• I want to start this off by giving a shout out to Carmelo Anthony for giving me a lede to this week’s article. I can’t tell if I’m excited about Melo being back in the fold or just generally annoyed. I don’t think he’s a great player anymore and it’s well documented why his skill set is fading out of favor in a faster league. There’s admittedly some nostalgia here because I was young and impressionable when Carmelo got drafted. I think he’s going to get a real shot to be something for the Blazers depending how much time he’s spent in the fast food drive-thru.

    On a similar note of pace of play, I recently listened to Steve Nash doing an interview on The Knuckleheads show on The Player’s Tribune with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. One of the most interesting things they discussed was how revolutionary the Suns’ play was in the early and mid 2000s and really how even that hectic pace would be pedestrian by modern standards. I miss Steve Nash.

    In other sports news, Don Cherry got fired from Sportsnet 20 years too late because his consistently inappropriate comments were finally bad enough for business. Our Canadian friends surely have a lot to say about this. For me, it really highlights the contrast between hockey culture and basketball culture. The Raptors have gotten a ton of traction in Canada (obviously, they won a title) but the fan base is now so diverse and basketball is impacting so many walks of life. On the flip side hockey, which admittedly is my favorite sport to watch and follow, is largely stuck with a very specific group of curmudgeonly people. Hockey people are old fashioned and Don Cherry was kind of the epitome of that. Frankly, I’m glad he’s gone just so hockey might reach more people just like basketball has.

    I ruined my segue by bringing up a non-basketball sport. Oh well.

    Week 5 Stream Table

    Team MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN Total
    ATL MIL DET TOR 7
    BKN IND CHA SAC NYK 7
    BOS PHX LAC DEN 7
    CHA TOR BKN WAS CHI 7
    CHI MIL DET MIA CHA 7
    CLE NYK MIA DAL POR 7
    DAL SAS GSW CLE HOU 7
    DEN HOU BOS PHX 7
    DET CHI ATL MIL 7
    GSW MEM DAL UTA 7
    HOU POR DEN LAC DAL 7
    IND BKN ORL 7
    LAC OKC BOS HOU NOP 7
    LAL OKC OKC MEM 7
    MEM GSW LAL 7
    MIA CLE CHI PHI 7
    MIL CHI ATL POR DET 7
    MIN UTA UTA PHX 7
    NOP POR PHX UTA LAC 7
    NYK CLE PHI SAS BKN 7
    OKC LAC LAL LAL 7
    ORL TOR IND 7
    PHI NYK SAS MIA 7
    PHX BOS SAC NOP MIN DEN 7
    POR HOU NOP MIL CLE 7
    SAC PHX BKN WAS 7
    SAS DAL WAS PHI NYK 7
    TOR CHA ORL ATL 7
    UTA MIN MIN GSW NOP 7
    WAS SAS CHA SAC 7
    Total 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 105

    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 4): BOS, CLE
    Mon/Tue: PHX, POR
    Tue/Wed: GSW
    Wed/Thu: MIL
    Thu/Fri: none
    Fri/Sat: ATL, CHA, CHI, CLE, DET, LAL, MIA, PHI, SAS, UTA
    Sat/Sun: NOP, NYK, PHX
    Sun/Mon (of Week 6): BKN, SAC

    Working The Wire

    Carmelo Anthony is only going to be one of my recommendations. Spoiler: Carmelo Anthony is a recommendation because someone should take a chance on a formerly elite player just in case. Here are the rest of the dudes too.

    Point Guards

    Aaron Holiday: The Pacers’ backcourt is a total graveyard right now with Malcolm Brogdon (back) and TJ McConnell (groin) hobbled in addition to the existing injuries to Jeremy Lamb, Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner. Holiday is getting a lot of run with all these guys out but has been good enough in my book to have some impact even after Lamb returns.

    Langston Galloway: I feel like Galloway did this last year also with this unconscious heater at some random point in the season. Actually, I feel like he’s done this for half a decade. You know what the stat set reminds me of? Jamal Crawford, who is still unsigned, and apparently, he’s surprised. Here’s why: Langston Galloway does the same thing and he’s 12 years younger. Galloway is on fire right now and should be picked up while this is real.

    Kris Dunn: I felt better about this before the Saturday night loss ot the Nets. I also almost recommended Coby White. The new decision is the Bulls are such a useless team and I’m tired of these musical chairs. Coby White should be the starter in my book but I totally understand why they don’t want to do that. Dunn only played 16 minutes on Saturday so that’s a sad development. I still think the stat set is pretty good for Dunn and he’s a big change of scenery candidate.

    Shooting Guards

    Josh Okogie: Consistent minutes, stingy defense and Treveon Graham stinks. The recipe for success. He missed Saturday with some knee soreness but check this out: this season Okogie has played less than 20 minutes just once, the season opening win over the Nets. He’s averaging 27.4 minutes per game in the month of November. ALSO, he has recorded at least one steal in all but one game this year. I don’t think there’s a huge upside play here because Andrew Wiggins is eating minutes and the Wolves do have quite a few guys, but if Okogie was a late-round specialist type it wouldn’t be that surprising.

    Nicolas Batum: I know that I’m really sick of him too, but Batum has a friendly stat set for fantasy and he’s just coming back off of injury. The first game back was a typical Batum line where he scores three points and you forget he’s even on the floor. He also had nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and just the most infuriating lack of involvement. If he’s going to play 25-30 minutes even for this team he’s well worth using as a borderline top-100 dude.

    Anfernee Simons: Simons had been seeing quite a nice deployment before the Blazers’ bench got caved in against San Antonio. In general, he has seen a lot of run with the Blazers really struggling to fill in bodies around Dame and CJ. I think that his minutes will be fairly safe even with Carmelo coming into the lineup.

    Small Forwards

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Apparently RHJ is going to fill a lot of the vacated Ibaka minutes and not Chris Boucher. How quickly we forget that RHJ was a good fantasy option in Brooklyn just two years ago. This is OG Anunoby’s spot in the starting lineup. Even with Anunoby back, RHJ was easily the most impactful bench option, playing almost as many minutes as washed up Marc Gasol.

    Mikal Bridges: I’m going to bang the drum on there being more here. The minutes aren’t there but Bridges has still averaged 1.7 steals in 20 minutes per game in limited action. I really think he should be playing more right now than the Tyler Johnson types with no upside. Seriously, Tyler Johnson played 22 minutes and went full Tony Snell in that game with no points and a couple other stats.

    Carmelo Anthony: I’ll wait until everyone is done laughing. He’s going to play real minutes because Anthony Tolliver isn’t going to get it done and there is just no depth at all in the frontcourt for this team. Nassir Little started and played 32 minutes in their last game. Jabari Parker was the poor man’s Carmelo Anthony for years and how the turntables… Melo is the new poor man’s Jabari.

    Power Forwards

    Moritz Wagner: I think this is a moment to hop on the train before it’s too late. He just put up a monster game in a big win over the Wolves with 30 and 15 in 25 minutes. I just think he’s so much more talented than Davis Bertans who just doesn’t do anything if he’s not making 3-pointers. I think it’s smart to get in on Wagner on the ground floor. There’s no reason guys like Jordan McRae and CJ Miles need to play 32 minutes combined.

    Nemanja Bjelica: I know we’ve covered him before, but this is the time. If you’re not on him you’re missing the prime output. A top-60 player of the last two weeks who will have his best run until Marvin Bagley III comes back which could still be a couple weeks away. Bjelica will get time that he may end up splitting up with a guy like Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has really turned it on recently.

    Jake Layman: He’s carved out a nice role in Minnesota off the bench and the double-digit points per game is cool. He doesn’t have a super fantasy-friendly game but he’s a pretty good distance shooter, so a specialist role isn’t out of bounds. And Treveon Graham stinks.

    Centers

    Robert Williams III: Even with Enes Kanter back from political drama and general injury, Robert Williams is going to have a shot at being a blocks specialist. He’s dealing with some ankle soreness right now which we’ll need to monitor. This is not an endorsement that you definitely need to grab him for every team, but rather be aware of a potential blocks specialist who may have been important to your team yesterday.

    Damian Jones: Damian Jones got the starting job in Atlanta because Alex Len is over. I really thought Len was going to be standard league viable at the start of the year. It turns out that Damian Jones is actually that guy and has done a reasonable amount of damage in short minutes. The embarrassing loss to the Clippers actually saw Jones get four blocked shots coming on the heels of another good defensive output.

    JaVale McGee: I don’t get it. I’m not sure what the story is for the centers in Los Angeles. Dwight has generally looked better than JaVale up to this point but then JaVale had that absolutely massive game against the Warriors and followed up with a 12-minute snoozefest against the Kings. I don’t actually think McGee needs much playing time to be relevant so this could still be a sneaky play for the long haul.

    The Stream Team

    As usual, we’re filling some injury holes, this time in Sacramento, Milwaukee and Toronto. We also should complain about the Knicks some more.

    PG: Cory Joseph – Should see minutes with De’Aaron Fox out of commission. Not much upside but 30 minutes is 30 minutes.

    SG: Sterling Brown – Not to be confused with Sterling K. Brown of “This is Us” fame. With Khris Middleton out, Donte DiVincenzo got the first shot but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that sterling Brown has the better stat set.

    SF: Justin Holiday – Tell me why Justin Holiday can’t make two 3-pointers a game. Everyone on the Pacers is injured.

    PF: Duncan Robinson – At this point I think we should stop being stubborn about Duncan Robinson. I think he’s earned the minutes at this point.

    C: Taj Gibson – I want to cry. This is more of a statement on the center position. Again, when we’re mining in a deep league, there’s some value to a player getting more than 20 minutes on a clueless team. Mitchell Robinson has been moved to the bench and Taj Gibson has played the extra minutes. It might be a stream that we’re not excited about just because he’s playing for now.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    I’m too committed to this “30 pithy sentence” bit for my own good. I just need more people to make bad signings or break their leg and I think we’ll be okay. Teams and players embarrassing themselves is key.

    Atlanta Hawks: They really lost by 49 points and gave up 150 to the Clippers without Kawhi.

    Brooklyn Nets: Are we really doing the Iman Shumpert bit again? Unreal.

    Boston Celtics: The Celtics are totally surprising people (myself included) right now. I really didn’t think they would compete with the Sixers and Bucks at the top of the conference so naturally they’ve won 10 straight.

    Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets are better than advertised. These last-shot wins are exciting, which isn’t something we thought we would say in the same sentence as “Hornets” this season.

    Chicago Bulls: Coby White is a dichotomy of “OH WOW” to “Oh… wow” at all times.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: If Tristan Thompson adds the 3-pointer to his repertoire, LOOK OUT! Really, what the hell was that whole turnaround 30-footer with four seconds left on the clock?

    Dallas Mavericks: I understand why we have to do this whole thing with the City jerseys because the league is money hungry and it’s just more merchandise, but these are real bad. They should let me know when they want someone to do some Word Art in Microsoft Word and I’ll slide through for 10% of the profits.

    Denver Nuggets: I really want to enjoy this team but they play so slow (slowest pace in the league) and it’s a snoozefest. They’re waiting for Jokic to waddle up the floor.

    Detroit Pistons: Is it controversial to say this roster isn’t good? I know they might make the playoffs because the East is bad on the back of Blake Griffin (Who is good) and Andre Drummond (who is large) but the rest of the team is pretty unimpressive. Derrick Rose’s second wind, Tony Snell running around and a bunch of randos.

    Golden State Warriors: Is there something in the water? Is it the fires? The Ky Bowman hype train is conducted by the same people that didn’t know who Ky Bowman was two weeks ago.

    Houston Rockets: I totally didn’t realize that Ryan Anderson was back on this team.

    Indiana Pacers: In the massive bevy of injuries, I feel like we’ve overlooked just how many guys are missing for the Pacers. They’ve lost every starter at some point already with Malcolm Brogdon missing the Bucks’ revenge game.

    Los Angeles Clippers: Paul George is good. He credited the success to new shoulders. I need new shoulders. 37 points in 20 minutes… Is that a joke?

    Los Angeles Lakers: Continuing the exposé on jerseys and logos, the Lakers have the uncanny ability be consistently boring in the name of being classic. Someone just typed something out and added some shadow in Paint and we’re done.

    Memphis Grizzlies: Heartwarming moment with Mike Conley coming back to Memphis. Sometimes I think the tribute stuff is overblown but Mike Conley meant so much to that organization and that city along with the Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and even Tony Allen. It’s hard not to get emotional.

    Miami Heat: What is the DEAL with the Meyers Leonard situation? One day he’s great and then next day he plays 18 minutes and makes two shots.

    Milwaukee Bucks: We don’t need Khris Middleton anyway. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: I saw “K. Martin” on the box score this week and I got excited thinking that we had Kevin Martin’s incredible jump shooting form back in the league. I forgot that was 10 years ago.

    New Orleans Pelicans: Derrick Favors died again so Nicolo Melli is back on the escalator again. I’m so sad about Favors because I was really invested in him this season. He has one great 20-20 game and the back seizes up. I rolled out of bed this morning and my back seized up, so we’re basically twins.

    New York Knicks: In light of Iman Shumpert’s return to the NBA, here’s a review of good things the Knicks have done over the last half decade… aaand we’re done.

    Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder really need to design an alternate logo with a bison. There are a million concept logos out there that are great. They already have bison mascot so the step seems obvious. It’s just MONEY. Don’t they like MONEY?

    Orlando Magic: The Magic reportedly have interest in DeMar DeRozan, which is kind of cool. I wonder what that package looks like. Obviously it has to be Mo Bamba for the sake of everyone involved, but then what? Aaron Gordon is too much so probably some draft picks. I feel like I don’t say yes to that if I’m San Antonio.

    Philadelphia 76ers: Their entire bench scored 11 points in Friday’s loss to the Thunder, which was less than any single starter. At least their team is easy to figure out. Five guys that matter and the rest of them are useless.

    Phoenix Suns: They bested Alex Len in the classic Lenvenge return game (credit to Panda for that moniker). The Suns are going to mess around and accidentally play important games in the spring.

    Portland Trail Blazers: Can you imagine your team signing Carmelo Anthony? Desperation station. It must be because Damian Lillard is scoring half their points.

    Sacramento Kings: Opinion: Luke Walton is the first coach even thought it’s his first year because he has no clue what he’s doing.

    San Antonio Spurs: It absolutely hadn’t processed that Tim Duncan was on the bench behind Popovich. Like… I knew that but he actually got real coaching action against the Blazers. Tony Parker also got his jersey retired this week so it was a nostalgia trip of confused hatred for me. I respect the hell out of the Spurs for their sustained success in a smaller market but I also hate them because of the whole “Steve Nash is my favorite player and I used to cry in my bed when he lost” thing.

    Toronto Raptors: Sometimes I’m skeptical of how much of an impact coaches actually make on teams but I think Nick Nurse has done an incredible job with this Raptors team over the last couple years. Here’s to you, Iowa.

    Utah Jazz: The Jazz are managing to win ugly games with Mike Conley playing just the ugliest basketball I’ve ever seen him play. Maybe it’s the ponytail because it’s doing nothing for me.

    Washington Wizards: Let’s not understate that Mo Wagner leads the league in charges drawn because really that’s the most impressive thing he’s done this week.

    Thanks for tuning in to Melo Watch 2019. Slide through on the Twitter machine here.

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Dennis Schroder
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder knocked in four threes on Saturday on his way to scoring 22 points with five rebounds and four assists.

    Schroder is just outside the top-120 on the season but is trending up over the past two weeks, averaging 21.0 points, 1.9 assists and 2.4 threes on .509 shooting from the floor. That's good for top-50 value over that stretch. Schroder's shooting will cool down and he will probably settle in around the top-100, but he is a strong hold in standard leagues and has upside if Chris Paul is traded or rests later in the season.

  • Will Barton
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    Will Barton was his old reliable, thrilling self on Saturday as he posted 18 points (7-of-14 shooting) with six rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer and two steals.

    Barton has been the Nuggets' pillar of stability when it comes to the arena of fantasy basketball. He's as steady as they come and is locked in to flirt with top-50 value while sporting a top-75 floor all season long.

  • Steven Adams
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Steven Adams double-doubled with 18 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes on Saturday.

    Adams is on a roll over his past seven games, averaging 15.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting .683 from the field. That's good for top-20 value over that stretch. Owners should try to sell high on Adams as the block numbers are unsustainable and his ROS outlook is murky with the possibility of being traded. Its hard to imagine him going to a better situation than OKC.

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Nikola Jokic was fantastic in Saturday's 110-102 win over the Thunder, triple-doubling for 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 14 rebounds, 12 assists, three treys and one steal.

    Jokic is trending up and fast. His buy-low window was shut with extreme prejudice with this favorable-matchup performance. He's ramping up closer to the top-15 zone of last season with each passing game.

  • Jerami Grant
    SF, Denver Nuggets

    Jerami Grant started for Paul Millsap (right quadriceps strain) on Saturday and delivered as expected with 13 points (4-of-8 shooting), four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 32 minutes.

    It was just a matter of time until this scenario emerged and now here we are. Grant is a must-grab guy, while Millsap is sidelined. He's able to give your fantasy team a dazzling 1-1-1 production with other solid counting stats on a nightly basis.

  • Abdel Nader
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Abdel Nader started on Saturday and scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with two assists and one three in 26 minutes.

    Nader is coming off of a 15 point and five threes performance on Wednesday and can be a streamer for threes while Terrence Ferguson is out of the lineup. Nader doesn't have much appeal though and there are probably better streaming options in standard-leagues.

  • Ben McLemore
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Ben McLemore scored 13 points with three steals and one 3-pointer in a start on Saturday.

    McLemore started for Russell Westbrook (rest) but was unable to do much with the opportunity. McLemore has been hot lately but will probably regress soon, especially when Eric Gordon returns. He can continue to be started until he goes cold, then he will return to being a 3-point streamer only.

  • Austin Rivers
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Austin Rivers scored 14 points with five assists in 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday.

    Russell Westbrook (rest) sat out of this one opening more ball handling opportunities for Rivers. Rivers can be used as a streamer when Harden or Westbrook are out, but he should return to the waiver wire when the Rockets are at full strength.

  • Chris Clemons
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Chris Clemons shot 5-of-11 from deep on his way to scoring 17 points in 16 minutes on Saturday.

    Clemons isn't afraid to shoot when given the minutes and added two steals and one block in this game. Clemons can be left on waiver wires and is too unpredictable to deploy as a streamer.

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Markieff Morris just missed a double-double on Saturday with 15 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench.

    The Pistons needed scoring badly with Andre Drummond (eye) out and Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) exiting early. Morris should see a boost if Griffin misses time, but he is outside the top-150 on the season and has limited upside. He can be left on waiver wires.