This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.

Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.

We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.

Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.

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Mondays can be rough for many. Some may be recovering from too many adult beverages, while others may still have the bass bumping in their heads from the clubbing. There are those that went out of town and….are still mentally there. Whatever the case may be, for those that don’t work on the weekends, Mondays are a recuperation and recovery day. Which is apparently what happened in the NBA, as players were scratched left and right, and many others got injured during the game. I’m not saying that the nightlife was the culprit, but I just wrote it so….All jokes aside, yesterday was one of the craziest slates I’ve seen in a while. Below is a list of the inactives:

Pre-game:

John Wall (heel)
Ish Smith (groin)
Kyrie Irving (shoulder)
Gordon Hayward (illness)
Al Horford (knee)
Aron Baynes (ankle)
Blake Griffin (rest)
Reggie Bullock (ankle)
Hassan Whiteside (personal)
Evan Fournier (personal)
Stanley Johnson (knee)
E’Twaun Moore (rest)
Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (neck)
Jamal Crawford (knee)
During the game:

Jimmy Butler (groin)
Henry Ellenson (ankle)
Glenn Robinson III (ankle)
Otto Porter Jr. (knee)
Nikola Mirotic (ankle)
Tristan Thompson (foot)
Lou Williams (hamstring)
Thank goodness tomorrow is Tuesday.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When you have the initials JC, you’ve already got a lot to live up to. John Collins is definitely on his way. Okay, not going to get into the religious stuff, but 3-30-12-5-0-1-1 on 12-of-20 shooting and 3-for-4 FTs in a win against a good Nuggets team is pretty Godly. I seriously underestimated the jump Collins would take from year one to year two. Especially, with the injury setback. He’s already averaging nearly eight points more than last year. The blocks should come up as well as he averaged 1.1 last season in four fewer minutes. I expect his FG% to come down a bit from 62.2%, especially since he’s attempting 2.5 3-pointers at a 25.9% clip, up from his 0.6 attempts last year. Enjoy him if you drafted him, but I doubt you’ll be able to pry him from his owners’ icy grip in your league.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Saturday night:

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During this past week when I was researching for players to put in the Buy column, I had Tim Frazier as a potential candidate, but in no way was thinking of having him as the highlight of the article. And then he goes and does this (2.17-2.35 in the video)

Tim Frazier is one of us. Tim Frazier cares about us. Instead of getting a turnover in the final possession as the clock runs out, he passes the ball to Wesley Johnson so that the turnover is registered to him. And I doubt Johnson is on any fantasy teams right now… More on Frazier below.

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, Marvin Williams was bad and eventually got injured so you can safely drop him again. Injury also struck Taurean Prince, but he is a hold as it is not a serious one. The final Buy suggestion was Allen Crabbe who has seen the minutes rise during the last week, and I still like him for the triples and points contributions.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Lauri Markkanen was selected by the Bulls with the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I had seen a few of his games in college, so he seemed like a legit prospect, but I did not fully embrace him until I watched him play in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. You could see he had that….bow wow wow yippee yo yippe yay….dog in him, and it translated to his first year in the NBA, as he ended as the #66 player for fantasy: 15.2 points, 2.1 threeecolas, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 43% from the field, and 84% from the line. Naturally, big things were expected for his sophomore year, but he injured his elbow before the start of the season and missed the first 23 games.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 10 1 2 1 3 5/13 8/24 0

Well then. That didn’t take long. Played 32 minutes after logging 26 in his season debut. Markkanen is so skilled for a 7′ 0″, 240 pound player and, as mentioned above, he has that dog in him. As a result, I have a feeling that this is going to be Markkanen’s team, sooner rather than later, which puts a slight damper on Zach LaVine’s fantasy prospects.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cue the epic guitar solo! Hayward’s owners can lay their weary heads to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Last night Gordon Hayward went 4-30-9-8-2-0-2 on 8-of-16 shooting and a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe in 30 minutes off the bench. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of the return of Hayward to his old self. It has been pretty miserable owning him this year, but this could be a turning point for him. He’s still getting his confidence/sea-legs back and was  averaging only 10.3 points coming into this one. This was on the heels of a back-to-back as well which means Brad Stevens is confident enough in Hayward’s health to give him big minutes. Many owners used a 4th/5th round pick on him, so if he can return to any semblance of the player he was in Utah, his owners will be happy.

There were seven games on the slate last night in the NBA so let’s dive on in to the Daily Notes!

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This season of 50-point games and JaVale McGee relevance is already about 25% complete. How are your teams looking? We should have a pretty good picture of what we can expect from our lineups and most players, so where can we go from here? Let’s get creative. I’ve been talking about how the practice of ignoring categories that aren’t affecting us can give us an advantage (even if we weren’t trying to punt categories), as it presents a market tilted in our favor. Shaking up the values of players and customizing them to our teams is a great way to make some effective trades. Trades that are more likely to get accepted, because they can more easily be win/win deals. Today, I’m going to give a variety of lists of multi-category “punts” to help identify targets that often go undervalued, in addition to those that complement punting teams best.

I’ve gone on and on about how most categories get overlooked. That’s something that can give savvy managers an advantage. The masses, if they aren’t looking closely at player raters and rankings, may essentially be “punting” the ignored categories like steals, for example. As I often mention, I truly think most fantasy managers subconsciously weigh points, rebounds, and assists more heavily than the other stats. It’s understandable, as that’s how most media outlets report stats, but it’s ridiculous to do so in fantasy, as all categories are created equal.

So, first up, here’s a list of some startable players with the biggest jumps in 9-cat per-game value (per Basketball Monster through 11/25) when we ignore Points, Rebounds, and Assists. These 6-category rankings should give us the players that are most undervalued, especially by casual fantasy players. Think of them as the thinking-man’s fantasy all-stars, fittingly led by it’s perpetual mascot.

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Man…I really feel for Markelle Fultz. He was the #24 recruit out of high school and received scholarships from over 20 colleges, participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, was a member of the Team USA Under-18 squad, First-Team All-Pac-12 and Third-Team All-American in college, and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. On top of the world, as they say, at the tender age of 19 years old. But then the yips surfaced. “The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation…It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.” The most well-known athletes to succumb to the yips are Chuck Knoblauch, Nick Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, and Rick Ankiel. Is Fultz about to join them?

It’s looking likely, as TheAthletic wrote an article yesterday saying that Fultz is dealing with wrist and shoulder issues AND would prefer to move to another team. I’ve been a mental midget at times in my life and have dealt with depression as well, so I empathize but understand some of the realities of the shituation. I was able to hunker down in my cave and deal with my demons, but he’s in the public sphere with everyone all up in his business. The pressure and attention must be debilitating. I feel for you Fultz and wish the best.

This is a fantasy website, though, so I must address the implications from a fantasy perspective. The Fultz stops here. Do not use the Fultz, as the issues seems to be mental. He took an entire season off to deal with it, yet it’s only gotten worse. If he’s having trouble with this, imagine Draymond Green yapping about the yips in his ear. He’s a drop in most formats. I guess in the deepest of leagues, you could stash him as a lottery ticket, but that’s about it.

Did the Boston Celtics sabotage him? I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is that one should always be cynical when a team is willing to pass on the consensus number one overall pick in the draft.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician and politician, who expanded the Roman Empire. He got greedy, though, when he declared himself dictator. As a result, members of the Roman Senate conspired and stabbed him in the back, both literally and figuratively. Julius Randle is a no-nonsense player who bullies defenders down low. Bull in a china shop is an apt description, especially since he’s 6′ 9″ and 250 pounds. After he spent the first four years of his career in Los Angeles, he took his talents to New Orleans and didn’t mess around. He was the same bull that he had been with the Lakers. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 10 1 0 0 0/1 9/13 3/3

….Julius did mess around, notching his sixth career triple-dub. In only 25 minutes! There’s been nothing but love for Julius in New Orleans, as he provides the team with a physical presence down low, who can also be a playmaker in the third-fastest team in the NBA for offensive pace. Ain’t nobody stabbing this Julius in the back. From a fantasy perspective, though, don’t go slicing and dicing your team to acquire his services. He’s a fine player, as he’s currently the 87th player according to Basketball Monster. The issues are the limited minutes, lack of threeecolas, low assists, and miniscule defensive contributions. Hopefully no one comes and stab me in the back now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are certain things that cut across all cultures and have the same meaning, irrespective of language differences. When a signficant other says, “We need to talk,” you’re F’d. When a parent addresses you by your full name, you done F’d up. When you hear the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, something bad is about to happen. Or someone bad is about to do some very bad things. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons was a bad, bad man yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 22 3 3 2 2 0 9/16 5/7

That was Drummond’s fifth 20/20 game of the season and 10th double-dub. He has played 12 games. He is also leading the league in rebounds with 16.6 per game. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Currently, he is the 39th player according to Basketball Monster after finishing as the 22nd player last season. The main reason is the drop in assists (3 vs 1.5). If only he could hit his free throws! Regardless, 19.6 points, 16.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 56% from the field makes for a bad, bad (as in good, good) player for fantasy. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND.

Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why the Stocktonator had Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on loop yesterday. It loved Drummond and had him as the #4 player.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?