I was never a huge fan of D’Angelo Russell when he was a Laker. The shooting efficiency was poor, the D was porous, and the decision-making and decisiveness were lacking. It was as if DLoading was a picture loading back in the dial-up internet days; one line of pixels at a time. At least now the buffering just shows a ring with a percentage number. Anyways, Russell was a young pup back then. Only 19 and 20 years old. Now, he’s a grizzled, 22-year-old veteran. I kid, but he’s really developed and improved his game, to the point where he’s leading his team to victory over one of the top teams in the NBA.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 6 11 0 0 3 6/9 10/23 1/1

In his first three years in the league, Russell was a 41% shooter from the field and never topped 80% from the line. Now, he’s a 43% shooter from the field and 81% from the line. He’s averaging a tick under 20 points per game, 2.7 tres, 3.7 boards, 6.4 dimes, and 1.1 steals. He’s increased both the tres and dimes by almost 1 per game. In addition, he’s jacking up over 17 shots per game, has a usage rate north of 30, and is a top 50 player on the season for fantasy. When Caris LeVert returns from injury, things could change and Russell could cede some usage, but Russell will continue being a vital part of this Nets team. All the pixels have been revealed and the picture is a glorious one.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician and politician, who expanded the Roman Empire. He got greedy, though, when he declared himself dictator. As a result, members of the Roman Senate conspired and stabbed him in the back, both literally and figuratively. Julius Randle is a no-nonsense player who bullies defenders down low. Bull in a china shop is an apt description, especially since he’s 6′ 9″ and 250 pounds. After he spent the first four years of his career in Los Angeles, he took his talents to New Orleans and didn’t mess around. He was the same bull that he had been with the Lakers. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 10 1 0 0 0/1 9/13 3/3

….Julius did mess around, notching his sixth career triple-dub. In only 25 minutes! There’s been nothing but love for Julius in New Orleans, as he provides the team with a physical presence down low, who can also be a playmaker in the third-fastest team in the NBA for offensive pace. Ain’t nobody stabbing this Julius in the back. From a fantasy perspective, though, don’t go slicing and dicing your team to acquire his services. He’s a fine player, as he’s currently the 87th player according to Basketball Monster. The issues are the limited minutes, lack of threeecolas, low assists, and miniscule defensive contributions. Hopefully no one comes and stab me in the back now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Okay, admittedly, a lot of us “Fantasy Basketball Experts” hate on Blake Griffin, due to his lack of defensive stats and overall efficiency. However, he has been straight beasting to start the year for Detroit. Let’s be honest, who else can get buckets? There’s something to be said about a player that has aggressiveness. Some players are solid fantasy players, but lack that intangible quality that makes a real difference maker in the NBA. Blake Griffin went 2-38-13-6-2-0-7 on 12-of-21 shooting and 12-for-16 from the charity stripe. He’s never going to be a blocks guy, but the out-of-position assists really float his value outside of the points and boards. Maybe there’s something abut him, that you just don’t like, but the man has been getting it done this year so far. Will he sustain it? Well, I think the points and the FG% come down some, but the rest of the numbers are fairly sustainable, so he’s pretty much a hold unless you wanna be a hater like the rest of us ‘perts.

There were eight games on the schedule this Saturday in the NBA, so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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If you think there was a changing of the guard in Cleveland, then you forgot about the Spurs’ offseason. This is a team whose slogan should be “out with the old, in with the new.” Losing one of the best players in the NBA is hard, but gaining youth while maintaining veteran leadership is impressive. What makes the Popovich era so great in San Antonio is his ability to rebuild while contending and, while last year was a down year, I think things pick up quite nicely for the Spurs in 2018-19. Now for the fantasy spin on this years Spurs squad.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Average. Middle. Meh? I guess it all depends on perception. Someone born into poverty would be praised if he/she achieved average economic status. On the flip side, if you are a one-percenter, I assume that average would prompt seppuku. Average is often associated with boring. He/she was average in the sack. The higher above the line probably correlates well with intenstity of orgasm. For flip side? Supplant higher with lower. Why does average get such a bad rap? It ain’t great, but it puts food on the table. It often gives 1.5 children and a white picket fence, if you are so inclined to have either. With that said, we are a “what have you done for me lately” society. We are all about celebrating the highs, while conveniently eschewing the trials and tribulations. Well, yesterday Joe Harris was not your Average Joe.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 30 7 2 1 0 1 6/7 11/14 2/2

The CLE defense is atrocious, but let’s not forget about the……REVENGE!!!! Harris was drafted by the Cavaliers back in 2014. He played two seasons there, never averaging more than 10 points or scoring 3 points a game. During the 2016 season, though, Joe underwent surgery on his foot and was traded to ORL a week later. Then he was immediately waived. BKN picked him up and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years with the Nets has produced…..wait for it (an homage to HIMYM)…..average results. This season, in particular, Joe is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 boards, 1.5 dimes, and 1.8 downtowners in 25.1 minutes a game. He’s scored double figures in 41 of 71 games played, but has not eclipsed the 20 point threshold once. Anyways, I clowned him earlier in the season, but Harris is no Average Joe, and the Nets don’t think so either. Even with all the wing players that they have, Joe has been getting consistent playing time for most of the season. He can shoot and is able to drive strong to the rack and finish. An Average Joe on most nights, but yesterday, he was anything but.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I love craps. Not the sitting on the toilet kind, but the rolling of them two dice. It’s the one game that feels like I have some modicum of control. I shoot the dice, can decide when and where to bet, move chips around, and finally take money off the table if I so choose. It’s all an illusion, though. Yes, money management can always help, but the numbers are not in my favor over the long run. The probability of rolling a 7 is 16.67%. 13.89% to roll a 6 or 8, 11.11% to roll a 5 or 9, and 8.33% to roll a 4 or 10. The hardway bets? 2%. Even though I know the numbers, the game is too freaking fun. And I have those stories when I was down to my last chip and proceeded to go on a crazy heater, hitting multiple points, and making everyone jump around. It’s those times that keep me going back to the tables to replicate that feeling. That is what it must be like to own Tim Hardaway Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 5 1 2 0 3 6/9 14/24 3/3

Every once in a while, he will go on a heater that gets you all excited. More often than not, though, he will shoot 4-of-13 and make you cry like that guy in the casino bathroom that just lost the proverbial house. Since the Knicks lost Porzingis, THJ has seen usage rates of 29.4, 21.9, and 28.3. The high usage rate and minutes should continue to be plentiful. But like my experiences at the craps table, the likely scenario will be “7 OUT!” As long as you keep expectations in check, THJ will have some value. Just beware of emotionally point-chasing the performance from last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I grew up before cable television, when a remote control was, “Son, get your ass off the couch and change the channel.” The number of channels could be counted on two hands. So, many of my fond memories were from watching infomericals. Tom Vu was one and will always have a special place in my heart, while the other one was Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo. That was the OG. Seriously, everything now should pay homage and pay royalties to Blanks. Anyways, after more than 20 years, Tae Bo is still going strong. There are fitness centers and classes all across the county and Billy Blanks still has, not only an operational website, but one that looks legit. Which brings me to Zach Randolph, aka Z-Bo. He’s so OG that his friends…in middle school….named him Z-Bo after Deebo. This is his 18th season in the NBA, yet, like Tae Bo, is still going strong. Last night, Z-Bo went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 26 12 2 1 0 4 3/6 11/23 1/2

He played 32 minutes. So, that thing about the Kings going young. Yeah…..Z-Bo has actually played 32, 32, and 28 minutes the past three games. But he did not see the court the two games before that. He’s only a streaming option or a DFS play in the right matchup. He must’ve been licking his lips when he saw that Dante Cunningham would be guarding him last night. He went so OG that he knocked him out of the game with injury. I’m getting all nostalgic and will try one of the Tae Bo workouts. Shit, I shouldn’t have done that. Still effective, like Z-Bo.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

All units. All units. Be advised. We have reports of a 187 at 7000 Coliseum Way. Subject is armed and considered dangerous. Over. 

Lou Williams is a bad, bad man. No Blake. No Milos. No Rivers. No problemo.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 50 2 7 0 0 4 8/16 16/27 10/10
Armed with but a jump shot, Lou single-handedly took down the Warriors, 125-106 in Oakland. Five-Oh. You know what sound that is. Now, he played 35 minutes and had a 39.4 usage rate last night. Here was the rest of the Clippers starting lineup: Jawun Evans, CJ Williams, Wesley Johnson, and DeAndre Jordan. That usage rate seems a little light to me. Obviously, Lou isn’t going to bring out the men in blue every night and Lou will transition back to the bench when the team gets healthy. Regardless, he’s a professional scorer of buckets and will flourish in any capacity. It wouldn’t surprise me if the men in blue make a few more appearances before the end of the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Celtics’ impressive 16-game winning streak is now over. Is it a coincidence that 16 is half of 32, which is the number of games that the ’71 Lakers won in a row? I do not believe in coincidences, until I do. Which makes this iteration of the Celtics half the team of that glorious Lakers squad. All kidding aside, it was an impressive run. The team stepped up when they lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens is now a legitimate Presidential candidate, Kyrie is…..well, Kyrie, and the defense has been the league’s best, by a big margin according to defensive efficiency. I tried everything in the book to jinx the streak. Voodoo dolls, shrines, sacrificing of virgins, and rubbing my scrotum with four-leaf clovers. All to no avail. I had to harken back to the past. All the way back to the ancient days of the early 1990’s. It was during that time, the secret was unlocked by the Leprechaun movies. You see, in the original, the leprechaun is defeated when the well it falls into is blown up. Explosion. Fire. In the third movie, the lepechaun is defeated via flamethrower. Heat was needed and Heat we got Wednesday night, as the Miami Heat took down the Boston Leprechauns 104-98. Who led the way? None other than Goran Dragic, aka the Dragon, who was spewing fire from all over the court: 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and one liberation. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Waiters Island was booming, as Dion Waiters scored 26 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out six dimes. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. How do you beat the Celtics? Shoot 49.4% from the field, which was 4% higher than their season average. Translation: bring the Heat.

Please, blog, may I have some more?