Never Lame Dame (you can steal that, it’s not that great) is exactly that. Which I guess is technically not true, the word never is pretty strong, but then again, a dead man (Kawhi Leonard) just shut down a Celtics MVP favorite, so I feel anything is possible nowadays. And since the aforementioned Leonard has been a topic de jour a few times already this season, and while I would love to continue talking about SGA making his All-Star starter case with a season-high 42 points on 14-26 FG, Damian Lillard is the focus, nailing 11 three-pointers, finishing his night against the Timberwolves with 38 points on 13-21 FG in just 29 minutes. Just to put that in context, the only players with 3+ games and 11+ threes this season is Steph… and of course Dame. Something to add, Dame already had eight threes and 27 points just in the first half. So while the correct nomenclature would probably be “Mostly Never Lame Dame,” I’m pretty sure that actually being a concept of time, or a reference to, even if Dame O’Clock sounds Irish, is probably safe being the lede today. But just in case, here’s what else I saw during last night’s small slate of games…

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The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Nine!  Many of us are approaching the halfway mark of our seasons, with each matchup taking on increasing importance as we jockey for playoff positioning.  Meanwhile, cold and flu season is in full swing, with the added ingredient of COVID-19 sewing more chaos as teams scramble to field full rosters for game action.  Those of us with players on the Bulls, Pistons, and Raptors are already feeling the burn of game postponements this week.  Nonetheless, with every injury or health and safety setback, there are opportunities.  Look no further than the value that Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. returned while four of their teammates were out with COVID-19.

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So, the Warriors might be good again, yeah? Coming into Tuesday’s showcase against Brooklyn with the best record in the Association, Golden State has spent the early-season feasting on one of the softest schedules in the league, and generally looking really good doing it. Steph Curry is in MVP-form, Draymond Green is locked-in and energized, and Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have been steady, positive contributors. The bench is already deep and there’s help on the way as James Wiseman and Klay Thompson inch their way back to the rotation. Going into Brooklyn and getting the Nets at home, even sans Kyrie, figured to be a good, real test for the Warriors (if there is such a thing in November) as their schedule firms up ever so slightly. The Nets are a quality opponent. Despite the sluggish start from James Harden and getting nothing at all from Irving, Kevin Durant has been fabulous even by his own standards, and that’s been good enough to power Brooklyn to a totally-respectable 11-4 start. It was supposed to be a competitive, compelling game.

It wasn’t.

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If talent truly trumps all, the Brooklyn Nets will waltz to the 2022 NBA title. That is, unless they’re tripped up by injury (again) or vaccine mandates…or maybe the Earth turning out to be flat after all. But, more importantly, which Nets will help your fantasy team waltz to a title? Let’s dig into the roster. (All ADPs as of October 12, 2021, courtesy of Fantasy Pros)

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Daniel Theis still got the start even with Nikola Vucevic back in the lineup. The former Celtic contributed across the board in his 26 minutes, with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with 7 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and a three. Theis (46 percent owned in Yahoo!) has averaged 12.5 PPG over his past six, while also amassing some defensive stats and making close to one triple a game. He’s a great streaming option if he’s still out there in your league.

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I used to hate blowing up inflatables. Basically anything and everything that the kids bring to the pool. Breath iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Bllloooooooooooooooooooow. Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Blllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. Good thing I don’t smoke anymore. Iiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Cough. Wheeze. Cough. Blloow. The worst would be blowing up the sex do…..Uh, nevermind. The pumps for inflatable beds are the best. Press a button, listen to the whirrrr, and watch the bed rise, like yeast in the oven. So. Cool. That’s what it was like watching Jusuf Nurkic last season, in the Bubble ironically. He played his first game on July 31st and inflated for 17.6 points, 10.3 boards, four dimes, 1.4 steals, and two blocks in 31.6 minutes. In the playoffs, he averaged 32.3 minutes and put up 14.2 points, 10.4 boards, 3.6 dimes, 1.4 steals. and 0.2 blocks. Then the Bubble popped, both literally and figuratively. He played 12 games to start this season then proceeded to miss the next 32 games. Upon his return, he played 10 games and averaged only 21.4 minutes. Over the last two games, though, he played 29 minutes in each. He’s slowly been inflating. Yesterday, he played 29 minutes again and….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
16 19 5 1 2 2 0 6/13 4/5

Top 25 player over the last three games. He’s inflating at the right time as the Blazers are sitting at 7th in the Western Conference and could make some noise in the playoffs if everyone is healthy.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Brawls in the NBA have been very rare lately, compared to the old days. Just ask Ron Artest. This is of course an improvement and it usually takes something unique to sparkle one nowadays. And in a weird twist of fate, what created one in yesterday’s game between the Lakers and the Raptors was OG Anunoby lifting Dennis Schroeder like he was made out of feather.

Ok, either Anunoby is way too strong or Schroeder is way too light, as he was almost zoned out when he lifted him and immediately went for the apology. Anunoby seems like a very chill dude so I bet he didn’t even realize what he was doing at that moment, but it still created a rare scuffle.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, both Chuma Okeke and Gary Trent Jr. were awesome, with the former producing top 30 and the latter top 50 fantasy production this past week. Jaden McDaniels and Hamidou Diallo were also productive and certainly worth rostering, while Evan Fournier, who was mentioned in the “Sell” column had a great week but is currently out due to COVID-protocols. I don’t even mention Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was also in the “Sell” column since he hasn’t played yet and I have serious doubts that he will play again this year. The general consensus seems to disagree with me, as he is still owned in 97% of Yahoo leagues.

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Shake Milton lit it up off the bench for Philly, dropping 27 points on uber-efficient 10-of-14 shooting (including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc). That marks the eighth consecutive game Milton has scored in double figures—topping 20 points for the third time in that span. Consider picking up Shake (22 percent owned in Yahoo!) if you need points and threes.

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The buyout market has always been a contentious topic in the NBA, but especially this year as LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin went to the Nets while Andre Drummond signed with the Lakers. These moves would normally cost teams current or future assets, but this is not the case in a buyout situation. This is especially a concern for smaller market teams that lack the allure to convince players to join them via the buyout market, essentially widening the margin between big and small-market teams. I am not sure if this is in the immediate agenda of the league but even as a fan I have to admit that it feels a little bit like cheating for a team to get players of that caliber for essentially no cap space hit. Another unfortunate side effect is that trades for these players are unlikely to happen, as rival executives know that the players will be eventually bought out and are reluctant to give anything of value for them. All in all, it seems like a situation that needs to be further explored for potential changes next year.

Getting back to the fantasy talk and regarding last week’s suggestions, I hope you followed my advice on selling Al Horford, as the Thunder announced he will not play again this season as they shift their focus to tank…ahem to player development…Tyler Herro was also featured as a “Buy” candidate and has since improved his shooting and peripheral stats, while Jordan Poole also had a good run but is a drop due to Stephen Curry’s return.

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The NBA trade deadline is one week away and with the addition of the playoff play-in tournament, more teams are expected to be buyers than before. This makes the roster spot and fantasy value of many veterans in rebuilding teams quite precarious and I would expect a number of them to be moved to less ideal fantasy situations before the deadline. This could also provide more opportunities for younger guys to generate fantasy value, so it would be wise to stay especially active during the next week in an attempt to try and capitalize quickly on trades, by adding the correct players from the waiver wire. Fantasy goodness is about opportunity after all so all these potential roster changes can shake up the rotation of many teams. Finally, this year we have seen a record number of cases of teams flat out sitting veterans when they don’t fit in their timeline, so that could be interesting to watch in the future, with names like Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin already on that list.

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