• Happy Thanksgiving to all the people. Even if you don’t celebrate, I’m thankful for all of you for reading my ramblings. I’m thankful for the Bucks because they’re winning games. Will they disappoint me in May? Almost guaranteed. Sports fandom has impacted me so that perpetual disappointment is my normal state. The key is to be pessimistic so that if things go well, there’s nowhere to go but up. If things go poorly, you were already planning for disaster.

    On a happier note, I want to talk about Thanksgiving. I have a tendency to go insane with the menu and we make or obtain a million different dishes. This year, I decided to make cornbread and rolls myself. My significant other is a baker. I am not. She held my hand through making dough for rolls and I still managed to mess it up. I didn’t let it rise enough because I got nervous. The cornbread was a whole different debacle. I tend to be fast and loose in the kitchen, so “good enough” happens more often than “good”. I poked so many holes in that stupid cornbread to check for doneness and it was still overdone.

    Before we get to the why people are actually here, I want to quickly mention the whole sign-stealing scandal in Major League Baseball. For those uninitiated, the Houston Astros allegedly (they did) banged a trash can in the dugout (because it’s 1945) to signal upcoming pitches after stealing signs using a camera in the outfield (because it’s not 1945) starting back in 2017 (the year they won the World Series for the first time in franchise history). It’s bush league and it’s naïve to think other teams aren’t doing it, but there’s a lot of discussion on what the penalty should be. For me, I don’t think punishment is going to be enough because it can’t overturn the World Series they won. Vacating the World Series is extreme, but why would they care if they cheated? The banner still hangs. It’ll be really interesting to see if this is an epidemic in baseball or only one occurrence of something so extreme. I’m also curious what the analog would be in the NBA. I guess knowing the other team’s playbook would be a direct analog, but is that really even helpful? Knowing that we’re running a pick and roll isn’t hard to figure out. Someone smarter than me should map out how we cheat like this in the NBA and then we should do nothing about it because we’re a wholesome establishment. This wholesome establishment only recommends fantasy basketball pickups and has no controversial opinions.

    Week 7 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 6): GSW, MEM, NYK, UTA
    Mon/Tue: none
    Tue/Wed: DAL, DET, LAL, MIA, ORL, POR
    Wed/Thu: PHX
    Thu/Fri: DEN, WAS
    Fri/Sat: CLE, IND
    Sat/Sun: DAL, PHI
    Sun/Mon (of Week 8): CHI, LAC, MIN, OKC, SAC, TOR

    Working The Wire

    This might be the best collection of names we’ve had in a few weeks. We’ve circled back around to some names who we might have been just a hair early on and highlighted some longer-term buys as well.

    Point Guards

    Ish Smith: Ish Smith has a weird place in my heart because my best friend is obsessed with him for no reason so I process the nostalgia and “If I have to hear about stupid Ish Smith one more time because he was good on a fantasy team for three weeks when he was on the Sixers…” in a second and a half every time I see his name. I’ve weirdly been a believer in Smith all season and have held onto him in my deeper formats just because I’m not really a big fan of Isaiah Thomas and the combination of injury and stat set issue. Smith has been better than IT for some time now and we should take some notice.

    Darius Garland: I don’t think Garland knows how to play NBA basketball yet and that’s an issue for the Cavaliers in real life. They’re also not going to not play him, so we need to be aware that he’s going to eat 30 minutes every night and chuck a lot of shots. The stat set is admittedly reminiscent of Collin Sexton as a rookie which isn’t a fantasy viable asset… unless you really need 3-pointers badly.

    Delon Wright: I just want everyone to know that I understand their disappointment. This isn’t an endorsement for a pickup as much as it is a plea to hold on. I still think this sorts itself out. We’re not getting the top-75 upside we thought of on draft day because Luka Doncic is everything and more and the love of our lives. No one has a good answer on the minute share situation and Wright needs more than 20 minutes for the production. He still flirts with top-100 value even in this worst-case scenario start to the year.

    Shooting Guards

    Tim Hardaway Jr.: THJ has taken off since joining the starting lineup. The last five games have been starts and he has shown no reason to give that role back to Seth Curry. Interestingly, Hardaway went from one steal TOTAL in the first 14 games to eight steals in the last four, which is doing a lot to buoy his recent returns as the 6th (!) player overall in 9-category formats. This is a definite pickup but we’re looking more at a top-100 player and not a top-50 option.

    Markelle Fultz: I’m going back to the well here because Fultz is now clearly a late-round value with tons of real league upside. DJ Augustin just isn’t good and the Magic need to give minutes to their reclamation project. Fultz is explosive, fun and frankly his success is good for basketball. There’s name recognition for a former first overall pick. DJ Augustin has been forgotten four times in the last 12 seconds. Fultz can create offense, play defense, get to the rim and pass. The final line of 14-3-5 with 1.5 steals is perfectly in the realm this year. A clear dynasty buy for me as well.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: It’s obvious that KCP is going to get these minutes. There are worse players to spend a bulk of your court time with than LeBron James and Anthony Davis. As in basically every other player in the NBA. If he’s going to play 60% of the game and his only job is to make jump shots and not do anything stupid, we should have a top-150 player by default.

    Small Forwards

    Wesley Matthews: I think I have some kind of a mental block here. It just doesn’t make sense to me at all. Why are Wes Matthews and KCP not the same player? They have the same job. Literally all Wes needs to do to maintain late-round relevance is stand in the corner and make three 3-pointers. 12 points, four rebounds and three 3-pointers are all I’ve ever asked for. Maybe I’m delusional and I need professional help.

    Jerami Grant: I’m bamboozled and perplexed and mystified and confounded and sad about Jerami Grant this year. He showed signs of life in the last two games but overall, it’s been hard to watch. It seemed like everything was going to align. The Nuggets seeked out and acquired him, the 2018 returns were so good with the Thunder. We’re not getting the defensive numbers or the 3-pointers or even the high-percentage shots he was making last year. It’s a concern but I would be interested in hopping on the wagon speculatively before it’s too late.

    Justin Holiday: I’m tooting my own horn a little here because it’s my article and I can do what I want. Justin Holiday has had days where the shot falls and he’s interesting for fantasy. He also randomly had six steals in a game which was similarly exciting. He’s very quietly borderline top-120 in value with a chance to pop off for five 3-pointers on any given night.

    Power Forwards

    Kevon Looney: There’s a lot of struggle involved in parsing the frontcourt for the Warriors right now. Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss have both been impact names and I’m on a mission to recommend every player on this roster at least once. There’s clear risk here with Looney’s health, but the upside is a top-100 fantasy option. I actually don’t think Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss (spoiler: they’ll get some love shortly) are actually going to be impacted that negatively. I think it’s more about the Willie Cauley-Stein story having shorter chapters because he’s not a good player. Looney is a must-add in any 12+ standard formats.

    JaMychal Green: Has JaMychal Green separated himself from the rest of the pack in the Clippers frontcourt? Don’t pretend to know. It’s obvious that Patrick Patterson isn’t really involved, so there’s one less annoying body. Montrezl Harrell is taking the lion’s share of the center minutes because Ivica Zubac is some combination of uncoordinated and too slow to fit the modern NBA for long stretches. Green is directly behind Harkless and whenever Kawhi decides to play, so there’s enough minutes for him to maintain the mid-20s most of the way.

    Marvin Williams: I’m a long-time Marvin Williams fan because he’s a forgettable producer who lets the flashy players shine but at the end of the year it’s a very serviceable value. He and Thaddeus Young are basically twinning in that regard historically. This year Williams isn’t starting as the Hornets have given most of the minutes to their youngsters in Miles Bridges and PJ Washington. Good percentages and not a lot of turnovers for this sneaky 9-category stinger.

    Centers

    Marquese Chriss: I don’t feel great about recommending more than one player off the same team, but as I mentioned above, it’s kind of the state of the Warriors frontcourt. I wasn’t going to recommend Chriss again after putting him on the Stream Team, but it’s worth mentioning how valuable his stocks have been recently. He’s averaging 1.8 defensive counters so far, including three per game over the last seven games. Looney will complicate things so keep a tab on how much playing time gets mixed around.

    Nerlens Noel: Nerlens Noel episode two? Just trade Steven Adams already. Noel is way more exciting and he can actually jump. The upside in blocks is immense and it makes way more sense for the on-court product for this bad Thunder team to let Noel sprint up and down the floor and cause mayhem. With the scarcity of blocks, it’s not hard for Noel to be a top-150 player even just as a blocks specialist.

    Jakob Poeltl: It’s a block party. I’ve been sitting on Poeltl in a keeper league for a couple years now and it just feels like he hasn’t been unleashed by the Spurs yet. That seems like it should change because it seems like the Spurs are better when he’s on the floor. I hope Pop realizes that and gives him more than 20 minutes a night. As for his fantasy value, nine blocks across two games and almost three blocks a night over the last couple weeks would get anyone a little hot under the collar.

    The Stream Team

    Maybe someday I’ll have a theme for The Stream Team, but for now we picked on some newfound opportunities with some tough injuries to swallow for fantasy purposes.

    PG: Jordan McRae – McRae has scored in double-figures for five straight games. More importantly, it’s 20+ minutes in each of the last five games as well. There isn’t exactly a bushel of interesting names in the Wizards rotation, so McRae is at least a cute daily play on a short leash.

    SG: Terence Davis – With Kyle Lowry expected to be back as you’re reading this, we may have missed our window of opportunity on Terence Davis between when the kids are tucked in and a half a glass of Chardonnay (I just lost half the reader base with a reference many don’t understand but I leaned into it and I’m happy about it.). One thing we’ve seen with Lowry is a propensity to get hurt. On top of that, Nick Nurse has to see that the 38 minutes per night just isn’t going to cut it for his veteran point guard who has already had an issue this year. Maybe that means Davis has shown enough in his short sample to keep a more integral streamer role.

    SF: Keita Bates-Diop – He didn’t even crack the rotation until earlier this month but has averaged three triples in the last three games. Should stick in the rotation over the likes of Kevin Martin’s cousin (no relation) and Jordan Bell.

    PF: Omari Spellman – Spellman is the flavor of the week in Golden State but we need to be wary of Kevon Looney’s return, which is the case for everyone on watch in the Warriors rotation. Looney could be excellent, or he could need more time and give Spellman even more opportunity.

    C: Cheick Diallo – Diallo got rewarded with four minutes after two really strong outings, one of which was a double-double. The real question is whether you want someone in the short term who has the chance to be explosive and put together a big line. Once Ayton returns, this show is hitting the road. The real question for fantasy is whether we prefer this short-term viability or a steadier low-upside play like Gorgui Dieng who is trapped at 15 minutes per game

    Miscellaneous Musings

    I love having a theme for the musings because it saves me some creative juice. What every team is thankful for right now…

    Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are thankful for Trae Young’s basketball genes far superseding his hair genes.

    Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are thankful that Spencer Dinwiddie is more than just a mustache.

    Boston Celtics: The Celtics are thankful that Kemba Walker’s neck is forged from adamantium.

    Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets are thankful that the Bismack Biyombo experiment can just die because Cody Zeller is back for a week. Or maybe I’m just thankful for that because I’m sick of him.

    Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are thankful for All-Star Weekend because it’ll be the only time people will be excited in the United Center this season.

    Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are thankful for the afterglow of a championship that should give them a decade of leeway.

    Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks are thankful for 30-point triple-doubles.

    Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets are thankful for altitude. Teams go a mile high and waddle around like they’re in quicksand.

    Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are thankful that the Lions are so incompetent it hides the fact that the Pistons are as mediocre as it gets.

    Golden State Warriors: The Warriors are thankful for golf and good weather.

    Houston Rockets: The Rockets are thankful that everything is a foul in today’s NBA so James Harden can drop 60 points on a Saturday afternoon by taking 23 free throws.

    Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are thankful for staying afloat in the absence of their superstar because they’re well-coached and they play hard.

    Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are thankful that load management is just a normal thing

    Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are thankful for not playing anyone of consequence for three weeks and therefore winning every game with varying levels of confidence. A win is a win

    Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies are thankful to be in a low-pressure sports city so they can rebuild this team in peace.

    Miami Heat: The Heat are thankful to have a real superstar for the first time since LeBron even though he’s bratty and unlikable.

    Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are thankful that Giannis is impervious to misery and snow and wants to be in Milwaukee.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves are thankful that Andrew Wiggins finally looks like he was worth the first overall pick.

    New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans are thankful for the trade deadline so they don’t have to be responsible for ruining the JJ Redick playoff streak. I’m going to will this trade to the Bucks into existence.

    New York Knicks: The Knicks are thankful that no one expects anything from them anymore, so any positive result is deserving of a parade.

    Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder are thankful that no one makes fun of them for breaking up a trio of league MVPs. Oh wait…

    Orlando Magic: The Magic are thankful that Timofey Mozgov is no longer officially being paid to be a magician. If they want to pay me 16.7 million dollars under the table too I will do whatever they want me to.

    Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are thankful that Joel Embiid’s knees didn’t spontaneously combust at the same time as Markelle Fultz’s shoulder.

    Phoenix Suns: The Suns are thankful that Deandre Ayton will be back soon because this whole narrative about passing on Doncic is annoying revisionist history. Is it exacerbated by the fact that Ayton tried to pee out drugs and Luka is the best thing since sliced bread? Yep. But let’s not pretend that the common sentiment was for the pick to be Doncic.

    Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are thankful for Carmelo Anthony finally getting them media attention they’ve deserved in a year where they finally don’t want media attention.

    Sacramento Kings: The Kings are thankful that they don’t get media attention because there hasn’t been anything to see here since they were cheated out of a Finals appearance.

    San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are thankful for an incredible culture that has made them a model organization for two decades and to have stars that buy into the brand. Nothing but respect here.

    Toronto Raptors: The Raptors are thankful for so many things. Nick Nurse is a hell of a basketball coach. Fred VanVleet can play basketball. The Maple Leafs are in disarray so Tdot is drowning its collective sorrow in beer, basketball and Drake.

    Utah Jazz: The Jazz are thankful for Donovan Mitchell’s improvement covering up the fact that Mike Conley looks old and like he’s never shot a basketball in his life.

    Washington Wizards: The Wizards are thankful for the Nationals and Capitals for taking the spotlight off of John Wall’s contract.

    I’m sure there are some other thanks to give out. I’m thankful for Hoop-ball and all our great readers and writers. I’m thankful for basketball even though hockey’s better but don’t tell anyone I said that. I’m thankful for Christmas coming up so I don’t have to make up 30 bits of goofy or tired banter. I’ll be even more thankful if you check me out on Twitter 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.