When watching Kyle Kuzma play basketball, all I can think about is the Notorious B.I.G. One of my favorite songs is Juicy.
Many in the NBA thought Kuzma wouldn’t amount to nothin’. Now he’s in the limelight ’cause his hoops game is tight. Now honies play him close like butter played toast. Ha! What a line. Biggie Smalls was the illest. Anyways, Kuzma went from negative to positive and it all started when he was drafted 27th overall in the NBA Draft. The Summer League followed, where he dominated and led the Lakers to hoisting the trophy. Then the regular season started. He scored double figures in five of his first seven NBA games. It was on, baby bay-bee. In fact, there’s only been one other game in which he failed to score double digits. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s played 27 games, yet only started 11. Kuuuuuuuuuuuz! It all came to a culmination last night against the Rockets.
This is no fluke. Kuz has been balling from day one and is only going to get better. It’s on, baby bay-bee!
I’ve always been infatuated with the “zone,” that state of consciousness when one has Neo’d the Matrix. Mental steroids and practice can induce it, but often it’s a state that transcends reality. Life progresses frame by frame, as if someone pressed the slow motion button on the VCR. My fault, I mean DVR. In the real world, a shooter believes that every shot will go in, while understanding that it’s a mathematical impossibility. In the “zone,” screw math. Everyone morphs into a video game Dion Waiters on rookie mode. Well, last night, Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic gobbled the mushroom, morphed into Super Mario, and entered the “zone.”
Now, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier did not play yesterday, so Mario was afforded an opportunity to showcase. When those two return, Super Mario will shrink back to the bench. Just file it away for the future that Mario has the ability to enter the “zone” when called upon.
In 2016, there were six teams that did not have a 20 ppg scorer: Pistons, Hawks, Magic, Nuggets, Mavs, and Lakers. The Pistons’ leading scorer was Tobias Harris at 16.1 ppg. The Magic had Evan Fournier at 17.2 ppg, while the rest of the teams had a leading scorer at 18ppg or higher. The Bad Boy Pistons of the late-80s proved that you don’t need a 20 ppg scorer to win a championship, but even those teams had two players in the 18 ppg range, Isiah Thomas and Adrian Dantley. If you were wondering, Joe Dumars was at 17.2. Anyways, I have a friend in Japan that makes fly-like drones with audio equipment embedded inside. We were able to place a few in the Pistons War Room during this year’s NBA Draft. Here are some of the snippets that we gathered. SVG (Stan Van Gundy): I’m a great defensive coach. Look, we were ranked seventh in points allowed, fourth in steals, and sixth in blocks. We need more offense gentlemen! 22nd in field goal percentage, 27th in three-pointers made, and 26th in points scored is not going to cut it! JB (Jeff Bower): Calm down Stan. I know you’re a great defensive coach because…well…I hired you. We will get you offense. SCOUT: Mr. Bower and Mr. Van Gundy. We as a scouting group are in love with Donovan Mitchell. He’s a great athlete, will help us on D, and can shoot the heck out of the ball. SVG: God damn it!!! Didn’t you hear what I said earlier??!! I am a great defensive coach and we were awesome on D last season! We need offense! SCOUT: But…but….but…Mitchell is. SVG: Get these clowns out of here! Why are you studdering mother bleep bleep bleeeeeeeep!Â I like this Luke Kennard kid. Exactly the kind of player we need. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Detroit Pistons.
Oh man, the jet lag is real! Â Sorry for the later daily notes again this morning, I’m in sunny Florida but couldn’t get my ass up in the morning! Â Still on LA time! Â And you could probably say the same for those lousy Chicago Bulls these days, they were sleepwalking in Orlando. Â The walking of the Bulls! Â Doesn’t have the same ring as running of the Bulls… Â But they looked old last night, even on only 1 hour difference, and no one covered Elfrid while owning from the Shelfrid! Â 20/14/14/2/2 last night, in an epic rainbow tripdub from Elfrid Payton. Â As voluptuous as his hair! Â He’s been unreal the past week going 16.3/10.0/8.8/1.5/0.8 hitting 66% from the field. Â Of course it’s just a hot streak, and in the daily notes I’ve been really apprehensive the minutes/production would go back down, but things be hot hot hot in Orlando! Â But one thing that occurred to me is Nikola Vucevic went down 4 games ago, and these last 3 games have been without Vucci Mane and his USG-whoreness down low. Â Replace him with Bismack Biyombo down low, and you need a lot more playmaking elsewhere. Â So while yet another season of SKIIIIIIIIIILES!!! residue and inconsistency for Elfrid has me hesitant to push for him yet again in 17-18, if they move on from Vuc and keep more-or-less this same core, I’ll be buying right back in and getting him on my Shelfrid on 17-18 teams. Â Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:
Ah, the All-Star Break. The week where fantasy basketball goes to die, but fantasy basketball writers get a few days off! Hah, sorry I probably shoulda had this post go up yesterday, but I was lazy, OK! Speaking of lazy, did you see what kind of horrendous offer the Kings caved on to deal away DeMarcus Cousins?! Well, of course you did by now, that was the world’s most rhetorical question! Kings dealt Boogie and Omri Casspi to the Pels for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans (reunion!), Langston Galloway, and a 1st and 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft. I mean, it’s not THE WORST deal in the world, but the first round pick being top-3 protected is a little rough. Wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS if the Pels go in like 11th or 12th for the lottery, end up drawing one of those top 3 picks, then pair one of these elite guys going pro with Boogie, Brow and Jrue… Still feels like the Kings could’ve gotten more… Wait, what was that Vlade Divac?! You DID have more on the table?! Yeesh, the Kings get this brand-spankin’ new stadium, only to have their superstar dealt mid-season with the GM openly admitting he took a lesser deal…? Did Jeffrey Loria buy the Kings too?! Meanwhile, Pels fans be dancing like this:
I actually don’t think Anthony Davis takes too big of a hit here, and remains your primary guy. He’s only taken a range from 12-24 shots the last 9 games, which doesn’t seem tough at all to maintain even with a USG-whore coming to town. I actually think it might even HELP Brow, as his TO rate has soared to 2.6 this year, and we all know Boogie is a TO vortex. Boogie is who the big hit here; his range the last 9 games is 14-30 shots (given the 30 was an outlier in that surprise win over GSW), plus he’s playing with a much better facilitating PG in Jrue Holiday. I’d expect Boogie’s AST – 4.8 on the season and spiking as of late – to drop closer to the 3.0 range. It’ll be an interesting pairing, and suddenly the Pelicans look like they could make a little noise in the playoffs. We’ll have to see if they can get out of this 23-34 hole they’re in… Wait, the Kings at 24-33 have a better record, and made the sell out for the future deal?! Hah, NBA man, NBA… GMs must be bored during the ASB as well! l Here’s a few other notes from the last few days during our NBA respite:
The Wizards have been playing much better as of late. Despite being down 18 points in the second quarter, the Wizards came back to win to push themÂ over .500.
John Wall knocked down the game-winning jumper with 5 ticks left, to complete another fantastic performanceÂ with 26 points, 14 assists, and 6 rebounds.
Now that’s what Steve Buckhantz calls a dagger!
Wall was voted Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and continues his strong play in the New Year. There hasnâ€™t been a better player in the East over the last 6 weeks.
Now the Bulls were missing Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), but I don’t care. Iâ€™m going to take every opportunity to talk positively about my Wizards. Theyâ€™ll disappoint me soon enough so let me enjoy my moment.
[Editor’s note – We’re going to be having our Podcast out first thing tomorrow morning due to some scheduling stuff. Catch you with our sexy voices then!]
Man, what a night for highlight-reel dunks!
GIFs so nice I had to put up twice! Wait, that didn’t really work… But yeah, telling everyone that Gordon is cuttable sure made me feel great while writing the notes this morning! Stupid Clippers getting Lob City-ed against them! Taste of their own medicine! Career game for Gordon, going 13-21 FG (4-8 3PTM 3-6 FT) for 33/7/2/0/0. Actually, ya know, that’s not really the best line. 3 turnovers, no D stats, and 50% FT shooting… I feel a little better now re-thinking it, and good thing highlight-reel plays aren’t bonuses! Although I wish they were for my Semaj in REL! Feel free to scoop up Gordon in any leagues as I’m sure he was a popular drop, but I still wouldn’t be losing key assets for him. Let’s see if he can carry this success a few more games, fix the FT issue, and deliver on the D stats we’re know he’s physically capable of. 0.8 STL/0.6 BLK – lower stocks than last year – in an expansion of minutes?! Where’s the beef?! Hopefully I give you more meat to chew on in the notes today! Here’s what else happened last night in Fantasy Basketball action:
As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, Iâ€™ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold.Â This open is especially witty for the Nuggets.Â Weâ€™ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because Iâ€™m still figuring out how to rank the Warriorsâ€¦
Sacramento KingsÂ (33-49)
GÂ Arron Afflalo
FÂ Matt Barnes
G Ty Lawson
F Anthony Tolliver
C Georgios Papagiannis (Rookie)
GÂ Garrett Temple
GÂ Malachi RichardsonÂ (Rookie)
F/CÂ Skal LabissiereÂ (Rookie)
G Isaiah Cousins (Rookie)
GÂ Rajon Rondo
GÂ Marco Belinelli
GÂ Seth Curry
GÂ James Anderson
F Quincy Acy
The last remaining semblance that this organization had anything under control…
Man, hard to believe the laughing stock of the West had at least a bearable record.Â I thought they were a sub-30 win team!Â I guess Rondo is worth a few wins above replacementâ€¦Â Dammit, Iâ€™m still in baseball mode!
Letâ€™s not cut corners – this still looks like a pretty brutal squad.Â Especially when you factor in a suspension to one of your key guys, his backup has bad suspension issues of his own, and your option B scorer is just trying to burn bridges on the way out,Â hoping and praying for a trade before the season.Â Lord give me strength!Â Hereâ€™s how the Kings roster is coming together (or falling apartâ€¦):
Youâ€™d think a team decimated by injuries would throw in the towel. Not the case with the Bulls. Already missing Jimmy Butler (left knee strain), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), and Joakim Noah (shoulder surgery), Derrick Rose was a last-minute scratch due to right hamstring tendinitis. The Bulls won anyways, their third straight victory.
Playing alongside a makeshift lineup, Pau Gasol played through the flu, just missing a triple-double with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. While it wasnâ€™t Michael Jordanâ€™s flu game, it was a still a pretty strong line.
Even with the Bullsâ€™ starters ailing, there is value to be had on the roster. Under-owned guys like Taj Gibson (17/7/7), Eâ€™Twaun Moore (17 points and 3 rebounds), and Doug McDermott (14/5/2), can and should be relied upon down the stretch for both the Bulls and your fantasy teams. McBuckets also had the dunk of the night.
They wonâ€™t win you a championship on their own, but donâ€™t overlook lesser named (and owned) guys during your playoff push.
It was an exceptional weekend of NBA action after the wayyyyyyy too long layoff for the break, highlighted by a huge upset by the Blazers. Â Is anyone else getting annoyed by that Damian Lillard commercial on the NBA App?! Â The one where he semi-raps, then says “thanks for the motivation” when asked about his haters? Â Well, it’s kinda fitting now, with that performance after that All-Star snubbery! Â Dame went Insame on the Warriors for a career-high 51 points, going 51/0/7/6/0, shooting 18-28 from the field. Â But the crazier numbers were 9 treys, and not a single TO. Â 6 steals and no turnovers?! Â That’s winning hoops right there! Â He followed it up with a huge night last night as well, going 24/4/4 through 3 quarters before grandpa JB hit his bedtime. Â Portland bested Golden State with a crushing 137-105 W in that Friday epic win, solidifying the Blazers as a playoff contender. Â No one thought they would even be close, and as Slim and I talked on the Pod, Stotts deserves a ton of cred and maybe some Coach of the Year consideration. Â If you told me in October the Blazers would make the playoffs, I woulda said you’re Insame! Â Here’s what else went down over an exciting return to hoops over the weekend, plus The 7 Ahead for week 17: