• Lonzo Ball is likely never to be the best player on the Pelicans as long as Zion Williamson is here, or as long as Zion doesn’t suffer some sort of major injury.  But without any doubt, he interests me more than any other Pelicans player, and by a wide margin.

    I love high IQ players, and I think Lonzo’s is higher than anyone else’s on the roster; heck, I would argue it’s near the top of the league.  He’s got an unnatural ability to track multiple things going on at the same time and to quickly recognize/react to these changes.  Most fans and analysts have a preference for a genre of player, and I am fascinated with guys with high levels of precognition.

    This is not to say Lonzo is a perfect player, as he clearly isn’t.  I am probably misquoting Jason Calmes, but one time, he mentioned that turnovers are a natural cost of good passing.  Great passing leads to efficient shots, but there is an element of risk in trying to make great passes.  As Ben Taylor mentioned in Thinking Basketball, a player’s “global impact” is related to much more than his ability to score in isolation, and Ben demonstrated that a player who is much less efficient individually than another can have a better global impact for his team because of his superior ability to create high efficiency shots for others.

    Lonzo is someone who could always fit the definition of “meh” scorer but excellent overall offensive impact. In my mind, his floor on offense is Draymond Green: a guy who isn’t blowing you away with great shooting or scoring, but is excellent spraying the ball to his teammates after the initial action has been created by someone else.  His ceiling is much higher, but it’s too early to justify setting the bar too high.

    I don’t know who Zion Williamson is going to be Games 1 – 82.  Zion was absurdly efficient as a college high-volume scorer, but there is undoubtedly going to be an adjustment for him at the NBA level in regards to finishing at the rim.  The rim protectors are bigger, smarter, and more athletic, and despite his otherworldly athleticism, there will be tweaks that Zion will have to make to get his shot off when he isn’t afforded a launching pad.  Despite being every explosive in tight windows, Zion is not gifted with a Durant-like wingspan to get his shot off.  He’s going to have to be creative, at least sometimes.

    It’s not just Zion who is excellent at the rim.  Jrue Holiday is leaps and bounds better than he was earlier as a Pelican, as he has both tightened his handle over the last few years and focused on finishing with his left hand, which he is much better with. Derrick Favors is going to be around the rim a lot more as he transitions to full-time center duty.  Brandon Ingram is also there a lot.

    Here’s the problem, though: the Pelicans can’t only take shots at the rim.  Teams will know this is their strength, and transition play accounts for less than a quarter of total offense, so you’re only getting so much from that.  Opponents will game plan to keep the Pelicans out of the paint, which means that someone is going to have to squeeze passes in tight windows and find cutters early to maximize the Pelicans’ output at the rim.  I think that guy is Lonzo, who has already shown this ability.

     

    This data set shows exactly what I’m talking about.  Lonzo is excellent at creating layups/dunks for his teammates.  Clearly, personnel does matter here, as the players that Lonzo played with might just take a higher percentage of their shots as dunks/layups because they can’t do other things (think JaVale McGee).  But shots at the rim and 3-pointers tend to be more efficient than others, and Lonzo has a track record of getting his guys looks there; this year, that will be very important as the Pelicans try to construct an offense with less-than-ideal spacing and a ton of new players to take on vacated usage.

Fantasy News

  • Tyler Ulis
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings are listing Tyler Ulis (right groin strain) as out for Monday's preseason game.

    As the fifth point guard on the depth chart, Ulis has almost no chance of making the final roster. His absence won't change anything for fantasy purposes.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Andre Roberson
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Andre Roberson (left knee) will remain sidelined during Monday's preseason game with the Mavs.

    Roberson was hoping to play in the preseason to get ready for the real deal, but the Thunder haven't cleared him for that just yet. OKC's wing group is full of question marks and a healthy Roberson could end up starting, but there's just too much uncertainty around his recovery to endorse him as a fantasy selection outside the deepest of leagues.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Kelly Olynyk
    C, Miami Heat

    The Heat will be without Kelly Olynyk (right knee bruise) for Monday's preseason game.

    Olynyk still has yet to appear for the Heat after suffering a bone bruise while playing with Team Canada this summer. He should be able to claim the starting power forward job when healthy and offers sneaky top-100 upside, but the lack of clarity surrounding his return date is hurting his draft stock. We're still on board with Olynyk as a late-round selection in standard drafts.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Kevin Huerter
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    Kevin Huerter (right knee pain) will not play in Monday's preseason tilt with the Heat.

    Huerter said earlier in camp that he wasn't worried about his status for opening night, and although the expectation is that he'll be ready for the regular season it is a little troubling that he has yet to play in the preseason. Huerter returned to practice on Friday, so hopefully this is the Hawks playing it safe with their presumed starting shooting guard. Health permitting, Huerter makes for a quality pick in the final few rounds of 12-team drafts.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Evan Turner
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    Evan Turner (left Achilles pain) is listed as probable for Monday's preseason matchup with the Heat.

    Turner returned to practice on Friday and will get right back to competing for backup point guard minutes. His versatility should come in handy for the Hawks but as a veteran on a rebuilding team, he figures to have minimal fantasy value.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Tyler Lydon
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Tyler Lydon (right hip inflammation) and Hollis Thompson (right hip bursitis) have been ruled out of Monday's preseason game against the Jazz.

    Neither Lydon nor Thompson will figure into the rotation when the regular season opens, but they will miss a chance to climb the pecking order tonight. This news has no fantasy impact unless you're playing preseason DFS.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    In a recent mailbag, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee said that the Kings are willing to sign Bogdan Bogdanovic to a max-length contract extension, but Bogdanovic may head to free agency in hopes of a bigger payday.

    Anderson threw out $12.85 million as the salary at which the Kings would happily sign the dotted line, but Bogdanovic is coming off an excellent performance in the World Cup and would offer one of the best blends of current production and upside in what's set to be a weak free agent class. Unfortunately for Bogdanovic, he could be facing a playing time crunch this year. The Kings have locked in their backcourt of the future and went out of the way to re-sign Harrison Barnes and add Trevor Ariza at the small forward spot. It will be tough for BB8 to repeat last season's 27.8 mpg so he's shaping up as a late-round selection in the 14-16-team range. There is upside for more, at least.

    Source: Sacramento Bee

  • Buddy Hield
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Although Buddy Hield wants to sign an extension with the Kings, the two sides do not appear all that close to an agreement.

    "They’re talking, but nothing is moving yet. Nothing has moved," Hield said. The 26-year-old is headed for restricted free agency if no deal is worked out, so it's possible that the Kings let the market determine Hield's next salary if the current gap is too wide to bridge. Either way, it seems unlikely that the Kings would let Hield go following his breakout season. Hield is adamant about wanting to stay in Sacramento but did say, "I want to be here and if it doesn’t happen, then things can go the other way." We wouldn't expect this contract talk to affect Hield's play, and he looks like a viable selection in the early-middle rounds of fantasy drafts.

    Source: Sacramento Bee

  • Dedric Lawson
    PF, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have waived Dedric Lawson.

    Lawson, a UDFA out of Kansas, was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract. He averaged 12.3 minutes across three preseason games and will likely spend his year in the G-League.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Ben McLemore
    SG, Houston Rockets

    In the wake of Gerald Green's broken left foot, the Rockets will take a closer look at Ben McLemore.

    The team has been happy with McLemore's work so far, with Mike D'Antoni saying, "He has played well and we'll keep looking at him." The Rockets have a thin bench and Green was shaping up as the primary backup at shooting guard, so his minutes and shots are now up for grabs. McLemore will have to compete with guys like Danuel House and Thabo Sefolosha for wing minutes but if he was ever going to reestablish himself in the league, this looks like his best chance. Managers in 30-team leagues can consider McLemore a late-round pick, though he may be able to get himself on the radar shallower formats over time.

    Source: Salman Ali on Twitter