• Mercifully we saw some close games and exciting finishes today. Dario Saric almost choked it away for Croatia but came up big at the game’s pivotal moment. Lithuania started strong and snoozed through the second half, narrowly dodging a defeat from the home team in Group B. The US Women unsurprisingly blew some doors off against Senegal but the rest of the women’s field looks competitive.

    If nothing else, Day 2 was a lot more fun than Day 1.

    Today’s Results

    Men’s

    Lithuania 82 vs. Brazil 76
    Croatia 72 vs. Spain 70
    Nigeria vs. Argentina

    Women’s

    USA 121 vs. Senegal 56
    Serbia 65 vs. Spain 59
    Australia 61 vs. Turkey 56
    France 73 vs. Belarus 72

    Brazil vs. Lithuania

    The first men’s game of the day looked like another blowout until an impressive second half rally from Brazil. The Brazilians entered with visions of keeping Jonas Valanciunas away from the basket and did a good job with that for the most part. Lithuania capitalized on some sloppy perimeter defense and ran their sets to perfection, ripping Brazil apart with their good shooters coming off excellent screens. Once Brazil paid more attention to the pick and pop game the paint opened up for Lithuania, who shot 72% from the floor and got whatever they wanted in a clinical first half performance. The second half was a different story; Lithuania scored just 24 points in the entire second half after posting 27 and 31 points in the first two quarters.

    There were strong performances up and down the roster despite the near-collapse. Knicks-bound Mindaugas Kuzminskas (#19) looked good off the bench while Antanas Kavaliauskas (#12) dominated the paint when Valanciunas sat. JV was disappointing; fouling out with just 6 points and 3 rebounds. While his output left a lot to be desired, Lithuania used his gravity to fire open shots from both the mid-range and deep. Paulius Jankunas (#13) was killer from the mid-range in the first half as Brazil selling out to protect the paint played into his skill set nicely. Long-time point guard Mantas Kalnietis led the way with 16 points while Jankunas turned in a nice all-around game with 16-7-3.

    Brazil started poorly and struggled to contain the bigger Lithuanians. Their defense was over-aggressive at times and they were stymied at the other end by a suffocating Lithuanian defense for the first 30 minutes. Poor shooting from the three point line (2-14) and charity stripe (22-35) also loomed large given their tremendous second half surge. A really nice 3rd quarter led by Leandro Barbosa closed the gap to 18 and got the crowd back into it for a massive push in the 4th that saw a deficit of 30 trimmed to just 4 points. Lithuania’s first half execution was just too much to overcome.

    They got impressive games from Barbosa and Jazz guard Raul Neto and the offense seemed to kick into high gear when they let those two create freely. The first half saw lots of plays forced into the post for Nene to poor results. Maybe Brazil enters their next game with a looser offense that will leverage Barbosa’s speed and creativity; their penetration turned Nene into a threat on the offensive glass and formed a much more balanced attack.

    Top Performers

    Lithuania Brazil
    Points Kalnietis 16
    Jankunas 15
    Seibutis 11
    Barbosa 21
    Neto 14
    Nene 11
    Rebounds Jankunas 7
    Maciulis 6
    Kuzminskas 5
    Nene 8
    Lima 6
    Felicio 4
    Assists Kalnietis 7
    Jankunas / Seibutus 3
    Valanciunas / Maciulis 2
    Huertas 3
    Nene/Barbosa/Marquinhos 2
    Neto / Lima 1

    Stray Thoughts:

    • Brazil did a great job of not letting Valanciunas get the ball in the post
    • Felt like Brazil wanted to funnel the ball to Sabonis; he looked tentative early and seemed surprise by Brazilian pressure. He did convert a huge and-1 to pretty much ice the game
    • Huertas has some fun game; it’s a shame he couldn’t squeak out more minutes in a meaningless Lakers season if only for the entertainment value
    • I don’t know what happened at halftime but Lithuania looked like a completely different team coming out of the locker room
    • Lithuania was battling the whistle in the second half; their first free throw of the half was Sabonis’s and-1 to extend the lead to 7 with about 1:20 left to go
      • Free throws: Brazil 22-35, Lithuania 15-18
    • Nene took a horrible foul to all but ice the game, hacking with 3 seconds left on the shot clock with 17.8 seconds to go. Awful decision making from one of the team leaders
    • Brazil still struggled to move the ball on their big run; 11:13 assist to turnover ratio shows the Iso-heavy reality of Barbosa as a lead dog
    • I suppose that’s the reward for dominating everyone, but it’s a shame Team USA won’t get to face off against these Group B teams. There could be some fun games in there

Fantasy News

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The NBA "would like to have a champion crowned by Labor Day weekend," per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Wojnarowski was on "Get Up" on Tuesday morning with host Mike Greenberg when he gave the latest timeline that he is hearing. Woj made it a point of emphasis that this is the ideal timeline that the NBA is hoping to complete this season by, and added that if this comes to fruition there is no question that the start of next season would be delayed. This is the latest timeline that we are hearing about, and we will have to see how realistic this is as time passes.

    Source: ESPN

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    NBA teams will not be allowed to conduct in-person or live video workouts for NBA Draft prospects but will be allowed up to four hours of virtual meetings per prospect.

    Whenever the draft happens, it will be with the least amount of research in quite a while. Teams will be without tournament game tape for college prospects and without the ability to watch live workouts. Combined with a lack of consensus on who the best players are, this could lead to a wild draft with the eventual best players going much later than usual.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adam Silver said there will be no way to know the NBA season's fate until at least May 1st.

    It's not much of a surprise to hear that Silver doesn't expect to have enough information to make a determination about the season until next month at the very least. He also mentioned that the NBA has looked a lot at games without fans.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Tyrese Maxey
    SG, College

    Tyrese Maxey has declared for the NBA draft.

    The freshman from Kentucky finished the college season with averages of 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.1 threes per contest. Maxey is gifted with a tremendous knack for scoring and has the looks of a lottery selection, though obviously this draft season could be a very strange one.

    Source: Malika Andrews on Twitter

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
    PG, New York Knicks

    Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that with new leadership in place for the Knicks, the team is likely to shop Dennis Smith Jr. this offseason.

    Knicks President Leon Rose has no attachment to Smith, and with head coach David Fizdale and assistant coach Keith Smart no longer around to justify his retention, there is little reason for the Knicks to continue relying upon DSJ's services. He struggled all season, from a back injury, to the loss of his stepmother, to an obscure oblique injury, and a concussion in February. Smith will be worth a flyer for another team to roll the dice on, but it is unlikely he gets a real chance to be the Knicks point guard of the future again. It will be difficult for Smith to become a standard league option no matter where he is playing next season. He is simply too lousy a shooter from the field and free-throw line. His turnover rate also remains an issue in 9-CAT formats.

    Source: NY Post

  • Ashton Hagans
    PG, College

    Sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans announced his intention to leave Kentucky and enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Hagans is projected to be a late second-round target for the draft and is unlikely to make noise as a rookie in the NBA. One has to hope he lands on a team devoid of point guard options to let Hagans emerge with much fantasy value as a rookie. He averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game while serving as the starting point guard throughout this season with the Wildcats.

    Source: UK Athletics

  • Theo Maledon
    PG, International

    French point guard Theo Maledon has completed all of the required paperwork to make himself eligible to be selected in the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Maledon is an up-and-coming prospect who will be only 18 years young on draft day. He was a contender to take home the Rising Star award based upon his play in the Euroleague this season before the action was cut short due to the coronavirus. He's been in the French system since he was 14 and is considered a pick just outside the NBA lottery on many draft boards. He was averaging 7.1 points and 2.3 assists in 17 minutes of action.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Pacers GM Chad Buchanan declined to interview for the Bulls' top basketball operations position.

    Buchanan said he and his family are happy in Indianapolis and he is not interested in leaving. The Bulls are clearly moving fast with building their new front office after the announcement that GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Ops John Paxson are expected to move to different roles in the organization. A change in the front office and coaching staff could only be positive for fantasy purposes as the Bulls rank 29th in offensive rating this season. Hopefully a change would bring a more fantasy-friendly system with an emphasis on developing the younger talent on the roster.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The NBA and ESPN are working together to televise a H-O-R-S-E competition with several high-profile players.

    Woj reported that the details of this competition are still being finalized, but it sounds like players will shoot in isolation, most likely in their home gyms. This would be a much needed source of entertainment for everyone who loves the NBA and, with bragging rights on the line, we would likely see some stellar performances from the NBA's best players.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Lauri Markkanen had been unhappy with the direction of the Bulls organization even before the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Markkanen was so displeased, in fact, that he went on to state that if the situation were to remain unchanged, he'd prefer to be elsewhere. The Bulls power forward was a fantasy mess in 2019-20 and some of that could be attributed to the coach and some of it, to his injuries. Still, his statements put the team in a rough spot. considering Markkanen has been widely regarded as a core piece of their future plans. The Bulls are already shaking things up though, making moves towards freshening things up in the front office. The Markkanen-Bulls relationship is a must-watch storyline, especially given his potential in fantasy hoops.

    Source: Chicago Sun-Times.