As we're just over a week away from seeing the new play-in format the NBA has decided to go with this season, it means that teams are vying to be in the top 10 in their respective conferences to keep their postseason dreams alive.
We have seen LeBron James make public statements opposing the new format even though it was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors last year. It's understandable that James would have negative feelings about the new format as his Lakers have struggled throughout the season as both him and superstar teammate, Anthony Davis, have dealt with injuries which have caused them to miss significant time.
The Lakers are currently in the seventh spot in the west which puts them in line to host the Golden State Warriors in one of the Western Conference play-in games. This is an exciting matchup for fans, but it would put LeBron and the Lakers directly in the sights of MVP frontrunner Steph Curry.
Steph who missed most of last season with an injury is epitomizing what it means to have a comeback season and has overtaken Bradley Beal for the league lead in points per game, now averaging 31.9 on the year. He also leads the NBA in three pointers made by a wide margin. Curry has 324 made threes which is 55 more than Buddy Hield who comes in at second place currently with 269.
Klay Thompson every time Kerr pulls Steph Curry before he breaks his record 😂😂😂 https://t.co/3Vt7NJyV8R— ᕼᗝᗝᗪᎥᗴ 𝙇𝘽𝙅 ➐ (@ᕼᗝᗝᗪᎥᗴ 𝙇𝘽𝙅 ➐)1620534236.0
It's not that the Warriors are a more difficult matchup than what would've been the Lakers' first round opponent in a traditional format where they would have just faced the two seed in the first round, that's not the case.
That would put the Lakers right up against the Phoenix Suns who have shocked the basketball world all season behind the play of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Yahoo Source: Lakers star LeBron James (ankle) has had two “really good days of workouts at a high level” and feels… https://t.co/BjAlbmo41E— Chris Haynes (@Chris Haynes)1620656452.0
It's that now, there is a very real chance that we may see a team that has the likes of LeBron James, AD, and a handful of all-stars not making it into the postseason. This is a very bad look for the King if it were to happen. So it's possible that his recent negative comments about the new format is in a way, him doing some preemptive PR in the event that Los Angeles does have to participate in the play-in games and they don't make it past that round.
If the standings remain the same at the end of the regular season and we get a Lakers and Warriors play-in game, it makes for an interesting matchup as the Lakers boast the league's best defensive rating (tied with the 76'ers) but have struggled to get any of their scorers in sustained stretches of success. The Warriors on the other hand lead the league in assists which has always been a staple of the Steve Kerr led team. It would make for an excellent example of what wins between isolation offense and team ball.
Looking over to the Eastern Conference there is another team lurking to steal a playoff spot and disrupt some plans in the early rounds of the playoffs. The Washington Wizards are one of the hottest teams in the league since early April. That's when Bradley Beal returned from a nine game absence. With a full compliment of Beal, Russell Westbrook, and Daniel Gafford available the Wizards are a dangerous team, especially in a play-in game format.
Russell Westbrook tonight: 33 points 19 rebounds 15 assists 181 career triple-doubles And the game winning b… https://t.co/EY8HacJseY— NBA Central (@NBA Central)1620524700.0
The only problem for the Wizards is that news has come out that Beal may miss the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury. MRI's came back negative for any significant damage, but it's enough that he's being held out for the next few games until there's a chance to have further analysis done. That's not to say he wouldn't be back in time for a potential play-in game or the playoffs, but the team will monitor his situation with caution as he is the catalyst for the team's long term success.
Did Steph Curry know Bradley Beal scored 50 points earlier today before the Warriors tipped off tonight? Steph: "Of course I did." 🤣— Drew Shiller (@Drew Shiller)1620536014.0
If Beal is ready to go however we recently saw Washington go on a 15-4 run since April 7 and there may not be two players in the league that play with a bigger chip on their shoulder than Bradley Beal and Russ. By adding an athletic big man that can get to the rim in Gafford, the Wizards have just enough ammunition to make the top contenders in the east very nervous.
Daniel Gafford (7-7 FG) scored 15 points and blocked three shots in 15 minutes tonight! #WizPacers | @Dan_G33 https://t.co/7hkZMxOYmF— Washington Wizards (@Washington Wizards)1620097359.0
Who needs an Avengers incorporated ESPN broadcast when the real nerd-sports crossover is right here?
Welcome to the final round of the basketball fantasy season. You're either in the championship or you've decided that you wanted to set your lineups early and actually enjoy watching basketball.
In any case, you need to fill your rosters and we have the players you need to look out for on those waiver wires.
Oshae Brissett Guard/Forward Indiana Pacers
You'd be excused for not knowing who Oshae Brissett was before this week. He went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft and started his professional career in the NBA G League. Now, he is making a name for himself in Indianapolis.
Domantas Sabonis posts a first-half triple-double in the @Pacers victory! Sabonis: 26 PTS, 19 REB, 14 AST Doug McD… https://t.co/zt6NWnvi3L— NBA (@NBA)1619924840.0
Last week, the former Syracuse forward averaged 16 points, made three three-pointers, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and four blocks. With multiple Pacers players fighting injuries, Brissett should have plenty of opportunities to prove he can be a consistent contributor in the final stretch of the NBA season.
Ricky Rubio Point Guard Minnesota Timberwolves
Much like the Timberwolves, it has been an objectively bad statistical year for the Rubio. Also much like the Timberwolves, even he can have a span of success. Rubio didn't provide a ton in any category this past week, but he did average a solid 10.5 points, 1.8 made threes, four rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.8 steals and 0.8 turnovers.
Anthony Edwards says he's going to Spain with Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez this summer. Says he's gonna lea… https://t.co/4tDF6e9KgC— Dane Moore (@Dane Moore)1620270912.0
Rubio may have had a good week, but even his good week isn't much in terms of massive contributions. He may be high on last week's rankings, but he isn't worth the pick-up unless you're really desperate for steals and assists.
Isaiah Stewart Forward/Center Detroit Pistons
Stewart goes back-to-back on the list despite his scoring numbers dropping. In three games last week, Stewart scored 11 points on 53.8 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, one steal and 3.3 blocks.
While minutes volatility is still a fear with any Pistons player, Stewart has shown that he can contribute in four or more categories for another week. Pick him up for the rest of the season if you can.
Saddiq Bey Small Forward Detroit Pistons
Bey may still be figuring out how to be successful in the league, but at least he can score like a seasoned vet. In three games last week, he averaged 17 points, four made threes, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Most games with 5+ threes by a rookie in NBA history: 11 — Saddiq Bey 9 — Steph Curry 9 — Allen Iverson https://t.co/2XWEHxrCeo— StatMuse (@StatMuse)1620090686.0
He's still a liability in terms of accuracy (39.5 percent from the field last week), but if you need scoring and rebounding, there aren't a ton of other options on the waiver.
Dillon Brooks Guard/Forward Memphis Grizzlies
The former Duck has developed into a consistent scorer for the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he doesn't provide much else. Last week, he averaged 17.5 points, but only managed to average 1.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 steals.
Dillon Brooks getting cooked always cleanses the soul https://t.co/sOHc8CzrWa— 𝗧𝘆 𝗝𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗿 (@𝗧𝘆 𝗝𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗿)1620103888.0
He may not provide much in fantasy, but Memphis is fighting hard to stay in the playoff picture. Brooks will have plenty of chances to keep up his scoring numbers so if that's something you require, he is a great option to give you a boost.
Duncan Robinson Guard/Forward Miami Heat
Shooters in fantasy basketball are DCEU movies: Sure, you'll get a Snyder cut of "Justice League" or "Wonder Woman," but you have to wade through the other travesties to really appreciate them. Duncan Robinson's last week was "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice"-esque.
Fastest to 500 3's, NBA history (regular-season games): 1. Duncan Robinson, 152 2. Luka Doncic, 187 3. Damian Lill… https://t.co/6AUVdWYImI— Tim Reynolds (@Tim Reynolds)1619918867.0
In four games, Robinson averaged three made three-pointers but only 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists. People aren't picking up Robinson for his other stats, but if he's not scoring or shooting at an elite level, he's a tough pickup at best.
Danilo Gallinari Forward Atlanta Hawks
Gallinari's up and down year hit another valley last week when he averaged 10.3 points on 37.9 percent shooting, 1.3 made threes, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
With Kevin Huerter and Bodgan Bogdanovic to compete with for minutes, anything consistent from the Italian baller can't be counted on moving forward.
Delon Wright Guard/Forward Sacramento Kings
Wright was making the most of his minutes in Detroit but since he was traded to Sacramento, his lack of opportunity has been frustrating for anyone who manages him. In four games last week, he averaged 10 points, one made three, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals.
If you are holding out hope that Wright will step up in the finals weeks of the season, I have a monorail I think you'd be interested in.
We all know the feeling of picking up a dud off the waiver wire during the playoffs.
It's almost like the Academy Awards giving anyone besides Chadwick Boseman the Best Actor award this year.
When your season is on the line, you want to be sure you're making an informed decision on a player who can take you over the top. Here are the hottest and coldest players you may want to keep in mind as you make your push for the fantasy playoffs.
Jakob Poeltl Center San Antonio Spurs
He might not look like David Robinson, but Jakob Poeltl can sure block shots like him. The young Austrian center has been a last line of defense that has rivaled Helms Deep. Poeltl averaged 3.8 blocks, 12.3 points on 67.9 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 91.7 percent free-throw shooting in his last four games.
Shot blocking options on the waiver wire are thin, but Poeltl is a legit five-category contributor that's only rostered in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues. He is a must-add if he's available.
Kendrick Nunn Guard Miami Heat
Kendrick Nunn might not have a lot of chances to shine when the Heat are healthy, but when someone is hurt, he is more than capable of stepping up. With Miami missing one key rotation player or another, Nunn filled in and averaged 20.5 points on 52.6 percent shooting, 4.0 made three-pointers, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
Kendrick Nunn since the Oladipo injury: 16.1 PPG on 51% shooting (42% from three) in 9 games— 𝙃𝙀𝘼𝙏 𝙉𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 (@𝙃𝙀𝘼𝙏 𝙉𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉)1619364730.0
Still, with the Heat continuing to get healthier and building continuity, there might not be any more opportunities for Nunn to put up star numbers. However, if any guard goes down for an extended period of time, snatch him up with confidence.
Reggie Bullock Guard/Forward New York Knicks
Julius Randle is powering the Knicks' nine-game winning streak, but Reggie Bullock's deadeye from three-point range has provided the team and fantasy managers alike with a needed boost as well. In three games last week, the former North Carolina guard averaged 4.7 threes, 16.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting, and 3.3 assists.
The Knicks rank 28th in the NBA in three-point attempts, but Bullock has nearly a 20 percent share of those attempts per game. He won't win you many other categories, but if you need three-point shooting on your team, there are worse options than Bullock.
Isaiah Stewart Forward/Center Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have been a mess nearly the entire year, but tumultuous seasons give players a chance to take advantage of minutes that have to be played. Isaiah Stewart is the latest to make the best of a bad situation.
https://t.co/wWGNmWnCY9’s updated rookie ladder: 1) Anthony Edwards 2) Jae’Sean Tate 3) Saddiq Bey 4) Tyrese Ha… https://t.co/GHzX2wu0r9— NBA Central (@NBA Central)1619022816.0
Even while averaging less than 24 minutes a game, Stewart averaged 11.5 points on 57.6 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, one steal and 1.8 blocks in the last four contests. The volatility of Stewart's minutes is a result of the team trying to decide on whether to play the veterans or give the young stars a chance to show what they can do.
Still, whether he's getting 20 minutes or 33 minutes, Stewart will get you numbers.
Montrezl Harrell Forward/Center Los Angeles Lakers
Through all of the injuries, losing streaks and uncertainty, Montrezl Harrell and his relentless energy off the bench has been a constant for the Lakers. Now, that may not be the case anymore.
Frank Vogel after Montrezl Harrell played just 13 minutes against Utah on Monday: "We're evolving as a team ... and… https://t.co/XFgAsnrGG9— Bill Oram (@Bill Oram)1619314995.0
Harrell was DNP'd via coach's decision in the last contest and only averaged eight points and four rebounds in the two games he played last week. Anthony Davis' return as well as the acquisition of Andre Drummond have halted any real impact he will have fantasy-wise for the remainder of the season and he needs to be dropped if he is on your squad.
Donte DiVincenzo Guard Milwaukee Bucks
Victims of circumstance will always happen in fantasy sports and DiVincenzo can't help he's playing with a perennial MVP candidate and two All-Stars. He's had stretches of good play, but he's hit a bit of a rough patch the past week, averaging seven points on 37.9 percent shooting, 1.3 made three-pointers, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his last four games.
Even though he is starting, the Big Ragu's fantasy situation isn't going to change unless someone goes down. If you're in a pinch for a spot in your league's final, look elsewhere for help.
Aaron Gordon Forward Denver Nuggets
Gordon's contribution to the Nuggets may result in Denver winning its first championship, but his contributions to his fantasy managers has been limited. This past week, he only averaged, 9.5 points on 38.9 percent shooting, 1.3 made threes, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists.
No Aaron Gordon at all in the 4th or OT without Murray or Morris is extremely questionable.— T.J. McBride (@T.J. McBride)1618889567.0
He may be the missing piece for Denver, but the days of him putting up numbers in five categories may be over.
Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks
With Trae Young out, Hawks fans were hoping Lou Williams would provide a scoring boost. Luckily, he has and Atlanta has gone 2-1. Unluckily, he hasn't done much else in a fantasy sense.
Last week, Williams averaged 15.3 points, but he only shot 40.4 percent from the field, made 1.8 made threes, two rebounds and 3.5 assists. Williams is good if you need a scoring boost, especially with Young out, but be prepared to take L's in every other category.
It was announced this week that Governor Andrew Cuomo approved legislation that will allow for online sports betting in the State of New York — starting just in time for the Super Bowl in 2022.
Cuomo signed the bill as part of the 2022 New York State fiscal plan, and New York State Senator Joseph Abbaddo Jr. believes that the first online bets to be placed will be on February 13, 2022, which is the same day as the Super Bowl. New York will become the fifteenth state to allow for some form of online gambling to take place.
Following the 2018 decision made by the Supreme Court to repeal the nationwide ban on sports betting, New York quickly saw casinos pop up across the state throughout 2019. These casinos were safe havens for sports bettors that had been forced to place bets illegally.
With this new legislation, all New York residents will have the ability to place legitimate bets through whichever platform providers win bids with New York State.
Gov. Cuomo ends briefing by predicting "Bills win, bet on it." The governor proposed legislation to legalize online… https://t.co/0ysl67un7A— News 8 WROC (@News 8 WROC)1610139272.0
New York officials will begin accepting bids from platform providers such as FanDuel by no later than July 1 of this year. New York will be allowed to accept bids from two platform providers to operate in the state. Providers that win bids will pay a one-time fee of $25 million for the right to facilitate sports betting in the state and must also be physically housed in a New York casino.
There will be a recurring $5 million fee associated with operating their mobile betting servers at each casino. A maximum tax rate of 13% has been set for the providers, which would yield a massive boost to the state's tax revenue.
In 2020, online sports betting generated over $200 million in tax revenue for states that allow it. It's estimated that over $20 billion was spent on betting in the U.S. last year, and that's just accounting for legal bets placed.
Governor Cuomo leans toward the New York State Lottery running the online sports betting operation, as it's done in many other states where online gambling is legal; however, many lawmakers opposed this structure and favor allowing private entities to be making bids. Opponents to the state running the online sportsbook argue that it would allow for the state to essentially have a monopoly over the industry and discourage open competition from entering the arena.
Not everyone is pleased with this news, however, as New Jersey is set to take a big hit once online gambling is legal in New York. Currently, many New Yorkers place bets in their neighboring state, as it's been a legal activity there since 2012. Since that time, New Jersey has grown to become the largest sports betting market in America, due in part to the overflow of New Yorkers placing bets just by crossing the Hudson River.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to establish sports gambling so he can tax it to reduce the huge budget deficit. Projec… https://t.co/mJAqcXoauG— Ralph Nader (@Ralph Nader)1610388318.0
As more professional sports embrace gambling and betting, it's to be expected that more states will join New York by legalizing online sports books. As states are finalizing budgets for 2022, many will be faced with how to make up for unexpected losses as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Legalization of cannabis and sports betting have long been controversial topics of debate, but as unemployment and social services have drained a lot of states' resources over the past 15 month they both may be states' saving graces.