• It’s Week 13 and Kyrie Irving is back. Klay Thompson is back. Kawhi Leonard might be back this season. A lot of guys are out of the league’s health and safety protocols. Things are beginning to normalize to some degree as we reach the midpoint of the regular season.

    The midpoint of the NBA season doesn’t align perfectly with the midpoint in fantasy. The fantasy playoffs are off in the distance, but they’re visible and becoming more apparent by the day. Now is the time to start narrowing your team’s strengths a bit via free agency or the trade market.

    Irving is back in the fold. Is dealing for him worth the risk knowing he’s only playing in the Nets’ road games? Damian Lillard is another name on the trade market right now. He’s looking more and more likely to be a shutdown candidate every day. Is it worth sending a top-50 guy for Lillard considering his struggles with his abdomen this season? What should you deal Lillard for? Should managers deal for his replacement, Anfernee Simons, preemptively?

    Klay Thompson made his return on Sunday, also known as Klay Day in the Bay, and he still isn’t gun-shy. He put up 18 shots in 20 minutes, ending the night with 17 points, three boards, one assist, three triples and a block. Coming off two catastrophic injuries, the Warriors are likely to bring him along slowly, meaning he’ll likely sit back-to-backs and have a minutes restriction in the short-term. What’s the value for the second Splash Brother ROS?

    Herb Jones is a waiver wire hero. Over the past two weeks, Jones is No. 20 in 9-cat ranks. He’s averaging 35 minutes, 14.3 points, 5.0 boards, 2.5 assists, 1.2 3-pointers, 2.3 steals and 1.7 blocks on very good shooting percentages. Jones is an example of a guy that could change the fortune of a team in contention for either the playoffs or the top record.

    Dillon Brooks sprained his left ankle fairly severely and will now miss three-to-five weeks. Adding a guy like De’Anthony Melton could net you just enough over Brooks’ absence to change your team’s playoff odds for the better.

    Week 13 offers a little more clarity on guys like Lillard, Irving and Thompson moving forward. Streamers with long-term appeal are crucial at this juncture. As has been the case all season, stay ready. Actively seek deals with panicked managers. It’s time to bolster the strength of your team via pickups that can become permanent fixtures or favorable deals. Maneuver wisely and you can set yourself up for a winning postseason.

    Schedule Breakdown

    Two Games: Lakers

    Three Games: Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Wolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Suns, Blazers, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards

    Four Games: Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Kings, Sixers, Spurs


    Monday/Tuesday: Pistons
    Tuesday/Wednesday: Bulls, Wizards
    Wednesday/Thursday: Nets
    Thursday/Friday: Warriors, Grizzlies
    Friday/Saturday: Hawks, Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Heat, Magic, Sixers, Spurs, Raptors
    Saturday/Sunday: Nuggets

    Schedule Maximizers

    The Nuggets, Warriors and Wolves play on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, the three lowest-volume days of the week. The Nuggets close the week with a back-to-back while the Warriors have their double-header scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The Pistons also have three games on low-volume nights featuring a double-header to kick Week 13 off against two contenders in the Jazz and Bulls. The Kings and Rockets have identical four-game schedules this week, alternating between resting one night and playing the next starting on Monday and ending in a pseudo double-header against each other on Friday and Sunday.

    Best Schedule: Nuggets (@ Clippers, vs. Blazers, vs. Lakers, vs. Jazz)

    The Nuggets have a slightly better schedule than the Warriors and Pistons because it’s a little softer regarding strength of schedule and the Nuggets are a better source for streaming in general with options like Facundo Campazzo and Jeff Green always ready to roll. The Warriors aren’t far behind, though. Klay Thompson is primed to be a guy resting on either end of back-to-back sets during the season as he makes his way back from an ACL tear and a ruptured Achilles, making the team’s Thursday/Friday double-header a clear streaming target.

    Worst Schedule: Lakers (@ Kings, @ Nuggets)

    The Lakers are the only team with a two-game slate this week. Their two games aren’t back-to-back, so that eliminates the chance to stream in a guy for two games in a short span with one add. They don’t even have reliable enough players to confidently stream in for a one-game appearance. The Lakers’ two games fall on voluminous nights, so managers could be starting their 10 best players anyway. At least their Saturday night meeting with the Nuggets should be an exciting showdown.

    Game of the Week: Warriors @ Bucks, Thursday January 13th, 7:30 pm ET

    As mentioned earlier, the Warriors have a tough schedule this week. They face the Bucks and Bulls in a double-header after starting the week off against the upstart Grizzlies, each of their games being on the road. The highlight of their week is on Thursday against none other than the NBA champions led by Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Two two-time MVPs in pursuit of their third leading their teams against each other in a potential NBA Finals preview. Unfortunately, Jrue Holiday could miss the proceedings while in the league’s health and safety protocols. On the bright side, the Warriors could decide to play Klay Thompson against the Bucks instead of the Bulls, if indeed resting him on one end of back-to-backs, to get a snapshot of where the two teams stand midway through the season at nearly full health.

    Quick Adds

    Anfernee Simons, G, Portland Trail Blazers

    Lillard is dealing with a lingering abdominal issue that has ruled him out for the last four contests, the team’s upcoming six-game road trip and is threatening the rest of his season. Simons has already filled in for Dame over the past four games, ranking No. 6 over that stretch in 9-cat leagues. Lillard is a risky guy to not insure with his backup. Simons, if not added already, must be rostered until Dame’s return, and potentially past it as a guy who’s capable of turning a manager’s usual streaming spot into a permanent position.

    Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies

    With Steven Adams in the league’s health and safety protocols since January 7th, Clarke becomes a viable option in most, if not all, formats until the big Kiwi’s return. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 8.8 boards and 1.8 blocks on a strong field goal percentage in 24.9 minutes a night over his last four outings, good for No. 92 over the past week. He fits the team’s bouncy and frenetic style of play while simultaneously complementing frontcourt mate Jaren Jackson Jr. Clarke’s a safe source for big-man numbers this week.

    Onyeka Okongwu, C, Atlanta Hawks

    This suggestion is strongly predicated on Clint Capela’s sprained left ankle come Wednesday, the first game of the Hawks’ week. Okongwu has only appeared in seven games this season and has been impressive in his limited opportunities, ranking in the top-90 in 9-cat leagues despite averaging just 23 minutes a night. Playing behind established vets in Capela and John Collins as a second-year big will do that to you. Capela missed the team’s Sunday game with a sprained left ankle and has three nights to heal before the team’s next game. If he’s out, Okongwu and the Hawks will have three games in four nights between Wednesday and Saturday. The second-year big man did get between 16 and 22 minutes alongside Capela before he got hurt. Okongwu’s potential is worth an add.

    Hamidou Diallo, G/F, Detroit Pistons

    Diallo is top-60 over the past two weeks, a much better stretch of performances compared to his past week where he’s outside the top-180 in 9-cat formats. This is a player to consider solely for the Monday/Tuesday double-header featuring two low-volume nights. He also suits up for Sunday’s four-game slate, an opportunity at the end of the week to perhaps nab the steals category. In over 25 minutes a night, Diallo’s a name to consider to begin and end the week.

    Injury Report

    Clint Capela is dealing with a left ankle sprain that kept him out of Sunday’s game against the Clippers.

    Alex Caruso was dealing with a sprained left foot before entering the league’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday. He will be out indefinitely.

    Kristaps Porzingis is out indefinitely with COVID. He entered protocol on January 3rd, so the Unicorn should be nearing a return.

    Draymond Green missed Sunday’s contest with left calf tightness but should be okay in the long-term.

    Kristaps Porzingis rested during Sunday’s game, perhaps because it was the frontend of a double-header, but should be suiting up for the team’s next game on Monday.

    Malcolm Brogdon is questionable for Monday’s contest vs. the Celtics while Caris LeVert remains in the league’s health and safety protocols.

    We’re waiting on an evaluation of Paul George’s shooting elbow towards the end of January before getting an update on his status. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Thursday that Kawhi Leonard is ahead of schedule with his ACL rehab and a return this season is possible.

    Anthony Davis is nearing the one-month mark since his left knee sprain and the team should be evaluating him within the next week or two.

    Jimmy Butler has missed the team’s last two games with a sprained right ankle. Bam Adebayo’s return from a torn UCL in his right thumb should be on the horizon, so keep an eye out for updates on him.

    Jrue Holiday is out of Monday’s contest with a sore left ankle.

    Wendell Carter Jr. missed Sunday’s contest with a sore left hamstring.

    Damian Lillard has missed the team’s last three contests with abdominal tendinopathy and isn’t traveling with them for their upcoming six-game road trip. C.J. McCollum remains out indefinitely with pneumothorax, though he should receive a re-evaluation this week.

    Richaun Holmes is in the league’s health and safety protocols, but his return should be near.

    Rudy Gobert entered the league’s health and safety protocols on January 4th and is out indefinitely.

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