January 10, 2021, 12:42 pm
Well, it was only a matter of time. We had our first big dramatic moment with positive COVID-19 tests on the floor, with Seth Curry testing positive for the virus on Thursday night. This has led to a lot of speculation of course on whether games will all get played in a timely fashion or if we’ll have to start moving some games around. This is where waiver runs become essential as we parse through who is actually available on any given day. We’ve had players test positive off the court like Tomas Satoransky and players who have had contact and have to quarantine (and then quarantine again?) like Michael Porter Jr. This is the first time so far we’ve had a player sitting on the bench test positive during the game. Last time, this shut down the league. This time only half the team was in contact with a player they share a locker room with. This was quickly followed by a positive test for a Maverick which they found after their game in Denver. A handful of Celtics big men are out due to COVID-19 health protocols. Read this as “Everything’s starting to hit the fan but we might be pretending that it’s not”.
And yet, we push on into the bulk of our fantasy season. We also see our first instances of five-game weeks. Of course, one of the teams with five games is the Philadelphia 76ers who just had the aforementioned COVID issue and dressed the bare minimum of eight players. I can’t wait for Isaiah Joe to be a household name. Spoiler: He’s not a pickup down below, I won’t take responsibility for that.
Week 4 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
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Sun/Mon (of Week 3): NYK, TOR
Mon/Tues: CLE, IND, PHI
Tues/Weds: BKN, BOS, LAL, OKC, UTA
Weds/Thurs: CHA, POR
Fri/Sat: ATL, DET, MEM, ORL, PHX
Sat/Sun: IND, PHI
Sun/Mon (of Week 5): CHI, CLE, DAL, NYK, WAS
Working The Wire
Well things really escalated quickly here. It’s time to start looking at game counts and even though someone like Juancho Hernangomez might appear to be on the radar and written up as such, the two game week is one of the reasons I’m not fully endorsing anything in Minnesota right now. The other reason is that they’re embarrassing. In a vacuum, there’s preferential treatment to Pacers players (Like Justin Holiday. Please.) and Sixers players especially if they keep having to roll eight guys.
Cole Anthony: I know he’s widely owned at this point but I set my criteria to less than 50% owned in Yahoo! leagues. As of this writing on Saturday evening as I procrastinate by watching this shitstorm of an NFL playoff game where one team doesn’t have a name or a quarterback anyone has ever heard of, he is 46% owned. Markelle Fultz went down with a really disappointing ACL injury after looking like he was finally heading towards some of the promise that made him the first overall pick. I think Anthony is kind of an inefficient gunner right now, but he’ll play 30+ minutes most nights. Good for scoring and triples.
Austin Rivers: Getting a lot of run with Alec Burks out, and he’s come good a few times. Burks is still at least a week out, and maybe more depending on what the evaluation prognosis is. I think especially in deeper leagues Rivers will be a points and triples guy for a while, and he’s definitely outplaying Reggie Bullock in that department.
On the Radar
Payton Pritchard: He’s regularly outplaying Jeff Teague. He might hold his 18-25 minutes even when Kemba Walker returns.
Danny Green: He’s one of the few left standing in Philly after the first major COVID-19 newsbreak of the season. We’re on constant alert about who will actually be available (Also I’m on alert about how that is even happening right now with contact tracing. They play on the same team, they basically shower in pairs, how are they not in contact with each other?) and for now it looks like Danny Green is a winner. He started the season really poorly and I questioned how strong his hold was on minutes. I’m a big dumb idiot and he’s top-140 for the season and top-100 in the last four games. He’s a play especially if the Sixers have to run out these short rotations.
De’Anthony Melton: Melton is past being on the radar and is just an add for me. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best fantasy defensive guards on a per-minute basis. I’d obviously love to see more than 22 minutes like he played on Friday, but the 14 points, two triples, five boards, and two defensive counters would be admirable in 32 minutes too. I’m adding him where I can because he’s making sure he stays in the picture even when Ja Morant comes back. The Grizzlies have a lot of guards to sort out on this roster and I don’t envy their position.
On the Radar
Tyrese Maxey: 39 is a lot of points. I know this happened with a bunch of nobodies on the floor for the Sixers, but maybe this’ll be enough to get Maxey a longer look in the rotation. I’m not adding in standard leagues yet, but I’m monitoring.
Cameron Johnson: I’m surprised he’s still only sitting at 33% ownership. I thought people would pick up on the fact that he’s solidly inside the top-100. He does the same undervalued things as Justin Holiday (a Working the Wire favorite that we might as well make the mascot of this entire series). There are pretty locked in minutes here and Cam is a 3-point sniper and especially a great 9-cat option because of the lack of turnovers.
Royce O’Neale: I’m so glad that we’re finally revving up the Royce O’Neale engines. For people who have followed the wire articles in the past, I’ve dropped Royce in a number of times. For the first time, I may be a little behind the curve here because he hustled his way to top-35 status in 9-cat leagues since we hit publish last week. When the statistical output isn’t sexy, players like this seem to be forgotten. Well, O’Neale is a starting wing on a good NBA team who plays 30 minutes a night. Eventually as long as you aren’t Tony Snell, that adds up to standard league total value.
On the Radar
Hamidou Diallo: Another potential winner from the uncertainty in Oklahoma City. They need to find ways to score points, so if Diallo can do it for a while he can be a streamer. A really nice 23 and 11 on Friday.
JaMychal Green: I think it’s okay to ride this hot hand for JaMychal Green. I think he’s fine at what he does, which is like a better rebounding Anthony Tolliver. You’d like to see less turnovers from a guy playing 20 minutes (2.8 a game is… a lot). If he scores 10-15 points and makes a handful of triples a night, it’s worth a stream. I’m not holding on tight though.
Kelly Olynyk: As a starter for the Miami Heat Kelly Olynyk should be picked up in almost every 12+ team format. This is another 9-cat darling who doesn’t turn the ball over much but plugs along with across-the-board contributions. He’s raining threes right now and we’re looking a top-50 player over the last week. I was “this” close to putting him into the article last week and I chickened out.
On the Radar
Cedi Osman: I can’t fully endorse Cedi Osman in all formats because 34% shooting is gross, disgusting, insulting and horrendous. However, there are formats where Osman needs to be owned, especially for punt-FG% builds, because he takes 3-pointers that sometimes go in and is sneakily a pretty good facilitator.
Deni Avdija: He’s right back on the radar with the injury to Thomas Bryant. It’s not the same position of course but it is theoretically a little more usage. Had his best professional game in the absence of Brad Beal and Russell Westbrook, but could be a short-term play if they miss time.
Daniel Theis: Color me a little bit surprised that Theis is sitting at almost 50% owned, because the actual output from him has been pretty bad. He doesn’t break the top-200 in any timeframe so far. However, the Celtics are having super unexpected and unforeseeable COVID-19 issues and Theis is still around as the starting center right now. There are better times to come where he doesn’t shoot 33% from the free throw line.
Moritz Wagner: I’m not sure exactly how that center situation is going to play out for the Wizards without Thomas Bryant. I think Robin Lopez is first but Mo Wagner has a better fantasy profile. Wagner has hit streamer value in 20 minutes before, and I would rather have him in roughly equal minutes. Last season Mo was #187 in 9-cat playing 16 minutes a game and averaging seven points, five boards, a steal and good percentages. That’ll be more interesting than RoLo.
On the Radar
Juancho Hernangomez: Well Naz Reid really crashed and burned there and I’m a little embarrassed about how that panned out both for him and for me. Annoyingly, Naz is going off in limited minutes (16-7-1 with three 3-pointers and 3-blocks on Saturday in 16 minutes are we serious?). KAT came back so now we’re really looking closely at how this plays out between Reid, Jarred Vanderbilt (who might become a sneaky late-season play day-to-day as this team keeps losing by 25) and Juancho. Juancho is starting, so that’s something. This is kind of a strict monitor for me especially in a two game week.
The Stream Team
We’re back to the yikes territory for the Stream Team. I’m mostly interested in the Washington frontcourt situation with the Thomas Bryant injury, and I guess moderately interested in the Nets rotation even though Taurean Prince has a worse stat set than I do. I just don’t take shots.
PG: D.J. Augustin – Reaching down the board a little bit. Augustin has some potential as an assist specialist. He’s hovering around 20 minutes a night and has at least five assists in three of the last four.
SG: Garrett Temple – He’s playing 25 minutes for an NBA team. Maybe some popcorn stats and a couple steals on offer.
SF: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot – He became a popular pickup for the Durant absence and did fine. He and Taurean Prince are competing for 20-25 minutes. Pick your poison, neither are that strong.
PF: Khem Birch – Great energy guy. We could see some hustle stats here.
C: Robin Lopez – Probably the de facto starting center for the Wizards with Thomas Bryant now toast. RoLo has some range and a great attitude which is enough to win you the intangibles category every week. Lovely guy.
Can someone explain to me like I’m five what the heck the protocols are for contact tracing? The NFL fans in our readership will also recall we saw the same bit with Dez Bryant who tested positive for COVID-19 on the sideline in the pregame and then they played anyway because he had no close contacts… on the sideline… with his team… before the game… or at any point in the leadup to the game? It turned out to be a false positive so fortunately that didn’t amount to anything that we know of, but they couldn’t have known that at the time. So Seth Curry tests positive for COVID-19 and only half the roster is in close contact when they play for the same team and practice together? Maybe that’s why the defense in the NBA is so bad, because no one actually gets close to each other. It just seems like they’re trucking through and saying we’re playing anyway as we set new case records every other day.
On that positive note, let’s talk some about what has turned into a league of blowouts. What’s been striking me isn’t that it’s always just the upper crust teams that are blowing out the minnows. The Knicks beat the Bucks by 20 which is still giving me secondhand embarrassment two weeks later. The Durant-less Nets blew out a good, full-strength Jazz team by 34 this week. The Kings are getting blown out twice a week because Buddy Hield is shooting with his eyes closed and Marvin Bagley gets mentally traded and emotionally benched every day.
Stephen Curry posted the highest scoring total (62) since Devin Booker’s 70-point outing in a LOSS in 2017. Leandro Barbosa played in that game, which is actually the biggest takeaway. Not to be outdone, literally three days later, Bradley Beal had a “better” game by the analytics and scored 60 points. When was the last time there were two 60-point games in an NBA season? Well, it was last year so this was a stupid thing to look up. NBA teams score a billion points now so there were four scores of 60+ in the pandemic-shortened season (Dame Lillard three times and James Harden once with an additional casual 59-point game sprinkled in). Essentially just call me when someone scores 63, or tweet at me @sassclown. We’ll see if the NBA can navigate the biggest round of COVID-19 issues in this young season. I’m not overly optimistic (about anything really, so this is pretty on brand) and I do think we’re going to see some postponements sooner than later.