In Dave Hickey’s seminal basketball essay, “The Heresy of Zone Defense,” he celebrates and argues that the game of basketball has been fair, civil, and liberated, from its very inception. Hickey celebrates basketball’s continuous evolution toward freedom, though he has nothing but contempt for college basketball and (naturally) zone defense. By the time Hickey wrote and published his essay in 1995, zone defense had been outlawed in the NBA in favor of the now defunct illegal defense rules. Obviously, the illegal defense rules morphed into its own form of limiting monotony, and though it does not appear that Hickey expected such an evolution, there’s no doubt that he’d support its elimination once it ceased to inspire innovation. In 2020, zone defense is back with a vengeance, but the reality of zone defense today is different from the one Hickey saw as dangerous, uninteresting governance.

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Duncan Robinson is one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters in only his second season in the Association. After playing in only 15 games and starting just one last season, Duncan Robinson has had an outsized impact on the Heat’s success this year. Robinson is fourth in the league in three-pointers made, behind only James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Buddy Hield. Among players with at least 200 attempts, Robinson is tied with Khris Middleton for fourth in the league in percentage at 43.8. The effectiveness of Robinson’s two-man game with Bam Adebayo helps unlock Bam’s playmaking and driving game.

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Everything in life is relative. People often compare their wealth to that of their neighbor, their happiness to their relatives, and their performance to their coworkers. Height can also be relative, apparently. I feel quite tall in my everyday life, but would be an absolute dwarf in an NBA locker room. But even amongst NBA players there are a lot of scales when it comes to height. There are short players, tall players, very tall players, and then there is Boban.

“Let me show you how it’s done, punny, 7 feet 3 Kristaps”. I live for the day Boban gets to play against Tacko Fall, one on one in the post.

Two players really shined from last week’s suggestions and those were Trevor Ariza and Malik Beasley. Both look like good values for the rest of the season and should be scooped up immediately. Cody Zeller and Bruce Brown were not that impressive as the two aforementioned, but were still usable.

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When Zach LaVine popped his head out from his mother’s womb, his first words were, “Who’s got next?” On his first day of school, his mother tried to dress him in his finest clothes. LaVine responded, “No, mom. We skins today.” When the other kids would go out and party, LaVine would be in the backyard playing hoops. As a result, he would receive Valentine’s Day cards from basketballs and they/it would write letters to Santa saying that they were good basketballs and that all they wanted for Christmas was Zach LaVine. LaVine was born a baller. He lived his life as a baller. Now, he’s a baller on the grandest of stages. Last night was the latest example.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 9 4 2 0 5 8/11 15/21 3/4

Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always a baller on the grandest of stages? The Stocktonator. That was the fifth 40-burger of the season for LaVine. He’s averaging 25.3 points on the season, which is good for 11th in all of basketball. The tres are at a career-high 3.1 per game, and so are the steals at 1.4 per. He’s not just a 3-and-D player, though. The usage rate is over 31 and he supplies a consistent supply of 5 boards and 4 dimes per game. That all translates to a top 35 player for fantasy on the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I love rolling them dice in Vegas. There is no better game than craps……when there’s a hot shooter. Everyone is laughing, shouting, high-fiving, and having an awesome time. If you’re the hot shooter, then you are freaking Nick Papagiorgio! The ladies wanna sleep with you and the men? They wanna sleep with you too. Unfortunately, there’s a reason why Vegas is adorned with bling and has lights shining from corner to corner. 7 out!!!! But it’s okay, because the memory of those hot runs are seared into our memories, which keeps us returning back to the tables, time and time again. Well, that is the Tim Hardaway Jr. experience. He shoots. He mostly craps out, but every once in a while, he will get hot, which keeps us coming back for more and more. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never craps out and is always hot? The Stocktonator. Last night, he was even hitting the Hardaway 6 bets…over and over again.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 3 1 0 0 5/10 12/18 4/5

On the season, THJ is a top 150 player, as he’s shooting 43% from the field and doesn’t contribute much outside of points and tres. Buuuuuuuuuuuuut…….he gets hot from time to time and keeps shooting…then making…then shooting….then making….then shooting….then making. There’s high-fiving, laughing, screams of joy, and overall adoration. Just remember that the good times never last. As long as you know that he will crap out soon, and probably more often than you want to believe, then you will be fine.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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On July 31, 2019, RTS Sat (Radio Television Serbia) sent a team to Memphis, as the Grizzlies signed Marko Guduric to a multi-year contract. Their first questions for the Serbian star were, Do you like Memphis? Ja. Do you like rock-n-roll music? Ja. Do you like Elvis? Uh huh huh. Fast forward six months, and the RTS Sat crew didn’t care about the 13.2 minutes in 33 games played for their Serbian. What excites you most about the Grizzlies? Ja. Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Ja. What will the name of your child be? Ja. The RTS Sat crew wasn’t messing around. Guduric wasn’t messing around. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what also never messes around? The Stocktonator. Ja Morant, on the other hand, messed around for the first time in his young career last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 10 1 1 3 2/7 9/17 7/9

In 35 minutes. On the season, Ja is just outside the top 100 for fantasy. Much of that had to do with the playing time, as there were many games, especially early on, when he was receiving only 25 minutes of run a night. That was probably by design, to bring Ja along slowly. He’s at 30 minutes per game right now. If he gets another two to three minutes per game, a top 75 finish isn’t out of the question because he averages around 18 points, 4 boards, 7 dimes, and 1 steal per game. The percentages are excellent, around 50% from the field and over 80% from the line. The most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to get to the rim and convert amongst the bigs. Over 65% of his shot attempts are within 10 feet from the basket. He’s 6′ 3″ and 174 pounds, y’all! And only 20 years old! Wait until he fills out physically! The comps to Russell Westbrook have been made. The advanced stats for NBA.com only go back to 2013, the sixth year of Westbrook’s career, and only 38% of his shots were within 10 feet! Will Morant be better than Westbrook? Ja?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Every Saturday, I will update the below Google sheet. It will show the upcoming schedule for all teams with color coding for pace rankings. RED = slowest. YELLOW = middle of the pack. GREEN = fastest. Pace is the number of possessions a team has per game. More possessions increase the chances of more fantasy goodies. The data I use for pace, which is year-to-date, is from ESPN. I also want to give a shoutout to Hashtag Basketball, as their schedule grid is fantastic and allowed me to save time by not having to look at each teams schedule. Good luck!

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In the lead-up to the February 6, 2020 NBA trade deadline, there was a flurry of activity. Reports of a quiet deadline were greatly exaggerated. Below, I take a look at two of the biggest deals and break down how the new environments might affect the fantasy production of the players involved. So much of team and player success is about fit. How are roles assigned? Can a player fulfill his adequately? Would he be better suited for something different? How do the surrounding pieces in a lineup accentuate the strengths or weaknesses of any individual player? Not all of this information is necessary to make sound fantasy decisions, but it can certainly help. I won’t be doing any in-depth trade analysis or draft pick tracking. I’m strictly focused on how each of the key players will fit in their new environment.

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Whew. The action was hot and heavy at this year’s NBA trade deadline. But, as my wife often says while we’re wrestling in bed, certain parties were left unsatisfied. Damn, wifey. Why you gotta be airing our business to the world? Fear not, though, Son always takes care of business. Like recap the trades that went down and offer fantasy implications for relevant players.

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For this week’s introduction I am going to be laconic, like my Spartan ancestors. I will just present another exhibit of the intelligence and charisma of the man known as Shaq.

No extensive comments needed, just pure, raw Shaq entertainment. If he was accompanied by the classic “Inside the NBA crew” this video would have been legendary.

Moving on to fantasy and to last week’s players, Kris Dunn was a victim of my bad luck and got immediately injured after my recommendation.

Payton on the other hand is on fire with one triple-double and two near ones in his last three games, while Daniel Theis has been usable if unspectacular. Finally, Jeff Teague and Jarrett Culver, both ‘Sell’ candidates, did nothing to prove they are worthy of an add in standard leagues for the time being.

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