Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Seven!  In this post, I help you identify widely-available players who can help win your head-to-head matchup.  The NBA’s revolving door of injuries keeps churning out opportunities for lesser-known players, with Karl-Anthony Towns being the latest big name to cop a multi-week ailment.  A number of players could stand to benefit from filling the enormous production vacuum vacated by KAT, and I detail a couple frontrunners in the list below.  On the good news front, we should see Damian Lillard, James Harden, and Kris Middleton return from extended absences within the next four days, which will restore some balance in the universe.

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Another week, another weird stat that caught my attention from around the magical world of the NBA. James Wiseman has not enjoyed the best of starts to his career and the injuries that he has suffered have certainly not helped his case. However, the stat is that he is a minus 35 in 5 games in the G League. Not good. He was not a plus in any of those games, joining a very bad company of Haseem Thabeet and Anthony Bennett as the only top 2 draft picks to be sent down to the G League for development purposes. I am not saying that he is a lost cause, but it certainly does not seem very promising. Check out this very interesting video with more analysis on the Wiseman issue.

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Hello Razzball Nation! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, stuffing your faces and spending some quality time with family. With that wholesome fun over with, it’s time to make some money. Welcome to yet another massive NBA DFS slate for Wednesday. There are 13 games tonight so as always, my #1 piece of advice is to be up to date on injuries. With this many games there are bound to be great value opportunities.

Let’s get down to it. Pricing is always (Fanduel/DraftKings). I mostly play tournaments and my picks will always bias towards volatility and upside.

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Much to the disappointment of pundits chomping at the bit to argue whether the Lakers play better without LeBron, L.A. lost again Friday night, 120-114 to the Kings, because De’Aaron Fox maneuvered about the roost like the sly creature he is, feasting on chicken defenders and dropping bags of leftover bones through the net left and right. Fox finished with 32 points (13-19 FG, 2-5 3pt, 4-5 FT), 7 boards and 12 assists. He’s averaging about 25-5-6 with a steal and just under 3 turnovers to start the season. His 3-point shooting (36%) has been slightly better than years past, as well as from the line (86%), but it’s inside the arch he’s been lethal, converting 63% of 2-point shots. Also, mark the “Clutch” checkbox next to Fox’s name on the stat sheet, as he led the Kings to victory with 10 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-7 shooting and three rebounds, four assists and a crucial steal.

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The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest.

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Son had a nice moment of self-reflection on the latest podcast, recognizing how he – and we all – tend to get easily sucked into preseason storylines that make us overhype or dismiss certain players without questioning the herd mentality around said player. 

Case in point: Myles Turner, who was discussed more for his potential to be traded than for his promising fantasy game. After sitting out a couple games and taking one to ease back to form, Turner put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 assists while shooting 3-4 from three, 7-14 from the field and 10-10 from the line as the Pacers beat the Wizards 127-117. The trade talk will eventually reemerge, but in the meantime, Turner owners may get to feast on a steady diet of blocks with quality numbers across the board. It’s worth remembering he’s just 26, when big guys usually enter their prime. If that age and experience turns into consistency for Turner, there’s Top 15 value to be had here. 

More notes from a busy Friday night in the Association:

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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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At 61.1 percent, the San Antonio Spurs currently own the best running regular season win percentage of any franchise.  Prior to their three most recent campaigns, they had posted only one losing season since 1988-89.  The five titles they earned in that era serve as proof that their regular season excellence translated into post-season brilliance.  They were so good that their success became blasé over a decade ago.  The last time they were in a rebuild (no, I’m not counting 1997-98), very few of us were even walking the earth!

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Change. Is good, although it takes time for it to manifest. There are trials and tribulations. There are new things to learn and old things to forget. There will be haters. There will always be haters. But change is vital to reach one’s potential. A caterpiller walks and eats before wrapping itself in a cocoon, then morphs into a butterfly and eventually flies into the sky. Pascal Siakam entered the league in 2016 and embarked upon the journey that all rookies undertake. He flashed his two-way potential early on and continued to climb the ladder. In 2019, after Kawhi Leonard left, he was thrust into a more prominent role and became an All-Star. While the numbers were there, there was some hesitancy. Fred VanVleet put it best: “I think what happened was Kyle [Lowry] was such an immovable object, such a force of who he was in his status as a Hall of Famer, it was like a little tit-for-tat there, even if it was subconscioius….It’s not something where’ I don’t like this guy’ or ‘I’m not passing to him’, it’s a little nuance that you would never understand unless you played at the highest level.” Lowry was traded before the beginning of the 2021-22 season and things became more clear and comfortable for Siakam. He missed the first 10 games of the season but it’s been alllll good this season and last night was the culmination of the season.

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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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In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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After years and years of stability in the forms of David Robinson and then Tim Duncan and co., things began to wobble in San Antonio during the baton pass to Kawhi Leonard. After the situation became untenable (and very weird), the Klaw was spun off to Toronto and the Spurs entered the brief and somewhat unsuccessful (by their own standards) LaMarcus Aldridge/DeMar DeRozan era. Now that DD is off in Chicago and LMA is in Brooklyn, what was once just a little bit shaky has become unfamiliar, if not a touch unstable. After 22 straight seasons in the playoffs, the Spurs finished below .500 and stayed home during the 2019-20 postseason. There was a flash of hope last year when San Antonio made the playoffs (well, the play-in) but were bounced by the upstart Grizzlies. 

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