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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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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The Lyndon Baines Johnson presidency was a misunderstood one. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never misunderstood? The Stocktonator. Most view the administration unfavorably due to the Vietnam War, but LBJ did much to improve the domestic situation in the United States. He passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, created Medicare and Medicaid, increased funding for education, and declared a “War on Poverty.” Historians rank him as an above-average president. The people, though, gave him two thumbs down. The NBA LBJ administration, on the other hand, hasn’t been an administration at all. It’s been more a reign, as LeBron James aka The King has ruled over The League….not one….not two…..not three….not four…..not five…..but 15 seasons. It should be 16, but many viewed him as #TheWashedKing last year as he missed many games due to injury. As his play this season has shown, LBJ didn’t go anywhere. He continues to dominate and reign over the NBA. Last night was but the latest example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 13 7 1 3 4 4/10 12/21 4/7

LeBron is the #12 player for fantasy on the season. He’s leading the freaking league in dimes with 10.8 per game. The usage rate is 32.4 and he’s taking 20.1 field goal atttempts per game. The 34.6 minutes per game seem like a lot, right? Well, that’s a career low!!! Which is a good thing because health and Father Time are the only things that will stop this reign.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Luka Doncic was a name most fans of European basketball knew long before he was drafted. We knew all about his potential and, most importantly, his experience that was uncharacteristic for a player of his age. His rookie year was already promising but we are currently witnessing the birth of a true superstar in his sophomore year. Luka is currently averaging 30.1/3.1/10/9.5/1.4/0.2/4.7. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in….That’s almost a triple-double from a second-year player at age 20. Truly unreal…

Also, check out this response to “Why the Dallas defense has improved this year?”

Dirk was notorious for his humor so Luka looks like a deserved heir both on and off the court.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Markelle Fultz had a great week and is trending up in a hurry while Moritz Wagner and Jaxson Hayes performed well but not spectacularly. Finally, Kevin Love justified being a “Sell” candidate as the rest days started and they should be a regular occurrence moving forward.

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Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, there was much chatter about a certain 19-year-old from Slovenia who signed a contract with one of the top teams in Europe, Real Madrid, at the tender age of 13. In 2015, at the age of 16, he made his professional debut, making him the third-youngest player to make a debut in The Liga ACB, the top division in the Spanish basketball league. Within only two years, this wizard guided Real Madrid to a EuroLeague finals victory and earned the EuroLeague MVP award. Watching the YouTube highlights, you saw the step-back tres, the amazing handles, exquisite passing, and high IQ. He was no doubt the next best thing. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what is no doubt the best thing? The Stocktonator. The weird thing, though, was that there were some who questioned his ability to play in the League due to the lack of athleticism and the fact that he didn’t play in the States. “He’s good, but he ain’t Doncic!!”, they said. Well, Luka Doncic has been taking a [email protected]#t on all the haters and put up what has become a daily stat line yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 6 10 2 1 6 5/14 15/29 6/8

On the season, Doncic is the number five player for fantasy. He’s averaging 33.9 minutes, 30.6 points, 3.3 tres, 10.1 boards, 9.8 dimes, 1.3 steals, and is shooting 49% from the field and 81% from the line. The only blemishes are the 4.6 turnovers and lack of blocks. In his rookie season, Doncic ended as the #100 player for fantasy, primarily due to the 42% shooting from the field and 71% from the free throw line. You do the math. Really, all we can do is bow down and sing our praises.

Shoutout to Isaac Lee and the Ringer for that all-time video.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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For the first five games of the season, Nicolo Melli played an average of 15.2 minutes per game, with a high of 20. He showed the ability to shoot from downtown, but little else. The first four games of November, Melli played 10, 10, 5, and 17 minutes. He was rotting on the bench. But then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 6 4 3 0 0 1/6 4/10 5/5

Nelli got the call on the celli to notify him that he would play 27, 27, and 28 minutes over the past three games. Did I just time travel there? Anyways, Melli has responded by scoring 14, 16, and 10 points with a decent amount of boards and dimes. What really stands out is three steals in two separate games. Who knew this Italian was a smooth criminal? Perhaps he’s mafioso? He’s been a top 60 player over the past four games. This could be a short-term thing while the Pelicans are banged up, or it could be the start of something. I may be able to time travel, but I cannot predict the future. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what can predict the future? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve often wondered what driving while being color blind would be like. Yeah, I have too much free time on my hand obviously. Anyways, a STOP sign would just be a sign. The lights at a traffic signal would just change by sequence instead of the red, yellow, and green. It’s a good thing that most lights are standard, in that red is either at the top or on the left in horizontal signals. What if I ventured to a place that had the red on bottom or right? I’d be f’d. Anyways, there are many of players in the NBA who are definitely color blind when it comes to shot selection. Or maybe they just see green. Hmmm, now that I think about it, dolla bills are green and teams pay dolla bills for shots made, so players shoot shots to get the green. Now, not all players can get away with this because one has to actually make the shots to get the green. If a player has the red light, but shoots for the green anyways…and misses….then he will no longer be in the league. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what helps you get the green? The Stocktonator. One player who does not have this issue is Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings. He averaged 16.6 shots per game last season and converted at a 45% clip. As a result, the Kings gave him a four-year extension worth $106 million. That is a lot of green. So far in 2019, he’s averaging 16.4 shots, but since De’Aaron Fox went down due to injury, he’s averaging 20 shots per game! Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 6 2 1 4 3 7/12 14/24 0

A season high in both points and shot attempts for Buddy. He’s been a top 25 player since Fox went down and the usage has ticked up close to 30. It was a tick under 28. Now, Buddy won’t provide many dimes or blocks and the uptick in steals is likely an outlier, but he will provide a ton of points, tres, and some boards.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Last week, Jabari Parker was the first player suggested as a pickup due to the John Collins injury. I expected a rise in minutes and production but the reality was better than expected. 22/1/8.2/2.2/1/1/1.8 on 56.1%/69.1% shooting have him ranked 33rd during that span. As long as Collins remains sidelined, Jabari can be a difference-maker in fantasy. Regarding the other “buy” candidates, both Delon Wright and Troy Brown had forgettable weeks but I still believe in their value.

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Kobe Bryant is the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points. He could shoot from downtown, break your ankles and flush it down your throat, and pump fake, pump fake, pivot, spin, then fade away and splash from the mid-range. Bottom line: Kobe was a professional getter of buckets. He’s often viewed as a ball hog, though. Some of it is fair.

Some of it isn’t. Many of his shots came with the shot clock or game clock near zero. The ultimate argument against it, though, is the 2005 Lakers. After Lamar Odom and his 11.6 field goal attempts that season, it was Smush Parker with 9.5, Chris Mihm with 7.8, Brian Cook with 6.3, Devean George with 6, Kwame Brown with 5.4, Luke Walton with 4.8, Sasha Vujacic with 3.8, Laron Profit…..Can I stop now? Kobe against three defenders gave the Lakers a better chance than Smush Parker wide open, right? Anyways, I kind of kid, as Kobe was an all-around player who averaged close to 5 dimes per game over the course of his career. With that said, even I as a Lakers fan can consider him a ball hog. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. Anyways, Kobe didn’t play much his rookie year (15.5 minutes per game) and he only averaged 5.9 shots per game. His second year in the league, the minutes went up to 26 and the field goal attempts were at 11.6. It was the third year when he started to go bonkers, averaging 37.9 minutes and 15.6 shots per game. Coby White of the Chicago Bulls scoffs at those numbers, as he’s only averaging 24.2 minutes but jacking up 12.4 shots per game!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 3 1 1 0 1 7/11 8/14 4/4

Can’t score if you don’t shoot, and Coby did plenty of both last night. Granted, it was against the Knicks so value must be cut in half. With that said, this is the second time scoring at least 25 points in a game. Now, on the season, the field goal percentage is at 36%, so the range of outcomes is 1 point to somewhere in the 20s. The most promising development, though, has been the playing time. White has played 27, 27, 30, 24, and 25 minutes over the past five games. Will it continue? Tough to say because Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn are still receiving playing time in the low 20s. This looks to be a “hot hand” situation, which sucks for fantasy. If White starts getting consistent minutes in the 30s or one of the other guards gets injured, then I’d consider him for fantasy. Until then, he’s best viewed as a streamer.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?