January 10, 2021, 12:18 am
Saturday opened with the Sixers barely able to field a team after their playing ranks were decimated by COVID-19 related absences. They were able to hang tough during the first half but eventually fell short in what was a pluck effort. The Heat scraped home over a Wizards team that was also without its two best players and then lost Thomas Bryant to a knee injury after only two minutes. The Suns continue to impress while the Hawks do the opposite. After a promising start to the season, things in Atlanta seem less than ideal at the moment and they will need to get things sorted out sooner rather than later. The Spurs won an overtime thriller over the Wolves who welcomed back Karl-Anthony Towns. Without Ginnis, the Bucks held on to defeat a valiant Cavs team, led by another impressive all-around performance by Larry Nance. The injury-ravaged Magic kept it close but were never really in the hunt against the Mavs while the Blazers proved too classy for the Kings to round out the night.
Add(s) of the Night
‘Health and Safety Protocols’ is certainly a phrase we would like to be hearing less, although it does not seem as though it is going to change anytime soon. The Sixers are going to have some interesting streaming value over the next week but the uncertainty hanging over the league makes any pickup a risky one.
Tyrese Maxey, G, Philadelphia 76ers – Maxey went off for a career-high 39 points in Saturday’s loss and with the Sixers playing five times this week, he should be picked up everywhere. His exact role is far from clear but given what could transpire, he is absolutely worth a look in standard leagues in the short-term.
Cam Reddish, G/F, Atlanta Hawks – Reddish moved to the bench on Saturday but his replacement, Bogdan Bogdanovic, went down with a knee injury and there is a chance he could be forced to the sidelines for a period of time. The Hawks are certainly not functioning well as a unit right now but they do still need to score the basketball. Reddish is not the most consistent option but if Bogdanovic is out, the team have very little option other than to give Reddish the ball.
Mo Wagner, F/C, Washington Wizards – Thomas Bryant was unable to make it beyond two minutes before injuring his knee and first reactions are not positive in terms of his immediate playing future. He will undergo an MRI to reveal the extent of the damage but if he is out for any amount of time, Wagner becomes an intriguing pickup in standard leagues. He had been having himself a good season before injury struck him down last year and the hope will be that an elevated role could help him rediscover that form. The minutes are likely to be split across both Wagner and Robin Lopez; however, Wagner is the center you want to be targeting here.
There were very few serviceable players who flopped on Saturday, meaning any drops are going to be borderline at best.
Miles Bridges, F, Charlotte Hornets – Bridges was coming off his best game of the season but flopped hard on Saturday, recording just two points in 25 minutes. While the capability is there, he is simply far too inconsistent to warrant a roster spot in competitive formats. At this point, you would be better served streaming his position.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Dallas Mavericks – WCS had a serviceable game earlier in the week, peaking the interest of many fantasy GM’s. Unfortunately, that run of games ended at one, and given his less than impressive track record, you are probably going to want to move on.
The Sixers were without basically their entire playing roster and their exact makeup moving forward remains a mystery
Thomas Bryant went down with a knee injury early in Saturday’s game and was unable to return
Russell Westbrook was out with a quad issue, although it was also the second night of a back-to-back
Bradley Beal was too chummy with Jayson Tatum and was ruled out due to health protocols
Cameron Payne was ruled out with an ankle injury
T.J. McConnell was on daddy duty, missing the game due to the impending birth of his first child
Bogdan Bogdanovic was unable to finish the game due to a knee injury suffered in the first half
The Spurs announced Derrick White is slated to miss 4-to-6 weeks with his toe injury
Karl-Anthony Towns returned and played 37 minutes. He did appear bothered by his wrist and so we will need to keep an eye on tomorrow’s injury report
Collin Sexton missed his second straight game due to an ankle injury
Giannis Antetokounmpo was a late-scratch due to back spasms, brought on by a fall during Friday’s game
Evan Fournier missed his fifth straight game with back spasms
The Mavs were without a number of players due to health protocols
We All Fall Down
While the NBA continues to chug along, it has been the news off the court that has been stealing all the headlines. COVID-19 is going nowhere and it is beginning to take a toll on fantasy squads all over the world. Speaking from experience, this has been a very frustrating period and the initial reaction in many cases is to look at replacing those players who could be about to miss a couple of weeks.
The best piece of advice I can give here is to take a step back, breathe deeply and simply take a look around. Often you can get buried in your own team and how it looks right now. While I cannot say that it doesn’t look bleak at times, you need to remember that it is more than likely others are in the same boat. When you are setting your lineups, take an extra five minutes to quickly run down the other rosters in your league. Chances are you will see that others are also missing players right now and as they say, it should all balance out in the end. Trying to turn a negative into a positive, this may also be an opportunity to capitalize on the abruptness of others. Keep a close eye on the waiver wire to see if any names appear that in a ‘normal’ season, would be rostered everywhere.
There may be certain situations in which your hand is forced by injuries as well as health protocols, and making moves is by no means off the table. One tactic to try and utilize is to make sure you don’t have multiple players from one team. While this is generally something you might try and avoid anyway, it is of additional importance right now. As we have already seen with multiple teams, once one player goes down, others seem sure to follow.
In summing up, this really preaches patience and as I have been saying all season, hasty decisions can lead to errors in judgment. The good news is that you are certainly not alone and while mistakes will be made, you might also be able to make some crafty additions to your own squad which could help you in the long-term. Whatever that looks like?
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