The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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I enjoy playing poker. Am I good at it? After 30 minutes, I’m still looking for the sucker. Anyways, a common scenario I often see play out is this. Player, which is sometimes me, pushes all the chips into the middle of the table and says, “All you can eat, baby!” Either the chip stack get bigger or said player takes the walk of shame to the ATM. That’s what I thought about the Raptors offseason. They are either making it to the Finals or taking that rebuilding walk of shame. Respect.

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

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Anthony Davis is not from this planet. I don’t care what anyone says. What he’s doing on the basketball court is I. N. S. A. N. E. Since Boogie went down….hold that thought….I have the sudden urge to get down. Ha! I miss Soul Train. The Soooooooooooouuuuuulllllllll Train. Ok, back to business. Since Boogie went down due to injury, Anthony Davis has seen the usage rate get to as high as 40%. He has 13 double-dubs in 16 games. He’s gone 40/10 six times and has a 50/10 game during that stretch. Aaaaaaannnnd, he’s averaging close to 3 blocks AND steals. Averaging! But the most impressive and unbelieveable thing is that he hasn’t gotten hurt! Oh boy….I just jinxed him, didn’t I? Do I need to perform a seance? Sacrifice some virgins? What? UPDATE: I swear I didn’t know he left in the second quarter. Anyways, last night AD went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 13 2 3 3 4 4/7 17/31 3/3

I often hear this joke in DFS. No <insert player name>, no cash. Well, if AD stays healthy, you are probably not winning diddly poo this year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Devin Booker had yet another great scoring performance against the Thunder on Friday night. 6-39-6-8-0-1-5, shooting 16-of-28 from the field in 39 minutes. He also crossed the 4,000 point threshold, becoming the third-youngest player to do so, behind LeBron and KD. Pretty remarkable for a guy that doesn’t get that much attention on a terrible Suns team and this great performance still wasn’t enough to beat OKC last night…Anyway it was another big slate of games on Friday and crunch time is approaching for a lot of fantasy teams, so let’s jump in to the daily notes! Here’s what went down last night in fantasy basketball:

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Back in the 1960s, the Batman television show with Adam West would have POW graphics written across the screen. Although corny, they brought us back to the comic book roots and accentuated a fight scene. Or disguised the “terribly choreographed” ones. I never really thought about it like that until I came across that article, but it does make total scene. The acting and fight scenes were an abomination, but I guess that was part of the allure. Anyways, to get the bad taste out of my mouth from re-watching old clips and remembering the unfortunate state of much of my childhood, I went to the good ole YouTube search box and typed in Mike Tyson knockouts. I don’t feel so bad about my youth anymore. Now, those POWs had substance. Which brings me to Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 12 0 0 1 2 0 6/12 6/6

Got the start at center again and played 29 minutes. Since January 31st, Powell has played 29, 23, 31, 29, 31, and 28 minutes. There’s been only one game during that stretch he hasn’t started. Dirk Nowitzki did miss last night’s game, but Powell had been starting next to Dirk when he was in the lineup. With the Mavs out of contention, it only makes sense for Powell to continue getting run down the stretch. Over the past week, he’s been a top 50 player for fantasy, averaging over 15 points, 8 boards, 1 steal, 2 assists, and shooting over 70% from the field and 80% from the free throw line. Ka-POW!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) film rating system has undergone numerous changes over the years. In 1968, there was G (general audiences), M (mature audiences), R (restricted), and X (under 16 not admitted). After a few years, the ages for R and X were raised from 16 to 17 years old. Then, a GP (parental guidance suggested) was added. That was subsequently changed to PG. Then PG-13 was added because of complaints about violence in certain PG movies. X was then changed to NC-17. Ai yai yai! My freaking head hurts. You know what wasn’t confusing? The performance from Paul George, aka PG-13, last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 43 5 5 2 0 1 5/8 19/26 0

A 40-burger on 73% shooting without one free throw attempt! Simply amazing. Anyways, since coming to OKC, the rebounds and assists are down, but the 3.1 3s on 7.4 attempts and 2.2 steals are career-highs! Don’t get hurt and looking forward to seeing you in Los Angeles next year, Paul. LA. Hollywood. MPAA. PG-13. It just fits too well.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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If you have been reading my recaps this season, then you know one of my favorite terms is: Waiver Wire All-Star. I use this to refer to players who started the year undrafted in almost every fantasy basketball league out there. Even in my deeper leagues Tyreke Evans was sitting there just waiting to be added by some lucky owner who is probably competing for a championship right now.

A great draft is super important, don’t get me wrong, but it is these savvy waiver wire pick-ups that win leagues. ‘Reke has not only been a good pick-up, but he is returning top 40 value in most leagues. That means that a third or fourth round (depending on your league size) pick was just hanging out, playing video games, watching Netflix, waiting to get the call to the big show.

Last night Tyreke Evans went off again and almost messed around for the second night in a row putting up this juicy slash: 2/23/6/10/1/0. So congratulations if you snagged ‘Reke in your league. Here is what else I saw last night:

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What’s up Razzballers? We had a doozy of a game last night in Toronto between the Raptors and the Warriors. I don’t typically like to give the lede to players on the losing team, but this was the best game in a night of great games, and DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show. He was a big reason the Raptors were even competitive as he went for 42/5/3 on 17-for-31 FG (0-for-4 3P, 8-for-10 FT) and two TOs. This was in a game the Raptors lost by just two after being down 81 to 54 (!) at halftime. The end was a big clusterfrick too. No other Raptor  played more than 30 minutes, as the almost-comeback was mostly led by DeMar and the bench since Kyle Lowry was out with injury. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Santa Claus is known by the names of Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle. Rajon Rondo is known by the names of Johnny, Swag, and The Yoga Instructor (nicknames courtesy of Basketball Reference). Claus’ height and weight are classified. Rondo is 6′ 1″ 186 pounds. Claus moves around via reindeer-drawn sled. Rondo uses his own two legs to run around the court. Claus is a global icon. Rondo could be if he hired the right marketing agency. Claus and Rondo are different on so many levels, but both are some of the most generous entities that man has ever known. Claus gives gifts to children that are well-behaved and coal to the bad children. Has anyone ever figured out why Claus is so freaking generous? Like, what’s his motivation? We are taught not to accept candy from strangers, especially those that stick their heads out from a windowless van. And for good reason. The candy is the bait to lure us in. And Claus? Anyways, regardless of motivation, Claus is a generous dude. Rondo is also generous. He dishes out dimes that enable his teammates to score buckets easier. In fact, he is so generous that he had dished out 6,216 dimes, good for 31st on the all-time list, before the start of last night’s game.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 2 7 25 1 0 3 0/1 1/5 0

Make that 6,241 dimes, good for 30th on the all-time assist list. The 25 assist game was the ninth-best of all time! Scott Skiles, of all people, holds the record with a 30 assist game. Go figure. Rondo is not going to contribute much outside of assists and rebounds, but the dimes will definitely be plentiful. As for Claus vs Rondo, the edge has to go to Claus, as he has no rival and always seems to deliver. Rondo has his off nights.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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