Not only was James Harden the only player to stay healthy for the entirety of the fantasy basketball playoffs, but he has also been putting up insane lines. Last night he went 7-50-11-10-0-0-3 on 13-of-31 shooting and 17-of-18 FTs. You must feel like a fool if you didn’t draft this man number one overall. He’s the clear cut top fantasy player, and he didn’t take any rest days in the crucial games of the fantasy season, unlike pretty much every other relevant player in the league. For most of us, today is the last day of the fantasy basketball season, and we are sad. Many of us have mentally moved on to fantasy baseball, but for one last day let’s reflect on the fantasy season that was, and enjoy one last day of fantasy basketball before the inevitability of the Warriors championship run commences. Here’s what went down last night in the NBA:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

DeAndre Jordan is 6′ 11″ 265 pounds. He is a literal giant, but when thinking about giants, DeAndre rarely enters the consciousness. Michael? Maybe. Andre? Definitely. San Francisco and New York? For sure. But we need a #Movement to educate the haters and short people in the world. Did you know that there are 2800 people who are seven feet or taller in the world? There are 7.4 billion people on Earth. If my handy dandy abacus hasn’t failed me, that’s 0.000038% of the population. There are 43 seven-footers in the NBA. He’s a giant. End of story. For you smart asses, 1 inch doesn’t make that much of a difference when it’s 6′ 11″ versus 7′. Now, 6″ compared to 7″ is huge. Anyways, if that doesn’t do it for you, then check out his line from yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 13 4 2 2 3 0 7/10 6/7

In 34 minutes! He had played 20, 18, and 22 minutes the prior three games, so the Fizdale risk always has to be factored in. With that said, when DJ plays, the music is bumping, as he provides boards, some dimes, stocks, and excellent field goal percentage. The most eye-opening statistic has been the 82% free throw shooting on 3.3 attempts over the past six games. A GIANT improvement from the 70% he’s been posting on the season and 46.5% career number.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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My wife’s favorite store is Ross, as she loves to find a good bargain. I could drop her off, go play some hoops, return, and she’d still be merrily rummaging through the racks. I always clown her, but she does find good deals, so respect. Plus, she enjoys it. I don’t get how she could get so into shopping for clothes, though, but that’s exactly what she says when I spend countless hours on fantasy. We all have our thing. Anyways, last night I asked my wife, “Can you believe that Terrence Ross has been a top 40 player over the past seven games, and he’s only owned in 57% of leagues? What a bargain!” As you can well imagine, no sexy time for me, but at least I derived some satisfaction from the performance Ross exhibited last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 5 1 0 0 1 6/13 13/23 0

In 31 minutes. Despite coming off the bench, over the last seven games, Ross has been averaging 29.4 minutes, 20.3 points, 3.9 tres, 4.9 boards, and 1. He’s had a usage rate of 26 and been jacking up 17 shots per game! The dimes are a paltry 1.3, but what do you expect? Shooters shoot. In fact, back in 2013, Ross produced a 51-burger, so he’s always had the ability to score. Now, there will be bouts of inconsistency, especially from a fantasy persepective, as he is a jump shooter (only 10.6% of his shots come from within 10 feet of the basket) who derives most of his value from scoring. Ross has scored in single digits 12 times this season. With that said, he does get the minutes, shot attempts, and opportunities to produce. And he’s cheap! Nothing beats a good bargain.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I was a preteen, I remember a super rare baseball card of Cal Ripken’s brother, Billy Ripken. The normal card had him holding a baseball bat without anything worth noting on the card. But there were a few prints of an original that showed where the goofball Billy decided to scribble a curse word that was gold to 12-year-old baseball card collectors. There were only a few copies of this card and I was lucky enough to find one in a fresh pack. It was so rare, that I managed to sell it to a classmate for $50, which I then wasted on more baseball cards. Sometimes an amazingly rare thing happens and you just have to enjoy the moment. Marcin Gortat managed to turn back the clock and post this out-of-nowhere gem on the Suns.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/10 2/2 NA 18 13 1 0 1 2

Now, this was unexpected. Gortat has been a complete nonfactor this season, but managed a gem of a game. I wouldn’t expect a repeat any time soon, but it’s nice to be able to talk about the Polish Hammer once again.

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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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I was a sucker for all the James Bond movies growing up. There was always action, women, lots of cool toys, and more action. What most confused me early on, but later fascinated me, was the overtness of the Bond character. At his core, he was a spy after all, and a spy is defined as “a person who secretly…” I don’t need to continue the definition. Could a ninja ever be famous? Wouldn’t that go against the fundamental premise of being a ninja? With all that said, Bond took the spy game to the next level. Everyone knew he was a spy, and he knew that everyone knew, yet he did his spy thing while everyone else played along. Translation: Bond was a freaking boss. Which is exactly what Harden, James Harden is.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 6 7 2 1 6 5/16 15/35 6/7

That’s seven straight games scoring 30+ points, with two games over 40 and one 50-burger in there. The overtness that Harden exhibits is just as bold as Bond. Defenders know his moves, yet still get played. Now, with Chris Paul out for an extended period of time, the usage rate spikes to the mid-40s. The comparable analogy would be Bond walking into a casino with both hands flashing the bird, acquiring the information that he came for, and of course bringing the D for the girl.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Bullshitting is bad. Or is it? There are four reasons why people lie. 1) To hide or protect something. Good if you were harboring a Jew in Nazi Germany. Bad if you have a mistress. 2) Fear. Of getting caught. I guess that ties into protecting oneself. 3) To elevate one’s self-perception. You went to which school? You’re how tall? You slept with how many women? 4) It is the wise thing to do. Do I look fat in these jeans? BS’ing is often annoying or straight up lame, but it is an integral part of life. There are many situations in which being brutally honest serves no purpose other than to hurt the other person, which is lame. Damn it, is everything in life lame then? Last night, we had another example of BS’ing being bad….the good bad, though….as in dope. Now that I think about it, sometimes we just BS to mess around, which is what Ben Simmons did last night against the Bulls. Ironic, huh?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 19 17 14 0 2 6 0 6/15 7/10

Simmons has now messed around five times on the season. He had been in a slump lately, looking disinterested and lacking aggression. It’s mindblowing to think that he can dominate a game without being able to shoot from the perimeter. He’s that good. Anyways, BS is a nightly triple-dub threat and will contribute with the D stats. As we established above, there’s good and bad with BS. The bad? Literally no 3s, like he hasn’t made one the entire year. The turnovers are plentiful. As I always say, good if you are high in a pastry shop. Not so good for fantasy. The free throw shooting is abysmal, like 55% bad. DeAndre Jordan, with his 60% on the year, is like, “Yo, Ben. You really need to practice bro.” Simmons is the 75th player for fantasy on the year. For the last month? The 110th. There are just too many holes in his game to approach Top 50 territory, but for punt FT% and 3 teams, BS is lovely.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Like most of you, I’ve been through more fantasy drafts than I can remember. Online with old friends thousands of miles away, in-person with coworkers I’d deal with every day of the season. Basements, bars, over wings. Once, I was driving from one draft to another while the second draft was beginning, pulling over to make each of my picks until I arrived. There was a draft via text on a road trip before phone apps existed, a manual auction in an AOL chat room (not advisable), drafting online for one league while drafting in-person for another, slow-drafting, making it so that I was checking my phone every 10 seconds when the next pick might not be made for 17 more hours. Some day, I’d really like to do something on par with the show The League and draft in-person at one of the NBA Summer Leagues.

I did end up having a pretty sweet drafting experience this season. So, one of my favorite bands is 311, and I’d never seen them live in the 20+ years I’ve been listening to them repeatedly. When I found out they’d be relatively close to me last fall, I decided I wasn’t going to miss them this time. Okay, October 15th… why did that sound familiar? CRAP! My favorite league, my dynasty league, was having it’s seven-round draft that night! Yeah, I could’ve pre-ranked… but, I’d traded up in the draft enough that I’d only be drafting on my phone for about 20 minutes… and it looked like the draft would be during the opening act. I determined I’d do both, draft at the concert and just ignore the opening act and hope I’d be done by the time 311 took the stage. I didn’t count on the opening act being crazy-fun, but you can’t have too much of a good thing. So, there I was, leaning against the back wall with Tropidelic providing a great soundtrack to me drafting some top rookies I’d been drooling over for months (we keep 18 players, so the draft is all about the rookies). I finished my last pick just in time for 311 to rock my face off (and psychedelically funk my face off) while I dreamed of my rookies turning into top 20 fantasy players.

See me? Riiiiight…. there.

So, how are these rookies doing? Usually around this point, we’re nervous about our rookies’ future, since they’re getting DNP-CDs and G-League stints. But this year at Christmas time, we’ve seen the best crop of fantasy rookies in many years. Though, it’s not all the guys we expected doing the damage. For those of you that love trying to spot the future stars as much as I do, I’d like to take a look at the per-36 stats of the rookies we’ve seen. In case that’s not familiar, it’s their stats prorated to 36 minutes. It’s not a perfect projection, of course, but I figure, in most cases, the rookies at their career peaks are going to play closer to 36 minutes than what they’ve played so far. And, while they likely won’t get to 36 minutes exactly, they should make up for some of that shortcoming by greatly improving (a lot of these guys are 19 or 20) and by becoming larger parts of their teams’ offenses in the future. It’s not one-size-fits-all, as guys like Tatum, Simmons, and Kuzma might already be relatively close to what their peak minutes and team involvement might be (think of who’s likely to join their teams in the next season or two). Some rookies have hardly played or have only been role players in garbage time against third-stringers, so this isn’t going to be too predictive for them, either. But, I’d guess this’ll give us a rough estimate of the type of players the rooks might be if they keep improving as we’d hope. I left out guys that have barely played, but that still leaves 45 rookies to check out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Caring is a good thing, right? It allows us to coexist with each other and live emotionally rich and fulfilling lives. I care about my family, so I will venture from my bubble to make sure all is good. I care about this post, so I try my best to deliver content that you enjoy reading. But, sometimes caring too much is a bad thing. If I miss 10 shots in a row, it is counter productive to think about it. The only action is to channel my inner JR Smith or Michael Beasley. I used to care so much about what other people thought, that I ended up living my life for “them.” Why? What about the flip side to caring? Is that always bad? Well, it’s bad if I DGAF (didn’t give a f**k) about stop signs or signals. It’s bad if I DGAF about another soul on the planet. But, sometimes it’s good to DGAF. Back to our example of missing 10 shots in a row. DGAF. Wave arms in air and demand the ball….because that next one is going in. DGAF what other people think. It’s my life. Which brings me to the new spokesman for DGAF, Enes Kanter. Kanter supports a certain political movement (the Hizmet Movement of Fethullah Gülen) that has the leader of Turkey trying to arrest him and caused his family to disown him. DGAF. You are not here for politics schmolitics, though. You are here for hoops. And Kanter DGAF about defense and he certainly DGAF about Joel Embiid and the 76ers because he did this yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 22 1 0 0 2 0 12/21 7/8

11 offensive boards! Kanter now has 14 double-dubs on the season, 12 behind the leader. He will not rack up defensive stats, but that’s not his game. He’s going to score and rebound, which has translated into being a top 50 player so far this season.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Good morning, and welcome back to another edition of Any Given Saturday. A huge slate of games last night, but the most impressive performance of them all came from The Rocky Horror Victor Show himself, Victor Oladipo. Our boy put forth a pristine 38/4/6/1/1 on 13-for-23 FG (2-for-8 3P, 10-for-10 FT) and no TOs, as he led the Pacers to the overtime win over the Nets. Dipo has been a top-10 guy in 9-cat so far and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down any time soon. I was higher than most on Dipo coming into the season, but I don’t think anybody predicted a season like this. If you got him near his ADP, you’re laughing. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?