Regarding last week’s suggestions, Terance Mann failed to impress in his increased opportunity and is a drop and the same can be said for Naz Reid, as he was both underwhelming and Rudy Gobert is back. On the other hand, Kyle Anderson had a great week, but he will also be impacted by Gobert and eventually Towns returning, while Wenyen Gabriel did not provide the blocks he was advertised for and is a clear drop with Anthony Davis closing in on a return. A bad week in suggestions to be honest, let’s hope it’s the exception to the rule.

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While we normally focus on game performances in the lede, it’s open to any big news story that’s trending the day before. Plus, when a pun like this is available, you don’t ever hesitate grabbing that low hanging fruit. Literally every mission objective by any content creator, spoiler alert! Indeed, this also is what you call a double whammy, in that anything Los Angeles sports soothes that SEO soul… but enough about internet metrics and writer’s fruit. Let’s talk about the bromance between the Lakers and Wizards front office that started with the Russell Westbrook trade last season and then culminated into a Kendrick Nunn and three second-rounders for the enigmatic Rui Hachimura.

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Something tells me the Pelican won’t fare well in that scenario, right? Well, that was the case Wednesday night when the Celtics’ Scottie Pippen, “Robin” or what have you – Jaylen Brown – torched the young Pelicans to the tune of 41 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Brown led Boston to a convincing 125-114 victory over New Orleans and he wasn’t alone – top dog, Batman Jayson Tatum bullied his way to 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

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On this day a year ago, DeMar DeRozan knocked down a clutch buzzer-beater to steal the victory over the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, this time around, he was not so lucky. Despite finishing with 21 points, DeRozan fell just short of yet another heroic moment as he missed the go-ahead turnaround fadeaway jumper that would’ve stolen the victory.

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In this life, do-overs are rare. The opportunity to go back and change the mistakes of the past is reserved for science fiction plots or melancholy discussions over a pint in dimly-lit watering holes. But over this last week, I was presented with an opportunity to do just that – to go back with the knowledge of hindsight and fix where I failed, to atone, to set things right. I had screwed up once and now I was gifted a second chance. Please, I told myself, don’t blow it again. 

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I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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Washington Wizards pick up their third straight victory thanks to Kristaps Porzingis’ 31-point double-double.
Kyle Kuzma added 23 points, eight rebounds, and six assists along with Corey Kispert, who scored 18 points and went 4-for-4 from three.
Utah Jazz finished with six players scoring in double figures including Jordan Clarkson (18), Lauri Markkanen (17), Malik Beasley (16), and Collin Sexton (17).

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Son had a nice moment of self-reflection on the latest podcast, recognizing how he – and we all – tend to get easily sucked into preseason storylines that make us overhype or dismiss certain players without questioning the herd mentality around said player. 

Case in point: Myles Turner, who was discussed more for his potential to be traded than for his promising fantasy game. After sitting out a couple games and taking one to ease back to form, Turner put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 assists while shooting 3-4 from three, 7-14 from the field and 10-10 from the line as the Pacers beat the Wizards 127-117. The trade talk will eventually reemerge, but in the meantime, Turner owners may get to feast on a steady diet of blocks with quality numbers across the board. It’s worth remembering he’s just 26, when big guys usually enter their prime. If that age and experience turns into consistency for Turner, there’s Top 15 value to be had here. 

More notes from a busy Friday night in the Association:

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After one week of regular season play, the NBA has started in a less-than-predictable way for most teams. DFS and annual fantasy leagues are humming right along, with many of the usual suspects producing as expected. Just as we thought, the best team in the Western Conference are the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs. Everyone saw that coming.

Similarly, the Eastern Conference has been equally predictable, with both the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat starting 1-3, and the Brooklyn Nets at 1-2. One point of normalcy is the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics currently sit atop the east.

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Welcome back indeed! Draft season is okay, but it feels so good to have basketball back. Roster speculation and divination is no substitute for actual games and real rotations. Considering all my fretting about what to do with Centers, it should come as no surprise that I’ve still got my eye on how some of these uncertain situations are coming together in this first column of the season. Granted, it has only been a week, but some telling decisions have been made now that we’re off and running. Eventually I’ll give some love to guards and forwards, but for now I’m hung up on the big guys. Here’s what’s caught my eye thus far. 

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