The legend grows. 

With the Jazz hanging on to a 1-point lead with seconds left on the clock, Collin Sexton stepped to the line and choked away two free throws in a row. But our hero, Walker Kessler, Utah Ranger – who kicks posterior not just for a living, but for America – bullied his way to an offensive rebound and was fouled. 

There, he faced his most challenging nemesis of all: the free throw line. What’s he do? But, of course, he steps up and drains back-to-back; turns, and flashes a look to the camera that says, “Even I can’t believe how much of a badass I can be.”

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Happy New Year, friends! I hope there have been some days of rest and rejuvenation for you as we turn the calendar over and start anew. Considering the tardiness of this post, it might be obvious that I was successful in unplugging and getting away from the tyranny of my computer for a bit. What have I been doing with that blissful time of solitude? Thinking about the Utah Jazz, mostly. 

2022 has been a weird one for Utah. During this time, an era of sustained success ended. Quin Synder got the boot, stars were shopped and shipped, Danny Ainge came home. Following these significant steps of a teardown, a bonafide firesale wasn’t just expected, it seemed imminent. The 2022-23 season of Jazz basketball, conventional thinking went, wouldn’t amount to much more than a long, slow, painful march toward ping pong balls the promise of Victor Wembanyama. 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Eight!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchups.  As the title suggests, I couldn’t help but come up with a bunch of forwards and centers this week, as there are a lot of intriguing options at the moment.  So if you like ’em big, er, this is the post for you…

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Another week, another weird stat that caught my attention from around the magical world of the NBA. James Wiseman has not enjoyed the best of starts to his career and the injuries that he has suffered have certainly not helped his case. However, the stat is that he is a minus 35 in 5 games in the G League. Not good. He was not a plus in any of those games, joining a very bad company of Haseem Thabeet and Anthony Bennett as the only top 2 draft picks to be sent down to the G League for development purposes. I am not saying that he is a lost cause, but it certainly does not seem very promising. Check out this very interesting video with more analysis on the Wiseman issue.

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You can’t win a championship at the beginning of a season, but you can lose one. Much as it pains me to say, I think I’ve already lost.

After a successful Writer’s League last year that ended against Kostas in the semifinal and a pretty intensive offseason of thinking about hoops, I came into this year’s draft feeling like I was in decent shape to post a good showing again. But this year ain’t last year. Stats and success don’t carry over, and if you’re resting on laurels rather than applying lessons learned, there’s no way to bank Ws on account of “experience.” If you’ve been following Kelder’s weekly recaps, you might have noticed that my team isn’t anywhere in the mix. Indeed, you’ve got to scroll almost the way to the bottom of the table to see my name. A record of 19-34-1 is good enough for 11th and I feel all but certain the hole that I’ve put myself in is going to be too deep to recover from. I’m not quite ready to quit on some other struggling squads, but I think it’s safe to let go of preseason expectations at this point and set a different goal for the remaining three-quarters of the season here in the Writer’s League.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Two!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  If this is your first brush with midweek guidance, check out the intro to last week’s post to get some insight on my groundbreaking methodology (it’s not groundbreaking).  The dust is settling on the initial rush to grab surprise successes like Santi Aldama, but there is still a lot of rotation churn in the NBA as teams try to find the best way to win (or lose).  Unsurprisingly, we’ve already seen multi-game injuries and/or load management issues with big names on the Pelicans, Cavaliers, Clippers, Thunder, and Hornets, so there are potential opportunities on those teams as we look for streaming candidates to cycle through with that final roster spot.

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The starting small forward positional battle for Portland was fierce all offseason. Chauncey Billups would change the dial, start bobbing his head, then go to the next channel and start bobbing his head some more. He’d turn the dial to the right, but like Beyonce, would get to the left. And start bobbing his head some more. Nassir Little, Justise Winslow and Josh Hart were all viable candidates. Little is the most athletic of the bunch but he lacks the experience of the others. Winslow has the biggest frame and can do a variety of things on the court. Hart is small in stature but he plays much bigger than his frame and his experience and IQ are top level.

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The Toronto Raptors faced what was essentially a G-league team on Friday night and played down to their opponent for the first half. They turned it around in the second half with a comeback behind our fantasy star of the night, Fred VanVleet. He finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists with four three-pointers. FVV has been excellent this year and is on fire of late. He ranks in the top-15 fantasy players and could make a push with his recent hot streak. 

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The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 108-104, behind strong performances from Evan Mobley, Kevin Love, and Jarrett Allen. After finding themselves down 84-73 in the third quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead and never gave it up. Mobley led the Cavaliers in scoring with 24 points (11-16 FG, 0-2 3PT) and added nine rebounds and four assists. Love tallied 20 points (6-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Love has scored 20 points or more in five straight games. He’s played well with increased minutes as the Cavaliers have seen a number of players go down with injury or Covid absences. Allen notched 18 points (6-12 FG, 0-1 3PT), 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks. Lamar Steven added 15 points (6-13 FG, 0-4 3PT), three assists, two assists, and one steal. Lauri Markkanen finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one block. Isaac Okoro played just 12 minutes and had to leave the game due to an elbow injury. He finished the game with 2 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block. He was one made three, one free-throw, one turnover, and one personal foul away from a really exciting stat line. The Cavaliers were without Darius Garland and Cedi Osman as both entered the league’s health and safety protocols) while Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio are out due to season-ending knee injuries.

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The Bucks snapped the Rockets’ seven-game win streak last night behind the fantasy star of the night, Giannis Antetekounmpo. The Greek Freak finished with 41 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. He stuffed the stat sheet on the way to a 123-114 win. Antetekounmpo is just inside the top-20 in category leagues, so owners will hope he can produce more stat lines like this one so he can justify his ADP. Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis each added 21 points and eight rebounds in last night’s win. Portis has been an excellent producer while starting for Brook Lopez who remains out with a back injury. Both Portis and Middleton have been top-60 players with Portis ranking in the top-50.

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In a rematch from only two days ago, the Pelicans were able to get revenge behind the fantasy star of the night, Brandon Ingram, who hasn’t been as good as last year since his injury but showed up last night with a near triple-double. Ingram finished with 24 points, 12 assists, and eight assists. This was easily Ingram’s best game of the year, and he will look to keep the streak going. While Jonas Valanciunas continues to start at center, his foul troubles recently have opened up more minutes for Willy Hernangomez, who has been stellar off the bench. Hernangomez finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds and should continue to be a solid streamer even with a great center in front of him. 

With Kristaps Prozingis out of the lineup, the Mavericks struggled offensively. Luka Doncic led the way, as he usually does, with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He remains one of the top category players with unlimited upside on a night-to-night basis. Maxi Kleber had 13 points and nine assists while filling in for Porzingis, but his production is too sporadic to justify rostering him.

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