For those of you who didn’t watch the Sixers vs Lakers game on Tuesday, you really missed out on something special.  It was Kobe Bryant’s final game in Philly (where he played high school ball), and the atmosphere was absolutely electric.  Kobe led off the game by draining 3 treys in his first four shots, with fans cheering every time he touched the ball.  Unfortunately, the adrenaline could only take his aging body so far, and the inefficient Kobe of this year, soon took over.  There were flashes of former glory throughout the game, but it’s clear that his brilliant career is coming to an end.  “There’s so much beauty in the pain of this thing,” Bryant said of his struggles on the floor.  Thankfully, he is playing the season out, and giving his fans a last chance to say goodbye.

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Kobe has given us some incredible moments over the years, and like him or hate him, you have to respect him.  He is one of the greatest competitors in NBA history, and he plays with as much intensity and heart as anyone that I can remember.  Bryant always put 110% into the game, and that constant strain is likely what wore his body out.  However, it’s also what makes him one of the greatest to ever play the game.

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It’s going to feel very odd watching a Laker team without Kobe Bryant.  I suppose all stars come and go, but Bryant just seemed to defy all odds up until this year.  It’s even stranger to see Kobe starting to show up on some waiver wires.  As for me, I own him in a couple leagues, and will be holding him for the duration of the season.  Just for the principle of the thing.

Kobe is among the last of the old guard, with veterans and retired players like Pierce, Allen, Garnett, DuncanNowitzki, Nash, and Shaq.  New players like Curry, Harden, Westbrook, Leonard, Durant, Davis, and George, have risen to take their place.  It’s a pretty incredible cycle if you think about it.

Ok, enough of the nostalgia, lets get into the waiver wire for this week!

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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has already begun. After announcing that he would be retiring this past weekend, teams will start giving him the Derek Jeter treatment as fans and teams say goodbye to the legend.

There was a lot of fanfare when Bryant returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, where his basketball journey began. The hype was there and despite a strong start, the Lakers lost, giving the 76ers their first win of the season. Bryant shot 7-26 from the field, including 4-17 from downtown. Definitely not the homecoming that everyone was expecting.

On Wednesday, Bryant played his last game at the Verizon Center and boy did he leave those in attendance with a memorable performance. Fresh off his poor shooting Tuesday, Bryant shot 10-24 from the field and 4-11 from downtown. Not vintage Kobe, but a marked improvement. More importantly, 12 of his season-high 31 points came in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defeated the Wizards.

Now this was definitely one of his best games of the season. Maybe with the Lakers’ season over and having already announced his retirement, Kobe will have one less thing on his mind and start to play better. I mean he can’t shoot any worse, right? I wouldn’t necessarily be buying low, but I’d hold onto him and pick him up in any leagues where impatient owners have dropped him. You never know, maybe he closes out his last season healthy and on a tear, a la Mariano Rivera (and that wasn’t an ACL joke).

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As you can tell from my Avatar, I’m no genius. Heck, that’s me actually trying to look smart.

But after watching last night’s Epic Battle of Rookie Big Men, featuring Jahlil Okafor vs. Karl-Anthony Towns, I do feel like I got one thing right: It is indeed Jah, and not KAT, who should have been the number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Can you honestly and fairly say that after one game between the two?

I say yes, and the stats are only part of the story. Okafor finished with 25 points, 12 boards and two blocks and absolutely manhandled Towns the whole game, in which the Wolves topped the Sixers 100-95. Towns had six points, two boards and two blocks in 17 minutes. In fact, Towns barely got off the bench after Okafor out-positioned him for a rebound and forced Towns to commit his fourth foul before the end of the first half.

For the season, Towns has arguably better stats. But with Okafor, it’s not just the stats that he gets, it’s how he gets them. He gets them without a real point guard, and without any great shooters to help open up the paint. He gets them looking like Tim Duncan Jr., whether its gracefully sweeping the lane for a lay-in with some dandy big-man footwork, denying a Towns’ shot with some uncharacteristic anger or pulling up and nailing a 15-footer at will.

Some say this is Okafor’s ceiling. They say he’s a 20-10 guy, and is only getting that because he’s on one of the worst teams in NBA history. I’m not so sure about that. I think he’d be getting better stats with better guys around him, and therefore I’m not so sure that this is his ceiling.

As for Towns? This is definitely not his ceiling. This is Andrew Wiggins‘ team right now, so he has time to develop, which is scary.

Still, despite the Wolves getting the win, Round 1 of this battle goes to Okafor. Round 2 will be January 4, 2016 in Philly.

Here’s some other B-N-B studs and duds from the past week:

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Another week of NBA is in the books.  One thing we know so far this year is that Golden State Warriors are playing better then last year and it looks like they are heading for a finals rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Last week I kinda went on a little rant and the feedback I got was really positive.  So keep the comments coming and questions coming.  On Thursday we had some news come down from Maura Healey the Attorney General of Massachusetts.  Unlike New York last week, Massachusetts wants to regulate the DFS industry and that is what the states should be doing.  In there she says you need be 21 years old to play.  When I heard this, I was like “you gotta be kidding me.”  So you can defend your country, vote for the leader of this great nation, get married, raise a child, purchase state run lotto tickets, gamble at the horse tracks, and go down to your local convenience store to buy cigarettes but can’t play a $5 double up.  Am I the only who thinks this is wrong?  Then she wants to limit you to a $1,000 deposit a month unless you can prove you can prove you can sustain more of a loss. Oh really?  Are they limiting the amount of money you can spend on their lottery each week?  No they aren’t.  There are some good things in there like not letting site employees/contractors play on the site, limit multi-entries, and getting rid of scripting. This should’ve been done a long time ago by the sites.  Also, it says entries cannot be changed after the start of the contest.  This seems to be end of the late swap feature on Draft Kings, which if you didn’t know is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.  She goes on to say that she considers DFS gambling, but legal under Massachusetts state law.  I don’t agree with that if you go by the true definition of gambling.  You can read the whole story over at legalsportsreport.com.  Ok, enough news let’s get on with the 6 evening games:

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Wow, how good is Russell Westbrook? Two nights after dropping 40 points and 14 assists against the Grizzlies, Westbrook scored 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds on Wednesday. The Thunder controlled the game, but never really put the game out of reach for the injury-riddled Pelicans. Whenever the Thunder needed a basket, Westbrook had no problem getting to the hoop or finding the open man. My only knock on Westbrook’s game is the turnovers, but when you’re posting near triple doubles every night, you’re allowed to turn the ball over as much as he does.

Now his stats are inflated a little because Kevin Durant has been sitting with a hamstring injury, but Westbrook is still a top 10 talent even with Durant in the lineup. Should Durant leave the Thunder next season (to go to, say, the Wizards!!!), Westbrook would enter my top three, along with Steph Curry and Anthony Davis.

Now onto the other notables from Wednesday night:

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This is usually where I talk about how we did with the picks last week, but not this edition.  I think it’s a good time to talk/rant about what’s going on in the industry, because 140 characters on Twitter isn’t long enough.  As many of you know the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry is under fire. We recently had  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York say it’s illegal to play DFS in the state of New York.  I don’t think it’s right for a person to have that much power in any state.  To cut the head of the snake is just stupid in my opinion.  New York has the most DFS players than any other state, with an estimated 900k.  That’s a big hit for Draft Kings, Fan Duel (which is headquartered in New York) and any other site.  Also, think of the tax money that the state of New York is losing out on.  What states should be doing is protect the consumer by regulating DFS, not abolish it.  The industry got too big too fast.  Both of these companies are valued at a little over a billion dollars each.  That’s just crazy how fast it happened.  Then with Draft Kings and Fan Duel going on an all-out media blitz promoting millions of dollar in winnings, you’re going to attract a lot of unwanted attention.  Now of course the politicians have their hands out wanting their cut of the pie.  I’m not shocked at all because the political industry is probably the dirtiest and most corrupt industry we have. It’s been that way for the longest time and will continue to be that way.  Many have asked, is season-long fantasy going to be affected?  Probably not and here’s why:  If there were season long companies worth a billion dollars and promoting million dollar winners, I am sure these scumbag politicians would go after those companies.  But there isn’t.  One final thing I would like to say is that I encourage everyone who enjoys and plays fantasy sports to contact their state rep and let them know how you feel.  Also feel free to comment or ask any questions below.  

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After making history this weekend with arguably the best Halloween costume from an NBA player of all time, LeBron James made his way into the NBA record books becoming the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Despite the record-breaking basket coming against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, the feat nonetheless is one of the most impressive in recent memory. With all the scrutiny surrounding the potential decline of the Artist Formerly Known as King James, tonight’s performance was an instant reminder of how effectively he can impact the game not only on the hardwood, but the fantasy box score as well.

Registering 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 9-19 shooting, James had his most well-rounded performance of the season. Moving forward, James should begin to impact other areas of the box score (assists, rebounds, steals, and FG percentage) as the Cavs offense clicks.

As the Cavs begin to realize the full potential of their All-Pro floor spacer in Kevin Love, James ability to facilitate and control the pace of the game will open up his true fantasy potential. Pencil him in for at least 20 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists on .500+ shooting. All hail the King.

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Jump Ball A Matty Series PNG

Previous “Jump Ball” articles:

9/19 – Russell Westbrook v Damian Lillard

TALE OF THE TAPE

KAWHI LEONARD JIMMY BUTLER
San Antonio Spurs Team Chicago Bulls
SG, SF Position (Y! Eligibility) SG, SF
2014 Results
12th 9-Cat Rank (Total Value) 15th
6th 9-Cat Rank (Per Game) 8th
64 Games Played 65
31.8 Minutes Per Game 38.7
21.4 (T-93rd) Usage Rate (Rank) 20.6 (T-112th)
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You aren’t going to find too many elite fantasy basketball assets sitting on an NBA bench. You’re going to find them on a 50’ wide by 94’ long stretch of hardwood, running their shoes tread-bare.

Fantasy production or “numbers” – essentially the only thing you’re mining for as you prepare for your drafts – is what results from the beautiful union between talent and opportunity.

Talent with limited opportunity (think: Jonas Valanciunas) leaves you with little choice but to sit back and wonder what could have been. Conversely, all the opportunity in the world afforded to players short on talent (I’m looking at you, Courtney Lee) has you questioning why you’re tending to vines that bear no fruit.

Unfortunately, in the world of the National Basketball Association, opportunity is usually held to a finite number each night – and that number is 240. Two hundred and forty minutes is all a given team can distribute amongst its roster during a regulation game. (For our purposes here today we’ll refrain from delving into the impact of overtime/multi-overtime games adding to the pool of minutes, though it does obviously impact the calculus.)

With NBA coaches now regularly employing rotations of nine and 10 men, there are very few players (regardless of talent, youth and good health) who are asked to play more than 75% of a game. In point of fact, during the 2014/2015 NBA season a grand total of six players averaged over 36 minutes of court time. Go just one year farther back and that number jumps to 16. The 12-13 campaign? 22 such players eclipsed the 36 MPG mark and seven ran for over 38 minutes a night. And to really put things into perspective – less than a decade ago we saw nine players average 40 minutes, with the kicker being that none of them missed more than 10 games.

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So we’re out of the top-50, it’s time to start playing it riskier!  Although, there’s still some pretty boring vets in this range, but it’s mainly because they have to go somewhere…  Kinda like those stupid sheep tiles in Catan.  Man, I hate that game…  It’s glorified dice without the money, and replace swagger with my nerd friend saying “mad sheep-game!” every time his hotel gets some sheep cards…  Worst game ever.

Anyway, it’s cliche to say “you can win your leagues with strong mid-round breakouts”, so I’ll just say “it certainly helps getting your mid-round picks right than getting busts!”  Oh man, if that’s not award winning analysis, I don’t know what is…  Here’s the Top 75 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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