July 17, 2019, 12:07 am
There is one thing I can’t get around for the Pelicans: there are so many perimeter players, and therefore, so few perimeter minutes available. The Pelicans are now down to 15 players with their recent moves and, barring any changes, will be carrying as many as nine perimeter guys who will be fighting for minutes. A lot of these players are acquisitions from this summer, and minutes are of paramount importance to develop the younger pieces.
So let’s start with what we “know,” or as close as we can be to knowing something about the rotation.
Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, and JJ Redick are the three most impactful guards on the Pelicans roster. Assuming 34, 32, and 28 minutes, respectively (I am trying to remain somewhat conservative), that already accounts for 94 minutes. There are three perimeter positions, meaning that 48 * 3 – 94 = 50 perimeter minutes left. And that doesn’t take into consideration any of the forwards on the roster.
Brandon Ingram is clearly a top option here and he will be getting 30-plus minutes a night assuming he is healthy, but I am leaving him out of the “we know” above intentionally for now (spoiler alert).
That leaves this list of perimeter players, in no order: Ingram, E’Twaun Moore, Darius Miller, Nickeil Alexander-SummerLeagueStar-Walker, Josh Hart, Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams to fight for 50 minutes. Clearly, this is a good problem to have, but it is nonetheless a problem. If Ingram gets 30-plus minutes at a perimeter position, that leaves, at max, 20 minutes combined for the rest of these players if they are playing perimeter positions.
The frontcourt is much more certain: Zion Williamson appears to be a starting four and he’ll get somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes, depending on his shape and how much the Pelicans want to ease him into the toll of travel and major NBA minutes. Derrick Favors will be shifted to his proper position of center and is likely to get in the neighborhood of 30 minutes as well. 96 minutes – the 60 allocated to them leaves 36 minutes up for grabs. David Griffin said that Jaxson Hayes will have something resembling a redshirt year, so he looks to be on the outside looking in for minutes.
This is where I think it becomes clear that the Pelicans are going to have to force perimeter players into sliding up to power forward. I think the candidates are obvious: Miller, Williams and Ingram are the three guys who can get minutes here and open up the perimeter some, and I would argue that Miller/Williams are best suited playing the four in today’s NBA anyway.
But how many minutes are going to be available will depend on how much the Pelicans can play Zion at center. If he is pigeonholed into playing the four, that would leave roughly only 16-18 minutes for these three guys. That also doesn’t mention the possibility of Nicolo Melli, who – yeah, I’m not going to pretend that I know whether he’ll be a mainstay of the Pelicans lineup.
Zion shifting up to center when Favors isn’t in gives perimeter guys the opening to shift up to four. Ingram, Miller and Kenrich playing up front leaves Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Frank Jackson better chances of picking up minutes.
Playing guys up a position on this team has its pros and cons. You probably increase the team’s overall mobility, but lose some value in rim protection. You probably add some shooting and some playmaking, but you also likely put more pressure on your team to rebound by committee. When Lonzo is on the floor, this issue is mitigated since he rebounds like a small forward, and Zion and Favors are both excellent defensive rebounders. But there are other lineups where rebounding could be an issue.
Can Alexander-Walker dial back a little of the passing aggression and contribute meaningfully on this team as a rookie? Can Frank Jackson convert more efficiently and create for his teammates better than he has in the past? Does the team stop giving minutes to E’Twaun Moore in order to accommodate the younger players on their roster?
These are questions that matter, because if the Pelicans want to invest top-to-bottom in their perimeter players this year, the bottom line is that a healthy version of the team is going to have to slide players up positions in order to create opportunities for them.
August 24, 2019, 11:09 pmDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White has reportedly passed the first concussion test after taking a nasty fall in Team USA's tuneup game vs. the Australian Boomers on Saturday.
This is good news. White has worked hard for his Team USA roster spot and should provide some guard depth for them once he clears concussion protocols. He was an eye-opener last season and should still hold some fantasy value despite the return of a now-healthy Dejounte Murray.
Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 10:27 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.
Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:58 amKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.
Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.
August 24, 2019, 8:44 amDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White left Saturday’s game after tripping and hitting his head on the floor.
White left without help but there is no word yet on whether he is dealing with a concussion. He finished with eight points, hitting 6-of-7 three throws in nine minutes with another update sure to come. The third-year guard put up top-125 per-game value, playing 25.8 minutes in his second season. Even with the return of Dejounte Murray, White should still be worth a roster spot in most standard leagues.
Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:42 amMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart, sidelined for almost three weeks with calf tightness, returned to action on Saturday as USA lost to Australia in their exhibition.
Smart only played nine minutes in this one but still managed to score 7 points with three assists days after being named one of the team’s co-captains. Coming off an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, he produced top-100 per game fantasy value as it seems he may have finally fixed his shot after shooting under 40 percent from the field in his first four seasons. He also produced a career-high in both steals and triples with 1.8 and 1.6 respectively as his career seems to be on the up and up.
August 24, 2019, 8:39 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills went off in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points as Australia beat USA 98-94.
Although it was only an exhibition, it was still a huge moment for Mills and the Australian team in front of a huge crowd as they handed the US team their first loss since 2006. Mills was serenaded with MVP chants as Joe Ingles also played well with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while Andrew Bogut came off the bench for 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.
August 24, 2019, 12:37 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma is out for Team USA's tuneup up game vs. Australia with a sore left ankle.
Kuzma is being held out of this one for precautionary reasons. There's clearly no need for USA Basketball to risk him further injuring the sore ankle. This does not sound like a serious injury and should not affect his fantasy ADP on draft day.
Source: USA Basketball on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 6:02 pmDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.
The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 2:18 pmMarcus DerricksonPF, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.
It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.
Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 11:01 amMarreese SpeightsC, Free Agent
Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.
Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.
Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter