Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Four!  In this post, you’ll find widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.

The past few days have provided plenty of intrigue, with Kyrie Irving and the Nets taking center stage.  After Brooklyn handed Kyrie a minimum five-game suspension, Jaylen Brown told media outlets that senior members of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) viewed the punishment as too severe.  Their objection is based on the lack of guidance governing social media conduct in the league’s collective-bargaining agreement.  Though Brown indicated that the NBPA would seek to appeal the suspension, no appeal is filed as of this writing.  Brown mentioned that the outcome of a Tuesday meeting between Irving and Adam Silver would influence the NBPA’s decision to move forward with the appeal, so it’s possible that the reportedly positive meeting compelled the union to stand down.  Inaction on the part of the NBPA suggests that Kyrie’s suspension will not greatly exceed the five-game minimum, but it’s equally possible that I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Either way, Brooklyn players who have picked up the slack over the past four outings are due for at least one more game of elevated run.

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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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For the first time this year, the fantasy star of the night comes from a losing team. It is well deserved as Dejounte Murray has gone from zero games with 30 or more points, to two of those games in just a week. Murray followed up his 32 point triple-double from Wednesday with a 30-point near triple-double on Friday. He finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Murray sits inside the top-20 players and has been on an absolute tear of late, but this upside may not last long as Derrick White is very close to returning from the league’s health and safety protocols. 

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Fun fact: There are only three players returning from last season for the Chicago Bulls. That would be Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Patrick Williams. The entire rest of the roster has been turned over and the Windy City faithful are prepping Grant Park as we speak. There are a lot of varying opinions about where the Bulls will end up in the standings, a lot of them that have me like:

Me: “Hey Son, can we play ‘Bulls on Parade’ on repeat on my Chicago Bulls preview?”

Son: “No…. No, I don’t think so.”

Sorry guys.

Regardless of where they wind up in the standings, it won’t really affect their fantasy stock all that much. The Bulls are all in on this lineup in their attempt to earn the city a legitimate playoff berth for the first time in the last six seasons. That means the big dogs are here to play and they should get significant minutes throughout the season.

The Bulls put a competitive group on the floor around all-star Zach LaVine and didn’t even mortgage the future, so it’s safe to say that Arturas Karnisovas has a place at my table any time. Still, there are questions about their defense and their “fit” since they won’t be playing a traditional power forward (as if that were necessary in the modern NBA).

With so many mouths to feed on offense, will that hurt the value of guys like perennial all-star Nikola Vucevic? Will DeMar DeRozan still have a prominent role? Let’s break it down by position.

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It was tough to write this one until I was absolutely sure we could beat a Nets team without Kevin Durant or James Harden. The Bulls beat the Nets on Sunday 115-107, where they controlled the game from tip to the buzzer. I’m happy to report that I don’t have to commit fandom seppuku, and the Bulls still are very much relevant in the NBA playoff race this season.

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We’re just a shade under 1/10th of the way through the season, which is not at all a marker but something to think about, I guess. Overreactions abound during this time as owners of players who start hot begin designing their customized championship t-shirts and owners of under-performing players make poor choices by cutting the line far too early. It’s only week two, everyone just CALM DOWN!

One thing is for certain: We’re starting to get an idea about which teams are for real and which ones aren’t all that good. And there have been some surprises. In fantasy, it’s key to start looking right now at the struggling teams. Why? They’re far more likely to shake things up than a team that is groovin along. That means player values will shift and there’s space in there for a savvy fantasy manager to gain some value.

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Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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The big news last season for the Washington Wizards was the shuffle at the top, as Tommy Sheppard replaced team president Ernie Grunfeld as the key personnel decision maker for the team. Since then, Sheppard has been busy. In the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Wizards were involved in six trades and twelve signings. That doesn’t even include all the Exhibit 10 contracts they executed to get a look at young talent.

But no contract was bigger than Bradley Beal’s 2-year, $72 million extension. Getting Beal to extend his contract was the team’s top objective for the season and his enthusiastic acceptance was their best case scenario. It was a “lost” year for the Wizards, as John Wall never returned from a ruptured Achilles tendon, so making sure they secured Beal for the future was the only good potential outcome.

Sheppard did a great job nabbing a lot of “no risk” gambles. Every player he signed or traded for had high potential at dirt cheap cost. Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, Gary Payton II, and Moritz Wagner all fit that mold. None of them panned out to be a monster given the opportunity, but with another year of development, one of them may surprise us. Bonga is the most appealing to me because of his 6’8″ frame combined with the rumors he has the court vision to be a “point forward.” However, he only managed 2.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season. I’m quickly losing faith in NBA scouts.

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When Zach LaVine popped his head out from his mother’s womb, his first words were, “Who’s got next?” On his first day of school, his mother tried to dress him in his finest clothes. LaVine responded, “No, mom. We skins today.” When the other kids would go out and party, LaVine would be in the backyard playing hoops. As a result, he would receive Valentine’s Day cards from basketballs and they/it would write letters to Santa saying that they were good basketballs and that all they wanted for Christmas was Zach LaVine. LaVine was born a baller. He lived his life as a baller. Now, he’s a baller on the grandest of stages. Last night was the latest example.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 9 4 2 0 5 8/11 15/21 3/4

Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always a baller on the grandest of stages? The Stocktonator. That was the fifth 40-burger of the season for LaVine. He’s averaging 25.3 points on the season, which is good for 11th in all of basketball. The tres are at a career-high 3.1 per game, and so are the steals at 1.4 per. He’s not just a 3-and-D player, though. The usage rate is over 31 and he supplies a consistent supply of 5 boards and 4 dimes per game. That all translates to a top 35 player for fantasy on the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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A cam is a rotating piece that transforms rotary motion into linear motion. For example, in automobiles……automobiles??!!……it takes the rotary motion of the engine and morphs it into motion that can operate the intake and exhaust valves of the cylinders. Basically, if the cams aren’t working properly, then the cylinders don’t either, and the end […]

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It was a clear black night, a clear white moon. T. J. Warren was on the courts, trying to score. Some skirts for the eve, so he could get some funk. Just jacking up shots, all alone. Over the past six games, Warren has been a top 25 player for fantasy. He’s averaged 32.7 minutes, 21.7 points, 1.2 tres, 4.7 boards, and 1.2 steals. The turnovers have been a miniscule at 0.8 while the percentages have been excellent; 54% from the field and 90% from the line on five attempts. Last night, he mounted up and regulated those averages and the Hornets.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
36 5 3 1 1 1 0/2 15/24 6/6

Warren goes on these heaters from time to time, so this is not unexpected. It helps that Malcolm Brogdon has been out as well. Now, he’s not going to continue shooting 54% from the field. He is a good shooter, so 49%-50% isn’t out of the question. The main concern is health when it comes to Warren. Over the past five seasons, he’s played 43, 65, 66, 47, and 40 games. Now, we can’t predict injury but that’s an ominous trend. Enjoy the heater while it lasts, but I fear the party will end one way or another. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never stops delivering the goods? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Back in 2008, D. J. Augustin was awarded the Bob Cousy Award, which was given to the top collegiate point guard. That summer, the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. This D. J. obviously produced good music and got the crowd to throw their hands in the air, and wave them like they just didn’t care. In 2010, D. J. averaged 33.6 minutes, 14.4 points, and 6.1 dimes. But then the lights came on and people realized that the selection of songs were limited. He didn’t have the resources to expand the library, so D. J. tried to compensate by mixing and scratching more. That just ended up in more skipping and booing from the crowd. Realizing his limitations, he stopped trying to be fancy and just kept things simple. And it worked, as he’s been getting gigs for 12 years now. Every once in a while, though, he thinks about what could have been and channels something from within. It happened last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 3 9 2 0 1 2/6 7/15 9/10

In 31 minutes off the bench. Now, Markelle Fultz had some foul trouble last night, so D. J. got some extra run. In addition, Fultz is and will be the starter for the Magic. With that said, over the past four games, D. J. has been spinning the goods, as he’s been a top 85 player, averaging 28.3 minutes, 14.5 points, 1.5 tres, 5 boards, and 1 steals. He’s been shooting 90% from the line on 5.5 attempts. Not bad. The shooting efficiency, though, has only been 42%. Orlando plays at one of the slowest offensive paces in the league, but if you need dimes and tres, D. J. can be of value. Plus, he will go retro and spin the goods from time to time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what spins the goods all the time? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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