This past Monday, a panel of physicians for the WNBA denied Elena Delle Donne, of the Washington Mystics, her health exemption request to sit out this season inside the Florida bubble, despite her being at high risk for health complications due to her Lyme Disease.

Delle Donne published an emotional essay for The Players' Tribune in which she opens up about her battle with chronic Lyme disease and her feelings of betrayal by the league that she cares for tremendously.

Elena Delle Donne was diagnosed with Lyme Disease 12 years ago. Although Lyme is usually treated and cured within a few weeks, some people, like Elena, suffer from post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). Although little is known about what causes PTLDS, it is known to trigger an auto-immune response. For someone like Delle Donne, even the common cold could turn into something far more lethal.


Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the six-time all-star has taken every precaution she can to stay healthy and safe. But she had concerns about the health risks associated if she plays this season inside the bubble in Florida, the epicenter of the pandemic. After discussing it with her physician, Elena decided to file for the NBA's health exemption status–which would clear her from having to play while being able to keep her paycheck.

Despite having both her personal and team's physicians submit full reports detailing her high-risk case, and expressing her own personal feelings of putting her life at risk, the WNBA denied Delle Donne's request.

On the same day that Delle Donne's story was published, the Mystics head coach and general manager announced that Delle Donne will be paid whether she decides to play or not.

While it is great to know that Delle Donne will continue to make her meager salary (compared to the NBA's reigning MVP who makes 125 times more money than she does), the money is not the point. The greater issue is that the WNBA is projecting that their players' lives are less important than the game.

Elle Delle Donne holding 64 pills she takes in a day Elena Delle Donne takes 64 pills a day in order to stay healthy enough to play basketball


Delle Donne takes 64 pills a day in order to stay healthy enough to play the game that she loves–even though she admittedly knows doing so probably will have long term effects on her health. And for anyone that might try to claim she was trying to get out of having to play so she could sit and collect a paycheck, let's remember back to the WNBA 2019 season finals, in which Elena played despite having three herniated disks to help her team win the championship.

According to documentation obtained from the league by ESPN, the panel of WNBA physicians rely on CDC guidelines when evaluating high-risk cases. And the CDC does not currently list Lyme disease or PTLDS as a high-risk factor for coronavirus.

The CDC's lack of consideration for chronic Lyme sufferers on this list may be due in part to the lack of awareness and expertise on the subject. "There's really only a handful of people in the country who are experts in chronic Lyme disease," said Dr. John Aucott, the director of Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center, told ESPN.


Delle Donne feels she takes a part in the lack of awareness around Lyme disease. "I could have been using my platform to help raise awareness, and to help improve understanding. I could have been helping so much more," she wrote.

Delle Donne goes on to compare her struggles with chronic Lyme Disease with that of today's current state of affairs. Fit and healthy before contracting the disease, Delle Donne viewed most things in terms of black and white, or purely solution-oriented. Now, she realizes there is more out there that she does not know, and she wants to use her platform to encourage people to listen and learn in order to evolve.

To end her letter, Delle Donne writes "... [The best that we can do is to listen to each other and to learn from each other — with as much humility as possible.

I hope that in the future the WNBA can aspire to do the same.]

This is likely a poke at the WNBA that they need to listen to their players' concerns. A look into the history of mental health wellness in the NBA might give the league a better understanding of what player wellness should look like.

The WNBA has yet to make an official statement in regard to Delle Donne's denied claim. Likewise, she has yet to make a decision whether or not she will be in attendance for the season, which kicks off in the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on July 25th.

It is clear the Mystics will suffer greatly if Delle Donne decides not to play. This brings into question the league's reasoning for denying her claim. To someone that has dedicated her life to the game, it seems the league cares less about her safety and more about their bottom line.

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

For college basketball, the madness is over. For the NBA fantasy managers, the madness is just beginning.

We are two weeks away from playoffs, and people are scrambling for solutions to their team's problems. Take a look at these waiver wire picks and see who will give you that final push you need to get into the postseason and avoid the humiliation of whatever fantasy punishment you may face.

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Shane Bieber faced off against the Dodgers in Spring Training. He bested Trevor Bauer, allowing only two runs, and striking out nine

Getty Images

Welcome to the Mock Draft lab.

This is where we are running experiments, crunching the numbers, and proving hypotheses, so you can reap the rewards of our hard work. The rules for this exercise were simple: Take the best pitcher in each round without reaching more than 10 spots away in either direction. (This kept us honest and realistic as to who would be available and prevented any major overpays for talent.)

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