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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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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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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The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

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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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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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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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