• Where is the line? As usual there’ll be the traditional stream table schedule grid in about three paragraphs which will certainly be torn up and in tatters on Sunday afternoon because there’s no way the Wizards are playing four games next week with five positive COVID-19 tests. In fact, the next two games against the Cavs are already in the dumpster and it seems likely there will be more. Any advice that we put in is contingent on who has eight players and which player went out for lemon pepper wings or went to Toronto to party with Drake.

    The James Harden trade… happened. It’s a fascinating situation where one of their three best players goes AWOL every 11 minutes and another one has stretches where he dribbles a hole into the floor. Harden looked incredible in his Nets debut, playing aggressive as a scorer and as a passer and almost looked incredible in warmups because the black warmups subtract 20 pounds. It’ll be a fascinating experiment to see how three incredibly ball-dominant players work together on this roster.

    The Blazers have something in the water, because the Nurkic injury just flat out sucks. He couldn’t avoid surgery, so it’ll be a long two months without a player that we’ve been banging the drum to buy on all season. It’s a bad break and a Sunday article three days after the injury means we’ve missed the boat on Enes Kanter. We’ll see what else we can find out there. Let’s stream.

    Week 5 Stream Table

    In the stream table, home games are in orange because basketballs are orange. Road games are in blue because blue is not orange. Some of these games will not be played because the world is mad.

    Back to Backs

    Brought to you by Drake*

    *not actually

    Sun/Mon (of Week 4): CHI, CLE, DAL, NYK, WAS
    Mon/Tues: none
    Tues/Weds: none
    Weds/Thurs: GSW
    Thurs/Fri: NYK
    Fri/Sat: BKN, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, MIA, MIN, PHI, PHX
    Sat/Sun: none
    Sun/Mon (of Week 6): BOS, CHA, CLE, IND, MEM, OKC, ORL, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR

    Working The Wire

    Unfortunately we’re a little late on the pull for anything major out of Portland or ramifications of the James Harden trade, but we’ll see where we can still tease some value out. The downsides of a weekly article really rear their head when something exciting happens on a Tuesday and then half the games are postponed.

    Point Guards

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: He’s making half of his 3-point shots and that’s enough to get someone well onto the radar. KCP has played through a sprained ankle and still managed top-75 value in 22 minutes. The shooting percentages will come down from an eye-popping 53.5%, but he’ll still be a 3-point option with a low turnover rate. It’s a recipe for a top-125ish season.

    Patty Mills: Patty Mills once again getting the love and he should. He’s truly one of the more underrated reserve point guards from a fantasy standpoint because he’s very reliable but doesn’t wow (except when he hits eight triples). He’s mainly a consideration for streaming triples and they’re definitely on offer in the short term.

    On the Radar
    Immanuel Quickley: He’s getting the minutes because Elfrid Payton is less than great but the stat set isn’t great. Maybe some scoring and assists on offer at the cost of percentages.

    Shooting Guards

    Nickeil Alexander-Walker: Well that was something of a breakout performance there against the Clippers but kind of pooped the bed against a tough Lakers team with five turnovers and five fouls. He’s in the rotation for sure and he’ll continue to get good run as long as Lonzo Ball is out. He should be a good scoring and 3-point option in the short term.

    Jeremy Lamb: Normally we can’t go full send on a guy that hasn’t even returned to the court but with Caris LeVert’s health issue, Lamb is probably going to get all the run he can handle coming off a torn ACL. The last time Lamb had any extended run Hopefully LeVert’s health issue isn’t too serious and they caught it early.

    On the Radar
    Jae’Sean Tate: We’re not there, but he’s had a few good games. We’ll see what his role is when Oladipo and Eric Gordon are both present.

    Gary Trent Jr.: What’s the deal with McCollum’s foot? Y’all will know before the me of the past that’s writing this.

    Small Forwards

    Patrick Williams: It’s time to bite the bullet and go in on Pat Williams if he’s out there just because the Bulls are clearly committed to throwing him directly into the ocean without a life jacket. Even with Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter active, Williams still got 33 minutes and has been playing quite well. He’s a top-75 asset in 9-cat formats over the last six games. He’s more likely a late-round guy but the ship is setting sail and might toss him a line to drag him along as I go underwater with my sinking ship analogy.

    Luguentz Dort: Friday night fireworks are the reason I get so nervous when someone asks me about dropping someone like Lu Dort. It’s possible I’ve said in situations that it might be an okay move to go get a hot guy, but it was a career night that some people might have missed out on (six steals!). Dort’s trending slightly down in ownership and that should switch course quickly here.

    On the Radar
    Taurean Prince: He probably would have been a definite add as a lost ship landing in Cleveland but he’s a bad stat-set guy who needs the volume. Hard to recommend him when the first two games of his week are definitely postponed.

    Power Forwards

    Carmelo Anthony: It’s almost surely too late to get Enes Kanter in any league after the Nurkic injury news, so we’re pivoting to see what the other options are. Somewhat grossly, Carmelo Anthony seems like a not-terrible option as a shooter and a scorer who doesn’t see enough of the ball to do anything foolish. As I write this C.J. McCollum also left the game against the Hawks with an ankle injury. If there’s any ill-effects, Melo could be in line for more shots.

    P.J. Tucker: Here’s your bi-weekly reminder that P.J. Tucker exists and that bi-weekly is a stupid term because it could mean twice weekly or once every two weeks. Tucker is the least flashy top-120 player perhaps in the history of the National Basketball Association because he scores six points in 32 minutes. Really good 9-category guy.

    On the Radar
    Eric Paschall: The Ram from Sleepy Hollow is pretty entrenched in a role as a 20-minute inside scorer. He’ll probably plod his way to top-160 total value.

    Center

    Willie Cauley-Stein: A friend of mine put it succinctly at the end of the Mavericks loss to the Bucks: “Willie Cauley-Stein has the basketball IQ of a raisin”. That may be true, but our sweet raisin in the sun is getting 30 minutes a game because Maxi Kleber has, you guessed it, the rona. The Mavs will be playing shorthanded for at least another week and WCS should be a borderline double-double guy with a block a night.

    Khem Birch: Birch has graduated from the stream team and he’s fully on my radar now as a top-100 guy in the last seven games in just 24 minutes per game. He’s an energy guy with low-end double-double potential whenever he gets 20+ minutes.

    On the Radar
    Tristan Thompson: He’s kind of high on ownership to be “on the radar” but basically I think his ownership is too high for a guy that just rebounds and doesn’t miss many of his five shots. He’s here basically because he’s back in the rotation after sitting out for contact tracing.

    The Stream Team

    PG: Trey Burke – Could be a points and triples streamer for a shorthanded Mavs team.

    SG: Damyean Dotson – Again, if the Cavs were actually rolling out players early next week Dotson might just be a volume pickup in general.

    SF: Jarred Vanderbilt – KAT has COVID (have to feel for the guy, what a tough year) and the coaching staff likes the short sample of Vanderbilt. Keep an eye out.

    PF: Jeff Green – Perfectly valid deep-league streamer on a shortened Nets rotation.

    C: Harry Giles III – Heavy monitor with Jusuf Nurkic out for two months.

    Miscellaneous Musings

    It’s time for the hot take corner. We now have a team with five, COUNT ‘EM, FIVE, players who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus but still the NBA pushes on and obviously won’t pull the plug for a few weeks to let more vaccines roll out and for these cases and contact tracing to clear out because money supersedes logic.

    They’ve decided to add some more two-way slots so they can keep forcing short rotations with guys who touched a basketball twice in the 9th grade and now work at Target. Here’s my controversial opinion: having basketball played with 8-man rotations on unscheduled days or having games postponed into the next millennium is creating a bad product and an uneven playing field and negatively impacting the league landscape.

    While we’re here, it’s also an appropriate time to spit the take that the way Kyrie Irving behaved in his unexplained leave from the team is insulting, unbecoming and it should be grounds to be able to void a contract. Here’s the reality: Kyrie Irving and all of these NBA players are in a supremely privileged position to be able to make millions to play a game. They have a very special skillset and that’s not easily replaceable. However, they also have media scrutiny at a heightened level, they have their own stresses and it’s important to remember they’re people.

    However however HOWEVER, there’s an added responsibility for a star in this league and a player in a leadership position (Kyrie is a vice president of the NBPA) to represent the league and the players well. Whatever we’ve seen from him in the last couple weeks specifically isn’t that. In the middle of a global pandemic if I take an inexplicable leave of absence from my job and go break organizational protocol on video, I’m on the curb applying for new jobs. That’s how the world works for common folk. If I was the Nets, I would be mad. If I was a teammate of Kyrie, I would be even madder. I don’t know how this is going to turn out in Brooklyn, but I’m not going to pretend I think it’s going to be sunshine and roses.

    Let me know if you agree on Twitter @sassclown or tell me that Kyrie deserves more benefit of the doubt, which I’ll have a hard time buying. One time I had a handful of cocktails and had a verbal sparring match with my best friend at a Thai restaurant about Kawhi Leonard’s absence from the court after being medically cleared to play at the end of his Spurs career and I was still part of the wedding. We’ll still be friends after.

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