• 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

  • Paul Millsap
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are all candidates for "load management" next season, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic

    This is pure speculation by Kosmider, but this does hold some weight after the Nuggets' playoff run last season and the league-wide popularity of resting players. Millsap would seem to be at the most significant risk to get rested due to his age and quality of depth behind him. Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee would be the biggest beneficiaries should Jokic or Millsap miss time.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Utah Jazz

    Thabo Sefolosha is among the attendees at Rockets minicamp in Las Vegas with a host of other notable free agents this week.

    Sefolosha will be joined by the likes of Nick Young, Luc Mbah a Moute, Raymond Felton, Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer. The odds of someone making the Rockets' roster increased with Iman Shumpert declining an offer sheet from the team.

    Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter

  • Iman Shumpert
    SG, Free Agent

    Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Iman Shumpert has decided to decline the contract offer from the Rockets and will not attend team minicamp in Las Vegas this week.

    It'll be back to the drawing board for Shumpert. It's unsure exactly where he'll end up now, or if he and the Rockets will come to a new agreement in the future. Shump can get steals and threes, but otherwise isn't much of a fantasy asset, unless he finds himself in an ideal situation.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    After an extraordinary summer of 2019, which saw a cavalcade of stars change teams, executives around the league expect that this year’s transaction wires will be dominated by the trade market.

    “We’ve been getting calls all summer,” one general manager said. “I think if you look at the market, there is going to be a very robust trade market this winter for a few reasons.” The big driver figures to be the open, empty crater that the 2020 free-agent class has become. Teams hoping to make significant changes in their direction won’t have free agency to lean on and trades will be the only way to go. If you enjoyed the twist and turns that came with the very busy NBA free-agency period this summer, then buckle up as the trade market means more could be on the way this season.

    Source: Sean Deveney on Twitter

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    The Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association are trying to bring Michael Beasley back to China.

    Beasley agreed to terms with the Pistons last month but he never officially signed with them as the team opted to go with Joe Johnson instead. Beasley has already played in China with Shanghai, Shandong and last year with Guangdong averaging 22.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

    Source: Sportando

  • Justin Simon
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Former St. John’s guard Justin Simon has signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the Bulls.

    Simon is 6’5” and went undrafted out of St. John’s, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, while also being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls currently have 14 players on guaranteed contracts with guard Shaquille Harrison all but locked in to the 15th and final one, so that means Simon is likely headed to the Windy City Bulls of the G League.

    Source: Adam Zagora on Twitter

  • Mychal Mulder
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have announced the signing of guard Mychal Mulder.

    Mulder played last season with the Windy City Bulls of the G-League and averaged 8.8 points in Summer League this year. He has good range but is unlikely to contribute much at the NBA level in 2019-20.

    Source: Miami Heat

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    Nicolas Batum praised the play of Celtics center Vincent Poirier at the FIBA World Cup.

    According to Batum, Poirier "is a center that can block shots and control the paint." A native of France, Poirier has performed well over six seasons in Europe. Nevertheless, he should only be a depth option for the Celtics with Enes Kanter starting.

    Source: NBC Sports Boston

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Zach LaVine has been fine tuning his playmaking skills in the offseason, according to an interview with FanSided.

    LaVine enjoyed the best field goal percentage of his career for the Bulls last season. He also scored a career best 23.7 points per game. However, LaVine averaged 3.4 turnovers and his fantasy value will increase if he can take better care of the ball.

    Source: FanSided

  • Tyler Herro
    PG, Miami Heat

    According to Ira Winderman, rookie Tyler Herro is unlikely to start for the Heat at the beginning of the season.

    The Heat drafted Herro out of Kentucky with the 13th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. Dion Waiters should be the primary shooting guard at the outset. However, expect Herro to get plenty of opportunities to contribute.

    Source: Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel