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Basketball is back! 106 days after they won the NBA Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors opened the preseason against the Wizards in Japan. Since then, we've learned a lot that'll impact where players are drafted in fantasy hoops leagues over the next two weeks. Of course, the preseason is only fun if we overreact to everything that happens and make season-long conclusions. So let's dive into the injury updates, rotation changes, and other news that's happened since the preseason began.
Warriors 96, Wizards 87
Steph shot 1-for-7. Jordan Poole shot 1-for-10. Andrew Wiggins shot 1-for-8. Klay Thompson didn't play. But it's preseason! They'll be fine as soon as the games matter. However, this game showed us the potential of two other Warriors. James Wiseman finished with 20 points (8-for-11 FGs), nine rebounds and a block in 24 minutes off the bench. Kevon Looney is still the starter, but Wiseman showed us his potential. He may be worth a late-round pick. Donte DiVincenzo joined the Warriors to help fill the void left by Gary Payton II. He's obviously not the defender that GP2 is, but he had nine points, two triples and seven rebounds in his preseason debut with the team. DiVincenzo can be a solid source of triples and steals in the later rounds.
We'll have to wait and see who starts at small forward for Washington. Neither Will Barton nor Deni Avdija played in this game, which allowed Rui Hachimura to start in front of his home fans in Japan. He had 13 points and nine rebounds, both of which were team-highs.
Clippers 121, Ra'anana Maccabi 81
We got to see a lot of different Clippers produce that won't see the floor much during the regular season. Jason Preston made his long-awaited debut and didn't disappoint. He finished with four points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in the start. Moses Brown started and played 25 minutes, putting up 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Ivica Zubac is the solidified starter, but it seems like Brown took advantage of the training camp contract he signed. He's the only other center on the roster, but he won't be valuable if Zubac is healthy. The Clippers' second round pick Moussa Diabate shot 5-for-5 on his way to 14 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block. Since we didn't see the majority of LA's rotation players, it's hard to take a lot away from this game, but it's still fun to celebrate the guys that we don't get to talk about as much.
Grizzlies 107, Bucks 102
Memphis rested the majority of their rotation guys for this game. Santi Aldama and Brandon Clarke both started this game (we'll discuss this more when we get into their matchup with the Magic). The rookies made their debuts. Kennedy Chandler, Jake LaRavia, Kenneth Lofton Jr. and David Roddy all put up great numbers, but they shouldn't be targets outside of dynasty leagues.
The Bucks played more rotation pieces than Memphis, but both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton got the night off. Khris Middleton is still recovering from wrist surgery, so he didn't play either. Jordan Nwora, who recently signed a two-year, $6.2 million extension a couple weeks ago, got the start and finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, and two triples. He won't be a regular season starter, but he may end up being a key rotation piece that could be worth a later pick in deep leagues.
Warriors 104, Wizards 95
Part two of their games in Japan. Wiseman fell back to earth, but some of the Warriors other young guys flashed their potential. Moses Moody and Patrick Baldwin each had 12 points, with Baldwin hitting four triples. The former five-star recruit could end up being the steal of the draft if he pans out the way he was supposed to before his subpar year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. And of course, he falls into the Warriors' laps. He's a dynasty stash at this point, but he shouldn't be rostered in any one-year leagues.
Will Barton played and started in this game, but it still doesn't tell us much since Avdija and Bradley Beal didn't play. Would Barton have started if they both played? We'll have to wait for a game where they're all healthy to know.
Celtics 134, Hornets 93
The Celtics shrugged off the off-season controversy and dominated the Hornets in their first game under Joe Mazzulla. They started Derrick White along with Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford. If that continues into the regular season, White could have top-100 upside. They shot 22-for-47 from deep, while Charlotte shot 5-for-33. It was one of those nights.
Kelly Oubre started at small forward with both Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin dealing with left knee issues. Hayward is the presumed starter, but all three should see extra minutes with Miles Bridges gone. P.J. Washington got the start at power forward, but he didn't show well, shooting 1-for-7 from the floor. Regardless of the poor night, he should be their starter moving forward.
Raptors 114, Jazz 82
Nobody played 20 minutes for the Raptors, so it was nothing like a normal game for Nick Nurse. It was almost shocking that he didn't play the starters 40 minutes in a preseason game. Still, Gary Trent Jr. got the start, so his job appears to be safe. Scottie Barnes stuffed the stat sheet in 18 minutes with an 8/5/3/2/1 line. 16 of the 18 players that played at least 10 minutes.
The new-look Jazz showed off their new core, with Lauri Markkanen leading the way with 20 points, five rebounds, and two steals. The main thing for the Jazz was that Collin Sexton didn't start. However, he made it clear after the game that he knew he wasn't going to start, since he hasn't played much since his meniscus surgery last year. He fully expects to start once he's back up to speed, so fantasy managers can breathe easy. He has top-100 upside, especially since he said that he plans on improving on his assists.
Rockets 134, Spurs 96
Jabari Smith showed why he was widely considered the best prospect in the draft until the morning it took place. He showed that Summer League wasn't indicative of what this season would look like for him by putting up 21 points, eight rebounds and five triples in 24 minutes. Tari Eason, one of their other first rounders, had been running with the third stringers in practice, but he was also dominant with 21 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block in 21 minutes off the bench. He can eventually work his way into the starting lineup, and he'll be a fantasy stud when he does. He may be worth a late-round pick.
Gregg Popovich said don't bet on the Spurs to win the Finals. They proved him right in this game. With Josh Primo out, Tre Jones got the starting nod at point guard. He'll likely remain the starter when Primo is back, but it isn't confirmed yet. Josh Richardson and Keita Bates-Diop also started with Keldon Johnson out. It was disappointing to see Jeremy Sochan come off the bench, but he flashed his fantasy potential with a steal and three blocks in 17 minutes. Devin Vassell and Jakob Poeltl rounding out the starting unit.
Adelaide 36ers 134, Suns 124
Well. What else can you say? This isn't the low point for Phoenix over the past five months, which is impressive, in a way. However, there's been enough bashing of the Suns, so let's try and be positive. Maybe this is a reality check and turning point for them, and they'll look like they did during the regular season last year. The starters all played 22 minutes, with Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton scoring 22 apiece. It was nice to see Ayton play well after the summer he's had, and he doesn't seem like someone to definitely fade the way he did after media day. Devin Booker isn't shooting eight shots in a regular season game. This wasn't a typical game for them, so hopefully they'll be fine. Hopefully.
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76ers 127, Nets 108
Philly didn't play Joel Embiid or James Harden, and the starters that did play didn't see a ton of minutes. Still, in just 14 minutes, Tyrese Maxey put up 20 points. Could he solidify himself as the third option next to Harden and Embiid this year like he did in the playoffs? De'Anthony Melton started but only shot 2-for-10. It wasn't his best offensive performance, but he did manage to get three steals and a block. He definitely has top-100 upside in Philly, especially if he can combine the defensive stats with his usual scoring output.
Of course the NBA made sure that Ben Simmons' debut for the Nets was against the 76ers. At least they didn't schedule the game in Philly. He looked rusty in his return to the court, but he showed that the talent is still there. He finished with six points, four rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes. The free throw struggles continued, but he's never hit those well. Nicolas Claxton and Joe Harris filled out the starting lineup next to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Claxton shot 6-for-6 to finish with 12 points, four rebounds and a block in 14 minutes. If he gets consistent minutes as the starting center this year, he could definitely finish in the top-100.
Grizzlies 109, Magic 97
Memphis played their normal guys in this one, but it wasn't Brandon Clarke that started in place of the injured Jaren Jackson Jr. It was Santi Aldama, who took advantage of the opportunity by finishing with a team-high 21 points, six rebounds and four 3-pointers. He barely played last season, but if the preseason is any indication, he could be worth a late-round pick and be a valuable fantasy asset until JJJ returns to the court.
Orlando is already dealing with a handful of injuries, so Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba started this game. Bamba will likely slide to the bench when Franz Wagner returns, but he got the night off as he recovers from Eurobasket. Anthony finished with 17 points and four triples. His fantasy value is limited by his field goal percentage (39.1% last year), but he shot 6-for-10 in this one. If that number goes up, his fantasy output will too.
Thunder 112, Nuggets 101
Josh Giddey looked great, nearly posting a triple-double in three quarters. Tre Mann started at shooting guard with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander injured. He finished with 17 points, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block. Rookie Jalen Williams was the first sub off the bench. He played some point guard and finished with 10 points, five assists, and five turnovers. He's probably more of a dynasty stash, but he could end up being a silly season hero when the Thunder inevitably bench every other rotation player to help their lottery odds.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. returned to the court, and they both looked good in 15 minutes. MPJ had 12 points, while Murray had 10. Both hit two triples. Nikola Jokić couldn't have cared less about this game. He shot once in 15 minutes. Mike Malone played 15 players in this game. Ish Smith played 20 minutes, but everybody else played 14-19 minutes. This didn't help us learn about the rotations in any way.
Kings 105, Lakers 75
The Kings started KZ Okpala at power forward instead of the No. 4 pick Keegan Murray, which made our entire staff grumble. However, Murray proved why he's one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year with 16 points (7-for-11 FGs), six rebounds, two steals and two triples off the bench. It won't be long before he's starting over Okpala. Kevin Huerter got the start over Malik Monk. That could change, but it appears that Huerter will be the starter when the regular season rolls around.
The Lakers already got booed this season, which is pretty incredible. LeBron James clearly didn't care about this game and shot 0-for-7 from the floor. Anthony Davis double-doubled with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes. Damian Jones started over Thomas Bryant and finished with two blocks and a steal in 21 minutes. Bryant played 19 minutes, so when the games matter, it seems like they could be in a timeshare, which will limit both of their fantasy outputs.
Clippers 102, Blazers 97
Kawhi Leonard made his long-awaited return to the court and finished with 11 points and two steals in 16 minutes. Nicolas Batum started at power forward over Robert Covington, but Marcus Morris didn't play in this one since he played in their first preseason game. It should come down to Batum or Morris for the starting spot, though I'd put my money on Morris. Reggie Jackson started at point guard over John Wall. Both played 14 minutes, so we're likely looking at a time split. We'll likely need to wait until the regular season to know for sure, but it definitely limits both of their fantasy potential.
Damian Lillard made his return for Portland, finishing with 16 points in 23 minutes. Jerami Grant made his Portland debut with 14 points, two triples, three blocks and a steal. Josh Hart got the start over Nassir Little at small forward, so it appears that Hart has the edge in that battle as of now. They don't have a ton of exciting fantasy depth, but their five starters could all be top-100 guys. This just wasn't the prettiest debut for the group.
Knicks 117, Pistons 96
The debut of the three lefty starting lineup for the Knicks turned out to be a positive experience. They combined 52 points on 33 shots with only two turnovers between them. Julius Randle didn't turn it over and shot 6-for-10. RJ Barrett had a steal and a block. Brunson had 16 points and five assists. It's already looking like this year will be better than last year. Cam Reddish played minutes early with Quentin Grimes out, but he injured his ankle, which ended his night early. He had a great chance to earn minutes, but this setback won't help. Still, the fact that he played early is very positive for his fantasy outlook. Isaiah Hartenstein had hit four triples in his career before last season. He shot 14-for-30 last year. He shot 2-for-3 tonight, and it looked smooth. If he's able to hit 3-pointers consistently, he could be close to a top-100 value on a per-game basis in 9-cat.
Reports from earlier in the day indicated that Killian Hayes would start at shooting guard, but ultimately it was Jaden Ivey that got the nod. The No. 5 pick played well with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers. Jalen Duren, their other first-rounder, was excellent off the bench, gathering 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes. Isaiah Stewart started at center and grabbed a grand total of one rebound in 22 minutes. See the difference? Stewart is a better rebounder than that, but it shows Duren's fantasy potential. Hayes may not have started, but he did contribute 11 points and five assists off the bench.
Timberwolves 121, Heat 111
Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels were the only starters that played in this game, with Rudy Gobert, D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns resting. Ant came out aggressive, scoring 24 points in just 23 minutes. McDaniels had 10 points, three rebounds and three triples in 19 minutes. Jaylen Nowell started and scored 14 points. Minnesota gave up Malik Beasley in the trade for Rudy Gobert, and Nowell could easily slide in to fill that role.
In his career, Bam Adebayo has shot 7-for-50 on 3-pointers. However, you wouldn't know that after watching him shoot this one.
If he hits just one 3-pointer per game, he could easily finish as a first-round fantasy asset. Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo were among the veterans that rested for this game. Omer Yurtseven started and finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. In his first game after signing a four-year, $130 million extension, Tyler Herro finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists. It doesn't seem like we'll have to worry about him taking a step back now that he has a contract.
The Pelicans-Bulls game and the Blazers-Jazz game are still being played, but let's break down a few fantasy relevant notes from before/during the game.
- Naji Marshall started in place of Brandon Ingram (toe)
- Ayo Dosunmu started at point guard for Chicago, but Billy Donovan said he's comfortable rotating between Dosunmu, Goran Dragić, and Coby White. He sees Alex Caruso playing more off-ball.
- Jordan Clarkson started in place of Malik Beasley, but Collin Sexton still isn't running with the starters.
- Gary Payton II (core surgery) is still recovering and won't make his debut for the team yet.
- Zion Williamson is healthy:
Other news and notes from around the league:
- Paul Reed has beat out Montrezl Harrell for the role of Joel Embiid's backup.
- KAT (illness) will be ready for the start of the regular season.
- J.B. Bickerstaff said that there is “no concern at this time” about Evan Mobley (ankle) missing the start of the regular season.
- Darvin Ham was asked about Russell Westbrook before their first preseason game, and he said, “He's ours… and we love him.”