November 28, 2021, 11:32 pm
While we’ve all been tracking a star guard who is willingly refusing to play, we’ve all forgotten a start guard who has mutually agreed not to play.
Things looked like they might change between John Wall and the Rockets, with the guard expressing an interest in getting back onto the court, but the hopes were extinguished in about 24 hours when it was revealed that Wall will opt to sit out, as he did not want to come off the bench.
It’s a bit ridiculous that the league-worst Rockets are going this route — winning should be the goal of every franchise, and while a horrible season helps Houston’s long-term odds, it feels a little bit cheap to have things play out this way — but at the same time, if Wall wants to play so vehemently you’d imagine that he would accept any role and go from there.
Whatever the case, Wall’s contract makes it hard to envision a trade and it seems like we’re heading towards some kind of buyout agreement, even if the Rockets are hell bent against spending money. As for what that means in fantasy? Not a whole lot… yet.
There were some managers who picked Wall in the late rounds as a stash, in hopes that one of the two parties would come to their senses and not let a star guard sit, while healthy, all season long. That doesn’t look like it’s happening yet. But there is a world in which Wall returns and takes a few minutes away from Houston’s fringe fantasy players, and another world still in which Wall somehow ends up on a team that wants him to be a lead guard again. While the brief flirtation with a return didn’t turn into anything concrete, the first step has at least been taken.
It’s a tricky situation; one that underscores the danger of planning on a stash for someone with an indeterminate timeline for return. Injuries can be bad as is, but this is a whole different animal.
Two Games: Pistons, Lakers
Three Games: Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Hornets, Bulls, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Wolves, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, Suns, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz
Four Games: Cavs, Mavs, Rockets, Clippers, Heat, Pelicans, Blazers, Wizards
Weds/Thurs: Bucks, Thunder
Fri/Sat: Nets, Celtics, Mavs, Warriors, Clippers, Heat
Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are the light days next week, so you’re going to be able to get an extra game or two in with some careful maneuvering. Of course, that will be less of a crunch this week with a pretty flat schedule and no more than nine games on any given night.
Even so, the Raptors get the lucky draw this week, playing all of their games on nights when you’re almost surely going to have empty roster spots. Teams like the Magic, Sixers, Wolves and Pacers play their three games on the heaviest nights of the week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) so you might want to consider how a well-positioned Raptor could get you an extra game or two over a fringe player on one of those teams.
Best Schedule: Rockets (vs. Thunder, @ Thunder, vs. Magic, vs. Pelicans)
As far as strength of schedule goes, you couldn’t draw this one up any better unless the Rockets were somehow able to play against themselves. That’s four terrific matchups and fantasy GMs should have some things to think over, with Jalen Green (hamstring) missing most, if not all, of the week. There will be tons of usage available and on the weekend we saw Eric Gordon, Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks all shine in a defense-free affair against Charlotte. The Rockets are kind of all over the place so some other names might pop, but if there was ever a week to stuff the box score it’s this one.
Worst Schedule: Pistons (@ Blazers, @ Suns)
Two games is tough to overcome; even tougher when you’re on a western swing and facing the scorching hot Suns. Outside of Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant, we’d avoid putting Pistons into lineups this week.
Game of the Week: Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns – Tuesday, November 30 at 10:00 pm ET
There’s only one choice here this week. The league’s two top teams face off in what looks like a preview of the Western Conference Finals. Set some time aside to watch this one.
Tyus Jones, G, Memphis Grizzlies
With Ja Morant out there’s a ton of minutes up for grabs at PG, and Jones should be starting for the foreseeable future. He won’t be a big part of replacing Morant’s shots or points, but will be able to make his way as a solid playmaker in fantasy leagues. A former per-minute stud who has never really taken off, Jones is someone that should be added in all leagues for his upside in assists, steals and triples.
PJ Washington, F/C, Charlotte Hornets
Washington has found new life, returning from his elbow injury and slotting in as the starting center with Mason Plumlee (calf) out of the lineup. He had a terrible start to the season with Miles Bridges taking the league by storm, but Bridges has slowed down and now Washington is heating up while providing the Hornets some solid versatility. He’s been top-100 since his return, and while that sample is small, it’s more in line with what he’s done in previous seasons than his dreadful beginning to the season.
Alec Burks, G, New York Knicks
Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose have been out of the lineup lately, and in Walker’s case he hasn’t even been good when available. Enter Burks, who has cobbled together top-100 play in the last two weeks, with a clearly defined role that only seems to expand as he outplays others around him. He’s definitely viable while Rose is out, but this could become a longer engagement.
The big news of the week was that Ja Morant (left knee sprain) will miss “a few weeks” but return at some point this season. It’s not the most concrete update we’ve ever heard but it’s enough to keep fantasy managers holding tight, which is not the worst outcome we could’ve had.
Elsewhere atop that draft class, Zion Williamson (right foot) has been cleared for basketball activity. Now for that sweet, sweet conditioning ramp-up for a guy with reported weight issues…
Richaun Holmes (illness) is apparently over his right eye contusion and is day-to-day, as is Harrison Barnes (right foot sprain). The Kings need all the help they can get, and missing two of their best, most consistent guys hasn’t been fun.
Robert Williams (illness) should rejoin the team in the coming days but there’s no official timeline for a return. On the flip side for Boston, Dennis Schroder (right ankle) should be back after a one-game break and Jaylen Brown (hamstring maintenance) looks like he’ll continue to play despite being constantly listed as questionable.
OG Anunoby looked like he was trending towards a return last week but his hip pointer was referred to as “a problem” by Nick Nurse on Sunday, which isn’t great. Gary Trent Jr. is also without a timeline to return due to a deep right calf bruise.
Mo Bamba’s back spasms cost him a game on the weekend and you’re going to watch his status closely. Cole Anthony (right ankle sprain) remains out and seems to be going in the wrong direction, with him just being “out” instead of questionable these days.
Nikola Jokic continues to be questionable with a right wrist sprain and fantasy GMs are just going to have to sit tight.
Jimmy Butler (tailbone contusion) and Tyler Herro (general soreness) are both entering the week banged up but neither looks like they’re dealing with a long-term problem.
Nerlens Noel (right knee) had to exit the lineup again while Mitchell Robinson returned from his concussion and promptly tweaked his left leg. Fun times for the Knicks.
Norman Powell (right quad strain) has already been ruled out for Monday after suffering the injury on Friday, so you can expect more activity from Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little.