October 22, 2017, 10:00 pm
Back in 1997, super producer Timbaland and his partner in crime Magoo dropped their first single, “Up Jumps Da Boogie.” It featured Tim’s own Super Team-mates Missy Elliott and Aaliyah. Unfortunately Aaliyah died in 2001, or she would’ve been right beside Missy and Tim who went on to dominate Hip-Hop, R&B and Pop music for the better part of the next 15 years, dropping smash solo albums while Timbo made beats for everyone from Jay-Z to Bjork and produced entire albums for Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake.
Fast forward 20 years, to where DeMarcus Cousins and HIS partner in crime, Anthony Davis, are one of a handful of Super Teams that are taking over the NBA. The league has stratified into the teams that have two, three or in some cases four elite players, and then everyone else. On a light Sunday card we had a trio of games that featured two Super Teams facing off, one Super Team having a practice game against one of the not-so-super teams, and a couple of the teams that are just a showdown of the downtrodden.
We’ll break down all three games below, headlined by Boogie and The Brow in Hollywood, as well as hit on some quick news headlines, but first a brief word from The Architect:
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QUICK NEWS AND NOTES:
Unfortunately, this weekend brought us a few more injures to key players. Jonas Valanciunas, Milos Teodosic and Dennis Schroder all left their games with injuries. It appears that the Teodosic injury is the worst if the three, as he was seen in a walking boot after the game. Valanciunas is game-to-game and at the time of this writing the severity of Schroeder’s injury is unknown.
Coach Earl Watson was fired as bench boss of the Suns and he’ll be replaced in the interim by former Raptors head coach and Canadian native Jay Triano. The news broke just minutes after a tweet from Eric Bledsoe came through reading simply “I don’t wanna be here”.
Hawks 104 at Nets 116
The first game of the day featured two teams many expect to be at the bottom of their respective divisions.
Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder was having himself a nice game, posting 17 and eight dimes before leaving with the ankle injury. Kent Bazemore had 16, with half coming from the line as he still isn’t shooting particularly well. Taurean Prince and Dewayne Dedmon had quiet games, scoring nine and seven points respectively, but their starting spots are secure. Marco Belinelli had 19 off the bench and has now alternated good and bad scoring games. Rookie John Collins had his best game as a pro, scoring 14 with 13 boards and a block off the bench. He’ll supplant Ersan Ilyasova, who had nine points with seven boards, soon enough.
On the Brooklyn side, D’Angelo Russell defended his new home court with a 16-10 double-double with seven boards. The kid is pretty good. Another new Net, DeMarre Carroll, chipped in 17-3-2-2-2 and looks like he’s happy to be back in the US. Allen Crabbe, yet another new Brooklyn resident, dropped 20 to go with Trevor Booker’s 14 off the bench. Finally, Caris LeVert rounded out a solid team effort by scoring 16 with three steals and looks ready to fill in for Jeremy Lin, whose season was cut short by a knee injury. This new look Nets team won’t be good, but maybe they won’t be as terrible as we all thought.
Then again, this game was against the Hawks.
Wolves 115 at Thunder 113
In sharp contrast to the first game, the middle game of the day featured the first of four meetings between two teams that could win the Midwest division. This marquee match didn’t disappoint as it went down to the wire with Hoodie Melo nailing a 3-pointer with four seconds left only to be outdone by Andrew Wiggins, who nailed a buzzer beater to seal the road win.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for Minnesota with 27 and 12. He’s as sure a top tier fantasy asset as there is. Jimmy Butler, who’s still getting acclimated to his new team, got 15-6-6 and should get better as the season progresses. Wiggins had a good night himself and finished tied with KAT in points, and actually contributed in other categories, pulling down seven boards to go with four dimes and a couple steals. Jeff Teague orchestrated the offense with nine assists to go with his 19 points. Taj Gibson joined the other starters in double figures with a 13 and 10 double-double and looks to be solidified in the first unit.
Oklahoma City was led in a losing effort by Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, who combined for 54 points. Westbrook added 10 assists and Melo added four steals. Paul George‘s shot wasn’t falling, so he played facilitator with eight assists and was aggressive on defense with four steals. Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton both had 12 points off the Thunder bench, but neither is fantasy relevant outside of the deepest of leagues. Finally, one of this writer’s favorite sleepers heading into the season, Steven Adams, had a huge first half and finished the night with 17 and 13 and added three dimes, two blocks and a steal to round out his line.
Pelicans 119 at Lakers 112
The prime-time game saw the Pelicans heading to So Cal in search of their first victory. This started out as expected, with the Twin Towers 2.0 having their way with the Lakers front court. L.A. did battle back to take the lead in the fourth but came up short in the end.
New Orleans superstar Boogie Cousins continued his torrid start to the season with 22-11-8 and a couple of blocks, making his case to move up the rankings to early first round value, especially in points leagues. Davis is no one’s sidekick though, as he led all scorers and stuffed the stat sheet with 27-17-3-4-3 and is a lock for top-tier value as long as he stays on the court. Jrue Holiday contributed 14 points with five boards and six assists, while E’Twaun Moore was the third highest scorer on the team with 19 and could have some deep league value until Rajon Rondo returns. Ian Clark led the bench with 14 and newest Pelican Jameer Nelson played 24 minutes and scored five points with five dimes, but both aren’t really fantasy relevant outside of maybe 30 man leagues.
The star of the show on the L.A. side was Jordan Clarkson, who exploded off the bench for 24 points and five assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the starters with 20 points and is settling in as a go-to scorer. Brook Lopez struggled against the N.O. front line and only managed seven points with six boards. Rookie Lonzo Ball struggled with his shot again shooting 3-of-13 and to make matters worse turned the ball over five times, but salvaged his night with 13 dimes and eight boards. Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma added 20-6-2-1 and should be scooped up if he’s available in your league, while Julius Randle chipped in 11 of his own as the Lakers’ bench was the only reason they were in this game at all.
It was a hell of an end to a hell of a first week, and there’s a lot more basketball to come.
May 26, 2019, 4:01 pmBrook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have multiple decisions to make when free agency starts but re-signing Brook Lopez is a priority, according to Malika Andrews.
The Bucks will likely lock up Khris Middleton first and then will have to decide on Malcolm Brogdon. He is a restricted free agent, but keeping him may vault Milwaukee into the luxury tax. After those two, Lopez is a priority over the other pending free agents such as Nikola Mirotic and George Hill. The Bucks won't have Bird Rights on Brook Lopez meaning they'd only have the mid-level exception to offer him, and if they go into the luxury tax, the mid-level exception drops from about $9 million to about $5 million. He'd almost certainly be taking a discount to stay in Milwaukee, but it's still possible he remains a Buck.
Source: Malika Andrews on ESPN
May 26, 2019, 3:53 pmNick Nurse - Team - Toronto Raptors
According to Peter Yannopoulos, Nick Nurse will be the coach of Team Canada this summer at the World Championships in China.
Nurse will be succeeding Hornets assistant coach Jay Triano, and will be in a similar position that Gregg Popovich has with Team USA. Nurse has had a meteoric rise since being the innovator of the Raptors new offense in 2017-18 as an assistant, to being promoted to head coach, to making the NBA Finals and now being named Team Canada's head coach.
Source: Peter Yannopoulos on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 11:48 amOG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are expressing optimism that OG Anunoby will be able to see the floor for their NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Anunoby's size and defensive versatility could make for a very valuable weapon against the Warriors' small-ball lineups. That being said, he has been out for nearly a month and a half, and the Raptors' eight man rotation has hit its stride in the crux of this playoff run. It remains to be seen if he will make it back, but in the event that he can, there is no guarantee that he will be able to crack meaningful minutes in Toronto's tight rotation.
Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 11:19 amMichael 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
May 26, 2019, 11:04 amJonas 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.
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
May 26, 2019, 10:06 amKawhi 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
May 26, 2019, 1:17 amKawhi 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.
May 26, 2019, 1:14 amGiannis 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.
May 26, 2019, 12:59 amKyle 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.
May 26, 2019, 12:48 amMarc 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.