Dejounte Murray comes in as our fantasy star of the Friday slate, as he tied his career-high of 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds, six assists, and three steals. He was excellent down the stretch making clutch play after clutch play to lead the Spurs to a 96-88 win. Murray has shown his talents all year as an elite three-category player with great shooting numbers and defensive stats to go along with it all. He has been amazing, both in real life and in the fantasy world. Keldon Johnson was right there with Murray down the stretch, ending with 17 points and 14 rebounds. 

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Much has been pontificated, written, said, even dreamed! about LeBron’s recent kerfluffle, kerfluffle being the *official* term, so I’ll leave that where it lays. It’s like how you’re never supposed to beat up a dead horse, mainly because I’m sure it smells and you shouldn’t be touching anything that’s been dead for a while. I’m sure that’s what that saying means. But man, is it just me, Captain Obvious, your friend, or do the Lakers kinda-sorta suck without LeBron James? With Thanksgiving Eve bringing a full slate of games and content, it was still too easy to focus on this Lakers vs. Pacers matchup that went to OT and saw LeBron play for 43 minutes, scoring 39 PTS on 13-29 shooting and 5-12 3PT with 5 REB, 6 AST, and 2 BLK. The performance and James leading the Lakers in the fourth quarter to force OT was what I call his usual Wednesday, but I guess he had to once again remind all the haters about his GOAT status, even playing center and being the best defender on the floor at the same time. Good Jokic if I ever saw one. With that pun already making me roll all of our eyes, let’s check out what else happened last night in the N-B-A…

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For about two and half quarters in last night’s TNT showcase of the Lakeshow in MSG, it looked like we were in store for yet another Tuesday night disappointment (seriously, how bad have these national games been lately?). No LeBron, an under-the-weather Anthony Davis, and some ghastly shooting from the rest of the roster (LA shot 37.4% as a team) allowed the Knicks to amass a huge lead in front of the home crowd. How ugly was it? The Lakers never led, only drew even twice, and the Garden was rocking and bing-bonging through for most of the evening. Despite the dire straights, this is a Laker group with championship aspirations, so they got off the mat and competed in the second half. Though it was in a losing effort, Russell Westbook tried his best to make a game of it.

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The Brooklyn Nets are back for another Friday night, so it’s only fitting that the fantasy star of the night is from the Nets. James Harden ended with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in the narrow, 115-113 win over the Magic. We got a glimpse of the Nets with just one superstar on Friday as Kevin Durant was out with injury. Whenever one of these superstars plays alone, they will have immense upside and control the offense entirely. Harden continues to have more upside when both are on the court together because of his high assist numbers.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Five!  By now you may feel like your waiver wire has been picked clean and you have nowhere to turn.  I’m here to tell you that there is hope, so stop telling yourself those lies.  In this post, I’ll provide streaming recommendations for the rest of this week to help you win your head-to-head matchup.  The goal is to identify the players with favorable fantasy profiles and solid schedules.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions both Lethal Weapons (Frank Kaminski and Javale McGee) were great streaming plays but can be safely dropped with Deandre Ayton back in action, while Jrue Holiday improved his play and can be no longer viewed as a buy-low. Daniel Theis had an ok week for streaming as well and regarding the sell candidates, both Chris Boucher and De’Andre Hunter proved me right as they continue to provide no value in standard leagues, while Cole Anthony continues his hot streak and I continue to see him as an excellent sell-very-high, if I may create this term.

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No, no not THAT The Used, though we could certainly chat about them a bit if you’re into it. No? Not here for that? Fine.

Well, I wanted to talk about “the used” in the NBA, as in the guys who have seen their usage climb in the past two weeks compared to the first two weeks of the season, and whether or not that’s sustainable for them. Cool with you, bro? Sweet, let’s begin.

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The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 114-116 on Sunday night, making them 3-3 since LeBron James has been sidelined due to an abdominal injury. None of the victories have been particularly impressive, but they’re doing what they need to do—staying afloat until they get healthy. After a lackluster performance that led to a 24-point loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves in their previous contest, Anthony Davis set the tone early for the purple and gold in this game. Davis had 19 points (8-10 FG) in the first quarter and finished the game with 32 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block. It was the kind of dominating performance the Lakers will need in James’ absence as well as when he returns if the Lakers have any hope of achieving their championship goals. This game also saw Talen Horton-Tucker return from injury, pushing Kent Bazemore all the way out of the starting lineup and into a DNP (Coach’s Decision). Horton-Tucker had a solid game with 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot the ball well at home and he received a surprise start in this game. He finished the contest with 15 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT) and five rebounds. He’s still shooting a ridiculous 47.3% from three on the season and an even more ridiculous 56% from three at home. Finally, Russell Westbrook had a quiet, efficient night for the Lakers. I might contend that quiet and efficient should be the goal for most of Westbrook’s contest given his rocky start to the season, but that’s a conversation for another day. Westbrook finished the game with 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-5 3PT), 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and seven turnovers.

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Luka Doncic provided the top fantasy performance of the night in a 123-109 win over the Spurs. He finished with 32 points, 15 assists, and 12 points. Luka has been heating up in recent games and finally exploded for a massive stat line. He remains a top-three fantasy option as an elite provider in the main three categories. Kristaps Porzingis matched Doncic with 32 points of his own in last night’s win. 

The Spurs struggled last night and were led by 20 points off the bench from Devin Vassell. It was an off night for the Spurs as many of their players posted worse than average stat lines. Dejounte Murray and others will look to get back on track in their next game.

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We are exactly two and a half weeks into this young NBA season, which means it’s officially PANIC SEASON!!!!! Some players get off to slow starts and then they turn it around and start to perform closer to their ceilings later in the season.

What does that mean in fantasy? It means we can take advantage of that panic and get us some goodies at discounted prices. So take this list and run with it. Go find someone in a league you’re in that owns one of these guys and shoot them a realistic offer.

DON’T LOWBALL. That’s a surefire way to make sure that no one in your league takes you seriously, and a surefire way to kill discussions before they even begin. Float a reasonable offer, then go from there. I managed to snag Kelly Oubre Jr., Robert Covington, and Russell Westbrook last year when they were playing like poop.

The ranks we’ll be looking at here on the current season and previous season will be PER-GAME rankings. We’re simply too early in the season to look at totals just yet.

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