• The Thunder hit it big by getting Paul George to re-sign, giving them a window with two superstars into what they hope is the next uncertain era of the West. Poorly-timed injuries ultimately prevented the Thunder from meeting their goals this season, but they have a foundation that most of the league will envy. Let’s see what happened.

    Overview

    2018-19 Record: 49-33

    The Thunder continued their philosophy from 2017-18 of building around Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The team did not have a lot of cap space and could not go out and grab an All-Star caliber player to help their studs.

    The first major addition was Dennis Schroder. The team packaged up Carmelo Anthony and shipped him to Atlanta for the point guard. Anthony struggled to find his place alongside Westbrook and George and the thinking was Schroder would add a scoring punch the Thunder were lacking off of the bench and spell a few minutes from Westbrook to give him some rest. Unfortunately, it did not work. Schroder had one of his worst seasons as a pro and struggled to find any sort of rhythm throughout the season.

    The second major addition was Nerlens Noel, who was signed to complement Steven Adams. Both are known for their defensive play and aided in OKC having such a spectacular defense, but the Thunder were also first among all teams in offensive rebounding.

    The team also went out and signed Markieff Morris in the middle of season for some depth off of the bench. Morris was battling neck injuries and played with the sunken Wizards. His role was minor, but he played some valuable minutes towards the end of the season when George was struggling with shoulder issues.

    Despite having one of the league’s best defenses, the team missed one of their key role players in Andre Roberson for the entire season after he suffered several setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery. He is still without a timetable to return, but that did not keep the Thunder from leading the NBA in steals and allowing the seventh-fewest points per game.

    The Thunder were able secure a playoff spot in the Western Conference for the fourth straight season before getting bounced in the first round by a Damian Lillard buzzer-beater.

    Coaching

    Billy Donovan entered his fourth season as head coach and finished it in the same fashion that he did the previous two seasons; getting bounced in the first round of playoffs.

    As mentioned earlier, Donovan coached the Thunder into having one of the league’s best defenses. The team not only lead the league in steals, but forced turnovers overall. While their defense won games, Donovan and the Thunder struggled on offense. They were ranked 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage. The team as a whole shot just under 35 percent and lead the league in overall shot attempts.

    Despite his third straight first-round playoff exit, Donovan’s job seems safe heading into the 2019-20 season. The team started off strong, but between George’s shoulder injury and Roberson never returning they struggled to maintain the defensive continuity that led to their success down the final stretch of the season.

    The Players

    Russell Westbrook

    ADP: 7/10 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value:12/29 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 15/31 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 73

    2018-19 averages: 73 G | 36.0 MP | 22.9 PTS | 1.6 3PM | 10.1 REB | 10.7 AST | 1.9 STL | 0.5 BLK | 4.5 TOV | .428 FG% | .656 FT%

    Death, taxes and Westbrook averaging a triple-double. This was the third season in a row that he has averaged one, but don’t be fooled by the counting stats; this was one of Westbrook’s worst seasons as a pro.

    His free percentage (.656) was the worst he has shot since playing in the NBA.

    He only managed to shoot 29 percent from three and .428 from the field.

    In other words Westbrook was extremely inefficient and his owners felt it due to the high volume of shot attempts (20.2 per game).

    Now, for the good. Westbrook has averaged career-highs in both rebounds and assists and avoided a major injury for the fourth straight season. He did need to undergo a procedure following their run in playoffs to repair a torn ligament in his finger and a minor procedure to help clean up his right knee, which has bothered him for years. Neither injury is not expected to hinder his offseason routine.

    At this point we know what we are getting when drafting Westbrook and it no longer looks like a first-round caliber player, despite the gaudy counting stats.

    Paul George

    ADP: 24/13 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 54/52 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 4/3 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77

    2018-19 averages: 77 G | 36.9 MP | 28.0 PTS | 3.8 3PM | 8.2 REB | 4.1 AST | 2.2 STL | 0.4 BLK | 2.7 TOV | .438 FG% | .839 FT%

    In his second season with the Thunder, George did not disappoint. In fact, he did the opposite, exceeding his draft expectations and performing like a top-five fantasy player when he was being drafted in the second round.

    He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, steals and threes. He tied his career-high in assists and did all of this without decimating your percentages too badly. He truly blossomed and helped carry OKC to the playoffs. There’s a reason that PG is an MVP finalist, as there were times where it looked like the Thunder were “his” team rather than Westbrook’s.

    Unfortunately, injuries took a toll on George’s body just before the playoffs as he dealt with nagging shoulder pain in both shoulders. He received surgery on his right shoulder following their ouster and it is expected to keep him out until beginning of training camp. Despite the injury tag heading into the 2019-20 season, George warrants a first-round pick even if his career-high numbers take a small step back.

    Steven Adams

    ADP: 53/73 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 63/58 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 79/80 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80

    2018-19 averages: 80 G | 33.4 MP | 13.9 PTS | 2.6 3PM | 9.5 REB | 1.6 AST | 1.5 STL | 1.0 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .595 FG% | .500 FT%

    At this stage in his career we know what to expect from Adams. We get solid rebounding numbers, field goal percentage and the comfort of knowing this guy is barely missing games. Since arriving in the NBA back in 2013 Adams has only missed 25 games.

    But that’s what Adams manages to do every season — how about the new things he has accomplished? This season he averaged career-highs in rebounds (9.6), assists (1.6) and blocks (1.5), while tying his career-high in points (13.9). He does not stretch the floor and could is one of the centers who could impact your free throw percentages (.596 last season), but he really doesn’t take enough foul shots per game (3.7) to be detrimental.He’s as steady as they come.

    Dennis Schroder

    ADP: 106/128 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 106/135 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 148/182 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80

    2018-19 averages: 79 G | 29.3 MP | 15.5 PTS | 2.6 3PM | 3.6 REB | 4.1 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.2 BLK | 2.2 TOV | .414 FG% | .819 FT%

    Perhaps one of the biggest disappoints in both fantasy and real life basketball. Schroder was expected to come in following the Carmelo Anthony trade and take on a “James Harden sixth man” role in OKC, getting buckets and running the point for stretches. The only problem is that Schroder is by no means James Harden.

    In reality, he finished pretty close to his ADP, but he had the worst shooting season as a pro since his rookie year (.414) and saw his assists numbers drop significantly despite only playing two fewer minutes per game than he has in the previous two seasons. This likely comes from playing mostly with the second unit and spending the other time sharing the court with two ball-dominant players in Westbrook and George.

    Jerami Grant

    ADP: 116/130 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 69/48 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 99/74 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80

    2018-19 averages: 80 G | 32.7 MP | 13.6 PTS | 2.6 3PM | 5.2 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.8 STL | 1.3 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .497 FG% | .710 FT%

    Grant was on the cusp of a threshold in fantasy that very few get to; averaging a 3-pointer, a block and a steal. Unfortunately, he just missed averaging a steal by 0.2, but still managed to put together his best season as a pro. Shipping off Carmelo Anthony opened up a role and need for the Thunder and Grant grasped it and ran. He averaged more than thirty minutes per game for the first time in his career, but it’s not just the minutes, it’s what Grant did with them.

    He managed to shoot .392 from three and averaged 1.4 per triples per game. Before this season the his career-best was 0.8 threes per game and that was during his rookie season. He managed to shoot .710 from the line when his previous best was .675 back during the 2017-18 campaign. Moral of the story is that Grant is getting better each and every year and is the type of athletic and versatile defender that commands minutes.

    Nerlens Noel

    ADP: 971/144 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 145/123 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 189/155 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77

    2018-19 averages: 77 G | 13.7 MP | 4.9 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 4.2 REB | 0.6 AST | 0.9 STL | 1.2 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .587 FG% | .684 FT%

    Noel did not receive the minutes fantasy owners would like, but he proved that producing valuable defensive stats in limited minutes is useful. In his first season with the Thunder Noel averaged only 13.7 minutes per game, but managed to average 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per game in those minutes.

    Noel suffered a scary fall on January 8 versus the Timberwolves that forced him to stay overnight at a local hospital, and he was diagnosed with a concussion. If we are taking the glass half full approach to this it’s that it was a freak injury and had nothing to do with his left knee.

    This kind of production is not setting your league on fire, but is extremely helpful in daily moves leagues in streaming spots. Noel is still young at only 25 years old and has a player option for the 2019-20 season. One would imagine he opts out and seeks more money and playing time elsewhere.

    Markieff Morris

    ADP: 138/137 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 233/224 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 220/214 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 58

    2018-19 averages: 58 G | 22.0 MP | 9.4 PTS | 1.2 3PM | 4.6 REB | 1.4 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.4 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .421 FG% | .772 FT%

    The Thunder went out and signed Morris after he was traded to the Pelicans and released. At the time is seemed like a great signing. It would help take some pressure and minutes of off George, but even when George was forced to miss games Morris’ minutes were barely impacted.

    Morris was injured on December 16 versus the Lakers after taking a shot to his chin. Days later he continued to experience neck and back pains but continued to play through it before aggravating it on 10 days later. After meeting with Dr. Dossett of the Carrell Clinic in Dallas and Wizards Director of Medical Services and Orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, he was diagnosed with transient cervical neuropraxia and was forced to miss two months.

    When healthy Morris was playing 26.0 minutes per game with the Wizards, but drastically dropped to 16.1 minutes per game with the Thunder.

    This was a role Morris was not too pleased to have, leading me to believe he will look to take his talents elsewhere rather than re-sign. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him take a pay cut in hopes to link back up with his brother Marcus, but Markieff needs minutes to be owned in fantasy and we will have to wait and see where he lands before moving him up or down draft boards.

    Terrance Ferguson

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 237/226 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 301/285 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 74

    2018-19 averages: 74 G | 26.1 MP | 6.9 PTS | 1.4 3PM | 1.9 REB | 1.0AST | 0.5 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .429 FG% | .725 FT%

    In his second season as a pro, Ferguson was forced into a role left behind by an injured Andre Roberson. He looked the part on offense, but no one could fill the Roberson void on defense. With that being said, Ferguson took smart shots and played to his strengths. He had an effective field goal percentage of .552 and averaged 1.4 threes per game.

    His future playing time will be directly correlated to Roberson’s health, and that seems like a wait-and-see approach. Nonetheless, Ferguson does not warrant a roster spot in standard leagues barring a significant injury.

    Andre Roberson

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: NA/NA (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: NA/NA (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 0

    2018-19 averages: 0 G | 0.0 MP | 0.0 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 0.0 REB | 0.0 AST | 0.0 STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.0 TOV | .000 FG% | .000 FT%

    Unfortunately, Roberson’s season never quite began as he was recovering from a left patellar tendon tear and faced several setbacks. He missed 43 games during 2017-18 season and all of the 2018-19 season. His timetable is currently in question, but Roberson said he believes he will be ready by the start of training camp. Still, Roberson is not a fantasy commodity and only provides defensive stats. He will by no means be rushed back and will need to knock off months of rust.

    Patrick Patterson

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 340/334 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 429/421 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 63

    2018-19 averages: 63 G | 13.7 MP | 3.6 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 2.3 REB | 0.5 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.3 TOV | .374 FG% | .663 FT%

    As Grant’s role increased, Patterson’s decreased and bringing in Markieff Morris in the second half of the season surely didn’t help his value either. Nonetheless, Patterson knows his role as a bench player and is comfortable in it. He has already opted in to his player option to return to OKC and finish out his contract knowing he will be playing limited minutes. He is not someone we want to target in fantasy.

    The percentages are terrible for a guard, let alone a big man, and the limited minutes and usage caps his upside. Morris did not seem happy with his playing time in OKC and will likely leave, which could open up a few extra minutes for Patterson, but nothing worth noting for drafts.

    Hamidou Diallo

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 379/385 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 450/451 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 51

    2018-19 averages: 51 G | 10.3 MP | 3.7 PTS | 0.1 3PM | 1.9 REB | 0.3 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .455 FG% | .610 FT%

    Diallo appeared in 51 games during his rookie season, but only averaged 10.3 minutes per game. While he wasn’t able to shine during these games, he flourished by winning the dunk contest over the All-Star break. Diallo is crazy athletic, but very raw as a player.

    The Kentucky product had plenty of opportunity to seize a role on the wing with Roberson out all season, but lost ground to Ferguson and played mostly in garbage time. It is going to be a while before Diallo puts it together, but even then there will never be a ton of usage to go around playing with Westbrook and George.

    He lost ground after suffering a scary fall on November 1. The guard landed awkwardly after a rebound and had to be carted off of the court with his leg stabilized. He dodged a bullet and only suffered an ankle sprain. But that was not it for Diallo. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow during playoffs and never had the chance to return.

    With Roberson expected to return at some point he isn’t really a player worth keeping an eye on. Unless you are looking for highlight dunks of course that is.

    Abdel Nader

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 334/331 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 421/414 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 61

    2018-19 averages: 61 G | 11.4 MP | 4.0 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 1.9 REB | 0.3 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.4 TOV | .423 FG% | .750 FT%

    The Thunder traded Dakari Johnson for the former G-League Rookie of the Year and have him for another season before deciding on his team option. Nader appeared in 61 games for the Thunder and even appeared in a few playoff games. Like Diallo, most of Nader’s minutes came in garbage time, but he seems to be a little more polished and poised for a bench role. At 6’6” Nader could play multiple positions, but would need more sustainable minutes before being considered a fantasy option.

    Jawun Evans

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 482/490 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 478/494 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 8

    2018-19 averages: 8 G | 8.1 MP | 0.8 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 1.5 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .214 FG% | NA FT%

    The Thunder claimed Evans off of waivers late in the season and never really offered him a role other than being a practice player. He only appeared in eight games during the season and they were all with the Suns. Evans is set to be a free agent this offseason and has already played on four different teams since being drafted two years ago. If Evans doesn’t land on an NBA he will likely be picked up in the G-League.

    Doctor’s Orders

    The Doctor has the prescription to fix the problem, but the Thunder can not afford it.

    The team is fully invested in their two superstars and it leaves little to no money to work with in free agency. The best opportunity for improvement is in the draft with the 21st overall pick — or a trade based around that pick that can clear up some ugly salary commitments.

    Paul George has solidified himself as the best fantasy option on this team heading into drafts and is worthy of a back-end first or early second-round pick. Westbrook will still tantalize in category leagues, but the percentages are nuclear in rotisserie leagues and is more ideal in punt situations. Injuries derailed the tail end of their season and the team needs Westbrook and George at full health to stand a chance in the Western Conference.

Fantasy News

  • David Vanterpool - Team - Minnesota Timberwolves

    The Wolves have hired David Vanterpool as an assistant coach.

    Vanterpool was a popular name on the interview circuit this summer but ultimately did not land a head coaching job. An assistant with Portland for the last seven seasons, one would expect that Vanterpool's responsibilities will increase in Minnesota.

    Source: Timberwolves PR on Twitter

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer is reporting that the Mavs, Lakers and Clippers have all shown interest in Al Horford, with some of O'Connor's sources indicating that the Mavs are the frontrunners.

    Horford was expected to re-sign with the Celtics but the two didn't appear to be aligned in what they wanted moving forward, and rumors have Horford set to cash in on a four-year deal worth more than $100 million. He is an extremely malleable player who does almost everything at a high level, and his availability drastically changes the open market. Horford is a fit on just about any team build and should have no problem commanding a big offer come June 30. He'd be a fantastic pickup for any of the three teams mentioned, and his fit in Dallas next to two young, do-it-all stars would be great entertainment.

    Source: The Ringer

  • Ja Morant - G - College

    Ja Morant says he’s pain-free after undergoing a surgery to remove loose bodies from his right knee, and also expects to play in Summer League.

    Morant is widely expected to be taken by the Grizzlies at No. 2 overall in Thursday’s draft, and Wednesday’s trade of Mike Conley completely clears the runway for Morant to play a ton right out of the gates. Delon Wright will also be around and is good enough to push Morant for minutes to an extent, but the Grizzlies figure to spend most of the season exploring a Morant – Jaren Jackson Jr. pairing and figuring out what works around that. Barring a draft night surprise, Morant looks like one of the safer rookies to project in terms of sheer opportunity. There was some worry that his knee procedure would put him behind the eight ball but it no longer seems like that will be the case.

    Source: Ben Golliver on Twitter

  • Kyle Korver - G/F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Kyle Korver, who will be traded to the Grizzlies when they complete Wednesday's Mike Conley deal, is expected to play one more season, and possibly another beyond that per Marc Stein.

    Korver, 38, was said to be mulling retirement but it looks as though he's going to give it another crack. A notorious fitness nut, Korver keeps himself in great shape and relies on a skill that hasn't degraded at all with age. His place on a rebuilding team is questionable, however, and it would be surprising if he spent the entire season in Memphis. Consider him the same 3-point specialist he always is.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Jae Crowder - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jae Crowder is headed to the Grizzlies as soon as Wednesday's Mike Conley trade is officially completed.

    Crowder reasserted himself as a quality stretch four last season after he struggled in his pit stop with Cleveland. He might not hold much utility on a squad that's rebuilding, and Crowder's best shot at fantasy value might be getting re-routed to another team. Regardless, Crowder would only be a late-round guy in 9-cat leagues at best, and he'll likely settle in as a streamer for threes, rebounds and the occasional steal. If he does play out the year in Memphis, he figures to impact the minutes of Kyle Anderson and Avery Bradley.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Grayson Allen - G - Memphis Grizzlies

    Grayson Allen is part of Wednesday's Mike Conley trade and will be headed to the Grizzlies when the deal is completed.

    Allen only appeared in 37 games for the Jazz, though he did end up dropping 40 points in the season finale when Utah rested most of its players. On a rebuilding team, Allen is a lock to play more, but whether he becomes more than a deep-league points and threes guy is up for debate.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mike Conley - G - Utah Jazz

    The Grizzlies are trading franchise star Mike Conley Jr. to the Jazz for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday's Draft and a future protected first-round pick.

    The Jazz were considered the frontrunner to trade for Conley in the last few days and they are able to execute a deal that upgrades their point guard position without selling the farm. It’s now obvious that the Grizzlies will be entering a rebuilding period and Ja Morant seems the obvious choice to replace Conley.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    ESPN’s Jay Williams, a Kevin Durant friend and a partner with KD’s manager, Rich Kleiman, told the NY Post that it’s too early for the Warriors superstar to figure out what the injury means for his free-agent future.

    Williams has spoken with Durant since the devastating injury as he is still trying to deal with the post-surgery period. KD has until June 29th, the day before free-agency courting period, to opt out of the final season of his pact. Even though he will miss next season, he is likely to get a max deal either with the Warriors or elsewhere. The Knicks are still interested, believing that if there’s any player who can come back from this debilitating injury, it is Durant, who will be 32 to start the 2020-21 campaign.

    Source: NY Post

  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - F - Charlotte Hornets

    Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has opted into his $13M player option for the 2019-20 season.

    Ugh! This comes a week after Marvin Williams exercised his $15 million player option putting the Hornets in a tough financial situation with at least $98 million already on the books for next year. It’s highly unlikely that MKG would have commanded a salary anywhere close to $10 million per year in an open market so this was a no brainer for him. Kidd-Gilchrist is only 25 years old and is coming off a couple seasons where he struggled with injuries while the lack of a reliable jumper makes it hard for him to have value in today’s space and pace offense.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Khris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton is declining his $13M player option and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

    Middleton is expected to command a five-year max contract but he and the Bucks are planning to work together toward a new long-term deal. Middleton recently bought a new property in Milwaukee and Giannis has openly vouched for his teammate so we’d be shocked if the two parties don’t end up agreeing on a new deal. There will be plenty of suitors that can only offer him a four-year max deal, with the Lakers rumored to be one of them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter