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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On a recent podcast with Son, I let slip, “If you’re a center that doesn’t get blocks, I don’t think I have any use for you.” It was a knee-jerk line, one that I hadn’t much considered before it fell out of my mouth, and I’ve been wrestling with how true that might actually be ever since. For most of the summer, I’ve been vexed by the center position because, outside of the elite guys, the shortcomings of the position are obvious and numerous. For many, their usefulness in category leagues extends only to rebounds, blocks and FG%, and oftentimes those few spoils are sacrificed at the altar of points, dimes, triples, and free-throw percentage. Drafting a center that doesn’t, it’s a steep tradeoff in the best of circumstances, so when looking at someone like Deandre Ayton – a top-50ish, center-eligible player who produced exactly enough swats last year to break even in the category by z-score – I began to wonder what exactly the point was. 

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If you need defensive stats to win your finals matchup, streaming Matisse Thybulle is an absolute must. He doesn’t really offer anything else, evidenced by the four points and three rebounds he produced on Thursday, but he racked up three swipes and two swats in 32 minutes, and even added four dimes. The last eight times he’s played at least 20 minutes (covering all but two of his last 10 appearances), Thybulle is averaging 2.6 SPG and 1.5 BPG. He has the potential to swing both categories (42 percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 18!  The goal of this post is to help you identify streaming options who will help you win your head-to-head matchup.  With there being only one night of games remaining for this half of the matchup, I’m only running down options for Thursday’s games this week.  However, this post felt sad and empty without some additional long-term options, so I’ve included players at the bottom who fit that mold.

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So, the Warriors might be good again, yeah? Coming into Tuesday’s showcase against Brooklyn with the best record in the Association, Golden State has spent the early-season feasting on one of the softest schedules in the league, and generally looking really good doing it. Steph Curry is in MVP-form, Draymond Green is locked-in and energized, and Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have been steady, positive contributors. The bench is already deep and there’s help on the way as James Wiseman and Klay Thompson inch their way back to the rotation. Going into Brooklyn and getting the Nets at home, even sans Kyrie, figured to be a good, real test for the Warriors (if there is such a thing in November) as their schedule firms up ever so slightly. The Nets are a quality opponent. Despite the sluggish start from James Harden and getting nothing at all from Irving, Kevin Durant has been fabulous even by his own standards, and that’s been good enough to power Brooklyn to a totally-respectable 11-4 start. It was supposed to be a competitive, compelling game.

It wasn’t.

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HE’S BACK!!! Or is he…?? After having essentially zero impact thus far (he hadn’t played 20 minutes in any game and only scored in double figures once), Chris Boucher broke out with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes. He tossed in a trey, steal, and pair of swats to boot. His lack of playing time has been extremely concerning to fantasy managers. Coach Nick Nurse has played his starters heavy minutes all season, leaving little room for fantasy viability off the bench. And this may just be a blip given the absences of both Pascal Siakam and Khem Birch. I still can’t trust him at this point, and I wouldn’t be one of the 55 percent of Yahoo! managers still holding him if there was anything interesting on the wire.

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How about some love for the underdog?

These daily recaps, especially on nights with a lot of games, often demand focusing on one of two players per team that had good nights. Most of the time we’re looking at star players doing what they do. It’s tough for a role player to get a write-up, and it’s even tougher for those end of the bench guys to get any ink.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to…

Alize Johnson

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
23 15 3 2 0 0 11/15 1/1 1

Johnson signed a 10-day contract with Brooklyn on Sunday and had himself a debut on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. A G-League monster who averaged 16 points and 13 boards in this season’s bubble, Johnson stepped up for a Nets squad that was without Durant, Irving, and Harden while playing the second night of a back-to-back against the best team in the West. If you watched the highlights, you noticed that this game was O-V-E-R pretty much from the jump. Johnson was doing major mop up work and will be facing an uphill battle for PT going forward. He’s not an add by any stretch, but I’ve got no problem highlighting him to celebrate his big night. Raise a glass to my man. He earned it.

Here’s what else caught my eye on a busy night of basketball…

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There’s an argument to made for LaVine or Giannis being the lede tonight (spoiler alert: 40 burgers ahead), but I’m going a different direction in my first ever recap. Karl-Anthony Towns returned to an NBA court last night against the Clippers following his bout with Covid. It’s just the fifth game he’s played this season, and while the line is hardly a stunner by KAT standards, it’s just really good to see this dude back on the floor. The impact that the pandemic has had on his family is well documented, so on a human level, it’s wonderful news that he’s back on his feet. Fantasy players will be rejoicing too, as replacing the sheer volume of goodies KAT provides has been a tall order.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 3PT FG FT
18 10 3 1 0 3 2 8/15 0/0

He played 31 minutes tonight, which should quiet some concerns about conditioning. Whatever. He’s here. Welcome back, KAT!

Here’s what else I saw from last night’s action…

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Welcome to the second season of Run The Numbers. For those of you that are new here, I’m Tad. That clip was an homage to my avatar and my favorite basketball movie. I’m a stats nerd and I grew up in the Chicago area during the Jordan years. These days, I drool over highlight montages of prospects and manipulate spreadsheets of NBA statistics to find ways to squeeze out every last drop of value I can.

I’m not as much into predicting sleepers and breakouts. You get enough of that, anyway. I’m into finding advantages. Market inequities. This season, I’ll be providing ways to maximize the value of your team and philosophies that yield stats at a discount. I’ll also regularly update you on players most valuable to certain builds and punt strategies, which helps you even if you aren’t intentionally ignoring any categories in particular. So, you’ll definitely be getting names to target and pick up as well. We want to play smarter than our competition. Treat these players as fantasy assets. A set of numbers. Don’t get swayed by flashy plays and hyped-up, empty double-doubles. I mean, of course it’s way more fun to have highlight dunks to go along with your stats, but it’s the most fun to win!

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It’s September, which means draft season is around the corner. Son published his Top 100, so after many a podcast & Twitter battle between us (all in good spirits of course) I figured that the best thing to do was publish a comparison piece. I promise there will be no talk of Corey Brewer in here (yeah, nah), but as Son attested to in his comments, personal biases and intangibles must be accounted for when looking at rankings. We all build teams and weight categories uniquely. There is more than one way to build a winner.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 100 comparisons between our fierce leader Son and myself.

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In a season beginning with high hopes for Nerlens Noel, things have been a bit of a disappointment for the third-year player, surrounded by a dearth of playmaking and shooting while struggling to play alongside Jahil Okafor. Frankly, Noel’s season could only be made worse by injury, or the brash decision to shave off his iconic high-top fade (please, whatever you do, keep the hair.)

But for one night last night, coming off 3 single-digit scoring outings in his last 4 games, Noel looked like the best player on the 76ers once again, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds to accompany 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.

Playing a season-high 47 minutes, Noel’s extended look can hopefully provide stability to an otherwise shaky season. His effectiveness and usage have both been limited, but performance like yesterday’s show his immense potential and ability to impact games.

While Philly’s long-term success depends on Noel’s continued development, our immediate fantasy success depends on his ability to turn yesterday’s flashes into consistent showings.

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