• Of all the bad losses on the season, and there have been a number of them, this game comfortably ranks as one of the very worst.

    Up against the team with the worst record in the NBA, the Wolves walked into Atlanta as heavy favorites to come out on top. As the game kicked off it looked like the Wolves would be able to control the game and coast to a victory. They led early, the offense was flowing and they were generating a lot of turnovers on defense.

    They were getting beat on the glass, but the Hawks are the worst rebounding team in the NBA so it was more of a matter of “when” than “if” the Wolves would climb back into that race.

    Naturally that was not the case.

    After the Wolves built the lead all the way up to 11 points in the third quarter, the wheels just completely fell off.

    The rebounding woes continued (Wolves were only a plus-one in the second half), they stopped capitalizing on turnovers (seven points on 11 turnovers in the second half as opposed to 17 points on 10 first half turnovers) and the Wolves made a fair share of bone-headed mistakes themselves.

    This was a loss than can be attributed to a number of people. Jeff Teague made just 1-of-12 from the floor and make critical mistakes in the final quarter. He picked up a late technical foul, he forced the ball into Butler which led to a turnover, he made a terrible foul on a driving Bazemore and finally called a timeout on an inbounds when the Wolves had none.

    The last one can be blamed squarely on Thibs and the bench. With 14 seconds left and the Wolves down one, Teague was unable to inbound the ball and ultimately received a five-second violation.

    From the look of it the play call was not properly drawn up, or wasn’t communicated correctly because players seemed unsure where to go, and no one seemed to realize they were out of timeouts.

    Jamal Crawford thought he was in the game and Taj Gibson thought he was out, but they were both wrong. When the play broke down players stood around expecting Teague to call a timeout instead of trying to get open.

    Those are mistakes that can be blamed on the coaches. Poor play calling and poor execution led to that turnover and the ultimate final nail in the coffin. From there the Hawks nailed two free throws to go up three and Butler walked up the floor and took a tough contested 3-pointer that was never close.

    There was enough time to run a play, but Butler decided to isolate and play the hero.

    Butler finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer. He shot 7-of-15 from the field and 9-of-9 form the line.

    Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, adding three assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer. Unfortunately he only took eight shots, hitting six of them. It’s the fourth time in the last six games he’s taken fewer than 10 shots. This trend is certainly not ideal.

    There are a number of ways to get Towns more involved as gifted as he is. He’s not a limited big man but his talents have been squandered lately.

    Teague added 10 assists, four steals and one block to his 1-of-12 shooting, salvaging some of his night.

    The team did more than enough to win the game, shooting 47 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3-point range, 83.3 from the line, while only committing 13 turnovers to 24 assists. It really just came down to the lack of execution and mistakes in the final few minutes of the contest.

    The visible disappointment around the team was obvious as they squandered away a very winnable game. Now they travel to Toronto and take on one of the best in the east on the back-end of a back-to-back, making this loss even tougher.

Fantasy News

  • Jaren Jackson Jr.
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. finished his second season ranked 65/66 in 8/9-cat leagues, averaging 16.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

    After an impressive rookie campaign, expectations were high for Jackson Jr., as he came into the year with an ADP just inside the top-40. Although he did not quite live up to those standards he did manage to improve on his overall rankings and jumped from top-90 to top-70. The long, 6'11" forward provides a combination of shooting and defense no other player in the league can. Jackson Jr. is the only player in the NBA to average over 2.5 3PM and 1.6 blocks per game on at least 46% shooting from the field. The substantial increase from 2.4 3PA last year to 6.3 this year, while shooting just under 40% from deep has made him an unique offensive threat. While his block numbers already have him in an elite category we would like to see the big man assert himself more often on the glass and increase his rebound stats from his 4.7 per game career average. The tools are there, we just hope JJJ can continue to improve and solidify himself as a superior fantasy option.

  • Jonas Valanciunas
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas held 5th-round value all season, averaging 14.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

    Valaciunas posted the best fantasy season of his career finishing the year ranked 54/49 in 8/9-cat formats. After an ADP in 69 heading into the season the consistency and value he provided was all an owner can ask for. He was a double-double machine, ending the year in the top-eight in both FG% (59%) and rebounds per game (11.2). For a big man he was decent from the line and was the only player in the league that at least shot 73% from the line, 55% from the field while averaging at least 11 rebounds and 1 block. He has shown the consistency over the last few years and we expect more of the same to come next season. He could sneak into the top-five rounds in next years drafts.

  • Ja Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant finished his rookie season holding 73/129 value in 8/9-cat formats.

    Morant, the presumptive Rookie of the Year, finished his first season averaging 17.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds on 49% shooting from the field. The high-flying Morant has become one of the more exciting players in the league but could not solidify himself as a top-tier fantasy player at any point this season. His playmaking ability carried him throughout the fantasy season, with well above average assists and average scoring and field goal percentage numbers. The lack of any other stats to speak of and very high turnover rate held Morant back from becoming a top fantasy player, as seen with the disparity of his 8 and 9-cat rankings. As a rookie, much of this is to be expected and he should post more well rounded numbers in the future. More threes (0.9/game) and steals (0.9/game) could eventually substantially increase his fantasy impact and have him flirting with being a top-50 player sooner rather than later.

  • Dillon Brooks
    SF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Dillon Brooks shot his way into the top-175 in bot 8/9-cat leagues.

    With the addition of Justise Winslow, Brooks could be relegated to a bench role but this season proved to fantasy owners what type of player he is. Starting all 65 games and playing 28.5 minutes a night Brooks was a hit or miss points and threes guy finishing the year averaging 15.7 points and 2.0 threes per game. It was boom or bust from the field for the most of the season as he shot 40% from the field and 37% from deep. The volume was consistent, but the output was not, as seen over the final two months of the year where Brooks was outside the top-325 due to his poor shooting (36% on 16.3 FGA). If he can contribute consistent steals, he averaged 1.0 per game the first 49 games and 0.5 the final 16, he is a worthy end of the bench, points and threes fantasy player.

  • De'Anthony Melton
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    De'Anthony Melton completed his second season ranked 167/169 in 8/9-cat formats.

    Melton proved he had value for not only Memphis but fantasy owners, as well. In 52 games this season he averaged a pedestrian 8.1 points, 3.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds. The upside came with his low turnovers and high steals. Averaging 1.3 steals per game, Melton was one of only two players in the league to average 1.3 steals in less than 20 minutes per game. If Melton can increase his percentages in future seasons he can become a consistent backup fantasy option.

  • Rajon Rondo
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Rajon Rondo will miss 6-8 weeks after surgery on his fractured right thumb.

    ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports Rondo suffered the "significant" hand injury during practice on Sunday. Rondo averaged 7.1 points and 5 assists in 20.5 minutes per game this season. With Avery Bradley opting to sit out the remainder of the season Rondo was expected to pick up some of the available backcourt minutes. LeBron James will continue to run the show with the first unit while Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook have the opportunity to get some extra run.

    Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter

  • Alize Johnson
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    Second-year forward Alize Johnson spent most of his time in 2019-20 playing in the G League than with the Pacers, allowing him to finish ranked just inside the top-500.

    Johnson was a little bit less than an afterthought in fantasy this season as he simply could not crack the team's rotation. In 13 games played for Indiana, the former second-round pick was able to post averages of 1.4 PPG and 1.4 RPG. He's not in line to see a significant bump in value anytime soon.

  • TJ Leaf
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    T.J. Leaf found himself on the outside looking in the Pacers' regular rotation in 2019-20, averaging just 7.7 minutes for 2.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.2 threes per game in 26 games.

    The 6-foot-10 power forward is still widely regarded as a "project" for the team. He saw some action in the G League, where he was able to shine 23.3 PPG and 2.3 3PG. Leaf's fantasy value is still close to the bottom of the proverbial barrel, ranked at 421/411 in 8/9-cat per-game value.

  • Jakarr Sampson
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    Jakarr Sampson was underwhelming in 26 games for the Pacers, winding up ranked 382nd in 8-cat per-game value and 359th in 9-cat.

    There were enough productive forwards ahead of Sampson on the depth chart that pushed him back. He also dealt with the injury bug, stymying his opportunities to deliver when the Pacers were shorthanded. Sampson was pretty much a non-factor, averaging just 13.1 minutes per game and producing 4.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG. He was actually a bane from the line, shooting at a dismal .550 clip from the stripe.

  • Anthony Davis
    PF-C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis finished as the No. 1/2 player in 8/9-cat formats in per-game value and had a fairly healthy season as well.

    Davis came through as the Lakers had hoped when they traded away all of their young core except for Kyle Kuzma to get him. However, nothing is complete until they bring home a championship. He did not see his role change much at all from his transition from the pelicans to the Lakers as his stats are nearly identical to his seasons with the Pelicans. Davis should be all the way at the top of everyone's draft boards heading into next season as the only thing that will ever stand in his way of being a top-3 value is his health.

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