In Brooklyn, the veterans always preferred DeAndre Jordan over him, even though he was better. Now in Cleveland, he’s forced into a timeshare with Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. When will Allen get his due? According to leading armchair psychologists, it was all that pent-up frustration that led to this outburst. In contention for the line of the year so far.

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All the injuries for Portland has them dusting off the cobwebs from players further down the bench. Anfernee Simons (nine percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) is in line for a nice minutes bump, especially if Derrick Jones Jr. now misses time as well. Simons played 28 minutes on Thursday and put up 14 points (including four treys) and eight rebounds. Would be nice to see him add some assists going forward.

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Portland took a step back last year, falling from 3rd in the Western Conference to 9th despite the best efforts of Damian Lillard, who recorded his best season since turning pro. On the face of it, the most glaring difference was the absence of the Bosnian, Jusuf Nurkic, who sat the entire season with a leg injury. Losing Nurkic and later Zach Collins seriously crippled the Blazers, as they were forced to trot out a starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony for much of the season, though Whiteside owners weren’t complaining. The much-maligned big man absolutely demolished his ADP, ranking within the top-20 on the season. Say what you will about Whiteside, but given the minutes, he’s always produced.

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The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

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The 1992 movie, Boomerang, is severely underrated. Rotten Tomatoes has a Tomatometer score of 44%, while the Audience Score is 59%. Rotten Tomatoes is stupid and so is the audience. Fine, the movie does suck but there are some great things about it. Eddie Murphy is in his prime, a young Halle Berry is so damn fine, and there are some of the greatest cinematic scenes of all time: GSCOAT #1. GSCOAT #2. GSCOAT #3. But the reason for referencing Boomerang in this post is because of this scene: Marcus, darling. Lady Eloise is old and over-the-hill, but she still has the gumption of a youngster, just like Marcus Morris Sr. of the New York Knicks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 5 1 2 1 3 6/7 13/19 6/10

On the season, Morris is a top 65 player. Over the past three games, he’s been a top 40 one, averaging 34.5 minutes, 27 points, 4 tres, 5 boards, 2 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks whille shooting 50% from the field on 18.3 shot attempts! LOL! Recently, Morris said that he would prefer to stay in New York. No shit! He’s getting paid $15 million this season to jack up a ton of shots on a shitty team and live in NYC. Plus, he knows the Knicks are so dumb that they may actually give him a multi-year extension. The Knicks have said that they would like to keep Morris. Maybe they are playing 3-D chess or are just dummies. I side with the latter. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a dummy? The Stocktonator. Regardless, what you think the Knicks do with Morris determines how you should view him for fantasy. If he stays on the Knicks, then he can be a top 75 player for fantasy, as the sheer volume and playing time would allow him to produce. If he gets traded, then there’s no way he sees the minutes or shot attempts, and would likely be outside the top 100.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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While Christmas has morphed into a commercialized phenomenon, let us not forget why we engorge in capitalistic orgies because of it. Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; the son of God, the final piece of the Holy Triumvirate, the One who died for our sins so that we may experience salvation. To say that He is an important figure in history is an understatement. So, it is only fitting that on the day after Christmas, a Christian would ball out and be the lede of this post. And it makes sense that such an elevating performance would be delivered from a player named Wood because who doesn’t like elevated Wood. Anyways, Christian Wood delivered:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 7 3 0 1 3 2/4 7/9 6/6

In 24 minutes off the bench. Now, the Pistons….POOF….made the Wizards disappear, 132-102 last night. As a result, Wood received more run than normal. On the season, he’s averaging 15.3 minutes per game, which is a shame because he balls out when he’s on the court. Maybe this Wood cannot perform for extended periods of time. I kid, I kid. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs 24/7? The Stocktonator. The reason why Wood has been passed around more times than a blunt in a cypher (he’s played for five teams in five years) is because of immaturity and a lack of professionalism off the court. So far this season, Coach Casey has brought him along slowly and made him earn everything. Wood can score, provide tres, grabs boards, contribute defensive stats, and shoot efficiently from the field. Back on December 1st, Wood scored 28 points, grabbed 10 boards, dished out 2 dimes, blocked 1, and stole 1 in 22 minutes!!! That’s the kind of upside we are talking about here. There’s a chance Wood can carve out a more substantial role as the season progresses. For now, he can’t be counted on but make preparations for when that time comes. Sort of like how the celebration of Christmas has evolved over the years. First, it was just about one day a year. Now, it’s something that people begin preparing for right after Thanksgiving.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve never eaten veal, but according to the Google machine, it “has been treasured for centuries for its delicious, succulent flavor.” Veal comes from the meat of young calves and has been referenced in the Bible as the choicest of animal food. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s the choicest for fantasy basketball projections? The Stocktonator. Unfortunately, many feel bad for eating veal because of how the calves are raised on factory farms: extreme confinement and cruelty. This doesn’t sound too much different than Bradley Beal and his shituation in Washington. Beal is a phenomenal player and revered in fantasy circles. Many feel bad for him, though, because the Wizards are a terrible team. He experiences extreme confinement being the lone star on the team and the shituation is just cruel. With that said, last night the Beal was cooked a little differently; in a 40-burger!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 6 4 1 0 3 3/6 16/30 7/10

In 42 minutes!!! Beal has now cooked 15 40-burgers and one 50-burger in his career! What makes this Beal so damn good is that he averages 28.7 points, 2.7 tres, 4.4 boards, 7.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals per game. The percentages are both excellent; 47% from the field and 82% from the line. The usage rate is 30.9. Now, the blocks are non-existent and the turnovers are a little high, but 3.3 per game won’t cause the Beal to be returned back to the kitchen. Top 15 player for fantasy and one of the highest floor players because he averages 36.8 minutes per contest! Mmm, mmm, delicious.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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