Jonas Nader

Offseason Beat

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NBA News Roundup

Monday, August 6, 2018


It was another slow week across the NBA, but luckily there’s so much to look forward to. Mock draft season is nearly upon us, training camps are just over a month away and Rotoworld will be releasing our famous NDA Draft Guide in early September packed with rankings, columns, sleepers and in-depth player and team profiles. If you missed anything important this week (you didn’t), hopefully I’ll get you up to speed! For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson- While playing in a charity game in China on Aug. 4, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered an undisclosed lower body injury and never returned. He’s reportedly back in the states and his camp is "hopeful" that the injury isn’t serious, but here we are two days later without a legitimate update. I don’t know whether to take that as a good thing or a bad thing, but all we can do is wait for now. If healthy, RHJ will be a target in the middle rounds as the small-ball PF in Brooklyn’s starting lineup. 

 

Kevin HuerterKevin Huerter, The 19th pick in the 2018 Draft, has been fully cleared to resume basketball activities after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament between his ring and pinkie finger on his right hand back in June. This gives him over a full month to get back up to speed before training camp opens. He had a tremendous true shooting percentage of 64.0 at Maryland and hit a shade under 42% from beyond the arc, but he also turned heads at the combine with his athleticism, posting a 38-inch vertical. The Hawks will likely open the season with Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince starting on the wings, but it’s no secret that this dumpster fire of a roster is rebuilding and it sounds like Bazemore is already on the trade block. Huerter probably isn’t worth drafting in 12-team leagues, but I can see him becoming a waiver-wire pickup at the turn of the new year when the Hawks inevitably turn their youngsters loose. 

 

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Sam Dekker- In a move that will surely rock the entire landscape of the NBA, the Clippers traded Sam Dekker to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a salary dump to fill the void left by LeBron James. In all seriousness, Dekker has been a bust since a back injury limited him to three games as a rookie. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in 73 games with the Clippers last season, shooting a mediocre 16.7% from the field. It would be unfair to completely write Dekker off because he does have some talent and he’s only 24 and heading to a rebuilding team, but my guess is that he’ll open the season playing as a backup SF and PF which keeps him off the 12-team radar. 

 

David Nwaba- Sticking around in Cleveland for a bit, free agent swingman David Nwaba is finalizing a deal to join the Cavaliers. Unlike Dekker, Nwaba is on the fantasy radar in deeper formats for his hustle stats and rebounds. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Nwaba "is expected to be a gritty rotation player” and will have a "tremendous opportunity” to play big minutes. It’s unclear if Nwaba will be used as a starter or reserve, but he’s someone to keep tabs on leading up to training camp, especially with Rodney Hood still unsigned. His 2017-18 season averages were nothing special, but he did average 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.6 triples on 46.2% shooting as a starter. 

 

Heat players on the trade block- Once again, another report has surfaced that the Heat have made several players available. According to the Miami Herald, Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters are all on the block. This report comes not even a week after Heat president Pat Riley denied that Whiteside was available, but of course he has to take that stance or he’ll lose whatever leverage he has left in trade talks.

 

Bam Adebayo is the future of the center spot in Miami and Josh Richardson is arguably their best all-around player, and with the Heat looking to shed salary it should come as no surprise that guys like Johnson, Waiters, Whiteside and their bloated contracts are considered expendable. Kelly Olynyk, Adebayo and James Johnson could all be bargains at their late-round ADPs if the Heat find a taker for Whiteside, and I’m planning on targeting Josh Richardson aggressively in fantasy this year, even if Dwyane Wade comes back.  One of my bold predictions last season was that J-Rich would have a top-25 year and he came close, finishing as the 32nd overall player in 9-category leagues and shattering his late-round ADP in the process. 

 

Andre Drummond- It’s that time of the year again when every player in the NBA claims that they’re going to start taking and making 3-pointers consistently. It’s hard to believe that a career 42.1% shooter from the free throw line is stepping out beyond the arc, but to his credit he did improve his FT% to 60.5 last year and we’ve heard glowing reports out of Detroit. He said he’s been making at least 200 corner triples per day this summer, and he has also lost around 20 pounds. Until we see this new shot in action during the preseason, we shouldn’t take this too seriously just yet, especially with just five career triples to his name. 

 

Markelle Fultz- It seems like every week we’re getting another positive quote on Markelle and this one comes from his trainer, Drew Hanlen. "I literally think that, if he’s back to 100 percent, I think he’s immediately an All-Star,” Hanlen said. "I know that’s a bold statement, but I work with a lot of other All-Stars. So, I think I have the right to say that.” Even in a brutal season, Fultz posted 14.2 points, 7.5 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes, and that was without a jumper. Fultz has spent the entire summer rebuilding his shot from the ground up, and if he starts hitting perimeter shots again like he did during his standout freshman season as Washington, he’ll have the chance to show everyone why he was the No. 1 pick. We’ll have to wait until September to see if the reports are true, of course.  

 

Carmelo Anthony- The 34-year-old former superstar cleared waivers on Aug. 1, and now we’re just waiting for him to finalize a minimum contract with the Houston Rockets. He was a bust in a low-usage role next to Russell Westbrook and Paul George in Oklahoma City, but maybe playing with two natural playmakers in Chris Paul and James Harden will put him in the right spots. Just how bad was he? Out of 540 NBA players that logged at least one minute, Carmelo was one of four players down to minus-three Wins Over Replacement Player (h/t @AndrewDBailey). The other three players were Tyler Ulis, De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson. I was firmly in the anti-Melo camp just a couple weeks ago, but after a deep dive into the numbers I could see myself taking a flier on him in the later rounds. 

 

Per NBAMath.com, Melo hit 37.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot triples on an OKC team that didn’t have much floor spacing, but the Rockets led the league in uncontested 3-pointers in 2017-18. In short, Melo is going to get tons of easy looks in a top-2 offense in the NBA that should be among the league leaders in pace again. Hiding Melo on defense won’t be easy for Houston to do, but fantasy owners won’t care about that as long as he’s providing points, triples, rebounds and a handful of assists. 

 

Paul George- After undergoing offseason procedures to his knee and elbow, Paul George said he is feeling much better. "I had a huge sac, 18 to 20 ounces of blood just sitting in the sac of my elbow, so I had that aspirated," George said. "I was dealing with that for pretty much the whole season. That was causing a lot of frustration with shooting and playing. To be able to shoot again, to be able to feel confident in my shot, to not have that on my mind, playing on the court … I’m great going forward.” He deserves mad props for playing through those ailments in a contract year, especially with players resting left and right these days. George was the 15th best player in 9-category leagues on a per-game basis last season and he should get more touches this time around with Melo in Houston — his usage rate went up from 22.5 to 33.1 with Melo off the floor. I have him pegged as a rock-solid second rounder. 

 

Kristaps Porzingis- A day after we heard Kristaps Porzingis say that he's "healing really fast,” the New York Post reported that there's "still a chance" that he could return to game action around Christmas. This is encouraging after we kept hearing reports a couple months ago that he could miss the entire season. Porzingis has started to jump a little, but still isn’t running. We should get an updated timetable when he reports to training camp in September and that will give us a better idea of where to target him in fantasy drafts. 

 

Greg Monroe- The Raptors will sign Greg Monroe to a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum. Monroe is an old-fashioned center and a poor rim protector, but could be a good fit in coach Nick Nurse’s system for his low-post scoring and ability to find the open man. He’ll be the backup center in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a spot in the rotation because the Raptors may use Serge Ibaka at center more with Jakob Poeltl gone and it’s obvious that the team is high on Pascal Siakam, a sneaky breakout candidate who impressed with his defense. Monroe can be ignored in most fantasy drafts, and hopefully his arrival means Lucas Nogueira can find a better opportunity in a new city. 





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