• We. Are. BACK. I can’t promise the obscure music references brought to you last season by Chef, but I can promise that I’ll say at least four idiotic things per piece so those will be Easter eggs for all you readers to find.

    Let me tell something to y’all. Controversially, even as someone who is writing a longform article about fantasy sports, I might have been completely out on the NBA if it hadn’t been for the fake basketball. It’s really what kept me engaged in the NBA over the last half-decade. I’ve had trouble getting into games and spending money on merchandise knowing that my team wasn’t going to compete for a title. It was hard to justify spending 200 dollars to watch the Bucks play a playoff game when we knew there was no conceivable way they were going to make it all the way and win. This year, everything feels different.

    I’m not JUST homering out because the Bucks won 60 games last year and could very well do it again (although that helps). It’s because this season feels like we could realistically have close to 10 teams that could win it all, which is more different teams we’ve had with a shot at a title in the last decade combined.

    We’re already off to a rollicking start with Deandre Ayton getting suspended for 25 games for a “shy bladder” and the loss of some other kids to disappointing injuries in Marvin Bagley III and Zion Williamson. Also, Nic Batum broke his finger and his face is frustrating because I have an embarrassing amount of Batum in fantasy. I thought someone had to do something so the Hornets didn’t lose by 30 and score 72 points a game. You know who that someone ISN’T going to be? It’s Nic Batum because he’s frustrating and bad. I’m not bitter.

    With great injuries and general team incompetence comes great moments of not knowing who the heck is going to be the best option to make up for lost stats or overcome horrendous rotations. We don’t know for sure but dang it, we’re going to try to find some diamonds in the rough. Without further ado, let’s go streamin’.

    Week 2 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 2): CHA, GSW, OKC, POR
    Mon/Tue: ATL, DEN
    Tue/Wed: none
    Wed/Thu: LAC
    Thu/Fri: SAS
    Fri/Sat: BKN, DET, GSW, MIL, ORL
    Sat/Sun: none
    Sun/Mon (of Week 3): HOU

    Working The Wire

    Here’s the plan. Every week, we’ll do some number of players at each position and it’ll be great.

    Point Guards

    Elfrid Payton: Okay so the Knicks have somewhere between six and nine point guards and between negative one and zero competent head coaches. I’m negative seven percent confident that David Fizdale will make more than five good coaching moves this season. Why did Elfrid Payton play twice as many minutes as Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina combined in game one? Why did Allonzo Trier start their first game? Why is David Fizdale a coach? Why are the Knicks a franchise? Do Knicks fans care? Do Knicks fans exist? Why do I have to alienate every fanbase? I’m Ron Burgundy?

    Landry Shamet: Doc Rivers said that Landry Shamet was going to get a lot of run as a point guard on this team and we saw heavy minutes in all three of the Clippers’ games to start the year. It’s great news for him. It’s a really good team that will keep giving Shamet every chance to succeed, at least until Paul George comes back. Even then, that opens up lanes and wide open shooting opportunities as defenses have to be aware of another superstar on the court.

    Devonte’ Graham: There’s a non-zero chance that Devonte’ Graham is better than Terry Rozier. Scary Terry might be scarier because of the ludicrous contract he got from this front office. With a lot of unproven talent on the Hornets, they might as well run with what’s hot. Realistically, the only really solid asset on this dumb team is Cody Zeller as a plodding top-100 snoozefest and everyone else could be number 12 or number 1212.

    Shooting Guards

    Dwayne Bacon: Is Dwayne Bacon here for general posterity because he took a lot of shots and played a lot of minutes? Yep. Look, I think there’s a possibility he’s productive because Nicolas Batum is no longer with us and someone has to do something. The issue is that someone could be Malik Monk or PJ Washington or Miles Bridges or Marvin Williams or Devonte’ Graham or Michael Jordan or you and me and all of the people and I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you.

    Markelle Fultz: He. Looked. GOOD. It was a savvy trade by the Magic front office to take a shot on some damaged goods when they bought low on him at the deadline last season. We know the story and the thoracic outlet syndrome that has ruined some careers on the baseball diamond. The shot isn’t there and may not necessarily come back but there’s a reason Fultz was the number one pick. The upside is tantalizing even if there are some inconsistent returns.

    Luke Kennard: I don’t know if this is a personal character flaw, but I can’t stop wondering why Luke Kennard can’t be JJ Redick. It might be because they’re both white sharpshooters that went to Duke. It might also be because they’re the same player. It’s probably the former, but it makes so much sense that Kennard would have the same profile. I think the shooting acumen isn’t quite the same but the playing time and scoring opportunities should be there because of the whole “Reggie Jackson is bad” bit, which is covered up by the whole “Reggie Jackson is injured” bit.

    Small Forwards

    Marcus Morris: He should be owned already but just in case this is a pickup on the basis of David Fizdale being a moron and the Knicks being dysfunctional and we should stop crapping on the same team — but also, it brings me joy. Official request to David Fizdale: Please play Kevin Knox or resign or move to some unassuming country like Uzbekistan.

    Wesley Matthews: Wisconsin Mr. Basketball 2005 is Wisconsin Mr. Stand In The Corner And Make Three Corner 3-Pointers Every Night 2019. This was such a sneaky acquisition by the Bucks as a player who perfectly fits the mold for this team. Giannis will continue to suck the defense into the paint and Matthews will feast (But not on donuts, that’s a sore subject.). I’m also obligated to say that he went to a great school.

    Matisse Thybulle: This is a deeper cut but this dude can DEFEND. If there’s one thing that will win over every coach not named Mike D’Antoni, it’s high effort on the defensive end. He’s already in good graces because of his positive attitude and motor on defense and if he racks up defensive stats at this clip any offense is gravy. He annoys the hell out of me with this whole smiling thing. It’s absolutely sickening. Everything’s bad and we’re all going to die.

    Power Forwards

    Maxi Kleber: If we played in one-category leagues where blocks were the only category, Kleber would basically be a third-round pick. Kristaps Porzingis is going to see some loads managed and we’re still unclear on the health of Dwight Powell, so Kleber will continue to get some run.

    Markieff Morris: No, I didn’t just put him here because the Morris twins should never be separated ever. The fact of the matter is that Blake Griffin is very out and the other fact of the other matter is that the Pistons have NO frontcourt depth. Thon Maker is playing actual NBA minutes. As long as that’s a real thing, we have to assume that Dwane Casey is going to roll out his veterans who are actually not horrendous.

    Nemanja Bjelica: We have to assume absolutely nothing about the Sacramento Kings, who were smart enough to go get Richaun Holmes and will probably be dumb enough to not run him out there. Bjelica is going to start for the time being and that means the volume is going to be there for him to do some stuff maybe probably. I think this is more of a monitor and in deep leagues we have to speculate on playing time.

    Centers

    Frank Kaminsky: Continuing the theme of players filling in for injuries or load management or organizational incompetence (Does that run the gamut?), we have to talk about Deandre Ayton trying to pee out drugs. The obvious disclaimer is if Dario Saric is available, he’s the guy. In general, the center position is pretty dire basically all the time so Kaminsky is going to have some appeal if he sees even 25 minutes and scores at an okay clip and rebounds some of the time. This has been your most glowing recommendation.

    Tristan Thompson: Don’t worry, I hate him too but if he’s going to play 30 minutes and not do anything stupid, he’s worth our time. He’s going to rebound at a high clip and not miss a lot of shots. The Cavs are a mess and shouldn’t be running Thompson out there for that long, but they literally have no one else to play center.

    Kevon Looney: The Warriors’ roster looks… kind of bad. I’m having a hard time believing they won’t grit their way into being a playoff team at season’s end, but there’s a whole bunch of randoms in there who will get their chance to show off. Looney has been there and done that for the last iteration of this team. He should still get bulk minutes until Willie Cauley-Stein returns and disappoints.

    The Stream Team

    As a bonus round, we’ll add some quick hitters for deeper leagues that might be interesting for those going diving.

    PG: Emmanuel Mudiay – The Jazz seem to trust Mudiay to get some mid-20 minute outings. He’s still only 23 and you could do worse than having Mike Conley as a tutor.

    SG: Tony Snell – This guy is straight up just running around for 35 minutes a night, but if you’re going to run around doing nothing, at least do it with volume.

    SF: Glenn Robinson III – There’s no reason Glenn Robinson can’t get to 12-5-2 with two triples every night.

    PF: Trey Lyles – He’s starting for Gregg Popovich.

    C: Aron Baynes – The final Ayton contingency plan.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    This is going to be a little coast-to-coast around the league. Basically, I’m going to say something pithy or pose a pseudo-rhetorical question on the spectrum of useless to clever to mildly controversial to potentially clever about every team in the league.

    Atlanta Hawks: To be honest, Atlanta sports isn’t in as bad of a place as people think. The Hawks are at least exciting with Trae Young and John Collins steering the ship. The Braves might win 100 games next season with a couple MVP-caliber players. Atlanta United sells out their building and are one win away from back-to-back appearances in the MLS Cup. There is no football of any kind in the state of Georgia.

    Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie’s face makes it tough to root for the Nets.

    Boston Celtics: I’m still struggling with the star-level contract Jaylen Brown got for being like… a pretty good player. Every other extension has looked like a pretty dang good deal after seeing that number.

    Charlotte Hornets: Are the Hornets the worst franchise in professional sports? I know the Knicks exist but I feel like their incompetence is under the microscope all the time, and at least they used to be good. The Hornets have literally just never been that good. The all-time Hornets roster still has like… Emeka Okafor on it.

    Chicago Bulls: The Suite Life of Zach and Coby is the best thing the Bulls have made happen since Michael Jordan, although I feel like I’m shorting the lovable Luol Deng and Captain Kirk Hinrich years.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson is playing 30 minutes a game. I just needed to repeat that for the lady in the back row.

    Dallas Mavericks: COOL. HAND. LUKA. I need to separate the fantasy aspect from what an amazing player he is already at such a young age. He and Porzingis are going to be a lot of fun for a long time.

    Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic looks like if Nikola Jokic ate everyone that ever called him fat. Also, this tweet got me right in the nostalgia.

    Detroit Pistons: I’m conflicted about the return of the vintage Derrick Rose. It’s a really good story playing with the knees of a 78 year-old grandma but that means we have to see his absurd hair situation.

    Golden State Warriors: Are they actually going to be bad? I repeat, I’m STILL having such a hard time believing they won’t be right in the thick of the blob in the West.

    Houston Rockets: Again with the hair thing, what the hell is Russell Westbrook rocking?

    Indiana Pacers: The Pacers miss Victor Oladipo.

    Los Angeles Clippers: I think I should come clean and admit that when I was a kid, I thought there were two basketball courts in the Staples Center so when the Lakers played a road game at the Clippers, they went to the other side of the hallway. I didn’t understand the court decal situation.

    Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard looks like he might be not useless but it’s so weird to remember when he was one of the five or six players who guaranteed 45 wins just by being present.

    Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol getting “Grit and Grind” engraved on his championship ring is an awesome story. I have a lot of respect for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for being loyal to this team for a long time in an era where guys just flock together in big markets to try and buy rings.

    Miami Heat: I might be in the minority, but I don’t think this team is that good but it’s fun to see Kendrick Nunn ball out. I’m again obligated to say he went to a great school.

    Milwaukee Bucks: If Giannis leaves Milwaukee I’m walking directly into Lake Michigan and drowning.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: I enjoyed the accessibility of Target Center the last time I was in Minneapolis. I’m not a public transport user in many places because I feel like ridesharing is just more convenient in a place you don’t know (I don’t want to get on the wrong bus and end up in Mexico or something.), but the train line system that circled downtown in Minneapolis is THE WAY to get people into these buildings.

    New Orleans Pelicans: I wonder how many beignets Zion is going to eat while he’s out. It has to be at least two a day, right?

    New York Knicks: I feel like crapping on them for the third time in 3,000 words is inappropriate.

    Oklahoma City Thunder: Why do people think the Thunder are going to be bad? Chris Paul is going to be out there trying to show that he’s not an also-ran and they have “some” pieces in place (Read: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is good.).

    Orlando Magic: Is the mascot called “Stuff the Magic Dragon” because they legally can’t call it “Puff” or is there something else involved? What are we stuffing into the magic dragon?

    Philadelphia 76ers: I have such a hard time figuring out my opinion of load management. I get the whole point of it, but someone had to have sat there in the board room and thought “Yo, if we call this load management, everyone is going to act like they’re teenagers and giggle about it.” Also, I feel like load management doesn’t bother me if the guy doesn’t miss other games too, JOEL.

    Phoenix Suns: Obviously the Suns look good without Deandre Ayton. There’s a rant in here somewhere about how often these athletes get caught for trying to piss out drugs and how it’s not that hard to not get caught. But we don’t condone cheating so there’s a conflict here.

    Portland Trail Blazers: I found out Kent Bazemore is one of the top-five golfers in the NBA, so that’ll really help y’all make fantasy basketball decisions.

    Sacramento Kings: Don’t worry, the Kings have been blown out by more than 25 two times more than every other team combined. At least they just got an MLS team.

    San Antonio Spurs: DeMarre Carroll getting two DNPs to start the year makes me sad because he’s basically my favorite player. He was the glue guy on some fantasy title teams for me along with Zach Randolph and I’m forever indebted to The Junkyard Dog.

    Toronto Raptors: Tell me Pascal Siakam isn’t the blue monstar.

    Utah Jazz: If they were to rename the Jazz to be more locationally accurate, what would their name be? I feel like we have to consider Utah Blizzards, Utah Mormons and Utah… Salt.

    Washington Wizards: Well the Nationals are doing their best to blow their World Series advantage, so the nation’s capital has that going for them.

    That’s all the dumb stuff that’s floating around in my head. I should probably tweet some of this out but that would make me a good social media personality. I’m nothing if not terrified of Twitter. If you want you can find my high-octane timeline here. You know what? Tweet at me and I’ll say words back.

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