December 27, 2020, 7:16 pm
Working the Wire is BACK for another season with an evening drop. We’ve been delayed today because I had to scream at NFL Redzone while my fantasy football players come up short of the mark or left of center for at least the early window of games. Usually, my NFL Sundays involve being excited to follow Redzone until 3:00 CST and then laying in my bed in the dark from 3:00 CST to 6:00 CST because I get a headache every Sunday like clockwork and my fantasy teams are down by 47. Now that normal people fantasy football is coming to an end (because only weirdos play Week 17), we are all systems go for hoops (and hockey, don’t discriminate). Since I know everyone cares about me, I’ll inform that it looks like I’ll take home one fantasy football title because fantasy football is great and lose in my other final because fantasy football is dumb.
Of course, we’re actually here to talk about the orange ball sport, where we’re in for a crazy season with more variables than we’ve ever seen. It’s the shortest offseason in NBA history and the oddest circumstances of any modern NBA season with no guarantees that we’ll make it all the way through. With a season in constant flux, we’re bound to see more uncertainty in rotations, more injuries and more random rest days. That’s not great formula for beautiful basketball, but it IS a great formula to find that random fantasy basketball league winner from a college you’ve never heard of who blocks four shots on the third Tuesday of February which leads to the weekly win that puts you over the top into the fantasy postseason and well on the way to fantasy glory. I want to be your vessel to that particular gentleman, so let’s roll!
Week 2 Stream Table
In the stream table, home games are in orange because basketballs are orange. Road games are in blue because blue is not orange.
Back to Backs
Brought to you by Drake*
Sun/Mon (of Week 1): BKN, LAL
Mon/Tues: DEN, DET, OKC
Tues/Weds: BOS, LAC, MIA, MIL
Thurs/Fri: CHI, PHX, UTA, WAS
Fri/Sat: ATL, CHA
Sun/Mon (of Week 3): BOS, DAL, DET, GSW
Working The Wire
Here’s the situation. Last year, we picked three players at each position and I ended up having to beg people to pick up Justin Holiday for a month in a row. I won’t live like that. This season, we’ll highlight two names and then hit a couple more worth considering that are on the radar that might be of interest depending on league depth.
Shake Milton: Milton is critical to the Sixers offense in the same vein as Lou Williams has been as a sixth man for close to a decade. He provides explosive offense that this Sixers team definitely needs, and injects more creativity offensively that isn’t provided by Seth Curry or Danny Green. Frankly, Green doesn’t even have a great hold on that starting job, so we might even see Milton shimmy and shake his way into the starting lineup.
George Hill: The Thunder are going to be a gold mine for underrated fantasy value. Hill is a crafty veteran who will start and tutor SGA through some tough Western Conference minutes. I think he’s a good bet to finish in the top-150 and should be rostered in almost every format. He won’t be incredible but he won’t make too many mistakes and is a marksman from distance.
On the Radar
Cole Anthony: Should get minutes as a bench gunner. Weird stat set for fantasy, though.
De’Anthony Melton: Fantasy-friendly skillset, just needs the volume. Should be a feature in this piece.
Alec Burks: So you’re saying the Knicks rotation is shaky? Elfrid Payton looks terrible and RJ Barrett has already done one good thing and one bad thing. Burks is the most stable player in the backcourt and has been the first man off the bench in both games. I’m expecting a good sixth man scorer who could easily slot in as a starter and provide scoring and shooting.
Lonnie Walker IV: The stat set isn’t great, but the opportunity in San Antonio is there with the contingency that Derrick White is going to get most of the looks once he returns. Until then, the Spurs are going to see what they have in Walker, Keldon Johnson, and perhaps Devin Vassell. Walker is starting right now and has been pretty good because the shot is falling. The efficiency is a huge concern, because the career 42% shooting won’t get it done when there’s no additional contributions defensively or as a passer.
On the Radar
Tyrese Haliburton: If the Kings are smart (they usually aren’t), Haliburton should get a ton of looks. He might be the best rookie in the class.
Talen Horton-Tucker: Lots of buzz, but to me it might just be Lakers media frenzy. Need more sample size.
Luguentz Dort: It looks like people have already caught up to my Lu Dort love, to the tune of him already being out of range for my Stream Team segment. He’s over 10% owned now in Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, so the community is starting to recognize that Dort’s going to get the first shot at big minutes. He showed defensive tenacity in the postseason defending James Harden and that level of effort in itself will get him playing time on a rebuilding team. If he can learn to shoot better, he looks like a mid-career Raja Bell profile.
Nicolas Batum: He’s motivated now because apparently getting an embarrassingly high price tag from the Hornets wasn’t motivational enough. He’s in the best shape of his life because apparently playing in the NBA as his job didn’t get him into the best shape of his life. He’s also somehow looking pretty good. Short leash on Batum because I expect duds when he realizes he doesn’t want to play anymore. Until then, he’s useful as an across the board producer.
On the Radar
Deni Avdija: He’s very much on the radar but his usage is pretty low. He’s not scoring much and is more of a distributor right now.
Danuel House Jr: There’s no real reason he shouldn’t have the same role as last season. 3-and-D guy.
Kyle Anderson: Slo-mo will slowly mosey his way to top-150 value. He’s not great at anything but is responsible and doesn’t turn the ball over much (probably because his defender fell asleep). He’s probably looking at peak value while Jaren Jackson Jr. is out, but here’s the rub: JJJ has pretty consistently been out.
PJ Tucker: What did P.J. Tucker change between last season and this season to not be at least a top-150 guy? Christian Wood is a great add, but I see him more as a cover for what Robert Covington did for the Rockets. Tucker is still being forced to be the shortest center on this side of Chuck Hayes and guard the Jusuf Nurkic types of the world. Tucker should be a good 9-cat option as a corner 3-point threat, defender and rebounder.
On the Radar
Jae Crowder: I liked this acquisition for the Suns. He’s starting right now and could be a good early-season stream.
Maxi Kleber: A frequent feature on these articles because Kristaps Porzingis can’t stay on the court and Kleber can block shots and shoot 3-pointers (although I’ve never seen him make one in real life).
Mason Plumlee: I know it’s gross, but he has to get minutes because Detroit overcommitted to a bunch of veteran guys for no reason and Plumlee will get big man minutes and big man stats. It’s boring and the free throws will kill you if he takes them. Fortunately, he doesn’t take many and won’t be a feature in the offense enough to do anything silly. We could be looking at 11 points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot a night, which’ll be enough for a top-150 season at worst.
Ivica Zubac: He shouldn’t be out there in any league, but the profile isn’t sexy in 15 minutes. Well, it looks like he’s going to get 25, so just on a per-minute basis alone, Zubac is a top-100 potential guy. With some moving pieces behind him, Zubac is one of the constants in this Clippers frontcourt. Should be a good source of percentages, boards and blocks.
On the Radar
Dwight Powell: Powell is going to start for the Mavs while Porzingis is out. He’s coming off of a bad injury so there are some general concerns, but he’s been a great per-minute option in the past.
Derrick Favors: Another per-minute darling. The minutes won’t be there in bulk because he just can’t handle them, but he’s basically Gobert-lite when Gobert isn’t on the floor.
The Stream Team
The Stream Team does make a return for the 2020 season, and this is where I really love to make my money. For me, finding a gem in the bowels of the waiver wire is so rewarding.
PG: Patty Mills – Mills is perpetually underrated as a 3-point specialist. The minutes should be there as a veteran backup at least until Derrick White returns.
SG: Josh Okogie – There’s competition among the Wolves’ wings but Okogie has a starting gig to start out the season
SF: Justin Holiday – Seriously, I shouldn’t have to do this every year. Holiday is a reliable top-125ish guy because he plays 25+ minutes on a pretty good team and can shoot.
PF: Kevon Looney – Has been useful in the past, and now with Marquese Chriss out for the year, could be good enough to be a streamer.
C: Mike Muscala – Looked pretty good offensively in the season-opener. Could get hot and be a streamer.
The Miscellaneous Musings that caused me more irritation than joy last season are now in a new format. Here’s the reality: When the Hornets are 14-30 in March, I can’t be snarky about them without being rude. I would never be rude. This season, I’m just going to make some potentially controversial statements and try to rile someone on Twitter up, because that’s one of the easiest things to do in this world.
I’m officially submitting my ballot for Donte DiVincenzo as the Most Improved Player. I’m required by law to be a shameless homer. Donte is trying hard out there and he looks explosive. He has to be important for this Bucks team as the piece that was supposed to be Bogdan Bogdanovic but wasn’t and that might end up being a good thing because Bogdan looks… not great early on. Donte works hard at both ends and sometimes I just want to see a guy work hard even if it means blowing two fastbreaks in a two-minute span.
I’m generally pro player in sports. I’m not pro James Harden’s immature temper tantrums. It’s not a good look for a star in this league. The Rockets have basically given him everything he wanted and his disregard to do his job as he’s expected isn’t becoming. I know there are some issues between players and ownership there, but in the bigger picture I wonder if this sours the Harden trade market. If I was giving unsolicited betting advice, I would say Harden might stick around in Houston longer than we all think.
My third take might just be lukewarm: The Clippers aren’t that good. They’re good, but not great. It’s not just because they blew the bubble series to the Nuggets, but because Kawhi doesn’t inspire unwavering confidence and Paul George really doesn’t move the needle very far to me. He doesn’t make a bad team good or a good team great. Recency bias helps with this case too, since the Clippers looked embarrassing an hour ago because Kawhi’s face exploded and Pandemic P was present in full force. I kind of think they might not have home-court advantage in the first round.
I didn’t expect to be this excited for basketball because there are other more important things going on, but… I’m pretty excited. The Bucks show promise and Giannis still can’t shoot free throws. Basically it’s the same and I’m excited to get disappointed again. Tell me I’m delusional on Twitter here and I’ll see you on the waiver wire.