We are ready for basketball. The NBA announced on Wednesday that there were zero positive tests for COVID-19 of the 344 taken, and you do love to see it with the season restarting on Thursday. Over the last couple days, there have been a lot of quotes around the league that could give us an idea of how rotations fill out or if certain star players are limited.
This is the last edition of Quotes and Notes, and I’ll be shifting to a slate-specific schedule for content. I’ll have a Matchups column in the early morning, I’ll be continuously updating what will be the best NBA depth charts on the planet as news comes along, and there will be a running Injury Blog that’ll take a quick look at how the injury report could affect rotations for each slate. With Drew Dinkmeyer’s top plays column and the DFS show featuring Dink and Andrew Wiggins, we’re really excited to put you in the best position possible to crush what should be some of the juiciest action in DFS in years.
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There’s a lot of news out there, so we’ll go a little quick-hit style to close things up in this series.
1. Before Tuesday’s breakout game for Keldon Johnson, coach Gregg Popovich said Johnson is “wild and very energetic, very aggressive, takes no prisoners, sticks his nose in, likes contact.” After the game, assistant coach Will Hardy said Keldon “was special with his energy” and “brings a spark of energy when he comes off the bench.”
Keldon was one of the stars of Tuesday, scoring 21 points with three boards, three dimes and one 3-pointer (7-of-8 from field, 6-of-7 from the line). All six of his twos were in the paint with five at the rim, and 48% of his shots were at the rim at Disney. He scored 20.8 points per 36 in the bubble, and he did show he can fill it up in Vegas last summer. Of course, the Spurs do want to get a long look at Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker together, so Keldon is probably going to need DeMar DeRozan to sit before we really trust him. Although, he is min price on some DFS sites, so you could try to ride his hot hand in a tourney.
OK, to be honest, this isn’t exactly a big quote, but I did want to note some things I’ve mentioned on Poeltl. While guys like Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan have talked up the youth movement, Poeltl has been fairly immune to it. In other words, we should feel a little safer on Poeltl getting minutes in the mid 20s with Drew Eubanks as his backup. It was also noteworthy that the Spurs did use a frontcourt of Gay, DeRozan and Poeltl for a handful of minutes on Tuesday. It’s also very noteworthy that the Spurs started the same five players in their scrimmages (Dejounte, White, Lonnie, DeMar, Poeltl), and they ran some very consistent rotations on subs (note: Quinndary Weatherspoon was over Forbes on Tuesday after ‘Spoon sat out on July 25; check out the Spurs depth chart, too).
He was at 25 minutes on Tuesday, including an 11-minute stint in the third quarter. Adebayo probably won’t be able to get to the 36-minute area on Saturday like he has on several occasions, but it likely won’t be long.
4. Coach Monty Williams says Mikal Bridges is playing with confidence, but added he’s still a young player. “My hope is that he continues to have the same focus and same commitment to improve and he’s turning into a guy that we rely on to make plays on both ends of the floor.”
Ricky Rubio added that the progress Bridges has made is evident and he was taking advantage of the second offseason. The Bridges Disney hype train (monorail?) lived up to the billing big time with Bridges getting to 26 points against the Raptors, including 20 in the first half. Bridges was mentioned in detail previously in the opener of this series, and Williams mentioned that he was going to be in some “not as familiar” situations on offense. Bridges was doing a whole lot on ball, and his three Disney usage rates in each game would have ranked in the top five if you combined all of his 2019-20 regular season and preseason usage rates for each game (70 games). We know the playing time is going to be there and the steals have been consistent, so Bridges is certainly someone to consider most nights now that he’s a bigger part of the offense.
With Montrezl Harrell out of the lineup for Thursday, Zubac probably isn’t going to be able to take advantage of the added opportunity. The Lakers haven’t exactly leaned on smaller-ball lineups down the stretch of games with JaVale McGee (10 minutes) and Dwight Howard (38 minutes) not seeing much of the clutch time (LeBron James at 97, Anthony Davis at 87). That makes it a little more likely we see JaMychal Green at the five in certain spots (more on this in the preview later today). Joakim Noah should also get a shot at some playing time when the Lakers go bigger.
The good news is that Embiid and the 76ers still have plenty of time, but it was a bit of a buzzkill that he didn’t play on Tuesday. As mentioned previously, the only real takeaway here is that Embiid’s chances of hitting minutes in the upper 30s in the seeding games seems unlikely.
7. “There is some concern that [Anthony Davis] could potentially not play Thursday, but we’re hopeful that he does and we’ll see how that plays out,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s going to continue to be evaluated each day.”
The good news here is that AD practiced on Wednesday. He was sporting some sunglasses on Tuesday, and AD was testing out some eyewear at practice on Wednesday. He added he doesn’t think he needs to wear them in games, so that bodes well for his chances to play. In true NBA fashion, AD is probably going to be a game-time decision, because it just wouldn’t be right without it. I’d expect him to be a full go, and his ownership might be down.
Not too much to add here, but Gasol did only get to 20 minutes after 10 minutes on Sunday. Gasol might be in the lower 20s despite how Nurse has really tried to focus on some bigger lineups, and with Chris Boucher not playing great in the scrimmages. Nurse did also add that Norman Powell has “looked so good” in Orlando and that he’s surprised his shots weren’t falling.
9. Coach Jacque Vaughn said he’ll stay open to how much Caris LeVert handles the ball, and things “could easily change, especially as the game gets down to the wire” on going with Chris Chiozza next to LeVert.
You’re obviously not worried about LeVert and his third-ranked 33.7 usage rate at Disney (min. 15 minutes, played, two-plus games). The takeaway here is that maybe Chiozza is a bit on thinner ice. He had some really bad defensive possessions, but his offense is just want you’d want next to LeVert. It’s also worth a mention that Tyler Johnson did leapfrog Jeremiah Martin for PG2 in the third scrimmage, and Vaughn said that Johnson is a one and two. Vaughn was also noncommittal on playing either Jamal Crawford or Donta Hall in the opener, which means Rodions Kurucs may come off the bench as a combo PF/C. He could still close and get up there in minutes, especially after some poor play from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as the starter in the scrimmages.
10. Coach Doc Rivers said it’ll be “impossible” for Landry Shamet to get big minutes on Thursday. “Landry has been off for three months, and now he’s going to practice the next two [days] and we’re going to throw him into an NBA real game?” Rivers said. “That’s asking a lot. So, I’m in no hurry with Landry. I’m going to be patient. If he plays great, great. If he doesn’t, that’s fine too. We have some time before the playoffs.”
The Clippers could be really shorthanded at guard with Lou Williams in quarantine from his magical, wing-filled trip to the ATL. Plus, Patrick Beverley has a chance to sit out. With Beverley also limited, this should mean Rodney McGruder is in the rotation as Kawhi Leonard’s sub, and it’s not outlandish to think Terance Mann will be ahead of Shamet to get him warmed up.