Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

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A good friend will tell you not to reply to the Nigerian prince. A good friend will spend time with “that girl’s” friend. A good friend will say you look good when you actually look like shit. A good friend will tell you not to draft Carmelo Anthony.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
2 5 0 0 0 1 0/6 1/11 0

In the offseason, I thought the acquisition of Melo would be a detriment for the Rockets….on the defensive side of the ball. Little did I know that he’d literally suck the life out of the offense. Melo, the most powerful Black Hole in the universe. All jokes aside, Melo does provide threeecolas and some rebounds. The turnovers are miniscule as well. It’s tough to turn the ball over when you have no intention of passing. Other than that, you’re not getting much….literally. A combined 1.6 assists, steals, and blocks per game. 40% shooting from the field and 68% from the line? Melo is the 150th player according to BM. I’m actually surprised he’s that high. Now, he can get hot, as he had a streak when he scored over 20 points in three of four games. Here’s a little story for you. I recently joined Periscope. Every day, at least three hot women follow me. I know I’m a good looking guy, but come on! It’s tempting, but you know nothing good can come from it. Friends don’t let friends Melo.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Okay, admittedly, a lot of us “Fantasy Basketball Experts” hate on Blake Griffin, due to his lack of defensive stats and overall efficiency. However, he has been straight beasting to start the year for Detroit. Let’s be honest, who else can get buckets? There’s something to be said about a player that has aggressiveness. Some players are solid fantasy players, but lack that intangible quality that makes a real difference maker in the NBA. Blake Griffin went 2-38-13-6-2-0-7 on 12-of-21 shooting and 12-for-16 from the charity stripe. He’s never going to be a blocks guy, but the out-of-position assists really float his value outside of the points and boards. Maybe there’s something abut him, that you just don’t like, but the man has been getting it done this year so far. Will he sustain it? Well, I think the points and the FG% come down some, but the rest of the numbers are fairly sustainable, so he’s pretty much a hold unless you wanna be a hater like the rest of us ‘perts.

There were eight games on the schedule this Saturday in the NBA, so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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Watching Chris Paul can be so fun. When he’s not catching spit followed by hooks from fellow old man Rondo, CP3 is hustling, using his old man tricks to take down young teams that dare challenge him. He’ll drive the lane, fake passes, shoot from 8 feet behind the line. He doesn’t care. Trying to keep the ship afloat without Harden is his responsibility and he’s gonna do it. Like the old curmudgeon in your neighborhood that refuses to offer candy to trick-or-treating kids, this grumpy old man will shoo you off his lawn and do what he wants.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
13/27 1/1 5/12 32 7 11 2 2 2

We got classic, but still grumpy CP3 tonight! Paul had a sensational game, carrying the Rockets on his back and beating an up-and-coming Brooklyn team. It always amazes me how he gets so many rebounds for someone who looks to be 5’11 tops. Ride him while Harden is out, but if he keeps playing 37 minutes, expect some rest games soon.

Here’s what else happened last night:

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I try to reserve the lede for players that had unbelieveable games. It usually works out because one of the superstars is always doing something amazing. Every once in a while, though, an outlier happens which pushes all others to the wayside. Last night, we had one of those events, as the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their first win of the season over the Atlanta Hawks. Geez, how bad are the Hawks? Anyways, the Cavs are dead-last in defensive efficiency and near the bottom in offensive pace, assists, efficient field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. Good times. Looking at the schedule, they play the Hawks once more on December 29th. 2-80!!!

When looking at the stats below, make sure you view them in the proper context: they played the Atlanta Hawks.

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When people visit Los Angeles, they often go to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered on the intersection and it has a rich history in the entertainment industry. And entertainment is what Zach LaVine has been delivering for the hoops world and has many, especially our own Brent, clammoring that he is in fact an All-Star. I wonder which poster of LaVine that Brent is jerking off to right now.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 4 5 0 0 3 1/5 10/22 11/12

That now makes four straight games scoring at least 30 points. Before we put him in the Hall of Fame, he doesn’t even appear on the page when I query streaks with at least 30 points. For you inquiring minds, the leader is Kobe Bryant with 16 straight games back in 2003. As for the query itself, it stopped at 5 games. So, one more Zach and you’re on. Anyways, there’s no denying that Zach looks explosive and far removed from his knee injury. With that said, he’s shooting 62% from the field and 45% from downtown. His career rates are 44% and 37% respectively. The efficiency is going to come down. It’s just a matter of how much. Around 3 boards and 3 dimes are nice, but he doesn’t contribute much in the D department, so when the efficiency comes down, it’s….well, imagine you’re walking and you come to a ledge. It’s pitch black so you drop a coin down to see how low it goes. You drop it and you listen. And listen. And listen.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Before we embark upon a new endeavor, we often count one…two…three…then go! For the rookie down in Hotlanta, the start to this new season has gone uno…dos…Trae Young is here!

GM PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
1 14 6 5 0 0 4 1/5 5/14 3/4
2 20 2 9 1 1 3 4/9 7/18 2/3
3 35 2 11 1 0 1 6/14 13/23 3/3

Young has improved each game in points, assists, turnovers, threeecolas, and field goals. Maybe it’s a case of “Third time is a charm,” but I’m more inclined to believe that it was a case of warming up the engine. You know who’s with me? The Stocktonator, as it liked him yesterday. Beep. Boop. Bop. There’s a reason he was the overall #5 pick in the NBA Draft and has been compared to Stephen Curry. Now, yesterday was likely a ceiling game and there will be plenty of ups and downs, but oh what a ceiling it is. Played 38 minutes and led his team to a 22 point victory over the Cavs. Make it rain, Trae.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Ahhh! It’s been a long offseason, but your favorite Daily Notes guy is back. Son gave me the big promotion from the Friday night recap guy to the Saturday Night Daily Notes Lead Writer. Some may consider this a lateral move or even a slight demotion, but I’m going to prove that this move is a slam dunk! I’m going to adjust to this role almost as well as Melo is adjusting to his new bench-role! Okay enough bloviating, let’s get into the first daily notes of my second year writing for Razzball Basketball. Hopefully, I don’t hit the sophomore slump. Fingers crossed…

I would be remiss if I didn’t make Nikola Jokic the lede. They’re calling his performance against the Suns the perfect game. 3/35/12/11/4/1/0 on 11-for-11 shooting and 10-of-11 free throws is pretty damn perfect. Nikola Ain’t no Joke! He’s going to get Paid in Full pretty much every year for the rest of his career. He told the Suns “Don’t Sweat the Technique” last night, as the Nuggets steamrolled the Suns 119-91.

It was a busy night in the NBA on the first Saturday night of the season and there were some monster lines, so let’s dive on in!

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In Latin, Anno Domini means “in the year of the Lord.” Any coincidence that Anthony Davis is the fantasy lord? I think not. AD was the consensus overall number one pick coming into the season, and for good reason. He hammer times and moon walks over the competition by literally doing everything. For the infidels who blasphemously inserted another player on the throne, take a look at last nights line and ponder your unfulfilling existence.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 16 8 3 3 1 0 13/21 6/7

This wasn’t no “Devin Booker score 70 points in a double digit loss” line. This was a “let’s beatdown the Houston Rockets by 19 points” line. Bend the knee.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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With the season minutes away, and drafts likely complete, there is still time to dig deep for those watch list wonders and sneaky waiver pickups. Whether these players are in a new scheme, new location, getting more minutes or just primed for a breakout, there are potential underrated stars to be had on every team. I highlighted the Eastern Conference earlier in the week, now we’ll tackle the Western Conference and look for players who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner than later.

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