Well, ’tis the season. Exam season that is. An essay, two assignments, and two essays coming up this week. So to save both my mental sanity and my grade average, this week will be a light one, with a few thoughts for each team and their future.
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76ers vs Hornets
Joel Embiid is officially back if he wasn’t already. He had his absolute game of the season last night with 43 points and 15 rebounds. I think Daryl Morey is a talented GM but I don’t get what he’s doing with Ben Simmons. I would have accepted the Brogdon trade long ago, and with reports now about Dame wanting to play with him, I don’t see why you wouldn’t try and make something work with the Blazers.
Tough loss for the Hornets. It’s unfortunate when you can’t capitalize on bench scoring exceeding expectations. James Bouknight finally gets to see the court for the Hornets and laid down a monster dunk on Andre Drummond. The Monday curse discussed last week continues in spirit this week, as Miles Bridges “only” scored 16. He actually had a solid night all around with six assists, six rebounds, and a lot of heart now displayed in the box score.
Thunder vs Pistons
I do love a nice tank bowl, two organizations trying to lose, and two teams trying to win. A young core is developing in OKC with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Lu Dort. All should develop nicely beside each other. I’m torn on whether they should keep Dort, however. On the one hand, he feels integral to this core, a future Miles or Mikal Bridges. On the other hand, his numbers show that he’s a very streaky player, and overall not worth the 20 million he’s reportedly asking for. If I had to choose today I’d say keep him, but he did score 28 last night.
Cade Cunningham put up big numbers last night with 28 points and 12 rebounds! Ignore the fact that it took 24 shots to get there! Six of them were 3s and his fg% this season is 37%. Celebrate his performance! Detroit’s developing a solid duo there as well with Saddiq Bey’s numbers complimenting Cade’s not interfering.
Wizards vs Pacers
Bradley Beal was the star that Washington needed him to be, shining with 34 points on efficient shooting (12-19). It was the rest of the team that let him down. The Wizards have lost eight of their last 12 games. Sorry everyone, I don’t think the Wizards are for real. It was fun while it lasted. See you in the play-in game Washington.
A lot of the discourse around the Pacers online has to do with trading Domantas Sabonis, and maybe I’m wrong but under no circumstances do you trade this man. Personally, I would strip down the roster and build around him at the center position. Look at what the Bulls did. Did they trade Zach LaVine? No, they added Vucevic, Ball, and DeRozan to the roster to complement him. What would you do with the Pacers? Trade Myles Turner for sure, try and trade Goga Bitadze as well. They both still have value and don’t work well alongside Sabonis. Try and trade Malcolm Brogdon for a player with a higher ceiling and keep the excellent depth pieces you already have.
Grizzlies vs Heat
The Grizzlies are 14-10 and beat the Miami heat without their MIP and MVP Ja Morant. What’s the ceiling with them this season? They’re playoff contenders for sure, but once we get there how far are they getting? Depending on matchups I can see them making a potential Conference Finals appearance, just like the Hawks last year. Unfortunately, I can also see them flaming out in the first round like they actually did last year. I’m just unsure what to think about them.
Other than a good night for Kyle Lowry, nothing much to write about the Heat. They were missing Bam Adebayo but the Grizzlies were missing Ja Morant so no excuses there. We know the potential of Jimmy Butler, as we saw him drag that 2020 roster all the way to Game Six of the NBA finals. It’s disappointing to see him have nights like these, where he could be so much more, but he is having an amazing season and it’s just one game.
Nuggets vs Bulls
No DeMar DeRozan, Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, or Alex Caruso last night. Might as well rename this match to Attack of the B-Team, but for what it’s worth we got to see Nikola vs Nikola. To no one’s surprise, Nikola beat Nikola. All kidding aside, I’m surprised how Nikola Vucevic was able to “shut down” Nikola Jokic, who still got a triple-double but was held to under 20 points.
Cavaliers vs Bucks
The fun young team lost to the title contenders, who would have thought? The most interesting news for the Cavs last night was Isaac Okoro putting up zero points despite playing 18 minutes and starting for the team. A defensive specialist isn’t a bad thing to have, especially one on a rookie contract, so I’m not concerned at all about him.
Underrated pick-up for the Bucks, DeMarcus Cousins has been good off the bench. Averaging eight points and five rebounds with solid defense. Reminds me of when they traded for P.J Tucker last year, a small yet impactful addition to a championship contender.
Hawks vs Timberwolves
I’ll say it, I think the Hawks are legitimate contenders this year. In Hawks fashion, they are an extremely deep team with a group of about eight guys who can go off on any given night. Led by an All-Star in Trae Young, this team has very few weaknesses.
The Wolves have returned to under .500. Blow it up! I still have no faith in Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards together. I still have no faith in the team’s depth pieces and, with KAT there, the culture won’t change.
Spurs vs Suns
Despite the lack of talent on the roster, San Antonio plays every game hard. They’re losing games but not getting blown out as they should be. They just beat the best team in the league and put up this much of a fight against the second-best team in the league. That being said, I would still try to sell pieces at the deadline. Lonnie Walker IV and Jakob Poeltl could net nice returns.
Man, Monty Williams for Coach of the Year again. His system is amazing even with their leading scorer Devin Booker out with injury. The Suns have surpassed all expectations, and are proving that last year wasn’t a fluke. They’re legitimate contenders to watch out for this season.
Magic vs Warriors
Roll the tank brigade, as the Orlando Magic have arrived. There are two players I would consider fantasy relevant for the Magic in an average 12-man redraft league. That would be Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner. Everyone else is either too inconsistent or inexperienced. This is to say that at the trade deadline you don’t need to pay attention to what the Magic do.
Andrew Wiggins is such an amazing fit in the Warriors system. After watching a video essay done by Rusty Buckets on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwPXISgCm6M&t=211s), I decided to watch and see for myself if he really is that good of a fit. He is, and the Warriors suit him perfectly, allowing Wiggins to attack the rim, create his own offense without burdening him with being the primary ball-handler. Steph Curry was amazing too, and his gravity truly is amazing to watch live. To see three defenders creep towards him, when he’s just passed the logo is something special.
Clippers vs Trail Blazers
I’ve never been into making specific category builds, but if I were to try and make a defensive category lineup Paul George would be at the top of my list for guards. He is averaging seven rebounds and is top 10 in steals per game this season, averaging just under two. I knew he was gonna be amazing this season, having very few primary ball handlers on his team, but to have defensive numbers like these, All-Defensive team for sure.
Fun fact about myself, I am a contrarian at heart, enjoy taking the opposing side of a debate or argument just to be different. This may be the main reason why I don’t think the Pacers should trade Sabonis, or that the Kings should trade Fox. All of this is to say that even I think the Blazers need to make fundamental changes. With Damian Lillard allegedly coming out and saying that he’s unhappy with coaching decisions and that he wants to play with Ben Simmonds, now seems like the perfect time to make changes. I would trade CJ McCollum for Ben at this point, the team needs defense and can afford to give up scoring.