• The All-Star break is over and it’s time for us to get back into the flow of the NBA action and make our runs for the fantasy basketball playoffs.

    Are your teams geared up and ready? Do they have a playoff berth locked up or are you still scrambling for one of those highly-coveted playoff spots?

    Whatever situation your teams are in, we’ve got you covered here at Hoop Ball.

    Thursday night brought us the first wave of NBA games after the All-Star break and boy did we get a huge serving of some massive stat lines from some of the usual suspects.

    Many Happy Returns

    The Orlando Magic got a couple of players back. Nikola Vucevic (hand) and Aaron Gordon (hip) both looked good after missing significant time with their respective injuries. Vucevic filled up the stat sheet nicely with 19 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 24 minutes. While Gordon scored nine points, got five boards and five dimes in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, their on-court comeback was spoiled by the Knicks, who ended up coming away with the 120-113 victory.

    Emmanuel Mudiay was unimpressive in his first start, while Jarrett Jack fell out of the rotation with a DNP-CD. Michael Beasley had a subdued performance while still recovering from an ear irritation from earlier in the week. Tim Hardaway Jr. led all Knick players with 23 points, three rebounds, six assists, a trey, a steal and a block.

    D12 Does Glass

    Dwight Howard was a monster on the glass and finished with 24 boards to go with his 15 points and lone blocked shot, while Kemba Walker dropped 31 points and seven dimes to lead the Hornets to a 111-96 victory over the Nets.

    Good news for the Nets is that D’Angelo Russell appears to be playing better. He started alongside Spencer Dinwiddie in this one and scored 19 points and handed out five assists. Also, coach Kenny Atkinson is “hopeful” to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Caris LeVert (concussion, knee) back for Monday’s game against the Bulls. So we likely won’t see Dante Cunningham repeat his 22-point, 12-rebound career game any time soon.

    The New-look Bulls and an Unleashed Bobby Portis

    Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points off the Bulls’ bench, with eight rebounds, six treys and two assists. The Bulls deployed a new starting lineup with Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba getting shuffled in. Nwaba stepped up with 21 points, nine boards and a full stat line in 33 minutes, while Felicio logged just 12 minutes and finished the game with five points and three rebounds. Lauri Markkanen had a quiet night with three points and eight rebounds. Zach LaVine hit five triples en route to his 23 points, three rebounds and four assists. Yes, it’s time to add Nwaba, again. As long as he’s getting solid minutes, expect him to deliver some solid lines you won’t get from your average fantasy free agent.

    The game was close, but the new-look Bulls would end up falling to the Sixers, 115-116.

    Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons combined for 62 points and respectively stuffed stat sheets, while Robert Covington was still quiet with eight points to his name.

    When Wizards Make Your Win Streak Go “Poof!”

    Yup, the Wizards snapped the Cavs’ win streak with a 110-103 win on the road. Not even LeBron James’ 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists were not enough to carry the Cavs in this one. What happened? Well for starters, recently acquired George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. all struggled in this game, leaving James to his own devices. J.R. Smith was his only real bastion of help with 15 points and three triples.

    To their credit, the Wizards did play well. Bradley Beal flirted with a double-double, dropping 18 points and nine assists, while Tomas Satoransky came up huge in another start with 17 points, eight dimes and two steals. Ottto Porter Jr., dropped a Porter-esque line with 15 point, eight boards, three treys and two steals.

    Westbrook In The Clutch

    Russell Westbrook nailed an open 3-point shot to lift the Thunder over the Kings, 110-107. Not only did he win the real-life game, Westbrook also dropped a big trip-dub with 17 points, 15 boards and 11 dimes. He got the help he needed from Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, who chipped in 23 and 26 points, respectively. Not to be forgotten was Steven Adams, who had an excellent performance with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

    Old man, Zach Randolph led the way for the Kings with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Bogdan Bogdanovic was huge disappointment with just four points and five turnovers in 19 minutes. Buddy Hield filled in the void left by Bogdanovic’s poor game with 19 points, nine rebounds, three triples and four assists. Skal Labissiere returned to action on Thursday and looked pretty good with 10 points and two blocks in 26 minutes off the bench.

    Splash It Like It’s Hot

    The Warriors fended off a fourth-quarter run by the Clippers to hold on for the 134-127 win. This night belonged to Stephen Curry, who went thermonuclear and splashed down eight triples on the Clips en route to his game-high 44 points. He also added 10 dimes and two steals to round out his impressive night. Kevin Durant added 24 points, while Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet in his customary fashion. JaVale McGee got the start ahead of Zaza Pachulia, who played just seven minutes. McGee failed to inspire much awe himself with just six points, four rebounds and no blocks in 14 minutes.

    Lou Williams did his thing with 21 points, 12 assists in 34 minutes off the bench. Tobias Harris looked good once again with 22 points on solid shooting. DeAndre Jordan had himself a sweet double-double with 16 points, 14 boards, three steals and a block. Milos Teodosic entered the starting lineup for the injured Avery Bradley and delivered 14 points, four triples and two dimes (don’t worry those will follow). Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari’s shooting woes continued with a 33 percent shooting night from the field, but was still able to finish with 15 points.

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: SNY.tv

  • 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