I swear, I performed all the searches I possibly could. I looked through thesauruses. Or is it therausrus’s? Thesaurasites? San Diegons? I looked at all the dictionaries, even the urban ones, and nothing, I mean nothing, rhymes with Kuzma. Try it. We’re talking about the rise of Kyle Kuzma. Everyone is all over the Kuz-train. Will he start? Will he be the sixth-man? Will he stop dominating? Well, he finally had an off game as the preseason concluded, but some of the moves he was pulling for the Staples Center crowd were magnificent. The problem with Kuzma is that the hype train has left the station. ESPN has moved him up in their rankings to 88th overall. That’s a major jump from being undrafted merely weeks ago. Do we trust this second round pick to be a stud for the entirety of the season? That’s the biggest question. Bigger surprises have happened. Draymond Green and Malcolm Brogdon are two recent rookies to outshine their draft day position, so it’s not crazy to think Kuzma could be in for a big rookie campaign. With that all said, Kuzma is too far “on the radar” to slip beyond the glory. So today we talk about two Lakers I have targeted all over. Two Lakers who’s hype train has stalled and taken a backseat to that of Kuzma’s. And no, neither of them have a father who will haunt your fantasy team if you don’t play his son.

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Image result for official lakers logo

26, 17, 21, and 27. Those are the number of wins the Lakers have accumulated in each of the last four seasons. For perspective, if you include the Minneapolis days, the franchise has played 69 seasons and only had two seasons with less than 30 wins. If you up the bar to 40 wins, there were only 12 seasons, and that includes the two aforementioned seasons and the lockout-shortened season of 1998. But fear not Lakers fans. Things look to be headed in the right direction with Luke Walton as head coach, Rob Pelinka as general manager, and Lonzo Ball the new face of the franchise. Just wait until Lebron James and Paul George join the squad next season!

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No Super Bowl hangover in the NBA, that’s for sure! A full helping of action with 11 games on the slate, starting with a phenomenal national game on TNT to kick off the next 2 months, where there’s nothing but NBA going on. Well, hockey too, sorry Viz! And college basketball! Dammit, well, basketball isn’t competing with NFL or MLB for a bit, and the face of the NBA let everyone know, with a preposterous buzzer-beater to get the Cavs in OT and eventually beat the Wiz (snapping their 17-game home winning streak):

That Wizards fan says it all! Who says LeBron James is old?! 32/7/17/2/2 in an unreal performance on national TV, in a game the NBA couldn’t have scripted to go any better the night after the NFL got their best game ever played. Well, maybe a little hyperbole, but it was OK… Along with that line, he hit 6 treys and 12-18 from the field, but only 2-5 FT!? Wouldn’t have needed that buzzer beater if he could just hit his damned FT!!! He actually fouled out early in OT too, but Kyrie Irving then took over as the alpha, scoring 11 of his 23 in OT in an otherwise disappointing game. Then there’s of course Kevin Love, who went OFF for 39/12/3/3/0 with 6 treys and 11-11 FT. Needed every bit outta the big 3 to beat a hot Wizards team on the road! During the game, Frank Isola (who you may know from Around the Horn and ish) reported LeBron is pushing the Cavs management to trade Love for Carmelo Anthony. LeBron then went all Trump on his ass in postgame. “Fake News!” But ya know, fighting the rumors off in a less dictatory-way, even as The King… Here’s what else went down last night in a busy Monday of hoops action:

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DeMar DeRozan didn’t have his usual backcourt mate, with Kyle Lowry given the day off for rest, but it didn’t matter. After starting slowly, Double D took over after halftime, producing a game high 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was also a perfect 10-10 from the line.

And the guy replacing Lowry in the starting lineup, he was pretty good too. Cory Joseph slid into the starting lineup and responded with a career high 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

DeRozan is playing some of his best basketball of his career. That is now 20+ points in 13 straight games, a span that features all three of his double-doubles. While DeRozan should still remain a great player, the lack of threes and defensive stats will keep him from being elite. Now is a great time to see what you can get for him.

As for Joseph, he will return to the bench for the next game, but has shown top 150 value over the last 14 days for deep leaguers.

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The Wizards have been playing much better as of late. Despite being down 18 points in the second quarter, the Wizards came back to win to push them over .500.

John Wall knocked down the game-winning jumper with 5 ticks left, to complete another fantastic performance with 26 points, 14 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Now that’s what Steve Buckhantz calls a dagger!

Wall was voted Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and continues his strong play in the New Year. There hasn’t been a better player in the East over the last 6 weeks.

Now the Bulls were missing Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), but I don’t care. I’m going to take every opportunity to talk positively about my Wizards. They’ll disappoint me soon enough so let me enjoy my moment.

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Happy 2017 to everyone!  Hopefully, you all had a good holiday break and enjoyed a great slate of games.  As for this segment, it’s a new year but it’s somewhat of the same old.  We continue where we left off.  In the last installment, we took a look at the best teams to target for marksmen shooting guards.  Let’s hop on over to a very similar and often tagged with the same position eligibility–the SF or the wingmen.  Small forwards tend to be the defender against the opposing teams best back court player during key parts of a game.  Think Kawhi Leonard and Lebron James.  For most of us, the term wingman has a very different meaning but whether it’s used for social events or basketball, they tend to have the backs of their teammate(s).

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For richer for poorer, in SICKNESS and in health. Yeah, you gotta play through injuries, Josh Richardson! Part of the NBA grind! Attributing his shooting woes to a wrist injury (and hey, I’m not here saying he’s wrong or the wrist isn’t the issue!), J-Rich went into last night shooting an abyssal 26.4% from the field over the previous 5 games, and went so far as to saying he has a sharp pain in his wrist when he shoots right before last night. Well, apparently the Heat have some good painkillers, because ish wasn’t bothering him at all yesterday! Went for a career-best 22 points on 9-16 shooting (2-6 3PTM 2-2 FT) for 22/5/3/1/0 with no TO in 37 minutes.

Looks good to me! But yeah, BANK! Does that one still count…? Maybe more importantly though, kept gutting it out even after the Heat were getting slaughtered, unlike someeeeeeeeeeone (who we’ll get to below). I always liked J-Rich’s multi-cat ability, but argued with Slim about his FG/3PTM %s, not seeing a repeat of 45.2%/46.1% that we saw last year. Yeah, throw that out the window! But I don’t think he’s as bad as 38.6%/31%, and if the wrist thing was “that” bad, the lowly Heat would just shut him down. In one of his interviews on the ailing wrist, he did say “no excuses”; as I feel like I’ve seen a thousand times with lingering “smaller” injuries, it seems like the night is always darkest before the dawn when things turn around like this. I do wish we were seeing more steals (maybe the wrist is keeping him from playing more aggressive on D?) as his per-36 D-stats have fallen WAYYYY down from last year, but he’s on an awful team that is playing him big minutes, so I would be adding him again in 12ers. Let’s get the backed of our rosters J-Rich, bitch! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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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.

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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:

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Hark the herald, Jerry Stackhouse sings! The NBA has never been in fuller effect across the years than at the culmination of this week every year: CHRISTMAS! It’s unofficial start to the season (or the official start in the lockout-shortened 2011 season), and the first day since June owned by the NBA on the sports calendar. It’s been football, football, football for the past six months, but even the King Kong NFL takes a back seat to basketball on Christmas (only 2 NFL games in Week 16 are actually on Sunday, December 25). Make way, because winter is no longer just coming…it’s here! And with it comes all the basketball glory we can handle for the next 6 months.

From now on we’ll see teams jockeying for playoff position. You know, those coveted spots that only the few get to have in calling themselves the next up to be humiliated by the Cavs or Warriors. But seriously, this is where we start to see what teams really are. And it’s similar in other sports. Sure, you can start 5-0 Falcons in 2015, but you’re finishing 8-8. Or in baseball, everyone knows that the record before Labor Day is all just feeling it out. And in the NBA the Hawks may begin 9-2, but are they really that great? My optimistic homerism is hopeful, but their record now shows the answer is no. How about the Raptors? They started sluggish; they must have taken a step back this year. Well, um…nope. They’re a favorite to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. See, Christmas brings out the best in us all, and acts as a litmus test for starting the year.

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