The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest.

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Back in the day when I used to go to malls just to hang out (ah, those were the days), a must stop every time was Sharper Image. It was like the in-flight magazines, but in person! All sorts of shiny, new, modernized gadgets and gizmos, tech-driven household items I otherwise wouldn’t care about, random game, sporting and, especially, golf novelties and, of course, a few minutes in the latest and greatest massage chair. It was a blissful time of next-level window shopping between stops at Sam Goody, Sbarro, Zumies, and more. Sharper Image was great because it was all eye candy without any inclination that I’d actually be buying something. Aside from the fact I couldn’t afford anything in there as a teenager, I also didn’t need it, as cool and flashy as it was. 

And that’s Shaedon Sharpe in his rookie season for fantasy basketball. 

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Son had a nice moment of self-reflection on the latest podcast, recognizing how he – and we all – tend to get easily sucked into preseason storylines that make us overhype or dismiss certain players without questioning the herd mentality around said player. 

Case in point: Myles Turner, who was discussed more for his potential to be traded than for his promising fantasy game. After sitting out a couple games and taking one to ease back to form, Turner put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 assists while shooting 3-4 from three, 7-14 from the field and 10-10 from the line as the Pacers beat the Wizards 127-117. The trade talk will eventually reemerge, but in the meantime, Turner owners may get to feast on a steady diet of blocks with quality numbers across the board. It’s worth remembering he’s just 26, when big guys usually enter their prime. If that age and experience turns into consistency for Turner, there’s Top 15 value to be had here. 

More notes from a busy Friday night in the Association:

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Jaden Ivey was impressive enough in his sophomore season at Purdue that myriad draft writeups questioned whether he deserved the No. 1 spot. He ended as the 5th to Detroit, which was perfect, not only because his family has a history there, but it’s also pretty easy to compare his game to one of Detroit’s finest: the Dodge Viper. His performance is highlighted by explosive speed; his game can be a lot to handle and, if steered with a lack of direction, a harsh spin out is possible.

So far, Ivey shareholders are feeling pretty good. In four games he’s averaging 16 points, 5.5 ast., 4.3 boards and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes of play while shooting 43% from deep.

However, I’m pumping the breaks on Ivey and holding up the caution sign.

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Since I first pitched Son with the idea of writing a rookie column for the season, I’ve had the inclination to do a fantasy basketball mashup to the tune of “Creature Report! Creature Report!…” from The Octonauts. After more thought, I’ve decided to spare you wonderful Razzball readers from that  … but I can’t promise it won’t happen eventually … and just get down to business (although anyone with young kids and a Netflix account has it stuck in your head just from a single mention).

The first matter of business is the untracked statistic of nastiness. We all know it when we see it on the court. But the Association just hasn’t evolved enough to be in a place it can define “The Nasty” in hashmark form. It’s a combo of skill, confidence + “Things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.” This is fantasy sports, where the box score is the Holy Grail. However, there’s still something to be said about recognizing a player whose nastiness is trending up. Of the crop of 2022-23 NBA first-timers, the early favorite for NROTY (Nastiest Rookie of the Year) is Bennedict Mathurin.

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The Portland Trail Blazers missed the playoffs last season for the first time since Damian Lillard’s rookie year, and finished with their worst record (27-55) since the fall of the Jail Blazers era.  After GM Neil Olshey was fired midseason for being a total a-hole fostering a toxic work environment, his successor, Joe Cronin, called in the tanks and began reshaping the roster to meet the needs of first year head coach Chauncey Billlups. The Blazers were stripped down to a G League team for the final two months, losing 21 of their last 23 games – who out there had Drew Eubanks power them to a league title?

Some fans said “Tanks For Nothing!” for the lost season that saw a beloved borderline all-star player traded for role players and financial flexibility; the lottery balls left them at No. 7; and Lillard’s Primetime clock ticked through another year. But now Dame is back, the hype machine is rolling – “Not sure how good they’ll be, but they’ll be fun to watch!” – and Portland looks primed to return to its normal status as playoff team but not a contender. 

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