• It is undoubtedly true that the NBA has been moving more and more towards positionless basketball the last few seasons.  Lineup flexibility is of paramount importance, and many perimeter players seamlessly shift between positions.

    But this isn’t true of everyone, and this has adversely affected some former “power forwards” who aren’t quite strong enough to play full-time center and aren’t quite skilled enough to step out and defend the perimeter.

    Derrick Favors is not one of these players, but is perhaps one of the biggest breakout candidates for the next season simply because he’ll be playing the position he should’ve been playing for years.  Favors may have been drafted as a power forward, but 2019 Derrick Favors is unequivocally suited best for a full-time center role.  This full-time transition probably would’ve happened years ago in Utah, but Favors was too good to sit too much but very much a less-than-ideal complement to the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert.

    A lot of smart people called Favors to the Pelicans before it happened.  Here was a player who should be getting starter-caliber minutes sitting on the bench sometimes because his offense overlapped with Gobert’s.

    In an era where a lot of players are expanding their shooting range in order to get minutes, Favors is, once again, not that type of player, evidenced by his paltry 3-point percentages and volume.  And despite their imperfect fit, lineups with Gobert and Favors on the floor together played at roughly a plus-7.6 plus-minus per 48 minutes together, which equates to somewhere around a 60-win team.

    As much as we know what Favors isn’t, we know what he is: an athletic freak who is strong enough to muscle big opponents and light enough on his feet to get up and down the floor.  Favors is excellent around the rim when not crowded by other non-shooting players like Gobert.

    Here are Favors’ stats with and without Gobert the past three seasons.

    The results are pretty clear, particularly in categories that relate to being around the rim.  When Favors is forced to become a perimeter offensive player, his performance suffers greatly, as evidenced by the 9% delta between his FG% with and without Gobert.  This also extends to his block/steal/rebound figures as well, which each dip next to Gobert.  It’s worth mentioning, however, that despite the drop in Favors’ individual defensive numbers, these lineups were fantastic on defense, posting DRTGs in the 95 to 100 range.  However, Favors’ individual stats suffered greatly for it.

    Moving forward, it’s important to note that Favors may not pair perfectly with Zion Williamson or other Pelican frontcourt partners, but because he is less perimeter-oriented than they are, it would be surprising if he is the one who has to spend an undue amount of time in that area.  As a result, he will be tasked with playing to his strengths, which are rim protection, rebounding, running the floor against centers, crashing the offensive boards and finishing near the rim.

    David Griffin said that Favors is an important piece in their future, and I expect he will have every opportunity this season to prove that he is exactly that.

Fantasy News

  • Mikal Bridges
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Mikal Bridges led all Suns reserves in minutes (36) on Thursday and put up 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting, to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

    He's simply outplaying Dario Saric (five points, five rebounds, one trey, one steal, 16 minutes) right now and the extra run on the floor is paying off dividends for managers who held onto Bridges during those lean games. Pick him up if he's been dropped in your league.

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Devin Booker was relatively quiet on Thursday, recording 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five rebounds, seven assists, two treys and six turnovers in 37 minutes.

    The turnovers were a stinger for his owners in 9-cat leagues and you can credit the Pelicans' feisty defense for more than a few of those. Count it as an off-night for Booker and move on. He should bounce-back to his top-30 form in no time.

  • Tyler Johnson
    PG-SG, Phoenix Suns

    Tyler Johnson started for Ricky Rubio (back) on Thursday and chipped in across the board with six points, five rebounds, four dimes, one trey, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a DFS gem coming from the low-end veteran guard. He is worth streaming while Rubio remains out, but that's the ceiling of his upside in fantasy at this stage of his career.

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. produced a team-high 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-9 shooting from the line with six boards, two 3s and four assists in Thursday's loss to the Pelicans.

    Oubre is holding steady as a top-70 play in 9-cat so far this season. His ceiling is somewhere within top-50 value, but as a hot commodity, may cost you an arm and a foot for his services.

  • Jrue Holiday
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Jrue Holiday was one assist shy of a double-double on Thursday as he tallied 23 points (10-of-19 shooting), four rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, three steals and one block.

    His ability to stuff the stat sheet is at the core of Holiday's fantasy appeal. It appears he's turned the corner from a slow start. Both he and Brandon Ingram are playing well right now, but Zion Williamson could throw a wrench into the vibe once he's back on the court. Now would be an ideal time to sell-high on Holiday if you want to exit your position.

  • E'Twaun Moore
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    E'Twaun Moore chipped in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, three 3s and two assists in 26 minutes in Thursday's win over the Suns.

    Moore has been on the radar in 14-team leagues or deeper for his scoring and 3-point shooting as of late. He will fade as the Pelicans get healthier, but feel free to ride out his run while it lasts.

  • JJ Redick
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    J.J. Redick caught fire in Thursday's win over the Suns, knocking down 5-of-8 shots from deep en route to his 26 points (10-of-14 shooting) with five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    Redick definitely has some gas left in his tank, scoring 20 points or more in four of his last five games. He's been a top-120 play in 9-cat over the season, so consider selling high now.

  • Brandon Ingram
    SF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Brandon Ingram shook off a slow start in Thursday's 124-121 win over the Suns to finish with 28 points (9-of-19 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists, three 3s, one steal and two blocks in 33 minutes.

    Ingram is back to his early-season form and delivering across the board in impressive fashion. He appears on track to sustain his production, as is, but a returning Zion Williamson could muddle things for sure.

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) played 19 minutes off the bench in his return to action on Thursday, posting eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with two 3s, one rebound and five assists.

    Considering it was Ball's first game back in over two weeks, it was not a bad showing. He should eventually return to the starting lineup and see his minutes restriction eased and then later lifted as he gets his legs back. For now, you can bench him until he's back at full strength. Good news is the wait might not be too long.

  • Skal Labissiere
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Skal Labissiere had a huge night on Thursday with a season-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks as the Blazers lost 137-129 against the Bucks.

    Labissiere was huge partially due to Hassan Whiteside's absence, but we have to give him a lot of credit. Not only was it a season high in points for Skal, but also in rebounds and blocks. Additionally, he hit his first two 3-pointers of the season. It was an all-around gem from him and he should really be on radars going forward because of the lack of depth up front for the Blazers even when Whiteside is healthy.