December 26, 2021, 11:24 pm
With Christmas in the rearview window, the NBA continues its march towards the All-Star break, undeterred by the endless entrances to the league’s health and safety protocols and obscure signings of long-retired vets like Joe Johnson, who became a Big3 champion and MVP since leaving the NBA in 2018, or Darren Collison, who last played in the NBA in 2019.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN has been tracking COVID cases recently. By his count, 208 instances of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols have occurred this season, 191 of which came in December alone. With so many players in and out of protocols, it’s no wonder the NBA is signing just about anybody that has picked up a basketball.
Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but situations are quite dire for several teams. The prestigious Lakers closed out their recent marquee Christmas game with Stanley Johnson, who was playing his first game of the season, against a Nets squad also decimated with health and safety absences. They played Collison for 12 minutes after being removed from the NBA for two full seasons. Isaiah Thomas had a moment for the Lakers last week in which he scored 19 points in his first game for the club. Other teams, like the Wolves and Raptors, are missing their entire starting lineup.
Despite the countless outbreaks occurring in the league, NBA commissioner Adam Silver ruled out the possibility of pausing the season, citing that the virus wouldn’t be eradicated over a break.
The commissioner is right. There’s no stopping the virus without going into a bubble, something most players never want to return to. As long as the NBA marches on, so do we in fantasy circles.
For some, streaming is futile. The least fortunate managers currently face so many injuries that streaming only delays the inevitable. Still, managers cannot take zeroes. If you can avoid a zero, it can keep you from missing the playoffs. It’s more important than ever that managers maximize their streams during this rough patch and this Week 11 preview should help do the trick.
Two Games: Pistons, Pelicans, Sixers
Three Games: Hawks, Nets, Hornets, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Magic, Blazers, Raptors, Wizards
Four Games: Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Wolves, Knicks, Thunder, Suns, Kings, Spurs, Jazz
Monday/Tuesday: Rockets, Wolves
Tuesday/Wednesday: Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Thunder, Kings
Friday/Saturday: Bulls, Rockets, Clippers, Spurs, Jazz
Week 11’s schedule is a bit of an odd one. The lowest volume day comes on Thursday, with only four games happening that night. It’s sandwiched between the two most voluminous nights of the week, with nine games happening on Wednesday and ten on Friday. Nobody plays on what would be the highly coveted Saturday and Sunday double-header, so that’s unfortunate. Targeting a Rockets or Wolves player for Monday and Tuesday would be smart, followed by targeting a Heat player, maybe Omer Yurtseven or Gabe Vincent, for their back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Cavs close the week with three games in four nights starting on Thursday, so targeting Kevin Love or Dean Wade should help your team finish the week strong.
Best Schedule: Cavs (@ Pelicans, @ Wizards, vs. Hawks, vs. Pacers)
No team has an optimal schedule for this week and many play four games. Nobody plays on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, but the Cavs do play three games in four nights to end the week in addition to playing on Thursday, the lowest volume day of the week. Dean Wade, Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen, if on your waiver wire, all have additional value until the two big guys, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, return from the league’s health and safety protocols.
Worst Schedule: Pelicans (vs. Cavs, @ Bucks)
In addition to only playing twice in Week 11, the Pelicans face two stiff opponents in the Cavs and the defending champion Bucks. They host the Cavs on Tuesday and visit the Bucks on Saturday, so there’s no back-to-back streaming opportunity for this team. In a league with unlimited adds, you can fire up Tomas Satoransky or Herb Jones in a pinch, but there are likely better streaming options with better schedules than what the Pelicans offer in Week 11.
Game of the Week: Warriors @ Jazz, Saturday January 1st, 9:00 pm ET
The Warriors remain atop the NBA standings with a 27-6 record entering the week. They have been without Klay Thompson (right Achilles) all season, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have been in the league’s health and safety protocols for the past week and now the Warriors will be without Draymond Green, who entered the league’s health protocols on Sunday, for the foreseeable future. The Jazz finished with the best record in the league last season and boast the third-best record in the league this season, sitting within 3.5 games of the Warriors. Their matchup on Saturday not only features two of the league’s best teams, but it could also have playoff implications down the line in the event of a tie. The Stifle Tower versus the Baby-Faced Assassin in another high stakes match should produce an epic Saturday night.
Omer Yurtseven, C, Miami Heat
Dewayne Dedmon (left knee) and Bam Adebayo (right hand) are both out, leaving Yurtseven all alone in the middle. The big man started their Sunday contest and finished it with 16 points, 15 boards and two assists on 53.3% shooting from the field in 33 minutes. Adebayo isn’t expected back for several weeks and Dedmon is expected to miss at least 1-to-2 weeks with his sprained MCL, making Yurtseven a must-roster guy until Dedmon’s return.
Otto Porter Jr., F, Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee are all in the league’s health and safety protocols. As a result, Porter is ranked No. 27 in 9-cat scoring over the past week, making him a must-roster player until Wiggins and Poole return. Porter provides 3s, points, passable percentages, low turnovers and rebounding along with a combined defensive stat on average, making him a solid all-around add for their three-game week, especially since each of their games falls on a low-volume day.
Kemba Walker, G, New York Knicks
Walker’s resurgence started because the Knicks lost Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride to the league’s health and safety protocols, Derrick Rose was having ankle issues before undergoing surgery and Alec Burks began struggling after a strong surge following Walker’s benching. Well, the tables have turned. Walker has recorded a triple-double and has averaged over 25 points a contest since being reinserted into the rotation. Walker is No. 15 over his last four games, and while he’s obviously not a top-20 talent nor a 25ppg scorer, when Walker plays over 40 minutes a night he cannot be left on waiver wires, assuming he’s even there anymore.
Larry Nance Jr., F, Portland Trail Blazers
Nance is outside the top-200 in 9-cat scoring on the season. However, Jusuf Nurkic just joined Robert Covington in the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday. Nassir Little missed the team’s last contest with an illness. C.J. McCollum remains out for at least another week with his collapsed lung. Damian Lillard is questionable for Monday with a personal issue. All the while Nance is flirting with the top-100 over his last five games. Nance shoots it well from the field, generates steals at an appealing rate, rebounds well and doles out assists from time-to-time while keeping the ball secure. He’s bound to see over 30 minutes a night for the team’s upcoming three-game schedule, making him an add for the time being.
Trae Young and John Collins are in the league’s health and safety protocols. Young almost suited up for the Hawks on Christmas, indicating he could be returning soon whereas Collins just entered protocols on Sunday.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving remain in the league’s health and safety protocols entering Week 11. Both guys are nearly cleared of protocols, having entered them on the 18th of December.
Miles Bridges entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday and is out indefinitely as a result.
Lonzo Ball is out indefinitely while in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen should be nearing a return from the league’s health and safety protocols.
Luka Doncic entered the league’s health protocols on the 22nd and remains out indefinitely.
Cade Cunningham had been rolling before entering the league’s health and safety protocols on the 21st and remains out indefinitely. He’s joined by Cory Joseph, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee, so the guard rotation in Detroit is in shambles.
Paul George is dealing with a torn ligament in his right elbow and will be reevaluated in 3-to-4 weeks. Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard should be rostered in the meantime.
Antony Davis remains out for the next 3-to-4 weeks before having his left knee reevaluated.
Kyle Lowry entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Christmas and will be out indefinitely.
Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell both entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Christmas week and are out indefinitely. Anthony Edwards is nearing a return from his stint in the league’s protocols after landing in them on December 17th.
Brandon Ingram left Sunday’s game with a sore left Achilles and is considered day-to-day as a result. Jonas Valanciunas has been dealing with a non-COVID illness but should be back for the Pelicans this week.
Jusuf Nurkic is out indefinitely after entering the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday. Damian Lillard popped up on Monday’s injury report with a personal issue and is questionable for the contest.
Dejounte Murray entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday and will be out indefinitely.
Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby joined Pascal Siakam in the league’s health and safety protocols during Christmas week and should be out indefinitely.
Donovan Mitchell will miss the team’s first two games of the week with a strained back. The team’s hopeful he can suit up on Friday against the Wolves.
Bradley Beal landed in the league’s health and safety protocols on the 23rd and is out indefinitely.