• It’s Super Bowl week so the schedule has been a little bit light and a little bit funky. There were only five games on a Friday night, so we get to dive deep and also get into the trade deadline news for the squads that were in action.

    Otherwise, since I have your attention, keep an eye out for our 2019 Trade Deadline Show, which will have a who’s who of Hoop Ball experts, the ITL guys and the proverbial ‘and more.’

    Make sure you’re getting into the forums around here as the water is warm and the community is great.

    Also, you guys have to check out some of the great content that’s being put out here on both the free and premium side. Guys like Dio Nikiforos, Zach Bodhane, Josh Millman and Nathan Nguyen are putting together the mix of serious value-add and writing quality that stands up in this industry.

    Our editor Mike Passador and assistant editor in Erik Ong are making sure the trains are on time and the quality is good. Dan Besbris and the A/V guys on the Nets and Kings pods, Neil Rochlani and Adrian Benjamins on the nightly Box Score Breakdown Pod, as well as the team coverage we have with Jon Schifferle and Jack Winter — and all of our blurbers, developers, DFS seedlings and the folks I’m surely forgetting — they’re really blowing my mind with how they’re getting after it.

    Just know that I work with a bunch of badasses and don’t sell yourself short by missing out, they’re putting out quality stuff.

    TWO 10-DAYS AWAY FROM BEING TWO 10-DAYS AWAY

    The Grizzlies are a few miles down the road to tanking and barring a surprise there are going to be nice chances for fantasy owners to make a move here.

    JaMychal Green (10 points, three boards, two treys, 20 minutes) wasn’t good in last night’s loss to the Hornets, but between he, Jaren Jackson Jr. (DNP, right quad) and Ivan Rabb (15 points, five boards, two assists, one steal, 28 minutes) they’re going to carry most of the big man minutes if Marc Gasol (eight points, six boards, five assists, 27 minutes) gets dealt.

    Yes, there is Joakim Noah, who went big last night in what was a spirited game for the Grizzlies’ scrubs, as he went for 10 and 11 with two assists and a block in 22 minutes.

    You might see him line up against bigger centers and the Grizz might even spot Noah 20 mpg for as long as he can hold up, but they have no interest in developing him and it’s unclear how much they’d view him as an on-court example for the kids.

    Jackson looks like a top 30-40 play the rest of the year if he stays upright, even if Gasol somehow makes it through the year in Memphis but especially if he does not.  And it’s hard to see him or Mike Conley sticking around, as anything that can be done should be done to dismantle this team at whatever profit that can be had.

    Green is actually on the block but assuming nobody is desperately trying to get into the JaMaychal Green business, they could use him to protect Jackson and he could easily roll as a top-100 guy the rest of the year.

    Rabb has been on my 30-deep team for weeks knowing how the math would work out there if/when Gasol is on his way, and I have questions about whether he can put it all together and keep 25 mpg, but sometimes it simply comes down to who is the last man standing.  He’s worth a look as a big man stash heading into the deadline.

    Justin Holiday, who I feel like we’ve been rooting for now for about three seasons, got back on track with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting (including two threes), four rebounds and one steal over 35 minutes. This one is really simple as he’s the same guy he has been for each of those three seasons and he’s going to get minutes.

    Still, he is also on the block and so is Garrett Temple. Omri Casspi is out for a while with a knee injury.  Minutes are falling out of the sky in Memphis right now.

    Kyle Anderson did not play due to a shoulder injury that sounds day-to-day, so hopefully he can rest both that and his previously injured ankle. He’s an easy must-own guy.

    Shelvin Mack has struggled this season and he appears to have put on weight, but if Conley (DNP, left knee/trade deadline) gets traded and they don’t get a point guard back he’ll be your starter. He scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting with nine assists and two steals over 36 minutes, but in the past when he has gotten chances he has been a late-round value at best. Plan accordingly.

    And as if there weren’t enough interesting storylines in Memphis of all places, Bruno Caboclo is about to run out of time on his 10-day and the Grizzlies gave him a pretty amazing cup of Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee (great product placement, Glenn!).

    Caboclo stayed under the radar with just seven points on 1-of-7 shooting, four rebounds, one steal and one block in 23 minutes off the bench, and it’s unclear how his future shakes out during trade deadline week.

    Should the Grizzlies somehow need his roster spot to facilitate a deal, or they simply go another direction, then all bets are off. But he wasn’t terrible and it was quite the opposite, as he actually showed potential that wasn’t two years away from being two years away. The Grizzlies need to take chances on players like that and, again, it doesn’t hurt that so many players are on the block.

    As for Caboclo, he has averaged 3.2 money counters per game in 23.0 mpg in his last five games, sitting in the top 150-180 (9/8 cat) range with a 27.6 field goal percentage. It’s probably going to be a bumpy ride even if it goes well but he’s definitely on the radar as a stash right now – the question is where he ranks among the stashes and whether you’re waiting for clarity or trying to get ahead of the curve. I know in my competitive leagues that run close to 200 players deep, he’ll be pretty high on my add list.

    THE SHUSHING OF THE LAMB

    On the other side of the ledger, we’re officially starting to see some panic on Jeremy Lamb, who was basically benched for a combo of Tony Parker (15 points, seven boards, 22 minutes) and Malik Monk (20 points, 6-of-15 FGs, four threes, three boards, one block, 26 minutes).

    Lamb hasn’t been great lately with just top 150-180 value (9/8 cat) over the last two weeks, averaging 25.3 mpg and 40 percent field goal shooting with just 0.7 combined steals and blocks.

    I had one worry with Lamb this year and that was really it – he’s so consistent with what he does and he’s good enough on this team to trip and fall into projections – but if the Hornets decided he wasn’t with them next year and decided to move on, then we’d be in some trouble.

    In this context, moving on would be diminishing his minutes to see what they have in somebody like Monk, or otherwise giving away his minutes. And if we really want to put on the tin foil hat, if they diminish his minutes perhaps he’s easier to keep during free agency.

    James Borrego said that Monk had turned a corner recently, and with young players you never know when that light bulb could turn on, but I still can’t see Monk improving enough to somehow displace Lamb, or Lamb losing his minutes if the situation is truly a meritocracy.

    So that’s a long-winded way to see he’s a buy low candidate right now, with a predictable stat set and value in the top 80-100 range (9/8 cat) on the year in 28.5 mpg. He could still sling shot the other direction and nail down 30-plus mpg, but it does seem as if he’s struggling to get into the true starter’s minutes range, which is fine. We wanted a tiny bit more than that this year but otherwise he has met expectations.

    And no I’m not adding Monk anywhere, as the defensive issues and stat set are easily enough to dissuade me.

    Nicolas Batum scored seven points on 2-of-4 shooting with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and one three, and he has fought his way back to top-100 value with a top-45 stretch this month. Now’s a great time to package him with another player in a deal, obviously.

    TECTONIC

    Yesterday was just a non-stop day of news, building off the previous day’s Kristaps Porzingis deal and coiling around the Anthony Davis drama, we eventually saw Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to New York rumors pile up and in the middle of all that Irving was dropping bombs in media sessions – in New York of all places.

    Yes, the crowd did chant his name (We Want Kyrie!) and yes Irving said he didn’t owe anybody shit when asked about allegiance to the Celtics, and yes he told the media to ask him on July 1 about his desire to stay with the Celtics.

    Whether you believe that Irving is long for Boston (or not), or you believe that Boston is long for Irving (or not), or if Davis wants or needs Irving (or not) to be in Boston for him to want to be there (or not) … your head is still probably spinning from today’s developments.

    We’ve said for the last 2-3 years now that the Trade Deadline wasn’t going to have much pop, and this year that’s pretty much the same message that’s going around, but these have been tectonic shifts in the past few days and it’s possible the wreckage will produce a domino effect.

    As for the Celtics, they prevailed behind Irving’s 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting with two threes, 10 boards, six assists and two steals. Up and down the box score there were no surprises and though the Celtics have been favored to wait and make an offer for Davis this summer, the posturing has begun.

    Though the Lakers’ first offer has been derided in some quarters that’s where Davis wants to go and the Celtics could easily start to feel the pressure.

    And if you believe that Irving isn’t the fit for your franchise (or you believe he can’t lead this group of young players, who might be tiring of a guy who yaps but doesn’t play defense), and you also believe that he might go to New York – then you might decide to trade him now, go after the guy you want in Davis now (since league rules prohibit you from having both Irving and Davis until this summer), and ease the locker room struggles so your solid young core can grow alongside Davis.

    Yes, the trade deadline could be magical. The great Koz and I talked about a lot of this stuff here, so check it out.

    BITE THE BULLET

    Meanwhile, the Knicks were without a lot of their players acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, and that has been thoroughly hashed out in fantasyland but I should go on record for what I think happens.

    I think the Knicks just didn’t like Enes Kanter and that he wasn’t one of their guys, which we discussed (and opted to fade) earlier in the year. So when David Fizdale and the front office talk about playing newly acquired vets DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews – even though they audaciously benched Kanter in hilariously stupid ways, rendering the veteran presence to be not so high on the wish list – they could easily look at this as apples and pineapples.

    The good news if you’re hoping that neither of them play is that they’re both buyout candidates. There are already rumors about Matthews drawing interest from the Rockets and it’s not hard to see Jordan wanting to play for a contender, and do the Knicks really want these guys around mopping up minutes when they’re probably not going to be there next season?

    (well it is the Knicks so….)

    To get to the center of this, Luke Kornet (ankle, nine points, one three, one steal, two boards, 17 minutes)) returned last night and Mitchell Robinson (eight points, eight boards, one block, 18 minutes) is the other piece of that two-headed monster that may or may not be, and I think they both need to be owned outright.

    Kornet is a top 200-230 play (9/8 cat) in just 15.2 mpg this season and he hasn’t really been able to get in a groove yet, either. In a world in which Jordan does not play, he could easily see 24-28 mpg while Robinson gets the rest and tries not to foul out.

    As for Robinson, he’s sitting on top 130-160 value (9/8 cat) in just 17.2 mpg this season and he’s probably seeing 22-26 mpg the rest of the way. He’s a more valuable long-term piece than Kornet and Knicks brass has a lot to gain if he does well, and they have always called a lot of the playing time shots.

    Owners just have to bite the bullet and hold on here and hope the Jordan situation doesn’t become a situation.

    Elsewhere, Dennis Smith Jr. will have a chance to reinvent his game and he’ll need to be very efficient in order to shake the top 100-125 returns he’s projected to bring back, otherwise. He also has to look over his shoulder at the two max slots just created by the team, and especially if one of those is for Kyrie Irving, it wouldn’t be hard to see him look out for his long-term health.

    This deal to acquire him was as much about the Mavs’ pair of first rounders they’ll eventually convey, but you do expect the Knicks to treat him like a highly sought-after rookie for the rest of the year.

    The glut of inconsistent guards left in the wake just aren’t interesting. Kevin Knox (21 points, 9-of-21 shooting, two treys, five boards, two assists, one steal, 40 minutes) isn’t that interesting, and Noah Vonleh (seven points, 11 boards, seven assists) probably hangs around his current late round value. No, I can’t buy into Mario Hezonja (10 points, three boards, two assists).

    THE TAO OF WESTBROOK

    Yes, I thought Rudy Gobert got snubbed with Russell Westbrook making the All Star team, and we’ll have more on that later. But he has somewhat steadied lately and last night he had another efficient outing with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 12 boards, 14 assists, one steal, one block and just four turnovers in a road win over the Heat.

    And he did make just 2-of-5 freebies, so it’s not all clear on that front.

    But 6-of-10 shooting nights wouldn’t be the worst thing for him if he could focus on other things like rebounding and assisting, as he has done over the last two weeks with 12.3 boards and 12.0 helpers per contest. It’s still the free throw percentage that’s killing him, as he’s shooting a high volume 65 percent from the line.

    It’s clearly in his head and if there is a silver lining at all it’s that he’s either experiencing a mini-Markelle Fultz situation or he’s due for a bounce back. You just don’t shoot 5,657 free throws at 80.6 percent and drop this far without it being one or the other.

    That said, he has generally shot better from the line when he’s been at the line more, but last year the arrival of Paul George brought his FTAs down and this year we’ve seen them dip even further, from 10.4 per game in 2016-17, to 7.1 last season and 6.1 this season.

    It would be easy to call him a rhythm foul shooter that does better with volume, but in his early career days with the Thunder he also hovered around 6.3 to 7.0 per game and regardless he has almost always been an 80-plus percent foul shooter.

    Again, it’s either in his head or he’s bouncing back, and if he could cede the FGAs to George then it’s possible he has a bit of a bounceback in fantasy leagues.

    George was outstanding again scoring 43 points on 14-of-23 shooting with 10 threes, seven boards, five assists and two steals. He’s just cruising along with No. 4 overall value when on the floor and no end in sight.

    Steven Adams (13 points, seven boards, two assists, three steals) returned from a one-game absence due to a right ankle sprain, because he’s Aquaman and that’s what Aquaman does.

    That and he brings back top 50-60 value while looking like a linebacker just trucked him, pedaling on a stationary bike between quarters with no intention of taking a night off. Until this last one.

    If I’m the Thunder I’m giving him considerable rest, especially when you might be able to survive on Nerlens’ Noel (three blocks, four points, seven boards, 21 minutes) in a starting role for 1-2 game stretches.

    But Adams wants to play and the Thunder want him to play and he’s going to go out there and continue playing, and it’s hard to bet against him when he’s pretty much showing that he’ll play through anything these days. And, as it has all season, this still makes the decision to roster Noel a lot easier.

    Noel is producing top 120-150 value (9/8 cat) this season in just 14.4 mpg, and has untold upside if Adams can’t be a superhero all season long, or the Thunder simply preserve their big man for the playoffs like a smart team should.

    Terrance Ferguson (23 minutes, one steal) hasn’t been right since hitting the injury report for back spasms. He was previously testing out as a late-round value so we basically put our analysis on pause until we know he’s right and then start it up all over again.

    If you don’t want to miss out on other free agents while that analysis is on pause it makes perfect sense to go after another free agent given his low upside.

    TAKE YOUR MEDICINE

    The Heat played 11 guys last night but in fairness two of them logged just four minutes, so they effectively played a 9-man rotation. Bravo! They still got walloped at home by the Thunder.

    I’ve always had the Heat ranked highly for front office and coaching but the last 1-2 seasons have been a bit of a mess. The quotes out of Miami are low key hilarious too, as if they’re just figuring out that playing musical chairs is never a good idea.

    There is practically nothing that’s interesting with this team in fantasy leagues.

    Kelly Olynyk had a nice night with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, four threes, seven boards, two assists and a block in 31 minutes, and regular readers know about his plenty serviceable stat set so the only question is ‘will the Heat stop being the Heat.’

    The answer really boils down to what happens at the trade deadline. Can they take their losses in a productive way and help clear the deck for a restart.

    They’ve resisted tanking and even been strong on not tanking but they’re not a tanking averse organization (07-08), and if they can get rid of a Goran Dragic or any number of their upside down contracts in a way that accelerates the pain, then that would probably be good management.

    And because of my faith in the aforementioned, albeit possibly misplaced because I don’t think they tank, it’s possible a deal jars this thing loose.

    It might come down to including a younger player or a player on a decent deal and that’s where we’ll see if Miami has the foresight to get out of a bad build quickly.

    LET’S MAKE A DEAL

    The Hawks did not look good at all against the Kings the other night and they had no chance in Utah last night against a Jazz team that coalesced around their anchor in Rudy Gobert.

    The Hawks are also heavy in the rumor mill because of long-held beliefs around the league that Kent Bazemore (17 minutes, eight points, 3-of-11 FGs, six rebounds, one assist, one steal) would get dealt, along with Dewayne Dedmon (15 points, seven boards, two assists, three steals, one block, three treys, 28 minutes) also being on the block and now Taurean Prince (nine points, two rebounds, one assist, one trey, 23 minutes) also being available according to Zach Lowe.

    Aside from the new regime trying to distance themselves from Bazemore’s deal, there’s no real reason to deal any of these guys unless you’re going to see a net benefit. So why deal Bazemore when he can help you and you’re going to have to pay to get rid of him?

    Dedmon seems much more likely to be traded. He can help teams right away, he won’t cost nearly as much and there’s no long-term risk. This is where Alex Len (zero points, 0-for-4 FGs, four rebounds, one steal, one block, nine minutes) becomes an interesting stash.

    Even factoring in this dud, he has been a solid top 160-175 guy in just 16.7 mpg over the last two weeks. He’s been playing late-round ball in a lower-minute role, so if Dedmon goes he has some sneaky mid-round upside. As for last night’s dud, the Jazz frontcourt can do that to a mediocre player like Len.

    The caveats here are that he has never really sustained a big minute role and he has more than average injury risk, but a solid 23-27 mpg role seems very doable if Dedmon gets traded and nothing comes back.

    I even like Omari Spellman (seven points, two rebounds, one steal, one block, one three, 19 minutes) to jump up into a 22-26 mpg range in a very tanky scenario down the stretch, so deep league owners might want to throw a marker down on him heading into the break.

    He hasn’t been great this season with just top-250 value in 17.2 mpg, but he came into the NBA overweight and looks a little thinner. If he can improve on the 40 percent shooting, which he will, and expand an already versatile stat set, he may be on to something.

    As for the talk about getting rid of a wing, though you have Kevin Huerter (14 points, two boards, seven assists, four threes, 29 minutes) and Deandre’ Bembry (six points, 2-of-7 FGs, eight boards, two assists, one steal, 24 minutes), are you 100 percent certain that you want to hitch to those wagons over somebody like Prince?

    I think the Hawks will need to see extra value in any deal they take, though this is the team that passed on Luka Doncic for Trae Young so anything is possible.

    Dedmon has been rolling in the top 25-40 range lately and this is prime sell-high territory. You gotta hope your opponent isn’t dialed into all the trade rumors, but if they are, you’re hoping they’re so enamored with the recent numbers that they’re willing to consider late mid-round assets. He’s a top 50-75 guy (9/8 cat) on the season in 24.8 mpg, and heading to a good team he could easily be plugged into a more typical 20 mpg role.

    As for Bazemore he’s an easy hold given his upside in Atlanta, the possibly overstated chance of leaving and the not out of this world crazy potential he could continue a 27 mpg role in another location.

    it’s a buy low time for Prince but use the trade rumors, uncertainty and rough season to attempt a play outside of the top 80-90. You go inside that mark and it’s possible the emergence of Huerter, the presence of Trae Young, whatever Bembry is going to be, and the ROI slides from top-50 numbers to top-100 numbers.

    Add the potential to him to get traded to a good team and you may go upside down. Regardless, I want to bet big here because I think there’s some real buyer’s remorse out there.

    SNUBBAGE

    Rudy Gobert’s All Star snub and pregame moment were way bigger stories than the game itself, as Gobert passionately described the disappointment of not getting the nod and shed tears in the process. This made the Internet a very stupid place pretty much all day.

    This shouldn’t really be breaking any news, but crying is not bad. Those of us who are old enough to remember and even revel in the old school approach — the portion of this population that has evolved – we’ve seen the damage it does. And if being so tightly wound that crying is somehow offensive to you, or you think it’s not manly, or you think he was overreacting, or you think it’s something to point out and deride – you’re just telling on yourself.

    As for the game itself, Gobert made his presence known with 25 points on 7-of-7 shooting (11-of-15 FTs), 13 boards and two blocks. Russell Westbrook and LaMarcus Aldridge’s spots on the All Star squad could have easily been given to Gobert, but Westbrook is still riding the reputation of 2-3 years ago and Aldridge stands out within a Spurs brand that sells to voters.

    The Jazz started slow and Gobert didn’t look great early. He appears to have almost all of his athleticism back but he’s lost agility as he has put on muscle over the years. It’s Utah and as many have pointed out, his style of play doesn’t jump off the page.

    Still, it’s pretty amazing to see coaches get this one wrong, and I think it’s the most recent example of how their lack of time to pour over league news and statistics is reflected in some of their understanding of the rest of the league. Maybe it’s why front offices should look into having some fantasy players and degenerates filling in the gaps for them.

    On the deadline front, there have been some Mike Conley for Ricky Rubio-centered trades and that would dent somebody like Donovan Mitchell at least a little bit. Conley isn’t at a stage of his career where he should be deferring the way Rubio (22 points, 11 assists, two threes, one steal) does within the offense.

    He’d add effectiveness to the equation and could be a rising tide for all boats, though Joe Ingles (19 points, seven boards, five assists, three treys) could also expect to see some of his value in assists go down, but you might see him offset that with more and better 3-point opportunities.

    Nikola Mirotic is mentioned in Jazz rumors so he could come and clutter things up a bit, but this team has a decent chance of staying put as they did during last summer’s free agency.

    FIGURING OUT FARIED

    The Rockets and Nuggets were the main event last night in a game that featured no real defense. James Harden barely squeaked to 30 points, hitting 9-of-21 shots (including seven threes) to go with six boards, nine assists, two steals and one block. You already know he’s trying to lap the field in 8-cat leagues and in 9-cat leagues he could easily take the crown there given Anthony Davis’ outlook.

    Kenneth Faried had another solid night but you started to see outlines of his problematic stat set, as he did not have a defensive stat to go with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting (5-of-6 FTs) and six boards in 31 minutes.

    He is now returning just top 100-125 value (9/8 cat) in 28.1 mpg since arriving in Houston, which is way lower than most people think he’s producing, as the 58.8 percent number from the line on 4.3 attempts per game is making its mark. He’s better than that from the line but the clock is ticking and Clint Capela sounds like he’ll be back right after the break.

    Chris Paul scored 20 points with a full line other than no steals and he’ll likely get Saturday off as the Rockets are correctly being careful. Eric Gordon (17 points, 6-of-9 FGs, two threes, two boards, three assists, 25 minutes) left the game with knee soreness but was reportedly available to return.

    That situation doesn’t look great but he has been grinding through it, so perhaps the idea is to push through to the break and try to use that week for get healthy. Watch out for bracketed days off surrounding the break, which would be a smart strategy.

    It doesn’t really matter if he plays or not in fantasy leagues, as his late-round value at best hasn’t been there this season and nobody else has been able to step up.

    GLUT OF GOOD

    You sure can’t hear the Michael Malone detractors out of Denver anymore.

    And when you have players like Malik Beasley (career-high 35 points, 12-of-17 FGs, 5-of-9 3PTs, 6-of-7 FTs, three assists, one steal, 41 minutes) and Monte Morris (18 points, six boards, eight assists, two steals, three blocks, 7-of-11 FGs, one turnover, 37 minutes) stepping in and playing the way they are, it’s easy to see how Malone’s culture and this group of players along with management have really hit a home run here.

    Some assign a disproportionate amount of the Nuggets’ success to Nikola Jokic’s (31 points, 13 boards, nine assists, one steal, one three, 12-of-15 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs) eye-popping stats and stunning impact on offensive tempo – and that’s fine.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of team basketball.

    But this team is ridiculously deep and with the way they’re developing players that really ought to be sold so they can consolidate some of their value before it gets forced away due to the pressures of the salary cap.

    There’s no real trade action expected here, and owners can ride the Beasley and Morris waves however long guys like Gary Harris (DNP, groin) and Will Barton (seven points, four rebounds, six assists, one block, 24 minutes) aren’t at full strength, and especially for Morris – while Jamal Murray (ankle) is out. Malone said after the game that the injury was serious and they don’t know when he’ll be back. It sounds like this could be anything from an additional week to until the break if I had to guess.

Fantasy News

  • Michael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets

    As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

    Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.

    Source: The Denver Post

  • Jonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next Head Coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option according to Donatas Urbonas.

    Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.

    Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.

    Source: Micha Adams on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.

    Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.

    The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.

    After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.

    Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.

    VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.

    Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.

  • Khris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.

    All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.