I have sporadically mentioned in these articles how much I admire Gregg Popovic. Not only for his coaching ability, love for the game, and competitiveness, but also for his personality. The guy is a quote machine, always providing something clever/funny/deep to comment, depending on the situation. And after a game-winning performance by DeMar Derozan against the Raptors, he had this to say.

DeRozan got the star treatment on his return in Toronto but Pop was quick to bring him back to earth in his own unique way. It really makes you think about the culture of the San Antonio organization as a whole and appreciate their commitment to success through teamwork.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bradley Beal returned, but this hasn’t slowed down both Ish Smith and Jordan Mcrae, who continued their productive streaks. Sekou Doumbouya also looks like a big hit, as Blake Griffin should be out for the rest of the season and Daniel Gafford is a start-worthy player as long as Wendell Carter Jr. is out.

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OUCH…. If it was two or three years ago, Davis would have been already ruled out for the next two months., but the Lakers need to stay competitive so he should be back at the earliest opportunity. It is always a shock to see NBA athletes of that size take such falls or collisions, but it is a contact sport after all. However, Andre Robertson had a similar awful injury three years go and he has yet to return in any resemblance of form. Let’s hope AD is fine because he is having an awesome season and has ever so slightly gotten rid of the injury prone label.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, I will freely admit that it was a bad week. I blame it on too much food during the holiday season. Or I was just in a suggesting slump that I will surely shake off during the next game. Both help me sleep better at night so I’m sticking with them. More specifically, Gary Payton II’s hot start is a distant memory and Delon Wright’s emergence is not happening, unfortunately. Both were terrible this past week and I dropped them already in standard leagues. Only De’Anthony Melton was usable but, with the Memphis returning to full strength, he will also struggle to find meaningful minutes.

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Happy New Year to all the Razzball readers out there. I hope the new year brings health, peace, and fantasy silverware from all your competitive leagues. So we are officially at 2020. It’s incredible how mind-blowingly fast time passes. It seems like it was yesterday when Dirk led the Mavericks to one of the most satisfying championships of all time or since the Boston’s Big 3 brought the Larry O’Brien trophy back to where it is used to be, for the 17th time. But it’s been nine and 12 years respectively. Did I mention how quickly time flies? On a more optimistic note, you just have to love the symmetry of the new Year’s number, which of course plays a major role in how good and productive it will turn out to be. Joking aside, I decided to take a look at the three best individual fantasy games from the start of the season so far, and all of them reminded me how NBA players can produce truly spectacular performances when they are locked in.

No 3: James Harden vs ATL 60/8/3/8/3/1/3 on 66.7%/87%

No 2: Anthony Davis vs MIN 50/0/7/6/4/1/1 on 69%/100%

No 1: James Harden vs ORL 54/10/5/7/2/3/3 ON 61.3%/100%

Where to begin and where to end…Especially the last line by Harden is dazzling. Truly magnificent performances overall and I can’t wait to see them try to best them.

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The NBA has given us many highlights throughout the years, with most of them ending with a made basket. Dunks, buzzer beaters, assists, triples, you name it. But every once in a while, we are presented with something different that wows us and reminds everyone about how freakishly athletic NBA players are. Something like what De’Aaron Fox did yesterday against the Charlotte Hornets.

Mind you, he did that in his first game back after a Grade 3 ankle sprain, while Devonte’ Graham’s reaction is priceless, when he realizes Fox went over him. It’s also a weird call for the referees, as I’m sure they don’t often see a player go over another without making any contact whatsoever.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Garrett Temple and Kevin Huerter had useful weeks, with the latter having the brighter outlook for the rest of the season. On a side note, his spike in assists seem like the real deal and hopefully he keeps them coming. Furthermore, Ish Smith’s value will take a hit with Isaiah Thomas back, but he was more than serviceable during the period he started, while Monte Morris never got his chance as Jamal Murray’s injury proved minor. I had Russell Westbrook in the “Sell” column last week and I still maintain this opinion, despite his awesome performances as of late. Cash out while you still can!!

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Yesterday’s game between Miami and Atlanta was not supposed to be as epic as it ended up being. The 17-6 Heat were against the 6-17 Hawks and the symmetry of their records was appeasing my order-obsessed mind. After a close game, Atlanta went up by six and Trae Young declared the game was over…

However, two triples from Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson forced overtime, where the Heat completed a 22-0 run to win it by 13. The most impressive stat from an already impressive boxscore was that Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson combined for 100 (!!) points, with Adebayo and Jimmy Butler becoming the first teammates in Miami’s history with triple-doubles in the same game and Robinson hitting 10 triples. Miami has steadily developed seemingly fringe players into valuable rotation pieces and this has become a huge part of their success early in the season.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Davis Bertans has been on fire and has climbed to 33rd in per-game value. Hope you got him as he will no longer be available after those performances. Tim Hardaway Jr. also performed admirably, as he poured in 29 points with nine triples in his last game, while Tyus Jones chipped in with assists and steals but is a drop now that Ja Morant is healthy.

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I know the “Player of the Week” award is not that important. I know the return of Carmelo Anthony has been a pleasant surprise for many and I can freely admit, as evidenced here, that I was not a believer. But for the love of everything that is holy, Carmelo shouldn’t be the winner of the award this week by averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.37 assists. Not when Luka Doncic had 30.3/8.7/9.0 and especially not when James Harden had 47.0/4.5/6.5 during the same span.

Maybe it was the “Comeback Player of the Week” Award. Or the “Western Conference Player with a Last Name Starting with “Ant” Week Award”, since Giannis also won the Eastern Conference. I am definitely glad the league is highlighting other players besides the MVP candidates, but Harden’s week was too unreal to ignore.

Last week’s “Buy” suggestions fared pretty well, with both Nerlens Noel and Glenn Robinson III having productive weeks, while Frank Ntilikina was useful until he got ruled out due to a bad back. Finally, Cody Zeller lost his starting spot and has done nothing to convince me he is not a “Sell” candidate.

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Luka Doncic was a name most fans of European basketball knew long before he was drafted. We knew all about his potential and, most importantly, his experience that was uncharacteristic for a player of his age. His rookie year was already promising but we are currently witnessing the birth of a true superstar in his sophomore year. Luka is currently averaging 30.1/3.1/10/9.5/1.4/0.2/4.7. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in….That’s almost a triple-double from a second-year player at age 20. Truly unreal…

Also, check out this response to “Why the Dallas defense has improved this year?”

Dirk was notorious for his humor so Luka looks like a deserved heir both on and off the court.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Markelle Fultz had a great week and is trending up in a hurry while Moritz Wagner and Jaxson Hayes performed well but not spectacularly. Finally, Kevin Love justified being a “Sell” candidate as the rest days started and they should be a regular occurrence moving forward.

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It’s hard to grasp, but we are already past the 15% mark of the regular season! Time does indeed fly and there have been some surprising and underachieving teams. The surprises have been the Celtics (11-2), Heat (9-3) and Suns (7-6), while the underachievers have been the Warriors (3-12), Pelicans (5-9), and Trail Blazers (5-10). Although it’s early in the season, don’t be surprised if some of the underperforming teams make some major moves to try and shake things up. Some are even getting desperate…

I don’t hate Carmelo’s fit in Portland. He can be a valuable contributor if he moves the ball willingly and at least tries on the defensive end. But those are two big “ifs”, as history has taught us.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Alec Burks is one of the last Warriors standing (that sounded more heroic than I planned) with any kind of talent, so he will get all the usage he can handle. The fg% will be occasionally bad, but the scoring and counting stats will compensate. Finally, Marcus Smart also had a good week, while Cory Joseph has been disappointing in his starts and is a drop candidate.

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Last week, Jabari Parker was the first player suggested as a pickup due to the John Collins injury. I expected a rise in minutes and production but the reality was better than expected. 22/1/8.2/2.2/1/1/1.8 on 56.1%/69.1% shooting have him ranked 33rd during that span. As long as Collins remains sidelined, Jabari can be a difference-maker in fantasy. Regarding the other “buy” candidates, both Delon Wright and Troy Brown had forgettable weeks but I still believe in their value.

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We are only seven games into the season and already two of the most promising young players in the league have been suspended. DeAndre Ayton and John Collins both received a 25 game suspension due to violations of the NBA’s Anti-Drug program and, although they will appeal the decision, chances are they will have to sit out the entirety of those 25 games.

I will not voice my personal opinion as we rarely get to know the full story but in both cases it’s a huge blow for their respective teams, but simultaneously, more opportunity for other players to contribute in fantasy and real life.

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