NBA DFS: THREE PLAYERS YOU SHOULD TARGET FOR THURSDAY’S SLATE (07/30)

HALLELUJAH! After nearly five months without any meaningful basketball games, the NBA returns TONIGHT with a two-game slate that officially tips off seeding games in the Orlando bubble.

Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 6:30PM ET

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 9:00PM ET


With many season-long fantasy sites ending abruptly with the NBA hiatus, I imagine many fans will flock to DFS in order to get their fantasy fix throughout the duration of the NBA restart. Although Thursday’s slate only includes two games, there should be a plethora of star-power on display, along with many opportunities to win BIG!

Upon FanDuel and DraftKings releasing their player pricing to the public a few days ago, some players stand out more than others and offer a higher chance of exceeding their priced value. Remember, NBA DFS isn’t always about spending all of your budget to create a lineup or building a team with as many elite superstars as possible. Most of the time it is about finding the players who are most likely to maximize or exceed their priced value based on their match-up and opportunity.

With that being said, here are THREE PLAYERS that present awesome value’s and should be in your lineup’s heading into Thursday night’s slate:


Jordan Clarkson – SG, Utah Jazz

$4,200 on DraftKings and $4,300 on FanDuel

Since being acquired from the Cavaliers back in December, Clarkson has been a remarkable scoring option off the bench, averaging 15.2 points in 34 games with the Jazz. Heading into Thursday’s match-up against the Pelicans, Utah will be without starting SF Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) who will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Because of this, Clarkson should see an increased role off of the bench as the Jazz will look to replace Bogdanovic’s 20.2 points per game. The Pelicans also play at the league’s second-fastest pace according according to ESPN, so Clarkson should have plenty of opportunities to put up points in what is sure to be a high-scoring affair.


Reggie Jackson – PG, Los Angeles Clippers

$4,600 on DraftKings and $3,800 on FanDuel

The Clippers will be very short-handed on Thursday and Reggie Jackson figures to be the main beneficiary. At the moment, PG Patrick Beverley is questionable while SG Lou Williams and PF/C Montrezl Harrell have already been ruled out of Thursday’s match-up against the Lakers. Even if Beverley ends up playing, Jackson should have full command of the Clippers second unit and that should lead to plenty of opportunity for production. Although his numbers have dipped a bit upon joining the Clippers, Jackson has proved he can produce when playing a prominent role as he recently averaged 14.9 points and 5.1 assists per game earlier in the season with the Pistons.


JaMychal Green – PF, Los Angles Clippers

$3,500 on DraftKings and $3,600 on FanDuel

Much like fellow teammate Reggie Jackson, Green is in line to see his role increased in large part due to the Clippers being short-handed for various reasons. With Montrezl Harrell (personal) remaining away from the team and being ruled out earlier this week, Green should assume his role in the second unit and should see a spike in playing time. Green has surpassed 20 or more minutes only five times all season but averaged 24.8 fantasy points in those games. Unlike Harrell, Green has the ability to step outside and knock down the three consistently, shooting just over 36 percent on the season. With a price tag under $3,700 on most major DFS sites, Green is almost a lock to exceed value.


Thanks for checking out today’s blog! If you enjoyed, please subscribe for more DFS content throughout the remainder of the NBA restart in Orlando.

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NBA Fantasy: Naz Reid, Duncan Robinson and more top free-agent finds

Knowing how to successfully work the waiver wire is one of the keys to not only making playoffs, but bringing home the trophy in your fantasy league. We have reached a pivotal point thus far in the 2020 campaign where teams are beginning to look ahead, some to the playoffs and others to next season as they have decided to throw in the towel and rebuild. Among all of these decisions each year are a handful of players who are rewarded extra opportunity to produce. Whether their opportunity comes from the starter in front of them going down with an injury or they receive extra playing time due to their team’s decision to rebuild, it’s important to identify those players and roster them while you can.

In this article, I am going to give you a few guys who I believe can provide a major boost to your team throughout the week as well as the remainder of the season.

Shabazz Napier, PG – Washington Wizards

Despite being traded twice in two days at the deadline last month, the six-year point guard has played well in his role with the Wizards. With injuries to Ish Smith (hamstring) and Jerome Robinson (achilles), Napier is the de-facto starting point guard until further notice. Across his last eight games, he has put up averages of 13.6 points and 4.6 assists, including a 27-point outburst against the Heat on Sunday night. The Wizards put up the sixth-most points per game this season and play at one of the fastest paces in the league so Napier should have every opportunity to produce and will continue to be a solid source of three’s and assists.

Bruce Brown Jr., SG – Detroit Pistons

The second-year shooting guard returned on Saturday after missing four games due to an injured knee. On Sunday, he received a team-high 37 minutes as he supplied 16 points, six assists and four rebounds as he and Christian Wood were the only two players to crack double-digits in the scoring column. Brown’s fantasy value is mainly tied to the current state of the Pistons, as they are currently in the middle of a rebuild after sending Andre Drummond to Cleveland at the deadline last month. Bruce Brown Jr. figures to receive as many minutes as he can handle and will be a solid source of points, assists and defensive stats as long as he can remain healthy.

Duncan Robinson, SF – Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson has been an absolute flamethrower in recent days for the Heat, drilling 24 shots from beyond the arc on 37 attempts over his last three games and is on pace for 308 three’s in the 2020 campaign. If you are in need of 3pt help on your fantasy roster, please look no further than the undrafted Michigan product. It is worth noting that Robinson’s value is limited to his three-point shooting. In the rare occurrence where he struggles with his shot, he offers little else from a fantasy perspective.

Trey Lyles, PF – San Antonio Spurs

Trey Lyles has been a pleasant surprise for the Spurs as LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) remains out. Over his last four games, he has put up averages of 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.0 block while seeing more than 30 minutes a night. With the Spurs fighting for the eighth-seed out West, Lyles should continue seeing heavy minutes and has the green light to hoist as many shots as needed.

Naz Reid, C – Minnesota Timberwolves

With Karl-Anthony Towns continuing to miss time with a wrist issue, Naz Reid has done a great job holding down the center spot for the T-Wolves. Since the calendar has flipped to March, the big-man is averaging 12.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks while recording two double-doubles. An underrated part of his game has been his ability to knock down the three-ball as he is averaging one make from downtown in March. Reid should continue starting at center for the Timberwolves and looks to be improving by the game. If you are in need of points and rebounds, look no further than the rookie from LSU.

If you enjoyed this list, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss my next group of players who will help you bring home the trophy in your fantasy leagues. I will be posting fantasy relevant articles every Monday while also covering NBA-related news throughout the week.

NBA Fantasy: Shake Milton, Norman Powell among top free-agent finds

March is here and it feels unreal that we have already begun the last full month of the regular season. This is an important time as many fantasy players are attempting to sneak into the playoffs while some are simply trying to remain on top. With a plethora of injuries to key players, such as Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it is crucial that you are familiar with some high-value players that are most likely available on the waiver wire. Whether you are in a predicament with an injury to a key player or you simply have an open roster spot and are looking for some upside heading into the fantasy playoffs, I believe these 5 players can give you what you need and maximize your team. I am only mentioning players who are owned in less than 50 percent of leagues.

1: Shake Milton, PG – Philadelphia 76ers

With injuries to Joel Embiid (shoulder) and Ben Simmons (back), Milton burst onto the fantasy radar this past week by putting up 20.4 points and 4.4 three’s per game across his last five. After his 39 point explosion during Sunday afternoon’s nationally televised game against the Clippers, the second-year guard is almost a lock to be the most added player off the waiver wire this week. Looking ahead, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have yet to receive clarity on a potential return to the court, so the 76ers will be sure to lean on Milton’s sharpshooting ability as they continue to fight for seeding in the East.

2: Norman Powell, SF – Toronto Raptors

After a nine-game absence due to a fractured finger, the Raptors wasted no time easing Powell back into the lineup as he has seen 36 and 40 minutes respectively in two games since returning to the lineup. Much of this is due to the fact that Fred VanVleet is battling a shoulder injury, but Powell has looked great and has shown no signs of rust. The five-year pro has put up 23 points on 47.5 percent shooting from the field in his last two games and will look to play a key role for the Raptors down the stretch as long as he can remain healthy.

3: Jae Crowder, PF – Miami Heat

Getting sent to Miami at the trade deadline earlier this month has done wonders for Crowder’s fantasy value. Since being acquired by the Heat, the seven-year pro has put up averages of 13.7 points while knocking down three three-pointers a night in his increased role. Going forward, he will look to continue being a solid source of three’s and is sure to be a key figure in Miami’s rotation going forward as they are fighting for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

4: Juan Hernangomez, PF – Minnesota Timberwolves

With Karl-Anthony Towns still without a firm timetable for recovery, Hernangomez has gobbled up plenty of minutes at the power forward position and has played well. Since being acquired by Minnesota at the trade-deadline, the four-year big-man has averaged 13.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, and over two three’s a night while picking up a double-double in his last two. Hernangomez should continue receiving tons of playing time and figures to retain value for as long as KAT remains sidelined.

5: Seth Curry, SG – Dallas Mavericks

Curry has been red hot throughout the month of February but has taken it to a new level over his last two games, averaging 32 points on 75 percent shooting. He has also knocked down 11 three’s in that span as the six-year pro is enjoying one of the hottest shooting streaks of his career. He has shown the ability to produce with or without Luka Doncic in the lineup and is always a strong source of three-pointers. Take advantage while you can.

NBA Fantasy: Brandon Clarke, Coby White among top free-agent finds

One thing I wish I would do more of is thrift shopping. The idea of driving to your local Salvation Army and scanning the shelves for items that people have given up on has always fascinated me. What is old and boring to someone else has the ability to be new and exciting to you! If you are lucky, every once in a while you will stumble across a designer item such as Gucci or Prada, that someone turned in without realizing the true value of it. What someone paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars for, you are able to get for a fraction of the price.

Each week, I view the waiver wire in my fantasy basketball league(s) the same way I do a thrift shop. I see ton’s of value. The NBA season moves fast and has many different story lines, each one causing a ripple in the fantasy world. There are injuries, trades and poor individual play to name a few and because of this, a player’s fantasy value can either increase or decrease throughout the season. Player’s who were seen as an after-thought in fantasy heading into the year are now serving major roles and producing at an incredible rate.

The goal of this article is to take a look at the waiver wire, and help you score that “Gucci belt in the thrift shop” type of player. One that will add value to your team and help bring home the trophy!

1: Brandon Clarke, PF – Memphis Grizzlies

The 23-year old rookie has been one of the many young bright-spots for the Grizzlies this year, averaging 12.3 points per game on an incredible 62.3 percent shooting. Even more impressive, he’s been doing it in just over 22 minutes a night. With Jaren Jackson Jr. set to miss at least two weeks with a left knee sprain, the Grizzlies are sure to lean on Clarke even more. The Gonzaga product turned in a double-double on Sunday, while starting the second half in place of the injured Jackson Jr. and figures to give a rebounding and scoring boost to anyone needing help in those departments for the next two weeks. Take a look at your waiver wire and scoop him up before it’s too late!

2: Christian Wood, PF – Detroit Pistons

Ever since the Pistons sent Andre Drummond to Cleveland, Christian Wood has been feasting on opposing teams. Whether starting or coming off the bench, he is receiving enough playing time to warrant ownership across all formats. He is averaging 19.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a night in February while also securing a double-double in four of his last six games. The fourth-year forward is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon and is looking like a possible league-winner. What are you waiting for? Add him now!

3: Malik Beasley, SG – Minnesota Timberwolves

A change of scenery has done the fourth-year guard some good, as he is putting up 22 points and four three-pointers a night since being acquired by the Timberwolves at the trade deadline. He has always shown flashes of being a prolific scorer during his time with the Nuggets but the log-jam at guard prevented him from seeing enough minutes to produce consistently. Since joining his new team, Beasley is seeing nearly 34 minutes a night has no business being on the waiver wire until further notice.

4: Coby White, PG – Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls franchise is a mess right now but if there is one thing for fans and fantasy owners to be happy about, it’s Coby White. The rookie guard has shown flashes of stardom this season, but has been stuck behind the likes of Tomas Satoranksky, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, making it tough to produce consistently. However, with Kris Dunn set to miss at least the next 4-6 weeks due to a sprained right MCL, the stage is being set for White to be a major fantasy asset down the stretch. During the month of February, he has begun to see over 30 minutes a night while averaging 17.7 points and 4.5 assists. He most recently scored 33 points in back-to-back games and his value is trending upward. Currently owned in 30 percent of leagues, make sure to scoop him up before someone else does!

Be sure to check back every Monday to see who I believe will be the next group of league-winners currently left sitting on the waiver wire!

NBA DFS: Anthony Davis, CJ McCollum and more top plays for February 21st, 2020

There are few things I enjoy more than watching the NBA on a Friday night. It’s the beginning of the weekend, there is typically plenty of games to choose from, and the match-ups are usually great with two prime-time games. We’re in for a busy night on Friday and with a nine games set to tip-off, there is little room for error when putting together your lineup.

Because of some injuries to key players such as Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard, Friday night represents the perfect opportunity to find value and win some money. I am going to give you my top plays of the night from each position and breakdown why I expect them to have a big game.

POINT GUARD:

Kyle Lowry ($7,400 on FD and $7,700 on DK) – The All-Star point guard has been extremely consistent for the Raptors this season, putting up an average of 38.8 fantasy points per game. Lowry and the Raptors get the Phoenix Suns on Friday night and they have not been good against opposing point guards all season long, ranking in the bottom five. In what appears to be a high scoring, fast-paced game, look for Lowry to fill up the stat sheet.

Anfernee Simons ($4,800 on FD and $3,500 on DK) – Hear me out, with Damian Lillard set to miss the next 3-4 games, Simons will likely see an expanded role and is also a candidate to slide into the starting lineup. Simons has had stretches of fantastic play this year but has yet to put it together on a consistent level. However, just before the All-Star break he put up 22 points and seven rebounds against the Grizzlies. It also helps having the Pelicans as your match-up as they are the ninth-worst team in the league defending the point guard position. With his low price tag, Simons allows you to spend up in other places while also presenting enough upside to pay off.

Honorable Mention – Markelle Fultz ($5,900 on FD and $6,200 on DK), Collin Sexton ($6,000 on FD and $6,300 on DK)

SHOOTING GUARD:

CJ McCollum ($6,900 on FD and $6,600 on DK) – With Damian Lillard set to miss 3-4 games with a groin injury, the Trail Blazers are without a doubt going to lean heavily on McCollum. The Pelicans are bottom-two in the league when it comes to defending his position, so the stage is set for him to off. Put him in your lineup and do not think twice.

Marcus Smart ($5,400 on FD and $5,900 on DK) – With Kemba Walker already ruled out due to a knee injury, I like Smart at this price. He has been finding his shot as of late, shooting 46 percent from the field in February as opposed to the dismal 36.2 percent he was shooting in December/January. Look for him to stay hot after dropping 31 points vs. the Clippers right before the All-Star break.

Victor Oladipo *FANDUEL ONLY* ($4,600 on FD and $6,400 on DK) – Victor Oladipo is priced too low on FanDuel for you not to take advantage of. Combine his low price to the fact that he is no longer on a minutes restriction and you have a great chance for him to out score his price by a long-shot. It was also announced Thursday that TJ Warren is now questionable for Friday night’s game and if he were to miss, Oladipo would be even more desirable.

SMALL FORWARD:

Jaylen Brown ($5,700 on FD and $5,900 on DK) – Jaylen Brown has been in and out of the lineup for the past month and has been difficult to trust. However, it looks like he is ready to return to the court Friday vs. the Timberwolves. They currently rank dead last in the NBA at defending the small forward position and that, combined with the fact that Kemba Walker has already been ruled out, makes Brown an attractive play at his price tag. The fourth-year pro is averaging 20.2 points, and 6.4 rebounds on nearly 50 percent shooting from the field this season.

Joe Ingles ($4,800 on FD and $4,700 on DK) – Mike Conley has already been ruled out due to rest, meaning the Jazz will look to Joe Ingles to be their main ball-handler with the second unit. Ingles has thrived in the games that Conley has missed this season and he will get another opportunity on Friday. At his current price tag, Ingles allows you to spend up at other positions while still investing in a guy that can fill up the stat sheets.

Honorable Mention – Trevor Ariza ($4,700 on FD and $4,500 on DK), Gordon Hayward ($7,000 on both FD and DK)

POWER FORWARDS:

Anthony Davis ($10,600 on FD and $9,900 on DK) – For FanDuel purposes, Davis is the highest player on the board on Friday, but I believe he is worth paying up. The Lakers host the visiting Grizzlies, who will be on the second night of a back-to-back set and to be completely honest, there isn’t anyone on this planet good enough to contain Anthony Davis. Memphis is ranked in the bottom half of the league when it comes to defending the power forward position, so look for Davis to dominate the tired Grizzlies on the board and in the paint. Davis is a no-brainer on Friday night.

Zion Williamson ($7,500 on FD and $8,000 on DK) – Williamson has picked up the pace in recent weeks, as his last two games before the All-Star break he put up 31 & 32 points respectively. The Pelicans travel to Portland to take on the Blazers Friday, who rank dead last at defending power forwards. They don’t have anyone that can contain Williamson and he seems to be getting better by the game. Look for the top pick in this years draft to come up big on Friday.

Honorable Mention – Jayson Tatum ($8,700 on FD and $7,800 on DK)

CENTER:

Steven Adams ($6,000 on FD and $5,500 on DK) – Steven Adams has played really well as of late, nearly averaging a double-double in the month of February. More importantly, he appears to be nearing full health, as evidenced by his increase in minutes during the last two weeks. On Friday, the Thunder take on the Denver Nuggets who pose as a tough test for opposing offenses. However, with Adams’ minutes and health trending upward and his price trending downward, there is some value to be had here.

Myles Turner ($5,700 on FD and $5,000 on DK) – Myles Turner is a better play on DraftKings but is still priced low enough to offer some value on FanDuel. The Pacers take on the Knicks on Friday and could be without TJ Warren. The Knicks are middle of the pack against centers this year but with potentially less mouths to feed, Turner could be needed more than usual.

Honorable Mention – Tristan Thompson ($5,000 on FD and $5,200 on DK)

NBA DFS: Ben Simmons, Coby White and more top plays for February 20th, 2020

After a week-long hiatus due to the All-Star break, the NBA returns Thursday with a six-game slate. Nine players who played in the All-Star game will be lacing them up tonight, meaning there will be plenty of talent to choose from. Even with all the star power, not everyone is an automatic lock as there are multiple factors you will want to consider when setting your lineup. After all, you are playing to win some money!

I am going to give you my top plays of the night from each position and breakdown why I expect them to have a big game.

POINT GUARD:

Ben Simmons ($8,900 on FD and $9,500 on DK) – Although better on Fan Duel than on Draft Kings, Ben Simmons has been stellar as of late, averaging almost 19.5 points on 60 percent shooting over his last six games and gets the Brooklyn Nets at home on Thursday. In three previous games against Brooklyn this season, the All-Star has averaged 24.7 points, 8.6 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks while shooting 62 percent from the field. This comes as no surprise as the struggling Nets are currently second-worst at defending his position. Look for Simmons to have another monster game as Philly looks to right the ship and build some momentum heading into the playoffs.

Goran Dragic ($5,100 on FD and $5,700 on DK) – The Miami Heat get the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, a team which is allowing the second most points per game at 118.9 a night. This game also has the second highest over/under on the night, pointing towards a fast-paced, high-scoring game in which The Dragon always thrives in. Going with Dragic at this price allows you to pay up at some other positions while still holding on to the tremendous upside that Dragic presents.

Coby White ($4,600 on FD and $4,700 on DK) – This is a very sneaky play but also has the potential to be a low-risk, high-reward type scenario. Coby White has excelled when getting the chance this season and it was just announced that fellow Bulls point guard Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained right MCL. Across his last last four games, the rookie has put up 11.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.5 rebounds across 28 minutes a night. Although he may not receive a drastic increase in minutes, his usage rate should go up as the Bulls lean on him to lead the second unit in Kris Dunn’s absence.

SHOOTING GUARD:

Jimmy Butler ($8,100 on FD and $7,900 on DK) – Jimmy Butler does it all for Miami, acting as play maker on offense and the tone-setter on defense. The Heat get the Hawks on Thursday and as mentioned previously above, they boast the second worst defense in the entire league, giving up an average of 118.9 points a night to opposing teams. In three games against the Hawks this season, Butler has stuffed the stat sheet with averages of 15.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 3.0 steals per game.

Buddy Hield ($5,700 on FD and $6,600 on DK) – Buddy Hield has put up 21 points on nearly 50 percent shooting a night since being relegated to the bench. On Thursday, the Kings face off against the Memphis Grizzlies who have won 8 of their last 10 games. Although they come in with momentum, they are allowing 114.4 points to opposing teams on the year which puts them in the bottom half of the league. This game also has the third highest over/under coming in at 229.5 and has the makings of a lot of points with tons of shooting – two things Buddy Hield excels at.

SMALL FORWARDS:

Andrew Wiggins ($7,500 on FD and $7,600 on DK) – Andrew Wiggins has played well in his first few games as a member of the Warriors. On Thursday, the Rockets come into town in what will most likely be a fast-paced game with very little defense. It has the highest over/under on the night at 234.5 and Wiggins will have every opportunity to put up shots as they try to keep pace with the small-ball Rockets.

Miles Bridges ($5,800 on FD and $6,000 on DK) – Miles Bridges had been excellent leading up to the All-Star break, garnering a ton of minutes and producing in almost every category. Tonight, the Hornets take on the Bulls who are the 4th worst at defending Bridges position. Look for him to fill the stat sheet on Thursday night.

Danuel House Jr. ($4,900 on FD and $4,600 on DK) – Aside from Russell Westbrook, I’m not sure there is another Rocket who has thrived more in the small-ball lineup than Danuel House. He has been given the green-light to hoist up three’s and has been stepping it up on defense. Over his last five games, he’s putting up 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game while knocking down nearly two three’s a game. Look for him to get plenty of opportunities to produce – both offensively and defensively – on Thursday against the Warriors in what is sure to be a fast-paced game.

POWER FORWARD:

Christian Wood ($7,400 on FD and $6,900 on DK) – Ever since the Pistons sent Andre Drummond to Cleveland, Christian Wood has come to life. Over his last five games, the big-man is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting 51 percent from the field. Now that Reggie Jackson has signed with the Clippers, there is an even bigger need for Wood to continue his strong play. He does have a tough match-up against a stout Milwaukee defense, but he’s hard to pass up with his current price and under-the-radar status.

Eric Paschall ($4,200 on FD and $4,300 on DK) – Eric Paschall comes in averaging 12.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game across his past six. Given his current price and his opportunity to put up numbers on a nightly basis, I’m playing Paschall here and most likely stacking him with Russell Westbrook and James Harden in a game that will most likely be all scoring with very little defense.

CENTERS:

Joel Embiid ($9,600 on FD and $9,000 on DK) – There aren’t too many solid options at center on Thursday, forcing us to look at Joel Embiid for most of our lineups. The All-Star big-man has been a bit inconsistent since returning from a torn ligament in his left hand but has still been productive. The fact that he looked good in the All-Star game and that he will no longer wear a splint on his left hand are good signs that he is nearing full health. Play Embiid and don’t think twice about it on a night that lacks much star-power at the center spot.

Dewayne Dedmon ($4,900 on FD and $4,800 on DK) – This is a surprise here but if you are wanting to save at center and pay up toward some other positions, I believe Dedmon is a sneaky play on Thursday. For starters, with Clint Capela still “weeks away” from returning to the lineup, Dedmon should continue to start on his new team. If Miami has one glaring weakness this season, it’s been their inability to defend the paint. They also have lacked a true center as Meyers Leonard is still recovering from his sprained left ankle. Look for Dewayne Dedmon to gobble up plenty of offensive rebounds and to be an active presence for the Hawks on Thursday.

5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE REVAMPED ALL-STAR GAME

The 2020 NBA All-Star game tipped off on Sunday night in Chicago with a new set of rules and it did not disappoint. The first three quarters were about the same as it is each year — fast-break dunks and zero effort on defense — however, when the fourth quarter arrived, something we’ve been waiting forever to see happened. The 10 players on the court began to take the game personal.

Charges were drawn, trash was talked, and tons of defense was on display during the untimed fourth quarter as Team LeBron edged Team Giannis 157-155 to take home the crown. Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant MVP after putting up 30 points while knocking down eight three’s in 20 minutes.

Now that we’ve had some time to digest the newly-revamped NBA All-Star game, I figured it would be a good time to jot down a few of my takeaways from the evenings festivities. It’s important to state that a couple of these are for humor purposes and not intended to be taken seriously!

1: LeBron had something to prove

If there is anything we have learned about the guy who dubs himself, “The King”, it’s that he enjoys being at the top. After holding the title of “best player in the league” for more than a decade, it bothers him when younger players get similar recognition, whether he admits it or not. Back in 2016 when Steph Curry was setting the league on fire there was many around the league who believed he had overtaken LeBron as the league’s best player. James never chimed in on the debate but when the two met in the NBA finals later in the year, Bron-Bron seemed to enjoy reminding Curry who the best player in the game was after rejecting one of his shots.

Fast-forward to the present day and there are many who believe that reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has taken over the title of league’s best player. I couldn’t help but sense a bit of animosity between LeBron and Giannis on Sunday night. There were a few times where it seemed like the two were going at each other.

2: Nick Nurse had an agenda

People were left scratching their heads at some of the decisions that Toronto Raptors and Team Giannis head coach Nick Nurse made down the stretch on Sunday. Entering the untimed fourth quarter, Team Giannis was nursing (no pun intended) a 133-124 lead, needing only 24 points to take home the crown. Nurse kept the same lineup out there for the entire quarter — mind you there was no running clock or TV timeouts. Even as Team LeBron subbed in the their well-rested cast of Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and James Harden — Nick Nurse failed to make any sort of change to his lineup.

Now before you chastise me for critiquing coaching decisions in the All-Star game, the more I looked at Team Giannis’ fourth quarter lineup the more I got the sense that Nick Nurse may have known what he was doing all along. I am beginning to think this was all apart of his diabolical plan to pave the way for another 15 game win streak for his Raptors. He took this as an opportunity to throw some wear and tear on some of the players who pose as the biggest threats to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Kemba Walker, all leading teams who are currently candidates to come out of the East, played a combined 89 minutes in Sunday’s game. For comparison, the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard played a combined 59 minutes.

If this is indeed true, Nurse deserves some credit for being that petty. On a night that most NBA stars view as a time to rest up and take it easy, it seems that Nick Nurse had other plans for his conference rivals. I guess we’ll see if his plan was successful come playoff time!

3: Chris Paul a candidate for 2021 Dunk Contest?

Obviously, this is a joke. However, the 34 year old caught the first alley-oop of his 15 year career!

I’ve tried, and I honestly cannot remember the last time my cornea’s have seen Chris Paul dunk a basketball so this might have been the most surprising element of the night for me. In a game that was dedicated to paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who tragically passed away in a Helicopter crash on January 26th, I guess anything can happen. After mustering up every bit of fiber in his calf muscles to get high enough to catch the lob, I can’t help but wonder if CP3 will need some load-managing at times throughout the second half of the season!

4: Eyes were opened

On Sunday night, the NBA saw it’s first glimpse of the “Elam Ending”. Created by Ball State professor Nick Elam, the Elam Ending is a rule that removes the clock at the end of a game and replaces it with a target score. The game ends when one of the teams hits the score. The rule burst onto the scenes in the The Basketball Tournament three years ago and has gained traction ever since. When the NBA announced they would experiment with the idea in the All-Star game, reviews were mixed. Some found the rule to be confusing while others marveled at the idea of adding a new, exciting element to the lackluster All-Star game.

After seeing the Elam Ending in action, I am all in. I believe it would add a unique twist to the way games are decided in the NBA. In a season where ratings are falling, the league needs this. They need something that is new and exciting during an 82 game season. The NBA rarely makes drastic changes or additions to it’s core, fundamental rules, with the only major change in the last 50 years being the addition of the three-point shot in 1979, but the Elam Ending has the makings of something that could positively impact the game for decades.

The league has not yet decided if they will use the Elam Ending in next years All-Star game or ever, but one thing is certain — eyes were opened to the fact that change isn’t so scary after all!

5: Kobe would be proud

In light of the tragic passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash on January 26th, the NBA aimed to take advantage of the All-Star game to pay their respects. Team Giannis wore the number 24 while Team LeBron sported the number 2 in honor Kobe’s daughter Gianna and in honor of Kobe, 24 points were added to the leading teams score heading into the fourth quarter, which set the target score. The league also announced they would be permanently changing the All-Star MVP trophy to the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP trophy.

All of those tributes were special in their own way, but one of my favorite tributes was the way the game was played. If you have watched Kobe play, you know he was one of the fiercest competitors the game has ever seen. He was obsessed with his craft and his will to win was so unique that he was difficult to play with at times. It didn’t matter if it was a preseason game or game seven of the NBA finals, Kobe was going to break you, both mentally and physically.

The effort we saw from both teams during the fourth quarter on Sunday would have made Kobe proud. The competition that was on display was reminiscent of the way Kobe treated every game. There was trash-talk, charges taken, players diving on the floor for loose balls. Personally, I saw a glimpse of Kobe in each of the players on Sunday and it was beautiful. On a night where so much was made in the remembrance of Kobe “Bean” Bryant, the most memorable tribute to me, was the effort given by the players in a meaningless All-Star game in late February. Kobe would have been proud.

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