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The Midweek 5

Schedule breakdown, injuries, return of MPJ

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: January 21, 2021, 2:34 am ET

I had a dream this morning about Cedi Osman and Luka Doncic, who were playing against each other. A “two-man dream,” if you will, although I don’t think I was talking through this one. Osman was shoved in the back and turned around ready to fight, but saw “spittle” flying through the air at his face, so naturally, he spit at the spittle and accidentally spit right in Luka’s eyeball. Of course, Luka was put into health and safety protocols indefinitely and then I woke up. While such a dream would have seemed preposterous a year ago, it kind of made sense and it took me a few seconds of being awake to realize it was just a dream. And speaking of Osman, if you missed Stroup and I in tears after I attempted (and failed) at a hot Osman take on Monday’s podcast, it’s probably worth your time. Follow me on Twitter right here.

1. Upcoming Schedule Notes

Here are the teams with the best upcoming schedules (starting Monday) that you should think about when picking up players between now and the All-Star break.

CHA 4-4-4-3-4

CLE 4-4-4

DAL 4-4-4-2-4

DEN 4-3-4-4

DET 4-4-3-4-4

GSW 4-3-4-4-4

HOU 3-4-4-4-4

LAC 4-4-3-4-4

MIA 4-4-3-4-4

MIN 4-4-4-4-4

NOR 4-4-3-4

SAC 4-4-3-4-4

TOR 4-3-4-4-4

Additionally, the Wizards will have a five-game week the week of Feb. 22. There are surely more five-game weeks coming with all the postponements that have yet to be rescheduled, but we’ll have to wait and see when those are happening. And we still don’t know what the second half of the schedule will look like, as it’s yet to be determined.

Minnesota has the best remaining schedule before the All-Star break and maybe guys like Ricky Rubio, Anthony Edwards, Jarrett Culver, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt and Naz Reid will become effective enough to help fantasy teams.

2. Portland Injuries

Jusuf Nurkic will miss a couple months with a broken right wrist and C.J. McCollum will be out at least a month (I’m guessing more like two months) with a broken left foot. Enes Kanter is the obvious replacement for Nurkic but finding CJM’s fill-in is a little trickier.

Rodney Hood started on MLK Day and was one of the best players on the court with 21 points, two boards, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting, while popular pickup Gary Trent Jr. straight-up disappeared in that one, hitting 1-of-9 shots. Neither one of these players is going to fill the stat sheet, but they can both get hot, hit 3-pointers and score points in bunches. And as long as Hood is starting, I think he’s the guy I trust more right now.

Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. aren’t great scoring options, but are also going to get a boost from McCollum’s absence. Covington, despite being terrible all season, is the guy who should be rostered in 100 percent of leagues going forward. He had nine points, three rebounds, one assist, three steals and a 3-pointer on MLK Day and will hopefully figure things out soon. Like Covington, Jones Jr. isn’t going to score many points but can fill it up in every other category. He had two steals and three blocks on MLK Day and is another guy worth grabbing as long as you can live with the low scoring.

If I’m ranking these four potential pickups I’d go: 1. Covington, 2. Hood, 3. Jones Jr., 4 Trent Jr.

3. Welcome back, MPJ?

It sounds like Michael Porter Jr. (health and safety protocols) should finally be back on Friday and this is just a reminder to get guys off your injured list a day in advance to be safe. It depends on your league settings in Yahoo!, but I know that in at least one of my leagues if I pick a player up or move them off the IL and into my lineup on a Tuesday morning or afternoon, it won’t allow me to put them in my lineup for Tuesday night’s games. And that can be an incredibly frustrating experience. The key in your league settings is to have the Weekly Deadline set to “Daily - Today” and not “Daily – Tomorrow.” The latter is the setting that will make you plan your pickups and activating injured players a full 24-hours in advance, which can be difficult. As for MPJ, we haven’t seen him since Dec. 29 and he’s only played in four games this season, which is hard to believe. I’m hoping he comes back more motivated and dominant than ever and expectations are that he’ll play on Friday at Phoenix. Of course, he was all set to come back one time earlier this season and those plans were squashed at the last minute.

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4. Myles Turner’s big scare

Myles Turner is officially listed as questionable for Wednesday night due to the fracture in his right hand, but that’s a heck of a lot better than the uncertainty that was surrounding him 24 hours ago. Goga Bitadze became a hot pickup for a minute and my guys Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott were looking good, but now that the crisis has been avoided, it sounds like Turner’s just going to play through hit. But speaking of Holiday and McDermott, with Caris LeVert (sadly) out indefinitely due a mass on his kidney, both Holiday and McBuckets are going to get a boost and Holiday feels like a must-have player. And if Turner does miss any time with his broken hand, McDermott is the guy who will likely get starts. The schedule grid isn’t ideal for the Pacers, but it gets off to a nice start between now and the break: 4-4-3-3-4-3.

5. Brooklyn’s Big Three to debut Wednesday

I don’t know how you feel about Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all teaming up to form a super team in Brooklyn, but after Harden’s forced move out of Houston and Irving’s disappearing act, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an NBA team (or professional sports team) so easy to root against. Whether they’re your three favorite players, or you’re Brooklyn’s biggest fan, or you just want to see them fail, all three should be on the court tonight when the Nets invade Cleveland at 7:00 p.m. You’ll need NBA League Pass to see that one, as well as Friday’s rematch with the Cavs, but you can catch the Heat @ Nets on NBATV on Saturday night at 7:30 if you’re dying to watch this thing play out.

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.