It’s playoff season, and in standard head-to-head leagues like the Razzball Writers’ League, every waiver wire pickup is critical at this point. Facing Beats By Dray in the first round,  I head into the weekend hoping I didn’t chum the waters on (as in, threw up all over) my chances to advance. 

All week, San Antonio second-year big man, Charles Bassey, has been discussed as a hot wire add for the tanking Spurs. Bassey has been a borderline standard league over the last few weeks, averaging about 8 points, 7 boards, 2 assists a steal and a block a game in 17.5 minutes. 

I’ve been trolling around the Bassey interest all season, which he spent much of tearing up the G League. In 14 games in the minors, he was 3rd in fantasy points (yes, G League keeps track of fantasy points per game leaders on its stats page), averaging about 23-10-2-1-2 on 67% shooting. The Spurs saw enough positives in his development to fully guarantee the former Western Kentucky Hilltopper’s contract for its first two years. With that vote of confidence, and the tank rolling, it makes sense to believe Bassey could be a strong asset for fantasy playoffs. 

So I took the bait Friday afternoon, casting out one of my two remaining adds for the week on Bassey. Soon after, it was announced Anfernee Simons and Jeremy Sochan (both on my IR) would be suiting up. So I had to drop two guys, and the most obvious from my squad to hit to the waiver showers was Bassey. “But I can’t drop the guy I just picked up! What a waste!” So instead, I dropped De’Anthony Melton and Sochan. And, well, it didn’t work out great in the short term. 

Aside from a lesson in stubbornness, the error in trusting Bassey at this point in the season is that it’s very, very difficult to predict what tanking teams are going to do game-to-game. Knowing when starters will rest or be “injured” is as easy as sinking a ping pong ball in a greased up glass jar at the carnival. Furthermore, just when you think a guy like Bassey is in line for an increased role, he plays only 15 minutes and provides 4-4-1-1-0, as he did Friday in the Spurs shocking win over Denver, 128-120. Bassey only needs 20 minutes plus to provide standard value. But he’s been a 15-20 minutes guy for most of the season. 

And that guy Sochan? He had 19 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 8 boards, 3 assists and a steal. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. … Here’s to hoping Bassey has a different showing Sunday against OKC – and for those who stick with him, next week. Anyways, enough about my stubborn, silly, sus (as the kids say) move. 

Speaking of that Sochan guy. I pondered this on the Twitter last week: “Everyone wanted to compare Jeremy Sochan to Rodman. But what if he’s actually more like Giannis?” [insert deep thought emoji]

Doug McDermott had one of his on-fire games to propel the Spurs, scoring 20 points (7-8 FG, 4-4 3 pt, 2-3 FT) with 5 points, an assist and a steal. Keldon Johnson provided 23-8-6 with 2 steals on a respectable 8-of-17 shooting line with 3 threes. 

It was the first game the Nuggets lost when Nikola Jokic (37-11-11 with 3 steals) messed around. And that’s two weeks in a row my “Death. Taxes…” comment became a major jinx. If only I could use my powers for good and not evil!

The other MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, didn’t mess around; but he wasn’t messin’ around against the Trail Blazers – if ya know what I’m sayin’. He scored 39 points (13-20 FG, 0-1 3pt, 13-18 FT), grabbed 7 boards and added 4 dimes, 2 steals and 3 blocks – and hit a nifty game-winning turnaround from the free throw line. De’Anthony Melton was back to the bench, posting a 13-1-5 line with a steal and 3 threes. 

Anfernee Simons returned from injury and was hungry for buckets. [Closes eyes. Looks to the sky. Whispers “Thank You” to no one in particular.] He hit 8-of-12 threes, 13-of-22 overall, on his way to 39 points. Unfortunately, he wasn’t active elsewhere, totaling just 2 boards, an assist and a steal. Still, a sustained Simons heater would be a nice parting gift for his owners who’ve been waiting patiently through his ankle issues. Cam Reddish moved to the bench but still got 36 minutes of run, scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting with a three and assists, and 2 boards and steals each. He’s averaging 1.4 steals per game for the Blazers and should remain a good streamer for that stat while providing enough elsewhere. 

The Mikal Bridges Experience kept rockin’ as the Nets squeaked by the Timberwolves in overtime, 124-123. He had 34 points (13-24 FG, 4-8 3pt, 4-6 FT) with 6 boards and an assist. Spencer Dinwiddle (29-3-11-1-0) and Nic Claxton (11-9-3-0-4) each did their thing. And Royce O’Neale put together his second solid fantasy line in a row off the bench, posting 12-15-2 with 3 steals and threes apiece (albeit, on some ugly 3-for-11 shooting).

Remember a few weeks back when I said everyone’s favorite sloth, Kyle Anderson, could win some leagues for players? He posted 15-7-11 with a steal and a block in the losing effort, and over the last two weeks is averaging about 12-7-6 along with the coveted 1-1-1 offering. Naz Reid continues to be boom or bust from game to game. It was the latter Friday, playing just 11 minutes – in part because Brooklyn had no answer to stopping Rudy Gobert (26-11-4-4-1). Although, it was cool Coach Sam Mitchell drew up an out-of-bounds play for Naz in the final seconds of regulation. Despite being just 0-2 on the night, Naz nailed a three to send it to overtime. 

Jimmy Butler (33-5-3; .827 TS%) and Tyler Herro (25-9-4; .746 TS%) lit the flame in the Heat’s 119-115 win over Cleveland. (Marketing idea: you know how the Kings light the beam? The Heat could shoot a fireball from the top of the arena after each win!) I can see myself being overly hyped for Herro next season. His ranking in 9-cat per game the last four seasons have been 181, 160, 88 and this year 66. 

With Darius Garland sidelined, Caris LeVert got the start and tallied 16-3-4-1-1 with 4 triples. Ricky Rubio contributed 8-3-8, and Donovan Mitchell was Doing That He Do, scoring 42 points (15-30 FG, 8-15 3pt, 4-6 FT) with 3 boards, 4 dimes and a steal. 

Trae Young owners this week enjoyed some rare efficiency from the guard. He had 28-2-9 with 2 steals Friday as the Hawks beat the Wizards 114-107, and in his last three games shot 29-of-50 from the field and 10-of-19 from deep. 

Speaking of dumb waiver wire moves [another one? What’s wrong with you?] I couldn’t help myself and picked up John Collins to see if new coach Quin Snyder can uncork a better vintage of Collins. He posted 7-4-3-2-1, going O-fer from behind the arch after nailing 4-of-5 from deep on Thursday. I’m really just trying to manifest a strong finish by Collins so that Mr. Hooper has to spend the entire offseason telling himself, “No! Don’t even think about drafting Collins again! … but, what if …”

Monte Morris returned (6-5-8-2-1), so Delon Wright moved back to the bench, but he still played 30 minutes and provided 10-2-5 with 3 steals. Washington, D.C. police should put out an APB throughout all NBA cities, as Wright is averaging nearly 4 steals a game over his last six. 

And last but not least in La La Land, D’Angelo Russell, returning from a six-game absence, was ballin’ to the tune of 28 points (10-17 FG, 5-8 3pt, 3-3 FT), 5 boards, 9 assists and a steal as the Lakers beat Toronto, 122-112. Dennis Schroder (23-1-7 with 4 steals and 3 threes) and Austin Reaves (18-2-5 and a block) were sparks off the bench. Reaves continues to provide nice value while LeBron James is out, playing to a 101 per game ranking over the last two weeks. 

I saw a tweet yesterday posing the question, What young NBA player who has yet to be in the conversation for an All NBA 1st Team honor is most likely to end up winning an MVP? Lots of predictions, but I didn’t see many (or any) “Scottie Barnes” responses. Barnes has been disappointing this season for sure (ranked 75th in 9-cat per game), but watching him go for 32 points on 13-of-19 shooting (1-4 3pt, 5-6 FT) with 9 boards, 7 assists and a steal on Friday definitely had me thinking the 21-year-old deserves to be in the conversation above – especially if the Raptors strip it down and rebuild around him. OG Anunoby was just as good in the loss, finishing with a ridiculous 1.012 TS% to go with his 31-2-1-5-0 stat line.  

Best of luck to all fighting for the next round of the playoffs (other than Beats By Dray, of course) and may your waiver wire fishing excursions work out better than mine did last night.