It’s officially NBA restart week! I couldn’t be more thrilled to get going on giving you guys all the information you need to help you set winning lineups. If you missed it on Sunday night, we added depth charts to our subscription! I’ll be updating those every day with teams that are in action, and will make changes as we receive injury news or players getting nights off. It should be really useful to give you an idea of how a rotation will work out on a nightly basis. Let’s get to some of the news over the weekend.
Editor’s Note: The NBA is coming back Thursday! Our package, led by Drew Dinkmeyer, includes Tiered DFS Top Plays, Live Shows, continuously updating Depth Charts, and more. Click here for more.
Vaughn also said that Jamal Crawford and Donta Hall will not play on Monday. After the first two games, it looks like we have a pretty decent look at the Nets rotation. Hall not playing in any of the scrimmages does make it seem like Rodions Kurucs will be coming off the bench. The Nets have given Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot way too much responsibility on offense, and maybe his poor play in the last two games makes Vaughn change his mind. It’s somewhat interesting that Vaughn didn’t mention Kurucs with Allen, LeVert and Harris, and that quote does make you think it’ll be a dress rehearsal on Monday.
Crawford not playing at all in the scrimmages will make it really tough to use him unless LeVert is getting a night off in the seeding games, which should happen at least once. Kurucs is still too cheap on DFS sites, but if he can somehow unseat TLC to get a starting PF nod to go with his backup center minutes, he’ll be the chalkiest of plays. Quickly on LeVert, he’s fourth in usage rate (min. 10 minutes per game), but Allen hasn’t been involved in the offense much at a 12.7 usage rate.
Turner looked good early and overmatched Maxi Kleber, finishing with 15 points, eight boards, three dimes and two blocks in 24 minutes. He’s basically a 20-10 guy per 36 without Domantas Sabonis, and it’s good to see he wanted to play more than 24 minutes. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that the staff capped Turner at 24, but they let Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon get up to 29 minutes each. What’s more, Brogdon was the main defender on Luka Doncic, so he’s looking a little healthier than expected.
With Sabonis out and so many of these Pacers looking good, there could be some attractive plays when the seeding games start up later this week. The Pacers did also start T.J. Warren at the four, but that may have been due to Goga Bitadze not playing to basically force McMillan to sue JaKarr Sampson as a five.
Oh yes. We hit this in a previous edition, but you do love to see it. Coach Mike D’Antoni also said he tried to take Harden out of the scrimmage on Sunday, but Harden wouldn’t let him because he wanted to win. We’ve seen this before with Harden wanting to stay in games, and it’s more than obvious he’s going to be the most attractive player in the seeding games.
Isaac said he’s “super excited” to make his return to the lineup after his Jan. 1 knee injury. We don’t know the extent of his restrictions, but you would have to assume he’s likely getting minutes in the teens for the first few seeding games.
There really isn’t much DFS fallout here, and it’s really just a feel-good story on Isaac getting back out there. He’ll be taking minutes from James Ennis, Gary Clark and Wes Iwundu, and it’s not like you’re going to play them anyway.
It’s also worth a mention that it looks like Patty Mills is taking on more of a role as a coach, and Mills has been a DNP-CD in each of the last two games. Forbes has been subbing in behind Dejounte Murray in each of the two scrimmages as the first sub, and the guard rotation looks to be clearing up. Derrick White looked fantastic on Saturday with 22 points, three boards, four dimes, two blocks, one steal and four 3-pointers, and his playing time should be very consistent going forward. The Spurs also look like they want to play Lonnie Walker IV with White and Dejounte Murray, and Walker has looked more polished on offense with back-to-back 14-point games in Disney.
The Spurs get the Kings to kick off their Disney run, so there will be a lot of targets on that roster. Now that we’ve seen basically the same rotation twice in a row with a lot of evidence to support it based on practices, we should have a good idea of what to expect going forward, assuming something doesn’t change in the final scrimmage.
It’s only one scrimmage, but it’s somewhat noteworthy that Dame only had a 12.5 usage rate before sitting out on Sunday. For what it’s worth, Dame was below a 20 usage rate just once this season at 16.1 back on Nov. 13, and that 16.1 is his lowest in any of the last five seasons. It’s obviously not panic time here, but we do want to keep an eye on Dame’s foot.
The Blazers need to come out hot in the seeding games, and if they don’t you’d have to think Lillard could shut it down. C.J. McCollum was on fire the last time Dame was out, averaging 33.3 points, 5.3 boards, 8.3 dimes, 0.7 steals and 4.3 treys in 38.5 minutes per game over a six-game span. Gary Trent Jr. saw his minutes rise to 34.0 in this stretch (14.5 points per game), but Anfernee Simons was at just 21.0. Although, if the Blazers really shut it down, he’d be a guy to watch if C.J. sits out. Don’t forget, the Blazers were the only team to vote against the Orlando plan back in June. It’s worth a mention that Jusuf Nurkic filled it up sans Dame on Sunday with a 17/13/5 line with two steals and two blocks.
More Blazers: If you missed it, Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic started next to each other on Sunday. It was not great with those two playing next to each other for 13 minutes. Yes, small sample in a scrimmage against a good Raptors team with a big lineup of their own, but they had a -44.4 net rating. Nurk is taking more 3-pointers, and the Blazers broadcast had noted that Nurk and Zach Collins are trying to figure out when to roll and when to pop out on offense. Dame is one of the best PNR guards in the NBA (had highest PNR ball-handler points per game this season since it has been tracked on NBA.com), so it’ll be interesting to see how he affects the bigs. Back in 2018-19, Nurk shot just 38.7% when he wasn’t with Dame, and was at 51.3% with him.
It’s always a tough scene when Embiid misses a game for injury, but he is going through practice on Monday. No reason to panic, of course, but this does make it seem even tougher for Embiid to hit the “ambitious” goal of 38 minutes that Brown set last week. We should know more in the coming days, and obviously a limited Embiid would be big for Al Horford. Side note: Ben Simmons looks outstanding at PF, sitting at 1.57 FD points per minute to put him at ninth in the league at Disney (min of 20 minutes played).
Good things happen when players drive to the basket, and great drivers can wind up getting close to 1.5 DFS points per drive with either a scoring chance or on a drive-and-dish assist. With many of the Wizards players not getting many shots (Shabazz Napier a surprisingly low 11.3 usage rate in two games so far), Rui could have an inflated usage rate. Side note: Troy Brown is back on Monday after missing one game for a thumb issue.
In his one game, Langford did put up an eye-popping 33.3 usage rate. Robert Williams also talked up Langford, and Langford himself said his new shooting form is “more fluid” and natural now.
You’re obviously not thinking about Romeo right now.. However, when the Celtics start to rest guys, he’s someone we might want to think about using in DFS.
A couple quick things on the Bucks
The Bucks have been very interesting to watch for a couple reasons. First and foremost, they are leading Disney in pace at 114.3. Digging a little deeper, their starters have been flying with Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting in the No. 2 spot in pace at 120.7 (Tyus Jones, minimum of 10 minutes per game and two games played). Sure, preseason pace is always inflated, but that pace crushes the 113.5 he had in the October preseason, and obviously the 107.4 he had in the regular season. The Bucks also had the fastest offensive pace at 13.1 seconds per possession (eighth on defense). With some talk of Giannis getting more minutes, he could have a huge upside. Additionally, the Bucks have the top two players in FD points per minute in Giannis at 1.99 and Brook Lopez at 2.15 (!) in the first two games (min of 20 total minutes played). Brook Lopez Disney narrative?