February 18, 2020, 12:08 am
The All-Star festivities are in the books, and the National Basketball Association put on one hell of a show in Chicago. It was a weekend packed with a surprising amount of pay off. The dunk contest had plenty of innovative slams and a scoring controversy to boot, the actual All-Star Game on Sunday was not a dud, and the new “Elam Ending” twist wound up being a hit as Team LeBron outdueled Team Giannis down the stretch to hit the 157-point target score first in a 157-155 nail biter. Moreover, the NBA successfully paid tribute to David Stern and Kobe Bryant throughout the weekend, and the product on the floor was something both trailblazers would have been proud to witness.
While it is fun to watch the greatest names join forces, it is time for a reality check as we turn the corner into the final months of fantasy action. Our All-Star weekend participants are about to return to very different circumstances than what we witnessed during the Windy City’s celebration. It’s time to zoom in on some of bigger names from the weekend and compare the All-Star results to the real-world fantasy situation.
Your All-Star Game MVP continues what has been a perfect year on the NBA circuit. NBA Champion, Finals MVP, Leonard is doing it all in terms of accolades at the moment, and he has performed as expected with the Clippers this season. If anything, his future is only looking brighter after Paul George went down with another hamstring injury right before the break. While George is out, which could be an extended absence, Kawhi will have free reign to run the offense, and he is already posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and 3-pointers this season. As an added bonus, the Clippers only have three back-to-back sets remaining on the schedule. Leonard could make a run at a top-3 campaign before it is all said and done.
The defacto leader in Toronto after Leonard’s off-season departure, Lowry has been fantastic making the adjustment this season, going for 19.6 points, 7.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 3-pointers, 1.3 steals and an excellent 85.5 free-throw percentage on 5.6 attempts. During the All-Star Game, I repeat, the All-Star Game, he drew multiple charges, giving a not so subtle reminder of how dangerous his style of play can be. Lowry is 33 years old, is averaging over 36 minutes per game, and has a history of missing games down the stretch. The Raptors likely have the confidence to settle for the two or three seed and would be wise to rest there star point guard if the slightest bump in the road does occur. All of this is to say that Lowry’s peripherals are worrisome and you’d be wise to consider selling high on a player that is more likely to fade down the stretch.
It was a busy weekend for the sophomore as Doncic appeared in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday and the All-Star matchup on Sunday. Following all of that action, he was quoted as saying his ankle was “okay” and that “it has some problems but its good.” Doncic did get one regular-season game in before the break against the Kings and is set to go when the Mavs retake the court on Friday vs. the Magic, but don’t wear rose-colored glasses and assume Doncic is out of the woods quite yet. With their playoff birth secure, the Mavs could focus on nursing Doncic as the season progresses, and his free-throw percentage has taken a nosedive to under 65 percent over the last month. It’s been a dream start to the year beyond the injuries, but Doncic is going to have some work to do to repeat his first-half fantasy dominance.
The Process was working hard to prove that post-play still belongs in the All-Star Game as he had several post-ups against LeBron James down the stretch on Sunday. He had a beautiful Dream Shake to pull out of his bag of tricks and wound up finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. It’s been a frustrating season for the Sixers, and Embiid’s hand injury could negatively impact his play down the stretch. At the same time, the Sixers have been struggling from a chemistry perspective all season, and the team has every interest in creating some positive vibes by winning games and fighting for homecourt advantage. Al Horford is now coming off the bench which is a slight boost to Embiid’s value. The injury risk constantly hangs over Embiid’s future, but he should be motivated to dominate and close this season on a strong note.
Make it two all-time performances and zero victories for Aaron Gordon in the Slam Dunk Contest. For what its worth my favorite of Gordon’s arsenal was his fourth entry, a one-handed 360 that came via a pass off the backboard, courtesy of his teammate Markelle Fultz. Gordon’s dunking parallels the frustration many fantasy owners have experienced nabbing Gordon in the middle rounds of standard league drafts for the past four years (at minimum). Gordon has never been able to operate as a full-time power forward for the Magic, and until that occurs it is hard to imagine him emerging with anything beyond late-round value. The percentages have been piss poor at 42.4 FG and 67.5 FT for the year. Gordon went into the break on a tear with 16 points or more, as well as nine or more rebounds, in six out of seven games. Nonetheless, it’s always fool’s gold as always with Gordon. D.J. Augustin is about to return and will reclaim ball-handling duties behind Markelle Fultz, and Gordon’s 14 treys over the last seven games are a mirage for the big man that has never successfully shot the deep ball well, registering at 31.9 percent for his career and 30.8 percent for the season.
The Brow hit the game-winning free-throw to deliver Team LeBron the victory on Sunday and had a complete line with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three 3-pointers, two steals and two blocks. Things have never been easier for Davis who has adapted brilliantly to life as a Laker. The final play saw LeBron patiently wait for Davis to slide into a post-up on Kyle Lowry that quickly drew a foul call. That play is a perfect image of why Davis’ owners should be feeling so confident as the calendar turns to the second half of action. James is bending over to make his relationship thrive alongside Davis, and as long as that’s the case Davis will be heading for top-2 value. Keep in mind that the Lakers are so far out ahead that some rest could be in order to close out the regular season, but beyond that Davis is going to be carrying plenty of squads to fantasy titles.
Similar to the intensity we saw on Sunday night, we are about to embark on the final battles that will setup the fantasy playoff pictures in H2H formats, and trade deadlines are fast approaching if they have not already passed in some leagues. You only have a few shots left to shape your final roster. Focus on the numbers and what’s happening inhouse as teams go through the motions of tanking or chasing playoff positioning, and ignore the media buzz. After all, Kyle Lowry’s charges are not going to win you fantasy points in all but the most intricate of formats.
March 31, 2020, 3:47 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
According to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlantic Journal Constitution, Clint Capela had been progressing towards participating in half-court workouts prior to the season being suspended.
There was some uncertainty surrounding Capela's potential return this season, but now he will have a much better shot at getting a few games below his belt before the conclusion of the season. If Capela does indeed find himself on the court for a few games, we'd have to imagine that he will be on a strict minutes limit as Lloyd Pierce alluded to last month.
Source: Atlantic Journal Constitution
March 31, 2020, 3:31 pmCameron JohnsonSF, Phoenix Suns
Cameron Johnson is fully cleared from mononucleosis that he has been battling for the past few weeks.
Johnson missed the final three games before the league was suspended due to mononucleosis, but will be ready to go when the season starts up again. Johnson was looking at an expanded role with Kelly Oubre Jr. injured, but there is now a chance that Oubre Jr. will be ready a situation to monitor when the season gets ready to resume.
Source: The Athletic
March 31, 2020, 3:23 pmJoe HarrisSF, Brooklyn Nets
Joe Harris said that he would like to re-sign with the Nets this summer.
When Harris was asked if he would like to play with the Nets next season, he replied, “Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?" The Nets will have Harris' Bird Rights and will certainly like to bring him back, but Harris will be a highly-coveted free agent this summer and will be looking to cash in on what is seen as a weaker free agent class.
Source: New York Post
March 31, 2020, 3:16 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac has been continuing his rehab work from a severe knee sprain amid the NBA hiatus.
Isaac has been out since early in the calendar year after suffering a left knee sprain and bone bruise. The NBA denied the Magic a Disabled Player Exception earlier in the year, as doctors believed that Isaac wouldn't be out until mid June. Isaac was a long shot to return by the playoffs, but the hiatus has given him a better chance to return and potentially be ready for the start of the playoffs. This is an interesting watch as we continue to wait for the NBA, and life in general, to resume as normal.
Source: The Athletic
March 30, 2020, 9:00 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that the NBA's best-case scenario is looking like a late June to early July brief regular season restart with a one-site, 16-team playoff, possibly with each series a best-of-three.
He mentions that a league official said that nothing is off the table, so we're far away from anything definitive. There is still obviously a chance that the season gets cancelled, but the league is "very determined to have a champion". Don't expect anything to be determined for many weeks, if not months.
Source: The New York Post
March 30, 2020, 12:27 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall (Achilles) was participating in scrimmages with the Capital City Go-Go before the NBA suspended its season.
Wall was scrimmaging every three days or thereabouts, depending on the schedule, and was a regular presence at the team's practices. There's even video of him throwing down a nasty jam on rookie Garrison Mathews at the link below. Despite this notable step forward in his recovery, the Wizards have maintained that Wall will not return this season, even with the hiatus giving Wall an extra few months of recovery time.
Source: The Athletic
March 29, 2020, 9:45 pmTyler BeySG, College
University of Colorado shooting guard Tyler Bey declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on Sunday.
The junior is being regarded as an early second-round draft prospect for this summer. Bey has some potential as a fantasy asset based upon his ability to accumulate steals and blocks, but it's unclear what kind of a role he would carry as a rookie in the NBA. His odds to become a defensive ace, who also develops consistent range from deep, is what NBA squads will be calculating when they look at him on draft day.
Source: Tyler Bey on Twitter
March 29, 2020, 9:32 pmMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart announced that he has been cleared of COVID-19 since Friday.
It is good to see that Smart made a full recovery from the virus. Before this crisis hit the scene Smart was having a strong season with consistent mid-round value for the Celtics. With his secure role as a defensive anchor and his improved shooting from deep, he will continue to be a strong option whenever play resumes.
Source: Marcus Smart on Twitter
March 29, 2020, 8:02 pmReggie PerryPF, College
Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on Sunday.
Perry said he will not be going back to college in the fall, and unlike in 2019 when he declared for the draft before withdrawing to return to college, he intends to sign with an agent this time around. He is shaping up to be a second-round selection and made some strong strides during his Sophmore campaign at Missippi State last season, averaging 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds on .500 shooting from the field. He'll need to continue improving upon this year's free-throw percentage (.768) and prove he can shoot the NBA three-pointer (.324) to become a prospect for standard fantasy leagues next season.
Source: Jeff Goodman on Twitter
March 29, 2020, 7:21 pmKris DunnPG, Chicago Bulls
Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes that there have been multiple rumors connecting the Clippers with impending free agent Kris Dunn.
Dunn would only add to the Clippers' collection of outstanding defensive talent, though he may be hunting for a role closer to the starting lineup in a perfect world. He's currently shelved by a right MCL sprain that was initially expected to sideline him for the entire season. No matter where Dunn ends up, it's going to take a perfect set of circumstances for him to produce worthwhile numbers outside of the steals category.
Source: The Athletic