1. The Lakers eked out a win against the Kings on Friday, a victory that they did not deserve. The win brought the Lakers to 25-34 and ended a three-game road losing streak.

    Los Angeles had many players play below their potential, committed a multitude of mental errors, yet still emerged victorious over the hapless Kings. The hero of the day for the Lakers was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who had his best game of the season with 34 points, seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down 12-of-20 overall and 8-of-14 3-point shots.

    Los Angeles trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter before Caldwell-Pope took over, scoring 17 points in that frame alone. Many of his shots appeared to be heat checks that continued to fall all evening. By his own admission, “It has been a while since I’ve been that hot and actually knocking down shots.” He was the primary catalyst in a 33-19 run to end the third to give the Lakers a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

    The Lakers would let the Kings get to within one point after Caldwell-Pope fouled Bogdan Bogdanovic on a 3-point play with less than a minute remaining in the game. However, contrary to earlier in the season, Los Angeles was able to convert all of their late-game free throws in order to escape with a victory.

    Isaiah Thomas had his ups and downs, literally, as he turned the ball over once when jumping to try and make a pass and a second time down the stretch that gave the Kings life when the game appeared out of hand. When called upon to seal the win, he was clutch, converting all six of his free throw attempts and finishing with 17 points and four assists.

    Julius Randle brought his record as a starter to 14-12, accruing 12 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block. The downsides to his evening was his 0-of-5 performance from the free throw line to go with four turnovers and five personal fouls. Although his game left some things to be desired, he led the team with a plus-20 rating and continues to be a positive presence on the court.

    He was joined by frontcourt partner Brandon Ingram who tallied 13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and one block. He continues to excel at facilitating the offense in the absence of Lonzo Ball, who missed the game as part of a planned day of rest with regard to his recovery from a sprained MCL.

    The Kings were led by a trio of young players; Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and the aforementioned Bogdanovic. Cauley-Stein accumulated a massive 18 points, 15 rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks and continued to torment the Lakers this season. Bogdanovic finished with 21 points, four assists, six rebounds, one steal and one block and Hield added 21 points and eight rebounds.

    Sacramento held an advantage in many statistics on the evening but was simply unable to overcome the hot shooting by Caldwell-Pope, who was the difference in this game.

    Key Stats and Observations

    -The Lakers knocked down 17-of-38 3-point shots (44.7 percent) compared to the Kings who shot a scorching 13-of-25 (52.0 percent) from deep on the evening.

    – Los Angeles was outrebounded 48-44 during this contest even though they hold a significant advantage on the glass for the season.

    -The Lakers came into the game as the leading team at scoring points in the paint, however, Sacramento was able to tie Los Angeles in points in the paint at 40.

    -The Kings held a slight edge in turnovers as they restricted their miscues to only 11 while the Lakers committed 12 turnovers — well below their season average of 16.

    – Sacramento is one of the worst teams as far as assists per game but was able to collect 28 helpers vs. 26 for Los Angeles.

    Up Next

    The Lakers head to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Monday.

    Los Angeles expects to get back rookie point guard Lonzo Ball for that game as he continues to recover from a sprained MCL. This will mark the third game in four nights for the Lakers so they will need to focus in order to defeat the Hawks regardless of their 18-42 record.

    Atlanta is led by point guard Dennis Schroder, who is averaging 19.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game on the season.

Fantasy News

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).

    This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.

    Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.

    Source: NBA

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.

    Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.

    Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.

    Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • TJ Warren
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, Pacers forward T.J. Warren has no injury worries heading into the season.

    Warren has missed 56 games during the last two seasons, but he hopes to stay healthy for all of 2019-20. Warren is likely to start for the Pacers and could hold top-100 value if he can stay on the court.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard expects to play for Team USA during next year's Summer Olympics.

    Lillard skipped this year's World Cup but is planning to play in Tokyo. He should be a late first-round or early second-round fantasy pick this year.

    Source: news.com.au

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Warriors guard Stephen Curry expects to play at next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

    Curry will have a busy year ahead of him. Still, it's no surprise that many potential members of Team USA skipped this year's FIBA World Cup in favor of an Olympics appearance. Curry will be a popular early first-round pick in fantasy drafts.

    Source: ESPN

  • Isaiah Thomas
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb.

    This is rough news for the Wizards, who already have John Wall on the shelf. Thomas was a candidate to start at point guard, but instead he'll have to recover from yet another injury. Thomas averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 assists in limited action for the Nuggets last campaign.

    Source: Washington Wizards on Twitter