• After last weeks slate of forgettable performances, the Kings somewhat bounced back this week going 2-2. They managed to top the Magic and Suns but fell to the Thunder and Spurs; results that were, in a way, expected. However, with that being said, the youth movement is officially underway in Sacramento with Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein all logging big minutes; Malachi Richardson will likely join them in the rotation next week once he returns from injury.

    The week began with a high-scoring affair against the Orlando Magic. Sacramento edged the Magic, 120-115, in a back and forth contest. Seven of the nine players that suited up for the Kings managed at least 10 points so it was a team effort overall. Darren Collison led the way with 19 points and 13 assists while Elfrid Payton continued his hot streak after the All-Star break dropping a triple-double; 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

    In was another back and forth contest against the Suns on Wednesday. A strong fourth quarter by the Kings helped them to a, 107-101, victory in Phoenix. It was a huge night for Skal Labissiere as he notched a career-high 32 points to go with 11 rebounds; he scored 21 points in the fourth quarter alone. Willie Cauley-Stein had a very productive night too with 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocks in 33 minutes.

    Sacramento ran into a brick wall on Saturday against the Thunder. Oklahoma City had a 63-41 advantage at halftime and that lead was just too insurmountable for the Kings to overcome. Russell Westbrook did his thing but narrowly missed out on a triple-double while Doug McDermott went off for 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from three. For the Kings, Georgios Papagiannis had a career-night compiling 14 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting.

    The Kings jumped out to a 14-2 advantage early against the Spurs but that lead slowly evaporated and San Antonio went on to demolish the Kings. Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor thanks to Garrett Temple; Temple holding Kawhi to just 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 from three. LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol were shown no resistance and helped lead the Spurs on the night. Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Willie Cauley-Stein all deserve honorable mentions for their efforts but the cake goes to Garrett Temple for his great defensive effort on Leonard and his overall contributions on offense.

    Takeaway from the week

    The Kings are all-in on their youth for the remainder of the season

    It became pretty clear this week that the Kings are completely focused on the development of their younger players for the remainder of the season. Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis are all in for heavy workloads over the final 15 or so games of the season and Malachi Richardson will join them too when he is healthy. Not only are the young guys playing heavy minutes, they all look very impressive. It’s still very early, but Vlade Divac and his staff deserve a pat on the back for their work around the draft and selecting some seemingly talented players.

    His rebounding still needs work, but Willie Cauley-Stein has shown he has the potential to be a starting center in the NBA. His athleticism is undeniable and it allows him to makes swift moves in the post and contribute productive stat lines such as the one we saw against the Suns. Skal Labissiere has come along quicker than anyone could have imagined and he is blossoming right before our eyes. He has shown star potential and could very well be one of the Kings’ best players for many years to come.

    Buddy Hield is a naturally gifted scorer who can light it up at any given time. His defense and ball-handling still need work but that will come around eventually with more reps over the summer. Hield has the goods to average 20-plus points somewhere down the line. Georgios Papagiannis has been given some rotation minutes over the past couple of games and he hasn’t disappointed. His career-night against the Thunder was one thing, but his touch around the rim is incredible and his huge frame gives him the ability to rebound at will. He still shows signs of being very raw but his future is bright after his impressive stint recently.

    Player power rankings

    Note: These rankings are based on each player’s performance from this week, not on the entire season.

    #1 – Skal Labissiere (Last week: #2)

    Skal makes the leap to the top spot this week after numerous stand-out performances and by just being the most consistent player overall. His averages ballooned a bit because of that huge 32-point game, but for the week he managed 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on 65.1 percent shooting from the field. He’s been incredible and the future is undeniably bright for the 21 year old.

    #2 – Willie Cauley-Stein (Last week: #4)

    Willie had an impressive week despite his off performance against the Thunder. Cauley-Stein compiled averages of 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks on 50.0 percent shooting from the field. When you think about it those are some crazy numbers he is putting up. Willie can really do it all and he should continue to get 30-plus minutes for the remainder of the season which is nothing but good news.

    #3 – Garrett Temple (Last week: #7)

    Temple jumps up to the top-3 this week after some solid performances. His defense was incredible all week matching up with guys like Kawhi Leonard, who he held to just 12 points, and Russell Westbrook who he managed to contain from registering yet another triple-double. Stats wise Temple had averages of 11.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals on 48.5 percent shooting from the field. His contributions to this team are heavily overlooked at times.

    #4 – Buddy Hield (Last week: #3)

    Buddy Hield had his moments but overall he was solid. His most notable performance of the week came against the Spurs where he notched 18 points, five rebounds and five assists on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor. He scores with ease and has an impressive variety of moves that can stump any defender. He is averaging just under 30 minutes a game over the past two weeks but that should creep up over 30 in the coming weeks.

    #5 – Anthony Tolliver (Last week: #10)

    You can say the shooting slump is officially over for Tolliver. He shot a blistering 65.0 percent from the field and an even better 81.8 percent from three for the week while averaging 12.7 points in the process. It was a great week for Tolliver but we should see his minutes slowly decrease over the last 15 or so games due to the “youth movement”.

    #6 – Georgios Papagiannis (Last week: out of the rotation)

    Papa G makes his first appearance of the season in the player power rankings. He was given some rotation minutes this week and as a result he had tidy averages of 5.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game including his 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Thunder on Saturday. As noted earlier, his potential is undeniable, and he should get a nice dosage of playing time to close out the season.

    #7 – Kosta Koufos (Last week: #6)

    Koufos’ minutes are steadily declining as the season rounds out but he’s still been serviceable. He averaged a solid 9.0 points and 5.7 rebounds on 47.8 percent shooting from the field. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him out of the starting lineup by seasons end but we all know it’s not due to bad play.

    #8 – Darren Collison (Last week: #5)

    It’s a bit of a drop this week for Collison after some underwhelming play. He had a great game against the Magic with 19 points and 13 assists but other than that he struggled with his shot and overall command of the team. His playing time will likely be cut along with the other veterans to make way for the younger players.

    #9 – Ty Lawson (Last week: #8)

    Like Collison, Lawson was fairly underwhelming this week. His minutes decreased as the week went on and you can expect that trend to continue. 8.7 points and 6.0 assists isn’t bad at all but he shot just 38.1 percent for the week.

    #10 – Langston Galloway (Last week: out of the rotation)

    Langston Galloway makes his debut on the power rankings this week. You can’t really include him in the “youth movement” but he got a nice helping of playing time this week at around 20 minutes a night. He had a solid average of 7.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting which is all you really ask of him off the bench.

    Injured: Rudy Gay (Achilles), Tyreke Evans (ankle) and Malachi Richardson (hamstring).

    Not with the team: Arron Afflalo (personal) and Ben McLemore (birth of child).

Fantasy News

  • Joakim Noah
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Joakim Noah plans to join workouts with the Clippers this week, per Shams Charania.

    Noah hasn't been in the news since he was up for consideration with the Lakers, but he would be a nice bench pickup for the Clippers. They could use a big-bodied center to crash and bang in certain matchups, and Noah would fit in as a strong defender. We'll see if anything comes of this week's workouts.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Carmelo Anthony
    PF, Free Agent

    As of right now, the Nets are "very unlikely" to sign Carmelo Anthony, according to a report from Shams Charania.

    Brooklyn is more likely to sign players that they have worked out recently, with Charania naming Lance Thomas and C.J. Williams as possibilities. At least more people can complain about Melo being unsigned now.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Chuma Okeke
    PF, Orlando Magic

    According to Shams Charania, the Magic plan to redshirt rookie Chuma Okeke, who is recovering from a torn left ACL.

    Earlier in the summer Magic POBO Jeff Weltman said that he believed Okeke could return this season, but there's no rush for him to get back on the court. The 16th overall pick will be able to focus on rehab this season, and he's off the board in all redraft formats.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Chris Paul
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Though the Thunder are prepared to open the season with Chris Paul as a "veteran star and leader," Shams Charania is reporting that the Heat have "a level of interest" in CP3.

    The Heat and Paul were said to have mutual interest back when CP3 was first traded to Oklahoma City but the teams couldn't work out a deal. It is now expected that Miami will play out the start of the season and see how things are going before they make a big play for Paul, as acquiring his three years and $124 million would require a trade of major contracts. A deal would certainly improve Paul's fantasy outlook but as it stands he figures to stay on the cusp of early-round production as long as he's on the court, even for a Thunder team that's looking to the future.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Antonio Blakeney
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    Antonio Blakeney has agreed to a deal with Jiangsu in the CBA.

    Blakeney was let go by the Bulls a couple weeks ago. A strong scorer at the G-League level, he should be able to drop some huge games in China. We'd expect to hear his name on the mid-season free agency market if all goes well overseas.

    Source: Sportando

  • Furkan Korkmaz
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.

    The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.

    Source: Sixers.com

  • Nikola Mirotic
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.

    Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’

    Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.

    Source: Pistons.com

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

    Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.

    Source: New York Post

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

    Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.

    Source: Cleveland.com