Wed May 20 5:57pm ET
LOS ANGELES (AP) Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and brothers Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots are among the nominees for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
The other finalists announced Wednesday by ESPN are Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx and WWE wrestler Titus O'Neil.
Finalists for the humanitarian team of the year award are the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York City FC and Sacramento Kings.
The awards honor athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who are using sports to make a difference in their communities. This year's awards will combine with The ESPYS, which will air on June 21.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (knee) said that he is back to being 100 percent healthy. He has reportedly lost 12 pounds as of late May, so hopefully that will help with his lingering knee problems. Gordon has been unable to contribute like he wants to because of injuries. His production is way down, but hopefully he can get back to playing like he wants to now that he's healthy. His fantasy value should increase with his knee issues behind him.
Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox has begun talking about a contract extension with the organization. "I see myself being here. I want to be here," says Fox. It appears that the two sides have mutual interest, but the financial impact of the league's shutdown could make things more difficult. Fox is averaging a career-high 20.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. His fantasy value appears to be on the rise, but we'll see if the two sides can come to an agreement this offseason.
Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio is expected to see less playing time during the upcoming NBA restart. Head coach Monty Williams does not want the veteran guard to suffer a needless injury. The Suns have a small chance of catching the No. 8 seed, so there is no point for them to go all-in. Devin Booker will likely see his playing time take a hit as well. The Suns have a bunch of guards, so it might be a committee approach to fill the void. It sounds like most of the Suns starters will have decreased fantasy value heading into the restart.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has a good chance at playing in the upcoming postseason, according to head coach Mike Malone. "I look forward to seeing how hell handle [postseason minutes] with this being his first time going through it," said Malone. His season has been up and down, but it's going to be tough for Porter to earn significant playing time. The Nuggets are covered in terms of depth, so Porter carving out a ton of minutes is highly unlikely. It'll be nice to see him get some playing time in the playoffs, but his fantasy value won't change much.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker could be looking at less playing time when the season resumes later this month. Head coach Monty Williams wants to play Booker less than his current 36.1 minutes per game out of caution. The Suns are six games out of the No. 8 seed, which means there's a small chance they make a run at the playoffs. The Suns don't want to risk any long-term damage to Booker over a few games. It's unclear which players are going to benefit with Booker playing less. Ricky Rubio and Deandre Ayton could see more chances with the ball on offense. DFS players should take notice that Booker could have slightly less value during the restart.
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic and forward Zach Collins are expected to join the starting five when the season resumes, according to head coach Terry Stotts. Both players are returning from injuries that have sidelined them for most of the regular season. Trevor Ariza has decided to opt out of the restart, so Carmelo Anthony is the favorite to take over the starting small forward role. Hassan Whiteside is expected to move to the bench with Nurkic returning. It should be a 50/50 split between the two at center. It's unclear how much playing time Collins will receive when the league returns. Anthony and Collins should see increased fantasy value, while Whiteside's will take a hit.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley is expected to see a larger role on the team with Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) sidelined for the upcoming NBA restart. "There will be more opportunity, and Mike is in position to take a lot of that," says teammate Joe Ingles. Bogdanovic was averaging 20.2 points through roughly 33.1 minutes per game. That is quite a lot of scoring and playing time to fill. The Jazz are expected to split up the playing time between multiple players. However, Conley could end up benefiting the most from the loss of Bogdanovic. It hasn't been a great year for Conley in terms of production, but this will be his final chance of the season to be a reliable fantasy contributor.
Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis (elbow) says that the NBA shutdown has allowed him to get back to being 100 percent healthy. He was dealing with a minor elbow issue and a number of other problems during the early part of March. Davis mentioned that having the hiatus has given him enough time to rest and get back to full health. He could be seeing more time at the center position if Dwight Howard decides to sit out during the upcoming restart. Davis could see his fantasy value slightly increase with the possibility of Howard sitting out and being back to full health.
San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl mentioned that he is ready to step up with LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) done for the season. Losing a big man, I have to step up, said Poeltl. Im going to take on that challenge." Poeltl is averaging 5.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 16.6 minutes this season. He has started 10 games, but mostly comes off the bench with Aldridge holding down the center role. Trey Lyles, Rudy Gay, and Poeltl will all be asked to step up with Aldridge sidelined. Poeltl is expected to start at center, so he should see an increase in fantasy value during the restart.
Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (knee) is reportedly ready to go during the upcoming NBA restart. Walker has been dealing with knee issues all season long, but having a few months off because of the hiatus has helped him. "I really needed to use that break. It definitely helped me get back to myself and start to feel comfortable on my knee," said Walker. It does not sound like the Celtics plan to limit Walker at all during the restart. He was not shooting well before the hiatus, but getting back to full health was key for Walker.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams is expected to join the team in Orlando for the restart, according to head coach Doc Rivers. "I would be very surprised if he is not [with the team]," Rivers said. Williams mentioned in mid-June that he was split 50/50 on whether or not to play in Orlando. Losing Williams would be a huge blow since he's the third-highest scorer on the team right now. Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet would be asked to do more if Williams does decide to sit out.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is undecided about playing during the upcoming NBA restart. He continues to work out with the team, but has not made up his mind about playing. The Wizards are currently 5.5 games behind the No. 8 seed Orlando Magic. They only have eight games to make up the difference, so Beal may decide it's not worth the risk. The Wizards would be in trouble if Beal decides to opt out. They don't really have any other big-time players who can produce on a daily basis. Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Ish Smith would be asked to do a lot on offense if Beal opts out.
Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell (Achilles) has begun working on a treadmill and doing some light shooting. He had right Achilles surgery in late January and is considered questionable for the beginning of the 2020-2021 season. He obviously won't take part in the upcoming NBA restart, but he will travel with the team. Willie Cauley-Stein has decided to opt out of the restart. Maximilian Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Kristaps Porzingis will benefit in the absence of these two big men.
Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (shoulder) will not play during the upcoming NBA restart and is still months away, according to head coach Rick Carlisle. His surgically-repaired shoulder is getting better, but he is not ready to take the court yet. Brunson will travel with the team, but he won't take the court again until next season. Seth Curry has been on fire this season, so he'll take over most of Brunson's minutes. Curry should continue to have reliable DFS value during the restart.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has taken his work to another level during the league shutdown. Head coach Brett Brown said that no player on the roster has "put in more time than Joel Embiid" during the hiatus. Earlier in the season Embiid admitted he was not playing up to his standards. However, he has turned the page and is ready for the league to resume later this month. It doesn't sound like the Sixers have any plans to limit Embiid due to the risk of injury. Embiid is ready to show everyone that he is a new and improved player. DFS players should keep an eye out for Embiid because he could very well turn on the jets in the second half.
Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant (foot) said that he is "fully healed, 100 percent healed." He missed time earlier in the season due to a foot stress fracture. The Wizards are happy to have him back for the restart. Davis Bertans has decided to sit out, which will likely mean more minutes for Bryant. It doesn't sound like the Wizards have any plans to limit Bryant during the upcoming restart. He could find himself with a significant role on the Wizards. His fantasy value is on the rise, assuming he is actually back to being 100 percent healthy.
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (leg) will not have a minutes limit during the restart, according to head coach Terry Stotts. It appears the Blazers are debating on starting Nurkic at the start spot over Whiteside. Nurkic would likely see minutes around the 20-23 range, but it should be a 50/50 split with Whiteside. The fact both players are splitting up the minutes will hurt their fantasy value. They could offer some DFS value, but it depends on how the Blazers mix up their rotation.
Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside is expected to come off the bench during the upcoming NBA restart. Head coach Terry Stotts said that "in all likelihood" Jusuf Nurkic will start with Carmelo Anthony. Trevor Ariza has decided to opt out, which means Anthony will likely start at small forward. Zach Collins would be the favorite to start at the power forward spot. Whiteside had a fantastic season, but his fantasy value is going to take a hit with Nurkic back on the court. Whiteside won't be as desirable off the bench, but he could still be an option for DFS contests.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is unsure whether or not he'll join the team for the upcoming NBA restart in Orlando. Head coach Frank Vogel and the rest of the organization is "hopeful and optimistic" that Howard will play during the restart. However, JaVale McGee and Kyle Kuzma would see bigger roles if Howard does decide to sit out. Anthony Davis would see more playing time at the center spot as well. The fantasy value of both McGee and Kuzma would slightly rise if Howard doesn't play.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen (hip) has been progressing and the team will know more once he can play 5-on-5, according to head coach Taylor Jenkins. Allen was expected to miss the rest of the season, but the hiatus has given him extra time to rest. However, Justise Winslow (back) should be returning to the rotation during the restart. De'Anthony Melton has earned himself a role on the team as well. Allen might be cleared to play later in July, but he might not be in the rotation.