• 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

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors opened their practice facility on Monday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

    Slater adds that five players showed up for voluntary workouts. It's the first time that Golden State's gym has been open in over two months, and there are only three teams who have yet to get players back into team facilities. While it must be nice for the players to get back to some kind of business, the Warriors are not expected to be playing any more games this season given their league-worst record and the likelihood that the NBA trims the fat rather than ask every team to play out the season.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • Kz Okpala
    F, Miami Heat

    Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.

    Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Gabe Vincent
    PG, Miami Heat

    Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".

    It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

    Source: Miami Herald