The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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An extremely encouraging pattern is beginning to emerge with my every-other-week recapping of the Wednesday night games: Happy returns that are highlighted in the lede. You see, it was my distinct pleasure to highlight KAT’s return from his early season wrist + Covid absence, and I was the one who placed Kevin Durant in this place of prominence when he came back from the extended hammy vacation. Now, I’m due up for the recap on the night Jaren Jackson Jr. returned and you know damn well that I’m going to make him the lede. Welcome back, Jar—

Ah. Actually not. Sorry JJJ, I’m breaking up the welcome party and going with the 40 piece instead. We’ll see you later in the recap, because this lede (and maybe all of the Western world) belongs to…

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
40 11 6 1 0 6 11/21 12/13 4

This is second time in the last week that Julius has gone 40+/10+/6+ with 6 made threes. Wut. That’s just unspeakable heat from New York’s Caesar, who led the Knicks to an OT win against the Hawks last night. Woe to those of you having wrestle this monster in head-to-head playoffs. It might be better just to simply bend the knee when Randle is going like this.

Here’s what else stood out on another busy Wednesday in the Association…

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I used to love watching Animal Planet. That is, when they actually used to show freaking wild animals in their natural habitat. Now it’s a bunch of BS shows that IDGAF about. Anyways, watching a cackle of hyenas or a pride of lions working together to take down prey was always an exhilarating watch. That’s usually because the prey was a big, burly beast who could F shit up. It would take hours and a coordinated precision to take it down. Sometimes they trudged home empty-handed, but every once in a while, they would overcome and feast. Last night, a pack of Pacers Voltron’d up and took down the hurly-burly Grizzly for a 132-125 victory. Domantas Sabonis produced 18 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 29 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal. Caris LeVert went for 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks. It took 48 minutes, but the Pacers finally defeated the Grizzlies, 132-125 as Jonas Valanciunas was a freaking beast, going for 34 points, 22 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. He shot 16-for-25 from the field.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for week 10! It’s time to identify the competitive categories in your matchup and fortify the categories in which you already have an advantage. Based on various punt strategies, I’ll be profiling a few stream options that will increase your chances of winning the week.

Last week’s recommendations featured some players who boosted your win probability (Robert Williams III, Saddiq Bey, Jae’sean Tate) along with a dud (Grayson Allen), so hopefully you were able to find the players that helped your specific situation.

The players listed below players have two or more games remaining in the current week and are rostered in 50% or less of Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues.

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There are four types of fossil fuels currently in existence: petroleum, coal, natural gas, and orimulsion. They are all made from plants and animals that decompose. As of 2018, petroleum accounted for 34% of the world’s energy source, coal 27%, and natural gas 24%. What is orimulsion? Is it like Bitcoin and Top Shot? Nuclear energy was 4.4%, hydroelectric 6.8%, while solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wind combined for 4%. In the three years since those percentages were tabulated, the numbers have skewed more towards the non-fossil sources as the world has become more conscious about saving Mother Earth. Yipee! Halliburton, though, is one of the world’s largest oil field service companies and is the Dolph Lundgren to Mother Earth: If she dies, she dies. They make billions of dollars, keeping their shareholders happy but draw the ire of the children of Mother Earth. But, but, but…..a new energy source has been discovered in Sacramento and his name is Tyrese Haliburton. Is he a fossil fuel? Well, he does kill defenders and decomposes them into the stat sheet, so yes. But he is also a green source of energy because he delivers the goods so cleanly and efficiently. Win, win for everyone. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 5 9 3 1 1 4/9 9/20 1/2

In 40 minutes off the bench. Haliburton has only started two games this season yet is a top 40 player on the season. Over the last four games, he’s been a top 20 player averaging 34.2 minutes. 17.5 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 6.5 dimes, two steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 48% from the field and 75% from the line. Dayam. Since 2000, only seven rookies have finished inside the top 40 at season’s end. Both LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton could accomplish the feat this year. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Yep, I’m going to subject you all to my friends and family league yet again. We’re at the midway point of our regular season after today, so I wanted to go back and see where my predictions from the preseason were right and wrong, and which fantasy players are performing better or worse than their average draft position (ADP).

What I hope you can take from this is how to better formulate your strategy in your own leagues, and what seems to work best for people in a relatively average league. Our league is listed as a “silver” league on Yahoo!, which isn’t really scientific but indicates our team levels combined are slightly below the average of “gold.” We have two platinum, one gold, four silver, and five bronze managers. It’s a top-heavy league, which is the case in most scenarios as the people who run the league seem to be far more invested.

Anyways, the below records and rankings are based on if the scores stay the same as they are at the writing of this article. Those are subject to change, but not by much.

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Coming of age in Minneapolis in the ’80s and ’90s, I never fully understood the west coast/east coast “feud” in the hip hop world. I mean, we had Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Prince and Morris Day and things were just fabulous. I remember going to hard rock shows at The Quest in downtown Minneapolis, and they’d usher all us young’uns out the door by 10PMish, so the Prince-affiliated club could prep for it’s real bread and butter: the late-night weeknight dance parties. I’d walk out into the November frozen wastes that characterize the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, wearing a band t-shirt and jeans, and step past the most fabulously dressed people waiting for their turn to use The Quest. I’d hop in my car and be home and in bed before their nights even started. Now, what does any of this have to do with Ivica Zubac, the 7-foot Bosnian who plays backup center for the Clippers? Of course! It’s the vague similarity between my midwestern accent mangling “Zubac” into sounding something like “Tu-pac,” which makes me ruminate on how the west coast owns the narrative of hip hop and basketball. Tupac, the Lakers (also from Minneapolis, bee-tee-dubya), that guy who was drafted by the Utah Jazz and married Kim K for 72 days (Kris Humphries, also from Minneapolis, double bee-tee-dubya). ENYWHEY. I’m here trying to save your fantasy basketball team, so let’s see what I can do.

Please, blog, may I have some more?