• I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving break Hoop-Ballers but now it’s time to shake off your turkey and pumpkin pie hangovers and give yourself some reason to believe that you can get back to dominating your leagues. Hopefully you were able to successfully dodge any family drama and food poisoning to get back to strategizing toward victory as we head into a Long December. Time to break out the puffy coats and the heavy-duty undergarments as we try to heat up both our bodies and our teams throughout the winter.

    Regardless of how you’re feeling about your team this Sunday night into Monday morning, you’re going to want to try to stay ahead of the curve or make more adjustments. As the season progresses, you’re going to need to get more creative with the moves you make and we hope it isn’t because you are running out of IR spots. Whether you’re taking that celebratory morning sip of coffee or covering your ears from all the Christmas music or trash talk at your expense, here are some pointers no matter what type of fantasy mood you’re in.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Delon Wright, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks – 28 minutes, 17 points, nine assists, five rebounds, four steals, three 3-pointers, 7-of-12 FG

    Delon Wright has easily been one of the more polarizing players this fantasy season. I’ve probably fielded more questions about what to do with him than any other healthy and active player. Many will look at his recent month or so of box scores and will run in the other direction. Others will look at the line he produced tonight and nod approvingly, knowing this is what he’s capable of delivering.

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle with Wright as his minutes haven’t moved beyond the mid-20s and hasn’t really gotten going from deep this season. Rick Carlisle will heap praise on him one day, then bury him the next. You roto folks probably don’t mind the up and down knowing that he still has solid percentages and remains great on defense. The H2H crowd is probably thinking that they’ve seen this story before and knows exactly what happens next. Either way, if you can weather the storm, Wright can be a top-100 player. He’s going to keep being a thief and LukaMania hasn’t fully rubbed off on him yet so perhaps there’s still room for Wright to grow with Dallas.

    Markelle Fultz, PG, Orlando Magic – 30 minutes, 14 points, nine assists, four rebounds, one steal, 6-of-12 FG

    Well, you can’t say we don’t like gawking at Markelle Fultz. At the beginning of the season we looked at Fultz the same way we would look at Rex Chapman tweeting out a video of an adorable dog that needs wheels for its hind legs. We watched from afar and made an ‘oh you poor thing’ comment behind sad eyes every time we spotted a video of Fultz taking shots in practice. Now we’re watching him for entirely different reasons. Fultz no longer needs our sympathy, he needs our standard league recognition.

    In a matter of weeks, Fultz has turned himself into one of the most consistent fantasy assets in the league. Like the aforementioned Delon Wright, Fultz is delivering great percentages and steals. He’s just doing that without any of the peaks and valleys that has plagued Wright all season. Fultz has made it a point to get to the basket and finish while taking less outside shots. He’s likely not going to be a great source of 3-pointers for that reason but that hasn’t stopped him from trending toward the top-100 over his last two weeks. And by the way, Sunday was the first time he topped the 30-minute mark all season. Here’s hoping Fultz can stay in that range now that he’s the both the present and future of the Magic franchise.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Daniel Theis

    Theis had been a bit banged during Sunday’s game against the Knicks and while he tried to play through his knee issue, he wound up being mostly invisible during his 17 minutes of play. The injury is one thing but the other is that he’s remains in a timeshare with Enes Kanter and should see increasing competition from Grant and Robert Williams. Not to mention that Gordon Hayward will return sometime this month.

    We like Theis because he’s got a nice all-around game and just needs the minutes in order to showcase that game. The issue remains that the Celtics frontcourt remains an odd rotation and no one from that group is taking complete control of starter-level minutes. Theis is simply involved in a situation to avoid altogether where what happens game by game is anyone’s guess.

    Ky Bowman

    Bowman had been a nice streamer when D’Angelo Russell was shelved with a thumb sprain. Bowman soaked up his minutes was able to put up some gaudy lines initially with a heavy amount of shooting volume, decent percentages and an outstanding number of steals. For a short while, a top-75 player was emerging, albeit for a brief window of time.

    That window is now closing as Russell is due back soon and Bowman is bound to take the hit. His shooting has also been subpar in his last three outings and owners are now better off getting a jump on another hot pickup during the week rather than trying to hope and squeeze an extra decent game or two out of Bowman. It’s possible that Russell will miss further time or get dealt as the season progresses making Bowman a nice streamer but until that happens your better off looking elsewhere for the time being.

    Injury Report

    We begin with the news that Al-Farouq Aminu tore his meniscus and will be out indefinitely. It’s a tough blow to a Magic team that has been already been without their star center Nikola Vucevic.

    Jonas Valanciunas missed Sunday’s game due to an illness so his absence will likely be short-term.

    Reports say that CJ Miles is seeing a specialist for his wrist injury and that it could require season ending surgery. Miles wasn’t doing much with the Wizards, but his minutes could go to Troy Brown Jr. and Jordan McRae who could be speculative adds because of this news.

    The Nets remain quiet on a potential return for Kyrie Irving as he missed Sunday’s game against the Heat. As well as the Nets have been playing while he’s dealing with his shoulder injury, they could still use a guy of his caliber to help close out games as they let the Heat get away with one.

    Kyle Kuzma was dealing with an ankle sprain but that wasn’t enough to prevent him from playing 21 ineffective minutes off the Lakers bench. Kuzma has no business being on standard league rosters.

    Marcus Morris was ruled out with neck spasms on Sunday but was a game-time decision so he might not be out that long.

    Remember John Henson? Well, he’s back at practice for the Cavs and could be back in action for them on Tuesday. It’s been some time since we’ve seen him play and he’s capable of being a good defensive center, but only for you deep leaguers out there.

    Both JaKarr Sampson and Edmond Sumner have been ruled out by the Pacers ahead on Monday’s game against the Grizzlies. Moving on.

    Treveon Graham, Josh Okogie, and Shabazz Napier were all deemed healthy enough to play for the Wolves, which is fine and good, but that won’t have much if any effect on standard leagues.

    Lonzo Ball returned from an illness for the Pelicans and went back to his starting role.

    The miserable season for Derrick Favors got much worse for him with the passing of his mother. He remains out and basketball is probably the last thing on his mind during this difficult time for him.

    Kenrich Williams had been a nice find with all of the Pelicans injuries but he picked one up of his own with an ankle sprain.

    Moritz Wagner was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Clippers with an ankle injury. We hope this isn’t something that will keep him out for too long since he’s been a gem of late.

    Serge Ibaka returned to the Raptors and played 21 minutes off the bench. If he was dropped in your leagues, go grab him immediately.

    Kyle Lowry didn’t play on Sunday but is inching closer to a return. The Raptors have been scorching hot and are also getting healthy right in time for a collective gulp from the rest of the league.

    Marcus Smart left Sunday’s game with an injury to his abdomen and sounded like a guy who needs to heal. The Celtics have a two-game week so Smart owners should probably consider other options for their lineups.

    Frank Ntilikina left Sunday’s game with a back injury that may cost him other games as well. With Elfrid Payton still hobbled by a hamstring injury, it may be now or never for Dennis Smith Jr.

    Brandon Clarke has been banged up for a while now and had to leave his game against the Wolves with a hip injury. He’s been gutting it out most nights but he may need to rest for a bit.

    Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are both questionable for Monday when the Suns play the Hornets. Neither are having great seasons and the Suns starters will be pressed into more minutes as a result.

    Cam Reddish is questionable for Monday after missing Saturday’s game with a wrist injury. It means more time for DeAndre Bembry, who is probable with a hip contusion.

    Josh Richardson is being listed as doubtful by the 76ers with his hamstring injury and Richardson owners should make other plans for this week.

    Wes Iwundu took an elbow above his eye and needed five stitches but was able to return to the game against the Warriors on Sunday. The Magic can’t afford to lose anyone else in their frontcourt.

    Brook Lopez is doubtful for Monday as his back injury will look like it will keep him out of a second straight game. It’ll be time for Twin Magic again with brother Robin likely to get another start in his place.

    Finally, Draymond Green is getting a rest day on Monday on the second night of a back-to-back. It’s been one injury after the next for Green and the Warriors have already made it clear they won’t play him heavy minutes during this lost season.

    Gaming the System

    It’s hard to believe but we’ve just about made it through a quarter of the NBA season. Crazy, right!? Most teams have now played in 20 game and we have a lot of information on what teams and players are doing that can help us fantasy players make informed decisions for our rosters. While that means we can look back and see who’s playing fast, who stinks on defense and all of that, now is also the time to look beyond season-long stats as well.

    It may seem overly simplistic but because we have 20 games of information per team, you shouldn’t just rely on season long data. When making informed decisions about who to start or who to pick up, don’t just rely on the full season averages and totals. Take a look at what teams and players have been doing over certain periods of time like the last five or 10 games.

    Don’t just rely on a single game to make judgements either. Take a look and see if someone’s big minutes were a result of a one-time instance or his this was a steadily growing trend. Also, check if a team has already played a certain opponent this season. That way you revisit those box scores and see if there’s any opportunity to exploit a matchup.

    Some basic examples of digging a little deeper could be that you may see the Kings coming up on your players schedule and think ‘oh goodie, here’s a lousy defensive team to load up against.’ After all, the Kings have been a bottom-half defensive team all season, right? Except that if you look at their last five games, you’ll see that the Kings have actually been a top-10 defense and their games have mostly grinded to a halt.

    You may also assume that the Nets are going to play fast and push the ball hard with their top-10 pace on the season. If you dig a little deeper, then you will see that they’ve been moving at a snail’s pace since Kyrie Irving has been sidelined with his shoulder injury and with no timetable for his return, that pace may stick around for a while.

    The league is likely going to be littered with examples like these. All it means is that there’s a lot of data on the league now and the one who gets the edge will be the one who looks past all the season long averages and can spot an emerging trend rather than just random noise. There’s going to be even more shifts as the season progresses.

    Not everyone is going to be able to score a hot pickup or pull off grand larceny via trade. So instead, a good owner will take a look at the information that’s right in front of them and make better decisions about their rosters by taking some extra steps and arming themselves with more knowledge then their opponents. Sometimes winning is all about who is going to be better prepared for battle.

Fantasy News

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter