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It’s officially Daily Dose season here at NBC Sports Edge, and we’ll be providing columns chock-full of scores, news, injuries and any other necessary updates that could prove to be helpful each and every day of the week. We’re exactly one week away from the regular season on October 19 and have four more days (Tuesday-Friday) of the preseason, so we’re fully in NBA-mode until mid-June of 2022. Without further ado, let’s dive into Monday’s preseason action and see who made some noise and what key takeaways we gathered from the evening.
The Ben Simmons saga continues - This has been one of the stories of the offseason and it took quite the turn recently as Rich Paul and Sixers officials have supposedly progressed in talks to bring Ben Simmons back to Philly. Prior to this report, it seemed like there was basically no way Simmons would ever suit up for Philadelphia again, but now it looks like there’s a decent chance he does. In fact, the last report was that Simmons arrived in Philadelphia during the 76ers preseason game and got a COVID test as required by protocol, so the chances of him playing on opening night for Philadelphia seem a bit more likely than not. But at this point, absolutely nothing would surprise me. As a less-important afterthought, the 76ers beat the Nets by 11 and were led by Furkan Korkmaz (27-3-4 with four triples) and Isaiah Joe (20 points and five threes), but all the main guys were resting. Kevin Durant (23 points, seven rebounds) and James Harden (21-4-4) were good because they always are, and Kyrie Irving continues to not suit up for Brooklyn and will miss all of the Nets’ home games as of now. Steve Nash even mentioned he may bring Kyrie off the bench when he is available, so this is somehow turning into even more of a nightmare. I’d just let another manager in your league deal with that headache.
OG Anunoby is the real deal - Very few players have been more impressive than OG Anunoby this preseason, and he capped off his final preseason game (he won’t play Tuesday) with 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in just 16 minutes. In all four preseason games, OG has scored between 17 and 22 points, is averaging 1.5 steals per contest, and has made at least three triples. The craziest part is that he hasn’t even eclipsed 30 minutes in any of these four games, and he’s just a different player out there right now. If you get him at his ADP of 51.5, you’ll have yourself a steal on draft day. The Raptors took care of the Rockets pretty easily, and other Raptor Precious Achiuwa fared well with 17 points, five boards, one steal, one block and one triple, and he and Khem Birch may have some value for as long as Chris Boucher is out - keep in mind it’s sure to be a timeshare between the two though. Malachi Flynn had 15 with three triples off the pine and could have some sneaky value if you get him late. Not much to see on Houston’s side, as Jalen Green got Anunoby’d with just five points and seven turnovers, Kevin Porter Jr. had a 12-4-4 line with a steal and Christian Wood was fine with 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Talen Horton-Tucker to have surgery - Bad news already for the Lakers as it was announced that Talen Horton-Tucker will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. The timetable is still unknown at the moment but even if he was a deep-league guy, he’s not really on the radar anymore because of this news. Maybe guys like Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington will get a few more minutes, but only Monk is worth looking at for the time being just because of his impressive preseason.
Patrick Williams returns to 5-on-5 work - Patrick Williams did some 5-on-5 work for the first time since spraining his ankle pretty badly just two weeks ago, so this is very good news for the second-year guard. He’s supposed to be out another 2-4 weeks given his initial 4-6 week timetable, but he’s progressing rather quickly and could beat this. After an underwhelming rookie season, Williams is getting some mixed reviews as far as fantasy goes, but he has ample opportunity and needs to be drafted in all leagues.
LaMelo and Bridges go off - Despite a one-point loss to the Heat, the Hornets played quite well and saw huge performances from both LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges in this one. Ball flirted with a triple-double with a 19-8-9 line to go with two triples and a steal in 26 minutes, and I see no reason why he wouldn’t be worth his pricey ADP of 26.0. Bridges also filled the stat sheet with 22 points, 10 boards, six dimes, two blocks and four triples in 31 minutes, and after a fantastic finish and an overall top-100 finish last season, he needs to be drafted everywhere. Rookie James Bouknight had 15 points off the bench and that’s how he’ll enter the game when the season starts, and I think he’s been playing too well to not get minutes nightly. He’s not the best fantasy option at this very moment, but taking a gamble on him late isn’t the worst idea. On Miami’s side, Bam Adebayo led the way with 18 points and five boards and is a no-brainer second-rounder, Kyle Lowry was solid with a 15-3-5 line with three steals, and Tyler Herro finally came back to earth with just seven points on 3-of-15 shooting.
JJJ and Ja keep it going - The Grizzlies ran Detroit out of the building with a 127-92 final score, and Ja Morant just can’t stop playing well. In this one, he shot 10-of-13 from the field and went for 24 points, two rebounds, five assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 26 minutes, and if this preseason is any indication, he’s ready to make that next step in year three. Jaren Jackson Jr. did JJJ-like things with 20 points, eight rebounds, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes. He won’t play the Pistons every night, but if he can keep his rebounding up (7.3 per game in three preseason games), it’ll be icing on the cake for the stat-stuffing big man. On Detroit’s side, Jerami Grant and Hamidou Diallo both scored 13 points but there was nothing to take away from the Pistons in this one other than the fact that Saddiq Bey turned his ankle late. Nothing about it seemed too serious so for the time being, we assume he’ll be fine for the regular season.
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Rudy Gobert registers +37 net rating in blowout victory - Rudy Gobert needed just 24 minutes of playing time to tally 19 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in a 127-96 win against the Pelicans. Most managers are taking him in the late-second or early-third round, and Gobert is one of those guys that has no surprises when you draft him, so taking him here will never be a bad move. Donovan Mitchell struggled with his shot with a 7-of-18 mark but filled it up otherwise with a 18-2-5-4-3 line, but unfortunately he filled it up in the turnovers category too with six giveaways in his 30 minutes. Jordan Clarkson had 17 points with three triples, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley both scored 15 and combined for five triples. For New Orleans, you know it’s a bad night when Nickeil Alexander-Walker struggles with just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting in 25 minutes, because he’s just been playing so well and should be drafted confidently due to all of the opportunity in front of him. Not a ton else going on for the Pelicans as Devonte’ Graham led the scoring column with just 14 points and four makes from beyond the arc.
Zion Williamson just doing ball-handling - A nice segue here as the one of the reasons the Pelicans are such a mess is due to the absence of Zion Williamson. He reportedly will be getting scans for his right foot in the days to come and until then, he’s only doing minimal on-court work inclusive of ball-handling and free-throws but is being held back from running at the moment. This whole situation is so unclear and while Zion is so dominant, this injury is enough to scare many away from drafting him, and I’d argue rightfully so.
Davion Mitchell drains six three-pointers - With Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield resting against the Blazers, Davion Mitchell stepped into the starting lineup and drained six of his nine three-point attempts on his way to 20 points, two rebounds, four assists, one steal and just one turnover in 32 minutes as the Kings beat Portland by 14. This three-guard monster is one to monitor closely - we know De’Aaron Fox (8-4-5 with three steals) and Haliburton are hoopers and will log heavy minutes, but Davion Mitchell is making an incredibly strong case for minutes. It’s just a matter of where and when they come, but they’ll be there eventually. It’ll take some patience, but Mitchell could be worth a very late flier. All of the Blazers studs rested with the exception of Jusuf Nurkic, but he wasn’t all too studly with five points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes. Rather, it was Anfernee Simons who stole the show with 24 points in 32 minutes, and Dennis Smith Jr. of all people wasn’t far behind with 18 points and seven dimes off the bench.
Wolves starters fare well vs. LAC - Four of the five Minnesota starters had at least 15 points tonight and no one played more than 27 minutes, so their shots were simply falling as they dominated the Clippers 128-100. Jaden McDaniels notched 15 points with five boards and three 3-pointers, Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns had 17 apiece and D’Angelo Russell dropped a nice 19-7-9 line with a steal and three triples. Naz Reid was quietly good off the bench with a sneaky yet full 13-5-2-2-2 line of his own and may be worth a look if he gets the same overlap with KAT that he did late last season. No Reggie Jackson or Paul George for the Clips on Monday, so Luke Kennard (18 points, five boards, two steals, four triples) and Terance Mann (15 points, four dimes, three 3-pointers, infinite “I should be a starter” complaints to coach Lue) stepped in nicely. Eric Bledsoe was so-so with nine points and I don’t get the appeal of him being a starter, but I guess the team has a plan. Ivica Zubac scored 10 points to go with nine boards, three dimes, two steals and a block in 26 minutes, and he has one of the highest floors for a big who goes later than most.
Looking ahead - After a seven-game Monday, we’ll go a bit lighter on Tuesday with just two games (Raptors vs. Wizards, Warriors vs. Lakers) but we’ll see plenty more preseason games between now and Friday. Lots of fantasy drafts will take place this week/weekend as well, so best of luck to all!