I have repeatedly mentioned my dislike for Anthony Edwards’ fantasy game and he has recently also been featured in the “Sell” column, but the man can fly. The man can definitely fly.

Poor Watanabe, I credit him for trying to contest but he had no chance. Next year, if he can improve his percentages and learn to handle all his athleticism, he could be a different player. Finally, before moving to the fantasy side of things, I have repeatedly touched on the subject of NBA officiating and another great example happened last week, with JJ Redick getting ejected for passing the ball to the referee.

I can not offer any more comments on this really. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Joe Hart and Jae Crowder are both on a roll and I hope you capitalized on your chance to add them last week. Grayson Allen was also fine but a level below the two mentioned, Dorian Finney-Smith was a complete disaster combining for a total of 4 points in 2 games while Blake Griffin is still not playing and is a deserving “Sell” candidate.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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We have already seen a good chunk of the season and can safely see how the stats and teams are shaping up. An interesting topic every year around the NBA is the MVP race and this year it is supposedly a very ambiguous one, with Lebron being Lebron, Embiid and Jokic stepping up, and Durant returning to his pre-injury form. However, the true MVP this year in my mind up to this point is someone that is not being mentioned so often as the aforementioned players and is only ranked 7th in ESPN’s early MVP rankings.

Stephen Curry is carrying the Warriors to the playoffs by averaging 30.1 points per game on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage. Opposing defenses have been often helpless and left standing to watch in awe as Steph dribbles, razzles and dazzles through them, making tough shot after tough shot with insane accuracy. The most mind-boggling stat is that in 2016, Curry won the first unanimous MVP award by averaging……… 30.1 points per game, on a ridiculous 66.9% True Shooting Percentage, the exact same stats that he is currently averaging. The fact that he is only viewed as the 7th candidate for MVP is atrocious in my mind. Plus, he can casually do this at the end of games.

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Russell Westbrook has always been a controversial figure in basketball. There are those who love his competitive spirit, ability to lead and mentor his teammates, and dynamic and physical play. There are also those who criticize the lack of progress in his shooting, defensive commitment, and success in the playoffs. Whatever your take is on Westbrook, in terms of fantasy, there was one moment that proved to be a major turning point. And it wasn’t a trade, an injury, or anything else related to his play.

Over the summer of 2017, the NBA changed the delay of game rules, making it so that a free throw shooter is no longer allowed to go beyond the 3-point line, or he will be assessed a delay of game violation. Westbrook’s ft% average before this rule was 82.4%. His average after it is 70.3%. And he is shooting a whopping 7.1 free throws per game for his career, so you can understand the fantasy impact this has. His shooting woes this year (41.3%) along with a major decrease in steals (0.8) and increase in turnovers (4.9) has him ranked 207th in per-game value. Let that sink in…Take an extra moment, you need it. Now see things clearly and try with all your might to trade him if you drafted him, taking advantage of his name value and the owners in your league that like him in real life, because he is actively hurting your fantasy team, even if you are punting turnovers.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, all were serviceable, with Thaddeus Young leading the bunch with three excellent fantasy lines. Beware that from the “Buy” suggestions, De’Anthony Melton hurt his shoulder and is questionable, so feel free to stream his spot, if necessary.

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If you are curious about the title of the article, I divert your attention to the “Buy” entry about Cody Zeller. He is the Balding Mamba. He has always been the Balding Mamba. [Son’s note: There is only one Bald Mamba in the world, and that is Alex Caruso]

In the introduction, I want to touch on something totally different. Today’s NBA and the volatility of team rosters through trades makes it all the more difficult for cool player duos to develop together and have the narrative that they stay on the same team and help it grow to compete. The duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry was one of the few exceptions in Toronto, where it was obvious that they enjoyed a great friendship off the court as well. DeRozan’s trade to the Spurs may have brought a championship to Toronto but it also split the dynamic duo. Regardless, DeRozan didn’t miss the chance to roast his old friend in the wake of Fred VanVleet breaking his record for most points scored by a Raptor.

It is always nice to see the human side of these superstars and to understand that many of them are ordinary people behind the veil of fame that comes naturally with the job.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Wayne Ellington, unfortunately, cooled off a lot after his lights out performances from beyond the arc, Ivica Zubac and T.J.McConnell were both serviceable while Danilo Gallinari confirmed his spot as a “Sell” candidate that can even be dropped at this point.

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NBA officiating is a long and painful story. Being a dedicated fan of European basketball, it took some adjusting to watch NBA games without yelling at the screen multiple times throughout a match, due to some bad refereeing decisions. There are multiple examples of those, but few more mind-boggling than this technical call on Draymond Green.

It was not only a technical, but an ejection for Green as well. Maybe the refs wanted to defend James Wiseman’s feelings but it’s always Green’s bad reputation that leads to many more calls than would happen otherwise.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, I hope you followed my advice and scooped up Jeremy Lamb, as I recommended him before even playing his first game for the season. He was owned in 12% of Yahoo leagues but this percentage is now over 50% and this is your last call to add him to your team from the wire, if he is still available. The rest of the players also fared well, with the exception of Patrick Beverley, who never played due to a right knee injury.

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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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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?