We're one day closer to the official resumption of the NBA season, and with that being the case Monday's games were interesting to watch as it pertained to each team's rotation. While some rested stars, others either played theirs and/or welcomed familiar faces back into the fold. And in the case of Phoenix, which didn't play, they received good news regarding Aron Baynes.
Magic 114, Nuggets 110
This game was all about who returned for each team. Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz both returned for the Magic but in limited roles, with the former playing seven minutes and the latter nearly nine. Isaac looked really good on the floor, moving well and posting a line of 13 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two steals. Whether or not they'll be available for Orlando's first seeding game has yet to be determined, as coach Steve Clifford said that he'll need to speak with the training staff before making that decision. And even if they Isaac and Fultz are able to play, don't be surprised if there's a minutes limit early on.
At the point that makes D.J. Augustin the better play for the time being, while you'd be better off rolling the dice on Terrence Ross (who can be hit or miss) than counting on Isaac, as he's coming off of a knee injury. Aaron Gordon was held out due to a groin issue, but it sounds like he'll be good to go once the games have an impact on the standings. Gary Clark filled in well for Gordon starting alongside Nikola Vucevic, but he's only an option if the Magic are hit hard by injuries. James Ennis would be more worthy of tracking, but not actually going all in immediately, right now.
Outside of Brooklyn, no team arrived in Orlando with a more limited rotation than Denver, but the Nuggets had virtually their entire team available on Monday. In addition to Jamal Murray, Will Barton and Paul Millsap being on the floor so was Michael Porter Jr., who played 20 minutes off the bench and tallied 19 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Murray (23/4/4/2 with three 3-pointers) was also effective, while Barton looked a bit shaky. All Denver needs now is for Gary Harris to be cleared, and they'll be whole.
Lakers 123, Wizards 116
The Lakers relied upon their role players for the scrimmage finale, as LeBron James, Anthony Davis (eye), Dwight Howard (general soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (ankle) were all given the night off. JaVale McGee was the lone starter to see action, and he only played about 14 minutes, but his role for Thursday's opener could be of even greater importance if Davis is unable to play. The backcourt is what's worth tracking, as neither Rajon Rondo (thumb) nor Avery Bradley (family reasons) will be available. Alex Caruso and Danny Green started Monday, but it's likely that the former will be coming off the bench when the seeding games begin.
Caruso (17/5/6/3 with three 3-pointers) took advantage of the increased opportunities on the ball, and he's a bit player worth keeping an eye on solely for the potential once the Lakers lock up the top seed in the West. And the veteran combo of Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith captivated the audience, combining for 38 points. If I were to choose one to have an impact in DFS it would be Waiters, as the man now going by "Bubble Cheese" gets more time on the ball with the second unit than Smith. Neither is a must-have, however. And Markieff Morris (six points, five rebounds) made his Orlando debut, starting and playing a little over six minutes.
Troy Brown Jr. (thumb) was back on the floor for Washington and played nearly 29 minutes, and he looks good to go for the games ahead. I wouldn't put Brown in the Caris LeVert class of "restart must-haves," but he's going to figure prominently in everything that the Wizards do with Bradley Beal done for the season. Shabazz Napier feels like the better play than Ish Smith, not only because he's starting but also the fact that he'll give you some 3-point shooting. It goes without saying that Rui Hachimura will get a lot of action, and Scott Brooks loves Isaac Bonga based upon his postgame quotes. Add in the fact that Bonga can fill a stat sheet, albeit without prolific numbers, and he's worth a look as a low-cost DFS option.
Kings 106, Clippers 102
Richaun Holmes is back in the fold after his food delivery mishap, and back in the starting lineup as a result. The man doesn't lack for fans in the fantasy basketball world and with good reason, due to what he brings to the table defensively. While all six of his points came from the foul line I'm not too worried about that. His return moves Harry Giles back to the bench but the young post played well Monday, going for 12 points, nine rebounds and an assist in just over 18 minutes of action. The move to the bench really hurts though; and with Alex Len (conditioning) on his way back that's another player that Giles will be competing with for minutes.
Harrison Barnes (COVID-19) was also back but unlike Holmes he was with the second unit, and in a little over 21 minutes he accounted for 12 points and six rebounds. Barnes could potentially see time at the four in small-ball lineups, even starting there depending upon "whether or not Harrison is completely healthy" according to coach Luke Walton. His return impacts Kent Bazemore's value some, but the potential impact of Barnes playing at the four would also trickle down to the likes of Giles, Len and Nemanja Bjelica (who can play some center). Also, I'm wondering if DaQuan Jeffries has done enough to earn himself some rotation minutes. He's looked good in Orlando, but there may be too many options ahead of him on the wings for that to happen.
Kawhi Leonard didn't shoot the ball well Monday, continuing his struggles in Orlando, as he shot 6-of-22 from the floor. I'm not too worried about him; he'll figure things out soon enough. The bigger development for the Clippers was the arrival of Ivica Zubac, who started in his Orlando debut and played just over 13 minutes. Zubac supplied two points, six rebounds and one assist in his time on the floor, and he looked ready to take his usual role (which doesn't provide much in the way of fantasy value) for Thursday's opener against the Lakers. Joakim Noah continues to look good, but he isn't worth considering in fantasy thanks to the eventual return of Montrezl Harrell.
No decision has been made regarding the status of Patrick Beverley (personal) for Thursday, and this would have the greatest impact on Reggie Jackson. Jackson posted a line of 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers Monday but he didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Under normal circumstances his value takes a major hit with the second unit, but there's room for Jackson to provide more due to Lou Williams (quarantine) having to miss the first two seeding games. Landry Shamet (COVID-19) is on track to play Thursday according to coach Doc Rivers, but he was held out of Monday's scrimmage for conditioning reasons.
Jazz 112, Nets 107
The absence of Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) has apparently given Mike Conley more freedom to score now that there's another capable playmaker (Joe Ingles) in the starting lineup. Conley pumped in 18 points Monday but had just one assist, which is a bit of a concern. That being said he looks fresh, and that bodes well for his value moving forward. Ingles (6/4/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers) has struggled with his shot, but as I just noted his value is more as a set-up guy rather than a scorer.
Utah can also get a scoring boost from Jordan Clarkson, and his role is of even greater importance now. Rudy Gobert continues to do the usual in the middle, and Donovan Mitchell scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Ingles' comfort level playing alongside Conley is what's worth watching at this stage, as he isn't as far along in the process when comparing the two. But even with the shooting struggles he's still capable of contributing in multiple statistical categories, which preserves his value.
On the Brooklyn side of the equation, at this point there's no surprise when it comes to LeVert (23/3/6/1) putting up gaudy point totals. He's got the green light that we all dream of having, and along with Jarrett Allen (19/10/2/2/2) LeVert will be entrusted with the task of carrying this group into the postseason. Chris Chiozza remains the man at the point, and his ability to distribute the basketball (another seven assists Monday) likely keeps him there. Don't know if that's enough to make him a viable DFS option, but I'd imagine that his price tag won't be particularly high.
Rodions Kurucs and Tyler Johnson are worth a look if you're looking for cheap back-end roster options as well, and I can't be the only one wondering why Timothe Luwawu continues to start. We'll see if that changes with the scrimmages done, but he struggled again on Monday.
Pelicans 124, Bucks 103
This game was pretty close...until J.J. Redick turned back the clock to his Duke days in the third quarter. The man went off for 19 points (he finished with 20) and did not miss a shot, going 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line with four 3-pointers. Derrick Favors' return to the starting lineup has pushed Jaxson Hayes back to the bench, but the absence of Zion Williamson (conditioning) meant that he still had a role in the rotation. To his credit the rookie took advantage of that opportunity, but he won't have much value once Williamson returns (which could be Thursday, but he'll need to perform well in Wednesday's practice).
Williamson's eventual return also bodes well for Lonzo Ball, as the two already seem to have excellent on-court chemistry. We all know what Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram bring to the table, and adding Zion back to the mix makes New Orleans a dangerous team at the restart.
Giannis Antetokounmpo looks ready for the restart, as he went for 30 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal in 23 minutes of action. The question regarding Milwaukee's rotation is whether or not Eric Bledsoe (COVID-19) will be ready in time for Friday's opener against Boston. If so that impacts Donte DiVincenzo, but not enough to render the second-year guard unplayable in fantasy. Like Bledsoe, Pat Connaughton (COVID-19) was also held out of Monday's scrimmage as he continues to improve his conditioning, but don't expect much from him fantasy-wise once cleared to play.
And Wesley Matthews (ankle) was in the starting lineup, his usual spot, for Monday's scrimmage. Even with the veteran starting, I favor DiVincenzo over him once the Bucks rotation is back to full strength.
-- Aron Baynes (COVID-19) has arrived in Orlando
Baynes was finally cleared to travel over the weekend, with the veteran center making his way to Orlando on Monday. He'll need to clear quarantine before joining his teammates in the bubble, and once that happens he may not have that big of a role. At times during the scrimmages Monty Williams experimented with a smaller lineup that includes Cam Johnson at the four and Frank Kaminsky at the five. And with Deandre Ayton having a little more freedom to step out on the perimeter, that may also cut into Baynes' opportunities. A lot will hinge upon whether or not the Suns have a shot at getting into the ninth spot.
Porzingis missed his daily COVID-19 test over the weekend, which sidelined him for Dallas' second scrimmage, but he was back on Monday. No issues there; keep rolling with him. Trey Burke finished up his quarantine period so he will also be available for Tuesday's scrimmage finale, but he doesn't stand to be worth using in any fantasy format. Lastly Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was not a full participant in Monday's session, but he's in a spot similar to that of Burke when it comes to potential fantasy impact.
-- Bam Adebayo (COVID-19) cleared to play Tuesday
The Heat will have their star big man back in the fold for Tuesday's scrimmage, but don't expect to see him play too many minutes. The team's two practices ahead of the finale were deemed to be of greater importance, so Erik Spoelstra and company likely saw what they needed to from Adebayo during those sessions.
-- Fred VanVleet (knee) says that he's fine
VanVleet left Sunday's scrimmage against Portland after banging knees, but that won't be an issue when it comes to the start of Toronto's seeding game slate. As for Tuesday's scrimmage, we'll see. But VanVleet said on Monday that he's doing well, so that's good news.