The All-Star Game is normally an annual celebration for the NBA, a time for the league’s best to share the same stage in a less-serious (at least until the fourth quarter) atmosphere. While that was the case Sunday night, with Team LeBron beating Team Durant by a 170-150 final score, the game went on without two players. That’s where this edition of the Daily Dose will begin, as Philadelphia could be without its two All-Stars for at least seven days.
Embiid, Simmons held out of All-Star Game: Sunday got off to a rocky start for the NBA, as 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were ruled out due to the league’s health and safety protocols. The barber who cut both players’ hair before they left Philadelphia for Atlanta tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result they had to enter quarantine. The question that needs answering at this point: how long will they be forced to remain in isolation? The good news is that, as of Sunday night, the tandem continued to test negative.
“Now we need some more good news where it’s five days. It’s five days [of testing negative and] I think we are in the clear,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said after Sunday’s game. “But I think anything longer, I think they’ll miss some games.”
The league usually has players who are in the contact tracing program self-isolate for at least seven days, so Embiid and Simmons could be on the shelf for at least Philadelphia’s first post-break game Thursday night in Chicago. While the latter sits just outside of the top-50 in 9-cat (within the top-40 in 8-cat), the latter is a top-5 player in both 8- and 9-cat. Those are big holes for fantasy managers to have to fill.
Dwight Howard would likely move into a starting role, while Tony Bradley re-enters the rotation on the back end. Howard is averaging 6.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.4 steals and 0.9 blocks in 15.9 minutes per game, while shooting 58.7% from the field and 53.0% from the foul line. Bradley has only played in 12 games, so while he ranks higher than Howard in both 8- and 9-cat formats, it’s very difficult to say that he’ll have greater fantasy value Thursday night.
Simmons’ absence makes things a little more interesting when it comes to fantasy options. Tobias Harris, a top-25 player in 9-cat, stands to have the ball in his hands a bit more as a playmaker while Seth Curry would be asked to do a little more as the top available point guard. Curry’s rostered in 60% of Yahoo leagues, so lucky fantasy managers may be able to pick him up now. Another player to watch: Shake Milton, who is rostered in just 20% of Yahoo leagues. While he’s barely within the top-200, he has shown the ability to produce some very good lines as far as fantasy is concerned.
Nets sign Griffin for remainder of season: Blake Griffin, who agreed to a buyout with the Pistons on Friday, cleared waivers Sunday afternoon. And as many expected, he agreed to a deal with the Nets that will run through the remainder of this season. Griffin, whose time in Detroit was derailed by injuries, is still rostered in 54% of Yahoo leagues. That was likely because, when healthy, he was still a fixture in the starting lineup. But he hasn’t appeared in a game since February 12, and Griffin’s role in Brooklyn stands to be far different.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets view Griffin as a small-ball center alternative off the bench. This likely means that Jeff Green will exclusively be a power forward, thus taking away his ability to be an occasional mismatch option. And for those who were holding out hope that Nicolas Claxton could remain the rotation, the signing of Griffin isn’t a positive development for him. Are any of those players worth rostering in standard leagues? Probably not. Claxton is a top-100 player, but that’s with just five appearances under his belt. If anything, he feels similar to Robert Williams, in that the potential makes him a more popular fantasy option than he should be.
Brooklyn returns to action Thursday night when the Celtics visit Barclays Center, and that game will likely give us a first glimpse at Griffin in a Nets uniform and how Steve Nash sees him fitting into the rotation.
Giannis wins All-Star Game MVP honors: Unlike last year’s All-Star Game, this edition was lacking in the drama department. Team LeBron, whose captain is now 4-0 when given the opportunity to pick his teammates, won each of the first three quarters before coating to the 20-point victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo made all 16 of his field goal attempts, finishing the night with 35 points while also tallying seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. For his efforts, Antetokounmpo was named the second winner of the Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP award.
Damian Lillard (32/2/1) and Stephen Curry (28/4/4/2) also stood out for Team LeBron, as the knocked down eight 3-pointers apiece. Jaylen Brown (22/5/1/2 with five 3-pointers), Paul George (17/2/2/1 with five 3-pointers) and Rudy Gobert (10/7/1) also scored in double figures, while Chris Paul dished out 16 assists and became the All-Star Game’s all-time leader in assists (passing Magic Johnson). In a development that likely pleased Frank Vogel and the Lakers front office, LeBron James played just 13 minutes (all in the first half). He’s been dealing with a sore ankle, and with Anthony Davis still sidelined due to an Achilles injury, more production has been required from James.
Bradley Beal (26/2/4/1 with six 3-pointers) led the way offensively for Team Durant, which finished the game with four 20-point scorers. Kyrie Irving (24/5/12/2 with two 3-pointers), Jayson Tatum (21/4/7/4 with three 3-pointers) and James Harden (21/2/4/1 with seven 3-pointers) were the others. Zion Williamson, who replaced Embiid in the starting lineup, scored ten points (5-of-9 FGs) and grabbed one rebound in his 14 minutes on the court. All 22 players that saw action got on the scoreboard, which is to be expected in an All-Star Game.
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Sabonis, Curry and Simons win events: With everything taking place on Sunday, the Skills Competition and Three-Point Contest were held before the All-Star Game. The bigs dominated the former, as Domantas Sabonis beat out Nikola Vucevic in the final. As for the Three-Point contest, Stephen Curry outlasted Mike Conley to win his second title.
The Slam Dunk Contest was held at halftime and consisted of just three dunkers. Anfernee Simons beat Obi Toppin in the final, with Cassius Stanley unable to rebound from a poorly-scored opening dunk and finishing third as a result. Simons’ victory means that Portland has the last two champions on its current roster, as Derrick Jones Jr. won last year’s contest while still a member of the Miami Heat.