The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You can come to Ohio, Kid Cudi says, and you can see how it feels. That’s an old reference, as Dat New New is now more than 10 years old (old), but when Cleveland’s favorite rapper released Man on the Moon III in the waning days of 2020, it sent me down an Ohio-shaped rabbit hole that ultimately led me to his suggestion. Come to Ohio. Feel it. 

So I did. Last week I fired up Man on the Moon I and caught three Cavs games to get a sense of what basketball on the banks of Lake Erie feels like these days. (I freely admit that being able to catch a double-dip of the Brooklyn Nets while doing this definitely helped make the medicine go down.) Having paid a virtual visit, I can say that the prevailing texture of Ohio basketball is this: Oldschool. Slow. More than a little grimy. 

Still want more? Well crank the Cudi and crack a Christmas Ale, friends. It’s time for some Buckeye state basketball. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Shake Milton stepped into Seth Curry’s starting spot and showed out, leading the team with 24 points and seven assists on outstanding efficiency. With reports of a positive Covid test for Curry coming in, Milton is a hot pickup as a short-term upside play (31% owned in Yahoo leagues). When he returns to the bench, Philly’s sixth man is still a decent streaming option with top-150 value.

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It pains me to write this, but I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan during his playing days, and I regret that fact, immensely. I never had him on my fantasy team. I never watched his games late at night on the east coast. I never applauded his championships and didn’t care much about his 60-point performance to end his career. With that said, his passing hit me much harder than I thought it would, and that was before I found out his daughter was alongside him, which made it all the more tragic. I have come to appreciate him more since his retirement. His business acumen, his desire to succeed in every facet of life, and his willingness to mentor young NBA players and aspiring professionals alike, is inspirational. Those are the types of things that I respect, as a professional and as a parent.

It occurred to me that Kobe Bryant had that Tom Brady effect on me. While my Knicks fandom was not directly affected by the Lakers’ success, I felt as if Kobe had the same suffocating hold on me as Tom Brady and the Patriots have on my Jets fandom. It turns out I was likely envious of the success my Lakers friends were witnessing, while I sat rooting for dysfunction.

Well, over the last few days I have taken the time to watch that final 60-point performance, along with tons of amazing highlights I have seen over the years, and I enjoyed every second of it. The culmination of the career of the immensely talented and competitive specimen that was Kobe Bryant came to a head on a historic night. I have taken the time to understand the competitiveness that drove Kobe, and I wish I had that Mamba Mentality on a daily basis. Seeing that Kobe’s passing has had such an impact nationally speaks volumes to who he was as a player, an icon, and a role model for so many, and he will be sorely missed.

Every year the trade deadline comes and goes. This year there are some intriguing names that could be hitting the market. The next man up mentality is true in all facets of the game, and trades open many opportunities for players to seize. Here are a few deep stashes for the upcoming trade deadline.

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Entering the second year of the David Fizdale Era, the New York Knicks have nowhere to go but up. They are clearly in the process of a rebuild, and development is the key word for this team. A lot of people will say they whiffed in free agency. I am one of those people. Just kidding! Kind of… They did make some under-the-radar signings of solid basketball players, who could become long-term pieces. Who’s going to step up and solidify themselves as a piece moving forward? That is what the Knicks will try to find out this year as they push towards relevancy in 2021.

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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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I’ve always enjoyed the Godzilla franchise. When I was young, it was all about the monsters fighting, special effects, and destruction levied upon the landscape. As I got older and delved into the origins, I appreciated the franchise that much more. As with most things in life, though, the journey is cyclical and it’s back to the good old awe-inspiring, destructive force. Which brings me to Giannis Antetokoummpo. All season, I’ve been calling him G, as he’s a straight gangster, and when he balls the F out, it’s been Nuthin’ but a G Thang. There have been moments of O. M. G. But yesterday, everything became crystal clear.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 16 7 2 1 1 3/8 15/26 19/21

A 50-burger and this…..

He called Ben Simmons a “f’ing baby” but then Simmons came back and dunked on his head. In addition, Joel Embiid produced a 40-burger and the Sixers defeated the Bucks, 130-125. I felt like I was watching a Godzilla movie in which he had to fight Gigan, Destoroyah, Mothra, and Ghidorah at the same time. Anyways, Gzilla is a freaking beast. Top 5 player over the past seven games. He’s been averaging 30.3 points, 1.1 treys, 13.1 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block while shooting 58% from the field and 82% from the free throw line on a whopping 11.4 attempts! The turnovers are high, but whatever. Now, with Malcolm Brogdon out for a while, Gzilla may be making more appearances down the stretch, as Brogdon had a usage rate in the low-20s. Other teams better hope they have a couple of monsters to negate Gzilla, because he’s coming to wreak havoc.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Speaking in generalities, I’d say people on the East Coast are more straight up. In New York, time is money so people don’t want to dilly dally. In Los Angeles, there’s the whole Hollywood vibe. I will say, though, that driving in rush hour may show the true colors of an individual. In Philly, they just don’t give a F. Santa Claus? Here are some batteries for your noggin. With that said, there’s been plenty of B. S. in Philly these days:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 8 1 0 2 0 10/16 6/8

Ben Simmons aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallmost messed around. If my handy dandy abacus didn’t fail me, he has 10 trip-dubs on the season. There have been many other games where he’s been so close. Anyways, the turnover are plentiful and you won’t get any treys (the ultimate stay-in-yo-lane), but the points, boards, dimes, and steals are plentiful. He had been languishing in the top 60 area for much of the season, but over the past seven games, he’s been a top 25 player because he’s increased his free throw percentage from 60% to 72% on 5.1 attempts. Hopefully that ain’t no B. S.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?