• It’s a solemn start to this week’s edition of Working the Wire, where we’re now one week removed from the devastating helicopter accident involving Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with seven others. It’s been quite some time since the NBA was shaken to the core like this due to tragedy like this and it’s been kind of a haze for many over the last few days. I was never a fan of Kobe but that really ended up being more out of respect than anything. How can this guy be so unstoppable and so invincible? I’m aging myself down a little bit, but I was really young when Michael was winning titles. I grew up on Kobe Bryant and I grew up hoping Steve Nash and his Suns would beat the Lakers every single time. The tribute at the Bucks game on Tuesday, just like the ones we saw around the league was worth the price of admission itself. The culmination of that with The House That Kobe Built at the Staples Center was the thing that really hit it home for how fleeting everything is.

    It’s always difficult to transition into this silly game we play as we deal with a very real tragedy. It’s a big week upcoming in sports. As you read this, the Superbowl is about to kick off. My prediction for the game is 28-17 Chiefs and I’ll be pulling for the Chiefs to win their first Superbowl in 50 years. I like seeing new teams win titles. We’re also coming up on the NBA trade deadline and I’m hoping we get a good one this year. There’s been a lot of rumbling on the trade market but the big names seem to be dying down a little because of these unpalatable contracts. I just want the Bucks to go get another shooter just so I can watch less Wes Matthews. Because the trade deadline is on Thursday, be wary of early waiver moves and keep something in the tank for the real weekend winners.

    Week 16 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 15): DET, PHX
    Mon/Tue: CHA, SAS
    Tue/Wed: DEN
    Wed/Thu: ORL
    Thu/Fri: HOU, PHI, POR
    Fri/Sat: DAL, DET, IND, PHX, SAC, TOR
    Sat/Sun: LAC, NYK
    Sun/Mon (of Week 17): ATL, MIA, UTA

    Working the Wire

    This is a week to be careful on the waiver wire because we’re right up on the trade deadline, which will give us more clarity than we’ve had all year on which players are going to be critical for the stretch run. Especially in a transaction cap league, I would hold off on any major commitments until we see which guys are calling a new place home.

    Point Guards

    Delon Wright: Delon Wright was a popular fantasy darling coming into the season and we know it’s been disappointing. The minutes have been disappointing in part because we didn’t know Luka was the most amazing prodigy ever. Wright played 29 minutes in the second game PA (post ankle) and put up 9-5-7 with a steal. That’s kind of the range we’re looking at for him.

    Jalen Brunson: We don’t really know who’s going to be the go-to fantasy option at point guard for the Mavs. You could say that Wright has a better skillset for fantasy but Brunson is more of a direct analog as a better scorer and offense creator. The first test was a success for Brunson as he hung 27 points and eight assists, so the Mavs should trade Luka. The fantasy stat set is a little limited for him but if he’s going to score in bunches, he’s going to be worth it.

    Reggie Jackson: I’m kind of interested in what Reggie Jackson is going to do with no training wheels on. He has a bad fantasy profile and we know that, but what if he gets a ton of volume as the main scoring threat on this team after the trade deadline. I’m not saying it’s a great look, but I am saying it’s A look.

    Shooting Guards

    Shake Milton: Apparently Shake Milton is a big winner from the Josh Richardson injury, as he’s been starting over the last few games and has played a healthy allotment of minutes. We’ll see how long Josh Richardson is out, because that’s going to tie in directly to his ability to give us some popcorn numbers with some cash counters sprinkled in.

    Danuel House Jr.: We are back in the real estate market because the Rockets continue to have no depth. House might as well get a condo in the Toyota Center because he plays so many minutes for this team that’s now missing their starting center for the immediate future. All the minutes and all the corner triples.

    Glenn Robinson III: We’re here for Glenn Robinson check-in III because he’s playing more than half an hour every night and scoring more points than you thought. Steph Curry will be out at least another month. GR3 is going be a primary scorer for this team that can only beat Cleveland right now. Points and triples are the main focus here.

    Small Forwards

    Kyle Anderson: Slo-Mo is tough because he hasn’t been good at all for most of the year and his career high in scoring for the season just happened on Friday… and it was 14. We’ve historically liked this stat set in a very Boris Diaw way. He shoots a decent percentage from the floor and can pass well. I don’t know how much upside there is in his game but there’s late-round value on the back of efficient shooting, limited turnovers and some blocks.

    Royce O’Neale: Royce O’Neale is one of those guys who no one knows about but at the end of the year we’ll look at his total body of work and he’ll be sitting on the cusp of top-100 total value. He doesn’t score a lot and doesn’t do anything particularly well, which makes him kind of a prototypical guy to lock into a lineup in a deep league knowing he’ll be reasonably useful in totality. Also, the Jazz need his defense on the wing because otherwise they’re cooked.

    Trevor Ariza: Ariza has played 36, 32, 38 and 39 minutes in the last four games. Last I checked, that’s just a completely ridiculous amount. He’s worth a look as the dude that used to make a lot of threes and get a lot of steals to make him a top-50 guy. That’s not there anymore but the requisite playing time definitely is.

    Power Forwards

    PJ Tucker: I noticed that PJ Tucker was getting dropped and have you people NO SHAME? The Rockets have no depth and Tucker is going to play 30 minutes every single night unless the team makes a move to bring in another wing, and even then, it’s probably Danuel House who loses more time than Tucker. He’s a good defender and the general consistency should keep him on the floor.

    Cody Zeller: I don’t really understand what Cody Zeller has done wrong at this point. Bismack Biyombo’s general incompetence has removed him from the equation. Zeller has been a top-100 guy in the past and unless they bring in someone like Hassan Whiteside to take up space, he should be a quiet double-double with good percentages until he gets injured.

    Markieff Morris: The options aren’t great in the frontcourt this week, but we should continue to monitor a guy like Markieff Morris with the trading deadline coming up. It’s getting less likely that Andre Drummond will be relocated, so this could all be for naught. We know Christian Wood would be the sexy name, but don’t slight a Markieff Morris just getting run to close out the year.

    Centers

    Daniel Gafford: Gafford is on the road to recovery and Luke Kornet only showed off because I was there. There’s no reason why Gafford can’t be a late-round value if he can manage 24 minutes of action and average eight points and eight boards with a blocked shot or two per game.

    Dewayne Dedmon: Here’s the deal: Marvin Bagley might not play again because he’s made of glass. Dedmon has admittedly been irrelevant for most of the year and that may happen again when Richaun Holmes returns (maybe as you’re reading this), but we can’t guarantee the Kings will do the right thing

    Jakob Poeltl: I’m back over the Poeltl hurdle. Tell me how 17 points, seven boards and three defensive counters with great shooting in just 18 minutes doesn’t get everyone hot and bothered. Poeltl has a great fantasy stat set when he can get close to 20 minutes and not the 13 he seems to get more often than not. Love this play as a shot-blocker who doesn’t miss shots or turn the ball over.

    The Stream Team

    PG: J.J. Barea – This is a long shot obviously, but we should keep this door open just in case Jalen Brunson and Delon Wright don’t pan out. Low upside late-round streamer if that’s the case.

    SG: Luguentz Dort – Dort has gotten some playing time with Terrance Ferguson away from the team and he could easily keep a starting job. He was fun in college.

    SF: Semi Ojeleye – Huge Ojeleye fan for no reason. I liked him at SMU so obviously I drafted him in a rookie draft when he came into the league and he’s done nothing. Now he’s playing a handful of minutes and hasn’t been horrible.

    PF: Harry Giles III – Giles could actually be the beneficiary of the Marvin Bagley if Dedmon is moved or if the Kings’ brass changes their mind on the fly. On the flip side, Giles could get hurt again, that’s not new.

    C: Willy Hernangomez – Free Willy. Bismack Biyombo got canceled and Willy has been a per-36 darling for many years.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    Now we also have the All-Star reserves to work with for this week’s musings. We also have an early Red Lobster reference because that’s what makes journalism worthwhile.

    Atlanta Hawks: Now the Hawks are interested in Clint Capela. How do they think this works? Just because I’m interested in The Ultimate Feast at the Red Lobster doesn’t mean they’re going to give it to me for the five-dollar bill I’m trying to hand them. This isn’t a buffet.

    Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving knee MRI watch. Maybe he traded it for a talent upgrade.

    Boston Celtics: Was Jaylen Brown snubbed? I’m indifferent.

    Charlotte Hornets: The Mavericks are interested in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? That makes one of us.

    Chicago Bulls: When we’re hyped to get Daniel Gafford back, you know this is a tragic spot.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: Shout out to definitely the worst team in the league. It was odd that the Hawks with their All-Star starter point guard and all this young talent have been below everyone for so long..

    Dallas Mavericks: Teams like the Mavs are the real winners of this clear division in the standings. The Grizzlies are the 8th seed right now but they’re looking behind them instead of ahead with the Mavs and Thunder both comfortably ahead.

    Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets did really well to stay above water with all the injuries. Beating this Bucks team on the road is no joke.

    Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose almost got the legacy All-Star appearance based on his late-career resurgence. Maybe if we had a couple more reserve spots available I wouldn’t hate it..

    Golden State Warriors: In honor of the Superbowl, let’s recognized that the 49ers have sucked out everything else from the Bay Area. The Warriors lost their entire team, the Giants are in a total rebuild and the Sharks are having their worst season in more than 15 years.

    Houston Rockets: James Harden is no longer “statistical anomaly season for the ages” because he’s running out of gas in February. Maybe the Rockets need some depth.

    Indiana Pacers: Oladipooooooo. Also they lost to the Knicks.

    Los Angeles Clippers: Tough one here. Pat Beverley as a borderline top-100 guy?

    Los Angeles Lakers: I’m not crying, you’re crying.

    Memphis Grizzlies: There’s a lot of argument about Ja Morant making the All-Star team because the Grizzlies are in the eighth playoff spot in unprecedented fashion. They’re also under 0.500 and it’s hard to give it to him over Booker or even Russ (who got the spot) from a statistical angle.

    Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo is a deserving All-Star. Good to see a surprising season get rewarded.

    Milwaukee Bucks: Lost at home to the Nuggets. Blow it up and rebuild around Dragan Bender.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: Is there anything more Minnesota sports than blowing a 17-point lead in the last three minutes to a bad team and becoming the first team to do that in 8379 tries?

    New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson would be a good spokesman for the National Park Service.

    New York Knicks: Sell the team.

    Oklahoma City Thunder: I’m NOT in the camp that Devin Booker should have made the All-Star team over Chris Paul. CP3 is doing the most to make this unlikely playoff team into… just that.

    Orlando Magic: Moving Evan Fournier makes a ton of sense in a career year. He’s not going to be on the next good Magic team. No, being a bubble playoff team under 0.500 is not the makings of a good team.

    Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are really missing Josh Richardson and their lack of depth is showing. They can’t get pounded by a Boston team missing their best player like this.

    Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker not making the All-Star cut is one of the big coups. I just don’t think Russell Westbrook deserved to be there over him. Book will be one soon enough.

    Portland Trail Blazers: Dame Lillard is something else. 48.8 points per game over the last six is just absurd. He might will them into the postseason by himself.

    Sacramento Kings: I’m over Marvin Bagley. He’s annoying.

    San Antonio Spurs: I actually don’t know this answer. Is the Rodeo Road Trip the Spurs do every year like… just their thing? Do they specifically ask for an eight-game road trip around this time of year just so they can do the bit?

    Toronto Raptors: It would have been cool if Fred VanVleet hadn’t hurt himself and had been a weird All-Star selection from off the beaten path. His numbers are not THAT much lower than Kyle Lowry (a deserving All-Star in his own right).

    Utah Jazz: Mike Conley’s forgettable season isn’t the biggest issue for the Jazz. They actually have no answer if someone like Royce O’Neale struggles because he’s their only plus defender at the wing.

    Washington Wizards: In a case like Brad Beal being an All-Star over a guy like Khris Middleton or Kyle Lowry, I agree with the selections. In that case, it’s okay to me to go with a guy who’s helping his team in important games and not just piling up counting numbers.

    Were you happy with the All-Star reserves? Let me know on Twitter here.

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