• Friday ramped us right back up to 13 games after a restful and food-filled Thursday, which means we have plenty of stuff to get to. Before we dive into the main courses, however, let’s give a shoutout to a few interesting spot performances.

    Fred VanVleet grabbed seven steals against Orlando, producing the third seven-steal game of the season. The other two belong to Ben Simmons. Last season saw just two such games, courtesy of PJ Tucker and Kyrie Irving. It really opens up after that, with nine such games in the 2017-18 season.

    Norvel Pelle logged 13 minutes and picked up four swats against the Knicks, taking full advantage of a thinned out rotation.

    LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl both blocked four shots for the Spurs. LMA is averaging 1.7 swats, with a previous career-high of 1.3 per game, while Poeltl has blocks in each of his last six, with a three-block, four-block and five-block game in that span.

    Nothing really crazy to gain from all that — just a shoutout for interesting games from a smattering of names that cover the entire fantasy spectrum.

    Add(s) of the Night

    It’s got to be Norman Powell, who exploded for a career-high 33 points in a road win against the Magic. Powell shot 12-of-18 from the field with five threes, and while the boards and assists were basically nonexistent he did manage two steals and a block. Norm outscored the entire Magic team in the third quarter and was in complete control tonight, confidently stepping into threes and then blowing past defenders for good looks at the rim. He’s been inconsistent, to the point that even Nick Nurse has called him out for it, but the Raptors need scoring badly and Powell can be a viable option even when he’s not hitting his ceiling like this.

    There’s obviously a lot of potential pickups to go through, so head on over to our Pickups of the Night in the Gametime Premium package for a full write-up.

    Drop Zone

    Remember, these are guys you can feel alright dropping in 12-team leagues, not players you have to cut.

    Joe Ingles – Man, this is not fun. Ingles strings together a couple good games to get you interested and then drops another dud, as he did with tonight’s 1-for-6 shooting game. The worst part is that he didn’t even get the additional stats that keep his value afloat with just a solitary rebound to his name. The percentages are so far out of whack that he’ll be able to improve without trying all that hard but the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley has crushed him. Suddenly the Jazz have another source of perimeter scoring, as well as a playmaker who can handle every aspect of starting on a title hopeful.

    Dwight Powell – Huge shoutout to you if you’ve hung on this long already. He’ll get snapped up in hyper-competitive leagues but unless you’re in comfortable standing, burning a roster spot on a top-240 guy any longer just can’t be recommended.

    Mikal Bridges – Bridges has gotten squeezed with the Suns finding time for Cam Johnson and Frank Kaminsky, of all people, plus the quality play of Kelly Oubre and Dario Saric. He’s still averaging 1.5 steals per game but he was picked with hopes of top-80 value. The minutes are flighty, and the other numbers just aren’t there.

    Kyle Kuzma – Kuzma’s had a terrible stat set, and at the risk of dropping a spicy hot take, nobody would care at all about him if he played for literally any other team. He’s a stretch four that’s not a great 3-point shooter. Four points in 17 minutes on 2-of-7 shooting should be the final straw for a lot of people out there, though value outside the top-200 should be the real deal-breaker.

    Isaiah Thomas – Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Thomas is going to get enough touches to make it work as a member of the starting five. That, plus Scott Brooks is keeping the timeshare with Ish Smith pretty tight.

    Injury Report

    We got a few guys returning to action tonight, with none more important than Aron Baynes in Phoenix. He needs to be plugged back into all fantasy lineups right away, and the real test will come when Deandre Ayton gets back on the court in eight games.

    Jimmy Butler returned from illness, which isn’t really an injury, but here’s your update.

    Ed Davis came back from his left fibula fracture, and while there’s no fantasy impact it’s good to see one of the league’s certified Good Guys back on the floor.

    Kyle Anderson returned after a one-game bout with right heel soreness, though he wasn’t quite himself in 14-minute clunker. Back to the more important guys.

    The Warriors are hopeful that Kevon Looney can play as soon as Monday, which means you should start looking his way if he’s on waivers.

    Josh Richardson (hamstring) and Al Horford (rest) sat out against the lowly Knicks, and you can guess which one of those is an actual concern.

    Cody Zeller (hip) went from probable to out in a hurry, giving Bismack Biyombo another night of streaming appeal.

    On the flip side, Aaron Gordon (right ankle sprain) went from doubtful to in, though he played limited minutes and might have some light restrictions for the next couple games.

    Tomas Satoransky played through a toe injury to log his usual minutes in the Bulls’ new guard-heavy Frankenlineup.

    Clint Capela and Danuel House are both sick and doubtful for Saturday, which is just terrible. It looks like Capela will miss the entirety of Houston’s two-game week, though if you had him benched anyway you might be feeling alright.

    Marvin Bagley (right thumb) is out for Sacto’s next two at least, while Trevor Ariza should be returning from his personal absence shortly. Bagley’s getting close, which means the clock is ticking for Nemanja Bjelica.

    Kenrich Williams suffered a left ankle sprain that looks like it’ll cost him some time, which opens the door for frontcourt guys like Nicolo Melli and Jah Okafor depending on how the Pels want to play it.

    Daniel Theis banged his knee early in Friday’s matinee, and while he was cleared to return, he never did. Which leads us to…

    Can’t Play Kanter?

    This looks like the moment of truth for Enes Kanter this season. Despite Theis’ seemingly constant injury troubles, the Celtics have plugged him back into the starting lineup at every single turn. Kanter has been a background character after hurting himself in the opener, and Boston looks like they really want to use Theis and Robert Williams as their center group given their profiles and Kanter’s terrible defense. There are only so many opportunities for Kanter to steal his job back, and we’re now at a point in the season where his limited usage is a clear pattern — this isn’t the team working him back in slowly.

    Since returning, Kanter has played 6, 25 (Theis and Williams both out), 15, 19, 5, 12, 14, 25 (Theis out),14 and 21 (Theis injured) minutes. That’s pretty inconsistent, and also pretty bad.

    He’s returning top-210/195 value to this point, and while we’ve seen that he only needs 22 mpg to return late-round numbers in the past, this is a very different team. Boston’s deep enough that they don’t necessarily need Kanter’s scoring to keep them afloat, and he just doesn’t fit with their defensive ideals. If Kanter can’t take advantage of Theis’ latest absence, should it even result in missed games, it’s looking like time to move on.

    The Celtics appear content to run a center hydra, with Theis’ versatility giving him the edge in all matchups. If Kanter settles in around 16 mpg, which looks about right when you ignore games where Theis/Williams are ailing, then there’s just not enough to believe in.

    Where has Mike Conley gone-ly?

    Mike Conley has had a rough start to his Utah career, that’s no surprise. The extent to which his assumed slump has lasted, however, is a shock. One of the most consistent players in the league has been nothing but consistently dreadful.

    A player with an early-middle round ADP is producing top-170/210 value through his first 19 games. Obviously there’s a major adjustment period, both on and off the court, and Conley is still providing on-court value for the Jazz. From a fantasy perspective, Conley is posting career-worst numbers in field goal percentage (.361 on 12.7 shots per night) and steals (0.7 per game). His scoring is down 7.2 points from last season — from 21.1 to 13.9 points per game. To put that differently, Conley’s scoring is down by over 34 percent from last year.

    Conley’s assists have also dipped, and that in particular is starting to look like a feature of Utah’s PGs, and not a bug. Ricky Rubio went through the same phenomenon while he ran the Jazz.

    While Conley is obviously better than this, it’s time to ask the question of where exactly he’ll end up at the end of the season, and whether or not that is going to float your boat. We’re essentially a quarter of the way through the year, and Conley hasn’t even been worth deploying in 14-team formats yet. Let’s say that he returns to top-30 form overnight. What does 3/4 of a year of that do to his value? He’s certainly not going to meet his peak and probably won’t sniff his ADP.

    At this point, it’s probably safest to count on Conley for something like top-100 value on the full season. Depending on your league, you might be fine with that as an end product. In other scenarios you might want to make a move if someone is still a big believer in Conley’s rebound potential (again, Conley’s really good and is going to turn this around to some extent). Either way, his current production has shifted his expectations substantially. It’s a fascinating case of asset management with a player whose consistency (tonight’s theme, apparently) has been taken for granted for so many years.

Fantasy News

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors opened their practice facility on Monday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

    Slater adds that five players showed up for voluntary workouts. It's the first time that Golden State's gym has been open in over two months, and there are only three teams who have yet to get players back into team facilities. While it must be nice for the players to get back to some kind of business, the Warriors are not expected to be playing any more games this season given their league-worst record and the likelihood that the NBA trims the fat rather than ask every team to play out the season.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • 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