The Magic have been everyone’s favorite fantasy outlet this season, from Bol Bol Euro-stepping into monster jams to Paolo Banchero compiling historic rookie numbers. The play of Franz Wagner has by no means been lost in all the excitement, but his games of late have been next level good. Over his last six games, he’s averaging 24 points on 55% shooting, 68.3 TS%, pitching in about 4 boards, 3 assists, a steal and 3 threes per game. 

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I’ve been covering fantasy basketball throughout this season and well… I haven’t been able to write many nice things about the Charlotte Hornets to date. So when I saw they picked up a rare road victory on Wednesday night – 122-117 over the young, rebuilding Houston Rockets – I thought this is finally the Hornets’ time to shine! But alas, one step forward and one step back for this stumbling squad – despite the victory, the real loss was the apparent ankle injury to franchise superstar LaMelo Ball. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this game and fantasy-relevant injury.

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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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Something tells me the Pelican won’t fare well in that scenario, right? Well, that was the case Wednesday night when the Celtics’ Scottie Pippen, “Robin” or what have you – Jaylen Brown – torched the young Pelicans to the tune of 41 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Brown led Boston to a convincing 125-114 victory over New Orleans and he wasn’t alone – top dog, Batman Jayson Tatum bullied his way to 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

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My first and only allegiance will always be to the Brooklyn Nets, but Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies are my second-favorite team in the game today. I personally felt they played the NBA champion Golden State Warriors better than anybody else in last year’s playoffs – and don’t forget that Morant went down and missed time. This team has everything you want from a modern NBA roster – a true, showstopping superstar (Morant), a dominant defender who also contributes offensively (Jaren Jackson Jr.), a confident, lights-out shooter (Desmond Bane) and multiple other quality pieces (Adams, Brooks, Jones, Aldama and Clarke, just to name some).

But this is exactly what we don’t want from a fantasy perspective. We don’t want Bane and Jackson returning from injuries and eating into Morant’s usage as a top-tier fantasy producer. We don’t want these young, deep, talented Grizzlies to be so good that they are blowing people out and limiting our fantasy minutes. Let’s take a look at how this situation played out on Wednesday night in The League.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 11!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  It’s not often that big injury news serendipitously breaks right before I write my piece, but that’s exactly what happened last night, with the Suns announcing a minimum of four weeks’ down time for Devin Booker.  My late grandmother, who followed Chicago sports, used to refer to groin injuries by exclaiming, “he’s got a groin!”  Well, Devin booker has got a groin, folks, and it’s going to cost Phoenix in the near term.

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Tuesday night’s five-game slate presents me with my first opportunity to bring you a game recap!  Normally, I’m the guy who writes up borderline players and streamers on Thursday afternoon, so it’s a nice change to profile some of the league’s studs.  It’s kind of like hate watching Hallmark Christmas movies (Mingle All the Way, among others) for the first few weeks of December before switching gears and watching It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story.

Disclaimers: Because I was too busy watching Santa Switch last night, and the fact that I’m on Greenwich Mean Time, I haven’t had a chance to watch the games.  As a result, all of my observations are through a strictly fantasy lens and don’t necessarily account for every nuance.  Additionally, all of my ranking references are based on category-league values as a default.

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Yes, I spent a couple nights watching the NBA, and yes of course I had thoughts.  My first thought was should I watch Manifest?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Who wouldn’t like a Lost knock off, right?  It’s kinda dumb and a good excuse for 40 minutes to make fun of everything you’re watching with your lovely wife.

I’m gonna name each category after my favorite TV shows I’ve seen, in no particular order.

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I was watching Dahmer the other day on Netflix, and there’s a scene toward the end of the series where Jeffrey Dahmer (infamous serial killer) seeks wisdom and guidance from a priest in prison. Dahmer says, “Even in Star Wars, I always liked the bad guys more,” to which the priest replies, “So did I… those characters are written better.”

With that in mind, is there a villain in the NBA whose storyline is written any wilder than Kyrie Irving’s? Back in his Cleveland Cav days, Kyrie was my favorite player in the NBA, and now he even plays for my favorite team – the Brooklyn Nets. And yet, for a plethora of obvious reasons, Kyrie has gone from my favorite to most hated player in basketball. For lovers of The Villain – like Dahmer, who was one himself – has an NBA storyline ever been written like this before?

(1) It all started when Kyrie dropped a bomb on us… apparently the world is flat. That’s when we knew things were starting to change in the young man’s mind. (2) Then he wore out his welcome in Boston, and capped that off by enraging Celtics fans when he stomped on their logo, Lucky the Leprechaun. (3) Then he became THE anti-vaxxer in the NBA – the poster boy for dissent – and cost the Nets their season in the process. (4) Then came Alex Jones, I don’t think I need to say more on that, followed by (5) The Grand Finale, going down as arguably the worst anti-Semite in the history of the NBA.

And yet, after all that disgusting content and embarrassment, Kyrie refused to vanish into Cancellation. In fact, he seemed to return to the court as strong as ever. Is he simply embracing his newfound role as basketball’s Supervillain? Let’s jump into Wednesday night’s NBA slate to get a deeper understanding of Kyrie’s fantasy basketball adjustments.

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With one of the deepest and busiest schedules, Wednesdays in the NBA bring action, drama and monster fantasy box scores. Last night was par for the course – or should I say, par for the court? – as superstars Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Kevin Durant and a number of others went HAM on a jaw-dropping night of basketball that had as many twists and turns as a gymnast driving a racecar in an episode of Black Mirror.

Not to mention – as always in the NBA these days – injuries, illnesses, rest and load management. I can’t wait to crack this slate open. Let’s dive right in.

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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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I’m pretty sure Ivica Zubac doesn’t have a pocket full of rocks. He’s definitely not skinny and likely has never gotten his ass kicked. He was probably doing the ass kicking. He’s not smoking blunts but has made millions without having to cut a quarter ounce. That said, if Zubac wants to continue making millions, he’s gotta keep dealing and ballin’. And ballin’ he did as no one can take Sunday’s game away from young Z:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 29 3 0 3 5 0 14/17 3/3

Holy schiztnitz. It was a White Man’s World. The only other player who has put up a 30-point, 29-rebound, 3-assist, and 3-block game was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in 1978 when he went for 37 points, 30 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 blocks! As a Lakers fan, it makes me sad that the Lakers traded him away. And to the Clippers no less for Mike Muscala. And by Jerry West, who is the greatest general manager in the history of the game and ended up consulting for the Clippers.

“The Clippers, sources said, never even called the Lakers to inquire about Zubac. The Lakers made the offer and the Clippers gladly accepted. Sources said that those at the dinner table shared a hearty laugh at the Lakers’ expense.”

Excuse me as I go perform seppuku for the eighth time in my life. I guess I’ll find out soon if I’m a cat or not.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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