In the lead-up to the February 6, 2020 NBA trade deadline, there was a flurry of activity. Reports of a quiet deadline were greatly exaggerated. Below, I take a look at two of the biggest deals and break down how the new environments might affect the fantasy production of the players involved. So much of team and player success is about fit. How are roles assigned? Can a player fulfill his adequately? Would he be better suited for something different? How do the surrounding pieces in a lineup accentuate the strengths or weaknesses of any individual player? Not all of this information is necessary to make sound fantasy decisions, but it can certainly help. I won’t be doing any in-depth trade analysis or draft pick tracking. I’m strictly focused on how each of the key players will fit in their new environment.

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Brooks are serene, calm, and picturesque. But looks can be deceiving. I was once fishing at the local brook (I don’t fish and I live in Los Angeles), when I heard some commotion behind me. There were two squirrels holding onto my bait box and trying to drag it back to the tree from which they came from. As I turned around and rose from the log I was parked on, I heard a splash behind me. A beaver had pulled the pail, which housed all the fish I caught, into the stream. A coordinated attack. After my inital anger, I was truly impressed. From that day, I always watched my six and didn’t fall for the old “bird singing then shitting on my head” distraction. Anyways, Brook Lopez is big, tall, and lumbers around the court. He should bang down low, grab boards, and operate in the paint. But looks can be deceiving. Lopez likes to hang out on the perimeter and launch salvos from downtown. When he first entered the league, he was a boarding maniac. Now? Not so much. Business decisions. The most baffling aspect of his game, though, is his penchant for getting his 211 on. Don’t believe me?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 4 2 4 3 1 0/3 3/8 4/4

Last night was the fifth time in his career that Lopez has pilfered four in a game. Not something you expect from a lumbering giant such as Brook. Anyways, the one predictable and not surprising aspect of Brook’s game is in the block department. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always predictable? The Stocktonator. He’s fifth in the league with 2.2 blocks per game. From a fantasy perspective, Brook is a top 70 player. The free throw shooting is excellent (90% on 2 attempts) and there’s the aforementioned blocks. He provides 1.4 tres per game, but the scoring is way down from previous years due to the 38% shooting from the field. The minutes are also down to 26 from 28.7 last season. Brook is too good of a shooter to continue converting sub-40% from the field. I’d expect that to normalize as the season progresses.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks played one of the most exciting games of the season on Tuesday, October 10. The Heat eventually came out victorious in overtime 135-121, but only after Trae Young pronounced the game “over,” right before the Heat scored six straight points to tie the score in the final 59 seconds of regulation. The Heat then scored 16 straight points in overtime, making the final outcome a formality. The fireworks didn’t start or stop there, however. Trae Young had a relatively quiet first half (8 points and 6 assists), but he came out aggressive in the second half and scored 10 quick points and finished with 11 points in the quarter, and then the fourth quarter happened. Young was in rhythm and headed for another gaudy stat-line before Erik Spoelstra made the astute decision to put Derrick Jones Jr. on him. Jones Jr. is length personified, or as Scott Van Pelt used to say, “He’s all arms and legs, he can’t buy pants at the mall.” Jones’ length and quick feet turned a potentially explosive night into a sour one for Trae Young and the Hawks—Young finished the fourth quarter with only two points. He was unable to draw fouls to counter Jones’ length and physicality, though it was not for a lack of trying. There might be some brewing animus between Jones and Young. Fortunately for us, the Hawks and Heat matchup one more time this season. Get the popcorn ready.

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(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Back in 2000, Eminem released “Stan”, a song about Stanley “Stan” Mitchell who wrote multiple letters saying that he was Eminem’s biggest fan. Over the course of the song, Stan gets angry when Eminem doesn’t respond and becomes obsessive, ultimately killing himself. The song/story is deeper than that, but I’m not here to write a synopsis of the song. I bring up “Stan” because the name eventually became a part of pop culture to reference obsessed fans. It was even included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Well, last night, there was a performance worthy of Stanning, as Davis Bertans went nuts:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 9 1 0 1 0 8/12 11/18 2/2

Did you know that you can’t spell Bertans without Stan? The universe truly is a wonderful place. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s wonderful as well? The Stocktonator. Anyways, over the past seven games, Bertans has been a top 10 player for fantasy. He’s averaged 31.5 minutes, 20.5 points, 5.3 tres, 4.9 boards, with 51% shooting from the field and 92% from the line. 5.3 tres!!! There have even been some contributions in the defensive categories; 0.6 steals and 0.9 blocks. I heard on the Wizards broadcast a few games ago that Bertans is essentially a shooting savant. While in San Antonio, the coaches tweaked his shooting form and it only took him a day to fully implement it. What I’m saying is that there’s merit to what Bertans is doing right now. He’s shooting 45% from downtown this season, but he’s a career 41% shooter. In addition, with Thomas Bryant out for at least a month, Bertans is going to continue getting plenty of run. Now, he’s not going to continue being a top 10 player for fantasy, but top 50 is a reasonable expectation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Temples are buildings where religious or spiritual activities are performed. These acts have ranged from sacrifice to the more socially acceptable prayer. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and many other religions have utilized temples to worship their gods. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s a digitial god? The Stocktonator. And they are often open every day, yet people usually only go to worship once a week. Same goes for Garrett Temple. He’s played in every game this season. Early on, he was getting 16-18 minutes of run, then it was ramped up to 24-26 minutes. Since November 18th, Temple has averaged 34 minutes per game, primarily because of the Caris LeVert injury. With that said, he provides a fantasy relevent performance about once a week. Last night the weekly quota was met.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 4 3 0 0 2 6/9 10/16 1/1

If you pray hard enough, Temple will provide points, tres, boards, and dimes. Just don’t get greedy and expect any defensive stats. Save those prayers for world peace and an end to hunger.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Now that Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, all hands are on deck for Christmas. The neighbors adorn the houses with electric bling, the empty lots are filled with trees standing in Terracotta formation, and we all become tolerant of elevator music. It’s a happy time indeed. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know how you can always be happy? By using the Stocktonator. In fact, one could say that it’s a jubilant time with voices singing Jingle Bells and hands literally jingling bells. Guess who was jubilant and jingled something last night in the NBA?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 4 2 1 2 2 2/8 10/19 9/9

Jaren Jackson Jr. was unbelievable. The 31 points were a season-high and he jingled the stat box to make sure there was a little something something in each box. He was in foul trouble….again….What else is new? But at least he was able to navigate around it. Now, before you take off your clothes and run around jingling your parts, know that Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke were both unable to play. Coach Jenkins had no choice but to leave him out there. With that said, this is the ceiling that JJJ can access. He’s young, but it’s only a matter of time before he contributes these kind of lines on a consistent basis. Don’t expect that to happen this season, so expect the inconsistencies, but mental masturbate over what the future entails.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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My-my-my-my Melo is back. To play. And jack up. Plenty of shots. He won’t. Play any D. Or grab a board or thank the Lord. Ok, time to quit the Pa Rappa da Rappa because…..Stop! It’s Melo time. The Portland Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed contract yesterday. Melo fans are running through the streets naked, screaming, and turning over cars. Their Messiah has returned to deliver them to Melo bliss. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides fantasy bliss? The Stocktonator. Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and dig into this signing for the Trail Blazers and see what his fantasy prospects could be. Melo is 35 years old now, so he will likely be a statue, both on offense and defense. The lack of desire to play defense gives him a floor of….out of the league. If he can still shoot, though, he could actually be an interesting piece for the Blazers. I know, I know. I’m regurgitating the puke myself. Here’s the thing, though. Many of teams, with the Raptors the most recent example, have been doubling Damian Lillard and C. J. McCollum….daring anyone else to beat them. Well, when opponents see Nassir Little, Mario Hezonja, and Anthony Tolliver littering the depth chart of the Blazers, they start doing the MC Hammer dance. Oh-oh. Oh oh. Oh-oh-oh. The last two seasons, Melo has played for the Thunder and Rockets. In 88 games, he played around 30 minutes per game and provided 14.8 points, 2.2 tres, and 5.6 boards. Not bad. He shot 40% from the field. That’s bad. If you have the roster spot, he’s worth a speculative add if you need points and tres. Just know that this could amount to nothing and he’ll be back playing at the YMCA. With that said, Andrew Wiggins is currently a top 30 player so anything is possible.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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