• The Lakers (23-31) head to Dallas on Saturday to take on the last-place Mavericks (17-38).

    The Lakers are playing extremely well, having won 12-of-16 games. The franchise and fan base are flying-high after a trade deadline deal that saw them vastly improve the future outlook of the franchise, giving them the financial flexibility to sign two maximum contract free agents this offseason. Los Angeles will be welcoming two new additions in Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye, after acquiring them, along with a 2018 first round pick, from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

    Coach Luke Walton dined with Thomas on Friday night and informed him that he will begin his Laker tenure coming off the bench, with the intention of eventually working his way into the starting lineup. Frye should also have a role off the bench; his ability to stretch the floor with his elite 3-point shooting should be a boon to the Lakers’ second unit. Frye and Walton attended the University of Arizona together and have a long-lasting friendship.

    It will be interesting to see how these players are integrated and how the roster changes affect the excellent chemistry that had contributed to their recent success. Los Angeles had a sluggish start on Thursday against Oklahoma City, before elevating their game at the half, and easily dispatching a short-handed Thunder squad 106-81.

    One element that complicates Thomas’ role is how well Josh Hart has been playing for the Lakers. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Hart is averaging 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 3-pointers, 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocked shots while shooting an incredibly efficient 63.3 percent from the field. While Thomas is an accomplished offensive player, his defense is notably poor — the Lakers’ defense has been vital to their elevated level of play. Thomas is also still recovering from a serious hip injury he suffered at the end of last season. Perhaps Walton’s statement serves more to placate and motivate Thomas and his agent, who tweeted his displeasure at the possibility of his client not starting, than an actual predictor of what will occur, at least for the remaining 28 games this season.

    Another player who has benefited from the recent coaching changes is Brandon Ingram, who has played point guard during the Lakers’ four-game streak. He is averaging 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.0 blocks while shooting 56.0 percent from the field.

    Julius Randle’s success may also have contributed to the Lakers’ willingness to part with Nance Jr. as they have fared better with Randle as a starter, with a record of 12-9 compared to 11-22 without him. Over the last month, he is averaging 16.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 55.0 percent shooting from the floor and 74.1 percent from the line.

    Dallas fresh off their own trade deadline move, dealing longtime Maverick and fan favorite Devin Harris to Denver as part of a trade that brought back Doug McDermott and a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. They are clearly a team looking at their long-term future as they are out of contention this year and have lost 8-of-10.

    One exciting piece of their future is No. 9 overall pick in this year’s draft, starting guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is having a tremendous first campaign while averaging 14.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.0 steals.

    Key Stats

    • The Lakers have a significant advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Mavs 46.5 rebounds per game (2nd) to 40.5 rebounds per game (27th). The rate at which the Lakers play has an effect on this statistic, they create a high number of rebounding opportunities per game and consequently their opponents accrue 45.4 rebounds per game (27th).
    • There is a huge disparity between the two teams in scoring in the key, with the Lakers leading the league with 53.3 points per game and Dallas coming in last with 38.3 points per game in the paint. However, the exact inverse exists as it pertains to the defensive side of the ball where the Mavericks allow a league best 40.3 points per game in the paint vs. Los Angeles who concedes 48.7 points per game in the paint (29th).
    • The Lakers success can largely be attributed to their vast improvement of the defensive end. During their four-game win streak they have a defensive rating of 94.6 points per 100 possessions. For the season, Los Angeles has crept into the top 10 in this metric, with a defensive rating of 104.6 (9th) compared to Dallas who has a defensive rating of 107.0 (20th).
    • This game will be a battle of will as the Lakers try to push the pace of the game with a league-leading 102.92 possessions per 48 minutes in contrast to the Mavs who average 97.00 (27th).
    • The Lakers have done a better job limiting their turnovers of late, decreasing their season average to 15.9 miscues per game (3rd) vs. Dallas who leads the league with only 12.4 turnovers per game.

    Projected Starting Lineups

    Lakers

    Brandon Ingram (PG)

    Josh Hart (SG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Mavericks

    J.J. Barea (PG)

    Dennis Smith Jr. (SG)

    Wesley Matthews (SF)

    Harrison Barnes (PF)

    Dirk Nowitzki (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers

    Lonzo Ball (knee/MCL) – OUT

    Mavericks

    Harrison Barnes (ankle) – PROBABLE

    Nerlens Noel (thumb) – OUT

    Doug McDermott (trade) – PROBABLE

    Jonathan Motley (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

    Seth Curry (tibia) – OUT

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 5:30 PM PST, 8:30 PM EST

    Television: FSSW, SPECSN/SPECD

    Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM, 1270 AM (ESP), 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Fantasy News

  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets’ team doctors have decided to have guard Spencer Dinwiddie sit the NBA restart out of an abundance of caution, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic.

    Dinwiddie tested positive for COVID-19 and has also experienced symptoms of the virus so the team is obviously treating his situation with extreme caution. The Nets have been decimated and they are expected to be in the bubble without Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Nic Claxton and of course Kevin Durant. We just really hope Dinwiddie is able to recover soon.

    Source: Shams Charania of the Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Shams Charania of the Athletic is reporting that Bradley Beal will not play in the restarted NBA season due to his shoulder injury.

    Beal was reportedly torn about whether he would play but he is making the smart decision here in order to avoid the risk of further injury. The Wizards will now be without Beal and starting forward Davis Bertans when the season resumes at the end of the month, making their presence in Orlando even more meaningless.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart averaged a career-high 13.5 points and 2.4 triples to go with 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.5 blocks in 53 games for the Celtics, good for 51/44 value in 8/9-cat scoring formats.

    Smart missed a few games while also testing positive for COVID-19 but he was definitely one of the good stories of the season surpassing his ADP value. His percentages remained brutal but he took advantage of the extra playing time due to the injury Kemba Walker sustained and solidified his role as a dynamic guard who contributes on both ends of the floor.

  • Romeo Langford
    SG, Boston Celtics

    First round pick Romeo Langford appeared in just 27 games in his rookie year in Boston battling an assortment of injuries and showing only glimpses of his talent while generating 449/448 value in 8/9-cat formats.

    Langford averaged just 11.0 minutes per game and while Brad Stevens was very encouraging of his young guard, he struggled to remain healthy and failed to gain any momentum during the season. The Celtics will absolutely be patient with their rookie and he is someone to buy-low in dynasty leagues after a disaster first year.

  • Javonte Green
    PF, Boston Celtics

    Undrafted forward Javonte Green played in 44 games for the Celtics in his rookie year showing flashes of his potential as a 3-and-D wing and averaging 2.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 9.4 minutes per game and returning just 400/387 value in 8/9-cat scoring formats

    Green was able to impress the Celtics after an outstanding Las Vegas Summer League that helped him secure their final roster spot. He didn’t have much fantasy value this year and his salary is not guaranteed beyond this season so it remains to be seen whether he has a place in the NBA.

  • Tremont Waters
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Rookie Tremont Waters played in just 10 games with the Celtics failing to make much difference, but he was impressive in the G League where he was named the Rookie of the Year for the 2019-20 season.

    Waters averaged 18.0 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 triples and 1.9 steals per game in 36 games with the Maine Red Claws. The Celtics had to sign him to a two-way contract due to roster limitations last year but the rookie has made his case for a more prominent role and he is a name to keep an eye on in dynasty formats.

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    Vincent Poirier appeared in just 20 games for the Celtics in his first year in the NBA, averaging only 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 5.7 minutes per game, good for 434/431 value in 8/9-cat scoring formats

    The French big missed six weeks due to a fractured right pinkie but even when he was healthy he couldn’t secure any playing time and remained deep in the depth chart behind Robert Williams and Grant Williams. The Celtics signed him as insurance last year and it’s obvious that they didn’t have much expectations out of him in his first year playing away from home.

  • Meyers Leonard
    C, Miami Heat

    Talking to the Miami Herald, Meyers Leonard said that his ankle has healed correctly and he is ready to play in Orlando and make a case for his next contract in the NBA.

    Leonard, who started the first 49 games of the season before the injury, averaged 6.1 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42.9 from the 3-point line. He is an impending free agent, and even though he wants to remain in Miami, he is expected to have plenty of suitors after a productive year with the Heat.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Gordon Hayward
    SF, Boston Celtics

    After two years in which he struggled to return to his old form, Gordon Hayward looked fresh and healthy averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.6 triples and 0. 8 steals while shooting .502/.392/.847 splits and returning 51/44 value in 8/9-cat scoring formats.

    The versatile forward had a tremendous start to the season before missing a few games with a left foot injury that is reportedly still bothering him. Regardless, he still managed to play 33.4 minutes in 45 games and he should continue to be the wild card for a Celtics team that is looking to make some noise in Orlando next month. Hayward can opt out of the max contract that he signed with the Celtics a few years ago and it will be interesting to see if he feels like testing the open market.

  • Brad Wanamaker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Brad Wanamaker averaged 6.6 points, 1.4 triples, 2.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 19.3 minutes off the bench, returning 241/245 value in 8/9-cat scoring formats.

    With Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart missing time due to various injuries, the Celtics had to turn to Wanamaker for some much-needed help at the point guard position and the veteran delivered. His percentages though were ugly and he doesn’t really have a diverse fantasy game but Wanamaker proved to be a nice option in deeper formats. He is a free agent at the end of the season and he should be able to generate some interest around the league as a scoring guard who can hit the triple.