• The Lakers (18-29) head to Chicago on Friday to take on the Bulls (18-30).

    Los Angeles is red hot having won four games in a row and seven of their last nine contests.

    What is more impressive is that the Lakers have been able to win the last three games without Lonzo Ball, their rookie point guard who is missing time with an injured knee. Ball has yet to return to practice and is therefore not expected to play in Friday’s game.

    In his stead, reserve guard Jordan Clarkson has gone ballistic, averaging 28.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting a scorching hot 61.8 percent from the field and 80.0 percent from the free throw line. He has made multiple clutch shots for the Lakers and has really done a tremendous job carrying the team during Ball’s absence.

    He is joined by Julius Randle, another Laker with an uncertain future with the franchise, who is tallying 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 blocks, while making 61.5 percent of his shots from field.

    Many Lakers have stepped up during their recent string of positive performances — none more impressive than Kyle Kuzma in the Lakers’ victory over the Boston on Tuesday. Kuzma scored 17 fourth quarter points on his way to a 28-point explosion. He outdueled Kyrie Irving in the final frame, an extremely impressive feat, and was largely responsible for the Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference leading Celtics.

    Now the Lakers strive to continue their winning ways on the road against rookie power forward Lauri Markkanen and the Bulls. Markkanen has had a record-setting season, becoming the fastest player to reach 100 made 3-pointers. He is more versatile than just being a prolific outside shooter as he has also shown the ability to get to the rim and finish strong as well. For the season he is averaging 15.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 3-pointers a game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 84.8 percent from the free throw line.

    Markkanen and the Bulls will have to overcome a Lakers team that has been playing hard on the defensive side of the ball, a significant change from last year when they were ranked 30th in both defensive efficiency and rating.

    Key Stats

    • The Lakers shoot 45.6 percent from the field (14th) compared to the Bulls who shoot only 44.1 percent (29th).
    • Los Angeles is much more adept at making plays on defense, averaging 8.4 steals (6th) and 4.9 blocks (12th) vs. 7.1 steals (23rd) and 3.7 blocks (29th) for Chicago.
    • The Lakers are 12th in the league in defensive rating at 104.8 points per 100 possessions while Chicago ranks 25th, allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions. During their solid stretch of play over the last nine games, the Lakers are fourth in the league at 100.0 points per 100 possessions.
    • Both teams like to push the ball as the Lakers lead the league in pace at 103.2 possessions per 48 minutes and Chicago is no slouch either at 100.1 possessions per 48 minutes (12th).
    • The Lakers must really do something about their free throw woes as they are worst in the league by far at 68.5 percent from the line. During their most recent win, they nearly lost the game due to 10 missed fourth quarter free throws and they recently set a league record for futility from the line in a victory, shooting 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) in a win against the Pacers. The Bulls are significantly better at converting from the line, shooting 76.7 percent (16th) on the season.

    Projected Starting Rosters

    Lakers

    Tyler Ennis (PG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)

    Brandon Ingram (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Bulls

    Jerian Grant (PG)

    Zach LaVine (SG)

    Justin Holiday (SF)

    Lauri Markkanen (PF)

    Robin Lopez (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers

    Lonzo Ball (knee) – OUT

    Bulls

    Kris Dunn (Concussion) – OUT

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 5:00 PM PST, 8:00 PM EST

    Television: NBCSCH, SPECSN/SPECD

    Radio: WLS-AM 890, UNIVISION CHICAGO 1200 AM, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Fantasy News

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Andre Drummond had a rocky transition after moving to the Cavs in 2019-20, but not before putting up a solid first half of season with the Pistons as top-20 player in 8-cat and a top-30 player in 9-cat per-game value, thanks to his 15.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game on .532 shooting.

    Drummond, as expected, saw a significant slip in value after moving to the Cavs at the trade deadline. The presence of big men Tristan Thompon, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. provided Drummond with ample competition for minutes. Aside from that, Drummond also dealt with a left calf strain that didn't do his fantasy value any favors. He's already stated that he intends to exercise his player option for the next season, but given the Cavs' developmental shift in direction, he's someone you can expect to see with a lot of valuation volatility heading into 2020-21.

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    According to Shams Charania, Michael Beasley could be making a return to the NBA after moving closer to a deal with the Nets.

    The Nets are sorely undermanned given the high number of their players who have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Beasley last played in the league for the Pistons in 2019 and could provide some limited, albeit versatile production off the bench.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Ante Zizic
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Ante Zizic finishes the season outside the top-350 in 8/9-cat formats with averages of 4.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 0.2 BPG in just 10.0 MPG across 22 games.

    Sadly, there weren't many minutes left for Zizic to snack on in 2019-20, with Tristan Thompson playing rejuvenated basketball and Kevin Love being nominally healthy. Also, Larry Nance Jr. was being groomed as a developmental project by the team. All of this resulted in Zizic becoming the odd man out of the equation. He's drawn interest from Turkish Airlines Euroleague ten Maccabi Tel Aviv, so an off-season departure is not completely out of the question.

  • Jordan Bell
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Jordan Bell's 2019-20 was marred by a right shoulder injury that couldn't get over, causing him to be non-factor in fantasy, tossed around four teams like a hot potato.

    Bell's second year in the league was a fantasy flop. He landed a two-year deal with the Cavs over the hiatus after passing through the Wolves, Rockets and Grizzlies this season. A nagging shoulder sprain limited Bell to averaging just 8.8 minutes per game with averages of 3.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 0.3 BPG on .522 shooting from the field. This resulted in Bell ranking at 418/433 on per-game value and 398/401 on total value. The Cavs are currently still stacked with players in their frontcourt, so there's still big question mark as to what kind of role Bell will fill moving forward.

  • Dante Exum
    PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Oft-injured Aussie guard Dante Exum was unable to shake the injury bug in 2019-20, leaving him to play just 35 games on the season and finishing at 366/380 in 8/9-cat Per-Game value.

    Sadly, 2019-20 wasn't too kind to Exum, who still couldn't stay on the floor for an extended period of time. It also didn't help his cause that the Cavs have a young crop of players who are hungry for minutes at Exum's position. To his credit, Exum was able to record a new career-high with 28 points in early January, but for the most part, he lacked any sort of consistency to be counted on in fantasy. He ends 2019-20 with averages of 4.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 1.0 APG in 13.9 MPG on .471 shooting from the field.

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    According to Chris Haynes, Kawhi Leonard did not travel with the Clippers to Walt Disney World for the assumption of the 2019-20 NBA season.

    The good news here is that it was to attend to a family matter and that Kawhi got permission from his team. He is expected to join the rest of the Clippers in a few days. Leonard was notorious for missing games throughout the season due to "load management" and rest. Since this is not an injury-related absence (tardiness), there should be no real concerns about Leonard not being able to play at a top-10 caliber fantasy stud for the remaining eight games of the season.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Jamal Crawford
    SG, Brooklyn Nets

    According to Shams Charania, the injury-plagued Nets have agreed to a deal with 18-year veteran Jamal Crawford.

    The Nets have been ravaged by the Coronavirus as well as injuries and have a skeletal force trying to compete in the resumption of the season in the Orlando bubble, so it makes sense that they'd look for reinforcements in free agency. Crawford is no spring chicken, but his game has been known to be age-friendly, providing him opportunities to contribute as a scorer and 3-point shooting threat off the bench.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Alfonzo McKinnie
    SF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Alfonzo McKinnie finished outside the top-350 in both 8- and 9-cat leagues while averaging 4.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.7 turnovers in 14.8 mpg across 40 contests with .427/.215/.710 splits.

    McKinnie has proven to be a nice depth piece for three teams in his NBA career after going undrafted in 2015. He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season and is off the fantasy radar outside of the deepest of leagues.

  • Kevin Porter Jr.
    SG-SF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Porter Jr. impressed many in the fantasy community with his showing from 2019-20 as he posted 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 threes and 1.9 turnovers in 23.2 minutes with .442/.335/.723 splits across 50 games.

    Porter even logged three starts in his rookie campaign and returned 208/260 per-game value in 8/9-cat leagues. The Cavs have had a glaring hole on the wing ever since LeBron James left in free agency and Kevin Porter Jr. is poised to become their starting small forward in years to come. Similar to most players, his biggest challenge will be his efficiency as he starts to see more minutes and an increase in usage.

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. produced 102/82 per-game value in 8/9-cat leagues while averaging 10.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 threes and 1.1 turnovers in 26.3 mpg with .531/.352/.676 splits.

    Nance played in 56 out of a possible 65 games in 2019-20 and was in the starting lineup in 10 contests. His fantasy arrow appears to be pointing up as Tristan Thompson is a free agent which should allow more opportunity for the legacy heading into next season. From January 20 on, Nance was a 6th/4th round per-game value and will likely find himself inside the top-100 next season with top-60 upside.