The big Fin Lauri Markkanen put up a big stat line, hit a big shot and led the Jazz to a big win Friday night over the Suns. He scored a career-high 38 points on a silly 15-of-18 from the floor, 2-of-3 from deep and 6-of-8 at the line, and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a giveaway to the line. 

So far this season Markkanen has delivered late 2nd / early third-round value, which isn’t too  surprising. The skills were evident, it was just a matter of the fit and program in what was supposed to be a tanking Jazz team. And so far he’s fit like a glove worn by a big white dude in Utah. 

His counting stats aren’t too far from this 2019-20 breakout sophomore season, before things got stormy in the Windy City. The major difference is his ability to get shots inside, and being surrounded by willing and able passers helps, too. Markkanen is shooting 65.6% on 2-point shots with nearly 10 attempts a game, numbers comparable only to Nikola Jokic. The other improvement in the stat line is nearly 2.5 assists per game – again a result of playing in an offense that complements his skill set. 

Most of his career high points were actually easy buckets while taking advantage of a string of blown defensive plays. However, the difficulty level was high on this Kobe/Dirk vintage turnaround jumper:

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If you have been reading my rumblings throughout the years you will have figured by now that I love niche statistics from the NBA world. And much to my delight yesterday, I found this tweet and that led me to a long rabbit hole to research stats from the Knicks season. The tweet mentions that the Knicks are currently 5-5 with a 0.0 points differential, 16th in offense, 16th in defense and are also 1-1 in overtime games. What I also found out with some digging is that they are also 4-4 vs the East and 1-1 vs the West! And to complete the perfectly balanced picture they are also 3-3 in October and 2-2 in November! Thanos from the Marvel universe must have front row season tickets for the Knicks this year…

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Sliding into the DMs gets such a bad rap. I’ve done it many times. For instance, when I needed assistance in doing projections for fantasy basketball, I slid into the DMs of a bunch of fantasy hoops analysts. Geez, I’m such a nerd. I’ve never slid into the DMs for sexy time, though, although I’ve heard that it happens. I’d imagine it gets steamy in there but you have to be careful as I’ve seen many women keep receipts and plaster them all over the internet. If I slide into a steamy DM, my wife would have nothing to worry about because it would be just me slobbering away at the performance of a fantasy baller. On Sunday, I was all about sliding into the DMs of Donovan Mitchell. But then I thought better of it because, while I’m a nerd, I’m a respectfully tasteful nerd.

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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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I guess when it comes down to it, I’m just a sucker for a comeback story. Call it homerism, or a Great Lakes bias, or Stockholm syndrome — it doesn’t much matter to me — because I am here for the redevelopment plans that are starting to come together in the Central division. The Bucks provided the blueprint: Invest heavily in your own (Giannis, Middleton) and then bring in outside help (hello, Jrue!) to get you over the top. After breaking through in a big way last year with their own in-house Big Two of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, the Cleveland Cavaliers seized on New York’s hesitation and snatched an in-his-prime All-Star guard to help them get where they want to go. The cost of doing business was steep in both cases — the Cavs only have one future first-round pick from now until 2030 — but that’s what it takes to trade for a player as good as Donovan Mitchell. Spida arrives in Believeland carrying 25 points per game, and while there will be an adjustment period as the usage rates find their new levels, his presence makes it all the more challenging not to take Cleveland seriously in a fiercely competitive Eastern Conference. There’s still a hole on the wing and the depth is a bit shaky, but the youth of the core four puts the Cavs in a position of strength for years to come as they try to replicate the Milwaukee Miracle on the shores of Lake Erie.

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Same format as last week, with one readily available player per game and some additional insight into the game. I’d imagine that most fantasy leagues have either wrapped up or are in the finals, so take my picks this week as desperation moves. Not a single pick this week is meant for a dynasty league, as this week is all about making that final pickup to win this season. Let’s get right into it. 

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Many cat lovers don’t just have one cat. I don’t understand it but if it’s akin to the Lay’s commercials of “Betcha can’t eat just one!” then I get it. I’ve seen the shows with the lonely woman who dies and has dozens of cats feasting on her festering corpse. Yuck. Having so many cats would seem to be a big f’ing problem. First of all, the more cats, the more food that is needed. Cliques and territory. More cats would bring prison rules to the landscape. I’ve seen cats fight. They go so illmatic that Nas would be motivated to start sampling the fracas. Poo and pee. The literal shit would be everywhere because, unless you had a kitty litter for all, there’s no way cats would patiently wait in a line like at an NBA arena. If given enough time, I’m sure I could come up with many more reasons why having many cats would be an issue but I got things to do, people to see, and blurbs to write. Which brings me to Karl-Anthony Towns. The KAT of the NBA. Normally, I trash KAT a bit because KAT doesn’t seem to have that dog in him. I’ve always acknowledged KAT’s fantasy greatness though because KAT has few weaknesses and provides a solid base to build a team around. But the time with Jimmy Butler exposed some things about KAT that brought doubts to KAT’s ability to lead a team to the championship. Last night, all of that was shoved into the drawer for at least one night because we had not one KAT, not two KATs….We need some Dr. Seuss in the house because we had 60 KATs:

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The Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 105-95, behind Jayson Tatum’s strong performance and an explosive third quarter. With the win, the Celtics extend their winning streak to eight games. Tatum had 13 points going into halftime, but he was just 5 of 13 from the field and 1 of 6 from three. He, and the rest of the boys from Beantown, overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and soared past the Hawks with a 42-point third quarter. Tatum finished the game with 38 points (13-27 FG, 4-10 3PT), 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. Jaylen Brown added 17 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. The recently acquired Derrick White tallied 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block. Marcus Smart compiled 13 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Robert Williams III also had a strong game, finishing the contest with 10 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks. Al Horford was 2-2 from three and finished the game with eight points, six rebounds, and one block.

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Dejounte Murray comes in as our fantasy star of the night for Friday, posting a huge stat line and helping to beat the Hawks 136-121 as an heavy underdog. Murray scored 32 points while dishing out 15 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds. This was arguably the best game of Murray’s career, but more games like this could be in his future now that Derrick White is off the team. He has unlimited upside without White next to him and should be seen as a top asset for the rest of the season. He is just outside of the top-15 players and should be able to push higher after the All-Star Break. Keldon Johnson finished as the second-leading scorer with 26 points on 6-8 three-point shooting. There should be extra opportunities without White, but Johnson should not be relied on to score like this on a game-to-game basis.

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The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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