• If you have made it this far, congratulations! We are entering the final two weeks of the season and, for a lot of us, Championship week is upon us. A five-game slate on Sunday did not go calmly into the night. News of Blake Griffin (suspension) returning this Sunday, April 3rd throws a wrench into championship week, as it was reported that he looks “phenomenal” in practice. Add him if your season extends beyond this week and you can afford the dead weight until Sunday. Klay Thompson went off for 40 points for the second time in as many games, but didn’t record an assist. More on what the Warriors think about that later. His teammate Draymond Green triple-doubled again. Also, James Harden (beard illness) went off again for 34/8/8 in a loss, so what else is new? Let’s get to your Daily Dish:

    Clippers 105, Nuggets 90

    No need to tie DeAndre Jordan up in a room after his performance on Sunday. DeAndre was all kinds of helpful to owners needing a big game to advance, shooting 7-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from the line for 16 points with 16 rebounds, six blocks and two steals. Your team probably punts free throw percentage, so reap the rewards. Chris Paul (knee) gave it a go and held the highest +/- for the Clippers with +22, scoring 14 points with two treys, six rebounds, nine dimes, one steal and one block. I wouldn’t worry about him slowing down with the return of Blake Griffin this Sunday.

    J.J. Redick was inefficient in this one and wasn’t asked to do too much, shooting just 4-for-12 for 12 points with two threes and two steals in an empty line. Ignore this line as Redick sat the entire fourth quarter in a blowout and played only 23 minutes. Jamal Crawford didn’t wow owners much on Sunday either on a 14-point night off of 3-for-8 shooting from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. There are too many other players to roster this week who can help in a loaded schedule over Crawford and put up similar stats. Jeff Green came to play in 29 minutes, putting up 13 points, six rebounds, two steals and one block. His volatility is not what you want at this point in the season.

    Outside of DeAndre, CP3, Redick and Blake (beginning April 3), the Clippers don’t have reliable options. Put your faith on waiver wire fodder elsewhere.

    That elsewhere may just be on the Nuggets, whose bench outplayed their starters on Sunday. Denver’s starters were atrocious, shooting a combined 11-for-49 from the field. Leading that effort was Emmanuel Mudiay, who shot 2-for-15 from the field and scored four points with one assist and two turnovers.

    Darrell Arthur has cooled off significantly for owners as well, scoring six points on 2-of-13 shooting with 12 rebounds and four turnovers in 23 minutes. He was outplayed by Joffrey Lauvergne, who played 18 minutes and put up 10 points and four boards. With Kenneth Faried (back) uncertain game-to-game going forward, the Nuggets’ power forward situation is a guessing game. With the stakes so high in leagues this deep into the season, you can do better to find a clearer situation.

    The only two starters you can count on for the Nuggets these days are Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic, but even they couldn’t get too much going. Harris was 4-for-10 with 11 points and three triples and will get all the minutes he can handle moving forward, as he has done all season. Jokic was outmatched by DeAndre Jordan, so don’t look too much into his five-point nine-rebound line. He will bounce back in a big way against the Mavs tonight.

    The Nuggets did have a few fantasy bright spots Sunday, as the bench had some nice lines. D.J. Augustin continued to get it done for owners, logging a Nuggets-high 34 minutes for a double-double off of the bench for 18 points with three triples, 10 assists, two rebounds and two steals. Augustin has been clutch for owners in the playoffs, posting top-80 value over the past month. Grab him if you need solid guard play.

    Speaking of adds, Jusuf Nurkic was solid again in 24 minutes on Sunday, shooting 9-for-13 from the field for 19 points with seven boards, three assists and one block. His top-100 production over the last week has come while Faried (back) has missed games, so it’s all about opportunity for Nurkic, as the talent is obviously there. Nurkic is a high upside add.

    The chances that you have made it this far with Will Barton are slim, but kudos if you are a survivor. Barton did a little bit of everything Sunday, shooting 6-for-11 from the field for 13 points with one three, three assists, three rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Barton is worth owning as he has produced late-round value over the last week and benefits from the Nuggets’ nice schedule this week. Look at Augustin, Nurkic and Barton in that order.

    Pacers 104, Rockets 101

    The Pacers are very top-heavy in fantasy these days, as there isn’t much help outside of their starters. Paul George continues to lead that unit, double-doubling for 25 points with four threes, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 38 minutes on the second-leg of a back-to-back Sunday. His leg is fine. Monta Ellis was terrific as well with 23 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals and one block. Ian Mahinmi also added a double-double of his own with 19 points (8-for-12 from the field) and 11 rebounds. He will be useful in a four-game week this week.

    Your duds on the Pacers’ side came from George Hill and Myles Turner. Hill scored only three points on 1-for-5 shooting with three rounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Ouch. Hill is mid-tier value and is coming off of a 17-3-2-3 game, so don’t panic just yet. Myles Turner also put up a stinker, going scoreless on Sunday with three rebounds, two steals and one block. Turner had a 24/16 line with three blocks early last week, so you can hold his late-round value in this four-game week.

    Only one game separates the Jazz, Rockets and Mavs for the 7th – 9th seeds in the West. The Rockets are sitting alone in 8th with just a ½ game lead over the Mavs. You can bet on players from all three teams doing anything they can to get on the court during the stretch run. That was evident on Sunday as James Harden (illness) fought his way to be on the court in a losing effort. Between a sore ankle and feeling ill, Harden managed to go off for 34 points (11-for-22 shooting from the field) with four threes, eight assists, eight rebounds and one steal. It’s too bad he only plays three games this week.

    Dwight Howard double-doubled on Sunday with an 11/10 game with two blocks. Trevor Ariza was useful as well in 39 minutes, scoring 14 points with two threes, two rebounds, two assists and one steal. Both Dwight and Ariza should be locked in to lineups this week.

    The next tier of Rockets players who are ownable could be tricky to hold on to in a three-game week. Patrick Beverly is a good source of threes, assists and steals, but might cut you short in all three categories this week. Beverly is likely to perform better than his six-point, three-assist effort tonight going forward, but you can convince me that four games from someone else is better. The same goes for Michael Beasley, who saw just 22 minutes on Sunday for nine points, seven boards, one assist and one steal. Beasley isn’t shy with the ball so use him for his points and rebounds, but keep a short leash. He is still outperforming Donatus Motiejunas, who started and played just 15 minutes in a dud performance. I’d own Beverly, Beasley and Motie in that order, but feel free to cut bait on all-three if you can make ample moves.

Fantasy News

  • Kz Okpala
    F, Miami Heat

    Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.

    Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Gabe Vincent
    PG, Miami Heat

    Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".

    It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Shake Milton
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.

    Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia

    Source: The Athletic

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.

    Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.

    Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter

  • Eric Gordon
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

    Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.

    Source: The Athletic

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.

    The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.

    The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.

    Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter

  • Julius Randle
    PF, New York Knicks

    Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.

    Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.

    Source: https://www.sny.tv/knicks/news/heres-who-knicks-could-target-as-leon-roses-front-office-reshapes-roster/313481746

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.

    That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.

    Source: Celtics PR on Twitter

  • RJ Barrett
    SF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.

    Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.

    Source: Knicks PR on Twitter