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I may not be the most religious of men, but I do believe in a higher power and understand the significance of the Christmas day holiday. Many view it as a day of giving thanks, and participate in the commercialization of the holiday without understanding the true significance of the day. Christmas is the day Jesus Christ was born. The same Jesus Christ who died later for the sins of man, then was reborn three days later. Christian Wood has traversed that birth/death/ressurection story many times in his career. Undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, he latched on with the 76ers, then went to the G League, returned to the league with the Hornets, then went back to the G League. He got another chance with the Bucks then went down to the G League once again. In 2019, the Pelicans gave him another shot and, while he has never sniffed the G League again, he went to the Pistons and Rockets before ending up with the Mavericks this season. But the story doesn’t end there. He was coming off the bench and playing fewer than 30 minutes a game in the early part of the season, but then injuries struck the front court and he started the last four games. So, it’s only fitting, that on Christmas, this Christian balled out:

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With defenses loading up on Luka Doncic, it was silly for Jason Kidd to keep Wood on the bench, but he’s a stubborn mule I guess. Regardless, he’s starting now and the genie will likely not be put back into he bottle. Over the last four games, Wood has been a top 30 player. Doncic needs help, and Wood provides that. He probably won’t maintain the top 30 production all season, but I wouldn’t completely dismiss it either.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

 

Joel Embiid

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Joel, Joel. Come and see what he has done. Joel, Joel. The story of amazing play! The light of Philadelphia, given for us. Joel. 

Embiid is the number four player on a per-game basis this season. Over the last month, he’s been the number two player. From a totals perspective, he’s number 10, since he’s played 24 games. And that is the main question. How many games will he play?

James Harden

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294134115/117/1610/11

James gets me so Harden excited the way he gets a tent when at the club. He literally does it all. Since returning to action eight games ago, Harden has averaged 39 minutes, 20.6 points, 6.1 boards, 12 dimes, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 3 treys while shooting 41% from the field, 39% from downtown and 79% from the line. Fine, the shooting efficiency hasn’t been great and he’s turned the ball over 4.8 times per game but the 76ers have been undefeated over that span with the third-best offensive rating.

Julius Randle

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Words of his demise were greatly exaggerated. I fronted on him coming into this season because I thought the addition of Jalen Brunson would sap his production. While the usage, shot attempts, and dimes have subsided, the efficiency and scoring have actually increased. He’s also returned to his 3-point happy ways from two seasons ago. There were times when he had to watch his back while walking in NYC, as the citizens were constantly looking to stab him in the back. And the front for that matter as New Yorkers will just say shit to your face. Now, the fans have a portable throne on each street to carry Randle to his destinations, for he must not waste precious energy on frivolous tasks like walking to the corner bodega.

Mitchell Robinson

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A robust and open Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood is an exciting one to traverse down. The mosquitos are swatted away, the lights shine bright, and one feels safe. When it’s broken down, it’s like walking in a dark alley, not knowing what dangers lie ahead. Over the last seven games, Robinson has been a top 25 player, doing what he does best: board, block, and dunk. He’s shooting 71% from the field and even draining 78% of his freebies. The 1.0 steals per game is also a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The free throw shooting won’t be maintained, but everything else looks fine. Hopefully, the asphalt on the street remains smooth and no potholes appear.

RJ Barrett 

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Barrett isn’t going to provide much in the defensive categories, but he’ can be a significant contributor in points, treys, boards, and dimes. The efficiency, though, is either….

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Or its…..

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San Quentin Grimes

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Is Grimes ever going to win a week for you? Niet. But can he be a solid contributor? Oh, fo sho. Over the last 15 games or so, he’s been a top 100-ish player, providing a little something something in every cat. The reason I like him is because he’s such a solid defender that he’s going to get the minutes. And minutes are half the battle.

Yo Joe GIFs | Tenor

LeBron James

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The Lakers stink but this may actually be a blessing in disguise for James fantasy owners. Since the playoffs are likely out of the equation, there will be little motivation for him to rest during the season. All the motivation now is to be a stat whore and rack up as many points in order to pass Kareem. Rejoice!

Luka Doncic

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Yawn. Wake me up when he at least messes around.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

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I knew Giannis was having an off year, but I didn’t expect to see what I saw when going to Basketball Monster.

G is the 99th player on a per-game basis. Rubs eyes. Takes out contacts. Shreds them to pieces. Puts in a pair of new ones…..

Shocked GIFs | Tenor

It’s true. It’s really freaking true. So let’s dig in. The usage rate is a robust 38.4%, four percent higher than last season. Slightly more turnovers. More shot attempts. The free throw percentage ticked down a bit. The blocks and steals have ticked down. So have the treys. The points have increased slightly while the dimes and shooting efficiency have decreased a bit. Hmmm, nothing too dramatic, but when you factor it all in, this is where we are at. I don’t think this is the N.W.O. but, but, but….

Jrue Holiday

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We have a problem of epic proportions right now. Holiday has averaged 1.6 steals in each of the last four seasons. He’s at 1.5 right now. It’s really remarkable what he’s done throughout his career in that department, especially since steals are such a volatile stat. During his rookie season, he averaged 1.1. Since then….1.5, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6, 1.4, 1.5, 1.5, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6, and 1.5.

Jayson Tatum

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The sixth time Tatum has scored over 40 points this season. This Tatum guy is pretty, pretty good, sitting at seventh on a per-game basis. Brother from another mother, Channing is loving the new found fame as he still shows up on the first page of Tatum searches on Google.

33 GIFs That Prove We Are #Blessed to Have Channing Tatum in Our Lives | Teen Vogue

Derrick White

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In 30 minutes. On the season, White is averaging 25.8 minutes per game but, over the last four games, White has received over 30 minutes in three of those contests. White averages 0.83 DKFP per minute so any minutes are good minutes.

Jaylen Brown

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The developmental arc for Brown has been a thing of beauty. For the first two years of his career, he was adjusting to the League, getting his feet wet. Then he took a leap and stayed there for like three seasons. Now he’s taken that leap into the next tier this season, posting career-highs in field goal attempts, free throws, boards, dimes and points. After being a poor free throw shooter, he’s at 80% now on the season.

Robert Williams III

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In 14 minutes off the bench. He will return to being our Lord in due Time.

Jaren Jackson Jr.

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Only played 21 minutes due to foul trouble. That’s the only thing that can prohibit him from greatness.

Ja Morant

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In 41 minutes. Is he more than an ant? Ja. Is he basically a flea in human form? Ja. Can I write superlatives about Morant forever and ever? Ja. Till death do us part? Ja.

The Warriors were 1-5 on their recent road trip and lost their last two games by over 30 points. They were without Stephen Curry on Sunday, so of course they defeated the Grizzlies, 123-109. Any Given Sunday.

Jordan Poole

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The Poole was well chlorinated, the temperature was just right and the water was flowing from the ceiling into the Poole, making it rain bucket after bucket. Unfortunately, he only played 29 minutes because he was ejected in the fourth quarter after getting called for his second technical foul.

Draymond Green

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Dray, the most unique player in the NBA, is still here making a fantasy impact in 2022. He hasn’t been great this season, and some of the stretches have been downright awful, yet he’s right outside the top 100 on a per-game basis.

Donte DiVincenzo

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In 31 minutes as a starter. He missed the prior two games due to a non-COVID illness, but he was a starter in the three games before that, averaging 12.3 points, 6.3 boards, 5 dimes and 1.3 steals while playing 35 minutes per contest. DD is such a solid player and should continue to start for as long as Curry is out. He will revert back to a 18-mpg player off the bench when Curry returns.

James Wiseman

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Wiseman was a +8 in 8 minutes.

Klay Thompson

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Klay still got it. Not sure he will play back-to-backs this season, and there will be plenty of rest days, but if you need points and treys, Klay is viable. Klay will sometimes make your mood gray.

Devin Booker

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Booker only played four minutes as he re-aggravated the groin injury that cost him the last three games. If any of you listen to the Son Pod, you know my Kendall Jenner theory. Booker is no longer with her and he’s missed five of the last seven games. Ben Simmons has been balling the F out. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Landry Shamet

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Remember the ShamWow towel? That sucker would clean up water like someone who just ran a marathon and needs the thirst quenched. Well, Shamet cleaned up for Booker…again. Two games ago, he shot 9-of-16 from downtown and also delivered 31 points. Last game, he got the start and put up 15 points while he went for 13 points in the other game without Booker. He’s played 30,36, 32 and 39 minutes last night in an overtime affair. He’s the guy that will likely be the biggest beneficiary if Booker misses more time. Shamet is a career 40% shooter from downtown.

Damion Lee

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Lee will also benefit if Booker misses time. He’s a hucker and a chucker like Shamet who played 30 minutes last night. He actually started two of the games in place of Booker.

Deandre Ayton

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The defensive stats are still lacking but Ayton scores and grabs rebounds while the percentages are good. Do I like him Ayton? Naw, but he provides utility.

Nikola Jokic

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Yawn GIFs | Tenor

Aaron Gordon

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Gordon had seven dunks last night. He’s now tied for second with 85 dunks on the season. Playing next to that Jokic guy has been a boon for his offensive game. Speaking of dunks….

Gordon was cheap in drafts this season…and for good reason as he hasn’t sniffed the top 100 since 2017. This year, he’s a top 75 player and is close to being a 1/1/1 player. The 65% free throw percentage is an issue, though, especially on 4.3 attempts per game.

Jamal Murray

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Murray is rounding into form, if not there already. He had an explosive dunk at the end of the game and tried to cram it on someone’s head earlier in the game. The usage rate is 26% and the field goal percentage is only 43% on the season. Prior to the injury, he was in the 45% to 47% range.

Christian Braun

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Ha! I guess it’s only fitting that I start and finish this piece talking about a Christian. Unlike Wood, Braun isn’t fantasy viable. That said, he could become one later in the season. Malone has sung his praises since the summer and recently said that he wanted to give him more minutes. I’ve been impressed everytime I’ve watched him play. He has good size, is an excellent defender, and can knock down the open shot. Someone to keep an eye on.