• It’s the first Sunday night in August and I’m writing a Daily Dish about fantasy basketball. I suppose stranger things have happened but I’d have to be waiting for a teleportation device, alien invaders, or a marsupial with wings for something to top a professional basketball league resuming its season inside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the middle of a global pandemic that has infected over 17 million people around the world.

    Since I refuse to call this the “new normal” since that expression makes no goddamn sense, I suppose I should just trudge forward in these strange times and lean into some bizarro basketball and recap a few things along the way. You might even pick up a hoops tidbit and a hearty chuckle along the way.

    Come inside, it’s fun inside.

    Brent Rambo Players of the Night

    Here are a couple of players you may or may not have drafted for this sweet Bubblicious flavor of b-ball played who well enough on Sunday to warrant an emphatic opening credits thumbs up.

    Troy Brown Jr., SF, Washington Wizards – 38 minutes, 22 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one 3-pointer, 8-of-17 FG, 5-of-6 FT.

    Troy Brown Jr. feels like a Rodney Dangerfield punchline at this point. Brown is busy telling his teammates that he thinks everyone hates him and they say that not everyone has met him yet. What else does a young wing who can shoot, steal, and fill a box score do to get a little respect around here? How about going off over the course of 38 minutes in the bubble? That should do.

    Brown was a fringy rotational player all season who had many of the tools to be an impactful fantasy player and none of the opportunity to use them. He’ll probably go back to being a fringy rotational player next season once Bradley Beal and John Wall are back in the fold, but for now the Wizards have no choice but to play out the string. Fortunately for them they have a young wing they can unleash, and build Brown’s confidence in the notion that he can be a big part of this team’s future.

    Gary Trent Jr., SG, Portland Trail Blazers – 34 minutes, 21 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, one block, seven 3-pointers, 7-of-12 FG.

    Normally we tend not to get too excited about guys who are just there to shoot but since the pickings are slimmer for our teams we need to be a little less choosy and just roll with the hot hand. And Gary Trent Jr. is scorching. He has now made 11 3-pointers in two bubble games and appears to have solidified his role as the Blazers’ primary bench scorer after spending an entire season not knowing who that player was.

    Again, Trent does not have the prettiest of fantasy games, but the couple of stocks are pretty nice. But as long as he can shoot like he’s Western Duncan Robinson, that’s all that we’ll need to make a quick add when we’re looking for any lightning in a bottle that we can possibly catch.

    LeBron Yelling at J.R. Player of the Night

    There are only so many options available when one of your guys lets out a methane filled warhead during one of their only eight games for the entire bubble to endure. So rather than drop them, we’re just going to yell at them a bunch and just generally get stuff off our chest. Sometimes screaming into an abyss isn’t all that bad.

    Shabazz Napier

    I feel bad yelling at Shabazz Napier, it’s Shabazz Napier after all. Still this resumption period presented an opportunity for Napier to shine with the ball in his hands and revenge on his mind as they took on the Nets. Instead Napier was atrocious in 25 minutes. He shot the ball poorly and coughed it up four times as well. His backup, Ish Smith, has outplayed him in the Wizards’ two games thus far.

    So Mr. Napier, step it up! A bunch of fantasy players who are desperately waiting for real basketball to resume put their faith in you to be an actual general for Washington, not a Washington General. Please don’t lose your job to Ish Smith of all people, or make the brass regret that they didn’t give John Wall an opportunity to see what he can do. Six more games to redeem yourself sir, make them count!

    The Draymond on Steven Adams Report

    Any injury that happens over the course of an 8-game stretch is going to be a kick in the nards for those of us playing in resumption leagues. For those of you reading and wondering if any of your players are on here, I hope you’re wearing a cup.

    We begin with the biggest news that we absolutely feared most when it was determined that the league would resume and play an 8-game resumption schedule that isn’t someone testing positive for COVID-19. We worried that the layoff or just the resumption of play in general would create a significant injury situation. Our fears were confirmed when Jonathan Isaac suffered a non-contact injury to his left knee and needed a wheelchair to leave the floor.

    To say that this injury is gut-wrenching for a million different reasons is a drastic understatement. Isaac was given the green light to play and ramp up his activity after his previous knee injury shelved his breakout season for months. With Isaac’s premier defensive ability back on the floor, the Magic were looking like serious upset threats playing in their home town. Now it looks like the player who is deservedly considered an irreplaceable piece for both fantasy owners’ and the Magic’s chances now needs to be replaced. We’ll hope for the best with Isaac but a torn ACL would likely mean another lengthy rehab that could significantly delay his appearance for the 2020-2021 season. The fantasy community has nothing but love for Isaac so we hope and pray that he makes a speedy and full recovery from whatever this ends up being.

    In our latest edition of the High Mileage report, Jamal Crawford was ruled out ahead of Sunday’s game against the Wizards due to a lack of conditioning and has yet to suit up for the Nets in an official capacity during this resumption period. As a fellow 40-year old man who also needs weeks to build my stamina for so much as a trip to the mailbox, I can relate.

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    Since this whole endeavor is nutty in and of itself, it shouldn’t shock us that we have a potentially nutty situation with Jimmy Butler. Buckets was excused from practice on Sunday then we learned through Jae Crowder that he may be in quarantine. He’s not listed on any injury list and for now is available on Monday but if Butler is currently in and/or forced to remain quarantined he could miss the next couple of games for the Heat. That’s is exactly the kind of situation resumption players who invested an early pick in him were hoping to avoid.

    The Nuggets’ trio of Jamal Murray (hamstring), Gary Harris (hip), and Will Barton (knee) don’t sound like they’re ready to return according to a pessimistic update from coach Mike Malone. Murray is considered “very questionable” while Harris and Barton have been ruled out. Going out on a limb and saying that’s all less than ideal for a Nuggets team that is fighting to hold its 3rd seed in the West and just got whupped by the Heat. But because you can’t spell “The Denver Nuggets in Pain” without the words DEEP STATE, it means Michael Porter Jr. should see more time on the court in their expected absence. (MakesYouThink.gif)

    Say arrivaderci to Marco Belinelli who did not play on Sunday due to a left foot sprain.

    But do say g’day to Patty Mills who returned to the Spurs on Sunday after being left out of Friday’s game to rest. Mills is an elder statesman on the Spurs so I can attest as a fellow old person that dealing with a bunch of excitable children in a Disney environment can be quite taxing.

    The Pacers are about to hit a back-to-back which means Victor Oladipo is considered doubtful for Monday’s game but could play on Tuesday as part of his recovery schedule from a serious knee injury. Prepare your lineups and tears accordingly.

    Malcolm Brogdon is dealing with a neck strain and is considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Wizards despite going through a team walkthrough on Sunday.

    Goga Bitadze will not play Monday due to knee soreness. Our thoughts are with the Goga diehards out there.

    Goran Dragic has a back injury but is considered probable for Monday’s matchup with the Raps.

    Patrick McCaw won’t play for the Raptors on Monday and is really only there for extra depth anyway. Moving on.

    For those of you in really deep Philly area resumption leagues Glenn Robinson III is doubtful with a hip injury and Mike Scott has a sore knee and won’t play for the Sixers on Monday.

    Royce O’Neale is dealing with a sore foot but is probable to continue rolling on for the Jazz.

    Well some things never change despite being in a bubble because LeBron James and Anthony Davis are listed on the injury report but neither are in any jeopardy of missing Monday’s game against the Jazz.

    Eric Gordon was out once again for the Rockets nursing a sprained ankle, leaving Danuel House to start a second consecutive game in his place.

    Ripping Down the Nets

    Hi, resident Nets fan here.

    As happy as I am with the win against the Wizards, I can’t help but still be a little alarmist about the state of things. Sure the Nets are depleted, but this was the Wizards sans Beal and Bertans so let’s not make it like Brooklyn is beating up on the 15-16 Warriors.

    First, and as we expected, Caris LeVert is eating up all the usage. That’s great and all, but it’s only magnifying the same flaws we saw in him from the get go. He’s a volume shooter who can be terribly inefficient both from the floor and at the stripe. Often times when push comes to shove he just ducks his head down and goes to the basket. That’s not a bad thing per se, but anyone thinking that he could fill a box score beyond filling the basket is already feeling burned by the early pick invested in him for the resumption period.

    Jarrett Allen is reminding everyone what he can do when given an opportunity. He can deliver absolute pure big man goodness and his free throw shooting looks to be improved. We’ll see if that holds up. The big drawback is that he’s still getting eaten alive on defense as we saw Thomas Bryant put up a monster game against him. Allen’s career-long in ability to slow down opposing big men beyond the occasional swat has been why he hasn’t been completely been given complete autonomy at the five for the Nets.

    Then there’s Rodions Kurucs, who had the hype machine working for him ahead of this 8-game stretch. He was working as the backup to Jarrett Allen since the Nets had absolutely no size among their reserves. Kurucs was looking great in scrimmages and coach Jacque Vaughn made it a point to say that Rodi would be a significant player for the team. Two games in and Kurucs has been an non-factor and in constant foul trouble. He’s been overmatched on the inside and any hope that he’ll turn it around is fading.

    Again, I’m trying not to be Debbie Downer here. The Nets are all but back in the playoffs for a second consecutive season which would have been unfathomable to fans three years ago. But the looming offseason is going to be shaped by what Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving think about what’s happening right now, and based on the past couple of games I can’t imagine they’re all that amused about what they’ll be walking back into when that time comes.

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