Monday was an off day in the NBA Playoffs, as Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals won’t be until Wednesday as the league allows the West to “catch up.” This also meant no required injury reports, although it’s expected that there won’t be any significant changes ahead of Tuesday’s Game 3 between the Lakers and Nuggets. But there is more going on in the NBA than just the playoffs, as some of the teams that weren’t invited to the bubble are beginning (or have begun) their own camps, and a a couple franchises continue to search for a new head coach. Below is a look at what’s going in the Association, beginning with an injury update on a Nuggets starter.
— Will Barton (knee) remains out indefinitely
This news was reported a couple days ago and nothing has changed, as he continues to rehab from a knee injury that has sidelined him for the entirety of Denver’s time in the bubble. At this point Barton remains outside of the Orlando bubble, so even if he were deemed healthy enough to give it a shot there would also be a mandatory quarantine period to deal with. Barton averaged 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.9 3-pointers per game this season, shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three and 76.7 percent from the foul line.
When healthy Barton gives Denver another player capable of making a play either for himself or his teammates, something that the team has missed in this series. With regard to this series it is worth noting that the Lakers were one of two teams that Barton did not average double digits against during the regular season. In two games he accounted for 9.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 3-pointers per outing, shooting 26.1 percent from the field, 9.1 percent from three and 100.0 percent from the charity stripe.
With regard to Barton’s fantasy value for next season, I think it takes a slight hit as Michael Porter Jr. should figure more prominently in the Denver rotation than he did pre-bubble.
Editor’s Note: Whether you want to win a 50/50 or take down a GPP, use our DFS Optimizer, customizable projections and more to create the smartest lineups. Subscribe to all four major sports for as low as $7.99/month!
— Cavaliers, Bulls begin on-site bubble camps
With the 2020-21 season not beginning until Christmas Day at the earliest, the NBA has allowed the eight teams not invited to the bubble to hold their own minicamps. While this won’t make up for the fact that those squads will go more than nine months without playing an actual game, it is an opportunity to work with players in a team setting. Cleveland and Chicago are two of the teams getting their start this week, with the latter franchise also going through the process of hiring a new head coach. Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., who has a connection as the Bulls new top executive Arturas Karnisovas was formerly Denver’s general manager, and former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson are two of the names mentioned in connection with the Bulls job.
As for what happens on the court in during Bulls camp, Coby White’s progress is what I’ll be keeping an eye on. His only start last season came in Chicago’s final game, but he was still able to earn second team All-Rookie honors. He recently stated that his goal is to earn the starting point guard job, which could make for an interesting partnership with Zach LaVine from a defensive standpoint. The bench role torpedoed White’s fantasy value, as did his being paired with another primary ball-handler for much of his time on the court. A more traditional point guard role, combined with his ability to score, would help White from a fantasy point of view.
Tomas Satoransky was the starter last season, with his size and defensive ability being viewed as positive attributes. What makes things difficult for the players taking part in the camp is that, without a head coach, they really don’t know what kind of system they’ll be playing in next season. That makes the competition for specific roles a bit more difficult. Kris Dunn, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, has decided to sit out the camp.
As for Cleveland, the improvement of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland playing without the basketball is worth tracking. While considered to be small by NBA standards this is clearly the Cavaliers’ backcourt tandem of the future (and the present), and both entered the league as guards used to having the ball in their hands a lot. Sexton finished the season providing ninth-round value in nine-category formats, and he was playing arguably his best basketball of the season prior to the stoppage. Garland wasn’t as productive, but that’s to be expected from most rookies. According to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic, his progression in the pick-and-roll game is an area of emphasis this offseason.
Garland and Sexton continuing to establish chemistry together will be a major key for head coach J.B. Bickerstaff during this rebuild. Dylan Windler, who sat out all of last season with a leg injury, is expected to be available for 5-on-5 work and Kevin Porter Jr. will also be available. Veterans Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova are all sitting out the camp, the former for personal reasons and the other two due to their pending free agency. But that simply frees up even more time for the staff to work with the younger players on the roster.
— 76ers, Pacers continue head coaching searches
There are three playoff teams still looking for new head coaches, and while there hasn’t been much talk recently about potential options for the Rockets job that hasn’t been the case with either Indiana or Philadelphia. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan recently interviewed with the Pacers, and he has been mentioned as a possible candidate in Philadelphia as well. Indiana doesn’t sound all that close to making a decision either, as the reported plan is to interview up to 12 candidates before narrowing the field.
As for Philadelphia, names mentioned in connection with that opening include former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue. It doesn’t sound as if there will be a change at the top of the front office hierarchy, with Elton Brand continuing to call the shots.