The 2019-20 Grizzlies are going to be a lot of fun to watch. Ja Morant is going to be dunking on fools and buzzing screaming lefty passes by defenders’ ears. Jaren Jackson Jr. is going to keep bombing from deep and blocking everything in sight at the rim. Brandon Clarke is the perfect pick and roll lob partner for Morant, as he’ll have plenty of opportunities to sky above ten feet and throw down feathery Morant passes. Kyle Anderson is going to keep cheekily breaking down defenses with his awkward, dawdling euro-step game and random bursts of quickness. The Grizzlies are also going to be bad this season, but that’s okay. A great League Pass team doesn’t always rack up the W’s, take last year’s Sacramento Kings for example. The Kings were a fast-paced ball of fun even though they ultimately wound up missing out on the playoffs—expect the same from this year’s Grizz.

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The Hawks won 29 games last year, but were a much tougher opponent in the second half. 29-53 is 12 games under .500, but the Hawks were only three games under .500 over the last 41. That was due to the young’uns getting better as the season progressed. The Hawks brain trust is optimistic the growth spurt continues, as they have added even more youth to the mix.

De’Andre Hunter’s Final Four heroics moved him up the draft board, and the Hawks paid a ransom to acquire him, but leadership has earned the benefit of the doubt. Their picks, combined with the teaching style of coach Lloyd Pierce and his staff, have drawn visible dividends, but will the expected leaps turn into hops? Not paying Dewayne Dedmon, when they could afford to, may hurt more than they realize.

Most projections have the Hawks winning 30-ish games. That may be conservative, but I expect a minor flirtation with .500 and another round of ping pong balls, as youth continues to mature.

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Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Alright! Who’s still rockin’ in the playoffs? Some of us got screwed over by late-season injuries and will forever curse the names of the players who hurt themselves and cost us hundreds of dollars and bragging rights amongst our friends. With the season winding down and fantasy playoffs in full swing, there are many players who are suddenly becoming fantasy-relevant down the stretch. The Mavericks have fallen out of playoff contention, but fantasy owners are monitoring them closely because they have some juicy pickups. Maxi Kleber went 3-18-12-1-0-1-0 on 5-of-11 shooting and 5-for-5 FTs and Jalen Brunson went 4-22-4-2-0-0-0 on 8-of-18 shooting and 2-for-2 FTs. Both of these guys have suddenly become viable options, especially with the Mavericks playing four games next week. Brunson has been ballin’ over his last five averaging 21.2 points and 5.6 assists with really nice peripherals. I would definitely add him if he’s somehow available and would strongly consider adding Kleber if you have something to lose. There’s only two weeks left for most of us, so if a guy’s not producing, or you’re like me and lost Malcolm Brogdon, it’s time to cut bait and make a pickup.Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Look ahead—Trade Deadline Edition

Now we are just past the halfway mark of the season and into the annual fun that masquerades as the trade deadline.

Teams are either hoping to find the one additional piece to move them into championship contention, ensure that playoff slot which has eluded the home fans for several seasons, or offload some contracts to save a few bucks and better the future.

The interesting thing is figuring out who the sellers and buyers are. More intriguing for us fantasy hoop heads is how it affects/changes/improves/negates the numbers of current players and what kind of new opportunities can now be found for players in new situations.

We will take a look at the Eastern Conference first – identify some trade targets and discuss what that might mean.  Then we will do the same with the West.

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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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Entering last night’s game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 131st on Yahoo rankings, mainly due to the high turnovers, low free throw percentage, and lack of threeecolas. Well, Giannis said F U to all the rankings and went HAM last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 15 4 0 2 3 1/3 13/29 4/6

Granted, it was the Knicks but I don’t see many teams being able to slow him down, especially in this Budenholzer offense. He’s averaging a ridonkulous 16.5 rebounds, 25.5 points, 6.4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal so far. The usage rates for each game have been 41, 38, and 37! The lack of threeecolas have always been an issue, and I don’t see that improving too much this year. The poor free throw shooting should improve, as he’s a career 74% from the charity stripe, and the turnovers should abate by a huge margin. Currently, he’s at 7 per game, while his career rate is 2.5. Ain’t nothing but a G thang, baby! G will be that top 10 player you drafted sooner rather than later.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Sid Meier’s Civilization is a game that is near and dear to my heart. Not a minute of those countless hours spent playing were wasted. So good. So much fun. Anyways, the basic premise of the game is to build a civilization from scratch. You start out with a small group of settlers and survey the land to establish a permanent home. From there, you ascertain resources, knowledge, and provide infrastructure so that the colony can advance intellectually and grow in physical number. All of this leads to the ultimate goal of world conquest. In my pursuit of global domination, I’d often over-extend myself and be susceptible to counter attack, which would force me to retreat and build up my forces once again. This is how I view the Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies. Founded in 1995, the team was a fledgling outfit, winning fewer than 20 games each of the first four years in existence. Then progress happened over the next four years, as the team won 22, 23, 23, and 28 games. In 2003, Hubie Brown led the team to a 50-win season and first playoff appearance in franchise history. After two more playoff appearances, the team went back to the 20-win Dark Ages for three seasons. But that was just a brief retreat, as it set up a 7-year Golden Age in which the team made the playoffs every season. It all came crashing down last year, though, as injuries decimated the squad. Are we heading back to the Dark Ages or was last season just a blip on the radar?

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First of all, Joel Embiid is ok and it is probable that he makes it back for the game in Atlanta on Friday. Now, the second most important thing out of Philadelphia is Dario Saric’s huge game. Super Dario went off for 2/26/14/5/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 36 minutes. The 76ers are rolling right now and I would not want to play this team in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Sorry for the quick open but it is getting late here in Arizona. So here is what else I saw last night:

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Zach Randolph had a night against Demarcus Cousins and the Pels on Friday, going 5-35-13-2-1-0-3. His numbers are almost identical to last year, but he had the 3-ball going last night and he led the Kings to victory against New Orleans. I don’t think much comes of this, but it was nice to see the wily old vet have a renaissance and show that he’s still got it.

Before we dive on in, I’d just like to apologize for the brevity. I am doing this write-up from my Kindle Fire with no keyboard, and it is brutal. Please cut me some slack as I get my laptop situation fixed. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on Friday in the NBA:

Please, blog, may I have some more?