Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 16!  In this post, I look for widely available streaming options who can help you increase the odds of winning your head-to-head matchup.  Undoubtedly, there are several of you who are locked in battles for playoff seeds and/or bye weeks as most fantasy leagues reach their terminal phase.  I will do my best to find you players who meet your categorical needs!

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The Orlando Magic beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-108 in a nailbiter in the sunshine state. The vaunted Mavericks defense posed only so much resistance as seven Magic players scored in double figures, led by Chuma Okeke off the bench. Okeke finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Franz Wagner finished the game with 18 points, two rebounds, three assists, and one steal.  Cole Anthony tallied 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists. Wendell Carter Jr. notched a double-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Moritz Wagner tallied 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists off the bench. The last time these two teams played Mo Wagner and Luka Doncic got into a bit of a curfuffle. Wagner has an earned reputation as an irritant and Luka did not forget their exchange. He spent much of the first half talking trash to Wagner, growing bolder and bolder every time a Mavericks player scored on the German. However, later in the game, the Magic seemed to make point of involving Luka in the action when the Mavericks were on defense. Wagner rolled to a number of dunks in pick and roll action with Luka guarding Wagner or in the vicinity as a help defender. With the victory, it was Wagner who got the last laugh, at least for now. Mo Bamba and Gary Harris each scored 10 points.

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The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 114-116 on Sunday night, making them 3-3 since LeBron James has been sidelined due to an abdominal injury. None of the victories have been particularly impressive, but they’re doing what they need to do—staying afloat until they get healthy. After a lackluster performance that led to a 24-point loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves in their previous contest, Anthony Davis set the tone early for the purple and gold in this game. Davis had 19 points (8-10 FG) in the first quarter and finished the game with 32 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block. It was the kind of dominating performance the Lakers will need in James’ absence as well as when he returns if the Lakers have any hope of achieving their championship goals. This game also saw Talen Horton-Tucker return from injury, pushing Kent Bazemore all the way out of the starting lineup and into a DNP (Coach’s Decision). Horton-Tucker had a solid game with 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot the ball well at home and he received a surprise start in this game. He finished the contest with 15 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT) and five rebounds. He’s still shooting a ridiculous 47.3% from three on the season and an even more ridiculous 56% from three at home. Finally, Russell Westbrook had a quiet, efficient night for the Lakers. I might contend that quiet and efficient should be the goal for most of Westbrook’s contest given his rocky start to the season, but that’s a conversation for another day. Westbrook finished the game with 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-5 3PT), 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and seven turnovers.

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After nine years, including eight straight playoff appearances, the Terry Stotts era is over in Rip City.  Chauncey Billups takes the reins with the aim of shoring up the defense to complement the Blazers’ number two ranked offense.  Aside from the coaching change, Portland retained its nucleus from last season.  They will look to take advantage of having a healthy Jusuf Nurkic and a full season of Robert Covington and Norman Powell.  Given their ability to run up the score, the Blazers present a target-rich environment for fantasy drafts.  Here are the names to watch going into the 2021-22 campaign:

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The Charlotte Hornets were everyone’s favorite League Pass team last season and they should remain one of the most exciting teams to watch, though they might have some serious competition from the Houston Rockets. It was a mixed bag of a season for the Hornets in 2020-21. LaMelo Ball emerged, Gordon Hayward looked good when healthy, and both Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges had breakout seasons. They managed to sneak into the expanded playoffs, where they failed to advance out of the Play-In tournament. They might fall out of the Play-In this season due to the surprisingly tough Eastern Conference, but it’s all about development and improvement for this roster anyways. As long as they draft well, or, you know…tank, their best years should be ahead of them. Let’s figure out what all this means for fantasy!

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Bledsoe has scored in single digits 25 times this season. He’s outside the top 200 on a per-game basis. There was a time when he was a perennial top 40 player. Life comes at us fast. On what was championship Sunday for many, Eric Bledsoe turned back the clock and produced his best performance of the season.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 4 11 2 0 1 3/9 8/17 5/10

Now, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram did not play in this one but whatever. A chip is a chip. If Bledsoe led any of you to a chip, you are obligated to buy a jersey of his. And you better wear that bad boy proudly. If anyone starts clowning you, just punch them in the face and say that your face Bledsoe that I could wear this jersey proudly around town.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s been just over a week since a friend of mine pointed me toward the Kevin Durant/Michael Rapaport beef that had bubbled up on social media. At the time, I somewhat gleefully read through their back and forth until I felt my emotions start to turn. KD, from all the stories I’ve heard and books that I’ve read, does not strike me as a happy man. The texts he sent to Rapaport support this. Then I saw the follow-up video that Rapaport put out that provide additional context for his spicy IG chat with Durant and I felt even worse. KD might be unhappy, but Rapaport strikes me as something far more distasteful than the aloof ennui of the unfathomably talented. After eating my fill of online garbage, I sent the following text to my buddy:

I wish I could get that time back. 

I can’t, obviously. None of us can. But what we can do is make up for the time lost, and Durant did just that in his return to NBA action on Wednesday night. All told, the Nets played 23 games since KD was last in uniform, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him.

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It is said that patience is a virtue. Prepare my domicile in Hell then, Satan. I want instant satisfaction. Toothpaste oozing out? Grrr. Ketchup plastered to the bottom? Arrgh. Take a long drive to enjoy the scenery? Why haven’t we invented teleportation yet? After missing 25 games due to injury, we’ve been waiting for Bogdan Bogdanovic to start balling out. Drip. Drip. Drip. He played fewer than 20 minutes in two of the first three games back. That’s okay. It was expected and it would take some time to get back into the groove. Then 22 minutes. 26 minutes. OMG, it’s happening! 20 minutes. Sad face. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. Womp woooomp. 22 minutes. SAD face. 32 minutes, that frown turned upside down. This is it!!! He’s getting his first start……drum roll, please……21 minutes. WTF?! Last night, though, it finally happened:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 4 6 4 0 1 4/8 8/18 2/2

Started his third straight game and played 37 minutes. Oh, yeah! It’s on like Donkey Kong. Entering the season, I thought Atlanta would be one of the more fantasy-friendly teams in the league. Interestingly, they are playing at the 22nd-fastest pace after being fifth last season. Regardless, he’s risen to the top of the depth chart, relegating Kevin Huerter to the bench. As long as he gets the minutes, BogBog can provide points, tres, boards, some dimes, and steals. The shooting efficiency may not be great, though, as he’s a career 43% shooter from the field. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Man, the Charlotte Hornets are fun to watch! But before we deep dive into Charlotte, let’s see how the East looks like now. The Philadelphia 76ers are still top with a 18-7 record followed by the Milwaukee Bucks who seemed to have read my piece from last week, at 16-9. But after that? Absolute turmoil. The Nets have gone a 1-3 run while the Celtics are one loss away from being .500 at the time of writing while the Pacers have fallen below .500. It is anyone’s ballgame out East and teams like the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors seem to be turning it up at the right time. But in this week’s spotlight, it is the fun and fast-paced Charlotte Hornets. 

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On Super Bowl Sunday, it was fitting that Donovan Mitchell was super and had his best game of the season. This is what I wrote for my DFS article for Draftkings on Sunday morning:

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers, $7,900 – Mitchell is the “just right” porridge in the Three Little Bears story – not too hot, not too cold, just right. For slurping porridge, this is a good thing. For daily fantasy, not so much. He’s scored over 40 DKFP 10 times this season with two of those 50-burgers, but he’s gone lower than 40 DKFP 11 times. So why do I consider him a stud today? He garners a usage rate of 30.6% on the season and is hoisting up 18.6 shots per game. This game has a spread of four points, so it should be competitive. In addition, the Pacers boost the fantasy points per minute to shooting guards by 11.99% above league average, the fifth-most generous rate in the league. It wouldn’t surprise me if he notches his third 50-burger of the season.

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If you are curious about the title of the article, I divert your attention to the “Buy” entry about Cody Zeller. He is the Balding Mamba. He has always been the Balding Mamba. [Son’s note: There is only one Bald Mamba in the world, and that is Alex Caruso]

In the introduction, I want to touch on something totally different. Today’s NBA and the volatility of team rosters through trades makes it all the more difficult for cool player duos to develop together and have the narrative that they stay on the same team and help it grow to compete. The duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry was one of the few exceptions in Toronto, where it was obvious that they enjoyed a great friendship off the court as well. DeRozan’s trade to the Spurs may have brought a championship to Toronto but it also split the dynamic duo. Regardless, DeRozan didn’t miss the chance to roast his old friend in the wake of Fred VanVleet breaking his record for most points scored by a Raptor.

It is always nice to see the human side of these superstars and to understand that many of them are ordinary people behind the veil of fame that comes naturally with the job.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Wayne Ellington, unfortunately, cooled off a lot after his lights out performances from beyond the arc, Ivica Zubac and T.J.McConnell were both serviceable while Danilo Gallinari confirmed his spot as a “Sell” candidate that can even be dropped at this point.

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In Brooklyn, the veterans always preferred DeAndre Jordan over him, even though he was better. Now in Cleveland, he’s forced into a timeshare with Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. When will Allen get his due? According to leading armchair psychologists, it was all that pent-up frustration that led to this outburst. In contention for the line of the year so far.

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