• The Lakers (19-29) head to Toronto on Sunday for a showdown with the Raptors (32-15).

    Los Angeles is in the midst of a hot streak, winning eight of their past 10 games and four in a row. They will be in for a serious challenge as the Raptors have the second-best home record in the NBA at 17-4.

    The Lakers’ recent improvement in play is largely on the merit of their defense — their defensive rating during their 10-game stretch is fourth in the league at 100.2 points per 100 possessions. This improvement is no accident as defense has been the main focus of the players and coaching staff.

    Los Angeles recently found out that rookie point guard Lonzo Ball does not just have a sore knee, but that he has been officially diagnosed with a sprained MCL, an injury that carries a 1-3 week timetable for recovery. He will not be available for Sunday’s contest.

    In his stead, several Lakers have stepped up to help spark this current win-streak. Leading the way have been Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram. The latter carried the Lakers in their 108-103 victory over the Bulls, contributing 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and one steal while shooting 10-of-18 from the field. He showed leadership and poise throughout the game, improved touch on his mid-range jump shot and made several clutch plays down the stretch to seal the Laker win.

    However, one interesting development for the Lakers is the growth of rookie point guard Alex Caruso. He has provided Los Angeles with a stabilizing force off the bench, playing competitive defense and giving the Lakers a much-needed edge. It was recently pointed out that the Lakers have not lost a game in which Caruso plays at least 18 minutes.

    The main challenge for the Lakers will be stifling the Raptors backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan, a Los Angeles native, is having a career-year and was recently selected to be an All-Star starter. Statistically he is having a tremendous campaign averaging 24.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the line.

    Key Stats

    • The recently improved Laker defense will have its hands full with the Raptors’ offense, a prolific scoring unit averaging 110.9 points per game (4th). In comparison, the Lakers score 106.6 points per game (9th), an impressive total in their own right.
    • One of the major differences between the two teams is their ability to convert at the line as the Lakers are last in the league (68.6 percent) vs. the Raptors who make 79.8 percent of their freebies (3rd).
    • Free throw shooting will be particularly crucial in this game as both teams foul with great regularity, the Raptors leading the way at 22.3 fouls per game (4th) and the Lakers right behind them with 21.9 fouls per game (6th).
    • Part of the recent success for the Lakers has been their ability to limit their turnovers as they have only committed 8.3 turnovers per game, best in the NBA during that span. For the season they average 16.1 turnovers per game (29th) vs. 13.7 turnovers per game (5th) for the Raptors.
    • The Lakers’ ability to get out and run is vital as they struggle in their half-court offense. On the season they average 17.4 fast break points per game (2nd) and during their four-game win streak they are even better with 21.3 fast break points per game. Toronto is also quite good at running as they average 13.9 fast break points per game (6th).

    Projected Starting Rosters

    Lakers

    Tyler Ennis (PG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)

    Brandon Ingram (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Raptors

    Kyle Lowry (PG)

    DeMar DeRozan (SG)

    OG Anunoby (SF)

    Serge Ibaka (PF)

    Jonas Valanciunas (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers

    Lonzo Ball (knee sprain) – OUT

    Raptors

    None

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 3:00 PM PST, 6:00 PM EST

    Television: TSN 4/5, SPECSN/SPECD

    Radio: TSN RADIO 1050 TORONTO, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Fantasy News

  • Jaren Jackson Jr.
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. finished his second season ranked 65/66 in 8/9-cat leagues, averaging 16.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

    After an impressive rookie campaign, expectations were high for Jackson Jr., as he came into the year with an ADP just inside the top-40. Although he did not quite live up to those standards he did manage to improve on his overall rankings and jumped from top-90 to top-70. The long, 6'11" forward provides a combination of shooting and defense no other player in the league can. Jackson Jr. is the only player in the NBA to average over 2.5 3PM and 1.6 blocks per game on at least 46% shooting from the field. The substantial increase from 2.4 3PA last year to 6.3 this year, while shooting just under 40% from deep has made him an unique offensive threat. While his block numbers already have him in an elite category we would like to see the big man assert himself more often on the glass and increase his rebound stats from his 4.7 per game career average. The tools are there, we just hope JJJ can continue to improve and solidify himself as a superior fantasy option.

  • Jonas Valanciunas
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas held 5th-round value all season, averaging 14.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

    Valaciunas posted the best fantasy season of his career finishing the year ranked 54/49 in 8/9-cat formats. After an ADP in 69 heading into the season the consistency and value he provided was all an owner can ask for. He was a double-double machine, ending the year in the top-eight in both FG% (59%) and rebounds per game (11.2). For a big man he was decent from the line and was the only player in the league that at least shot 73% from the line, 55% from the field while averaging at least 11 rebounds and 1 block. He has shown the consistency over the last few years and we expect more of the same to come next season. He could sneak into the top-five rounds in next years drafts.

  • Ja Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant finished his rookie season holding 73/129 value in 8/9-cat formats.

    Morant, the presumptive Rookie of the Year, finished his first season averaging 17.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds on 49% shooting from the field. The high-flying Morant has become one of the more exciting players in the league but could not solidify himself as a top-tier fantasy player at any point this season. His playmaking ability carried him throughout the fantasy season, with well above average assists and average scoring and field goal percentage numbers. The lack of any other stats to speak of and very high turnover rate held Morant back from becoming a top fantasy player, as seen with the disparity of his 8 and 9-cat rankings. As a rookie, much of this is to be expected and he should post more well rounded numbers in the future. More threes (0.9/game) and steals (0.9/game) could eventually substantially increase his fantasy impact and have him flirting with being a top-50 player sooner rather than later.

  • Dillon Brooks
    SF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Dillon Brooks shot his way into the top-175 in bot 8/9-cat leagues.

    With the addition of Justise Winslow, Brooks could be relegated to a bench role but this season proved to fantasy owners what type of player he is. Starting all 65 games and playing 28.5 minutes a night Brooks was a hit or miss points and threes guy finishing the year averaging 15.7 points and 2.0 threes per game. It was boom or bust from the field for the most of the season as he shot 40% from the field and 37% from deep. The volume was consistent, but the output was not, as seen over the final two months of the year where Brooks was outside the top-325 due to his poor shooting (36% on 16.3 FGA). If he can contribute consistent steals, he averaged 1.0 per game the first 49 games and 0.5 the final 16, he is a worthy end of the bench, points and threes fantasy player.

  • De'Anthony Melton
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    De'Anthony Melton completed his second season ranked 167/169 in 8/9-cat formats.

    Melton proved he had value for not only Memphis but fantasy owners, as well. In 52 games this season he averaged a pedestrian 8.1 points, 3.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds. The upside came with his low turnovers and high steals. Averaging 1.3 steals per game, Melton was one of only two players in the league to average 1.3 steals in less than 20 minutes per game. If Melton can increase his percentages in future seasons he can become a consistent backup fantasy option.

  • Rajon Rondo
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Rajon Rondo will miss 6-8 weeks after surgery on his fractured right thumb.

    ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports Rondo suffered the "significant" hand injury during practice on Sunday. Rondo averaged 7.1 points and 5 assists in 20.5 minutes per game this season. With Avery Bradley opting to sit out the remainder of the season Rondo was expected to pick up some of the available backcourt minutes. LeBron James will continue to run the show with the first unit while Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook have the opportunity to get some extra run.

    Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter

  • Alize Johnson
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    Second-year forward Alize Johnson spent most of his time in 2019-20 playing in the G League than with the Pacers, allowing him to finish ranked just inside the top-500.

    Johnson was a little bit less than an afterthought in fantasy this season as he simply could not crack the team's rotation. In 13 games played for Indiana, the former second-round pick was able to post averages of 1.4 PPG and 1.4 RPG. He's not in line to see a significant bump in value anytime soon.

  • TJ Leaf
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    T.J. Leaf found himself on the outside looking in the Pacers' regular rotation in 2019-20, averaging just 7.7 minutes for 2.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.2 threes per game in 26 games.

    The 6-foot-10 power forward is still widely regarded as a "project" for the team. He saw some action in the G League, where he was able to shine 23.3 PPG and 2.3 3PG. Leaf's fantasy value is still close to the bottom of the proverbial barrel, ranked at 421/411 in 8/9-cat per-game value.

  • Jakarr Sampson
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    Jakarr Sampson was underwhelming in 26 games for the Pacers, winding up ranked 382nd in 8-cat per-game value and 359th in 9-cat.

    There were enough productive forwards ahead of Sampson on the depth chart that pushed him back. He also dealt with the injury bug, stymying his opportunities to deliver when the Pacers were shorthanded. Sampson was pretty much a non-factor, averaging just 13.1 minutes per game and producing 4.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG. He was actually a bane from the line, shooting at a dismal .550 clip from the stripe.

  • Anthony Davis
    PF-C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis finished as the No. 1/2 player in 8/9-cat formats in per-game value and had a fairly healthy season as well.

    Davis came through as the Lakers had hoped when they traded away all of their young core except for Kyle Kuzma to get him. However, nothing is complete until they bring home a championship. He did not see his role change much at all from his transition from the pelicans to the Lakers as his stats are nearly identical to his seasons with the Pelicans. Davis should be all the way at the top of everyone's draft boards heading into next season as the only thing that will ever stand in his way of being a top-3 value is his health.

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