It’s nice to live minute-to-minute. Riding the wave of life, experiencing the gamut of emotions, and acquiring a rolodex of memories with nary a stress in the world. A life lived like this is unfulfilling, though. To truly get the most out of life, one must try to achieve. And in order to achieve, one must have a plan. Look at the current NBA. So many smart people running teams, yet they navigate the landscape like a stoned teenager walking through a grocery store. Look! Twinkies! Mmmmm, I’m so hungry. These will taste so good. Oh! Chips.
Former general manager of the 76ers, Sam Hinkie, had a plan. If you haven’t read his Manifesto, I highly recommend that you do. There’s so much goodness there, but I wanted to focus on this excerpt:
“It is critical to be cycle aware in a talent-driven league. In a situation like yours at the Sixers, where a variety of circumstances left you near a trough in the cycle (and falling), amplifying this cycle became crucial. Today’s outcomes for every team are heavily impacted by decisions past (who to draft, sign, trade, hire, etc.). Jeff Bezos says that if Amazon has a good quarter it’s because of work they did 3, 4, 5 years ago-not because they did a good job that quarter. Today’s league-leading Golden State Warriors acquired Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and Klay Thompson almost 4 years ago, nearly 4 years ago exactly, and almost 5 years ago. In this league, the long view picks at the lock of mediocrity.”
It’s been a while since the East has boasted a better division than the West, but even when you spot a lowly East team a big lead on a West team, nothing is safe! Russell Westbrook just went insane (I would too if the Magic were beating my playoff bound team!) in the OKC comeback charge, turning around a 21-point deficit during the second half on his way to a 57/13/11/3/0 line. He shot 21-40 from the field with 6 treys, just willing OKC to the W after this dramatic 3 to get it into OT.
Good thing Nikola Vucevic can’t hit his FT! Westbrook took the missed freebie board, and no Magic was gonna stop him… Take that, Voldemort! It’s come to pass as just the norm, but at 31.8/10.6/10.4, it looks like Westbrook is going to easily average the tripdub, something I really didn’t think we’d ever see again. Hopefully you built your team around his deficiencies fairly well, because man he’s tough to beat if you can slaughter the right cats. Westy is your besty! What an unbelievable season, Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:
The Bulls came into Toronto having beat the Raptors in 11 straight games. It took overtime, but the Raptors snapped the losing streak behind DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Double D shot 17-38 and helped erase a 16-point deficit in the 4th quarter to secure the win.
DeRozan battled all game against Jimmy Butler, who also went off for 37/10/6. Despite these two all-stars’ phenomenal performances, the game was overshadowed by the fight between Serge Ibaka (16 and 6) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks):
Usually Lopez only fights mascots, but took exception to Ibaka’s shove in the back. Fortunately the guys were separated rather quickly, but the league will obviously review the fight and make a decision later on whether either player will be suspended any games. Personally, I’d expect both guys to miss at least one game, but hopefully it’s just a fine and they return for their teams’ next game.
Andrew Wiggins will turn 22 in less than a month, but he knocked down what should be the first of many buzzer-beating game winners, becoming the youngest player of the season to do so:
A buzzer-beater win in Minnesota is rarer than a healthy Nikola Pekovic. The last one happened almost 5 years ago on a Luke Ridnour floater on February 22, 2012. About the same time as Pek’s last game.
In addition to the game-winner, Wiggins added 31 points (11-22 FG), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 threes. Wiggins continues to develop in his third NBA season and makes the young Timberwolves roster a fun team to watch.
So I’m not a basketball historian, and I’m still a young pup. I barely remember the Bulls glory years – I was in elementary school when they won titles 4-6 (yikes, aging the crap outta myself), but I do vividly remember the Byron Russell push-off and I cherished my Michael Jordan cards. I still have a bunch of em! This one is still in a nice case and one of my favorites… Anyway, when I saw Jimmy Butler go off for 52/12/6/3/1 last night, I was about to make all sorts of tongue-and-cheek MJ parallels…
Got the same reverse layup and everything! But then it dawned on me… Butler is more like Scottie Pippen if there was no Jordan. Pippen’s best season was 93-94, unsurprisingly the year without MJ, and went 22.0/8.7/5.6/2.9/0.8 on 49% shooting with 0.9 treys. So far this year, J Buckets is 25.3/6.8/4.4/1.7/0.3 on 46% shooting with 1.1 treys. While Pippen was obviously one of the best defensive players of his generation, Butler is a much better FT shooter and gets to the line more. But the rest is really close, and I thought kinda interesting food for thought. So the answer for the Bulls is simple – find a Michael Jordan for Buckets to play next to! I’m a problem-solver – if only every team’s issue in the NBA was this easy! Hah! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:
…title sounds like some sort of Adult Swim episode. Something the Squidbillies might do! Oh man, what a time to be a Nikola Jokic owner! I don’t know if any top-50 pick has played with your emotions quite like this! It’s like the crazy hot girlfriend in college – and might as well be a crazy hot redhead because ginger girls are nuts! She’s hot as hell at first, goes a little nuts on you early on, but the hotness keeps you around. 16/8/11/0/1 last night on 6-12 shooting, and point guard-ing the shit outta that game last night!
He was dishing so good, I decided to edit together that GIF this time! And it was tough to show only 15 seconds worth! Perils of trying to explain why you’re hanging out with a hot redhead that is acting nuts in your dorm (I have no personal experience here…)… it takes some finesse explaining it! Anyway, the Nuggets are looking soooooo much better with Jock Itch running the point: after ups and downs with his AST, since Dec 10th when he got 6 dimes, the Nuggets are 6-3 over the last 9 games with Jokic averaging 5.7 dimes and 67.7% shooting from the field. While the dimes from a C are beastly and all, he still only has 19 STL and 19 BLK on the season, good for 0.7/0.7. I thought my #44 overall rank was going to end up being bold, but turns out the hype machine pushed him top-30 in several ranks/draft selections, which made his value a little bit of a bubble. But thankfully if you gutted through that rough November, you’ve got a mad case of Jock Itch keeping you red hot right now! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Day is a great day for basketball fans. With the exception of the shortened 1998 lockout season, games have been played on Christmas Day every year since 1947 and often feature the best of the best. And this year was no exception.
We saw a rematch of the NBA Finals, a battle for Los Angeles, and a matchup of exciting young players between Minnesota and OKC.
Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.
I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:
Because it was time to play defense and nobody #%*%#%@ wanted to!
Yeah, I’m looking at you Cavs, Rockets, Warriors, and J.R. Smith.
Anyway…. Outside of that cheesiness, it was a fairly interesting Thursday evening, but many of the games were just irksome. It’s ironic that the Utah/Miami game deserved to be on TNT over the Cavs and Clippers. I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed an LA blowout win after that 70 point dud in Indy, but that’s pro sports for ya! At any rate, let’s get into it! At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll cover the whole Rockets – Warriors game, but I can already tell you that the winner scored over 120, and it was a race to see who could jack up more 3s. It’s entertaining, but it isn’t basketball, in my humble opinion.
Sean Kilpatrick went H.A.M. on Tuesday, scoring 38 points (14-34 FG, 4-12 3PT) and grabbing 14 rebounds in the Nets double-overtime, come from behind victory over the Clippers. He turned it on late, scoring 31 of his 38 points in the 4th quarter and overtime. Kilpatrick probably won’t be this good ever again, but he still remains a wise pickup (53% availability).
Trevor Booker and Brook Lopez – The Nets’ big men also enjoyed the extra minutes in double OT as well. Booker had a nice overall line of 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals, while Lopez posted 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 threes, and 2 steals. Lopez’ 3-point shooting has really improved this season.