I have sporadically mentioned in these articles how much I admire Gregg Popovic. Not only for his coaching ability, love for the game, and competitiveness, but also for his personality. The guy is a quote machine, always providing something clever/funny/deep to comment, depending on the situation. And after a game-winning performance by DeMar Derozan against the Raptors, he had this to say.

DeRozan got the star treatment on his return in Toronto but Pop was quick to bring him back to earth in his own unique way. It really makes you think about the culture of the San Antonio organization as a whole and appreciate their commitment to success through teamwork.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bradley Beal returned, but this hasn’t slowed down both Ish Smith and Jordan Mcrae, who continued their productive streaks. Sekou Doumbouya also looks like a big hit, as Blake Griffin should be out for the rest of the season and Daniel Gafford is a start-worthy player as long as Wendell Carter Jr. is out.

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As NBA fans and fantasy basketball players we all lust for the power of NBA general managers. Many of us wrongly assume we could do a better job heading our favorite team’s basketball operations—it isn’t hard to get those ideas if you happen to be a Knicks, Magic, Timberwolves, Suns, or Kings fan. But what we long for as much as the power, is the seriousness of the endeavor. NBA GM’s get to make decisions that carry weight. A draft pick is quite simply a choice—a highly public, decade-defining choice in some cases, but a choice all the same. We make choices every day—the blue or the red tie, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, Fleabag or The Good Place, two drinks or twelve, poetry or literally anything else that might actually pay the bills. We make applicable sports decisions as well. We choose between Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard in our fantasy draft, we add Kendrick Nunn or Davis Bertans off the wire, we kill Russell Westbrook in the group chat, we build property on Julius Randle, Dion Waiters, or Lonzo Ball Island. We tweet, we engage, and we argue. We win our league or we don’t. In time, we are either vindicated or pilloried. At best, we have a lighthearted thing to lord over people we care about, at worst, we have to dye our hair, wear ugly ill-fitting clothes, or in a more recent trend, consume enough waffles to avoid sleeping in a Waffle House. But largely, no one notices or cares, as our sports opinions are indiscernible dots in a sea of data points.

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OUCH…. If it was two or three years ago, Davis would have been already ruled out for the next two months., but the Lakers need to stay competitive so he should be back at the earliest opportunity. It is always a shock to see NBA athletes of that size take such falls or collisions, but it is a contact sport after all. However, Andre Robertson had a similar awful injury three years go and he has yet to return in any resemblance of form. Let’s hope AD is fine because he is having an awesome season and has ever so slightly gotten rid of the injury prone label.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, I will freely admit that it was a bad week. I blame it on too much food during the holiday season. Or I was just in a suggesting slump that I will surely shake off during the next game. Both help me sleep better at night so I’m sticking with them. More specifically, Gary Payton II’s hot start is a distant memory and Delon Wright’s emergence is not happening, unfortunately. Both were terrible this past week and I dropped them already in standard leagues. Only De’Anthony Melton was usable but, with the Memphis returning to full strength, he will also struggle to find meaningful minutes.

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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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If you go to Lawry’s and order the prime rib, there are five cuts to choose from: The California Cut (for lighter appetites), the English Cut (three thin slices), the Diamond Jim Brady Cut (an extra thick portion, bone in), the Beef Bowl Double Cut (celebratory Rose Bowl cut), and the Lawry Cut (the traditional and most popular). Because I’m a fat ass, it’s all about the Beef Bowl Double Cut, 22 ounces of heaven.

Heaven ain’t no place in the sky. It’s right down here on Earth….at Lawry’s. There are not many things better looking than that. But since we are fantasy nerds, seeing your player mess around and drop a triple-double in the stat box has got to be up there. Last night, Kyle Lowry expertly cooked the Triple-Double Cut:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 10 10 2 1 3 3/6 5/17 7/8

Mmmm, mmmm, mmm. So delicious. Since returning from injury, Lowry has AVERAGED 38.6 minutes per game! For the season, he’s second with 37.3, right behind James Harden. That is great for fantasy, as the counting stats have been abundant: 2.3 trees, 5.8 boards, 8 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The shooting has been atrocious, though, as he’s been shooting 31% from the field. For the season, he’s at 40%. As a result, he’s putting up top 45 production and will likely finish in the top 35-40 range when all is said and done. Outside of the poor shooting, the other main concern is health. He’s already missed games this season and, with the elevated run per night, can he hold up for the entire season? If he can, there should be more cooking of the Triple-Double Cut this season, as Lowry has now messed around 15 times in his career. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never messes around? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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A ravine is a “deep, narrow gorge with steep sides” according to Google. LaVine’s RaVine is a sight to see. The drop off in his stats based on the outcome of the game is truly something to witness. In wins, he’s great… he averages 27.1 points per game, with an offensive rating of 119, a FG% of 51.7, and an absolutely absurd 3Pt% of 57.5. And that’s similar to the LaVine we saw last night, in the Bulls’ unexpected victory over the Kawhi-less Clippers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 4 2 2 0 3 4-7 11-21 5-6

In losses? LaVine’s scoring output falls to 20.2 points per game, with an offensive rating of 95 and FG and 3Pt percentages of 38.5% and 32.4%, respectively. That’s some sort of drop off, and it speaks to how much the Bulls depend on him if they want any chance of winning. His usage is nearly identical in both, but his inability to consistently perform at a top level makes us question his future as the leader of a team.

Here’s what else we saw around the league on Saturday night.

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Press the above video and sing along.

….Born is the King of Philadelphia. 

They looked up and saw a star. Shining in the East beyond them far. And to the court he gave great light. As so it continued. Night after night. 

Joel, Joel, Joel, Joel Embiid is too damn good:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 13 6 0 1 2 2/3 12/21 12/14

On the season, Embiid is a top 20-ish player. Last season, he finished as the #10 player for fantasy. The minutes have decreased by 3. As a result, the points are down by 5, the boards are down by 1, and the blocks are down by 0.5. Don’t fret, though. Over the past seven games, the minutes have climbed back up to 33 a game and Embiid has been the #15 player for fantasy. He should be a 1/1/1 member at season’s end and he’s one of the few player in the league who can truly contribute in every category. Sing your praises and exalt his name, as it is Joel season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There was a time when Channing Tatum was an international sensation, as he starred in blockbusters such as Step Up, G. I. Joe, 21 Jump Street, White House Down, and the Lego Movie. Ok, maybe some hyperbole but 43 movies are 43 movies. Don’t forget about the TV shows, video games, music videos, Saturday Night Live, and MTV Awards. Times started getting lean around 2014, though. The Google queries declined. The downloading of pics ceased. But then his phone began beeping incessantly in 2017, as he set up notifications whenever anyone Googled his name. He was back! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves? The Stocktonator. Life was good again. Unfortunately, the queries all consisted of, “Is Jayson Tatum related to Channing Tatum?” Whatever, he took whatever he could get. Jayson Tatum was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He was a sensation his rookie year, to the point where some were saying that they wouldn’t trade him for Anthony Davis. Crazy. Anyways, the sophomore slump came and so did Channing’s pain, as his phone stopped buzzing. But here we are in 2019, as Channing’s phone has been off the hook, as his brother-from-another- mother has been balling out this season. Last night, he…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 11 2 2 2 4 4/6 7/14 1/2

His rookie year, Tatum ended as the 63rd player for fantasy. The following year, he finished as the 59th player. So far this season, he’s the 33rd player. Over the past six games, Tatum has been a top 10 player!!! The points, tres, boards, dimes, and steals have all increased. The shooting efficiency has declined, which sucks because the volume has increased, but that’s been the only blemish. The usage rate is 28 on the season, but it’s ticked up to over 32 at times. People are going to be Googling Tatum’s name for a long, long time. That makes Channing very happy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Temples are buildings where religious or spiritual activities are performed. These acts have ranged from sacrifice to the more socially acceptable prayer. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and many other religions have utilized temples to worship their gods. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s a digitial god? The Stocktonator. And they are often open every day, yet people usually only go to worship once a week. Same goes for Garrett Temple. He’s played in every game this season. Early on, he was getting 16-18 minutes of run, then it was ramped up to 24-26 minutes. Since November 18th, Temple has averaged 34 minutes per game, primarily because of the Caris LeVert injury. With that said, he provides a fantasy relevent performance about once a week. Last night the weekly quota was met.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 4 3 0 0 2 6/9 10/16 1/1

If you pray hard enough, Temple will provide points, tres, boards, and dimes. Just don’t get greedy and expect any defensive stats. Save those prayers for world peace and an end to hunger.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?