November 12, 2017, 8:50 pm
Before heading on this three game road trip it was probably reasonable to expect a 1-2 record and it wouldn’t have been all that bad. Sitting at 0-2 the Wolves can still achieve that, unfortunately they squandered the win that was expected against the Suns and now face a little bit of pressure to save a win-less trip.
Utah was dealt a huge blow on Sunday when doctors announced star center Rudy Gobert was going to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks with a knee injury. Utah is pretty thin up front and Gobert is the main cog of their defense, so this will not be an easy period for them.
The rim protection Gobert provides allows the Utah guards to be more aggressive on the perimeter with close outs or ball-pressure, because they know if they get beaten Gobert is waiting in the paint with help defense. Derrick Favors is not the rim protector he once was, and he was never at Gobert’s level.
Sefolosha stepped into the starting lineup last game with Gobert out, though that was against the undersized Nets team. It remains to be seen if they stick with Sefolohsa or turn to Ekpe Udoh to match the Wolves’ size.
Either way this is going to be tough for the Jazz to recover from. They are a defense-first team and their offense plays a deliberate pace to feed into their defensive schemes. Without Gobert it’s possible they run a little bit more, but it’s not often where teams change their strategy mid-season, especially something that dramatically.
In their last game the team’s paced quickened somewhat (98 possessions, from 96.6 possessions per 48 minutes on the season), but not to a degree that signaled a philosophical change. They were just able to make their baskets pretty easily over a poor defensive Nets’ unit (48 percent from the field, 11 three-pointers).
It remains to be seen how they react and evolve. The Jazz still have a number of talented players on the perimeter, and Favors put up 24 points and 12 rebounds with Gobert out so they are not to be discounted just yet.
For the Wolves they just need to play a clean game no matter who’s on the floor. Towns played well against the Jazz in their last matchup and theoretically he should have an easier time with Favors.
The game may be more high scoring than last time, which was a 100-97 Wolves’ win, but Minnesota has had no problem scoring the ball lately. It’s been the other side that’s remained an issue.
– Towns vs. Favors
– Butler vs. Mitchell
The Jazz will be severely undersized up front against Towns and Gibson. Even if they decide to play small, Favors will have to contend with Towns. This should be a nice opportunity for Towns to get back on track after a poor road trip to this point.
Favors is a bit stronger, but smaller and less agile than Gobert so he faces a different challenge than the last time these teams met. Towns has the size advantage this time and can play more back to the basket as opposed to facing up on the perimeter.
Favors doesn’t get off the floor as well as he use to either, so on defense Towns is going to have to stay on his feet and not bite on his pump fakes. If he forces Favors to play below the rim, Towns should be okay.
Rookie Donovan Mitchell has had an interesting start to the season. He’s been inconsistent, which is expected out of a rookie, but he’s showing flashes of a real talented scorer. Against the Nets he scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting. It looks like he’s going to get a few more opportunities at the rim with Gobert out of the paint.
The middle of the floor will open up if the Jazz play small, allowing their perimeter plays to take the ball into the paint more often. Mitchell in particular has been pretty good at the rim, shooting 52 percent. For a rookie guard that is fairly impressive. Butler will have to do his best to keep him on the perimeter where his shooting percentages fall dramatically.
Cole Aldrich (ankle) – ACTIVE
Gorgui Dieng (finger) – OUT
Justin Patton (foot) – OUT
Dante Exum (shoulder) – OUT
Rudy Gobert (knee) – OUT
Joe Johnson (wrist) – OUT
Where to Watch:
9:00 ET/8:00 CT on Fox Sports North
July 9, 2020, 10:05 pmNikola JokicC, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic posted his fourth straight elite fantasy season and his best season to date, finishing as the 9th best option in 9-category formats.
Jokic is as reliable as they come with another season of huge popcorn numbers. He scored 20.2 points (a career-high) to go with 10.2 boards and 6.9 assists on a strong 52.8% shooting from the floor and 81.3% from the line. The cash counter output also maintained from past seasons, with 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.1 triples. At this point, Jokic's best asset is his consistency. This is what we've grown to expect from him as someone who always shows up to work. He played every game for the Nuggets this season and has missed just 20 games total in his five-year career. As long as he is healthy, he's money in the bank.
July 9, 2020, 9:57 pmJamal MurrayPG, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray took a nice step forward in his fourth NBA campaign and approached top-50 value in 9-category leagues due to a large increase in shooting efficiency.
Murray was limited to 55 games due to a sprained left ankle but performed well when he was on the court. The popcorn numbers were similar to his 2018-19 season, with 18.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.9 3-pointers in 32.8 minutes. The 25 spot jump to the 52nd player in 9-category format was directly tied to a 1.8% improvement to 45.5% from the floor and a 4.5% improvement to 89.3% from the charity stripe. If he can continue to improve his passing and game management, he can hop into the top-50 with ease going forward.
July 9, 2020, 9:46 pmPaul MillsapPF, Denver Nuggets
Paul Millsap maintained his typical per-minute production, finishing as the 97th player in 9-category formats in just 24.4 minutes per game.
Millsap's minute decline over the past three seasons in Denver have muted the upside he enjoyed during his heyday in Atlanta. In 44 games and a few nagging injuries including a left knee contusion and a sprained right ankle, he put up 12.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks on good percentages (48.6 from the floor and a career-high 83.3% from the free throw line). Millsap should continue to be a good per-minute producer even if he moves on to a new destination for 2021, but expect the minutes to be the real sticking point as he enters his age 35 season.
July 9, 2020, 9:38 pmMason PlumleeC, Denver Nuggets
Mason Plumlee slogged his way to an unimpressive 2019-20 season, finishing well outside the top-250 in 9-category formats and averaging 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds without much else worth noting.
On top of unexciting popcorn numbers, Plumlee shot an abysmal 53.6% from the charity stripe. He was a volume play only who didn't really provide anything exciting in limited minutes. Playing behind Nikola Jokic was always going to limit Plumlee's production and keep him even out of streaming range.
July 9, 2020, 9:20 pmMonte MorrisPG, Denver Nuggets
Monte Morris compiled top-150 value in 9-category formats as the primary backup option to Jamal Murray during the 2019-20 season.
Morris had a strong season splitting time between backup point guard and fill-in starter when Jamal Murray went down with a sprained ankle. Morris enjoyed top-100 value during Murray's absence and put together a solid line of 8.4 points, 3.5 assists and 0.8 steals in 21.4 minutes. It was a solid campaign on compiled volume, but it was a step back from a top-100 season in 2018-19 where he got three more minutes per contest and made good for two more points with heightened efficiency. Going forward, Morris should be a solid deep-league point guard who can provide assists cheaply without any major weaknesses.
July 9, 2020, 9:10 pmTorrey CraigSG, Denver Nuggets
Torrey Craig played serviceable streamer minutes when called upon for the Nuggets and was an underappreciated starter at various points for a good Nuggets team.
Craig is an unheralded player who is one of the prime examples of the "better in real life" syndrome. He won't wow anyone on the stat sheet and therefore he's hard to love in fantasy basketball. His 5.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.7 triples on decent shooting from the floor was good for just 297th in 9-category formats. He did have good stretches and was an acceptable daily play on the right night, but getting into an everyday streamer role is tough in a crowded wing situation in Denver.
July 9, 2020, 8:46 pmKeita Bates-DiopSF, Denver Nuggets
Keita Bates-Diop played sparingly for the Nuggets in 2019 as one of the many pieces involved in the four-team deadline trade and finished on the fringes of the top-300 for fantasy purposes.
Bates-Diop got shuffled into the deck in a crowded Nuggets organization. He was limited to two games with his new club and just 9.5 minutes when he did appear. He spent time in the G-League after joining the Nuggets and on the season he appeared in 39 games, mainly as an injury replacement, and provided 17.1 minutes of 6.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.9 defensive counters, 0.8 triples and some needed energy. Bates-Diop has some potential in the right situation to be a streamer and we'll have to see whether he makes an impact during the NBA restart and if he will be able to crack the rotation in the upcoming season as well.
July 9, 2020, 8:35 pmThomas BryantC, Washington Wizards
Both Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive for COVID-19 and did not accompany the Wizards to Orlando on Thursday.
Scott Brooks mentioned that the Wizards were missing some players and didn't disclose why they were absent, so the dots were fairly easy to connect. Bryant's the big name for fantasy purposes here, and if he ends up sitting out the Orlando games it'll mean plenty of work for Moe Wagner, Ian Mahinmi and Anzejs Pasecniks. As for Payton, he was in line for minutes in a thinned-out backcourt but his potential absence would help players like Troy Brown and Jerome Robinson.
Source: Ava Wallace on Twitter
July 9, 2020, 8:16 pmNoah VonlehPF, Denver Nuggets
Noah Vonleh mainly rode the bench for the Nuggets, appearing in only four games after being acquired at the deadline in the large four-team trade that sent Malik Beasley to the Timberwolves.
Vonleh had a decent season in New York in 2018-19 as a perfectly reasonable streamer just outside the top-150. In 33 games this season split between Minnesota and Denver, he averaged 3.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.5 defensive counters in 11 minutes per game. The Nuggets aren't the team to be on to try to get depth minutes in a crowded rotation so if there's any hope for Vonleh to be a streamer again, it'll be on a different team.
July 9, 2020, 8:06 pmPJ DozierPG, Denver Nuggets
PJ Dozier had a forgettable stint in Denver, with 21 mostly lackluster appearances, but will be at the end of the bench during the Nuggets' restart campaign on a full NBA deal.
Dozier played just 11.1 minutes per contest while shuttling back and forth between the NBA and the G-League. In 21 games, he scored 4.1 points and added 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists with minimal contributions elsewhere. The outlook for Dozier on this team are less than sunny unless there's an injury crisis in front of him. Otherwise, he'll be off fantasy radars as he was in this abbreviated stint outside the top-400.