• I hope everyone had a great Christmas and watched good basketball 40 percent of the time. We’re back this drab Sunday mere hours before I attend my first Cincinnati Bengals game while they’re still a load of hot garbage. It’ll be raining in the jungle and will probably otherwise be miserable but at least I’ll be there for posterity for a life-changing experience. I’m especially looking forward to riding the escalator of sadness as the Bengals finish the season an inevitable 1-15.

    My visit to the FedEx Forum was a great success. Here’s the general review: It was very accessible and easy to get in and out of, which gets a lot of points in my book. Access to Beale street and convenient parkin were both pluses. The building itself wasn’t the cutest but it was spacious. Food options seemed limited. United Center review coming in a few short weeks. If anyone needs a weekend itinerary, I’m your guy. I’ve got trip-planning on lock.

    Because I’m scattered and the only direction this article goes is sideways, my food take of the week is that I get Cincinnati chili. Odd? A little bit. Spaghetti a deal breaker? No, it’s basically chili mac. I don’t understand why we have to have a collective meltdown because the pasta is noodled. I prefer a regular chili as much as the next guy, but I wouldn’t pour Cincy chili down the drain.

    Since my fantasy seasons are going down the drain, I can act like I’m helping all of you with positivity and holiday cheer. The holiday fixes for your fantasy teams are in with these jovial names this week.

    Week 11 Stream Table

    General key:
    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*

    *not actually

    Sun/Mon (of Week 10): none
    Mon/Tue: none
    Tue/Wed: none
    Wed/Thu: MIN
    Thu/Fri: MIA
    Fri/Sat: ATL, BOS, NOP, ORL, WAS
    Sat/Sun: CLE, DET, LAC, MEM
    Sun/Mon (of Week 12): none

    Working the Wire

    When I first started this segment committing to three players at each position, I incorrectly thought that 15-20 unique players would pop up and be somewhat realistic adds. I’m a dummy  and we’re getting to the point in the season where we’re really looping back through on some players. Maybe we’ll be more right this time or maybe y’all should really get in on these guys because you didn’t trust me enough the first time.

    Point Guards

    Kris Dunn: Kris Dunn is on a tear and needs to get love for a fantasy-friendly game. He’s skirted around this piece a couple other times this season and it’s just important that his defense-first skillset is. I think steals specialist is the worst-case scenario.

    George Hill: I guess I just have to keep repeating his dumb name until he finally ends up on half the fantasy teams. Hill’s impact on the Bucks hasn’t been quantifiable by our elementary fantasy statistics. He’s a leader and a steady veteran who is going to always get remembered as “the guy who got traded for Kawhi Leonard” and not “the guy who had an underrated career because he was the guy who got traded for Kawhi Leonard”. Decent shooting numbers and mid-level scoring with some 3-pointers and assists sprinkled in.

    Aaron Holiday: Oladipo is targeting a return in late January and until that point we aren’t going to have a full-strength Pacers squad. Right now, they’re still riddled with injuries as Malcolm Brogdon sits out every couple nights and who knows with Jeremy Lamb. Once a very promising backcourt is now being pieced together with some guys who weren’t quite ready. Holiday is in that group but he’s playing well enough to deploy for the short term.

    Shooting Guards

    Gary Payton II: The Mitten has been a hot pickup because he’s the flavor of the week and has started well with a new team. Two six steal games should be enough to get everyone hot and bothered. There should be a good chance to keep minutes because this team is going nowhere. Grab and stream while the grabbing is good.

    Derrick White: How annoying are these guys? Every week it seems like a new guard in San Antonio is performing well. This may be as much of a call to caution as anything. If you’re in a league deep enough that Derrick White is a dude, that doesn’t change. He should be on a team at a time like this, but it doesn’t have to be yours.

    Damion Lee: If Damion Lee is going to play starter minutes and pull down 15 rebounds in a game, he has to get the attention. He’s the new plug and play Warrior right now as Eric Paschall and Glenn Robinson lose more luster. He should be a decent scorer with some 3-pointers and a steal. There’s also an equally good chance that Lee is back on the wire in a week.

    Small Forwards

    Kevin Knox: I don’t like the skill set for Knox, who doesn’t provide anything defensively and is wildly inconsistent and inefficient. Everyone wants out of New York, so Knox could be a volume beneficiary. Keep an eye on those moving pieces and scoop Knox, who should at least be eating into the 12 minutes Taj Gibson plays for no reason.

    Kent Bazemore: We’re here again because we’re seeing the “If Baze just gets reliable minutes he can do a 3-and-D thing and be a top-100 guy”. Naturally, Melo’s return made that cloudy again, but Bazemore got 28 minutes against the Lakers and contributed three defensive counters. We’ll see what happens with Skal Labissiere, which could open up some bonus playing time for Bazemore.

    Tim Hardaway Jr.: If anyone dropped THJ after a slow stretch and he’s still sitting on your wire, I would recommend going to get him because he’s back on a heater. It doesn’t always matter how much a guy does as long as he’s at minimum doing one thing very well and doesn’t tank everywhere else. There was nothing but scoring for THJ in the big win over the Warriors. Six 3-pointers and four missed shots total will tide us over.

    Power Forwards

    Nerlens Noel: Everyone is chasing blocked shots. Nerlens chases people down to block those shots for us. It’s a match made in heaven. The Thunder are kicking the tires on a Steven Adams trade, which makes Noel a huge candidate to bring holiday cheer in 2020. The Christmas puns are endless and underappreciated.

    Ersan Ilyasova: Ersan Ilyasova has been fantastic in place of a semi-injured Giannis after the Sixers broke his entire world and ruined his career. We’ve gotten two very efficient double-doubles in a row. Obviously Giannis should be back soon so the starting role isn’t sustainable, but Ersan is consistent and efficient enough to warrant ownership in deep formats.

    Jerami Grant: Grant is still my dude for better or for worse. Paul Millsap is dealing with a knee issue right now and could just generally be managed as we head deeper into the season. He’s not the spry fledgling Hawk he once was. Grant has looked marginally better of late and should at least be in a conversation for more time. We have to be wary that this team is too deep to allow for slip-ups.

    Centers

    Gorgui Dieng: KAT isn’t far away, but he’s also not here. Dieng is making himself a more well-rounded player. He’s a top-10 player over the last week and a half and if you knew that you need to take a vacation. It’s the holiday season! Treat yourself for the new year! Dieng should be owned in every league whenever KAT is MIA.

    JaVale McGee: JaVale is back to blocking every shot in the entire world so he has to be a consideration in every league. Five blocks on Christmas is no joke against a good Clippers squad. We’re really looking for those blocked shots here. Good thing he followed that Christmas performance up with one blocked shot in 11 minutes because he doesn’t know what to do with his hands sometimes.

    Anzejs Pasecniks: I like this skill set a lot more than Ian Mahinmi, who slid into the Stream Team last week. Pasecniks is showing some scoring touch and could be useful in very deep leagues while we wait on the Thomas Bryant updates that seem to conflict every 16 minutes.

    The Stream Team

    For the first time in a while, this is just not an exciting group. I blame Christmas.

    PG: Tim Frazier – Definite consideration while Luke Kennard is out for the next couple weeks.

    SG: Malik Beasley – Beasley has looked much better recently and he might be worth a look just on a speculative stream. He looked good on Christmas.

    SF: Cody Martin – Nic Batum looks like he’s officially canceled and Cody martin has gotten a vote of confidence as a result. I think there’s a chance for some low-end value.

    PF: Darius Bazley – There are more ridiculous desperation plays than Bazley, pending Gallo’s health. Allegedly Danilo will be back next week, but keep an eye on that closely because as we know, Gallo is a picture of health.

    C: Patrick Patterson – Low-end streamer with a DFS bump for when Kawhi manages his load. Meh.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    We’ll do a decade theme for the next installment of this piece because that seems like the cute thing to do right now. I also reserve the right to change that because I’m writing this and I can do what I want.

    Atlanta Hawks: Maybe the Hawks will get closer to a 25 win pace now that John Collins is back from cheating.

    Brooklyn Nets: I found out the Nets have the most alley-oops in the league. Where does someone get that stat? Is that only for important people to know? At least they can lose fancily.

    Boston Celtics: A double eye infection just sounds like a disaster. His eyes must have been smarting for a whole week.

    Charlotte Hornets: Bismack Biyombo can’t keep being borderline relevant. It’s just not right.

    Chicago Bulls: Thad Young is only 31. He looks cooked.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: Honestly, I don’t hate the move to get Dante Exum. There was a reason he was a highly-touted prospect who just hasn’t gotten a chance to prove himself.

    Dallas Mavericks: Luka.

    Denver Nuggets: One of my hobbies is randomly quizzing uninformed people how old Nikola Jokic is. My mom’s response: at least 31.

    Detroit Pistons: Your Blake Griffin update: shot 3-of-16 from the floor in a trouncing by the Spurs and is now shooting 27.6% over the last 10 games.

    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: The commitment to playing eight guys even when two of your main rotation pieces aren’t on the floor is incredible. Eric Gordon’s return should be a huge boon. If nothing else, there’s at least one more body so Harden and Westbrook don’t collapse in March.

    Indiana Pacers: The Holiday reunion for the Holidays was a cute story. These are the storylines we need ESPN to write 4,000 words about instead of acknowledging the existence of certain other sports.

    Los Angeles Clippers: I watched every second of the Lakers and Clippers on Christmas and I was most impressed by the execution and patience by this Clippers squad dealing with a suffocating Laker defense.

    Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers’ Christmas wish didn’t come true because LeBron is definitely banged up.

    Memphis Grizzlies: The snout on the Grizzlies logo looks like a vase and now I can’t unsee it.

    Miami Heat: The Heat have won their last three games by a combined five points which is clearly incredibly sustainable.

    Milwaukee Bucks: Overreaction theater is funny. It was one game against a team that shot an unsustainable percentage from distance and took advantage of Giannis’s worst game of the season to win by 12.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves won an emotional game to end a long skid and then promptly laid an egg at home to the Cavs.

    New Orleans Pelicans: This gif is my entire world right now.

    New York Knicks: What’s the point of starting Taj Gibson if he’s going to play 12 minutes and do nothing? What’s the point of playing Taj Gibson at all? What was the point of signing Taj Gibson in the first place?

    Oklahoma City Thunder: This is a playoff team that takes two games off of whoever ends up as the 2-seed. That’s my current prediction that is subject to change and I don’t want to be held accountable.

    Orlando Magic: It’s obvious something is missing on this team and DeMar DeRozan seems like a good idea, but I just can’t quite figure out what that missing piece is that would make a realistic target.

    Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are built to only beat the Bucks. Cool… cool.

    Phoenix Suns: Nothing like a visit to Sacramento to stop the bleeding.

    Portland Trail Blazers: I’m really curious how the Blazers are going to work out this rotation when Jusuf Nurkic gets healthy. Whiteside is destroying right now and it’s not feasible for those two to play together because the spacing will be so bad that there’ll be a sinkhole in the offensive paint.

    Sacramento Kings: Special thanks to the Brufather for enlightening the world that Richaun Holmes isn’t even on the Kings’ All-Star campaign promo. Who do they think they are?

    San Antonio Spurs: It’s always interesting to see how teams take the identity of their best player. The Spurs hung almost 150 in regulation against the Grizzlies and it was the least flashy offensive explosion I’ve ever seen. LaMarcus Aldridge murdered the Grizz with 17-foot jumpers.

    Toronto Raptors: It’s a wonder that Serge Ibaka just doesn’t really block shots anymore.

    Utah Jazz: It’s so weird to think of Jordan Clarkson as a really good get for a team at this stage. The Jazz needed someone like him in the worst way.

    Washington Wizards: Johnathan Williams is here because the two-week stint as the Colts lead back didn’t turn into anything more.

    The amount of players sitting in the buildup to the new year is alarming. I’m going to say it’s more that teams are babying fatigue and general soreness than guys are actually hurt. Maybe that’s a cold take. Let me know on Twitter here.

     

     

     

     

     

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