Happy Holidays! Everyone has Covid.
As you’re very well aware, there are multitudes of NBA players in the health and safety protocols these days. Most of these players seem to be fine, or they recover quickly, which is a blessing, and hopefully the ‘Rona continues to get domesticated by humanity and future strains are much less virulent and deadly. In the meantime, please get vaxxed and boosted, and maintain mask manners in crowded settings. Common sense and common decency will help us win the day!
To that end, let’s take a look at some fantasy players who’ve gotten minutes recently. During these chaotic Covid times we have to play the waiver wire consistently. Which teams have mucho Covid absences? Which players might benefit and receive more minutes and shots? Which teams are actually, y’know, playing games rather than postponing them?
The first rule of thumb, I believe, is to keep track of the schedule. So far there are no games postponed for this coming week, but that, we all know, can change quickly. Assuming we get all the games, though, are there any teams we should avoid streaming? Indeed there are: the Detroit Pistons, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Philadelphia 1776ers are each only scheduled to play 2 games this week. If one of them, the Pistons for example, suffer an outbreak this week, one or both of those games could be postponed. Best not to depend on these three teams too much, lest you run the risk of streaming an empty roster spot for the entire week.
Due to the dearth of available players, several NBA teams have recently brought in players who were out of the NBA, like Lance Stevenson, Isaiah Thomas, and Iso Joe Johnson (!). However, we’re going to focus on players who’ve been getting minutes over the past month, not just the past holiday week. The players below have gotten minutes and shots during the past month and few weeks, and they’ve shown they can contribute good fantasy numbers when given the opportunity. They’re all widely available in ESPN leagues, and most of them have been top 75, at least, over the past month in basic fantasy.
(ALL STATS AND NUMBERS ARE COURTESY OF NBA.COM, ESPN.COM, AND BASKETBALL-REFERENCE.COM. THANK YOU!)
First things first: ADD PATTY MILLS.
PATTY MILLS, BK, PG, 24.2% ROSTERED, 3 GAMES
Mills has the THIRD most total 3-pointers made this season. He’s helping you win a counting stat category all by himself, and he’s getting ample opportunity to fill the box score due to the continued absences of Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and other role players in Brooklyn. Even if Kyrie can start to play road games, this week the Nets have two of their three games at home, so Patty will still get plenty of play. The fact that he’s so good at one thing, along with the fact that he’s averaging 23-4-4 the past two weeks with 5 3PM per game, should be enough for you to find room on your roster for him. I think he’s a player worth rostering for the rest of the year due to the volume of 3PM alone.
KEVIN LOVE, CAVS, PF, 19.9% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES
Is this real? KLove is averaging 16-7 over the past two weeks, with 1+ assist per game, 2+ 3PM, on 52% shooting in under 20 minutes per game. He’s been a top 50 fantasy player for the past month! Until/unless this resurgence ends, KLove should be rostered in waaaay more leagues. Sure, he’s benefited from absences, but the fact that he’s delivering efficiency in a lesser role is a great way to obtain more minutes. Whether Love is auditioning for a trade, or whether he’s just bought in as a seasoned veteran on a surprisingly good Cavs team, he’s giving you counting stats in short minutes.
JAVALE MCGEE, PHX, C, 12.8% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES
JaVale, like Love, is a player giving you good counting stats with efficiency in under 20 MPG. When Deandre Ayton’s out, McGee’s role grows larger. As is, he’s been a terrific handcuff all year, and he still provides value even when coming off the bench. McGee’s been a top 50 player the past two weeks, averaging 10+ points per game and 8+ rebounds per game on 66% shooting. That may not sound like much, but JaVale’s got 8 more total rebounds than Mitchell Robinson, but in two hundred fewer minutes. McGee has duds occasionally, but he’s 27th in total rebounds this season. That’s worth rostering.
GARY HARRIS, ORL, SG, 5.2% ROSTERED, 3 GAMES
Golden Gary days are here again! Golden Gary’s been a top 75 fantasy player the last month, and he’s averaging 16-3-2 with 2+ 3PM the past few weeks. He’s playing around 34 minutes per game, so he’s getting all the opportunity he needs. He’s still young, and he’s playing for a bad team with a LOT of players out injured, so Golden Gary might keep shining the rest of the season. Good players on Bad Teams are fantasy gold. Ride him as a top 100 player until the situation in Orlando changes.
ALPEREN SENGUN, HOU, C, 14% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES
Young Sengun’s been a top 75 player the past month, which seems incredible to say for a rookie big who can’t shoot threes, but 2021 ain’t done with us yet. He’s averaging 10-6-3 the past two weeks with more than a block per game, but he’s only playing 22 MPG. I suspect those minutes will creep up as the season goes along, and as the rookie continues to develop. He could be a rock solid center dynasty option, so if you’re looking for a young big to enlist for your long term league, take a ganders at the rookie Rocket. He’s certainly got an old school style, but if he can deliver with efficiency, his value will continue to climb. If Christian Wood were to get traded, then more minutes would DEFINITELY open up for Sengun, so keep your eye on the trade rumors, too.
MONTE MORRIS, DEN, PG, 27.5% ROSTERED, 3 GAMES
Man, someone needs to help Nikola Jokic, right? The Nuggets keep losing players, but Morris, a preseason darling sleeper (by moi, as well), is stepping up recently. He’s been in the top 75 for a month now, and his line is a lovely 15-2-4 with 2+ 3PM on 54 FG% shooting the past two weeks. The Joker is the de facto distributor for the Nugs, but it’s nice to see Monte splashing more dimes these days. He’s playing under 30 MPG, so more minutes could increase those counting stats.
DORIAN FINNEY-SMITH, DAL, SF/PF, 18% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES
The Mavs have been Luka-less recently, but DFS has been balling for the past month. He’s been top 50 the past 30 days, and he’s averaging 14-5-3 with a steal per game and 2+ 3PM the past two weeks. What can I say, the Mavericks need bodies, and Finney-Smith is a starter. You should stream him while he’s getting the minutes and shots, especially in a four game week where Dallas gets to play Portland, Sacramento twice, and the OKC Thunder. I think DFS could have a very good ROI this week.
ERIC GORDON, HOU, SG, 11% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES
Let’s pair an old Rocket to the young one above. Gordon’s line is 15-1-5 with 1 SPG and 2+ 3PM on 55% shooting the past two weeks. He’s been a top 75 player for a month for a Rockets team that’s now just a handful of games out of the play-in spot. Gordon could be a trade target, but that might actually mean his situation improves if he’s surrounded by better offensive threats. I consider him a useful streamer while he’s healthy, but we all know that could change at any moment. I wouldn’t invest too much in him, and I’d rather have some of the other players from this list, but top 75 is top 75, and we need to find value where we can these days.
TERRANCE MANN, LAC, SF, 12.1% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES (PAUL GEORGE IS OUT)
This is purely an opportunity add. PG13, Paul George, will be out for at least a month, possibly longer, with an elbow injury. Over the last two weeks Mann’s averaged 13-5-2, with 1+ 3PM on 55 FG%. I think the Clippers starting five due to all their absences is now Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard, Nic Batum, Terrance Mann, and Ivica Zubac, with Serge Ibaka and Justise Winslow coming off the bench? I think that’s their team right now? Regardless, Mann could be in store for mucho minutes this week. If your waiver wire is thin, and you’re just looking for guys who will get minutes this week, take a look at Mann.
OMER YURTSEVEN, MIA, C, 1.5% ROSTERED, 4 GAMES (BAM ADEBAYO & DEWAYNE DEDMON ARE OUT)
The current starting center for the Miami Heat, a former 2K boyfriend of mine, Omer Yurtseven has averaged 8+ PPG and 12+ RPG since December 17th, and he went for 16 and 15 against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. So long as the Heat have to start him, Yurtseven is worthy of streaming. He looks like a guy who could be a double-double threat on a nightly basis if he’s given the minutes. The Heat play the Wizards, the Spurs, the Rockets, and the Kings this week. If you need boards and/or a starting C, consider the Yurtseven potential in this time of need for Miami. Especially since PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris are ALSO out, which hampers Miami’s ability to go small.