Robert Covington has gotten lost in the sauce on a confounding Clippers roster. He hasn’t found his footing at all and been largely out of the rotation, but he’s maybe suddenly back on the map? Covington turned a vintage RoCo performance against the Spurs, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, two steals, three swats, and three triples in 21 minutes. He’s played at least 19 minutes in three straight, averaging 2.0 3PTM, 1.3 SPG, and 2.7 BPG. It’s impossible to rely on any set rotation from the Clips, but they did recently express a desire to cut back Ivica Zubac’s minutes. As Covington’s recent rim protection metrics show, he’s capable of sliding over to play backup center. We know what he’s capable of, and I’m okay with taking the risk of being fooled by the Clippers once more before letting him slip away to another manager if he’s indeed going to be a rotation regular going forward (21 percent rostered).

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Earlier this week, Mr. Hooper outlined his redemption attempt from a lackluster RazzJam performance with a mid-season 12-team roto league draft (which starts counting stats Dec. 26) that I managed to snag a spot in as well. 

How’s my RazzJam team doing? Oh, well, thanks for asking. Pretty dang well! I’ve been the pace car most the season in my league, currently with a healthy lead over second place Guiseppe Racco. I was in the Top 10 overall for a bit, but have dropped back to 16th in the last few days. Still a long way to go, so definitely not doing any early celebrating. 

But I digress. I thought it would be fun to compare rookie draft ranking in the current draft, making the turn into round 21 of 25 as I write this, to preseason ADP to gauge the market for rookie performances so far this season. I’m using NFBKC for the pre-season ADP and Monster Basketball for current rankings.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Nine!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  After a placid start to the week, Stephen Curry sustained a shoulder injury late in the Warriors’ Wednesday-night game.  While I hope this doesn’t amount to anything serious for Steph, the production vacuum that results from him potentially missing multiple games cannot be overlooked.  In other news, those of you who exercised patience with rookie centers Jalen Duren and Walker Kessler are being rewarded of late.  Hopefully you were all able to snag one of them before the gold rush.

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I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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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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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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Here’s a story of a man with two first names, who hit the age of 30, an age when most players say goodbye to their primes and buckle up for the descent below. And descend the man with two first names did, playing in 58 and 58 games the next two seasons. Many called him injury-prone and swore him off for fantasy. Father Time leaned back in the La-Z-Boy chair, grabbed the bowl of popcorn and just waited. But the man with two first names spit in the face of Father Time and proceeded to play 70, 70 and 65 games in his age 34, 35 and 36 seasons. So far this season, the man with two first names has missed five of 15 games and caused much consternation for those who drafted him. “We can squeeze one more year out of him!!!”, they said. It’s akin to having one taco left with no more freshly cut limes. You rummage through the whole table and squeeze every last drop out of what’s left. Anyways, the pain that has been felt by the Chris Paul owners has been nothing but elation for the Cameron Payne truthers. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 33.5 minutes, 15.6 field goal attempts, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals. On Sunday:

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“Houston, we have a problem” … is the headline I had to fight off for days when contemplating an article on the early returns (or lack thereof) from No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. And that’s just wrong. Literally. The astronauts of Apollo 13 actually said to mission control, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” While we’re at it: Forrest Gump said, “Life was like a box of chocolates;” Marie Antoinette wanted them to eat a pastry, not cake; Manfred Mann was “Revved up like a deuce;” the cornfield winds whispered “If you build it, he will come;” and Darth Vader’s famous line is, “No, I am your father” (either way, its hilarious to say into a fan). Thanks to my Master’s degree in Web Searchography, I know those formations of false collective memories are called the Mandela Effect. What does this have to do with Smith? I have no idea, but it was a fun way to cut through some writer’s block.

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Back in the day when I used to go to malls just to hang out (ah, those were the days), a must stop every time was Sharper Image. It was like the in-flight magazines, but in person! All sorts of shiny, new, modernized gadgets and gizmos, tech-driven household items I otherwise wouldn’t care about, random game, sporting and, especially, golf novelties and, of course, a few minutes in the latest and greatest massage chair. It was a blissful time of next-level window shopping between stops at Sam Goody, Sbarro, Zumies, and more. Sharper Image was great because it was all eye candy without any inclination that I’d actually be buying something. Aside from the fact I couldn’t afford anything in there as a teenager, I also didn’t need it, as cool and flashy as it was. 

And that’s Shaedon Sharpe in his rookie season for fantasy basketball. 

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Sliding into the DMs gets such a bad rap. I’ve done it many times. For instance, when I needed assistance in doing projections for fantasy basketball, I slid into the DMs of a bunch of fantasy hoops analysts. Geez, I’m such a nerd. I’ve never slid into the DMs for sexy time, though, although I’ve heard that it happens. I’d imagine it gets steamy in there but you have to be careful as I’ve seen many women keep receipts and plaster them all over the internet. If I slide into a steamy DM, my wife would have nothing to worry about because it would be just me slobbering away at the performance of a fantasy baller. On Sunday, I was all about sliding into the DMs of Donovan Mitchell. But then I thought better of it because, while I’m a nerd, I’m a respectfully tasteful nerd.

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Jaden Ivey was impressive enough in his sophomore season at Purdue that myriad draft writeups questioned whether he deserved the No. 1 spot. He ended as the 5th to Detroit, which was perfect, not only because his family has a history there, but it’s also pretty easy to compare his game to one of Detroit’s finest: the Dodge Viper. His performance is highlighted by explosive speed; his game can be a lot to handle and, if steered with a lack of direction, a harsh spin out is possible.

So far, Ivey shareholders are feeling pretty good. In four games he’s averaging 16 points, 5.5 ast., 4.3 boards and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes of play while shooting 43% from deep.

However, I’m pumping the breaks on Ivey and holding up the caution sign.

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