In 2016, Daryl Morey hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach. It was a match made in heaven, as Morey believed that three-pointers, layups, and free throws were the most efficient shots to take. D’Antoni? Did someone say three-pointers? Three-coooooola. The Rockets improved from 41-41 in 2015 to 55-27 with D’Antonio at the helm. They blitzed the league with 115.3 points per game, just 0.6 fewer than the vaunted Golden State Warriors. They hoisted up an absurd 40.3 three-pointers a game and made a league-high 14.4. Then the playoffs happened. After disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, D’Antoni and Morey were bested by Greg Popovich. Pop did not figure out the magic formula to shut down the Rockets O. What he did do was disrupt the rhythm and force the Rockets to do what they were most uncomfortable doing: shoot the midrange. Pop would use Kawhi Leonard to chase James Harden all over the court and plant Pau Gasol in the middle of the lane. The other three players would be paparrazi and follow their subjects wherever they went. As a result, three-pointers, layups, and free throws were defended. Everything in the midrange was conceded. Result? Spurs 4. Rockets 2. There was only one option to pursue. Better Call Paul, as in
For most things in life, more is better. More digits and commas in your bank account is good. When walking down a dark alley, more companions by your side is beneficial. Having more points than an opponent in any competition is usually optimal. For E’Twaun Moore of the New Orleans Pelicans, though, less has been Moore. In November, Moore was averaging 29.4 minutes per game. So far in December, he’s averaging 37.5 minutes per game. But Son! You said that less is Moore. Patience my grasshoppers. In November, Alvin Gentry had a pretty deep rotation. Nine players were playing over 15 mpg. In December, that number has dropped to seven. See? Less is Moore. Now, what happens when AD can’t play due to injury (shocker)? Three players get 40+ minutes, with another one at 39. Last night against the Houston Rockets, Moore played 42 minutes and went:
The 36 points were a career-high and he’s not going to shoot 75% from the field every night. With that said, he’s scored in double digits in seven of the last eight games and, as mentioned above, he’s been playing a ton of minutes. With teams focused on Boogie, Rondo, Holiday, and AD (when he plays), Moore is going to get a ton of open looks. Translation: LESS defensive attention equals MOORE points.
Good morrow to thee, neighbours! It was a fun night for hoops, especially if you’re a fan of mediocre basketball teams! The Atlanta Hawks scraped by the previously decent Orlando Magic and what a matchup it was! A special shoutout goes to Ersan Ilyasova who went for 26/3/4 on a perfect 9-for-9 FG with five threes, 3-for-5 FT. and no turnovers. It was a pretty spectacular game for Ersan. With Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins (and Mike Muscala) all missing from the Hawks’ frontcourt, there’s minutes to go around and Ilyasova is definitely the man in line to take them. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
It’s been a rough stretch for Lakers fans. The team is 8-15 to start this season and had win totals of 26, 17, 21, and 27 from 2013-2016. Prior to that, though, there was a Golden Age of epic proportions. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1960, the team had missed the playoffs only four times and had fewer than 40 wins in a season just six times (one being a strike-shortened season).
The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.
Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.
In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.
On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables: