Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 21!  The playoffs are in full swing across the fantasy hoops landscape, meaning it’s time to cut injured players who are acting as proverbial millstones around your team’s neck and go streaming!  This post will help you do just that, with recommendations for widely available players who can backfill those injured drops and contribute to your victory.  If you’re in the enviable position of having a fully-healthy team, two things: 1) I hate you 2) You can still benefit from these suggestions, because you should be using at least one roster spot to cycle through players and maximize your games played for the week.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 15!  The objective of this post is to help you identify the best available streaming options to win your head-to-head matchups.

Last week’s recommendations held up reasonably well, but it appears I cursed Kelly Olynyk and Alex Caruso by giving them both a casual mention in the intro.  After my vote of confidence, the cosmos promptly conspired against me to Grayson Allen Caruso’s wrist and infect Olynyk with COVID-19.

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The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 125-102, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Jazz were just 1-4 without Rudy Gobert in the lineup and Gobert and Donovan Mitchell seemed to trade subliminal jabs in press conferences and on social media. They appear to have righted the ship, for now. The Jazz are a bit of conundrum. They are an undeniably good team that has been labeled “a regular season team” for a few years, maybe even erroneously, except it didn’t matter because they did fall short of expectations in the playoffs. This year, there is once again general indifference towards the team outside of Utah and most interested parties are just wondering when Donovan Mitchell asks for a trade because he can’t get along with Gobert. The Jazz can’t get very far without Donovan Mitchell’s scoring, but they appear even more doom-struck without Gobert’s defense. What can be done? Would Jerami Grant help? Harrison Barnes? Whatever happens, I know fans outside of Utah will watch with crazy-eyed delight if the foundation once again crumbles beneath them in the playoffs.

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In the past I’ve mentioned that I don’t feel like I’ve got a great handle on who BI is as a player. There are flashy, stat-stuffing games like this one where it looks like he’s got it all figured out. A three-level scorer with more than a little playmaking ability offensively, and a long, rangy defender who alters shots and flits into passing lanes — there’s a lot to like about the slim 24-year-old with a massive wingspan. Then there are nights when the efficiency plummets and the turnovers, as seen here, balloon on him while the dimes dry up. For fantasy purposes, he’s got enough offensive punch to hang around the top-50 without much trouble, but the lack of defensive contributions and turnovers work like an engine regulator on his overall value. He’s been the 16th best player in the Association over the last week, so if you were wondering what the ceiling looks like, now’s your chance to catch a glimpse.

Speaking of catching glimpses, here’s what else I saw on a mostly-competitive night in the NBA…

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Evidently, TNT is taking the week off from their NBA Tuesdays to start the new year, a development that suits me just fine. Don’t get me wrong, I like their broadcasts as much as any other, but because they’re always looking to showcase teams with national appeal, I end up seeing a lot of the same teams and players for these Tuesday night recaps. The network extending their vacation time means that instead of talking about the Nets or the Warriors, I got a chance to take in some smaller market teams (and also, once again, the Knicks). Diversifying the diet is good — variety is the spice of life — and I’m especially excited because this batch of games had a heavy dose of My Guys that I haven’t been able to talk about much this year. And as much as I would love to kick this off by highlighting a huge night from one of my most drafted players, the first lede player honors of 2022 instead go to someone I have exactly zero shares of.

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And I’m not talking about Christmas.

Despite vaccination numbers north of 95%, a new variant of the Coronavirus has breached the walls of the NBA and is wreaking havoc on a league that is already being thinned out by non-virus injuries that stem from playing three seasons in two years. The sick are just getting sicker (Tuesday night’s Brooklyn/Washington matchup was postponed) and as a result, the NBA has thrown off some of their normal roster restrictions to ensure that teams can field full squads. Names that are normally reserved for the silly season of March and early April are now turning up before the unofficial start of the season on Christmas Day. Consider Marquese Chriss, one of the newest Dallas Mavericks, as an example. A lottery pick in 2016 who has never found his footing in the Association, Chriss was added as a reinforcement to the Mavs roster amid a Covid outbreak in Dallas. To his credit, Chriss looked springy, played well, and actually closed the game for Dallas against Minnesota before the ink dried on his contract. Chriss was joined out there by luminaries like Theo Pinson and Sterling Brown, and all across the league there were was a mix of old names and new showing up in NBA box scores. Guys like Wayne Seldon in New York and Tony Snell in Portland resurfaced after time spent in the NBA hinterland, while Marcus Garrett saw some burn in Miami, and Leandro Bolmaro and Nathan Knight popped up for the Timberwolves.

Amid these strange times in the NBA, it was good to see that Damian Lillard is still good for a bucket or two.

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As an American living in England, it’s heartwarming to hear about the Thanksgiving traditions that are increasingly embraced by the British public.  And no, I’m not talking about enjoying the fellowship of others, eating great food, or reflecting on the many blessings that we enjoy in our affluent societies.  I’m talkin’ ’bout busting down the doors of the cheap electronics store at 4 AM, crushing skulls underfoot, and stampeding toward the flat screens! USA! USA! USA!  Amazingly, I’ve come across several Brits who harbor resentment toward America for exporting this time-honored tradition, but thankfully their ranks are thinning.  I’m confident we’ll eventually win them all over, one special edition ‘Friends’ box set at a time…

Fortunately for us waiver wire scavengers, there are always Black Friday deals to be found in fantasy hoops if one looks hard enough (and reads this post).  My goal is to highlight players who are on 50% or fewer rosters in ESPN and/or Yahoo leagues so that you can find the best fit to win your head-to-head matchup.

If you entered the Metuverse like I did last week, you hopefully benefitted from the threes, rebounds, steals, and blocks that Chimezie Metu provided in the Kings’ final two games of your matchup.  However, our journey ended abruptly with the firing of Luke Walton and the installment of Alvin Gentry, which has resulted in back-to-back DNP-CDs for Metu thus far.  It’s time to snap back to the real world and find some alternatives.

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Y’all know that I’m mainly a hip-hop guy but I do have a diverse musical palette. I enjoy classical, jazz, and metal. I actually played the bass guitar in elementary school with “our band.” Y’all also know that I’m a Lakers homer and have been on Talen Horton-Tucker since Day One. Watching him in the first three games of this season has gotten me so amped.

He could always drive to the rack but now he’s developed the side-step J and really improved his outside shot. With his wingspan, the defensive ability has always been there. This AC/DC song just kept playing in my head watching THT play last night in Milwaukee:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 12 3 2 1 3 3/6 9/18 4/4

In three games so far, he’s the number four player in fantasy!!! Alright, small sample size and he’s been getting a ton of run with LeBron James out of the lineup. There is uncertainty as to what exactly his role will be and how much run he will get when LeBron returns, but he’s going to be an important part of the rotation. If he’s still out there, scoop him up for sure.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 105-99 in the Sunday matinee game. Viewers were treated to the full  “Luka Doncic Experience,” as he had a near triple-double, 23 points (10-21 FG, 1-7 3PT), eight rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block, and three turnovers. Doncic also picked up a technical foul midway through the third quarter after an expletive-filled barrage, that followed three-quarters of Doncic’s patented palms up, pouty-face routine. Oh, and he made this ridiculous, back-breaking three-pointer to round out the experience:

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Let’s be honest, the Detroit Pistons are currently a bit of a dumpster fire. But even dumpster fires can be beautiful. Ask anyone involved with the production of “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” Side note: That only came out a year ago. I know, it feels like five years ago. We’ll never survive this, but I digress.

There’s actually plenty to like if you’re a Pistons fan for the long term with newcomer Cade Cunningham along with returning players Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart. They are going to have their growing pains no doubt, but they should be competitive in most games. They’ve been relatively competitive ever since Dwayne Casey was named head coach in 2018 and the front office has done a decent job giving the roster some sort of direction.

But how long will it take this young core to gel? Will they be interested in winning all season or turn on the tank in the end? And where the hell does Trey Lyles fit into all this?!?!

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Lauri Markkanen shot the ball exceedingly well, making eight out of 10 attempts for 18 points. Everything else about his night was concerning though, especially the minutes, which also topped out at just 18. Markkanen’s playing time has taken a hit—he’s been under 24 minutes in five of his past six outings. In those limited runs, he’s failed to corral more than six rebounds in a game, and totaled just two assists, one steal, and one block. With fantasy playoffs looming, he could be a cut candidate. Chicago just embarked upon a four-in-five-nights set, so let’s see if he can slingshot his hot shooting from last night into some real momentum.

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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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