We’ve made it to mid-September, which means there’s just a few weeks left before media days and training camps commence across the league. In the meantime, enjoy our new content, like Jonas Nader's favorite sleepers, a podcast about where to draft last year's rookies and another podcast with some interesting stats about lead ball-handlers. While there wasn’t any major news over the past week, there wes a few interesting pieces of information that came to light.
Kristaps Porzingis at full-strength
Kristaps Porzingis has been scrimmaging with teammates, and Dwight Powell said that he looks to be at full strength. "He is very good," Powell relayed. "He’s 7-foot-3 and he shoots it from anywhere, with ease. It’s kind of hard to affect that shot. He’s moving well, he’s at full-strength." Porzingis, of course, didn’t play at all last season after tearing his ACL in the 2017-18 campaign. The Mavericks have said that they will manage his workload, but they obviously feel great about his long-term health after giving him a five year, $158 million max contract earlier this summer. Porzingis will present a risky early-round choice in drafts, but his sky-high ceiling could make all that risk worth the gamble.
Memphis Grizzlies embracing new style
The Grizzlies hired Taylor Jenkins as their head coach this summer, nabbing him away from Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff. Jenkins, in an interview with the team’s website, mentioned that the Grizzlies will be employing a new style -- pace and space. “We’re going to play fast. Pace and space," Jenkins said. "Hopefully, put a lot of points on the board. Some people only focus on the offensive end of the floor, but we want to be a great defensive unit, too. From an Xs and Os standpoint, hopefully you’ll see we’re going to be a high-energy basketball team. It’s a change of style, but hopefully we generate some excitement in the crowd." Those words will be foreign to most in Memphis, since “Grit and Grind” has become part of the fabric of the city. All good things must come to an end, as they say. A quicker pace is music to the ears of anyone targeting Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant this season. More possessions means more fantasy goodness. JJJ will be a popular early-round selection and Morant will be a mid-round name with upside, especially with this news. Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas and the rest of the Grizzlies are now a little more attractive, too.
Ricky Rubio named FIBA World Cup MVP
Team USA may have laid an egg in the FIBA World Cup, but Ricky Rubio and Spain did nothing of the sort. Spain beat Argentina easily in the gold medal game with Rubio, named tournament MVP, leading the way with 20 points. Rubio signed a three-year deal with the Suns this offseason, and will be looking to parlay his phenomenal World Cup performance into a career-year in Phoenix. The 29-year-old posted career-high scoring numbers in his two seasons with the Jazz, but saw his assist numbers take a hit. Playing with Devin Booker will likely keep his assists closer to the last two seasons than his earlier-career numbers, though he should be able to garner a larger scoring role.
Miami Heat rotation questions
The Heat were ravaged by injuries last season, opening the door for Justise Winslow to play point guard. Winslow recently stated that the plan is for him to predominantly play point guard moving forward. Goran Dragic is likely to remain the starter at the position with Winslow backing him up off the bench. Dragic and Winslow can play together, though, which will help both stay on the floor a few extra minutes per game. Tyler Herro starred in Summer League, but it looks like he’ll have to wait his turn to enter the starting lineup. The addition of Jimmy Butler likely changed things up for Miami, shifting their focus towards contention instead of development. The good news for Herro is that he doesn’t have a ton of competition for minutes, with Dion Waiters has his main competition at shooting guard. Butler and Bam Adebayo are no-doubt starters, but the rest of the lineup is seemingly up for grabs heading into training camp. Winslow and Herro make for interesting late-round fliers.
Charlotte Hornets going young
The Hornets are finally ready to embrace their youth. "More than ever, these young guys are going to get a crack at minutes," coach James Borrego said. This is bad news for veterans like Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams, but great news for Miles Bridges, Willy Hernangomez, Dwayne Bacon and PJ Washington. Bridges is obviously the most attractive of the bunch, but the others should get many opportunities to showcase their talents. Fantasy value doesn’t just come from good teams, which makes the Hornets worth monitoring during training camp.