Big night tonight in the association and in NBA DFS! There are some very interesting NBA games, some due to team playstyle and pace, others due to interesting player matchups. This is also a night where some very nice NBA GPP tourneys are set to run with some of the largest payouts I can remember (that some of us here at NBANarratives are excited to make a run at winning). To prepare, take a walk with us down #NarrativeStreet…
The first narrative tonight involves Scott Brooks coming back to Oklahoma City to coach against the Thunder for the first time since his firing in April 2015. Brooks was fired after the Thunder missed the playoffs in a 2015 season filled with injuries, after previously taking the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012 (where they lost to the Miami Heat superteam with Bron / Wade / Bosh) as well as to the western conference finals in 2011 and 2014 and the western conference semifinals in 2013. Brooks’ tenure in Oklahoma City was an interesting one. He is widely respected for developing Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden into the All-NBA players they are (or in Harden’s case should be). He helped Durant realize his potential as a scoring machine and Westbrook transform from “athletic freak PG” to “athletic freak PG who scores in bunches, rebounds, and creates easy baskets for his teammates”. Brooks even won an NBA Coach of the Year award. However, without winning an NBA Finals, and because the team completely missed the playoffs in 2014/15, he was blamed for the team “underachieving” and was let go, even after shows of support from Westbrook and Durant.
So, there are two or three different angles here. The first is that Washington should come ready to play. Brooks will be extra motivated to beat his old team, even if the crowd cheers him before the game (which I expect they will). He is on record as saying “I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m not going to stand here and say it’s just one of 82 games, but it is one of 82 games”. The second angle is that Westbrook will want to put on a show for and get a win against his old coach and friend. If we’re looking for a “letdown” game for Westy, I don’t think this will be it, at least if he can help it. The third, totally unrelated to all of this, is that John Wall against Russell Westbrook is going to be a TON of fun.
For our next narrative, another coach travels to a former coaching home. Nate McMillan, now head coach of the suddenly uptempo Indiana Pacers, travels to Portland where he was the head coach of the Traiblazers from 2005 – 2012. McMillan, nicknamed “Sarge”, is largely credited for turning around the Traiblazers after the “Jailblazers” years. His job was not an easy one, having to try to rebuild a roster after cleaning house of talented (but “eccentric”) players like Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace. McMillan never got to see the fruition of what may be his best move, as the Traiblazers fired him in March 2012 right before using a pick that he helped acquire via trade to draft a small point guard out of Weber State named Damian Lillard. You’ve probably heard of him.
When interviewed about the Pacers and their upcoming game in Portland, McMillan said that while it was a tough place to play he was excited to return.
Next up, we have a couple of veterans returning to the teams they are most known for playing with. First, Vince Carter and a very short-handed Memphis squad travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors.
I feel bad for new NBA fans who never got to see Vince Carter in his prime. He is one of (maybe THE) best dunkers of all time (see below), could handle the ball, play defense, and shoot the 3. Vince is well past his prime, and is probably even well past the twilight of his career, and to boot he has a hip issue that surfaced towards the end of Monday night’s game. I’m not saying I’m locking him in or even playing him at all, but if he’s cleared, it wouldn’t shock me to see him put up a decent performance and maybe even get some extra run handling the ball.
NOTE: After publishing, Vince Carter has been ruled OUT tonight.
The next veteran returning to his old stomping grounds is Luol Deng as the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls. Deng played for Chicago from 2004 – 2014, including two all-star seasons. While Deng now technically starts for the Lakers, he doesn’t usually see a lot of court-time. It’s possible that a short-handed Lakers team (now possibly missing Nick Young in addition to Deangelo Russell) gives some extra run to Deng in his old NBA hometown. Maybe a more interesting angle is that Jimmy Butler is open about referring to Luol Deng as his mentor.
According to this Chicago Tribune Piece,
Yes, young players like Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis look up to Butler the way Butler once did to Deng. But there’s another way Butler believes he can repay Deng when the two are matched against each other Wednesday, as they were occasionally last weekend in Los Angeles. “The way I look at it, I owe him a little bit,” Butler said, a sly smile forming. “That’s why I’m going to show him the protege is doing it.”
So, in addition to Luol Deng returning to his former team in Chicago, Jimmy Butler is also looking to put on a show against his friend and former mentor.
The final revenge narrative involves Nick Stauskas, currently of the Philadelphia 76ers, getting his first crack at the Sacramento Kings who traded him last season.
Lastly, while there isn’t a narrative here outside of two young superstars matching up for the first time, I can’t end this article without mentioning Boogie vs. The Process.
In what should be an exciting matchup to watch, Sacramento travels to Philly where Joel “The Process” Embiid is expected to be available to play against the Kings and Demarcus Cousins. This is a matchup of not only two of the most talented young big men in the NBA, but also two of the biggest personalities in the NBA.
While Embiid is still supposed to be limited to 24 minutes of action, I think both of these big fellas will be looking to establish dominance in the paint over one another, and wouldn’t be surprised to see each of them give a little extra effort when the other is on the court. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect here. Cousins is one of my favorite players in the NBA, and someone I try to target often in my DFS lineups (and his 36-20 Monday night is why). That said, Embiid has looked like a legit blossoming superstar. His Per 36 numbers are through the roof, comparable with young Shaq:
There are a wide range of outcomes from this matchup that I could see happening. Everything from they both go nuts and Embiid puts up 40 fantasy points in 24 minutes while Boogie finishes with another 60+ fantasy point performance, all the way to Embiid and Boogie both get ejected three minutes in after Embiid talks some trash and Boogie tackles him. And to be honest, I love both of these guys because those outcomes are both 100% plausible.
That should cover the #NBANarratives for today, as always drop us a line at @nbanarratives and let us know if we missed anything. Good Luck tonight everyone!