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Basketball Daily Dose

Bulls reveal new starting lineup

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: March 15, 2021, 2:48 pm ET

While college basketball took center stage on Sunday as the 68-team NCAA tournament field was announced, it was a busy day in the NBA as well. Nine games were on the schedule, and while many ended up being blowouts there were some noteworthy storylines. Orlando welcomed back Terrence Ross, while both Cleveland and the Clippers saw starters depart early due to injury. And in Minnesota, their rookie guard went off in a two-point win over the Blazers. But this edition of the Daily Dose begins in Chicago, as Billy Donovan made two changes to his starting lineup.

Sunday’s Scores
Thunder 128, Grizzlies 122
Warriors 131, Jazz 119
76ers 134, Spurs 99
Heat 102, Magic 97
Hawks 100, Cavaliers 82
Celtics 134, Rockets 107
Timberwolves 114, Trail Blazers 112
Bulls 118, Raptors 95
Pelicans 135, Clippers 115

Bulls insert Satoransky, Young into starting five: It was reported Sunday morning that Bulls coach Billy Donovan was going to make some changes to his starting lineup, in an attempt to get off to better starts in games. Sure enough that was the case, with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. Chicago’s start to Sunday’s loss wasn’t all that different on the scoreboard, but that was more a product of the Bulls failing to convert some good looks than the team coming out sluggish.

Young (10/7/7 in 23 minutes) and Satoransky (10/6/7/1/2 with two 3-pointers in 26 minutes) both produced solid stat lines, and the same can be said for White (13/4/5/1 blocks with two 3-pointers in 27 minutes) and Carter Jr. (12/11/1/1/1 in 19 minutes). For his part Donovan said after the game that the changes to the lineup aren’t permanent, but for one night the move worked out. Young’s fantasy value was already quite high, so he should already be rostered in most leagues. As for Satoransky, the move into the starting lineup improves his fantasy value considerably. He’s currently rostered in just 5% of Yahoo leagues.

Also faring well for the Bulls was Patrick Williams, who scored a career-high 23 points, with six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. Rostered in just 16% of Yahoo leagues, the rookie is creeping towards late-round value after getting off to a slow start to the season. Moving White to the bench means more scoring opportunities for Williams, who put up a career-best 14 field goal attempts Sunday. This would be a good time for fantasy managers to hop on the Williams bandwagon.

Raptors hope to be closer to full strength Wednesday: Toronto’s loss to the Bulls was a frustrating one, as the team is still without starters Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam due to health and safety protocols (Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw are also sidelined for the same reason). Kyle Lowry (20/5/8/1 with two 3-pointers) played 37 minutes before getting ejected, and due to the absences he and Norman Powell (32/4/5/1/1 with three 3-pointers) have been left to do a lot of the heavy lifting offensively.

Those two, along with Chris Boucher (17 points, four rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes), have been the Raptors’ best players of late, but the lack of depth has been too much to overcome. The hope is that a couple of the players sidelined due to protocols will be cleared to play Wednesday night, but who those players would be isn’t clear. The Raptors, who have now lost five straight, need their starters back in a hurry.

No Embiid, no problem for Philadelphia: With Joel Embiid (left knee) due to miss at least 2-3 weeks, Doc Rivers had a decision to make at the center position. Sunday night it was Tony Bradley who received the starting nod, playing 21 minutes and accounting for four points, eight rebounds and four assists. Dwight Howard remained in his backup role, logging 20 minutes and posting a line of eight points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Howard may not have been the first choice, but I still like him as the better fantasy option due to his productivity as a rebounder and defender. For the season he’s averaging 7.5 rebounds, 0.4 steals and 0.9 blocks per game; by comparison, Bradley is accounting for 4.4 rebounds, 0.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per.

Regardless of what happens at the center position, Embiid’s absence means even more opportunities for Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons, and both played well in Sunday’s rout of the Spurs. Harris scored 23 points with a full line (nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer), while Simmons chipped in with 14 points, four rebounds, nine assists and one steal. Seth Curry also played well, posting a solid 21/4/4 line with three 3-pointers. Curry is rostered in 60% of Yahoo leagues, and that percentage should increase with Embiid sidelined.

Furkan Korkmaz (16/1/2 with four 3-pointers) and Matisse Thybulle (10/3/1/3/1 with two 3-pointers) were good off the bench, with the latter being the better fantasy option due to his defensive production. If Thybulle, who’s rostered in 9% of Yahoo leagues, bring more consistency to the table offensively he has the potential to provide mid-round value.

Curry torches the Jazz on his birthday: Golden State had two players celebrating birthdays Sunday, Stephen Curry and Nico Mannion. While the latter produced a modest stat line in the Warriors’ win over the Jazz, playing 12 minutes and finishing with five points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and one 3-pointer, the former went off. Curry shot 10-of-20 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line, scoring 32 points with five rebounds, nine assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 36 minutes. For the season, Curry has been a top-5 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and that shouldn’t change anytime soon.

Fellow starters Andrew Wiggins (28/3/2/3 with three 3-pointers) and Draymond Green (11/12/12/4 with one 3-pointer) also played well, while Jordan Poole (18 points, three assists and three 3-pointers) and James Wiseman (16 points, four rebounds and one block) chipped in off the bench. Wiseman will move back into the starting lineup at some point, but for now he’s backing up Kevon Looney. While that isn’t necessarily great for the rookie’s value, it isn’t a killer, either. While he’s still ranked outside of the top-200 in 9-cat, for the most part managers have decided to hang onto Wiseman (rostered in 72% of Yahoo leagues). And that’s the correct approach to take.

Time to pick up Pokusevski, Brown?: Oklahoma City rolled out a lineup for Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies that, on paper, appeared to be overmatched. Al Horford (rest), Theo Maledon (ankle), Luguentz Dort (toe) and Darius Bazley (shoulder) were all ruled out, but the good news was that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was in the lineup. SGA finished with a line of 30 points, four rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers, but it takes more than one person to win a game. Enter Aleksej Pokusevski, who scored a career-high 23 points while also accounting for 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers in 39 minutes. This was his third straight start, and given the strides made Pokusevski may have earned the right to remain in that role.

Moses Brown (13/4/1/1/1 in 24 minutes) was solid before fouling out, but his fantasy value for the remainder of the season may not be known until the trade deadline. If the Thunder are either unwilling or unable to move Horford, Brown will have a hard time raising his fantasy ceiling. Brown is rostered in just 2% of Yahoo leagues, and while this would be a good time to roll the dice it’s understandable that many managers have refused to do so. And that boils down to the uncertainty regarding Brown’s role within the rotation when Horford is available to play.

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Clippers lose Ibaka...and the game: The Clippers had a night to forget in the Big Easy, as not only were they blown out by the Pelicans but the team also lost a starter during the first half. Serge Ibaka played just eight minutes due to lower back tightness, and with game being the first of a back-to-back it’s unknown if he will be available for Monday’s game in Dallas. The players who stand to be most impacted by Ibaka’s availability are Ivica Zubac, who started the second half of Sunday’s game, and Patrick Patterson.

Zubac (three points, five rebounds and one blocked shot) played 13 minutes and Patterson (seven points, two steals, one block and one 3-pointers) 18, with the latter playing at least 15 minutes in a game for the first time in a month. Zubac would be the better fantasy fill-in should Ibaka sit Monday night, but neither option inspires much in the way of confidence. Luke Kennard (15/2/4/1 with three 3-pointers) and Amir Coffey (13 points, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers) put up decent lines off the bench, but a lot of that damage was done after the outcome was no longer in doubt. Kennard’s streaming value could increase should the Clippers rest either Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, but both stars are expected to play.

New Orleans feasted Sunday night, which feels like an appropriate description when a team scores 135 points. Lonzo Ball (20/8/5/1 with five 3-pointers) snapped out of his recent shooting slump, while Zion Williamson (27/2/5) and Brandon Ingram (23/4/5 with three 3-pointers) also hit the 20-point mark. And the bench had some standouts as well, with Jaxson Hayes (17/3/1/1/1 with two poster-quality dunks), Kira Lewis Jr. (13/3/4/2 with one 3-pointer) and Josh Hart (13/5/6/1 with three 3-pointers) all scoring in double figures. The lone negative for the Pelicans was Nickeil Alexander-Walker playing just six minutes due to a sprained ankle. With J.J. Redick out, there are more minutes available to Alexander-Walker and Lewis. Due to the injury, it appears that Alexander-Walker won't be able to take advantage.  

Celtics’ Smart will eventually return to starting five: Still on a minutes restriction as he works his way back from a calf injury, Marcus Smart has been coming off the bench. He played 19 minutes in Sunday’s rout of the Rockets, finishing with five points, three assists and one 3-pointer. Certainly not a stat line worth writing home about, but Smart should be able to produce better numbers as his minutes continue to increase. Following the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Smart will be back in the starting lineup once he is medically cleared to play more minutes. The reason why: Boston’s defensive struggles early in games, and on Sunday they allowed 21 points in the first five minutes to a team that has now lost 16 straight.

So who will sit when that time comes? Either Daniel Theis, who played just six minutes Sunday night, or Tristan Thompson would be headed to the bench. Thompson was productive on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds to go along with eight points, one assist and one steal in 18 minutes of action. And with Robert Williams (16/13/1/1/3 in 19 minutes) also in the fold, one of Boston’s three centers will be out of the rotation as Stevens looks to play smaller as the season progresses. Given the Time Lord’s per-36 production, many fantasy managers are hopeful that this will lead to his logging more minutes. The decision on who falls out of the may not be made until Smart moves back into the starting lineup. However, it has been reported that the Celtics are shopping Thompson ahead of the trade deadline.

Magic’s Ross shines in return to action: Orlando welcomed Terrence Ross back to the lineup Sunday, and while the team still lost to the Heat, his return was huge. Ross played 34 minutes off the bench, scoring 31 points while also accounting for five rebounds and three assists. Shooting 10-of-19 from the field, Ross hit eight 3-pointers on the night. Remove Nikola Vucevic (38/10/6/2 with six 3-pointers) from the equation, and Orlando’s other four starters combined to score 23 points. Michael Carter-Williams tallied seven assists to go along with his nine points and three rebounds, but his being a starter is the only reason why he has any fantasy appeal. And quite honestly, fantasy managers would be better off with a player like Pacers point guard T.J. McConnell, even though he’s coming off the bench.

Orlando won’t play again until Thursday night against the Knicks. Steve Clifford said that Evan Fournier (groin), James Ennis (calf) and Aaron Gordon (ankle) “weren’t close” to playing in Sunday’s game, but keep an eye on the news out of Orlando as the week progresses. Getting any of those three back, especially Fournier, would give the struggling Magic a much-needed boost.

On the Miami side of things, Jimmy Butler (29/7/9/5/1 in 36 minutes) had his fingerprints all over this game. He may not offer much in the way of 3-point shooting, as he’s making 0.4 triples per game on the season, but Butler is still providing first-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Tyler Herro (22/8/3/1/1 with four 3-pointers) and Kelly Olynyk (18/7/4/3/2 with three 3-pointers) both played well, and in the case of the latter his production has increased with Bam Adebayo (knee) sidelined.

Over his last five games, Olynyk is averaging 14.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.4 3-pointers per, while shooting 56.3% from the field and 85.7% from the foul line. And yet, he’s rostered in just 41% of Yahoo leagues. With Adebayo’s status for Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers still undetermined, fantasy managers need to pick up Olynyk while they still can.

Cavaliers’ Love (calf) exits early: Speaking of Cleveland, the Cavaliers’ rotation took a hit early in Sunday’s loss to the Hawks as Kevin Love had to depart after just two minutes due to his right calf “not feeling right.” Larry Nance Jr. (4/4/1/1) played 26 minutes, and either he or Cedi Osman (10/4/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers in 26 minutes) stand to fill the resulting void should Love have to miss additional time. While Osman may offer a little more in the scoring department, Nance Jr. is the player most fantasy managers will go for due to his defensive production. He’s averaging 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, and his scoring average (9.1 ppg) isn’t that far off from Osman’s (10.7). Darius Garland made his return to action Sunday night, and in 29 minutes he recorded a line of 11 points, one rebound, seven assists and two 3-pointers.

Atlanta began this game without Clint Capela, who was held out of the second game of the team’s back-to-back due to his sore left heel. As a result Danilo Gallinari was moved into the starting lineup, and he continued his solid run with a line of 20 points, five rebounds, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Rostered in 64% of Yahoo leagues, Gallinari has been a top-100 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats. John Collins (22/12/1/1 block and two 3-pointers) and Nathan Knight (16/9/2/1/2 with one 3-pointer) picked up the slack on the boards, and Knight is a name to file away for nights when Capela sits. Clint should be available for Tuesday’s game in Houston, so there’s little reason to pick Knight up right now.

Ant-Man goes off in Minnesota: Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards put on a show in Sunday’s win over the Trail Blazers, finishing with 34 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Shooting 12-of-24 from the field, the first overall pick was also 6-of-14 from beyond the arc. Over the last two weeks Edwards is providing mid-round value, a significant improvement when taking into consideration his slow start. But I have to ask, is it good for Minnesota that Karl-Anthony Towns attempted just nine shots Sunday night?

He finished the game with a line of 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer (with seven turnovers), but the disparity in shot attempts is jarring to say the least. There should be plenty of shots to go around with both D’Angelo Russell (knee) and Malik Beasley (suspension) out, but Towns taking fewer shots than Ricky Rubio (10 attempts) and as many as Jaylen Nowell is a surprise. It wouldn’t be a shock if Towns were to have a big night Tuesday against the Lakers, but this is something that fantasy managers should keep an eye on.

To be fair to Rubio (15/5/7 with one 3-pointer) and Nowell (14/4/2/1 with four 3-pointers), both posted solid stat lines Sunday night. I’m on the Nowell bandwagon for the remainder of Beasley’s suspension, and he’s currently rostered in just 7% of Yahoo leagues.

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.