• The NBA schedule was released last week, which means NBA season is upon us.  The Pelicans’ opener was announced some time ago, and it will be the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors.

    The schedule is unsurprisingly difficult, as the West is still the beast that it has been for years, and the Pelicans have the 52 games against this conference.  And the start of the season is so hard as the Pelicans play, in order, the Raptors, Mavericks, Rockets, Warriors, Denver, Thunder, and Nets.  The Raptors and Warriors aren’t what they were last year, but none of these teams are easy opponents.

    Luckily, people like Ed Küpfer do such great visualizations that we can rely upon them to give us a good idea of how hard each team’s schedule is.  Ed uses the Vegas over/under for opponent strength.

    The results for the Pelicans are very clear: the start of the season is going to be pretty brutal, as they will be facing an October schedule of teams expected to be averaging somewhere between 45 and 50 wins.

    The schedule does get progressively easier throughout the season, with the Pelicans facing a very soft last two months of teams.  What’s extremely nice about that is cupcake teams begin giving their younger, less talented players more minutes as the season comes to a close and they fight for lottery position.  Because the Pelicans will be facing many of these teams towards the end of the season, they will effectively be playing a lot of teams who aren’t trying to win.

    Here is another consideration that helps the Pelicans: New Orleans has the 3rd best rest advantage in the league.

    As said before, the Pelicans’ greatest asset this year is depth.  They sport 10-12 players capable of contributing on any given night, and the team is very, very athletic.  Transition play will almost surely be an emphasis, as the team does have some awkward halfcourt combinations of players that could limit its offensive ceiling.  My guess is that the Pelicans will find a way to focus on generating quick transition play via an aggressive defense and the fact that they have several grab/go ball-handlers who can take a defensive rebound and push up the floor quickly.

    The Pelicans are going to have to survive a very tough opening, but if they can tread the .500 line while their lineup jells and their schedule gets considerably easier throughout the year, they have a real shot of making a run for the playoffs.

Fantasy News

  • Terrance Ferguson
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Terrance Ferguson (personal) will remain out for Saturday's contest against the Wolves.

    This will be Ferguson's fifth straight absence so Luguentz Dort should continue to start on Saturday. He has produced an underwhelming 6.5 points, 0.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.8 triples in 23.4 minutes filling in for Ferguson over the last four games so he can be ignored in all formats.

    Source: Joe Mussatto on Twitter

  • Steven Adams
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Steven Adams (left ankle sprain) is questionable to face the Wolves on Saturday.

    Adams sprained his ankle two minutes into Monday's game and has missed the subsequent two games. Noel has been filling in nicely but underwent surgery to repair a fractured cheek so if Adams remains out, the Thunder may need to give Mike Muscala and Darius Bazley all of the frontcourt minutes with Danilo Gallinari also ruled out.

    Source: Joe Mussatto on Twitter

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Nerlens Noel underwent successful surgery to repair a fracture to the zygomatic arch of his left cheek and will not play on Saturday against the Wolves.

    Noel basically fractured his cheek and the report adds that his status will be updated next week so this might be more than a one game absence. He is an absolute hold until we get another update as he has been a top-60 standard league player on the season and with multiple teams inquiring about Steven Adams, Noel's value could be even higher to close the year.

    Source: Marc J. Spears on Twitter

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Bruce Brown Jr. (right thumb sprain) is expected to play on Saturday against the Nets.

    Brown missed the last two games but should be able to get decent minutes on Saturday with Tony Snell and Reggie Jackson both ruled out. He has been a top-175 player in standard leagues this year in 27.1 minutes with 8.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.5 triples, shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 68.4 percent from the line.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Detroit Pistons

    Andre Drummond (lip laceration) is listed as probable ahead of Saturday's game against the Nets.

    Drummond was listed probable for Friday's game before eventually being ruled out so nothing is imminent but he should be very close returning after now missing the last two games. This would cut into the minutes of Thon Maker, Markieff Morris and Christian Wood.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Danilo Gallinari
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Danilo Gallinari (sore left thumb) will not play against the Wolves on Saturday.

    Gallinari is missing a back-to-back game now for the third straight time and it appears this will be the trend for the rest of the year. The Thunder have three more back to backs left this season with the last one occurring during finals week in most leagues. Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala should see plenty of minutes in Gallo's absence and even more so if Steven Adams is ruled out with Nerlens Noel ruled out already.

    Source: Joe Mussatto on Twitter

  • Tony Snell
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Tony Snell (body;flu) will miss Saturday's game against the Nets.

    Snell missed Friday's game with a undisclosed body injury but perhaps that was flu related. Although starting and playing in 26.4 minutes per game he is only useful as a three-point specialist in super-deep leagues. The Pistons starting lineup will look much different this game than last but Bruce Brown and Svi Mykhailiuk are expected to soak up even more minutes than usual with Reggie Jackson also out.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Reggie Jackson
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    Reggie Jackson (left lumbar spine; stress reaction- injury recovery) will not play against the Nets on Saturday.

    This is basically a rest day for Jackson after playing in the last two games following a three-month absence. He played better than anyone would have expected in those two games with 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 triples in only 21.1 minutes. He was moved into the starting lineup last game and should be able to provide consistent late-round value as his workload increases but more recovery days are expected as well.

    Source: NBA.com

  • James Harden
    PG, Houston Rockets

    James Harden (bruised left thigh) is listed as questionable to play against the Nuggets on Sunday.

    Harden has struggled lately, shooting under 40 percent from the field in six of the last nine games. He briefly left Friday's game as his thigh tightened up and finished with probably his quietest game of the season on with just 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting with no three pointers. Austin Rivers, Danuel House and Ben McLemore may all see an increase in minutes if Harden has to miss any time.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, Golden State Warriors

    The Willie Cauley-Stein trade is now official as announced by both teams involved.

    The Mavs get Cauley-Stein to fill the void of Dwight Powell's season ending injury while the Warriors have received Utah's 2020 second round pick. Dallas has also requested waivers on Justin Patton to create a roster spot for WCS. Stein was a top-100 player in 22.9 minutes on the Warriors and you would expect for him to get similar minutes on the Mavs so he is a hold. Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic lose some value while Marquesse Chriss and Omari Spellman gain some.

    Source: Mark Followill on Twitter