August 9, 2020, 12:00 pm
Welcome to the last call for Working the Wire in the 2019-20 season! It’s been a long and challenging season and year and hopefully the return of basketball has given people the respite we’re desperately looking for. I wish I could say my overall sports excitement has gone way up, but I haven’t been the multi-screen watcher I usually am and that fatigue hasn’t worn off yet. Hopefully that will change once real playoff games start in the NHL and the NBA but getting into the baseball will be tough. I committed to walking a mile for every run the Brewers lost by and it feels like I’ll be able to walk to Canada by the end of this season.
On the basketball front, I’m getting ready for these seeding games to be done. It’s not because the games have been bad. In fact, quite the contrary. I just am ready to see us get to playoffs so my team can find a way to disappoint me soon and I can move on. The key, as I always say, is to keep expectations low. I got too excited about my disc throwing ability, tried a new throw and lost a disc during FIELD WORK into a patch of trees next to the field. This is not a joke. I need to hang up the discs.
Restart Week 3 Stream Table
We bailed on the home and road stuff because it’s all a technicality. The creepy Zoom fans probably do more harm than good. We’re getting to the home stretch of games here, so some teams are looking at just two games and there’s going to be some lineup uncertainty as teams start to rest up for the playoffs
Working the Wire
The crapshoot continues and we also have some injuries to add to the mix. There’s a lot of uncertainty with minutes as teams essentially get eliminated, especially the lower teams fighting for Western Conference seeding.
Brad Wanamaker: Wanamaker has quietly had four solid bubble outings. The last two games have been 13-point and 15-point outings respectively. The Celtics have a lot of bodies and that just adds to the lack of clarity, but we have to go with what we’ve seen of late. More impressively, Wanamaker has notched six defensive counters across these last two good outings.
Quinn Cook: It was nice to see Quinn Cook get 24 minutes and play well off the bench with 21 points and five triples in Saturday’s loss. The Lakers only play two games in the final week, but if they decide to limit or rest their stars for the playoffs, Cook should have a nice chance to have a couple strong lines. He could be an under-the-radar daily play.
Alec Burks: Now that we’re not expecting Ben Simmons to play unless the Sixers go deep in the postseason, they’re going to need quite a bit of help. Alec Burks is a handy player who can score and make some triples. He should be able to provide some backcourt relief for Shake Milton, who has had some inconsistent moments in the bubble.
Lonnie Walker IV: Lonnie Walker has been a tantalizing option for some time and he’s finally getting some level of the run. This is the first time we’ve seen him consistently get playing time. Walker is averaging 11.2 points since the restart on 45% shooting, but the stat lines just haven’t been that enticing from a fantasy angle. The 1.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game and one defensive stat total just isn’t overcome by just 1.4 triples. Obviously, this hard sell has worked well and everyone is flocking to go get Lonnie off the wire. There’s just a chance for a breakout game or at least something like his bubble opener (16 points, three boards, four assists and a triple on 58% from the floor) which was good… enough.
Torrey Craig: My fascination with Torrey Craig is basically the same fascination I have for Royce O’Neale. He’s very quiet, doesn’t seem like he’s super involved, but he plays a decent allotment of minutes and doesn’t have enough usage to hurt fantasy owners. Since the NBA restart, he has played 28 minutes per game and has only turned the ball over one time total, all while managing to contribute 1.8 defensive counters per contest. I’m not saying it’s special, I’m just saying it’s useful.
Andre Iguodala: The Andre Iguodala resurrection tour continues with another solid performance on Saturday. Iggy has always had a good fantasy profile as a player who doesn’t need high usage to be productive. He’s a willing passer and a relentless defender who contributes all across the board. With a litany of Heat players sidelined, he has seen heavier minutes than we might have expected.
Rodions Kurucs: Kurucs has played 29 or more minutes in two of the last three games. He’s not scoring much but also isn’t asked to take many shots. The draw with him is the 2.5 steals he provided over those two games. He has a chance to at least be useful in that department as a streamer.
Darius Bazley: With three games in the upcoming week, Bazley and the rest of the Thunder supporting cast are primed for chances to make a late impact and get in good graces for postseason minutes. Bazley has broken the 20-minute plateau in all four games in the bubble with mixed returns. I don’t necessarily think there’s huge breakout value in his game, especially if he repeats the 4-of-14 line again, but he can knock down some outside shots and may be worth a look especially if Sunday’s game against the Wizards ends well.
JaMychal Green: Am I stretching some positions because the center pool is looking not very hot? The answer is clearly yes. Ivica Zubac had a breakout game out of nowhere and followed it up with another nice performance, so he’s not really going to be available for a lot of waiver runs on Monday. I’m not sure how invested I am in JaMychal Green because he’s only getting around 20 minutes per game, but he’s been useful in that short sample. He has consistently outperformed Patrick Patterson and has gotten better every game of the restart. The most recent contest ended with 13 points, eight boards and three triples. Eyes are not popped but they’re at least open.
Jaxson Hayes: This is really contingent on the Pelicans losing to the Spurs on Sunday. Given how bad the Pels have been in the restart, that seems like a distinct possibility, but it really is a game just to stay afloat. If the Pels do drop that game, their chances of making the playoffs become very remote. In that case, they may just roll out some backups for the last couple games and we can be spared from watching Derrick Favors labor for 25 minutes. Hayes showed potential when Favors was out earlier in the season and we could see that again. If nothing else, Hayes can be a good rim protector.
Brooklyn Nets: My dream is to be in a position where I get a million dollars for wearing a blazer on the sideline of an exhibition center gym.
Boston Celtics: I do think Marcus Smart deserved more DPOY love but he was always facing an uphill battle. Guards just don’t win the award and that’s the reality.
Dallas Mavericks: Well if that wasn’t one of the best single-game performances we’ve seen all year. Freaking Luka, y’all.
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have so many bodies that we have to check in every day to see which one of the 43 rotation guys had the good game.
Houston Rockets: This has to be one of the shallowest rotations we’ve seen in quite some time. I can’t in good conscience get behind 32 minutes of Austin Rivers. It just feels gross.
Indiana Pacers: T.J. Warren is a dude.
Los Angeles Clippers: I’ll be called a liar if I say I’ve been generally an Ivica Zubac fan, but it’s true. I’m also acknowledging that he looks like he’s running through quicksand.
Los Angeles Lakers: You have to think the Lakers are coasting right now with the top seed locked up. Don’t be surprised if they sit some guys the rest of the way.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja made a big fuss about how this play-in format was unfair, but the Grizz controlled their destiny by winning their games and they haven’t done that. They’re still at fairly good odds to make it, so I don’t really get the complaints.
Miami Heat: The big winner of all the backcourt injuries for the Heat has been the city of Milwaukee because how about Tyler Herro, folks?
Milwaukee Bucks: Again, the Bucks have been thoroughly unimpressive. As a fan, I hope this is just rust and taking it easy and not a sign of what’s next.
New Orleans Pelicans: Derrick Favors looks like he’s laboring 37 seconds into the game. It’s shocking to me that he’s only 29.
Oklahoma City Thunder: I was a big Luguentz Dort fan in college. Good name.
Orlando Magic: You have to feel bad for Jon Isaac. If we’re lucky we’ll see him at mid-season next year and that’s a real bummer.
Philadelphia 76ers: Well the Sixers are canceled anyway without Ben Simmons. So much for that Finals run.
Phoenix Suns: Maybe they don’t need T.J. Warren after all. 5-0 also sounds nice. It’s been an inspired run to a chance to lose to the Lakers.
Portland Trail Blazers: The starting bigs folded back in seamlessly on the offensive side of the floor and Jusuf Nurkic looked solid in his first action. The defense on the other hand was problematic.
Sacramento Kings: It’s so Kingsy to barely stay alive with a big emotional win over the Pels and then run it through the garbage disposal without water the next day against the Nets.
San Antonio Spurs: This would be a nice time to find out if Lonnie Walker is on the right track to panning out, especially with the Spurs on their way out of the playoff picture.
Toronto Raptors: I didn’t put together that this was the first time Marc Gasol was playing Memphis since being traded. That trade happened so long ago!
Utah Jazz: We’d like to thank the Jazz for blowing a 14-point halftime lead to give us one of the most entertaining games of the bubble. Something about Denver vs. Utah is always enticing to me.
Washington Wizards: Again, why are they here? They’ve managed to move down in the overall standings below a team that wasn’t even invited. It’s a yikes.
Thanks for checking out the column this season! Hit me up on Twitter here.