Basketball is back, believe it or not.
It doesn’t look quite the same – more of a summer-league vibe – but it’s not bad and, given the option between slightly different basketball and no basketball, the slightly different wins every time.
The NBA bubble in Orlando appears to be working. They are testing and avoiding any positive test results, so that may be a slight reason to be more optimistic about the chances of the NBA managing to finish its season. Fingers-crossed that it can continue to work.
Teams have been scrimmaging and the tip-off for the season re-start goes Thursday. Here are some angles to consider on Monkey Knife Fight for the first couple of games in the bubble:
MORE OR LESS
Donovan Mitchell LESS THAN 26.5 POINTS
Mitchell had more than 26 points in just 21 of 63 games this season and was held to 25 or fewer points in five straight games before the shutdown. Now, with second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic out for the season due to a wrist injury, Mitchell may get a few more touches offensively but banking on at least 27 points is a pretty big number for a player who averaged 24.2 per game during the season. The Pelicans are vulnerable defensively, allowing the fourth-highest rate of points against per game (117.0) but it doesn’t appear that their greatest weakness falls on the perimeter.
Brandon Ingram MORE THAN 22.5 POINTS
Ingram recorded at least 23 points in 33 of 56 games but he’s going up against Jazz team that is above average across the board defensively, whether it’s points allowed, three-pointers allowed, percentages – they’re above average in each category. At the same time, Ingram averaged 24.3 points per game during the season and destroyed the Jazz in head-to-head games, putting up 117 points in three games against Utah.
Rudy Gobert LESS THAN 42.5 FANTASY POINTS
The Stifle Tower may forever be known for being a Covid-19 canary in the coal mine but the dude can fill a stat sheet too. He’s averaging 15.1 points, a career-high 13.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
A reminder, here are the MKF Basketball Fantasy Point Values:
With that in mind, an average game from Gobert puts him a little under 40 fantasy points per game so a strong game could nudge him over the number but that might be asking a lot in the first real game back in action.
Lonzo Ball -0.5 assists vs. Jrue Holiday
The Pelicans aren’t limited to just one ball distributor in the backcourt. Ball is averaging 7.0 assists per game and Holiday 6.9 assists per game. There’s not enough difference between them to take the favorite, Ball, so Holiday plus a half assist is the value play.
MORE OR LESS
LeBron James LESS THAN 26.5 POINTS
LeBron scored 27 or more points in 28 of 60 games, including four of the last five before the shutdown. While there have been some doubts about the health of Anthony Davis, the latest reports indicate that he will be ready, so LeBron shouldn’t be looking at a higher offensive burden in this game. The Clippers are also formidable defensively, particularly on the wing where they can put Kawhi Leonard or Paul George on LeBron.
Kawhi Leonard MORE THAN 26.5 POINTS
Kawhi scored 27 or more points in 26 of 51 games so, during the regular season this would have been little more than a coin flip. Does the bubble bring out a playoff version of Kawhi? Or are the Lakers strong enough defensively to keep him in check? They weren’t during the regular season, when Leonard put up 92 points in three contests.
Kyle Kuzma MORE THAN 11.5 POINTS
The Lakers power forward scored 12 or more points in 27 of 54 regular-season games. This looked more appealing when there were some doubts about Davis’ availability but Kuzma should still get significant minutes coming off the bench and the Clippers will be missing center Montrezl Harrell, which should create a little more room around the basket.
Paul George -0.5 assists vs. Reggie Jackson
While Jackson is theoretically a point guard, he had just 3.2 assists per game in nine games with the Clippers and he doesn’t play as much as George, who averaged 3.9 assists per game this season.
Paul George -0.5 three-pointers vs. Danny Green
Paul George averaged 3.2 three-pointers per game this season, shooting a marksman-like 39.9% on threes. While Danny Green is a three-and-D kind of player, he doesn’t play a huge role in the Lakers offense, averaging 1.7 three-pointers per game, shooting 37.8% on threes. Maybe there could be more minutes in the rotation for Green with Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo out and the Clippers’ backcourt is thinned out, too, with Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley out, so maybe that makes the matchup closer but George is still deservedly favored.
This article was written by Monkey Knife Fight’s fantasy expert Scott Cullen. The numbers listed in this article are subject to change at any time.
Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) is the fastest–growing sports gaming platform in North America, while being the third-largest Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platform. MKF is a new style of legal mobile gaming – a democratized platform with a level playing field where users aren’t forced to play against professionals.