While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

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There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
57 9 2 2 1 5 6/15 17/33 17/18

In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?

That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s a contentious time in our nation’s capital. Bryce Harper may be departing, the name White House is being taken a little too literally, and questions abound regarding the viability of the Wall. That is why I propose that we, as a fantasy nation, Kneel4Beal 2020. Good things come from kneeling: marriage proposals, getting knighted, […]

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Once a decade or so, a rookie comes into the league and, not only is it extremely obvious that they are special, they immediately hit the floor running. Not since LeBron has a rookie demonstrated All-Star level production, keeping up with and often times dominating seasoned pros in the best basketball league in the world. Luka Doncic provides matchup issues for opposing teams and is such a dynamic offensive force for the Mavs, making every teammate better. While making serious waves in the NBA, in fantasy he still has plenty of areas he can improve. Currently, he’s been hovering around the top 80 in standard category leagues. The main culprits of keeping his fantasy value anchored are his percentages and turnovers. He also has room to grow in the steals department. For now, he’s an exciting, yet flawed player to roster on your fantasy squad, but he’s already one of the most fun players in real life and fantasy.

Luka Doncic

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
10/23 7/10 2/9 29 8 12 2 0 1

Luka was 2 boards short of messing around and was just a savage in this one. He scored at all 3 levels and was the obvious leader of the Mavs. When the percentages start to creep up, look out, because the sky’s the limit for Doncic.

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Off the top of my head, Phil and Joan are the most famous people with the last name Collins. Well deserved and they sit on the thrones in the pantheon of Collins’s. Is that right? Or would it be Colline? Whatever, English is my second language. Ebonics was my first. Perusing the list of Collins’s or Colline got me thinking that people that pursue fame are dumb because 99% of the time that you think you’re famous, no one gives a shit or remembers. I guess that’s something someone who’s not famous writes. Anyways, John Collins has been making a case to be on the list.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 14 1 1 0 3 1/2 12/21 5/6

Collins has played 25 games, yet is 22nd in the NBA with 16 dub-dubs. For persepective, Joel Embiid leads the league with 36 in 40 games. Over the last eight games, he’s been a top 50 player, averaging 31.7 minutes, 19.3 points, 1.3 threeecolas, 11.8 boards, 2.3 dimes, with 57% shooting from the field and 75% on 4 attempts from the free throw line. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are the D stats. The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league, so the environment is ripe for Collins to thrive. Unfortunately, the lack of D stats will keep him from challenging Phil or Joan for the throne, but that’s okay. At least he’s in the conversation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Everyone has their favorite fast-food burger and no one can agree on which one is best. Here on the East Coast, the “Big Three” are McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King. Everyone has their preference. None of them are the best burger you’ll ever have, but when at 1 AM there are limited options. James Borrego had limited options last night with Cody Zeller out and he decided to give Bismack Biyombo the start to try and match up with Nikola Jokic. It didn’t really work out, but he ended up getting 30 minutes and putting up a decent line going 16-12-0-2-2-2 on 7-of-10 shooting and 2-for-3 FTs. Who knows if he’ll continue to get minutes, but Zeller is slated to miss at least four weeks so he could be worth a speculative add. Side note: Borrego is Lamb in Spanish. Jeremy Lamb plays for the Hornets, but was out last night. Illuminati confirmed. Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Have you ever read those stories of mothers that morph into the Hulk to lift a car so that their babies can be freed? Wild stuff. While that is an extreme example, it does show that motivation is a powerful tool that can propel us to do some insane things. And one of the greatest motivators comes from rejection. The hometown school doesn’t recruit a player? I know it’s narrative street, but said player often balls out against that school. A girl or guy breaks up with you? After the mourning period, you eventually rise from the ashes and try to be so nice that they become jealous. Well, last night, DeMar DeRozan provided another example.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 11 2 0 3 0 7/15 7/7

His first career trip-dub, as the Spurs blew out the Raptors 125-107. Don’t tell me he wasn’t extra motivated. Shh. Zip it. I can’t hear you. Anyways, he doesn’t play the Raptors every game, so what can we expect? Top 30-40 player sounds about right. He averages 35 minutes, around 22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and 0.5 blocks. 47% from the field and 84% free throw shooting on 6 attempts are nice. Turnovers are low at 2.4 and the usage rate is in the 27 range. The only thing that’s missing are the threeecolas. It’s not the debauchery we witnessed last night, but it’s not bad at all.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I first started writing these recaps, Grey imparted into my tiny brain the wisdom of not writing about the same player in the lede. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but it made sense and I’ve tried to adhere to it as much as possible. But, but, but….Yes, I’m studdering mother [email protected]#!er. Sometimes a player is so good, so brilliant, so dominant that he moon walks over all the competition and I’m forced to do it. Let’s call it the James Harden fast rule.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
43 10 13 2 0 9 6/12 8/19 21/27

That’s four straight games with at least 40 points. According to Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen), Harden joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players over the last 30 years to score 400 points in 10 games. According to Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA), Harden was the first person in NBA history to score at least 40 points on eight field goal makes. He now has four trip-dubs on the season and 39 for his career. He’s been the #1 player for fantasy over the past seven games. All that is nice and dandy, but do you know what the craziest stat is? With both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon off the court, Harden has a 51.8 usage rate, an increase of 10.3%!!! The Harden Fast Rule is that when Paul and Gordon are off the court, James is gonna eat.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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Luke Kornet played four years at Vanderbilt University, where he averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2 blocks on 47% shooting from the field and 32% from beyond the arc his senior year. No wonder he went undrafted in the 2017 NBA draft. But he’s the left-handed pitcher of basketball, in that he’s 7′ 1″, 250 pounds, and can shoot from outside. The New York Knicks took a chance and signed him to a two-way contract in 2017. Kornet spent most of his rookie year down in the G League, but still managed to play 20 games with the big club and exhibited the ability to shoot the threeecola and block shots. To begin this season, Kornet played a total of 12 minutes in the first 29 games, but Coach Fizdale inserted him into the lineup for game 30 against the Hornets and Kornet scored 13 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, stole 2 passes, and shot 3-for-5 from downtown in 24 minutes. Although he continued to get playing time in the next five games, Kornet never received more than 14 minutes in any game. Then, last night happened.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 3 5 0 1 1 7/11 8/17 0

Kornet received the start and played 34 minutes. The start may have been matchup based, as he would have more success defending Brook Lopez on the perimeter and the Bucks defensive philosophy allows teams to beat them from downtown (MIL is dead last in number of opponent three-pointers attempted per game). With that said, Coach Fizdale said that he wanted to change up the lineup to get more shooting on the floor so that Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox would have more space to operate. In addition, Kornet does protect the rim better than Enes Kanter, which isn’t saying much, but it is what it is. I never understood why the Knicks continued rolling out Kanter, especially since he’s an UFA after this season. Play the young kids and “Try for Zion.” Having a center rotation of Kornet and Mitchell Robinson would make the most sense, as it would be a offense/defense combination, but Coach Fizdale has shown that he will change up the rotation in a heartbeat. With that said, Kornet is worth a pick up, as the reward for threeecolas and blocks far outweighs the risk of…..free.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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