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Gilgeous-Alexander prepares to help fill Westbrook's role

Thu Aug 22 6:11pm ET
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer

Players: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari, Paul George, Steven Adams

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wants to temper expectations. Maybe that is understandable.

He is preparing to step into the point guard position Russell Westbrook held for 11 years for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 10.8 points and 3.3 assists as a rookie for the Los Angeles Clippers last season. He joined the Thunder in the deal that sent All-Star Paul George to the Clippers.

He has a massive hole to help fill. Westbrook was the 2017 NBA MVP and two-time scoring champion, two-time All-Star MVP and two-time assist leader who averaged a triple-double the past three seasons with the Thunder before he was traded to the Houston Rockets this summer.

''I am not Russell Westbrook,'' Gilgeous-Alexander said matter-of-factly Thursday. ''We don't have the same game, the same body type, nothing like that. So I'm going to try to be myself, the best me, and everything else will take care of itself.''

Thunder general manager Sam Presti has said Gilgeous-Alexander has star potential, yet he will likely split time with new addition Chris Paul next season.

''Regardless of the situation, I'm going to continue to work hard and play my game,'' Gilgeous-Alexander said. ''I know that eventually it will come out and things like that. I don't worry about starting. I don't worry about accolades or anything like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and be true to who I am.''

Gilgeous-Alexander relishes the opportunity to be mentored by Paul, a nine-time All-Star who averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 assists last season. He has worked with Paul since joining the Thunder, but wouldn't share all that he has learned.

''Some of the things I like to keep a secret,'' he said, laughing. ''I've learned a lot from him in terms of thinking the game, angles, things like that. He's obviously a really good player. He's been a really good player for a really long time, and a guy that I looked up to growing up. I'll continue to learn from him as long as I get to.''

The Thunder have a slew of draft picks for future years, and Gilgeous-Alexander, just 21, could be a key building block.

''I think where Shai is today is not close to where ultimately he's going to be,'' Presti said last month. ''But we have to be really patient with that process. But he's got great tools, and he'll have to follow the same track that a lot of these other players have, but we think he has a bright future.''

Danilo Gallinari, a key piece who helped the Clippers reach the playoffs last season, also joined the Thunder in the Paul George deal. The forward averaged career highs of 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season and made 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers.

''Really skilled,'' Gilgeous-Alexander said. ''Competitive as well, and even a better guy. One of my vets from my rookie season, and I'm happy to have him still with me.''

Gilgeous-Alexander looks forward to working with Steven Adams, a 7-foot center who averaged 13.9 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Thunder last season while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.

''Honestly, he was very annoying,'' he said. ''His screens are rock - very annoying to get over. Having him on my side of the playing field will be a lot better this year.''

Player Notes
JJ Redick Sep 22 5:30pm ET

New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick mentioned that he'd like to play another four years in the league. "I realized this year I want to keep playing as long as possible. My goal is to play four more years," said Redick. He'll walk away from the game when he turns 40 years old, assuming his body can hold up until then. It's not unrealistic to think that Redick can play four more seasons after averaging 15.3 points this season. He has one year left on his current deal with the Pelicans. Redick usually carries some low-end fantasy value, assuming he continues to play like he did this season.

Tristan Thompson Sep 22 5:30pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has shown interest in staying with the organization next season. It sounds like there is mutual interest between both sides, but it's unclear if a deal will happen. Bringing back Thompson wouldn't make much sense if Andre Drummond accepts his player option, which he is expected to do. Thompson might be forced to test his luck on the free agent market. He won't have much value in fantasy hoops if stays in Cleveland alongside Drummond.

Romeo Langford Sep 22 5:20pm ET

Boston Celtics guard Romeo Langford (wrist) is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the postseason. He'll undergo surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. The Celtics have not given a timetable for the young guards return yet. However, the season isn't expected to start until around December, so Langford should have plenty of time to recover. His absence won't mean much for the Celtics rotation. Hopefully he'll be able to contribute to the team next season.

Paul George Sep 21 4:10pm ET

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George and forward Kawhi Leonard are committed to playing alongside each other. Both players have one year left on their deals, but have player options for the following season. Obviously, they didn't get the result they wanted this season, but they'll have another shot at it soon. The Clippers are desperate to make this core work after trading seven first-rounders and a future star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for George. Both players should remain top tier fantasy options in leagues next season.

Will Barton Sep 21 2:30pm ET

Denver Nuggets guard/forward Will Barton (knee) is not expected to return to the team at any point of the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 29-year-old has not appeared in a game since the NBA restart in Orlando as he continues to rehabilitate from a knee injury that he suffered earlier in the season. With the Nuggets two games away from elimination in the Western Conference Finals, Barton's next game action will likely be delayed to the start of the 2020-21 season after averaging 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals on 45% shooting from field goal range through 58 games during the 2019-20 season.

Dylan Windler Sep 20 12:50pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dylan Windler (leg) is ready to participate in 5-on-5 workouts. He was a first round pick by the Cavs in 2019, but didn't play in a single game for the team. Windler suffered a leg injury that resulted in surgery, which cost him the entire season. It sounds like he is making progress and getting ready for next year. However, he'll face an uphill battle for minutes after the emergence of Kevin Porter Jr. towards the end of the regular season. Windler could find some minutes in Cleveland next season, but probably won't play enough to warrant drafting in most formats.

Davis Bertans Sep 16 4:30pm ET

Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans decided to sit out the Orlando bubble in order to preserve his health for free agency. Bertans is an upcoming free agent and the Wizards had a slim chance of making the playoffs. He didn't believe it was worth the risk after not playing basketball for almost two months. Bertans sitting out shouldn't hinder his value whatsoever on the free agent market. He'll be a highly coveted player, but the Wizards are likely going to be aggressive to keep him in Washington.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Sep 15 5:40pm ET

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had a three-hour meeting with co-owner Marc Lasry on Saturday. They reportedly discussed the season and how the Bucks can improve their roster. Lasry confirmed that he is willing to go over the luxury tax this offseason. It sounds like the Bucks are trying everything to keep Antetokounmpo happy in Milwaukee. We'll see what happens during the offseason.

Gordon Hayward Sep 15 5:40pm ET

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) has been ruled out for Tuesday's Game 1 against the Miami Heat. He was listed as doubtful, but it appears Hayward will remain sidelined for this one. Hayward is likely going to need to go through a full practice before being allowed back on the court. The team is hopeful that Hayward will be able to play at some point during this series. It's unclear whether or not he'll be limited when he does return. Fantasy owners should keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will benefit with increased playing time.

Javonte Green Sep 15 5:30pm ET

Boston Celtics guard Javonte Green (knee) is listed as doubtful for Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He left the bubble in August to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to repair a small meniscal tear in his right knee. Green hasn't been able to play since then, but is surprisingly not listed as out here. Listing him as doubtful is actually an upgrade for Green. Regardless, Green won't have a big enough role in the rotation to do any damage in DFS lineups.

Danuel House Jr. Sep 11 3:30pm ET

Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) could miss the rest of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA is currently doing an investigation on House allegedly sneaking a female into the bubble. It doesn't sound like he'll get back on the court until the NBA makes their decision. That means, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore will see more playing time coming their way.

Gordon Hayward Sep 11 3:20pm ET

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) is back in the bubble and expected to clear quarantine on Friday. However, he is still not close to getting back on the court after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain in mid-August. The hope is that Hayward could return at some point next series, assuming the Celtics advance. Until then, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will continue to have increased value.

Clint Capela Sep 9 2:50pm ET

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (foot) has been cleared to begin doing 5-on-5 workouts. The Hawks are expected to begin group workouts in the end of September, so Capela should be taking part in that. He was traded to Atlanta mid-season, but has not played a game for them yet due to a plantar fasciitis issue. He is fully expected to be ready for the 2020-2021 season. It'll be interesting to see what kind of fantasy value he produces alongside John Collins.

Nicolas Batum Sep 9 2:40pm ET

Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum is expected to pick up his $27 million player option for next season. It is far more than he'd get in free agency, so there's no reason for him not to accept the deal. It's the final year of his contract, so the Hornets are likely going to attempt to move Batum. Sadly, it's going to be difficult to find a trade partner when he's owed that much money. The Hornets are likely going to be stuck with Batum for at least one more season.

Danuel House Jr. Sep 9 2:40pm ET

Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) was unable to suit up for Tuesday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is dealing with a personal issue, so it's unclear if he'll suit up next game. Robert Covington (face), Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore would benefit if House is out. Covington is the best fantasy option out of the bunch.

Marvin Williams Sep 9 2:30pm ET

Milwaukee Bucks forward Marvin Williams has decided to retire from the NBA. The 34-year-old is walking away from the game after 15 productive seasons in the league. "I've been very blessed. God has been very, very good to me," Williams said. He was unable to win a championship before retiring, but put up fairly solid career numbers. Williams averaged 10.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists during his NBA career. He won't make the Hall of Fame, but he had a productive career nonetheless.

Robert Covington Sep 9 2:20pm ET

Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington (face) is expected to be available for Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers. It doesn't sound like his nose is broken and Covington was able to pass the concussion protocol. Danuel House (personal) is questionable for Game 4, which could mean big minutes for Covington. Fantasy owners should check back for another update.

Dion Waiters Sep 8 4:50pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dion Waiters (groin) is listed as doubtful for Tuesday's Game 3 matchup versus the Houston Rockets. He has played a total of eight minutes in this series, so losing Waiters won't hurt too much. Rajon Rondo looked fantastic last game and would probably take most of his minutes anyway. Rondo could be a sneaky DFS option for Tuesday's slate.

Tyler Herro Sep 8 4:50pm ET

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (hip) has been downgraded to questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. He was listed as probable, but it appears he has a slight downgrade now. It doesn't sound like anything serious, but fantasy owners should check back closer to tip-off just in case. Andre Iguodala and Kendrick Nunn would benefit if Herro is unable to suit up.

Kelly Olynyk Sep 8 4:40pm ET

Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk (knee) is listed as questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. He was listed as questionable last game and only ended up playing 10 minutes. It sounds like Olynyk is a risky DFS option even if he does suit up for this one. Andre Iguodala would likely benefit the most if Olynyk is unable to play. Fantasy owners should check back closer to tip-off.