August 2, 2020, 3:46 am
Saturday was highlighted by a couple of statement victories as well as T.J. Warren going bananas against the Sixers. The players seem to be getting used to having no fans in the arena and from a viewing point, who could care less? The level of play has been incredible given the limited preparations and if this is what we have in store for us moving forward, I say “BRING IT ON!”
Add(s) for the Night
It certainly makes for wacky reading when diving into a few of the names worth adding. With a significant number of players either eliminated or choosing to sit out the seeding games, it is the fringe guys that we need to be keeping an eye on. Adding anyone right now comes with an element of risk, especially as teams may elect to rest individual players in preparation for the playoffs. With that being said, let’s take a look at a couple of strong pickups from tonight’s five-game slate.
Alex Caruso, G, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are down on troops when it comes to their guard ranks and Caruso makes sense as the primary beneficiary. Both Dion Waiters and JR Smith were acquired in recent times and can serve a purpose on a Lakers offense looking for additional perimeter scoring. However, Caruso has been a part of the team’s core for the past couple of years and his defensive upside is by far the strongest of the three.
He has played at least 24 minutes in each of their two opening games, accumulating four steals in that period. He provides fantastic energy off the bench and could realistically see an uptick in both playing time and production moving forward. All things considered, Caruso is not the sexiest option available but his role appears secure and the defense alone given him a decent fantasy floor.
Justin Holiday, F, Indiana Pacers / Aaron Holiday, G, Indiana Pacers
Malcolm Brogdon (neck) was ruled out prior to tipoff despite going through shootaround. This afforded Justin Holiday the opportunity to move into the starting lineup where he racked up four steals in 38 minutes. He has had moments throughout his career in which he has been able to put up meaningful production. His numbers typically come on the defensive end of the floor, however, he can be a sneaky source of 3-pointers if he gets hot. There is no word on whether Brogdon will miss any additional games and so Justin makes for more of a situational pickup.
Aaron Holiday, on the other hand, was already listed as a starter even before Brogdon went down. Much like his brother, Aaron’s fantasy value is centered around a couple of categories, those being assists and points. He put together a solid season for the Pacers and was at least worth considering in most standard formats. If Brogdon misses subsequent games, Aaron makes for a somewhat reliable pickup if you are chasing guard stats.
Unless your league has a games cap, shifting players could be a strategy that wins you your league. With a number of the top-tier players kicking back at home, the list of must-roster guys is much shorter. For that reason, there is scope to be churning through the waivers with the simple outcome of ‘games played’ on your mind. I know from a personal standpoint, I am somewhat hesitant to part ways with certain guys. This is usually out of fear that said player will quickly turn things around and regret will become my best friend. In an eight-game sprint, there is no time to wait around for a guy to get going.
Josh Richardson, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Dropping Richardson is going to be a tough call given we are all aware of what he can do from a fantasy production perspective. However, the simple fact is that he just isn’t a sizeable part of the Sixers offense at the moment. During Saturday’s loss to the Pacers, Richardson attempted just four shots, the equivalent of both Furkan Korkmaz and Alec Burks. He is always going to offer upside on the defensive end but the lack of offensive involvement is hard to balance out.
Richardson was the 161st ranked player in standard leagues during the initial portion of the season. Even taking out those players that are not in the bubble, he remains a top-120 option at best. With limited time to accumulate stats, the best option may be to stream his spot where possible.
Shake Milton, G, Philadelphia 76ers
After Ben Simmons was named as the starting power forward for the Sixers, many saw Milton as a viable option for this resumption period. He made a name for himself during a two-week stretch in which he was averaging almost 20 points per game on some incredible shooting. While the scoring was impressive, the supporting numbers were less palatable. This hot stretch also came at a time when the team was without their full complement of players.
Against the Pacers on Saturday, Milton failed to score in just 19 minutes of action. Ongoing foul issues were certainly a contributing factor but we can’t ignore the fact that he attempted only one field goal. Much like Richardson, Milton is unlikely to be a consistent target on the offensive end and his roster spot can also be streamed.
Will Barton (knee) was unable to go on Saturday despite playing 18 minutes in the final scrimmage game. His status remains up in the air moving forward.
Gary Harris (hip) is yet to see any action in Orlando and with no game-time under his belt, he should be considered doubtful for the Nuggets’ next game.
Jamal Murray (hamstring) was a late scratch for Saturday’s game and much like Barton, should be considered questionable at this point.
Terrance Ferguson (leg) was able to play during Saturday’s victory but saw just four minutes off the bench and can be left on the waivers in basically every format.
Amir Coffey (hip) was active after overcoming a minor hip concern but his playing time was restricted to just four minutes and he does not warrant rostering at this stage.
Montrezl Harrell (personal) has still not arrived in Orlando and remains out for the foreseeable future.
Lou Williams (self-quarantine) remains in isolation and took no part in Saturday’s game.
Malcolm Brogdon (neck) was unable to suit up for the Pacers despite taking part in shootaround. Given his activity levels, there is a chance he gets back out there for the Pacers’ next game.
Raul Neto (back) played 21 minutes off the bench for the Sixers but fumbled his way to just two points. Nothing to see here.
Mike Scott (knee) did not take any part in Saturday’s game, although given the fact Ben Simmons has made the move to power forward, Scott is not a fantasy asset.
Glenn Robinson (hip) was considered doubtful heading into Saturday and so he was unsurprisingly ruled out prior to the opening tip. The Sixers have no incentive to rush him back and so he could miss additional time.
Anthony Davis (eye) played 35 minutes on Saturday and was never really in doubt. Based on the Lakers’ track record, there is a decent chance we see him pop up on the injury report again.
LeBron James (groin) double-doubled in 35 minutes and appeared untroubled by his troublesome groin. Much like Anthony Davis, LeBron could be a regular fixture on the injury report moving forward.
Kyle Kuzma (ankle) scored 16 points off the bench and was never really in doubt of missing the game. He should be fine for Lakers’ upcoming tilt with the Jazz.
Patrick McCaw (knee) did not play on Saturday but is not expected to be a regular part of the rotation with both Norman Powell and Terence Davis ahead of him.
Marco Belinelli (ankle) is considered doubtful for Sunday’s matchup after spraining his ankle during Friday’s victory over the Kings. He is not a difference-maker anymore and there is no reason to stress over this news.
Bryn Forbes (quad) has been ruled out Sunday. In his absence, DeJounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker will continue to split minutes.
Wes Iwundu (neck) is a chance to play on Sunday after being listed as questionable. With Jonathan Isaac back on the floor, Iwundu’s role is muted at best and there is no reason to go and add him.
Alex Len (re-conditioning) will not play on Sunday as he continues to work his way back after testing positive for COVID-19 over a month ago. Richaun Holmes should maintain his starting position and makes for a solid addition in all fantasy formats.
Eric Bledsoe (re-conditioning) will miss another game for the Bucks as he works his way back into game shape. Donte DiVincenzo is the guy you want to target here.
Pat Connaughton (re-conditioning) continues to get his feet back under him and will miss Sunday’s game against the Rockets.
T.J. Warren torches the Sixers
Let us not forget that the Pacers were able to acquire Warren for a second-round draft pick and a handful of cash. That decision by the Suns was made to look even more questionable after Warren dropped a career-high 53 points during Saturday’s victory over the Sixers. Not only did they manage the win without both Malcolm Brogdon (back) and Domantas Sabonis (plantar fasciitis), it secured them the tiebreaker which could mean a lot come playoff time.
Warren is no stranger when it comes to scoring the basketball, averaging almost 20 points per game during his first season with the Pacers. Not only does he have the ability to rack up points in a hurry, he typically does it with incredible efficiency. He is shooting 54 percent from the field this season as well as going 82 percent from the charity stripe. The free-throws have made a huge difference when analyzing Warren as an all-around fantasy producer. He has improved that aspect of his game considerably, not unlike his ability to score from the perimeter. During his 53-point barrage, Warren connected on a career-high nine 3-pointers. This kind of production would have been unthinkable only two seasons ago. Prior to the 2018-19 season, Warren was typically under one triple per contest. He has drastically increased that number to now be a reliable threat from three.
There is, of course, an element of risk with Warren given his lack of supporting numbers. However, he is consistently able to nudge two combined steals and blocks on most nights. These are by no means game-changing numbers but they do at least round out what is a fantastic offensive game. He has been a top-50 player thus far this season and should be looking at third-round production over the course of the next two weeks.
Despite being only three days into the league’s resumption, a number of teams have let it be known they are taking the seeding games very seriously. The Heat rolled through an understrength Nuggets team to the tune of 20 points. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo led the way with 22 points apiece, adequately supported by four others who managed double-digit scoring. Kelly Olynyk became the first Heat player since 2009 to score 20 points in the fourth quarter of a game, something he is unlikely to repeat anytime soon.
As a team, they shot almost 56 percent from the field and a stellar 87 percent from the line. They are fully healthy at this point and possess a nice mix of youth and experience. Of all the Eastern Conference threats, the Heat are arguably the most underrated.
The Thunder also impressed against a Jazz team that looked lost on the offensive end. With everyone healthy for what seems like the first time this season, they took control early in what appeared like a training run at times. The dominant effort was made all the more impressive by the fact the Jazz were also at full strength. The two teams could realistically meet in the first round of the playoffs and this victory will undoubtedly play on the minds of the Jazz.
Finally, the Raptors won their first game of the resumption, picking apart the Lakers in what may have been the most impressive win of the night. The victory has the Raptors sitting safely as the second-seed and looking at a potential first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic. Avoiding the congestion in the middle of the Eastern Conference is going to be the number one priority for the Raptors and this victory provides them with a fantastic platform.
That brings day three to a close as we look ahead to what will be a busy six-game slate on Sunday. Basketball is back and we couldn’t be happier.