This week, the NBA family lost one of the all-time greats. He never won a championship, was never voted to an All-Star game, never even scored a point. Yet Craig Sager changed his profession forever.
Before it became known that Sager was suffering from leukemia, we looked at him as that goofy guy who wore the goofy suits. He stood out more for his appearance than for his insights into the game.
However, if you have the chance to go back and watch a reel of his sideline interviews, take a look at how engaging he is. Find me a player or coach who doesn’t show him respect and answer his questions in earnest.
Sager took the time to connect with the athletes and coaches he interviewed. He built a rapport with them and they responded in kind. Even Pop. Yes, Sager was way more than just the colourful attire. He brought entertainment to everything he did.
Without him, sideline reporting can often be dull, uninformative and responded to curtly.
The lesson here is that being different can sometimes offer something more than we expect.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a way to differentiate your fantasy roster from the pack, then the waiver wire can be your friend. As always, Downtown is here to lend a helping hand as we listen to the Music of the Traffic, to help you find your voice.
Week 9 (Dec. 19 – Dec. 25)
4 games: BOS, CHI, CLE, GSW, LAC, LAL, MIN, OKC, SAS
3 games: ATL, BKN, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHO, POR, SAC, UTA, WAS
2 games: CHA, PHI, TOR
A much lighter schedule awaits in Week 9 in the lead-up to Christmas weekend. Only nine teams play four games, 18 teams tip-off three times, while the Hornets, Sixers and Raptors will get some extra rest with just a pair of fixtures each. If you were thinking of adding Robert Covington now that he’s finally found his form, he won’t help you much this coming week.
The following players can help and may be available in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.
Thabo Sefolosha (SG/SF, ATL): More of a deep-league add, Sefolosha is starting full-time now for Coach Budenholzer, and while most of his value still comes on the defensive end (he’s averaging two steals and 1.4 blocks over his past five games), he’s been productive on the offensive end lately too. He’s producing nine points, 5.4 rebounds and three assists over that span, maxing out with 17 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block against Orlando. He’s widely available and if you need a boost in non-traditional counting stats from a wing, he’s worth a flyer in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Gary Harris (SG, DEN): He was a popular draft pick this year after a strong finish as a sophomore last season, but two different injuries have slowed his start. Now back, Harris walked straight back into the starting lineup and did not disappoint with 18 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and three triples for good measure. He’s not going to put up lines like that every night, but he will be a focal point of Mike Malone’s offence and is available in plenty of leagues after his last injury. Don’t delay, as he won’t last on waivers.
Austin Rivers (PG/SG, LAC): OK, so I don’t fully trust the son of Doc, however you cannot ignore three strong games in a row. Rivers averaged 19 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 4.3 triples in 32 minutes per outing over the three games before yesterday. Some of that is boosted by Luc Mbah a Moute’s absence, but mostly it’s Rivers coming into his own as a pro basketball player. He started again yesterday, and while he was a little quieter with just seven points, with four games coming up, now’s the time to take a chance in 12- to 14-team leagues.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 15, 2016
Tony Allen (SG/SF, MEM): Another who has missed time this season due to injury, Allen is playing some of the best ball we’ve seen from him in recent years. He’s averaging 14.6 points, seven rebounds and of course 2.1 steals over his past seven games. He needs to be owned in all 12-team leagues right now.
Kyle O’Quinn (PF/C, NYK): Refer to Music of the Traffic Week 8, then add a 22-point, 14-rebound game.
Tyson Chandler (C, PHO): Like Sager, we’d almost forgotten what we loved about Chandler because we weren’t seeing it any longer. Just when we thought it was time to put him on the shelf, he’s reminding us why he was an old fantasy favourite. A string of four straight double-digit rebound games, three double-doubles in those, and some solid shooting has Chandler producing top-50 value of late. If you need a boost in boards and field goal percentage with solid free throws, then give him a look.
Sergio Rodriguez (PG, PHI): I know I said not to pick up Sixers players like Covington with a two-game week ahead, but this is an exception. Jerryd Bayless is done following wrist surgery, meaning “El Chacho” has a clear path to starter’s minutes the rest of the way. He’s averaging 13.8 points, 6.2 assists, three rebounds and 2.8 triples over his past five games and should be owned in all formats going forward.
Ones to Watch:
JaVale McGee (C, GSW): Before you laugh, just remember that somewhere in that goofy, lanky, Shaqtin’-A-Fool frame is a player who once averaged 12 and nine with 2.5 blocks for a season. He’s started two straight games while Zaza Pachulia rests a badly bruised wrist, scored 17 points in the second of those and if he can turn that into a slightly bigger role, then you just never know. All I’m saying is to keep an eye on him as rim protection is one thing Zaza doesn’t provide.
Robert Covington (SF/PF, PHI): There’s no denying he’s found his way after a slow start, and his 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.7 made threes over his past three games would ordinarily have me telling you to run and pick him up. Unfortunately, the Sixers play just twice in Week 9, so it’s probably best to wait unless you can afford to bench him for the week.
Kelly Oubre Jr. (SF, WAS): If Otto Porter hadn’t made a leap of sorts, Oubre Jr. may be playing a much larger role for Coach Brooks. Instead, he’s having to pick his spots. He’s making himself known though with solid rebounding, defence and a sprinkle of three-point shooting and is someone to keep an eye on as his confidence grows.
In honour of Craig Sager, here is a clip of some of his career highlights.
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