The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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Lauri Markkanen shot the ball exceedingly well, making eight out of 10 attempts for 18 points. Everything else about his night was concerning though, especially the minutes, which also topped out at just 18. Markkanen’s playing time has taken a hit—he’s been under 24 minutes in five of his past six outings. In those limited runs, he’s failed to corral more than six rebounds in a game, and totaled just two assists, one steal, and one block. With fantasy playoffs looming, he could be a cut candidate. Chicago just embarked upon a four-in-five-nights set, so let’s see if he can slingshot his hot shooting from last night into some real momentum.

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Shake Milton lit it up off the bench for Philly, dropping 27 points on uber-efficient 10-of-14 shooting (including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc). That marks the eighth consecutive game Milton has scored in double figures—topping 20 points for the third time in that span. Consider picking up Shake (22 percent owned in Yahoo!) if you need points and threes.

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Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:

*PLEASE NOTE: RECORDS AND STATS TAKEN BEFORE THE GAMES ON 3/28*

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Carmelo Anthony has been a reliable source of points and treys on good efficiency, and stayed on brand Thursday night with 20 points and four triples, while hitting all four of his freebies and turning the ball over just once. Adding Norman Powell to the mix shouldn’t have too much of an impact on Melo, who should continue to get minutes in the mid-20s and put up enough shots to retain value.

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The trade deadline is only a few days away, and we are pretty much guaranteed a trade or two that will shake up the NBA landscape. Whether you’re at the top of your league or near the bottom, stashing someone right now before it all goes down gives you a jump on the competition. Unless you can sit around all day waiting for the news, you need to have the foresight here to stash some folks and hope for the best.

Here are the top guys who should see their situation get better, in order of importance, with their respective percentages owned across Yahoo! leagues. We’ll be looking at projected 9-category value for this list, so it might be different if you’re playing a different format.

If you’re looking for an add, simply move down the list until you find someone who is available and go snag them and hope for the best, as long as you agree with my reasoning! Quick note: Most of these stats were gathered before the games on 3/21.

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I have so many questions regarding the porn industry. Do the actors get royalty fees? Do they get paid by the hour? Salary? Per orgasm? 401k? Dental? Health insurance? Are performance-enhancing drugs allowed? Are there rivalries? I have too much time on my hands. I mean, I uh, had too much time on my hands. Anyways, I have no questions regarding Collin Sexton of the Bulls. He’s a professional hucker and chucker. Sometimes they go in. Other times they go clang. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
36 3 4 2 0 6 6/9 13/24 4/6

….as he led the Cavs to a 116-105 victory over the Raptors. Sexton has attempted 24, 25, and 20 shot attempts in the last three games. On the season, he’s attempted 20 shots in a game 12 times. He’s failed to score in double figures just once this season, has gone for 20 points 28 times with four of those 30-burgers and a high of 42 points. Sexton will contribute some steals, tres, boards, and some dimes, but no blocks. The field goal percentage is a respectable 48% while he’s converting 80% of his free-throw attempts. On the season, Sexton is a top 100 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Mason Plumlee: With Flake Griffin sitting, it’s the point center show in the Motor City.  This savvy Dukie can wheel and deal, pound and confound, folks.  Underrated center in the Association, who by the way has raised his FT% to 67%, which doesn’t sound like much, but up from career average of 56%.  See, old dogs CAN learn new trix.  Shhh, he taught Joker all he knows.  Case in point, 10 assists with only 1 turnover!

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This week’s Friday Night games hit differently. With the recent announcement of both the Eastern and Western Conference All-Star reserves, the talk of the town has zeroed in on the topic of All-Star snubs.

Some guys like Devin Booker and Domantas Sabonis recently went from being snubbed to just squeaking in as alternates for the injured Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. But not every All-Star snub was so lucky. Guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, and even Jimmy Butler are just some of the notable names on the outside looking in who just missed the cut. With that, it feels safe to say that there are a good handful of former All-Stars and potential All-Stars that may feel a bit overlooked.

So, what better way to draw national focus and attention to yourself than to play under on the big Friday Night stage. This Friday we had some standout performances by a number of guys who put up some pretty spiteful stat lines with the intention of showing voters what a big mistake they may have made by passing on them. With that, here are the top performers from Friday Nights’ big games under the bright lights!

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