• A loss to the Warriors is understandable. A loss to the Suns, especially with Phoenix coming off a back-to-back, is tough to swallow. The Wolves didn’t play particularly well at any point in this game and they let the Suns hang around until finally the Wolves collapsed.

    With 4:46 left in the fourth quarter, Jeff Teague nailed a step back three off of a pick-and-roll switch over Tyson Chandler to give the Wolves a 103-97 lead and Phoenix called a timeout. Over the next four minutes, the Suns went on a 14-0 run, culminating with a Marquese Chriss 3-pointer with 51 seconds left.

    In the end the teams traded points to close the game and the Suns won 118-110.

    The game plan against the Suns is generally centered around slowing down Devin Booker and T.J. Warren. The Wolves failed miserably in that regard with each player going for 35 points on a combined 28-of-44 shooting.

    Booker had a monster line chipping in nine rebounds, six assists and a steal with five 3-pointers. He pretty much got to any place on the floor with minimal resistance and was nailing his shots in rhythm.

    Warren added six rebounds, one steal and one block. He was leaking out on a number of possessions and beat the defense down the floor for easy layups. On nearly every rebound or inbounds play, the Suns were looking ahead to make the quick outlet pass and were able to get away with it too often throughout the game.

    This is how the Suns rely on generating offense and the Wolves continuously let it happen which kept them from pulling away. When the Wolves stopped making shots late, it got out of hand to a point where Phoenix just ran all over them.

    Karl-Anthony Towns did not have a very good game despite the double-double. He scored 17 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and added two assists, two blocks and a steal. He shot only 8-of-19, including 1-of-5 on 3-pointers. The long distance shots were particularly maddening as they were mostly early in the shot-clock.

    Defensively he really struggled again though. He continuously left his feet on help-defense situations for no reason, a persistent problem of his. Or he would be late rotating on a screen, and in general his pick-and-roll defense left a lot to be desired.

    Jeff Teague scored eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and had more turnovers than assists (six to five, respectively). Teague was a minus-23 while on the court. Towns had a minus-27. The next lowest starter was Jimmy Butler at minus-9. Not ideal for the Wolves.

    Butler was more aggressive on offense tonight but it felt forced. While the idea of getting Butler going on offense is nice, the worry is he would end up forcing the issue by taking bad shots. Unfortunately that was the case tonight. He made only 5-of-17 field goals and just dribbled the life out of the ball at times.

    Offense generally hasn’t been a problem for this team, so it was odd that Butler decided now that something had to change. He finished with 25 points thanks to getting to the free-throw line, finishing 14-of-16.

    Wiggins played fairly well with 27 points though didn’t add much value elsewhere. He was one of the more active players on both sides of the court tonight in terms of effort though.

    Gibson finished with another double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

    In the end it’s still only November. There are chronic issues that need to be addressed and are likely in the process of getting fixed. This is still a young team coming off a 31-win season. The turnaround wasn’t going to happen overnight and it hasn’t happened yet despite the 7-3 start.

    Much like the first win over Oklahoma City, expectations perhaps got a little bit out of hand after the five-game win streak. This is a roster that is still oddly constructed and searching for the right rotations. The players are still building rapport together and the coaches clearly haven’t quite gotten their concepts across yet.

    The good news is there is plenty of time, even beyond this season. This isn’t a championship or bust team, this is a squad building for long-term success. Caring too much about a forgettable loss in November is what builds toxic environments.

    Sure the goal is to win every game, but at this juncture the team can afford teachable moments in bad losses. The little details that need to get across tend to get swept under the rug when things are going well. Humbling games like this can be when teams are able to extract the most out of film studies and review.

    The team will have a lot of think about before they take on the Jazz in Utah on Monday.

Fantasy News

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, 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.

  • Jamal Murray
    PG, 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.

  • Paul Millsap
    PF, 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.

  • Mason Plumlee
    C, 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.

  • Monte Morris
    PG, 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.

  • Torrey Craig
    SG, 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.

  • Keita Bates-Diop
    SF, 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.

  • Thomas Bryant
    C, 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

  • Noah Vonleh
    PF, 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.

  • PJ Dozier
    PG, 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.