I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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At this point, PB & G and Kostas would nab the first round byes.  If I were a better writer I would have put in the first sentence that there are six playoff teams in here.  Kostas killed me 8-1, and Pub G (Remember that game?  It was so much better than Fortnite!  You could hit people with cars!)  had a big win vs. the JokerSmokers (tie last week, loss this week!).  Son continued his rise into the playoff contention with another win.

3 vs 6 would be Kostas vs. Son

4 vs. 5 would be PhilOssie vs. Beats by Dray

There is an impeding Vikings-style shield wall level blood bath for the six spot.  Son, High Risers, and the Infector are all within two games, and the Oracle is two back of that.  Lotta hoops to be played here!

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Son had a nice moment of self-reflection on the latest podcast, recognizing how he – and we all – tend to get easily sucked into preseason storylines that make us overhype or dismiss certain players without questioning the herd mentality around said player. 

Case in point: Myles Turner, who was discussed more for his potential to be traded than for his promising fantasy game. After sitting out a couple games and taking one to ease back to form, Turner put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 assists while shooting 3-4 from three, 7-14 from the field and 10-10 from the line as the Pacers beat the Wizards 127-117. The trade talk will eventually reemerge, but in the meantime, Turner owners may get to feast on a steady diet of blocks with quality numbers across the board. It’s worth remembering he’s just 26, when big guys usually enter their prime. If that age and experience turns into consistency for Turner, there’s Top 15 value to be had here. 

More notes from a busy Friday night in the Association:

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On a recent podcast with Son, I let slip, “If you’re a center that doesn’t get blocks, I don’t think I have any use for you.” It was a knee-jerk line, one that I hadn’t much considered before it fell out of my mouth, and I’ve been wrestling with how true that might actually be ever since. For most of the summer, I’ve been vexed by the center position because, outside of the elite guys, the shortcomings of the position are obvious and numerous. For many, their usefulness in category leagues extends only to rebounds, blocks and FG%, and oftentimes those few spoils are sacrificed at the altar of points, dimes, triples, and free-throw percentage. Drafting a center that doesn’t, it’s a steep tradeoff in the best of circumstances, so when looking at someone like Deandre Ayton – a top-50ish, center-eligible player who produced exactly enough swats last year to break even in the category by z-score – I began to wonder what exactly the point was. 

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The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 119-110 to remain ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. The two teams have identical 39-36 records, but with this win, the Hornets move to 2-1 against the Nets and secure the tiebreaker. Led by LaMelo Ball’s hot shooting, the Hornets spoiled Kyrie Irving’s home debut. Ball finished the game with 33 points (10-21 FG, 7-12 3PT), seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals. Miles Bridges added 24 points (9-24 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal. P.J. Washington tallied 18 points (8-12 FG, 2-3 3PT), 11 rebounds, and five assists. Terry Rozier notched 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-5 3PT), seven rebounds, four assists, and one steal. If the Hornets are making their threes they can be tough to beat and that was the case in this game. They shot 42% from the field as a team, but they shot 53% from three (17-32). As things currently stand, the Hornets would match up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in tournament, rather than the Nets. That’s unfortunate for us, the fans, as the pace of play and lack of defense on both sides would make a Nets vs. Hornets matchup must-see TV. Then again, there likely won’t be much defense in a Nets vs. Hawks series either.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 22!  In this post, I identify under-rostered players who can help your team as streamers or long-term adds.  The ravages of tanking, phantom injuries, and real injuries are undoubtedly taking their toll on your squad.  I commend anyone with the intestinal fortitude to play fantasy hoops into late-March or April.  That being said, there are a lot of opportunities out there as we head down the stretch.

In the “late news breaking” category, Ja Morant was just listed as out for tonight’s game against Indiana.  This SHOULD boost the value of De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones, so look to them for those elusive assists.

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In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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The Nets defeated their in-state rival Knicks 110-107, behind a statement performance from Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 53 points (19-37 FG, 4-13 3PT), six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. The 53 points were a season-high and just a point shy of his career-high. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one block on a perfect eight for eight from the field. Bruce Brown, whose value and strong play has grown consistent of late, finished the game with 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Nic Claxton contributed off the bench, compiling 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Seth Curry was a late scratch due to an ankle injury. The Nets have now won three in a row after losing four in a row.  During this winning streak, Durant has reminded everyone in the league and everyone watching at home just how dominant he can be. The spiciest and most hilarious result of a late-season Nets winning streak would be a 76ers vs. Nets first-round matchup—one can only hope!

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Welcome back to DFS Dunks! Thursdays are the best and tonight in no different on a small two-game slate. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Joel Embiid will see each other on the court for the first time since the big trade.  Philly has not lost a game with Harden on the court and Kyrie is coming off a season-high 50-point game. Unfortunately, we can’t roster all four on DraftKings, but the salaries do allow for it on FanDuel, if you want. In the nightcap of the double-header, we have Steph Curry and the Warriors facing off vs. the frontrunner for MVP, Nikola Jokic. Wow, what a great night of basketball.

Since there are only two games tonight, I’m going to play a cash lineup and a GPP lineup. I’ve been playing only one lineup lately for both. I will build my GPP lineup as I would a showdown lineup, possibly leaving some salary on the table or fading a guy like Stephen Curry.

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