With the Draft, free agency, and summer leagues in our rearview mirror, we’ve officially entered the doldrums of the NBA calendar year. In other words, it’s the time of year where European signings become headlines. Thankfully, Team USA is holding a minicamp from August 11-13 and it’s given us a treasure trove of news.
Ok, well maybe it’s not ‘DeAndre Jordan locking Mark Cuban out of his house’ news, but the upcoming training camp has forced some injury news to bubble to the surface. We’re aiming to have the Draft Guide out by September 1, but for now, let’s take a look at what’s going on with some of the upcoming participants of the Team USA minicamp:
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While this isn’t Earth-shattering news, Durant will be in attendance at the Las Vegas event. He won’t be participating as he continues to rehab his foot, but he’s still on-track to be ready for the start of training camp as he comes off foot surgery. Even though KD’s Jones fracture caused him to miss 27 games last season, he’s finished as the best overall fantasy player five times and is just 26 years old. Durant presents some risk in the 3-7 range in fantasy drafts, but he could easily regain his title as fantasy basketball’s best overall player if he can stay on the court this season.
Like Durant, Irving will be attending the minicamp, but will not be participating as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. He’s already been cleared to begin working out and Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said he expects Irving to be ready for training camp. Kyrie’s knee fracture didn’t do anything to help his injury-prone reputation, but he has the potential to return first-round fantasy value and is a safe pick towards the end of the second round of drafts.
Team USA is trying to get any player who might participate in the 2016 Olympics to come to Vegas, and Love will also be attending the camp even though he isn’t expecting to participate. Even Love is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder, he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp and will attempt to bounce-back after a 2014-15 season that didn’t quite live up to expectations. He’ll never return to his Minnesota numbers playing alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but Love still managed to average 16.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.9 three-pointers in what was considered a down year and is worth a look in the early-middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
George will join the growing list of stars who will attend the minicamp, but will not participate as he continues to rehab his knee. The 25-year-old is expecting to be at or close to 100 percent when training camp starts and there is no reason he can’t return to being an elite fantasy option. George averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals, and 2.3 three-pointers in 2013-14 and was a first-round pick just two years ago. He’ll carry a fair amount of risk as a mid-round pick this year, but George has the upside to be the steal of the draft if he’s able to stay healthy.
Anthony won’t be participating at the minicamp either, but he’ll be in attendance at the Las Vegas event. Melo is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee, but is expected to be ready for the start of Knicks training camp. Anthony will likely slide a bit in drafts after shutting it down last season, but he’ll end up being a steal in the third round of drafts if he’s able to stay healthy for the 2015-16 season.
Parsons is yet another Olympic hopeful who will be at the Las Vegas, but won’t participate. Like Anthony. Parsons is rehabbing after offseason knee surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. Parsons need to assume a bigger role in the Mavs offense after the departure of Monta Ellis, so he’s worth the injury risk in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
While it may seem like everyone and their brother (sorry, not you, Seth Curry) got invited to Team USA’s training camp, there were some other notable pieces of news from around the league this week:
The Lakers transition out of the Kobe Bryant Era is officially in full swing. Just in the past few days alone, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he envisions DeAngelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson as the team’s backcourt for the next decade and Bryant has talked about a willingness to play more small forward and even at power forward. The Mamba’s days among the fantasy elite are long gone, but he’s still worth a flier if he’s start dropping to the later rounds of drafts.
Thomas dropped 50 points in addition to posting 11 rebounds and seven assists during Seattle Pro-Am event over the weekend. While his numbers are nice, the big takeaway here is that his surgically-repaired wrist is feeling good enough for him to play. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has already alluded to an upcoming position battle between Thomas and Marcus Smart for the Celtics starting point guard job, so Thomas will have an interesting three months ahead of him. IT is worth a mid-round fantasy pick regardless of whether he’s starting, but a move to the Celtics starting unit would be enough bump up his draft position by a round or two.
It’s almost like we were just talking about Marcus Smart… Brad Stevens said Smart is expected to be fully-recovered from his dislocating his fingers by mid-August to mid-September. While that’s a fairly vague timetable, it would still put Smart on track to be ready for the start of the regular season. He’s expected to compete with Thomas for the Celtics starting point guard job, so like Thomas, Smart’s fantasy value will rise or fall a few rounds based on whether he wins or loses the position battle.
Everyone’s favorite NBA Finals hero will return in Cleveland after signing a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. Most will remember his postseason dramatics, but it’s easy to forget how Dellavedova was exposed as he was forced to play more minutes after Kyrie Irving’s knee injury. While it’s nice to see him return for another run at the Finals, Dellavedova won’t see enough minutes to help fantasy owners in standard leagues this season.
With LeBron back in Cleveland, Heat president Pat Riley must have felt free to trade James’ favorite college player as he sent Shabazz Napier to the Magic for a second round pick. Even though he’s still just 24 years old, Napier only averaged 6.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 10 games as a starter last year. Barring an injury to Elfrid Payton or Victor Oladipo, Napier will be limited to deep league fantasy value.
There are persistent rumors that the Heat would like to trade Chalmers and it’s looking more likely that Miami will unload the 29-year-old to alleviate their tax hit. Though he’s shown flashes throughout his career, Chalmers only averaged 11.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.8 three-pointers in 37 games as a starter last season. Unless he lands in the absolute perfect situation, Chalmers won’t provide much standard league fantasy value backing up Goran Dragic or anyone else. Tyler Johnson would be biggest beneficiary of any potential deal as Chalmers’ departure would solidify Johnson’s status in Miami’s backcourt pecking order.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Sullinger has been working out and is focused on getting in the best shape of his life. Stevens went on to say that the 23-year-old is eager to show off the hard work he put in to get there. Sullinger struggled with weight issues last season and will need to turn things around as he’ll have stiff competition for minutes with David Lee and Amir Johnson now wearing green. While trade isn’t out of the question (Knicks were reportedly interested), Sullinger isn’t much more than a late-round flier as long as he’s stuck in Boston’s frontcourt logjam.