For the first two seasons of Morant’s career, he finished as the 133rd and 201st player on a per-game basis for fantasy. The athleticism shined early and his ability to score was evident. He could board and dish out dimes with the best of them but, but, but….Did I stuffer mother f-er? The defensive stats weren’t bountiful, the tres didn’t rain down from the heavens, and the free-throw shooting was meh at 75-ish percent. At only 22 years old, I thought there would be improvement in Year Three but, as Caine from Menace II Society said, “I never thought he’d come back like this.” I’m such a stupid, stupid man as he would fall, then fall, then fall some more in drafts, but I’d pass, even though dimes are a precious resource and he was going to improve. Well, he’s not only improved, he’s broken out! And last night was just another leg on the victory tour.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Brandon Goodwin popped off the bench with 15 points, four rebounds, five assists, two threes, and a steal in 24 minutes, making six of his 12 shots as well as his lone free-throw. Goodwin benefited from the absences of both Darius Garland and Caris LeVert, but LeVert will continue to miss time, making Goodwin a potential streamer. When Goodwin has gotten the requisite playing time, he’s put up numbers. Most recently, that came in a three-game stretch at the beginning of the month when Goodwin averaged 13.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.0 APG, 2.7 3PTM, and 2.0 SPG. However, with the Cavs fancying themselves as legit contenders, they may favor veteran Rajon Rondo over him, making Goodwin a watch-and-wait guy for the time being (zero percent rostered).

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We’re back! Wow, that was a long All-Star break, almost too long. I actually had to spend time with my kids (kidding, not kidding). I did enjoy the All-Star game and played a few Showdown lineups that hit the cash line. Unfortunately, I did not roster Stephen Curry, who displayed one of the best shooting performances I’ve ever seen on his way to 50 points. Curry is playing tonight vs. a depleted Portland team but he is pricey. I like Steph tonight but my favorite play is Devin Booker. Book’em Danno (Hawaii Five-o reference)! I’m ready to get back to the grind, are you? Let’s get it.

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“With the 22nd pick of the two thousand and twenty one NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select….Isaiah Jackson of the University of Kentucky,” voiced Adam Silver through my Bose speakers. Unfortunately, he was immediately shipped to Washington as part of the Russell Westbrook trade. As of this writing, I am on a mad search for the DeLorean that makes magic happen at 88 mph. I used to often ponder where I would go if I could travel through time. Meet Jesus? Commiserate with/for the dinosaurs? Naw, I’m definitely going back to August 6th, 2021 and doing everything in my power to wipe that trade from the annals of history. Then a funny thing happened. It’s not anals, damnit! I got a call on the celly and future Son told me to come outside. As the gull wing door lifted up to the sky, I saw future Son frantically wave me hurry up and get in. Before I could click the seatbelt, the back of my head mushed into the headrest like a Tempur-Pedic and zoom, zoom, zoom we went. Stars. Flashes of light. Darkness. They all zoomed by as we raced through time. Then I saw a face. Another. Then another until it looked like an army of ants marching towards a picnic. It was none other than DeUngela Jackson, mother to Isaiah Jackson. I channeled my innermost Nancy Kerrigan and bellowed, “Whhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?????” How is Isaiah going to help the Lakers get to the Promised Land? We need shooters to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Plus, Isaiah is only 18 years old and only played 20.8 minutes at Kentucky. Naw, Momma Jackson, I’m heading back in time for Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Excuse me as I eradicate the puke I just swallowed from myself. Well, after last night’s performace, future Son better get his ass back to 2022 because….

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Hope and confidence are high for the Atlanta Hawks heading into the 2021-22 NBA season after their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last year’s playoffs. After this offseason, the Hawks have maybe the best mix of veteran reliability and youthful upside in the entire NBA. Delon Wright and Lou Williams can comfortably back up Trae Young as well as play alongside him in the right matchups. Sharife Cooper will be there to soak up all the veteran know-how whenever he’s not testing the limits of his creativity for the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks G League affiliate. Ditto for Jalen Johnson. It’s unreasonable to expect the Hawks to make it back to the Conference Finals, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Barring a long-term injury to Trae Young, this team should be even better than they were in the regular season last year. For those who “couldn’t watch Trae Young” because of his mastery of the dark arts of foul drawing—you’re in luck! The rules changes should see Young and every other crafty on-ball creator playing more “honest” basketball this season. Combine that with the wealth of talent on the roster and the Hawks should be a popular league pass team. They came in at #7 in Zach Lowe’s annual League Pass Rankings.

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During draft season, I joked with the other Razz writers that, according to my extremely unscientific research, 100% of LA guys were in on LaMelo Ball. The echo chamber and hype bubble were too well-constructed for this not to be the case (also I didn’t really do much research and threw out evidence that didn’t support my theory. I’m Mister Hooper, not Doctor.) LaVar’s greatest creation was not the trio of ballers he sired (or those ugly shoes), but the machine he constructed to discuss them ad infinitum. Put off the Ball family brashness, I was lukewarm on LaMelo when drafting and missed out on an extremely fun and productive rookie year. The hype will be hot again next season, I assume, especially if the Hornets show some fight against one of the beasts of the East, so I’ll probably miss him next year too. But perhaps there’s a backdoor to one of these Balls. While little bro is taking up all the shine, Lonzo Ball has taken another step forward, especially as a shot maker. The vision and passing has always been legit (even my hater-ass was quick to concede that after watching him at Summer League) but the stroke has been sanded down and his 3-point percentage now creeps towards 40%. Still shy of 24-years-old, he’s putting it together.

Last night, playing in the aptly named Ball Arena in Denver, Lonzo consistently got where he wanted to go on the floor and then dimed up his teammates once he cracked the Denver defense open. The highlight package below isn’t spectacular, but if you want to watch a dude move to the exact spots  where he’s most dangerous, then I have the clip for you.

Lonzo Ball

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
16 12 12 4 2 4 6/14 0/0 4

It was another busy Wednesday in professional hoops. Here’s what else stood out:

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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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LeBron. Le Cordon Bleu. Le Diplomate. Le Creuset. Le Meruice. Le Meridien. Le PS5. Le Los Angeles Lakers. Le just means The but that doesn’t diminish its greatness. It’s the first one written, first one seen, first one spoken, and introduces all things, big or small. With that said, only a select few are blessed with the Le. In France, not so much but in the good ole’ US of A, it’s akin to finding Coke in a glass bottle. LeVert, as in Caris LeVert has been great and looks to have finally found his footing in Indiana. Two games ago, he went for 34 points, two tres, five boards, three dimes, one steal, and three blocks. For an encore, he went bonkers again….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 6 6 2 3 2 1/8 7/18 11/13

….in 36 minutes. The usage rate was a whopping 29. Over the last four games, LeVert has been a top 15 player. Houston sure could use a player of his caliber.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I used to love watching Animal Planet. That is, when they actually used to show freaking wild animals in their natural habitat. Now it’s a bunch of BS shows that IDGAF about. Anyways, watching a cackle of hyenas or a pride of lions working together to take down prey was always an exhilarating watch. That’s usually because the prey was a big, burly beast who could F shit up. It would take hours and a coordinated precision to take it down. Sometimes they trudged home empty-handed, but every once in a while, they would overcome and feast. Last night, a pack of Pacers Voltron’d up and took down the hurly-burly Grizzly for a 132-125 victory. Domantas Sabonis produced 18 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 29 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal. Caris LeVert went for 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks. It took 48 minutes, but the Pacers finally defeated the Grizzlies, 132-125 as Jonas Valanciunas was a freaking beast, going for 34 points, 22 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. He shot 16-for-25 from the field.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?