Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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The Lakers’ dramatic descent will understandably be the top NBA talking point on Tuesday, but we should also give the Phoenix Suns some attention for gamely upsetting the Bucks on Monday evening in a compelling victory for the struggling franchise. The Suns shockingly completed their series sweep this season against Milwaukee.

The Bucks and Knicks — the teams with best and worst records in NBA — are the only teams that haven’t defeated the Suns this season. Phoenix entered as underdogs of at least 13 points in both wins against Milwaukee, becoming the first team to beat a team twice as 13-point underdogs since the 2001-02 Bulls against the Lakers.

Led by Kelly Oubre Jr., the Suns mounted a successful comeback effort, buoyed by beating the Bucks by 15 points in the final quarter. Oubre impressively went to the stripe 17 times, resulting in 27 points on just 14 field goal attempts. Rookie Deandre Ayton helped the cause with his 34th double-double of the season, 13 more than any other rookie. Just as notably for fantasy investors is the fact Oubre netted three blocks in the win and has averaged one swat per game in addition to 1.3 steals per contest with Phoenix.8

The productive two-way performance resulted in Oubre earning the top fantasy score on DraftKings among both the shooting guard and small forward markets for Monday’s slate. Rostered in fewer than half of ESPN leagues as of Tuesday morning, Oubre is a must-add asset for these final pivotal weeks of the marathon that is the NBA campaign.

Per Second Spectrum, Harden has taken 31,583 dribbles this season. The Raptors’ four leading scorers combined (Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Kyle Lowry) have taken 31,458 dribbles this season, or 125 fewer than Harden.

We might not get the chance to Kawhi put the clamps on Harden very often in tonight’s contest, given they matched up just 10 times in their first meeting back on January 25, per Second Spectrum. Harden went 1-of-2 from the field with Leonard as the closest defender, but the sample size is minute. Leonard rested for Toronto’s last game, so this should be a riveting display of two MVP-worthy talents.

A much larger sample is Harden averaging 40.5 PPG over his past 38 games. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the second-most consecutive games averaging 40 PPG in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain’s record is just a bit longer at 515 games.