August 2, 2020, 12:00 pm
I would be disingenuous if I said a month ago that I was confident this bubble restart was going to work. As this pandemic somehow gets worse in this country day by day, the feasibility of getting all these people safely into a quarantined location for any length of time started to slip past me. I have to give credit where it’s due: The NBA, the NHL and MLS have all done an admirable job creating an atmosphere that has been effective and mostly safe given the trials and tribulations they face. On the flip side, Major League Baseball continues to be a disaster and at this point, I’m hoping that they pull the plug so that, just maybe, we’ll see some real change in a sport that is archaic and struggling to keep up with the modern sports fan. I, a very serious baseball fan, have at least 11 unpopular opinions about what needs to be done to baseball that will end my existence on baseball internet because the baseball crowd is so rooted in tradition that not enough people care about to make it last.
Luckily, the basketball crowd seems to be open to whatever kooky things they decide to run with. The weird court setup is uncomfortable but growing on me. The Zoom fans in fake chairs is uncomfortable but not growing on me. It all seems a little D-League or high school gym and I’ve been more impressed with the hockey and soccer presentations. Baseball, again, is lukewarm because half the time these stadiums are empty at this time of year anyway.
There’s also a lot of fatigue for me waiting for the sports to come back. My excitement for the return of sport actually waned pretty aggressively just dealing with the constant updates about the plan and how they’re dealing with this virus. I wasn’t really expecting to latch onto the basketball but I have to say, the first couple days of games has been competitive basketball and that’s been enough to have me checking in whenever possible between the drive-thru state fair, the MLS is Back tournament and wading through tall grass to find the discs I just bought because quarantining has turned me into a (bad) disc golfer. I just want to go back to playing volleyball. I’m a simple man.
Restart Week 2 Stream Table
We bailed on the home and road stuff because it’s all a technicality. The creepy Zoom fans probably do more harm than good. All teams are playing either three or four games in the upcoming week to get through these games efficiently while also limiting the number of players that collapse from being out of game shape.
Working the Wire
Because we’re in an abridged crapshoot at this point, we’re going to drop a group of abridged quick hitters for your viewing pleasure at each position and hope for the best. Now more than ever it really is an exercise of checking the day of the game to make sure your guy didn’t jeopardize the entire bubble to get Vietnamese food. For this week’s edition, we’re going to pick on one higher-end name and one deep cut at five different positions.
Shake Milton: I don’t think we should be scared off of Shake Milton early on here. He was limited to 19 minutes and one shot attempt against the Pacers but also dealt with foul trouble, picking up five fouls in that short stint. He’ll stay under the radar on this team and should still get the minutes in a regular outing to be productive as a scorer.
Chris Chiozza: Chiozza got the start at point guard for the Nets in the absence of Kyrie Irving and… did not impress. I know the leash needs to be short, because we really just don’t have the time to wait, but I think it’s worth snagging him if people cut bait early. The upside may not be 30 minutes and a high-level stat line, but some semblance of the late-season run would be a reasonable outcome. In the last five games before the pause, Chiozza scored double-digit points in three and made at least two triples in four.
Aaron Holiday: Holiday is the primary winner of the Malcolm Brogdon absence. Before we knew that Victor Oladipo was going to participate in the restart, it seemed like Holiday was definitely slotting in at a starting guard spot. Brogdon has dealt with and recovered from COVID-19, but sat out this restart game against the Sixers with a neck issue. Holiday showed me enough with a 15-10 line to merit grabbing or holding onto and seeing how much he can do off the bench.
Jerome Robinson: Admittedly, the Wizards are just happy to be included in the NBA bubble and there’s going to be a lot of sneaky value off of this team because theoretically someone has to score. Robinson scored 20 points in 32 minutes off the bench in the Wizards’ first game. The other admission here is that Robinson is strictly a points and 3-point specialist, which limits his upside as a DFS play. However, in any short-season roto or H2H situation, the triples could come in handy.
Royce O’Neale: I like Royce O’Neale more than his family does and that’s a personal weakness. I accept it, I own it and I also know that he’s going to fill the bulk of the minutes vacated by Bojan Bogdanovic. He is a volume play who doesn’t do anything badly and is a good 9-category option because of low usage. He’ll put up boring stat lines that probably compile more points in daily formats than expected.
Keldon Johnson: An unexpected deeper cut with Keldon Johnson. He actually played 30 minutes in the win over the Kings, grabbing six boards and hitting a couple 3-pointers. Obviously, LaMarcus Aldridge’s absence is a huge hole for the Spurs to fill. What didn’t come as advertised is Trey Lyles missing the rest of the season after undergoing an appendectomy. Johnson should continue to get run and we could see some very useful cheap lines from the Spurs role guys. Rudy Gay had a strong performance as well with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Zach Collins: If the Blazers’ first game is any indication (and it really has to be for us to make any major plays in this short sample), Zach Collins is going to be heavily involved. He played 37 minutes and started alongside Jusuf Nurkic (who played 33 minutes and blocked six shots!). We know that Nurkic and Whiteside can’t play next to each other because neither of them can shoot outside of 15 feet and we also knew that Collins was healthy coming in. Seven points on nine shots isn’t great, but the minute share is worth jumping on.
Jeff Green: I know the stat line was boring and 20 minutes for 10 points and one of every other positive category isn’t wowing anyone, there are a couple notes here. Firstly, the Rockets’ rotation is still VERY restricted. It doesn’t seem realistic that the starters will all play 40+ minutes each game. Green didn’t turn the ball over and is a cagey vet who can at least be counted on to be on the court at relevant times.
Kelly Olynyk: Olynyk has always had a fantasy-friendly game. He’s a big man who can stretch the floor with efficiency. He’ll hit 80% of his free throws and won’t turn the ball over more than twice in a game. The first game in the bubble is going to make him a hot commodity with 20 points, four triples, three assists and two defensive stats. He’s a DFS target in my mind as well.
Jakob Poeltl: I’ve been waiting for Poeltl to get real chances to show what he’s about and this might be the moment. Seven points and six boards don’t sound that impressive in 32 minutes, but check this out: Poeltl dished out three assists and picked up two steals and two blocks. Poeltl is a per-36 darling, averaging 11.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.1(!) blocks. He probably doesn’t hit those heights in this extended time, but I think it’s perfectly realistic for him to be 10 points, nine boards, two assists and two defensive stats the rest of the way, which, fun fact, is pretty damn good.
Brooklyn Nets: I’ve consistently been unimpressed with this team. They’ll make the playoffs because they’re pretty much unchallenged but that’s going to be a quick out.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics keeping the Bucks close despite Jayson Tatum shooting 2-of-18 is at least a moral victory.
Dallas Mavericks: I went from “Oh Trey Burke is on the Mavs” to “Oh Trey Burke is ON for the Mavs”. Talk about an out-of-the-blue showcase.
Denver Nuggets: It’s hard to read too much into the Nuggets’ first game without Jamal Murray. Also, Bol Bol is well on his way to being a cult hero.
Houston Rockets: Jeff Green has always impressed me with his ability to not contribute nearly as much as it looks like he’s contributing.
Indiana Pacers: Hidden behind T.J. Warren’s 50 spot was Victor Oladipo looking pretty good in the first game that counted. Indiana won’t be a fun team to face in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Clippers: I just want to express my disappointment in Lou Williams for putting the entire bubble setup at risk. A 15-year old NBA veteran should know better.
Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron is big mad these days. You could basically hear him putting JaVale on blast during the commercial break. He wants this win bad.
Memphis Grizzlies: The main positive to the frontcourt foulfest against the Blazers was getting to see a stellar Brandon Clarke outing.
Miami Heat: I can’t get over still seeing Udonis Haslem on this roster.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have been thoroughly unimpressive.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pels look listless and Zion’s minute management is just inconvenient given they HAVE to win these games. J.J. Redick looks defeated.
Oklahoma City Thunder: I was not ready to see Andre Roberson actually playing and that was neat. It’s been over two years. Good for him.
Orlando Magic: At least Jonathan Isaac is playing?
Philadelphia 76ers: I refuse to believe that the Sixers are that good and I’m not on board with them as a sneaky Finals team.
Phoenix Suns: Remember when the Suns traded T.J. Warren for a used napkin? 53 points sounds nice.
Portland Trail Blazers: The starting bigs folded back in seamlessly on the offensive side of the floor and Jusuf Nurkic looked solid in his first action. The defense on the other hand was problematic.
Sacramento Kings: Buddy Hield played 20 minutes. That’s all.
San Antonio Spurs: This team, especially without LaMarcus Aldridge, is seven levels of meh.
Toronto Raptors: Really impressive win against the Lakers on Saturday. I don’t think this team can actually win it all, but people probably said that last year.
Utah Jazz: Apparently this is what it took to get the Mike Conley they paid for.
Washington Wizards: The entire team should have opted out after Brad Beal and Davis Bertans stayed home.
Stay safe out there everyone. Hit me up on Twitter here.