• I didn’t think I had any more musical themes in me, but I found myself listening to the Lithium Stiffs and Crest — must be listened to immediately back-to-back — by my favorite post-rock Chicago band, Tortoise, and was inspired to do an instrumental theme this week (or more accurately, a lack of lyrics). You should really save those for after the read if you can. Crack a cold one, eat a brownie or some dried mushrooms and enjoy.

    With that in mind, I’ll start with a track from my second favorite Chicago post-rock band who samples itself and Bob James (more Bob James later) — the Lo-Fi The Sea and Cake.

    That’s about the only commonality the songs featured here today- post-rock, proto-metal, soul, jazz, orchestral, even a cello quartet (but not YoYo Ma; my dad tried to get me into classical music as a youth but since he only truly likes middle-eastern music, he never listened to it enough aside from his propagandic encouragements. He did have an affinity for British humor so the only thing I can remember from that attempt is Victor Borge).

    * * * * *

    Steph and Lauri are back in action and Trill Will, Dunn and Portis due back pretty soon. Boogie might return around Christmastime, but Kerr could hold him out until January which is when we’re hopeful to see Kevin Love. I still haven’t heard any updates on Porzingis and I’m not planning on him being a significant contributor this year.

    With all these guys getting back, I need to hit the trade market extra hard and try to stir up some mystic brew to clear up some roster space for H2H.

    This is the time of year when the standings crystalize a bit and some guys stuck at the bottom start to get desperate. You should be reviewing their rosters to see who you might be able to pry away.

    On the other side, if you’re one of teams at the bottom of the pack, it might be because you had/have an injured early round pick, some scheduling randomness, or maybe your team just isn’t very good. If that’s you, you may need to consider shaking your roster up, and that means possibly settling for a less-than-ideal trade.

    That means it might not be the obvious one-sided deal you wanted, or you having to part with a guy you’d rather keep. What it doesn’t mean is settling for a bad trade. You can settle for a wind parade.

    Week 8 Schedule

    The last two links were classic Hip-Hop samples from my formative years — Electric Relaxation and Buck Em Down– I’ll stick with that theme and kick the schedule off with the most used classic Hip-Hop sample ever.

    2 Games: BOS, PHI – I don’t have any of the big stars but I’m sitting Horford in my weekly roto league.
    3 Games: ATL, CHA, CHI, DAL, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, OKC, ORL, PHO, POR, SAC, UTA, WAS
    4 Games: BKN, CLE, DEN, DET, NOR, NYK, SAS, TOR

    Monday has 7 games: Thunder at Pistons, Warriors at Hawks, Cavs at Nets, Wizards at Knicks, Nuggets at Raptors, Rockets at Wolves and Clippers at Pelicans.

    Tuesday has 5: Bulls at Pacers, Magic at Heat, Blazers at Mavs, Kings at Suns and Spurs at Jazz.

    Wednesday has 10: Dubs at Cavs, Nuggets at Magic, Wiz at Hawks, Thunder at Nets, Sixers at Raptors, Clips at Grizz, Pistons at Bucks, Hornets at Wolves, Mavs at Pels and Spurs at Lakers.

    Thursday has 3: Knicks at Celtics, Suns at Blazers and Rockets at Jazz.

    Friday has 10: Nuggs at Hornets, Embiid at Drummond, Pacers at Magic, Raptors at Nets, Kings at Cavs, Thunder at Bulls, Grizz at Pels, Lakers at Spurs, Heat at Suns and Dubs at Bucks.

    Saturday has 9: Rockets at Mavs, Kings at Pacers, Nuggs at Hawks, Wiz at Cavs, Nets at Knicks, Celtics at Bulls, Lakers at Grizzlies, Wolves at Blazers and Heat at Clippers.

    Sunday has 4: Pels at Pistons, Bucks at Raps, Jazz at Spurs and Hornets at Knicks.

    For My Streamers

    *all light schedule days in bold: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sun.

    ATL: 3- M, W, Sa
    BRK: 4- M, W, F, Sa
    BOS: 2- Th, Sa
    CHA: 3- W, F, Su
    CHI: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    CLE: 4- M, W, F, Sa
    DAL: 3- Tu, W, Sa
    DEN: 4- M, W, F, Sa
    DET: 4- M, W, F, Su
    GSW: 3- M, W, F
    HOU: 3- M, Th, Sa
    IND: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    LAC: 3- M, W, Sa
    LAL: 3- W, F, Sa
    MEM: 3- W, F, Sa
    MIA: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    MIL: 3- W, F, Su
    MIN: 3- M, W, Sa
    NOR: 4- M, W, F, Su
    NYK: 4- M, Th, Sa, Su
    OKC: 3- M, W, F
    ORL: 3- Tu, W, F
    PHI: 2- W, F
    PHO: 3- Tu, Th, F
    POR: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    SAC: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    SAS: 4- Tu, W, F, Su
    TOR: 4- M, W, F, Su
    UTA: 3- Tu, Th, Su
    WAS: 3- M, W, Sa

    Back-to-Backs

    Sun (of Week 7)/Mon: LAC, NOR
    Mon/Tues: none
    Tues/Weds: DAL, ORL, SAS
    Weds/Thurs: none
    Thurs/Fri: PHO
    Fri/Sat: BRK, CHI, CLE, DEN, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, SAC
    Sat/Sun: NYK
    Sun/Mon (of Week 8): DET, MIL, NOR, UTA

    3 games in 4 nights:

    Tues/Weds/Fri: ORL, SAS

    Tues/Thurs/Fri: PHO

    Weds/Fri/Sat: BKN, CLE, DEN, LAL, MEM,

    Thurs/Sat/Sun: NYK

    Tues/Thurs/+ PHO, POR, UTA

    Thurs/Sun/+ NYK

    Working the Wire

    Point Guards

    In 2 games last week Elie Okobo averaged 14.0 points, 2.0 threes, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 30 minutes a game. As a rookie he has no baseline to compare but Devin Booker (hamstring) might miss more games, Isaiah Canaan is gone, and neither De’Anthony Melton nor Jamal Crawford is going to rob him of his development. Neither is Maria Fumaca. Phoenix has 3 games this week.

    Tim Frazier started the last two games and averaged 8.0 points, 1.5 threes, 10.5 assists and 1.0 steals in over 30 minutes. All those the numbers might be a bit high, but the assists pop and with E’Twaun Moore (leg) looking like he’ll miss some games, the minutes should be there for Frazier. The Pelicans go 4 times.

    D.J. Augustin kept it going with 11.3 points, 1.5 threes and 6.5 assists over the last two weeks. If only his schedule would cooperate — Orlando has 3 games per week for more than a month.

    J.J. Barea was still hot (50% from the field) last week and got 13.7 points, 1.3 threes and 7.7 assists. The Mavs have 3 games although he might sit one of the Tues/Weds B2B.

    Speaking of grizzled vets, Tony Parker got 13.7 points and 6.0 assists over his last three games. He’s old and will miss random games and that’s about it. The Hornets play 3 times.

    On Friday we learned that Oladipo (knee) is out indefinitely but also due back in the near future and I almost wet my pants — I just loooove paradoxes! Tyreke Evans has been getting some threes, steals and turnovers while Cory Joesph has been returning the more well-rounded lines. Indiana has 3 games this week.

    Monte Morris put up low-end usable 9-cat numbers over the last two weeks — 9.6 points, 0.9 threes, 4.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 0.6 steals on great shooting and his 8.00 AST/TO ratio, if maintained, would be the best season finish ever for a player averaging over 20 minutes per game — Muggsy Bogues’ 5.93 in 1989-90 is the single-season record to date. At 5’3’’, Bogues also holds the record as the shortest player in NBA history. The Nuggets dig in 4 times.

    Bryn Forbes is still scoring and hitting 3s (11.8 and 2.3 over the last weeks) but his minutes are down and that’s all he’s doing. Patty Mills is doing the same low-end stuff with some assists (9.5, 1.3 and 2.5).

    Derrick White had the best game of his young career on Friday with 11 points, a three, nine assists and five rebounds. The Spurs were blown out and a lot of his production was in garbage time so he’s more of a watch than an add. The Spurs have 4 games.

    Emmanuel Mudiay busted out with 28 points, four treys, seven dimes and a steal in Saturday’s OT win over the Bucks. Trey Burke left that game with a right knee sprain and Frank Nitilikina got a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Mudiay runs hot or cold but if he’s going to be the only point guard playing…New York has 4 games.

    Shooting Guards

    I’m not sure why Terrence Ross isn’t owned in more leagues.

    Iman Shumpert fell off a bit last week, but he’s been returning low-end 9-cat value on the season with 9.6 points, 1.9 treys and 1.2 steals a game. The Kings play 3 times.

    Dwyane Wade is the lone guard off the bench with Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson out and he put up an eye-popping 23.7 points, a crazy 2.3 threes and 5.0 assists on 52% shooting last week. Miami plays 3 games next week, but Fri/Sat is a B2B and Wade might sit one of those.

    Wayne Ellington and his permanent 5 o’clock shadow are tied for No. 8 in the NBA with 2.9 trifectas a game. He’s still strangely averaging double the number steals he usually gets — and shooting less than 40% on the season — but I’m not complaining. You want him for the 3s. He racks ‘em 3 times.

    Wes Matthews got you 12.3 points and 2.0 threes last week and he is what he is. Dallas plays 3 times.

    Reggie Bullock put up 10.8 points, 2.0 threes and 2.8 assists last week but hasn’t done a whole lot to separate himself from Stanley Johnson. The Pistons have 3 games.

    Allen Crabbe managed 8.0 points, 2.3 threes and 0.8 steals last week on 34.4% from the field. For how much he’s making you’d think he’d show a little of the shooting efficiency he had in Portland but alas. I mean, damn, $18,500,000 USD for that? They could have given me a tenth of that to shoot 34% and I’d be down to get the Gatorade and wash the jock straps too. The Nets go 4 times.

    George Hill (shoulder) returned and played 19 minutes on Saturday. Collin Sexton stuck as a starter so we’ll see how much Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks are impacted — all scored in double figures with a trey and a steal on Saturday. They go 4 times.

    Allonzo Trier seems like he’s exchanging good games with Damyean Dotson and they oscillate depending on the whims of the Great and Powerful Fiz. The Knicks play 4 times.

    Small Forwards

    Mikal Bridges crapped the bed and then crapped it five more times and I’m out of diapers. How sad. He just looks lost on the way to Dakar.

    Josh Jackson had the better return last week and that’s really saying something since Josh doesn’t really know how to play basketball and just landed inside the top-200 in 8/9-cat. The 10.8 points, 0.3 triples 6.3 boards, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals look good but 39.6% from the floor and 6.7% from the stripe do not. Still, by force of usage alone if Booker misses more games (he’s probable to play on Sunday), Jackson will put up deep-league numbers. The Suns play 3 games this week.

    Return of the Cedi — Osman is back on the floor and back to his old ways of streaky shooting — 10.3 points, 1.5 threes, 6.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals on an Allen Crabbe-like 29.8% from the floor. The Cavs have 4 games.

    Kelly Oubre was unimpressive as a starter so got relegated to the bench in favor or Tomas Satoransky. Kelly got 5 points and one trey while Sato got 7 points and 3 assists. Yawn. And that was without Jeff Green back spasms). The Wiz go 3 times if either one of then starts to shine.

    DeMarre Carroll had a pretty good two games with no Joe Harris (groin strain) hitting double figure scoring and over 20 minutes in both with his usual threes and steals. Will his usage change when Harris returns?  The Nets play 4 games.

    James Ennis’s minutes got hit with the return of Gerald Green but still managed a steal and a triple last week. Meanwhile Green was pretty good in his two games back — 10.5 points and 2.5 treys — but they were both blowouts, so he got some additional run. Houston plays 3 games.

    DeAndre’ Bembry stayed putting up counting stats with bad shooting and you can give him a look in 14-16 deep if you don’t mind the hit to your percentages. Atlanta goes 3 times.

    You want Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Josh Hart for 3 games? KCP has had the edge lately but who knows when Rondo gets back.

    Garrett Temple is plodding along with standard league 9-cat value with 10.0 points, 1.3 threes and 1.3 steals last week. There’s no upside but he’s a safe play if your wires are dry in deeper leagues. The Grizzlies have 3 games.

    Doug McDermott is somehow averaging 16.5 points and 2.8 three over his last three games and that won’t last but he’s widely available if you’re in a deep league thinking Dipo comes back later than sooner.

    Power Forwards

    PJ Tucker had 1.5 treys, 7.3 boards and 2.3 steals last week. He shouldn’t be available. The Rockets play 3 times.

    Noah Vonleh hasn’t been quite as good but he’s still generally rosterable if you need a big. He’s still starting and Kevin Knox is still coming off the bench but it was Knox who broke out with 26 points, five triples, four boards, four assists, a steal and a block in 37 minutes. I don’t trust it/Fiz but NY has 4 games.

    Marvin Williams has hit double-figures in 5 out of 6 games (of course the one game he didn’t, he dropped a 0-point dud) in almost 30 minutes a game. As Dan always says, minutes are the key here. Charlotte has 3 games.

    Juancho Hernangomez has held standard league value all month as a starter with averages 10.3 points, 1.8 treys and 6.2 rebounds with fantastic efficiency. Denver plays 4 times though he might get lost like a cosmonaut when Barton gets back.

    Al-Farouq Aminu did his thing with 8.0 points, 0.7 threes, 5.3 boards and 1.3 steals on 44.4 percent shooting. The shooting is too high and boards are too low but it pretty much looks right. Portland has 3 games.

    JaMychal Green got 10.0 points, 0.3 threes, 6.0 boards and 1.0 stocks in 24.0 minutes last week. The Grizz go 3 times if you need his deep-league stat set.

    Center

    Markieff Morris maintained production off the bench with top-65 9-cat value over the last two weeks. Dwight Howard’s butt is going to hurt for several months so he shouldn’t be available while he’s playing so well.  Washington plays 3 times.

    Cody Zeller (rib contusion) is probable for Sunday. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and one of Willy Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky would benefit if he can’t play. Charlotte has 3 games this week.

    Bam Adebayo continues to get more run and it’s usually at the expense of Hassan Whiteside. He’s only at 19.2 minutes on the season but got 26.0 last week and got you 12.0 points, 12.0 boards, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. Coach Spo might flip it soon but you can ride it ‘til the wheels go bam. Miami plays 3 times.

    Since I teach nights, I rarely get to see East Coast tipoffs. On Saturday, I got a chance to sit down and watch a whole Knicks game. I didn’t think it would be a good game (it was); my main goal was to see Mitchell Robinson.

    Hahaha, man, this guy is something. He’s tall and gangly and looks like he’s on skates half the time. And boy does he rack up fouls fast! It’s like Fiz told him: “look, I’ma play you for like 15-20 minutes a game to start and I just want you to grab boards and block some shots. Don’t worry about fouls, just go out there and play, ok?”

    Big Meech nods — “hold my beer, coach.” (He’s too young to drink legally, so maybe Yoo-hoo?)

    Dude tries to block everything and he’s a bit of a hack, too, but he does have quick reactions; if he can get it under control just a little, we’ll have something. Fiz wanted him to close the game, but he fouled out (again) and we’re going to have to have some patience with the young fellow. Unlike Mikal Bridges, I can’t readily find blocks on the wire so I’m holding for now but it’s not easy. The Knicks go 4 times.

    Ed Davis is averaging 7.8 rebounds in only 14.2 minutes last week as the return of Carroll and RHJ eventually took its toll. Boss goes 4 times and he’s been like the Rock of Gibraltar.

    Richaun Holmes got enough defensive stats last week to maintain low-end value in only 16.8 minutes a game. How low will he be able to do it strictly as Ayton’s backup? The Suns have 3 games the 4 the next two.

    Alex Len surprisingly kept up his low-end line in 19 minutes a game. You all know I hate Len but there’s not many options out there in competitive leagues. Atlanta has 3 games.

    Thomas Bryant is steadily getting more minutes and if he could ever hit 20-22 consistently be useful. Coach Scott Brooks said he’ll be reintegrating Ian Mahinmi into his rotation, so we’ll see. Washington has 3 games.

    Jakob Poeltl looked like he was ready to do something, then bombed. Just keep an eye out.

    Random Observations

    Instrumental songs can be great writing music — I really dig the almost score-like one — sometimes you need something dramatic and mysterious, and sometimes you need sometimes you need a build-up to a crescendo.

    Yahoo recently introduced an automatic games counter — welp, there goes another hustle-derived advantage. If I were to look for a possible silver lining, maybe that’ll encourage more turnover on the waivers.

    The Bulls frontcourt is about to get crowded with the return of Lauri Markkanen and soon Bobby Portis. I hope we’ll all not overact while the whole YYZ rotation works itself out, but at least holders of Kris Dunn shouldn’t have to worry about him getting minutes.

    The Bucks and Warriors have played the most home games while the Celtics are among the teams that have played the least. Expect corresponding conference rankings to adjust accordingly.

    Continuing with the Celtics, the esteemed Zach Lowe recently opined that he felt there was some friction divvying up the shots on a healthyish team. Lowe thinks they won’t make a trade right now as GM Danny Ainge is holding assets for a possible Anthony Davis trade, that due to obscure cap minutia, can not be completed as long as both are under deals signed as the designated player — unless the Ainge wants to trade Kyrie for Brow, which he most certainly does not. That designated player condition no longer applies this summer.

    Last week Russell Westbrook tied Jason Kidd for third-most career triple-doubles with 107. Magic is No. 2 at 138 and the Big O, Oscar Robertson, is in the lead with 181. How high can he get on the stairway to heaven?

    Willie Cauley-Stein is consistent with his inconsistency; he’s simply unable to sustain peak intensity and focus. On one play, you’ll see him be decisive with a strong move to the rim. Later in the same game he’ll have deep post position against a smaller player and will toss up a ridiculous over the head baby-hook that isn’t even close. I mean, why don’t you just lay it in? Personally, I thought the Post Malone under-the-eye tattoos he got would help but not so much. Maybe the PPP should have been a clue. The tats look pretty ridiculous but at least he doesn’t look like a clown, just the human abstract.

     

    These earthlings really got me stressin’; time to rejoin the Cloud People,
    Chef

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Fantasy News

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant scored 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and five turnovers in the Warriors' 113-93 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday.

    The offense tilted toward Durant's isolation game and the team played less defense than it should have, two issues that are tough to correlate but not surprising when it happens. Steph Curry hit just 3-of-12 shots for 10 points and a lower-end line, and Klay Thompson missed all five of his 3-pointers and finished with 14 points in the blowout loss.

  • Draymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green hit just 1-of-5 shots for two points but was otherwise solid with five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks over 25 minutes in Wednesday's home loss to the Raptors.

    Green is right on track for preseason expectations the rest of the way as far as we're concerned, so there might be a little room to buy low before that's readily apparent.

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting (including two threes) with five rebounds, 12 assists and three steals in Wednesday's blowout win over the Warriors.

    That's two in a row for Lowry and with Kawhi Leonard (hip) out he has been forced to hit the gas pedal, though that shouldn't be construed to suggest he can't be productive with Leonard on the floor. Serge Ibaka added 20 & 12 with a steal and two blocks, and Pascal Siakam added 13 points with three rebounds, three assists, one trey, two steals and one block in the win. Jonas Valanciunas' (thumb) potential absence will feed them even more minutes and touches.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet started for injured Kawhi Leonard (hip) and scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with two threes, three boards, two assists and three steals over 28 minutes in Wednesday's win over the Warriors.

    VanVleet is worth owning while Leonard is out and it won't hurt that Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) could miss some time and ease the frontcourt portion of the logjam.

  • Nemanja Bjelica - F - Sacramento Kings

    Nemanja Bjelica scored 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting (including four threes) with five rebounds, three assists and two blocks over 29 minutes in the Kings' 141-130 win over the Wolves on Wednesday.

    The score pumped up the entire box score but Bjelica is still sitting on top 75-100 value (9/8 cat) on the season and that's a guy that probably shouldn't have been dropped in too many leagues. He was, though, so hopefully you got in on the post-hype production.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein - C - Sacramento Kings

    Willie Cauley-Stein scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting (4-of-9 FTs) with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks in Wednesday's win over the Wolves.

    Cauley-Stein was intentionally fouled late in the fourth quarter after airballing a free throw and this isn't just a one-game thing. He has hit just 47.8 percent from the line this season and it's keeping him stuck in the late rounds for fantasy value. This probably gets on scouting reports and he'll have to prove he can make it or he's going to get an even bigger weight on his value, as well as less minutes.

  • Marvin Bagley III - F - Sacramento Kings

    Marvin Bagley scored 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting (9-of-10 FTs) with 10 rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes off the bench on Wednesday against the Wolves.

    Bagley did not have a steal or block and he's not likely to hit that well from the free throw line. He struggled on defense, as well, but he's going to be getting anywhere from 22-30 mpg on most nights. He's well outside the top-150 in 24 mpg so far this season.

  • Yogi Ferrell - G - Sacramento Kings

    Yogi Ferrell scored 17 points off the bench in Wednesday's win over the Wolves, hitting 5-of-6 shots (including four threes) with two rebounds, six assists and one steal in 16 minutes.

    Ferrell looked great in this one and he adds a component to the fast break that the Kings really do need. He's not in the clear when it comes to Frank Mason, even if Dave Joerger said after the game that Ferrell is going to get a 10-game stretch in this role. If you're in a deep league where 14-18 mpg with the right guy can play, give him a look for the aforementioned stretch.

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic - G - Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 20 points off the bench in Wednesday's win over the Wolves, hitting 9-of-15 shots (including two threes) with five rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes.

    Bogdanovic is bringing late-mid round value back when on the floor this season and he can climb up and over the top-75 hump with just a few more upticks. Aside from some lower-grade injury risk, he's going to be as consistent as it gets.

  • Robert Covington - F - Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington (knee) scored 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (1-of-2 3PTs, 4-of-5 FTs) with six rebounds and no steals or blocks in Wednesday's loss to the Kings.

    Covington's goose eggs on defense in a game with no defense being played stood out and he didn't look like he was at full strength. One has to hope that these aren't Thibs minutes and it'll be something we all monitor going forward.