• Things that happened in the United Center expeditions: It was stupidly cold for no reason. The Bulls rallied to an unexpected win. I was a complete moron and didn’t process that the Blackhawks and Bulls would have the same team store because having two team stores in the same building would be a stupid use of space. The tacos were saltier than the sea and are at the bottom of our stadium taco rankings. It was a generally acceptable experience, the train from the suburbs into the city was far less painful than driving and getting boxed in a parking lot by a band of hooligans. Getting an Lyft out of that area after the game was a bone-chilling, near-death experience because it was cold and the driver almost ended our lives, but we made it out of there alive and got our hands on some snazzy merch. I’ve also been collecting souvenir cups from places I go and that collection is coming on nicely and taking up far too much cabinet space.

    We’re on our way to the trade deadline, with a little more than two weeks to go after this MLK edition of the wire checkup. This is a really exciting time for waiver wire fiends, because we’re going to see a lot of rebuilding teams move on from their value assets, giving some youngsters and fill-ins a chance to play heavy minutes in their place. We had our first couple big trades recently with the Jeff Teague trade (weird) and the Kent Bazemore trade (also weird).

    Week 14 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 13): DEN, IND, MIA, SAS
    Mon/Tue: none
    Tue/Wed: LAC
    Wed/Thu: LAL, WAS
    Thu/Fri: none
    Fri/Sat: CHI, DET, MIN, OKC
    Sat/Sun: BKN
    Sun/Mon (of Week 15): HOU, ORL, SAS

    Working the Wire

    The easy move would be to say Markelle Fultz is again one of the hottest pickups of the week. That’s true with D.J. Augustin’s three-to-four-week timetable at best. We’re a universal show here, so we need to get some more names involved. The first real trade winds have opened up many opportunities for new players to emerge, so this should be a wild ride through the trade deadline.

    Point Guards

    Cam Reddish: I have a hard time with Reddish. He went bonkers in San Antonio with 22 points (a career-high), five rebounds, four assists, four steals and five triples in the line of his young career. He followed that up against a bad Detroit team with seven points and almost nothing else. The potential is clearly there and we would have to assume that the Hawks are going to continue to roll him out in a lost season. Whether that’s a good fantasy move is the real question.

    Monte Morris: Jamal Murray’s injury was a bit of a bummer, but it should allow Monte Morris to get a few games with starter’s minutes. Morris was a late-round value in 9-category formats last season on account of a great assist-to-turnover ratio and good percentages from a point guard. Not much upside here but there’s a floor in 25 minutes of action.

    Shabazz Napier: Jeff Teague wasn’t doing a ton on the Wolves as a backup point guard so the trade to Atlanta really opens up the team for more minutes. Napier is one of four Wolves to feature on this week’s Wire edition. They just have a lot of options to fill in a 25-minute void. Napier should continue to be the starting point guard for this team and be a source of assists and points.

    Shooting Guards

    Josh Okogie: Josh Okogie has been interesting in the past as a source of steals and has seen an uptick in minutes over the last five games. He’s averaging 2.4 defensive counters in the month of January, up from 1.1 and 1.3 defensive stats per game over the months of November and December. We could be looking at a solid 10 points and three cash counters in 25 minutes of action, which would be perfectly serviceable in a deeper format.

    Troy Brown Jr.: The bottom barrel for Troy Brown right now is a steals specialist in fantasy. He’s going to get minutes playing for this crappy team and has been pretty solid as an efficient scorer and a rebounder. The steals kind of came out of nowhere this season but they have generally been a constant. Should be around a top-100 value going forward.

    Eric Gordon: Eric Gordon is trending back up as he steps into more minutes and the shot is falling at a decent clip. You could do worse than a 30-minute sixth man who is knocking down four 3-pointers a game. The scoring is up, the shots are going up in bulk and I would expect that trend to continue as the Rockets look for more scoring avenues outside of their dynamic guard duo.

    Small Forwards

    Dillon Brooks: It’s been a back and forth between Jae Crowder and Brooks. Both of those guys should be rostered in every league with 12 or more teams. Brooks can flat out score. He’s shooting with enough volume and playing enough minutes to get by as a top-150 value on volume alone. He’s just one of those guys I think would be missed if he was gone.

    Jarrett Culver: I’m a huge fan of Jarrett Culver as an all-around producer. He has great potential in keeper formats and is finally starting to round into form for redraft purposes. He’s still under 10 pointer per game on the season (9.9), but the last 10 games have been kind to him. The shooting percentage is up from 39.8% to 47% and with it he’s averaging 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. I would be snagging him wherever available.

    Duncan Robinson: Dunc was a hot pickup early when it was clear he was going to get run for the Heat over guys like Kelly Olynyk. Robinson has been a 3-point sniper all year. It has been a lean stretch for him, especially early in the month of January, and the 35% shooting from the floor burns. He’s rounding back into form and the minutes (and triples) haven’t gone away. His role is stable and the team is much better than advertised. I don’t recommend moving on.

    Power Forwards

    Eric Paschall: The Fordham product was a hot pickup early in the year during the Warriors’ first run to the infirmary. Paschall hit a rough stretch which caused a lot of owners to move on, especially because he doesn’t have peripherals to buoy his game when the shot isn’t going. He’s mainly a points and rebounds contributor with limited range (a very Jabari Parker profile). The fact is, the shots have been going down at a decent clip over the last seven games (52.9% from the floor, 86.7% from the line) and he’s fallen into some steals (1.3) and that has bumped him all the way up to 117 in 9-cat formats. He’s a guy to run with when he’s shooting well and dump for the hot guy when he’s not.

    Taurean Prince: Why does everyone hate Taurean Prince? He’s almost guaranteed to be a late-round value without a ton of downside. I definitely think he should be doing more with his minutes so that he’s more than just the 3-pointers, but the threes are just there. You’re going to get two or three of them a night with some low-teens scoring and reliable minutes. In fantasy basketball stability means a lot and I think Prince is nothing if not stable.

    Alfonzo McKinnie: He’s gotten 22 minutes per game in the month of January and has put together a couple reasonably good lines. There’s one steal per game to be had here along with around eight points and five boards. It’s not a great line for now, but imagine a situation where the Cavs start to clean out the frontcourt and McKinnie becomes an integral part of the rotation.

    Centers

    Luke Kornet: It’s especially convincing to see the guy you recommend put in work in real life. Kornet had a hot start in the win over the Cavs and really kept the Bulls in striking distance early. With WCJ and now Daniel Gafford out, he’s going to hold down the starting center position for the short term and could be a good source for blocks and 3-pointers.

    Mason Plumlee: Mason Plumlee has been the yang to the Joker’s yin for the Nuggets. The consistent appeal is not there for Plumlee, who lacks upside and minute-share to be more than a late-round streamer. However, in team builds where the free throw ding is not a big factor, the total accumulation is worth a little more than advertised. I’m obviously incredibly excited about Plumlee. He’ll rebound some and shoot a good percentage from the floor.

    Mike Muscala: There’s some potential or Muscala to get deep streaming minutes as the Thunder look at avenues to move on from Steven Adams. With Adams and Nerlens Noel both injured, Muscala put up a 17-point outing in 31 minutes. With Noel healthy, he fell back into general obscurity. Noel has a history of injury and limited minutes so if Steven Adams is moved, we’re looking at some deep-league streaming for Muscala.

    The Stream Team

    PG: Jordan McLaughlin – Backup point guard minutes in Minnesota might be there. He could be a poor man’s Shabazz Napier now that Napier has the starting gig.

    SG: Furkan Korkmaz – Korkmaz set a career-high in scoring on Friday with 24. Could be a decent streamer for 3-pointers.

    SF: James Johnson – James Johnson has found his way back into the Heat rotation and we’ve seen him be a top-100 asset before. That may not be the case this time around in around 20 minutes, but there’s a nice stat set here.

    PF: Nicolo Melli – Melli got some starter minutes with JJ Redick out. He notmally sits around 15 minutes with deep streamer potential when someone in the rotation is hobbled.

    C: Kyle O’Quinn – This is dependent on the Norvel Pelle situation. If he gets a full NBA contract, he’s going to retain his backup center role. Otherwise, keep an eye on KOQ as a low-end streamer until Joel Embiid is healthy.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    I thought of doing an MLK-themed set of musings for this week but I decided against it. Maybe next week if there’s an outcry we’ll have some dreams.

    Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are over a center so they went to get a backup point guard instead? Weird move.

    Brooklyn Nets: He’s been gone this entire time and now Kyrie is back and there’s drama about the team’s direction? Just wait till next year when Durant is back. That’s the direction.

    Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart is my spirit animal. Who let him shoot 22 threes and how did 11 go in?

    Charlotte Hornets: I should invest in Hornets season tickets at 29 dollars per game just for posterity.

    Chicago Bulls: It was actually not that bad going down to the United Center even with the frigid cold for no reason. Zach LaVine put in work.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: Having to get excited about Alfonzo McKinnie must be hard.

    Dallas Mavericks: Andre Drummond to Dallas has got some buzz, but Robert Covington seems like an even better fit to improve on Dorian Finney-Smith as the clear weakest link in that starting lineup.

    Denver Nuggets: There’s definitely a gap between the Nuggets’ record, how good they actually are and how good I think they are. I think it’s in that descending order.

    Detroit Pistons: The Pistons would probably get quite a bit for a resurgent Derrick Rose right now. That seems almost more important than forcing the Andre Drummond market that seems like it’s not there right at this moment.

    Golden State Warriors: Marquese Chriss is uncanceled and I jumped the gun.

    Houston Rockets: Danuel House is ruining everything I believed in and that’s a shame.

    Indiana Pacers: Where would this team be without Domantas Sabonis? He deserves to be in the All-Star conversation just for that.

    Los Angeles Clippers: I’m glad we have to know the intricate details of Kawhi and Paul George planning a Clipper rendezvous at Drake’s mansion. They don’t even try to make it seem like they didn’t set this up.

    Los Angeles Lakers: Who is this Dwight Howard? Is it 2008?

    Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Allen getting a job on the Memphis Hustle staff is everything this organization is about. I’m sure that went over well locally.

    Miami Heat: The Heat are definitely going to do something to consolidate and upgrade that power forward position or find another way to move Meyers Leonard out of the starting lineup. LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Derrick Rose all make a lot of sense to me.

    Milwaukee Bucks: Is it bad to say that sometimes I don’t watch Bucks games because I’m taking some of these regular season wins for granted? The Bulls are coming to town tomorrow afternoon and I’m almost not going to bother flipping over to the game because I expect the Bucks to win by 25.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: Why was Allen Crabbe the piece they wanted back for Jeff Teague?

    New Orleans Pelicans: I’m excited for Zion to play 11 minutes in a restricted NBA debut on national television to replace the actually exciting top-five clash between the Nuggets and Rockets.

    New York Knicks: The Knicks aren’t even interested in Andre Drummond? They’re getting ahead of the disappointment when he doesn’t want to stay there anyway.

    Oklahoma City Thunder: There’s been rumblings about a Steven Adams trade to the Clippers and it makes a ton of sense/ These two teams have traded with each other recently and that would probably be a good move for both squads.

    Orlando Magic: The Markelle Fultz hype train has been refueled.

    Philadelphia 76ers: Barely beating the Knicks doesn’t seem like a very convincing way to get back on track.

    Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker impresses more and more every day so obviously the Suns will trade him for Kyle Kuzma, who spends more time on his hair than his basketball.

    Portland Trail Blazers: Biggie Swanigan will fly between Sacramento and Portland in perpetuity. Welcome back big guy.

    Sacramento Kings: Why is Luke Walton an NBA head coach? What has he done to make it actually worth keeping him around?

    San Antonio Spurs: I’m weirdly not ready for the Spurs to trade out their stars and bottom out. It just seems un-Spursian.

    Toronto Raptors: I mentioned this in passing, but I think Andre Drummond would be a great fit for the Raptors if they send Marc Gasol’s expiring deal the other way with some sweeteners.

    Utah Jazz: What a weird dichotomy in opinions about the Royce O’Neale deal. The epitome of someone who is beloved for a local fanbase who sees him every day and doesn’t do enough statistically to be appreciated by outside fans.

    Washington Wizards: Brad Beal is angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

    Do you have any trade thoughts as we enter the sprint towards the trade deadline? Let us know on Twitter here.

     

     

     

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Alex Len
    C, Sacramento Kings

    Alex Len (right hip flexor) is expected to to play "a few minutes" against the Clippers on Saturday according to Kings beat writer Sean Cunningham.

    Len hasn't seen game action for about a month now so he will be eased in slowly. With Marvin Bagley and Richuan Holmes currently on the shelf, Harry Giles and Nemanja Bjelica have been forced into all of the center minutes so there is opportunity for Len at least until Holmes returns but he shouldn't be more than a watchlist guy for now.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • Donta Hall
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons are expected to sign Donta Hall to a 10-day contract.

    Hall was on the Pistons' Summer League and preseason squads prior to being waived and has been with their G League affiliate all year thus far. He has averaged 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.5 blocks and 0.2 triples in 36 games on 28.6 minutes with a 66.7/26.9/75.6 shooting line. He could potentially steal some minutes from Thon Maker and John Henson but we'd leave him on the waivers for now.

    Source: JD Shaw on Twitter

  • Wayne Ellington
    SG, New York Knicks

    Wayne Ellington (strained right ankle) was a limited participant in Saturday's practice.

    Ellington did not make an appearance in Friday's game although his tag switched from questionable to available prior game-time. His playing time is too erratic to be of use in fantasy and he wouldn't be more than three-point specialist anyway. Leave him on waivers.

    Source: Steve Popper on Twitter

  • Elfrid Payton
    PG, New York Knicks

    Elfrid Payton (sore right ankle) did not practice on Saturday.

    The Knicks' next game will be on Monday so we should have another update on Payton by then. Ignoring his free-throw percentage, he has been an upper mid-round guy for the last couple of months so he definitely a hold for now. Frank Ntilikina picked up the start on Friday with 14 points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and two triples in 32 minutes with Dennis Smith Jr. putting up three points, six assists and two steals in 16 minutes as the backup.

    Source: Steve Popper on Twitter

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, Dallas Mavericks

    Willie Cauley-Stein (persona) will not be with the Mavs on Saturday when they take on the Hawks.

    Cauley-Stein picked up a DNP-CD on Friday and played only 4.3 minutes per game in the prior two contests so he can be left on waivers. With Kristaps Porzingis also unavailable on Saturday, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic will hold down the center position.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Mitchell Robinson (sprained left ankle) did not practice on Saturday.

    Robinson has been all over the injury report this season with a variety of ailments but has been able to play through them for the most part. The Knicks next game is on Monday so we should have another update by then. If Robinson cannot play, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis will likely soak up most of his minutes.

    Source: Steve Popper on Twitter

  • Reggie Jackson
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Reggie Jackson will pick up the start in place of Patrick Beverley against the Kings on Saturday.

    This allows Lou Williams to stay in the sixth man role as Landry Shamet will start alongside Jackson in the back court. This was not the ideal landing spot for Jackson but he should be looking at good minutes as long as Beverley and Paul George remain out.

    Source: Tomer Azarly on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis (knee injury recovery) will not play against the Hawks on Saturday.

    Porzingis posted a ridiculous 24-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist, 5-block, 4-triple line on Friday and will be rested on the second game in the back-to-back. Maxi Kleber, who posted a season-high 26 points in 23 minutes on Friday should slide into the starting lineup with Boban Marjanovic picking up the backup minutes after getting a DNP-CD on Friday as Willie Cauley-Stein (personal) is unable.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Seth Curry
    SG, Dallas Mavericks

    Seth Curry (right knee soreness) is being listed as questionable ahead of Saturday's game versus the Hawks.

    Curry cooled off on Friday with only six points in 28 minutes after being on fire in the previous six games. With Luka Doncic already sitting in this back-to-back game, the Mavs may end up relying on Tim Hardaway Jr., Delon Wright, Jalen Brunson and J.J. Barea to handle all the backcourt minutes if Curry sits.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luke Doncic (right ankle soreness) will not play against the Hawks on Saturday.

    Doncic missed seven games with the injury earlier this month so the Mavs are likely being cautious as this is the second game of a back-to-back. With Kristaps Porzingis also ruled out for this one and Seth Curry questionable, the Mavs will need to find offense elsewhere. Jalen Brunson will likely replace Doncic in the starting lineup while Tim Hardaway Jr. will be expected to take on much of the scoring load for Saturday's game.

    Source: NBA.com