• Hey there everyone! It’s me, Erik Ong, the editor here at Hoop Ball. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been asked to step in and do one of these Dishes, so bear with me if there’s a little bit of rust in my game – hopefully, not in a Justise Winslow kind of way.

    The League gifted us with a stacked nine-game slate on Tuesday and there was no shortage of exciting games and big lines.

    Some Quick Hits

    1. I really hope John Collins gets traded somewhere good. As happy as I am, as a Capela shareowner in one league, I’m also equally saddened and disappointed at how much of Collins’ thunder he’s managed to steal this season.
    2. Lamar Stevens won a game for the Cavs tonight. Who? He’s a dude. A dude on a two-way deal for the Cavs. He made a last-second go-ahead slam for the win tonight. Yeah, no, his name doesn’t really matter outside of really deep leagues. But kudos to him nonetheless.
    3. The Kings are still a mess. On the other hand, I’ve really fallen in love with Tyrese Haliburton this season. He’s just amazing and will be among “Erik’s Elite 18” come draft day in 2021-21. You heard it here first. And yeah, that list of 18 draft-day targets is totally going to be a thing. Well, a thing I plan to propose to be included in the Hoop Ball Draft Guide. (blushing smiley face emoji). Oh, by the way, writing out emojis in parentheses is totally going to be a thing too – but no, not really. I’m kidding about that part.
    4. I’d like to say that Kelly Oubre Jr. has finally found his groove, but I won’t because I don’t want to jinx it. Again. But fingers are crossed though. Looking better every game lately. Doh! What I just do? #FML
    5. Luka Doncic is a baby-faced assassin. Man, that guy can really bring it in the clutch sometimes. Well, at least he did so tonight. Some day, one day, the gap between his real-life amazingness and his fantasy value will narrow and he will be the total package of super fan-favorite-slash-heartthrob and fantasy basketball God. But money is on what Syrio Forel once said/taught to Arya Stark… “Not Today (this season)”
    6. And last, but definitely not least, we come to Nikola Jokic – my unrequited fantasy basketball love this season. One of my biggest regrets this season is having zero Jokic shares. And I’m as sad as Carl Muntz was when he lost his wife Ellie from “Up” the movie. Fine, maybe not that bad, but yeah. I think about Jokic and am envious of other teams that have him in my leagues. Boo1

    Add(s) of the Night

    Saben Lee is just worth it. 21 points, four dimes, 8-of-11 shooting from the field, that’s just gold right now. He was picked up in my deeper leagues, but I am sure he’s worth a slot even in standard leagues at this point. While he’s not Jalen Brunson caliber, who by the way, should be rostered everywhere as well, Lee has shown that he can make DSJ look like an amateur – I know, that’s not saying much, but it still had to be said.

    I know what you’re saying. “Erik, those guys are obvious and have been picked up in our competitive leagues.” OK. Don’t worry. I got you. A little bit of speculation, based on well-founded extrapolation here, but I am pretty on-board with picking up Isaac Okoro. He’s got some nice 3s and steals lately, plus he did block three shots tonight. He could well have been just a slow or late bloomer in his rookie season and is slowly finding his footing, finally, with the Cavs. Take a look at his recent games.

    Drop Zone

    Cam Reddish missed tonight’s game with right Achilles Soreness and is just not worth the hold at this point. Even though he is a current starter for the Hawks (when healthy), his stat set issues in 9-cat scoring have capped his upside this season. You’re simply better off scrounging the wire for someone like a Bruce Brown Jr. or something.

    Injury Report

    Rajon Rondo played again after a seven-game absence due to a sore back, but as. expected, didn’t do much. No, he won’t be doing much going forward either.

    John Collins left tonight’s game early as he was being assessed for a concussion and was held out for precautionary reasons. Despite that, Danilo Gallinari wound up producing a lackluster performance.

    Tauren Prince missed yet another game due to left ankle soreness and Dean Wade started in his place, Yes, he’s a real player and no, he didn’t do particularly well with just five points and two blocks.

    Old man Wayne Ellington missed a game for rest and Svi Mikhailiuk drew a spot start and was “ok” with nine points, 40% shooting from the field and some decent peripherals.

    Nikola Vucevic took a brief trip to the locker room but was able to return and produce a 20-9-4-2 line, so it appears that there’s nothing to worry about.

    Harrison Barnes returned to action for the Kings and promptly produced well on offense with 18 points. His return resulted in DNPs for Nemanja Bjelica and Jabari Parker. Coach Luke Walton did notice Barnes limping a bit late in the game so that’s something to monitor before the Kings’ next outing.

    Nicolas Claxton made his season debut for the Nets and scored five points in 14 minutes off the bench. Totally keep an eye on him if you’re in a deep league.

    Iman Shumpert also made his debut, but it was for naught as he, Andre Roberson and Noah Vonleh were all waived by the Nets as the deadline for guaranteeing contracts is near.

    The Warriors got both Kevon Looney (left ankle sprain) and James Wiseman (left wrist sprain) tonight. Looney was unremarkable as the starting center with two points in 20 minutes. Wiseman fared much better with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench.

    The Sixers were without Seth Curry, who sat out this game with left ankle soreness. His absence opened the door for Furkan Korkmaz to go bonkers and light up the Raptors with 19 points and five threes.

    The Mavs were without Kristaps Porzingis (back tightness) and Maxi Kleber (left ankle sprain). Dwight Powell and James Johnson both started in their places and wound up being unremarkable. Instead, Boban!

    Again, the Bucks had to play without Jrue Holiday (health & safety protocols), which allowed Bryn Forbes to pop off for 23 points, thanks mostly in part to 5-of-9 shooting from downtown.

    Michael Porter Jr. was on the injury report as probable but ended playing and produced a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.

    Sans Gary Harris, Monte Morris drew the start and delivered his ubiquitous low-end, fringe standard-league line.

    Lou Williams missed tonight’s game for rest purposes and Reggie Jackson took advantage of Sweet Lou’s absence and feigned being a usable player in fantasy with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Yeah, no, he isn’t fooling anyone with that line. Not even you, I hope.

    Stash Time

    Before you know it, the All-Star break is here. Heck, the reserves have already been announced. No, I. don’t particularly care for the All-Star game this season. In fact, I’m against it, since I believe that it puts players at an unnecessary risk – a risk greater than what they’re already putting themselves through to play out this season. At the end of the day, the ASB means that the trade deadline is also nearing and that’s a big swing-opportunity to pick up or trade for (beforehand) players that can mean the difference between making the playoffs or not, winning the championship or not. That isn’t always the case, but there have been enough instances to line up for those kinds of lottery tickets.

    The All-Star Break also represents an “extra” two weeks that zoom by (insert video montage of monkey in space to illustrate Einstein’s theory of relativity here) and before you know it, TWO of players four, maybe six weeks in their recovery timetable have passed by in a blur. Now, well maybe in a few days more or so, would be a good time to start picking up injured guys and riding out the cold, partially game-less weeks that envelope the All-Star weekend.

    This move is more for teams that are in good positions in the standings and can “risk” losing a week, maybe two. That said, given that there are a combined three, maybe four games at most within that two-week window fantasy gets all crazy and whatnot as the small sample size of games just ended up skewing results, while players rest ahead of the break or worse, get injured during the festivities, or even worse and what I fear, catch COVID-19.

    “Gamble early, but gamble smart,” is what I have to say. If you’re a Hoop Ball premium subscriber, get on Discord and discuss who are the best plays given your particular teams, leagues, place in the standings, league settings.

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