It was a bit of a light week for watching games here in the Hooper house. I know this is a fantasy corner of the internet, but reality always manages to find a way in. The ratio of news to NBA games got flipped in the middle of the week, so instead of longer, deeper looks into one or two specific teams, this edition of Hangin’ will feature check-ins on past (incorrect) statements and some quick hitters on what I was able to catch this week. I’m aiming to get back on track this week — aren’t we all? — so hopefully next time will be less doom and gloom and more dimes and dunks.

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Friday Night Lights are known to bring the best out of athletes. Big-time performances, breakout players, and competitive scores are all things that make Friday Night games the best. On a Friday full of high scoring finishes, franchise record-breaking feats, and careers highs, these games may have given us some of the best performances of the season far. From the Battle of the Ball Brothers to the offensive clinic put on by Bradley Beal and Caris LeVert in losing efforts, the individual performances highlighted some potential All-Star worthy players we all need to keep tabs on. The Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors also SHOT THE LIGHTS OUT in big-time wins where they shot historically well from three. On a night full of great moments, it is hard to sum it all up in one place and really put it into perspective…Oh that is right, I did all that and more for you down below as we look at the NBA’s Friday Night Top Performers!

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Surprise, I’ve taken over the Wednesday recap this week, let’s get jiggy with it!

Nets vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks undefeated 2020-2021 season came to an end at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, December, 30th, but not without some positive signs of progress for this new look roster. At the moment, the Hawks have the second best Offensive Rating in the league at 119.9 and their opponent, the Nets, have the best Defensive Rating at 98.3. I’m not sure if these numbers include the data from Wednesday’s competition, but either way, the Hawks were the team that lived up to their statical billing in this one. The teams went shot for shot through most of the game until Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Hawks suffered enough empty possessions on offense to walkaway with their first L. Both teams broke a hundred by the third quarter and the final score of 141-145 tells you everything you need to know. Neither team played much defense in this game and that end of the floor will remain the biggest question for both teams going forward.

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Lots of question marks around Miami’s reload in the Eastern conference this year.  Their unraveled depth and #HeatCulture rose them through the gauntlets of the Eastern Conference bubble to rise from the 5th seed to Eastern Conference Champs.  Their core is fired up, focused, and gaining continuity.  I see seven solid rotation players.  This year, with the losses of Goran “Dragon” Dragic (16/3/5 in 28 minutes), Jae Crowder (10/6/2.8 in 29 minutes), and Derrick “Air Plane Mode” Jones Jr. (8/4/1 in 23 minutes) it remains to be seen how Riley and Spoelstra work their magic to fill out this roster.

Those three rotation players have left with a total of 34 points per game.  How will end-of-bench role players step up with their new opportunities?  Why was Udonis Haslem’s contract extended? Does Iguodala have anything left in the tank to earn the two-year, $20 million extension he got?  So many questions surround the depth and bench this year.  With only 10 guaranteed players under contract, how will management round out this roster?

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Entering the season, Jrue Holiday was being drafted as a top 12 player for fantasy. And for good reason, as he finished as the 22nd and 21st player on a per-game basis the past two years. Anthony Davis was gone, so the expectation was that he was going to be the alpha, with the young kids following his lead. That is not how things worked out to begin the season, though. Jrue looked like he was on a Holiday, while Brandon Ingram took the league by storm. Then Zion Williamson returned from injury and the hype was all on him. Now, Lonzo has been Ball-ing with his new shot, which looks excellent by the way, and Jrue became the forgotten man. We are silly humans because Jrue never went anywhere. Last night, Jrue reminded us that he can still barbecue the opposition. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always cooks the competition? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 9 8 1 1 1 3/8 13/20 8/9

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalmost messed around, which would have been the fifth time in his career. Over the past 21 games, Jrue has been a top 25 player. Over the past four games, he’s been top 15. He’s been lurking in the bushes, sniping off Charlie without anyone noticing. But I see you, Jrue! The usage rate isn’t crazy like most stars, as it’s in the 22% range, but he’s playing a ton of minutes for a team that plays at a fast offensive pace, and contributes across-the-board production. The only bugaboo to his game is the 70% free throw shooting.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Entering the 2019 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers had constructed one of the best starting lineups in all of basketball. Then Ben Simmons went down with a back injury followed by Joel Embiid suffering a shoulder injury. Those two were the cornerstones, the foundation of the franchise. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s the foundation of Razzball Basketball? The Stocktonator. So morbid of me. I write as if they are dead. My bad. They are still the cornerstones and franchise of the organization, but for the short term, they will be closed to the public. Enter Tobias Harris. The third wheel. The third fiddle. Now, he is thrust into the numero uno role. If last night was any indication, things may be alright.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 7 7 1 1 1 3/6 14/21 3/3

Now, before we crown his ass and say everything is aiight in Philly, this performance was against the New York Knicks so…..Let’s see what happens when the Sixers play a real team. With that said, he garnered a usage rate of 29.9% last night, a whopping 6% increase from his season average. Harris can score, drain tres, grab boards, and dish out dimes. The defensive stats are lacking, but he does provide a little something something. The turnovers are razor thin and the percentages are excellent: 47% from the field and 81% from the line on the season. Over the last four games, he’s been a top 25 player. With the increased usage, he could enter the realm of the fantasy goliaths. At least until Simmons and Embiid return to the mix.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Back in 2008, D. J. Augustin was awarded the Bob Cousy Award, which was given to the top collegiate point guard. That summer, the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. This D. J. obviously produced good music and got the crowd to throw their hands in the air, and wave them like they just didn’t care. In 2010, D. J. averaged 33.6 minutes, 14.4 points, and 6.1 dimes. But then the lights came on and people realized that the selection of songs were limited. He didn’t have the resources to expand the library, so D. J. tried to compensate by mixing and scratching more. That just ended up in more skipping and booing from the crowd. Realizing his limitations, he stopped trying to be fancy and just kept things simple. And it worked, as he’s been getting gigs for 12 years now. Every once in a while, though, he thinks about what could have been and channels something from within. It happened last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 3 9 2 0 1 2/6 7/15 9/10

In 31 minutes off the bench. Now, Markelle Fultz had some foul trouble last night, so D. J. got some extra run. In addition, Fultz is and will be the starter for the Magic. With that said, over the past four games, D. J. has been spinning the goods, as he’s been a top 85 player, averaging 28.3 minutes, 14.5 points, 1.5 tres, 5 boards, and 1 steals. He’s been shooting 90% from the line on 5.5 attempts. Not bad. The shooting efficiency, though, has only been 42%. Orlando plays at one of the slowest offensive paces in the league, but if you need dimes and tres, D. J. can be of value. Plus, he will go retro and spin the goods from time to time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what spins the goods all the time? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Dallas Mavericks are powered by two nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, the Luka Doncic Reactor was damaged a week ago and needed to be shut down. The Kristaps Porzingis Reactor has been throttled up in the meantime, but more power was required. Mark Cuban was wise to have alternative power sources at the ready. Bunsen burners don’t provide a ton of heat and are primarily just used in laboratories, but they provide a continuous source of fire. That is exactly what Jalen Brunson provides. Yesterday, the dial was turned up to full max:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 4 9 1 0 2 2/5 8/14 3/3

In 34 minutes. Now, the Doncic Reactor’s repairs are almost finished, so the Brunson Burner will be relegated once again to just laboratory experiments, but he’s someone to keep in mind if injury strikes again. In seven games as a starter this season, Brunson has averaged 29.8 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.4 tres, 4.3 boards, and 6.9 dimes. The shooting efficiency has also been excellent; 46% from the field and 100% from the line. In 22 games off the bench, he averages a meager 14.7 minutes. The Brunson Burner will never be able to fully power the Mavs on a consistent basis, but he’s more than capable of providing fire when called upon. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always brings the heat? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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I always enjoyed the cartoons with the little red devil on one shoulder while the white angel was on the other. Maybe it’s my appreciation for the duality of life. Or maybe it’s because I understand there’s a time for talking shit and another time for just letting the results speak for themselves. Gordon Ramsay is the ultimate shit talker. How someone hasn’t grabbed a souffle and shoved it down his throat is beyond me. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what doesn’t talk shit and just delivers results? The Stocktonator. With that said, his Hell’s Kitchen franchise is a rousing success. The reality show was viewed by millions, primarily due to his berating of chefs. The restaurants seem to be popular (I’ve never gone), but I’ve heard that Ramsay isn’t just some shit talker with nothing behind it. He’s actually a good cook, but the shit-talking persona is why most people are familiar with him and his food. Gordon Hayward Heaven’s Kitchen is the complete opposite. Hayward is unassuming and has that All-American look. His game isn’t flashy but very effective. Last night, though, he put on a heavenly performance that was almost flawless:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 7 8 0 0 2 1/4 17/20 4/4

Unfortunately, the 40-burger wasn’t on the menu but there were plenty of goodies to go around. Granted, it was against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who don’t have the most stifling defense, but Hayward looked smooth, attacked the basket when given the opportunity, and his mid-range game was lethal. Fully healed from his gruesome leg injury two years ago, Hayward is currently the #28 player in fantasy and will likely end up in the 30-40 range come season’s end.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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P. S., the postscript, is something that needs to be eradicated. Why? Because it’s a symbol of laziness, and we can’t have that in our modern day society. Hmm, now that I think about it, there’s good lazy and bad lazy. Good laziness fosters innovation, as some of the greatest inventions were created because of it. Bad laziness is smoking weed, eating donuts, and watching tv all day and night. P.S. is bad lazy. Back in the day, when folks would dip their brushes in ink and write via candle light, the P. S. made perfect sense. Imagine spending hours writing a letter, then at the end you remember something. It wouldn’t make sense to scrap the entirety of the letter, hence the postscript. Even after society was blessed with Whiteout, the postscript still had function. Now? There’s no need for the P. S., as everything is done on computer. For those of you who still write letters…..WHY? For you heathens who use P. S. while typing on the computer, you some lazy mofos. Last night in Toronto, a P. S. was getting busy and was definitely no afterthought. Pascal Siakam went bonkers and put up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 18 5 0 1 4 2/5 11/26 10/11

Now, the game went to OT, but whatever. Siakam did most of the damage during regulation and had a usage rate of 35!!!! Kawhi Schawhi. I guess that preseason ADP of 20 wasn’t too high after all.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?