December 22, 2019, 12:00 pm
For the next couple weeks, this piece will come to you from assorted places around the country. I’ve got a vacation on the schedule where I’m going to knock off some more stadiums on my North American stadium tour. The next stop for me is actually on Monday as many of you are reading this. The FedEx Forum will host yours truly as only the second NBA arena I’ve been to in person. Blame Iowa. It’s really strange to think that I grew up technically in Illinois and then I went to college in Illinois, but I never made it up to the United Center to see the Bulls (That will change within a month, as we discussed.). We’ll keep the unsolicited arena reviews coming.
I want to make an official recommendation as a country music fan that’s a little overdue. My opinion also means nothing, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell recently. They’re some of the few traditional sounds left in modern country. I’m assuming the country fans in our readership will give me some crap since they’ve been on the scene for a while and I should have known better. Here’s a rec that’s a little more off-the-wall though for people that like that vein of music. Y’all should check out the new album by Whiskey Myers. “Bad Weather” is my favorite track on that record.
Here’s what I want for Christmas. I want the Sharks to not be the worst team in the Western Conference. I feel nothing but pain. I want the Eagles to beat the Cowboys and make the playoffs (We’ll know if that happens by the time most people are reading this). I want the Bucks to bring in one more piece on the wing to upgrade from dumb Wes Matthews. Dumb Wes Matthews is not featured below (thankfully).
Week 10 Stream Table
Home games are in orange because basketballs are orange.
Road games are in blue because blue is not orange.
Green means heavy schedule because green means go.
Red means light schedule because red means stop.
Back to Backs
Brought to you by Drake*
Sun/Mon (of Week 8): DEN, IND, TOR
Fri/Sat: ATL, BOS, CLE, GSW, IND, MIA, MIL, ORL, PHI, PHX
Sat/Sun: DAL, DEN, HOU, LAL, MEM, NOP, SAC, TOR
Sun/Mon (of Week 10): none
Working the Wire
I think the Raptors and Mavericks are propping up this entire section. Basically we know nothing, but I feel pretty good about these names for the most part. I think some of these dudes have sticking power, which isn’t something we’ve said in weeks past.
Delon Wright: Man, fool me a million times and call me stupid. Eight steals in three games since his return from injury, the minutes are increasing, Prince Luka is still out for the foreseeable future and I don’t think Jalen Brunson or JJ Barea are locked in to be exciting. The Mavs went out of their way to go get Delon Wright, so we have to think he’ll have a shot to play at least 25 minutes and be a top-120 value.
Ish Smith: No one has ever felt this type of way about Ishmael Larry Smith. Here’s the reality: He’s better than Isaiah Thomas even though we like to think of Isaiah as a fun story. For the Thomas truthers, it’s a good sign for both parties that they have played together in important moments with Bradley Beal playing on the other wing. Smith is a top-120 option who should be rostered in all leagues.
TJ McConnell: McConnell seems like a scrapper. Jeremy Lamb is injured yet again so we’ve seen Aaron Holiday and McConnell get a bump in usage. The Pacers can’t catch a break so it’s worth reiterating how impressive their start to the year has been. McConnell seems like the play if you’re looking for assists, as he’s averaging six assists per contest over the last seven games.
Seth Curry: It’s recover by committee for the Mavs without Luka and the younger Curry has been pretty good as a shooter and scorer of late. He was a huge catalyst when the Mavericks ended the Bucks’ 18-game winning streak last Monday, making timely baskets and extinguishing every run the Bucks tried to go on. He should be a consideration at least as a 3-point specialist.
Trevor Ariza: This is the moment I tell you Trevor Ariza could be a useful fantasy option and pause for heckling. In a deep league, he’s definitely productive as the next man up when there’s an injury for the Kings. Right now, that’s Bogdan Bogdanovic who is day-to-day. Ariza was helpful in 28 minutes in his absence and can be counted on for some 3-and-D numbers.
Danuel House Jr.: House is plummeting in ownership over the last few days because of some lackluster outings and I would scoop him up quickly if he became available in my league. The reality is that the Rockets don’t have anyone else. They have a strict rotation of eight players that are productive in fantasy and a strict rotation of other guys who are basically randoms. House shoots and defends and doesn’t mess up and that builds a solid foundation for any fantasy team.
Wilson Chandler: I was “this close” to recommending David Nwaba and then he suffered a very Kevin Durant-like injury against the Spurs on Thursday. This is the type of injury that ends a career for a fringe NBA player who is just trying to string together some good play to stick in the league. With Nwaba out, the Nets desperately need any and all bench contributions and that starts with the veteran Chandler. Garrett Temple has gotten exposed in the starting lineup a couple times, so it seems like Chandler should be asked to steady the ship. Obviously Temple had his best game of the season because that’s just logical.
Troy Brown: If you didn’t scoop him up at the earlier window, Brown probably stuck around on most wires and has been a borderline top-100 value over the last two weeks. He should be a good double-digit scoring options with a smattering of other stats sprinkled in. With the Wizards injury situation right now, he should be a good bet for minutes. What can Brown do for you?
Royce O’Neale: I really hate recommending someone with such low usage, but O’Neale has been good in this recent stretch. The Jazz are so thin that they really need the unsung heroes to sing. Mike Conley is out again with a hamstring issue, so Joe Ingles has had to take a step forward to fill that void. Behind him, O’Neale just needs to play efficient minutes on both ends of the court. He can shoot and rack up some steals without coughing the ball up the other way.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Injurypocalypse is hitting Toronto and the absences mean people are going to get silly on Chris Boucher again. We should definitely consider Boucher again because he’s got a good stat set and can slide over to fill the Gasol role as well. That’s probably the first play, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t address that RHJ was better during the last injury spot-fill session.
Derrick Jones Jr.: Derrick Jones Jr. is making a case that he needs to be playing more minutes for this team. We were excited about him last season as well but he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough. This is a deep rotation so the minutes aren’t necessarily guaranteed. DJJ has a high-flying skill set that fits much better next to Bam Adebayo than the lumbering Meyers Leonard. We should keep an eye on this rotation.
Marvin Williams: I feel like I’m a week or two early on some of these players. I recommended Marvin a couple weeks back and then he went down with aknee injury. The Hornets are missing PJ Washington right now so Marvin is taking a big chunk of those minutes. We know what Marvin Williams is and that’s an underrated attribute for fantasy. We can safely plug him in knowing he’ll make some triples and protect the ball.
Willie Cauley-Stein: WCS is right on the edge of standard-league ownership and he should at least be on a roster in every league (and not in 49% of leagues like on Yahoo!). He’s inevitably going to get the run for this team looking at 2020, so those who need defensive stats, WCS should provide that in bunches.
Bobby Portis: Here’s a call to probably NOT go grab Bobby Portis just because he scored 30 points once. We know what Bobby Portis is: A decent scorer and rebounder who contributes less defensively than I do from my couch. At least I’m trying to call out rotations. I think he could be a decent low-end option in a points league, but the roto skill set just isn’t inviting. We also know what team he plays for so tomorrow Taj Gibson is going to put in the finest of work.
Chris Boucher: Obligated to make this play until we know which one of the two guys in the front court is going to get the extra lovin’. Marc Gasol also being out has opened up opportunity for Serge Ibaka first (Who surely is owned. If he’s not, you know where to be.), but this is probably a better Boucher opportunity than the Ibaka injury earlier. Stay tuned for if he’ll be better than RHJ this time around.
The Stream Team
I’m surprised Ian Mahinmi is healthy enough for longer than six minutes for him to be an actual fantasy option.
PG: Elie Okobo – The long play at backup point guard for the Suns. I don’t necessarily think he’s that interesting of an asset but has played well of late. If he keeps up any semblance of competency and the Suns fall out of the race a bit, he could stick around.
SG: Terence Davis – This kid has some upside and now some opportunity with the Norman Powell injury. The Raptors need some production off the bench at guard behind Lowry and VanVleet, so Davis has a shot to be that guy.
SF: Doug McDermott – I thought McDermott was going to be good when he came into the league and I’m just a big McDummy. McDermott has been okay scoring and rebounding and could have some value as a 3-point specialist if we select the right arbitrary time frame.
PF: Grant Williams – Rookie with stat-stuffing upside who might actually get some run when injuries are mounting. That may not happen with Gordon Hayward day-to-day and back at some point soon, but it might be worth a flier in deep formats.
C: Ian Mahinmi – The starting center for your Washington Wizards in 2019! It’s a low-upside short-term play for efficient scoring, rebounds and maybe some blocked shots.
The Christmas season brings us our next themed musings, so I’m full of Christmas cheer. This themed segment is brought to you by Mariah Carey.
Atlanta Hawks: All the Hawks want for Christmas is for excitement factor to be exchangeable with wins. I was a proponent of the Hawks being really exciting en route to 35 wins. They’re on pace for 16.
Brooklyn Nets: All the Nets want for Christmas is Kyrie Irving with a sprinkling of Kevin Durant.
Boston Celtics: All the Celtics want for Christmas is for people to be this excited about them even when Tacko Fall falls off the NBA map.
Charlotte Hornets: All the Hornets want for Christmas is to accidentally make the playoffs to prove everyone wrong. Or they want to lose aggressively so they can draft someone good. They’ll probably take Bismack Biyombo 2.0.
Chicago Bulls: All the Bulls want for Christmas is to get their faces caved in by the Bucks 😊.
Cleveland Cavaliers: All the Cavaliers want for Christmas is someone to take about 90 million dollars off their hands. Or this could be what I want for them because I don’t see why Kevin Love needs to be on this team.
Dallas Mavericks: All the Mavericks want for Christmas is a bionic ankle.
Denver Nuggets: All the Nuggets want for Christmas is what I want, which is to consolidate some of these depth pieces into a really good wing player. Maybe a Danilo Gallinari reunion?
Detroit Pistons: All the Pistons want for Christmas is for Blake Griffin to not be garbage.
Golden State Warriors: All the Warriors want for Christmas is to fast forward to summer 2020 where they inevitably have the first overall pick.
Houston Rockets: All the Rockets want for Christmas is some love for James Harden who might have the highest-scoring NBA season since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.
Indiana Pacers: All the Pacers want for Christmas is for people to keep sleeping on them. I’m not helping them stay under the radar because what I write spreads around the internet like wildfire.
Los Angeles Clippers: All the Clippers want for Christmas is to never play a back to back again. They have the second highest number in the league, which seems like a shot at Kawhi Leonard.
Los Angeles Lakers: All the Lakers want for Christmas is for LeBron to turn the clock back five years and never be hurt.
Memphis Grizzlies: All the Grizzlies want for Christmas is to keep James Wiseman in town in a way the NCAA couldn’t.
Miami Heat: All the Heat want for Christmas is some respect for their squad, which is better than advertised even when their superstar takes three shots in the entire game.
Milwaukee Bucks: All the Bucks want for Christmas is a designated free throw shooter because apparently Giannis is adding a legitimate 3-point shot. Does he know that free throws are objectively easier?
Minnesota Timberwolves: All the Timberwolves want for Christmas is to not be a typical Minnesota sports team for one year.
New Orleans Pelicans: All the Pelicans want for Christmas is for Anthony Davis to love them again because the Zion era hasn’t started out on the right foot.
New York Knicks: All the Knicks want for Christmas is to fade into the darkness and be ignored for a while.
Oklahoma City Thunder: All the Thunder want for Christmas is to say I told you so because I (Souriyo) told you so that the Thunder wouldn’t be bad. I’m wrong about everything so I need this.
Orlando Magic: All the Magic want for Christmas is for Aaron Gordon to act his salary. He’s not improving.
Philadelphia 76ers: All the Sixers want for Christmas is to solve a zone defense. Spacing is more critical than ever in today’s NBA.
Phoenix Suns: All the Suns want for Christmas is to go back to October when they were winning games.
Portland Trail Blazers: All the Blazers want for Christmas is what I want for them, which is Kevin Love because they’re definitely going to make the playoffs and Kevin Love means they can lose in six games instead of five.
Sacramento Kings: All the Kings want for Christmas is for all this promise to translate into progress that they haven’t made.
San Antonio Spurs: All the Spurs want for Christmas is for prime Tim Duncan to just magically float in off the sideline and drag them to the playoffs.
Toronto Raptors: All the Raptors want for Christmas is a litany of uninjured body parts.
Utah Jazz: All the Jazz want for Christmas is a refund on this Mike Conley situation. It hasn’t gone as planned.
Washington Wizards: All the Wizards want for Christmas is for John Wall to actually come back because it gives them something to look forward to in an otherwise forgettable season.
I’ve gotten up to 1337 responses to my survey as of this writing. Leet. Do people still say leet or did that die back when I was a child? Let me know what you want for Christmas for your team on the Twitter here. Happy Holidays!