Another week done in the NBA world and the Philadelphia 76ers are still atop the East with a 16-6 record. The Bucks are in second at 13-8 followed by the Nets at 14-9 while the Celtics are at 11-9 with the Pacers and the Hawks who round off the top six at the time of writing. Teams like the Hornets and the Knicks continue to find themselves battling for those play-in spots and it is looking more and more likely that teams like these are legit while teams like the Heat, who just lost to the Wizards, may be pretenders. Maybe their finals run was just a flash in the pan. I am still not going to count them out, but it is looking increasingly tough for them this season as they just also lost Avery Bradley for 3-4 weeks due to a calf strain. The team I want to bring into the spotlight this week, though, is up north in Wisconsin. Those Milwaukee Bucks.
To start off, Coach Budenholzer may not be the man to lead the Bucks to a title. I think it may be time for the Bucks to move on after many questionable decisions in regular-season games and even playoff games like last season in the Heat series where the Bucks were ousted. This season the Bucks are also very questionable. This past week they lost two out of their four games. Those two L’s were against teams they should be beating, the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans. Often, it feels like the plan or the “play-call” is to get the ball to Giannis at the top of the key and hope he pulls something out of his derriere. Most of the time this results in wasted possessions or the dreaded Giannis jumper off the dribble that clanks out or even airballs. Something has to change and that can start with getting Budenholzer out of Milwaukee. Coach Bud, if you’re reading this, my apologies, but it is time. Now on the fantasy-side, don’t you guys worry. Giannis Antetokounmpo will continue to get his double-doubles and his triple-doubles here and there, but it might not be winning basketball. Khris Middleton, one of my favorites and least-talked about players in the NBA will continue with his averages of 20 points and 6 assists, and a little over 6 rebounds. He is a guy who can be played at the 2 and the 3 and create his own shot while also being a solid playmaker. Jrue Holiday, one of the best 2-way players in the league can also be a steady source of steals while also being a scoring threat and arguably the primary playmaker, even though Giannis will always be the primary ball-handler unless something changes. Stop having Giannis be the primary handler Milwaukee, wink wink. One of the most underwhelming guys though from Milwaukee is Donte Divincenzo. Going into the season, I expected him to improve as a scorer while being a solid defender averaging at least 1-1.5 steals a game. But he is just not that guy. He started off the season shooting lights out but has cooled off tremendously. His other stats like rebounds and also don’t make up for it. But then again, you are starting on a team alongside the reigning MVP and two All-Star caliber players in K-Mid and Holiday. Oh, and we can’t forget Splash Mountain, Brook Lopez, who has also seen a dip in his blocks, arguably his most prolific stat and the reason people draft him. Maybe things change in Milwaukee but we will see. I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.
Best Performers of The Week:
- Kyrie Irving: So this week it is Kyrie’s turn to be one of my best performers. It was going to be James Harden but he sat out on game this week, so the love has to go to Kyrie. In this last week, Kyrie has averaged 30 points a game with nearly 6 assists and nearly 5 rebounds. Great numbers from the player that seems to be Brooklyn’s #1 option ahead of KD and Harden as crazy as that may sound. Kyrie is a certified bucket and as long as he stays on the court, he will probably continue to take the bulk of the shots (unless one of the other two from the big 3 catches fire) and scores at a phenomenal rate.
- Jimmy Butler: Ever since Jimmy came back to a very underwhelming and under-achieving Heat team, he has been absolutely amazing. Since his return, he has posted averages of 24.6 points with 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. I think this sort of production will remain if not improve. The Heat rely massively on him even though they do have a potential All-Star as well in Bam Adebayo. Butler is the primary ball-handler so the assists will stay and he is also an excellent rebounder and scorer. After all, he is called “Jimmy Buckets” for a reason. Welcome back, Jimmy!
- Julius Randle: Get this man into the All-Star game and in the conversation for Most Improved Player. Ok, maybe not MIP, but the Randle that we are seeing this season is very, very good. He is willing the Knicks to victories like their latest one against the Bulls while posting averages of 25.6 points and almost 10 rebounds. He is also a very improved playmaker and defender. As long as he remains in New York he will continue to produce like an All-Star and the number one option.
Waiver Wire Adds:
- Daniel Theis: The Celtics’ little big man has been quietly doing very well. He is owned in 25.2% of ESPN leagues and can get you some rebounds with some defensive stats while also having the potential to score in double digits. In his last three games, he’s scored in double-digits twice. Another good sign is the amount of playing time he gets. He averaged 30 minutes a night in the last seven games so that is definitely a positive trend. I might also be actually picking him up soon.
- Chuma Okeke: Okeke has finally made his return. He is the long-forgotten Magic. He came to Orlando in the 2019 draft as the 16th pick but has been battling injury problems. Now with his return to a banged-up Magic team, he will get some opportunities. He is on my watchlist, so get him on yours too. In his first game back he scored 10 points and grabbed 3 rebounds and stole the ball once in only 18 minutes. As the games pass by, I presume he will get more and more minutes, so keep your eye on Chuma.
- Immanuel Quickley: IQ has rapidly become a fan favorite in New York. As long as this guy gets minutes he will perform. He is an excellent scorer with that floater of his and possesses a decent 3-point shot. He is also an ok playmaker that can chip in with assists while also being a good rebounder for his size. However, there are concerns with him. Namely Coach Thibs and playing time, while there could be slumps as he is a rookie and is just now soaking everything in. Last time out against the Bulls, he only played 13 minutes. Now that had to do with Payton’s good game, but what this shows us once again is that he won’t get 20+ minutes a game. That is something to keep in mind as you look at him on your watchlist, as he for sure deserves a spot there.
That does it for another week in the East. Coming up within the week we should look out for the Raptors and how they will continue climbing the ranks, if they climb the ranks, as they do have games against the Hawks and Nets coming up. Another interesting story is the Heat. Will they be able to string some wins together? I believe so. And of course, my question mark, for now, is the Bucks. Hopefully, we see some improvements, but until next week, good luck in your matchups and good luck with your pickups. If you want more from me, check out my podcast, Overtime Zone, and I will catch you guys later!