Today it’s time for those less appreciated players to take the spotlight. Those so-called “Glue Guys”, the players that every winning team needs to have if they hope to succeed. Those guys who will not complain about their touches, those guys who know exactly what their role is and what their limitations are and are not afraid to sacrifice themselves for the team by making the vital hustle plays. Those guys who are becoming more and more the exception in the modern NBA and surprisingly can fit specific niche roles even for your fantasy teams, especially in leagues where turnovers matter.

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We knew from the start that this was going to be a weird season. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become a part of our life for the last year and basketball couldn’t remain unaffected. During the last 2 weeks, more and more cases are appearing in the league and some games have already been postponed. Furthermore, there are teams that are decimated by the virus and the contact tracing procedures that it involves, with these teams playing many games with 8 or 9 active players and usually without their stars. It is a difficult and unique situation that the experts expect to escalate during the next month. Maybe a pause in action for 1-2 weeks would prove beneficial for all parties, as neither teams, nor fans want to watch games with depleted rosters or constant postponements and uncertainty. The league has just implemented stricter restrictions for NBA players and personnel, that pretty much affect the whole spectrum of their everyday life, in an attempt to contain the spread.

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Those of you who have been with me for the last four years know of my love for Nikola Jokic. I was rooting for him from the moment he entered the league because I had been watching him from his days playing for Mega Basket in the Adriatic League and his steady rise to superstardom has been a pleasure to behold. Centers were pretty dominant earlier in basketball but the super teams during the last decade in Miami (Lebron, Wade, Bosh) and Golden State pushed the sport toward small-ball lineups, evident by the fact that Shaq was the last center to win the MVP award in 2000. Jokic looks like the only center from his generation that can be as effective in his team’s play and a candidate to win that award again for centers. But I’m personally in love with his passing and court awareness.

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Another fantasy and NBA year have started, so every Wednesday will bring advice on all the players that you fine folks should “Buy” or “Sell”, to ensure greatness for your fantasy teams. I don’t know why, but this year I was more excited than usual for the start of the season and I have been watching way more games than my timezone permits. Maybe it’s because of the whole 2020 thing, maybe it’s because quarantine hasn’t allowed me to play actual basketball for over 3 months, or maybe I started enjoying the little things in life more. Like sitting on your couch with a hot cup of coffee or a fine glass of whiskey and watching the top-level talents compete against each other…

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Even typing the year 2020 for the title almost made my keyboard break. What an absolute mess of a year for humanity, basketball, and fantasy basketball. Usually, my Top 155 roto projections are out by September but, in this special season, we have to wait until the end of December to see some NBA action. As are result, the projections have been postponed accordingly. But they are ready now, and, for the fourth straight year, you can trust a complete internet stranger for your fantasy drafts. Hey, at least I do a yearly review of my projections from last year where you can mock me for my missteps and silently acknowledge my correct projections, because that’s how the internet works.

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We can safely say that this has been one of the most curious seasons in NBA history, as the pandemic took over and shifted the schedule of last year’s season and subsequently, next season’s as well. On a side note, I have to admit that the Bubble was an unexpected success in my mind and all the kudos should go to Adam Silver and others who orchestrated and executed such a complicated plan that made the continuation of the rest of the season possible. Unfortunately, the schedule change inevitably delayed all fantasy content for the upcoming season, as even free agency hasn’t begun yet, and we are still waiting for the draft to happen. With that in mind, it would be foolish to try and create the usual top 155 Roto projections without having all the necessary details. Instead, I can safely review last year’s projections, as I have been doing for the last three years.

If you are curious about the math behind the process, you can check the first review I did in 2018 or last year’s relevant article. The quick and dirty answer is that the main metric is the difference between the projected and the actual overall per game value for each player.

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Coaches often become the scapegoat in situations where a team is underperforming, both realistically and sometimes in their owner’s eyes. A quick fix is to fire the coach and patience is often in short supply in situations like these. NBA fans are used to that, but Kenny Atkinson’s firing from the Nets is one of the most undeserving one of recent memory. His Nets are almost surely making the playoffs, either from the 7th or the 8th position, he coached the full season without Kevin Durant and most of it without Kyrie Irving. Last year he made the playoffs with the highest paid players on the team being Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, and Jared Dudley. Let that sink in for a moment….

He seems like an obvious hire for the Knicks, to be honest, or even for the underwhelming Bulls. Hopefully, he gets his chance soon as he seems very deserving. Maybe the pressure from Rodions Kurucs to get him fired was too much for the owners to overcome…

On the fantasy front, I have to admit last week was not a great week in terms of my suggestions. Royce O’Neal and De’Andre Hunter were mediocre, while Jae Crowder pulled a Houdini and disappeared from the rotation and the scoreboard in his last three games. Even Cody Zeller, who I suggested as a “Sell” candidate got his minutes back and unsurprisingly proceeded to have a team-low -16 in last night’s double overtime loss in Atlanta.

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When was the last time you remember a true rivalry developing in the NBA? I mean aside from good old Draymond provoking everyone whenever he got the chance, there is no real “beef”, as they call it, between top players or teams lately. Like back in the day, there was Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins and David Robinson vs Hakeem Olajuwon. It’s back now, though, after James Harden went on record saying, “I wish I could just be 7 feet and run and dunk. That takes no skill at all” about Giannis.

On a completely unrelated note, Rockets play the Bucks on the 25th of March and it just became must-watch TV. Imagine this matchup in the NBA finals…

Also, slim Chris Tucker looks like Rajon Rondo’s twin in the above Gif. Just wanted to lay it out there. And no, my eyesight is just fine, thanks for asking…

Finally, I wanted to squeeze in this clip of Luka from the closing moments of yesterday’s game.

Jrue Holiday (hurt ego) has begun therapy sessions and will be reevaluated in two weeks…

Moving on to fantasy, last week’s suggestions were pretty successful, albeit to a different degree. Coby White continues to ball and there is no reason for a slowdown the rest of the season. Dieng and Temple both had a productive week and can still serve as low-end assets until their teams get back to full strength. Finally, the two “Sell” candidates, Kanter and Howard, proved worthy of that designation, with Kanter even picking up a DNP-CD against the small- ball lineup of the Houston Smurfs.

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There are countless amazing moments that happen every year in the NBA. Dunks, blocks, buzzer beaters, you name it. But there are also some that are head scratching. Like this for example.

Did the spirit of Nate Robinson enter Kyle Lowry’s body? Did he make an informed judgment call that he could fit through there? Was that a futile attempt to draw a foul. Fatigue just kicking in? Or was that an unsuccessful attempt at a forced piggyback ride? We will never know with certainty. Nick Nurse’s surprised reaction is just the icing on the cake.

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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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