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The Midweek 5

LeBron's 'bet shot' and Harden's presser

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: January 13, 2021, 2:14 pm ET

The cool thing about having your own column at Rotoworld is that you can call it whatever you want (The Midweek 5 – my idea, but boring) and I can basically do anything I want with it, within reason. So I can talk about 20 different topics and group them under five points, or I can write about five guys, or I can write about 10 guys and put them together in groups of two. I’m not sure what my point is, except that there are more than five things I wanted to write about today, so I’m going to do it.

1. LeBron James’ ‘bet shot’ against “Dennis the menace” was easily the highlight of Tuesday night for me. In case you missed it, teammate Dennis Schroder flew out of his seat on the Lakers’ bench as LeBron was in the process of lining up a 3-pointer right in front of him, and ran up screaming at the back of LeBron’s head to “bet a Benjamin on it!” Of course, LeBron being LeBron and all, he calmly launched the shot with a high arc and turned around to accept the bet long before the ball ever got to the rim. And Bron learned that he made the shot when the entire Lakers’ bench lost it, as they should have. And while I’m aware that Steph Curry and others have done this before, it’s the first time I’ve really seen it play out on video like this. It reminded me of when Larry Bird put his crooked finger in the air and started walking away as he won the 1988 3-point contest in a warmup jacket, which was also pretty cool to see. Yeah, I’m old. Here’s the video in case you were doing something fun on Tuesday night. With no fans in the stands, no clubbing or Magic City wings stories, and not a lot of fun things going on around us right now, LeBron’s shot and the bench’s reaction to it was highly entertaining, at least to me. My apologies in advance for No. 1 having absolutely nothing to do with managing your fantasy team.

2. James Harden says goodbye? – As most of you know, I have not been on board with James Harden this season and so far, I’m still not sad about that. Unlike Kyrie Irving, he’s at least reporting for work, but Harden’s last five games have been pedestrian, at best, like a guy just going through the motions. And he hit just 5-of-16 shots for 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists on Tuesday night. While that’s a great stat line for a guy like Justin Holiday or Cedi Osman, it doesn’t really work if you roster Harden. It’s becoming crystal clear that his heart’s not in it in Houston and while he says he’s done everything he can to make it work, I don’t believe that’s true and things aren’t going well for the 2-6 Rockets, who were blown out by the Lakers for the second straight game last night.

Harden appears to be trying to play his way out of Houston and John Wall said as much last night. “When you have certain guys that don’t want to buy in, it’s hard,” Wall said. I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume that he wasn’t talking about Christian Wood. And how sad is this for Wall and Wood, who have been two of the better stories of the season, as Harden simply looks for a way to leave them hanging? Harden actually sounded like he might finally be done with the Rockets after the game. “We're just not good enough,” he said. “I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can. This situation is crazy. I don’t think it can be fixed. Thanks.” And then he peace’d out of his presser (video here). Is management about to step in and move him or get him away from the team? I don’t know, but something’s got to give.

If and when he gets traded, Harden is probably going to go nuts and be the No. 1 guy you drafted, but until that happens it doesn’t appear that he’s going to suddenly change his mind and start playing as hard as he can for his teammates. Look, I get that his 44-point, 17-assist opener was wasted in a loss to Portland, which was followed up by a 34-6-8 effort and another loss, but he hasn’t hit more than seven shots or scored more than 21 points in one of his five January games and doesn’t seem interested in mentoring the young teammates he’s making an impression on. He also hasn’t attempted more than five free throws in his last four games, which is a very telling stat. And while I haven’t documented my history of listening to players speak, I don’t recall many of them saying “We're just not good enough,” when talking about their own team at the beginning of a season. If you roster Harden, I think you’re just stuck waiting for a trade, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rockets’ approach to trading him is carried out with the same lax attitude that Harden’s had while playing for them this season. Good luck.  

Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our NBA Season Tools that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code HOOPS10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

3. Danny freakin’ Green, Kelly Olynyk, Kelly Oubre & Andrew Wiggins (see what I did there?)Danny Green sent me on a Twitter rant on Monday when he went 0-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-7 from downtown and had two points, three rebounds and three assists for a seriously undermanned Sixers team in a loss to the Hawks. I watched the game and none of Green’s shots ever looked like they even had a chance of going in. My guys Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins were giving him the business and he deserved every bit of it. And then, something wild happened less than 24 hours later. Green went off for a season-high 29 points, a career-high nine 3-pointers, along with a season-high 10 rebounds, a season-high six assists, two steals and two blocks in a win over the Heat in overtime on Tuesday. I’m not sure what else to say here, but Green plays three more times this week and if he was dropped in your league, you should probably pick him up. He’s a roller coaster ride for sure, but Tuesday’s explosion is probably worth the price of your ticket to the theme park. And for the record, Green’s career high is 33 points.

Kelly Olynyk played well last Saturday, saw the Heat’s game on Sunday postponed, and then played well again on Tuesday, despite dealing with a sore groin. Bam Adebayo (health protocols) and Meyers Leonard (shoulder) were both out on Tuesday and Olynyk went off for 15 points, eight boards, four assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in 46 minutes in an overtime loss against the Sixers. Bam could be out through Saturday, but even if he’s not, Olynyk has been a hot pickup and has played well for fantasy managers for most of the season. If he’s sitting on your waiver wire, you should probably grab him, with or without Adebayo. And on a side note, Precious Achiuwa came through with a career night of 17 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and a block on Tuesday, which is just something to keep in mind for DFS (and season-longs) if Bam’s out again on Thursday for a rematch with the Sixers.

Kelly Oubre scored 15 first-half points and finished with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers on 6-of-11 shooting in Tuesday’s loss to the Pacers. Granted, the Pacers’ defense hasn’t been great this season, but Oubre worked his way into the paint early in this one and then started knocking down 3-pointers. He’s not fully in vintage form at this point, but Tuesday was a big step in the right direction. And I personally know of some fantasy managers (hey, Daniel!) who gave up on Oubre and moved on. If he was dropped in your league, pick him up and hope that Tuesday was the start of something good. And keep in mind that we’re less than a month into the season.

Andrew Wiggins – Wiggins has long been dogged in fantasy circles for being a one-trick pony, able to score but not do much else to help fantasy managers. But he had a career-high five blocked shots on Tuesday after going for four blocks in his previous game and he has amassed 18 blocked shots over his last eight games (2.3 per game). Through 11 games, Wiggins is averaging 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, a career-high 1.8 blocked shots and 2.2 3-pointers per game, which ties last season’s career-high average. I have no idea if the shot blocking is going to continue but he looks like a beast on defense right now and he might finally be putting it all together. I’m not opposed to trying to trade for Wiggins right now.

4. Rotoworld’s DFS Optimizer and League Synch – I don’t write about things I don’t use and believe in, and I rarely write about something that costs money in the middle of a fantasy column. But I’ve been using Rotoworld’s DFS Tool’s Optimizer and the Season Tool’s League Synch tools recently and I can’t say enough good things about them. The Optimizer quickly breaks down its elaborate recommendations to help you set a DFS lineup, while the League Synch allows you to quickly load all of your Yahoo! teams into one spot and is a big time saver. I’m not going to get into the gory details here, but the Optimizer is worth every penny and is helping me win money, while the League Synch will simply make your life easier. And the price is right, starting at just $3.99 a month. I’d recommend you check those features out for a month and then make your own decision. They’re the best subscription tools I’ve ever seen offered in my 20 years at Rotoworld, and it’s not close. And you can use the promo code of DRA10 to save some money!

5. NBA COVID Postponements – If you’re a casual user of the internet and tend to set DFS lineups without checking out the Rotoworld News Feed, or whatever sources you tend to use, this is probably not the year to be going heavy in DFS. Two of my four buddies rostered players from postponed games in Monday’s daily DFS game we play. I’m not telling you not to play DFS this season, but whether you’re dealing with season-long leagues or DFS lineups, you have to stay plugged in at all times. The Heat – Celtics game was postponed on Sunday, the Pelicans – Mavericks game was postponed on Monday, the Celtics – Bulls game was postponed on Tuesday and the Magic – Celtics game was postponed for Wednesday night. And more postponements are coming. Maybe season-long championships will have to come with an asterisk this season, but the people who are going win are probably going to be the ones who are most dialed into the news cycle. There are red crosses littering the Rotoworld Depth Charts and Injury Report at a rate we’ve never seen before, but for every red cross next to a stud’s name, another player (or two) benefits. Dig in, pay attention, and go win some money and some championships!

Bonus: The 5-7 Cavaliers somehow have the league’s top-rated defense. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Podcast Side note: Matt Stroup and I are moving our Waiver Wired Podcast to Mondays instead of Tuesdays, starting this coming Monday. It makes sense to do so and will hopefully be more useful to you going forward.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-20 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.