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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The Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 129-98. In a rarity for this version of the Pacers, they were the more veteran team. Oshae Brissett spearheaded the Pacers’ attack, as he tallied 24 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. His day also included a highlight reveal reverse dunk in transition which came off a behind-the-back pass from Lance Stephenson. Have I mentioned that the Pacers are fun now!? Justin Anderson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith notched 17 points, five rebounds, and one block in just 17 minutes of play. I’m not sure if Smith will ever become the player the Suns hoped they were getting when he was drafted with the 10th pick in 2020, but he has at least grown into an intriguing prospect. He was 2-of-3 from behind the arc and also whipped out a Dirk-esque step-back off the dribble in the midrange. Terry Taylor (17) and Duane Washington Jr. (13) both had solid games as well. The Pacers led wire to wire and the lack of competitiveness of the game is reflected in the lower minute totals for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Hield tallied nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finally, Lance Stephenson scored just two points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and swiped three steals.

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The Nets defeated their in-state rival Knicks 110-107, behind a statement performance from Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 53 points (19-37 FG, 4-13 3PT), six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. The 53 points were a season-high and just a point shy of his career-high. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one block on a perfect eight for eight from the field. Bruce Brown, whose value and strong play has grown consistent of late, finished the game with 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Nic Claxton contributed off the bench, compiling 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Seth Curry was a late scratch due to an ankle injury. The Nets have now won three in a row after losing four in a row.  During this winning streak, Durant has reminded everyone in the league and everyone watching at home just how dominant he can be. The spiciest and most hilarious result of a late-season Nets winning streak would be a 76ers vs. Nets first-round matchup—one can only hope!

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Why isn’t Montrezl Harrell starting for the Hornets? Just because he won 6th Man of the Year doesn’t mean he’s permanently a sixth man. Especially when you play Mason Plumlee over him. In every single game, Harrell has outplayed Plumlee, so why is he still starting? Only other thing to comment on is Isaiah Thomas receiving another 10 day contract, putting up 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists. We’ll see how he fits, and if his contract is guaranteed for the rest of the year, but personally I doubt it. As for the Cavaliers, Daruis Garland was the only one to show up offensively, putting up 33 points on 60% shooting.

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For the first two seasons of Morant’s career, he finished as the 133rd and 201st player on a per-game basis for fantasy. The athleticism shined early and his ability to score was evident. He could board and dish out dimes with the best of them but, but, but….Did I stuffer mother f-er? The defensive stats weren’t bountiful, the tres didn’t rain down from the heavens, and the free-throw shooting was meh at 75-ish percent. At only 22 years old, I thought there would be improvement in Year Three but, as Caine from Menace II Society said, “I never thought he’d come back like this.” I’m such a stupid, stupid man as he would fall, then fall, then fall some more in drafts, but I’d pass, even though dimes are a precious resource and he was going to improve. Well, he’s not only improved, he’s broken out! And last night was just another leg on the victory tour.

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But we’re not here to talk about impact players that are owned in most, if not all, leagues, because we deal with players on the margins in this post!  My goal is to identify widely-available players in order to give you the best streaming options for your head-to-head matchups.  And despite the spiciness of the trade deadline, this week is no different.  Hopefully, you kept your powder dry and saved a couple player additions for opportunities that are now presenting themselves as a result of deals.

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Milwaukee’s Big Three showed up to play last night: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Bobby Portis. What? Portis has been an amazing role player and crucial to the Bucks this season. He put up 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers. Who would have thought that this match would determine the 3rd seed in the East for the time being? Who expected the Cavaliers at all this season? A deep team highlighted by Darius Garland’s breakout, Kevin Love’s positive influence off the bench and an early season trade for Rajon Rondo. Speaking of which, man that trade looks like highway robbery, as he’s playing like everyone thought he would in Atlanta last season. 

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The introduction today will not be so basketball-focused, as Enes Kanter pulled a “Ron Artest → Metta World Peace” on us and legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, with Freedom being his surname moving forward. I am not going to analyze Freedom’s political views as everyone can deduce their own conclusions. I’m just going to mention that the issues he tries to bring in the spotlight are worthy of being investigated.

However, this name change and the potential for great wordplay that it produces sent me down an internet rabbit hole, in search of relevant wordplay that could happen or has happened in the past and found some excellent hidden gems. Without comment, the highlights are:

-The Boston Celtics are in talks to trade Freedom for Love
The Boston Celtics have traded Freedom for cash considerations
Commissioner Stern suspends World Peace

And my personal favorite that is a real headline:

Raptors get Gay in Threeway

I am sure you can also come up with some great examples yourselves, if you do, share them in the comments below.

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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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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Patrick Beverley continues to start even with D’Angelo Russell returning and looks like a solid pickup for the rest of the season. Damian Lillard had some encouraging signs in his last games so the buy-low window might be closing, Furkan Korkmaz was and will remain a great streamer for as long as the 76ers are not at full strength, while Derrick Jones Jr didn’t bring the defensive stats we were hoping but remains a specialist streamer. On the sell front, all of Kelly Oubre, Joe Harris, Duncan Robinson did nothing to improve their status, while the sell high window for Kyle Kuzma is shrinking with Rui Hachimura reportedly nearing a return in the coming weeks.

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The Hornets and Nets came into this game with very different vibes. In the Hornets’ first game of the season, they clawed back from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to beat the Indiana Pacers 123-122 on Wednesday, October 20th—the first night of the 2021-22 season with a full slate of games, affectionately known as “League Pass Opening Night.” The comeback was fueled in large part, by a LaMelo Ball-led third-quarter surge, quickly putting any sophomore slump fears to bed. They followed that up with a 123-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Miles Bridges scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench. On the other hand, the Nets suffered a near wire-to-wire defeat to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, immediately after watching them receive their championship rings. The Nets, of course, have been mired in vaccine drama because of Kyrie Irving and although they remain the overwhelming favorite to win the title, Kyrie’s absence has been deeply felt during their first two games.

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