night, allowing Isaiah Thomas to create his own shot opportunities.
After scoring 23 points in the first three quarters against Miami, Thomas would go on to set a Boston franchise record in the same arena littered with championship banners and retired jersey numbers of legendary players.
The scoring binge from Thomas began just 55 seconds into the fourth quarter, as his 3-pointer from 25 feet out ignited an unprecedented late-game run.
Thomas closed out the fourth quarter by connecting on 9-of-12 attempts from the field, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, and sank each of his five free throw attempts.
The 29-point effort from Thomas in the final period not only set a franchise record for fourth-quarter scoring, but is the second most in league history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain, as he scored 31 during his historic 100-point outing against the Knicks.
Boston clinched a 117-114 victory behind perhaps the most impressive shot of the evening from Thomas, as he launched a shot from 30-feet out as the shot clock was about to expire.
The scoring run from Thomas was no fluke, as he ranks second in the NBA in both fourth-quarter points per game (9.3) and crunch-time points, with 98.
In crunch-time play, Thomas is an even more dangerous shooter, connecting on 48.1 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Really, any time Thomas is on the floor, he is a threat to score. Thomas has been held to less than 20 points just one time this season, an 18-point outing against Golden State, and has poured in 20 or more points in 18 consecutive games, the longest streak in the league this year.
A groin injury forced Thomas to miss four consecutive games in early December, but ever since his return, he has been even more dominant, pouring in 31.8 points a night in his last nine appearances.
Any FanDuel NBA roster can benefit from the explosive scoring of Thomas, and his impact once the fourth quarter starts, he can’t be stopped.
Nov 16, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) pushes the ball up court during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Sacramento Kings 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The month of December was exceptional for Toronto guard Kyle Lowry. During 14 games in the month, Lowry seemingly couldn’t miss, as he shot 54 percent from the field and 50.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 24.4 points, 7.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 3-point field goals and 1.3 steals per game. As great as his December was, Lowry started 2017 even more impressively, totaling 41 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and connecting on 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range.
Tony Parker is stringing together his best stretch of the season, becoming a commodity in FanDuel NBA tournament play in the process. Over the past three games, Parker is producing 20 points, 4.7 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game. More importantly, San Antonio is showing a willingness to increase his workload, playing him 28 or more minutes three times in the past four games, including a 31-minute outing Sunday in Atlanta, the first time he has exceeded 30 minutes since Nov. 1.
Nov 30, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket past Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Grizzlies 120-105. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
While Kyle Lowry was grabbing all of the attention for his phenomenal outing Sunday night against the Lakers, DeRozan shined during a return to his hometown. DeRozan grew up in Los Angeles and went to college at Southern California, so anytime he plays against the Lakers, his favorite team growing up, he is playing in front of family and friends. DeRozan delivered a 31-point effort, his 16th game with 30 or more points this season. Throughout his career, DeRozan has been successful against the Spurs, averaging 19.3 points per game and in his lone appearance against San Antonio last seaosn, he totaled 28 points, six assists, four rebounds, a steal and a block.
In his last game, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided a bit of everything for Detroit, finishing with 23 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range to go along with six rebounds, five assists and two steals. As the Pistons continue to shuffle their roster, Caldwell-Pope is one of the few constants, as he has played 30 or more minutes 18 times in the last 20 games, propping up his value as a FanDuel NBA roster option.
Dec 21, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) looks to pass around Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Paul George has made an effort to get to the foul line more frequently, a wise move considering his accuracy. Over the past three games, George has earned an average of eight trips to the free throw line, up from his seaosn average of 4.7 per game, resulting in 23 points. George is connecting on 92.4 percent of his free throws, second only to Stephen Curry this season. The scoring from George is one point fewer from a seaosn ago, but if he starts attacking the rim more frequently than settling for mid-range jumpers, he could be poised for a very productive run in 2017.
The output in FanDuel NBA play has increased for Barnes in each of the past four games, a promising trend considering he sat out the entire fourth quarter Sunday afternoon against the Warriors. Barnes watched from the bench, despite scoring 25 points in the first three quarters of the game, as the contest was out of reach. Even though he has posted just one double-double this seaosn, Barnes is a viable FanDuel NBA roster option because of his ability to create his own shot, with his 5.6 points off isolation plays ranking as the third most in the league.
Nov 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) controls the ball in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
LaMarcus Aldridge is returning to being a dominant player in FanDuel NBA league play. In his last five games, Aldridge has submitted four games with 40 or more fantasy points. Sunday in Atlanta was a complete performance from Aldridge, as he totaled 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two assists. The Spurs have involved Aldridge much more frequently in the offense, resulting in three games with 17 or more shots during the five game run, up from his season average of 13.7 per game.
Sunday in Detroit, Miami had only nine available players, with four out of five of the usual starters unavailable to play. While the Heat dropped the game, James Johnson continued his excellent play off the bench. For the second consecutive night, Johnson scored at least 20 points and more than 30 points in FanDuel NBA leugue play. Johnson finished the night with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Over his last 10 games, Johnson is posting 13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks.
Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
DeMarcus Cousins dominated in an unexpected way in his last outing, posting a season-high five steals during Saturday’s loss to the Grizzlies. The total moved Cousins into rare territory, as he joins only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis as the only players in the league to have totaled at least 45 steals and 45 blocks this season. Cousins is an elite FanDuel NBA performer in all categories, as he is averaging 29 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 3-pointers, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
An extended break, as Philadelphia hasn’t taken the court since Friday night, has worked out well for Joel Embiid. On nights when he is playing with three or more days of rest, Embiid is averaging 21 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 blocks per game. Over his past nine outings, Embiid has established himself as one of the most intimidating shot blockers in the league, turning back 2.7 shots a night, enough for 5.4 points a game in FanDuel NBA tournament play.
PG John Wall ($9,600) PG Isaiah Thomas ($5,100) SG Bradley Beal ($6,800) SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,700)0 SF Danilo Gallinari ($6,200) SF Harrison Barnes ($6,800) PF Gorgui Dieng ($5,600) PF James Johnson ($5,400) C Joel Embiid ($7,200)