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De'Aaron Fox
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Offseason Beat

Weekly News Roundup

by David Leggieri
Updated On: August 9, 2019, 1:05 am ET

August is traditionally the quietest month on the NBA calendar, so it’s not surprising that we've gone a few weeks without a major story. However, I’m going to highlight a several newsy pieces of information that have come across the wire in recent days. Follow me on Twitter (@legsanity) for sports takes and general nonsense. 

**In a recent mailbag on The Athletic, Clippers’ writer Jovan Buha suggested that Paul George could miss the start of the season after undergoing offseason surgery on both shoulders. Buha’s opinion is that George will return around the start of the season, give or take a week or two. However, Buha relays that people around the league think that George will return in mid-to-late November. George himself said that there is currently no set date for his return, which makes things very murky overall. 

If George was set to enter the season fully healthy, he’d be a no-doubt first-rounder in most formats. I took him eighth overall in our July mock draft, just ahead of guys like Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal and Kemba Walker. If I had to do it again knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have taken George there. The Clippers have enough depth to allow George to ease his way back into things, but he’s still too valuable of a fantasy asset to fall much further than round two. After all, he was the number three player in nine-category leagues last season.


**There are few players who have benefited from this summer’s player movement more than Bam Adebayo. With Hassan Whiteside finally out of his way, Adebayo has the center spot all to himself in Miami. He posted pedestrian numbers in 28 starts last season, but this is a whole different level of opportunity for the third-year big man out of Kentucky. 

Adebayo recently accepted an invitation to join Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup. He’s shined early in training camp, knocking down shots from the perimeter and also scoring in the post. After day one, he mentioned to reporters that he was told that he needs to be more of a play-maker for the Heat next season. He said he thinks he can put up 16 points, 10 boards and 5 dimes a night, though that does seem a bit hopeful. In 15 March games last season, Adebayo dished out 4.5 assists per-36 minutes, so it’s not totally out of the question. 

Adebayo was another player I selected in our July mock. I took him 34th overall, just ahead of Kristaps Porzingis, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Deandre Ayton. As of right now, it looks like he’ll fall somewhere in the second or third rounds of most drafts. Our own Mike Gallagher, firmly on the Bam Wagon, has him ranked 22nd on his board. The hype is only going to continue to grow as we approach the start of the season.


**Hassan Whiteside is now in Portland, but his social media activity hasn’t changed. In a recent Instagram post, he suggested that he could be ready for 30 minutes per game. Whiteside only played 30+ minutes in 13 games last season and 15 games the year before. He’s only had one season where he averaged better than 30 minutes a night, which was three years ago. That season, Whiteside led the league in rebounding with 14.1 boards per game and also had his best scoring season to date with 17.0 points per game. 

Jusuf Nurkic is going to be out for most of the year and the Blazers didn’t add much in the way of capable backups at center. Coach Terry Stotts has already talked up the addition of Whiteside, specifically mentioning his ability to work in the pick-and-roll. Whiteside went 78th in our July mock and that looks like a steal.


**Chris Boucher had to withdraw from Team Canada’s roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, which is unfortunate for everyone involved. Canada’s coach is Nick Nurse, who as we know also coaches Boucher with the Raptors. Nurse suggested that they were going to entertain the idea of using Boucher at small forward with the Canadian team in order to see what he can do in that sort of play-making role. He’s unlikely to play much of the three for the Raptors, but it’s still interesting to see that Nurse wants to thrust Boucher in an unfamiliar role. Toronto has a good number of minutes available heading into next season, which makes Boucher a name to monitor come training camp.


**Marcus Smart was added to Team USA’s roster after the mass exodus of players choosing to focus on their NBA seasons. Unfortunately, Smart is out indefinitely due to calf tightness. He suggested that the injury is very minor and that he’s only sitting out for precautionary reasons. Kevin Durant’s calf-to-Achilles injury situation will certainly have people thinking twice and playing it safe going forward. As long as there are no set-backs, there’s no reason to expect it to linger into training camp. The Celtics underwent a face-lift this summer, giving Smart the opportunity for a bigger role. 


**Domantas Sabonis is set to start at power forward for the new-look Pacers. That means that he and Myles Turner will be playing together a lot more, and he thinks they can succeed. Last season, the Sabonis-Turner pair registered a total of 434 minutes. That equates to just about 25 percent of Sabonis’ total minutes on the year. The fit isn’t seamless, but Sabonis still managed to average 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per-36 in those minutes. Indiana doesn’t really have anyone else to push him for minutes at the four, unless they choose to go small with T.J. Warren. Sabonis will be one of the best rebounders in the league next season.


**Jarrett Allen’s ceiling took a hit with the addition of DeAndre Jordan, but it sounds like coach Kenny Atkinson still views him as the starter. “As far as starting, not starting, Jarrett Allen said, ‘Hey, I want to be the starter,’ which I love,” Atkinson said. “It’s great. I think we embrace the competition. I think that’ll play out. I do think it helps us matchup-wise. If it’s Joel Embiid, maybe Jarrett gets two quick fouls or something (and) we do have a heck of a player to support him and potentially starting different guys, too. I think that’s possible. I think it’s a great tandem to have.”

While Atkinson didn’t fully commit to Allen as the starting center, he definitely seemed to imply it. Jordan will help combat against guys like Joel Embiid, who swallowed Allen up in the playoffs. As long as he sees minutes in the 25-30 range, Allen will be a good fantasy value because of his blocked shots and solid percentages. 


**Giannis Antetokounmpo confirmed that he will play for Team Greece in the FIBA World Cup. "I would exchange the MVP title for the gold medal in China," said Giannis. "I always feel something special when playing for the national team. When you are starting the tournament and listening to the national anthem, the emotions can’t be described." Giannis battled some ankle and calf soreness late last season, so his participation in the World Cup suggests that he’s 100 percent healthy. 


**Miles Bridges heads into the 2019 season as the favorite to start at power forward for Charlotte. He had a forgettable rookie season, but he’s looking forward to his second season with the Hornets. “I knew this summer was going to be a big one for me, coming off last year,” Bridges said. “I’m definitely coming in hungrier than I was last year because Kemba isn’t here first of all. And I just want to be a better player for myself, too. I know the young guys are going to have to lead the team a little bit.” Bridges has the ability to help a bit across the board, which will make him an intriguing late-round option in most formats.


**De’Aaron Fox has been the talk of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. The young guard had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 dimes per game. Team USA only has Kemba Walker and a recovering Kyle Lowry at the point guard position, which means Fox’s strong play will almost assuredly earn him a spot for the World Cup. Shooting has been one of his main weaknesses thus far in his career, as well as in a recent practice in Vegas. Fox stayed late to work on his stroke and was the last player to leave the gym. The 21-year-old is just scratching the surface and has a chance to be top-5 in assists next season.


**The Pelicans finished second in pace last season, which is something coach Alvin Gentry doesn’t want to see again this year. “I told Jrue this over the summer, but I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t lead the NBA in pace next year,” Gentry said. The team would also like to bring Jrue Holiday’s minutes down, something that their improved depth will allow for. 

“Yeah, we’ve already talked about that. We had to ask him to do so much, and he was willing to do it, but we don’t want to put so much on his plate every night,” Gentry admitted. “You can cut some of his minutes and I think he’ll have the same numbers and make the same impact on the game.” Holiday finished last season as a top-30 player, even with the Anthony Davis saga. Zion Williamson may be the show-stopper, but the Pelicans will go as far as Holiday takes them next season. Couple that with Paul George possibly not being ready to start the season, Holiday is starting to look like a first rounder in standard leagues.