There is no stopping the King. Those who stand his way are forced to bow down to his greatness. With the Friday night lights gleaming, no superstar shines brighter. In a head-to-head battle between MVP candidates, one man rose to the occasion and asserted himself as the leading candidate. That man would happen to be Lebron James. Flirting with a triple-double, James was aggressive all night as he placed his stamp all over the game and all over the Milwaukee Bucks. Even when struggling from behind the three-point line, “Logo Lebron” still found a way to drop a near 40-ball in a big time win. Talk about “young bucks,” the 35-year-old babied and bullied the Bucks all night as he continues his historic MVP run.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 8 8 3 0 4 1/7 12/21 12/15

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Back when Larry Nance Jr. was a Los Angeles Laker, younger Son had a Nance Romance. I’d watch this 6′ 7″, 245 pound poster maker get busy night in and night out. With his 7′ 1″ wingpan and 37.5″ hops, Nance would Statue of Liberty every dunk. It didn’t matter if there was a defender there or not. It was patriotism at its finest. Unfortunately, he was never able to get more than 22 minutes of run per game, as he was down on the depth chart, suffered an injury when the opportunity finally arrived, and his tweener status gave coaches the heebie jeebies. When he got traded to Cleveland, I was sad to see him go but was curious to see if he could thrive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always thrives? The Stocktonator. Once again, the depth chart was not kind to Nance, but the team signed him to a four-year, $44.8 million extension. He had to play, right? Of course not because it’s the Cavs we are talking about. He could never carve out a significant role and primarily relied on injuries to get run. Well, here we are now. Tristan Thompson is out with a knee injury while Andre Drummond is nursing a calf injury. Last night against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 15 4 4 0 2 2/5 7/13 3/6

In 39 minutes. Nance has always been a good rebounder due to his athleticism and pursuit, but he’s developed a decent shot from downtown to go along with his handles and passing ability. He’s always been a maven for steals, as he plays the passing lanes well. The one conundrum has been the lack of blocks. He’s never come close to averaging 1 block per game despite receiving around 27 minutes per game during stretches. Probably has to do with overall defensive IQ, as athleticism isn’t the issue. Maybe he and Blake Griffin studied at the same dojo for how not to get blocks. Regardless, in nine games as a starter for the Cavs, Nance has averaged 35.2 minutes, 14.1 points, 1.3 tres, 9.9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line. That’s equated to top 40 production for fantasy. Wouldn’t he be the perfect player for the Houston Rockets? Anyways, only use Nance when both Thompson and Drummond are out, or if the Cavs come out and say that he’s going to be the starting power forward from now on. Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Naz Reid was a highly-touted recruit in high school and was ranked as the third-best power forward/15th-best overall player in the nation. He played his college ball at LSU and declared for the draft after one season. He’s 6′ 10″, 240 pounds, has feathery touch from downtown, has decent handles with a wicked spin move to maneuver in the paint, is agile for a man his size, and can dish out dimes. Then why did he go undrafted? He didn’t dominate his one year in college and tanked the pre-draft combine. But the Minnesota Timberwolves knew because it wasn’t hard to tell that he was Illmatic…….

Ahhhhh, love that song. Anyways, can’t give the Timberwolves that much credit because if they truly knew then they would’ve drafted him. Regardless, they took a shot and their gamble looks to have paid off.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 14 3 3 2 1 1/4 5/12 2/2

In 27 minutes. Over the past seven games, Naz has averaged 25.4 minutes, 10.9 points, 0.9 tres, 7 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks. A 1/1/1 player!!! The field goal percentage is very poor for a big man, though, as it’s been 40% recently and 41% on the season. He’s a 70% shooter from the free throw line. Now, much depends on whether or not Karl-Anthony Towns returns. If he does, then Naz will have little value, but if KAT does get shut down, then……Naz will be Illmatic. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always Illmatic? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Joel Embiid is 7 feet and weighs 249 pounds. There are only around 2800 people in the world who are 7 feet or taller. With 7.4 billion people, that comes out to 0.000038% of the population! Add in the fact that he’s as nimble as a ballerina, possesses the feathery touch of players much smaller than him, and is almost as witty as Grey…..it all culminates in a human that is…..is he even human? Regardless, Embiid is truly a unique breed. Last night was just the most recent display of his uniqueness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
49 14 3 3 1 4 1/3 17/24 14/15

The #11 player for fantasy on a per-game basis, which is key because he’s missed 16 games on the season. That is the only chink in the armor. It’s a massive one for sure, but things can change quickly. Just look at KAT. On the season, Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 1.3 tres, 12 boards, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks with 47% shooting from the field and 82% from the line. He literally does it all. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what literally does it all day in and day out? The Stocktonator. Now, Ben Simmons did not play last night and could be out for a while. Without Simmons on the court, Embiid garners a usage rate of 36.4, and increase of 4.2%. He scores 1.59 fantasy points per minute! Here’s praying for the health of this outlier of a human.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

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For much of the season, Collin Sexton was a one-dimensional, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am player. He’d huck. He’d chuck. He’d blow you away with how little the contributions would be in the periphery stats. There have been only three games this season in which he’s scored single digits. He’s failed to jack up double digits shots in just one game. What makes it more impressive is that he dished out more than four dimes in only four games and hasn’t been punched in the face by his teammates. Yet, here we are in game number 45. Are we witnessing a new, improved, and more mature Sexton show?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 4 4 2 0 2 2/2 10/15 7/7

Jordan Clarkson was traded from the Cavs 15 games ago. When he left, Sexton saw an increase of over two minutes of run per game and close to two more shot attempts. Over the past three games, though, Sexton has averaged 23.7 points, 2.7 tres, 5.3 boards, and 4 dimes! The usage rate has been 30.8 and he’s jacking up 20.7 shots per game. The boards and dimes are the most eye-opening stats, as the season numbers are 3.3 boards and 2.4 dimes. Small sample size I know. Not something you want at a Sexton show. Anyways, Sexton is only 21 years old and has played 126 career games. There’s a chance things have clicked. Now, from a fantasy perspective, Sexton is still outside the top 100, even with the increase in boards and dimes, because of the lack of defensive stats. Hey, can’t go from a zero to a hero overnight. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s heroic every day? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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A cam is a rotating piece that transforms rotary motion into linear motion. For example, in automobiles……automobiles??!!……it takes the rotary motion of the engine and morphs it into motion that can operate the intake and exhaust valves of the cylinders. Basically, if the cams aren’t working properly, then the cylinders don’t either, and the end […]

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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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