Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 15!  In this post, I identify widely available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  Depending on who’s on your roster, this week has offered its fair share of ups and downs so far.  We witnessed the long-awaited return of Anthony Davis, Brandon Ingram, and Khris Middleton, while lamenting fresh injuries to Kristaps Porzingis, Bobby Portis, and Steven Adams.  In Adams’ case, we were left wondering who would gain the most minutes between Xavier Tillman, Santi Aldama, and Brandon Clarke.  After a promising showing on Monday, Tillman’s minutes fell off a cliff on Wednesday, as Clarke and Aldama gobbled up the lion’s share of time at the five.  Suffice it to say, that situation is still developing…

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Someone (and usually multiple someones) is always out for the Clippers, so you always have to be mindful as to who is being given the chance to fill the void. Lately, it’s been Nic Batum, who contributed 11 points, five rebounds, three triples, a steal, and a block in 32 minutes. It was his second consecutive start and third straight double-digit scoring output. Over those three contests he’s averaging a robust 3.7 3PTM to power his 13.3 PPG to go along with 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG. Batum can contribute across the board, and while he’s been a dud so far this season, he’s heating up and being afforded a temporary starting slot. He’s a solid streaming option in this role (12 percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Five!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you down the stretch of your head-to-head matchup.  A number of last week’s recommendations panned out, with no-brainers like Aleksej Pokusevski, Cam Payne, and Gabe Vincent stepping up to provide big production.  This week presents a totally different picture, with a slew of teams playing just two games for the week and one team playing five.  Plus, we have new injuries and illnesses to consider.

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The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest.

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The Portland Trail Blazers missed the playoffs last season for the first time since Damian Lillard’s rookie year, and finished with their worst record (27-55) since the fall of the Jail Blazers era.  After GM Neil Olshey was fired midseason for being a total a-hole fostering a toxic work environment, his successor, Joe Cronin, called in the tanks and began reshaping the roster to meet the needs of first year head coach Chauncey Billlups. The Blazers were stripped down to a G League team for the final two months, losing 21 of their last 23 games – who out there had Drew Eubanks power them to a league title?

Some fans said “Tanks For Nothing!” for the lost season that saw a beloved borderline all-star player traded for role players and financial flexibility; the lottery balls left them at No. 7; and Lillard’s Primetime clock ticked through another year. But now Dame is back, the hype machine is rolling – “Not sure how good they’ll be, but they’ll be fun to watch!” – and Portland looks primed to return to its normal status as playoff team but not a contender. 

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There were quite a few players who exploded for big performances on Friday, but Obi Toppin deserves the fantasy star of the night award the most, for a career-high 35 points on 6-9 three-point shooting. Toppin has scored 19 or more in his last four games starting and looks like he is getting more comfortable in the NBA with every minute he plays. This stretch of starts was a possible look into the future if Julius Randle is traded or if Toppin manages to get more minutes next to Randle next year. Obi will remain as an interesting stash in dynasty leagues with an undetermined role moving into next year. Immanuel Quickley ended the night with 23 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds as he saw more minutes than usual with RJ Barrett leaving the game with a knee injury. Quickley continues to show upside in all facets of the game and is leaving the Knicks with a difficult decision on what to do at the point guard position next year. His role has a lot to do with what the Knicks do in the offseason.

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Same format as last week, with one readily available player per game and some additional insight into the game. I’d imagine that most fantasy leagues have either wrapped up or are in the finals, so take my picks this week as desperation moves. Not a single pick this week is meant for a dynasty league, as this week is all about making that final pickup to win this season. Let’s get right into it. 

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Change. Is good, although it takes time for it to manifest. There are trials and tribulations. There are new things to learn and old things to forget. There will be haters. There will always be haters. But change is vital to reach one’s potential. A caterpiller walks and eats before wrapping itself in a cocoon, then morphs into a butterfly and eventually flies into the sky. Pascal Siakam entered the league in 2016 and embarked upon the journey that all rookies undertake. He flashed his two-way potential early on and continued to climb the ladder. In 2019, after Kawhi Leonard left, he was thrust into a more prominent role and became an All-Star. While the numbers were there, there was some hesitancy. Fred VanVleet put it best: “I think what happened was Kyle [Lowry] was such an immovable object, such a force of who he was in his status as a Hall of Famer, it was like a little tit-for-tat there, even if it was subconscioius….It’s not something where’ I don’t like this guy’ or ‘I’m not passing to him’, it’s a little nuance that you would never understand unless you played at the highest level.” Lowry was traded before the beginning of the 2021-22 season and things became more clear and comfortable for Siakam. He missed the first 10 games of the season but it’s been alllll good this season and last night was the culmination of the season.

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Welcome back Razzball Nation to our weekly segment of Underperformer of the Week, where we feature a player who is playing well below their expectations creating a path to extract value on the low. Let me rewind to last week for the people who check for me weekly. I apologize that I did not provide you with a post as your boy got hit with the “out for personal reasons” tag. I am not showing up on the injury report this week so we back in Action Bronson.

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Changing the format slightly, as I will choose two players from each NBA game last night who are available on the waiver wire. I highly value minutes played and opportunities given when it comes to fantasy. Every single NBA player is elite at basketball and, given the right opportunity, every single player could produce fantasy goodies. There’s a reason every player made the league, so the more chances they’re given the more likely they can produce. So without further adieu, let’s get into the first match from last night.

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In this fantasy corner, besides the usual fantasy recommendations, we are all about weird and interesting stats. Some of them mean a lot for team and player performances and some of them mean absolutely nothing (remember the infamous number 2 Bane game). The stat that caught my eye this week has to do with the stumbling Lakers and the effect LeBron has on this team. Since the All-Star Break the Lakers are 0-9 when LeBron does not score 50 points or more, which you can certainly say is a bad look for his supporting cast. Of course it is common knowledge that he had a huge say on how this team is constructed and that stat alone does not describe how many points he gives up on the other end, which are truthfully a lot. Just take a lot at the following clip that summarizes the Lakers season and to an extent their superstars both on the offensive and the defensive side.

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Can LeBron be corny at times? Yup. Does LeBron flop sometimes? Premier League players break down his tape. Is LeBron entering the final stages of his hooping career? Father Time is undefeated. That said, is LeBron one of the greatest players of all time? He almost won a chip with Eric F’ing Snow at point guard. He’s Magic Johnson in Karl Malone’s body with Zion Williamson hops, before Zion morphed into the long lost Klump. He’s won the chips, received all the accolades and awards, and is still doing this at age 37….

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