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Good tidings and cheer: Previewing the week of Christmas basketball

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Happy holidays to everyone who didn’t drop Robert Covington.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I live in New York City, de la Earth. Today is December 21st, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It’s 60 goddamn degrees outside. It’s raining. In December.

But, rather than focus on the obvious, stick-your-head-out-the-goddamn-window evidence of a warming atmosphere, let’s instead focus on nice things. Like, say, fantasy basketball.

One of the nicest things about fantasy basketball is how WAIT A GODDAMN SECOND, WHY IS ROBERT COVINGTON’S OWNERSHIP GOING DOWN?! Yall, what in the hell. Covington’s ownership has declined by double digits?! We’ve talked about this and we’ve talked about this! Why are you dropping a top 50 player? Bob Covington is the 35th best player on ESPN Basic on the season. He’s 27.6% owned on ESPN. And, he’s ownership is declining! Why? Because he was injured for a hot sec? Dude just had five 3PM last game, and yet his ownership has declined by double digits. He’s been a top 50 player over the past month, and he’s gonna STAY a top 50 player for the rest of the season! NO ONE ELSE IN THE NBA averages 2+ steals per game and 1+ block per game. He also gets you double-digit points, 5+ rebounds, and 2+ 3PM per game: only 15 guys in the NBA (who’ve played at least 20 games) can say the same. And, by the way, Carmelo Anthony would be player #16, if he were actually playing. Bob is a player whose attributes place him on two separate, distinct, elite lists in fantasy basketball: elite-elite defensive stats, and elite offensive production. Obviously, that suggests to ESPN users that they should drop him.

I don’t understand. This is ruining my Christmas, because I thought we had gotten past this, I really did. Did you know that, Covington’s ownership is in the 90s on Yahoo? With the same goddamn stat categories and everything. It’s insane how different the ownership levels are between the two sites, and I really can’t account for it, other than to say that either one site’s users need to smarten the hell up, or one site’s operators need to get their shit together, because it does not make any sense to have such a large discrepancy. Like, it’s the same game, y’know? Same rules, same numbers of owners, etc., etc. Yahoo and ESPN present the data differently, but they’re both playing the same game: numbers based on the actual, IRL stats accrued by the actual, IRL players in the NBA.

It’s clear that you’re just treating Robert Covington in this way as a means of getting to me: it’s a personal attack on yours truly, and the very foundations of fantasy basketball itself. An elite player, scoffed at, mocked, dropped like a disposable streamer into the garbage, and muck, and despair that is the midseason waiver wire. It’s exactly like Taken, except the opposite, and I have absolutely no skills, of any kind. Plus, I’m not related to Covington and we’re not in Europe. Aside from those small differences, though, it’s precisely the same thing.

Anyway, let’s stop grousing about the past and look forward to the future. On to Cincinnati!

Next week, which includes Christmas, is a strange fantasy week because there are NO games on Monday. The NBA has Christmas Eve completely off, so be aware.

Only two teams have 4 games next week: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Only two teams have 2 games: the Indiana Pacers and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Everyone else has 3 games. So, it might behoove you to load up on Lakers and Blazers, if you’re in a weekly league. Some players who might be available are:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, LAL, 2.5% ownership (ESPN) — KCP can be up or down from game to game, but he’s been improving. Over the last month, he’s been more valuable than high ownership players like Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter, Jr., Khris Middleton, and Andrew Wiggins. It’s tough to know what the future holds for KCP, regarding trades, and the return of Brandon Ingram, but if you need SG filler, KCP may be your cheap volume option next week.

JaVale McGee, C, LAL, 18.9% — JaVale’s been sick, but he should return to a Lakers team that has actually missed him since he’s been out. JaVale is ALLLLLL about blocks, and a steady diet of points and rebounds. Think 10 PPG and 7 RPG, but also 2.5 BPG. That’s dynamite production, and it’s kept JaVale in the top 100 on the player rater. There are few specialists, uh, specialer than JaVale, and his production should be rostered, not streamed.

Al-Farouq Aminu, C, POR, 2.8% — “The Chief Has Arrived,” is a beast, and he should be rostered, not streamed. Here’s the list of players who average 9+ PPG, 8+ RPG, 1+ 3PM: Aminu, Marc Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic (technically, Kevin Love, too, but I wanted to have three Nikolas in a row to celebrate St. Nick’s), Russell Westbrook, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tobias Harris, Blake Griffin, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony MFing Davis. That’s a list of some of the best players in fantasy (and, real life, obviously). Aminu is vastly under-owned. The translation of his name alone should propel his ownership over 50%, but what the hell. Life ain’t fair. Aminu will give you clunkers some nights, but only aces are always perfect. Plus, with four games on the week, he should be a cheap and productive option. It may seem strange to say, but players that average 8+ rebounds per game are actually kinda rare: last season, only 27 players averaged 8+ RPG.

J.J. Barea, PG, DAL, 13.7% — Returned from a short absence due to injury and scored 29 points and 13 assists over two games. He’s one of only 29 players averaging 11+ PPG and 5+ Assists per game (and, he’s not a starter!). Barea’s widely available and should be rostered; those assist numbers (he’s averaged 14 and 5 over the past month, too).

Larry Nance, Jr., C, CLE, 30% — Nancy has been a top 50 player over the past month, netting you, ahem, double digit PPG and RPG. Dub-dubs are always appreciated, and Nance gets to play one of his games against the Atlanta Hawks this week, so he could be in store for a big game.

Trevor Ariza, SF, WAS, 7.6% — Ariza’s averaged 10 PPG, 5+ RPG, 3+ APG, 1+ SPG, and 1+ 3PM this season. I know the PPG aren’t impressive, but consider this: only 7 other players in the entire NBA can match or exceed those averages. Their names are Khris Middleton, Luka Doncic, Victor Oladipo, Paul George, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and James Harden. Nice list to be on, no?

And, finally, a long term suggestion: look to Indiana. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF, IND, and Thaddeus Young, PF, IND, are both under 30% ownership. They only have 2 games in the coming week, so only pick them up if you’ve got the space.