I was high on Precious Achiuwa in the offseason, as he showed flashes at the end of last season, both offensively and defensively. He improved his shooting and was able to make it rain from downtown. In addition, he exhibited the ability to make life difficult for Joel Embiid while also being able to switch on the perimeter against guards. Most importantly, though, Nick Nurse spoke glowingly about him over the summer, commenting on his work ethic and finally “getting it.” Then the season started, and it didn’t go as planned. He had two monster games while playing over 33 minutes in each, but after that, was relegated to playing in the teens. To stick a rusty knife into my belly, Achiuwa then succumbed to injury and missed the next 24 games. My Precious once had bling that blinded the eyes, but now was as dull as my jokes. Upon returning to action, he was once again playing in the teens, but slowly but surely, the playing time increased. Christian Koloko was sent down to the G League and my Precious began to glisten once again. Over the last five games, he received 28, 21, 26, 21 and 37 minutes, starting in the most recent contest and putting up 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

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The Magic at full strength have a great, young frontcourt, and that was on display last night.  They totaled 78 points, 22 boards, and 6 assists last night.  If you own Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., and Paolo Banchero, well, that’s kinda weird to have three guys from the same team.  But any of them are legitimate starters going forward, and they all still have some upside.  Unfortunately, if you are holding Bol Bol, he looks like the fourth wheel of this tricycle.  I would hold him and see, but I’m not optimistic.  The other three are better players.

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I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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The Lakers lost eight of their first 10 games. Anthony Davis did not play in one of those contests and he put up fewer than 50 DraftKings points in seven. Since then, Davis went over 50 DK points in every game with three over 70 and a high of 84.8. The Lakers won seven games during that span. On Sunday, Davis said “Hold my beer” to no one in particular. Maybe to the world that is filled with despicable keyboard warrior haters that populate mom’s basements across the world. And he did this:

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The Suns’ off-season produced enough fireworks to sustain Kenny Powers on the Fourth of July.  Unfortunately, if you’re a Suns fan, the drama was less of the blockbuster trade or free agent acquisition variety, and more front-page-of-the-tabloid variety.  For starters, majority owner Robert Sarver is putting the team up for sale after being suspended for the entire season.   The news unleashed a circus of speculation surrounding the identity of the next owner, with Bob Iger, Shaq, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. being mentioned as candidates with varying levels of seriousness.  The Suns are also trying to deal a frustrated Jae Crowder, who capped off his summer of discontent by sitting out training camp and pre-season while the franchise works out a trade.  Speaking of pre-season, the Suns got off to an inauspicious start when the Adelaide 36ers came from Down Under and handed Phoenix a loss on their home court.  We all know not to read into pre-season too much, but between distractions at the top, the cloud hanging over Crowder’s exit, and simmering tensions between coach Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton, one gets the feeling that the turmoil from their disastrous second round ouster may extend into this season.

Whatever happens, there is still fantasy goodness to be mined from this fast-paced squad.  Here are my assessments as we near the start of the action:

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It is said that patience is a virtue. Prepare my domicile in Hell then, Satan. I want instant satisfaction. Toothpaste oozing out? Grrr. Ketchup plastered to the bottom? Arrgh. Take a long drive to enjoy the scenery? Why haven’t we invented teleportation yet? After missing 25 games due to injury, we’ve been waiting for Bogdan Bogdanovic to start balling out. Drip. Drip. Drip. He played fewer than 20 minutes in two of the first three games back. That’s okay. It was expected and it would take some time to get back into the groove. Then 22 minutes. 26 minutes. OMG, it’s happening! 20 minutes. Sad face. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. Womp woooomp. 22 minutes. SAD face. 32 minutes, that frown turned upside down. This is it!!! He’s getting his first start……drum roll, please……21 minutes. WTF?! Last night, though, it finally happened:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 4 6 4 0 1 4/8 8/18 2/2

Started his third straight game and played 37 minutes. Oh, yeah! It’s on like Donkey Kong. Entering the season, I thought Atlanta would be one of the more fantasy-friendly teams in the league. Interestingly, they are playing at the 22nd-fastest pace after being fifth last season. Regardless, he’s risen to the top of the depth chart, relegating Kevin Huerter to the bench. As long as he gets the minutes, BogBog can provide points, tres, boards, some dimes, and steals. The shooting efficiency may not be great, though, as he’s a career 43% shooter from the field. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Knicks, after getting walloped by the Bucks, took care of business against a Thunder team without their star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and one of their key young guys in Darius Bazley. 

Julius Randle posted a triple-double after a lackluster return to action against Milwaukee the other night. He scored 26, assisted 12 times, and grabbed 12 boards on top of two steals. RJ Barrett also continued his excellent form with a nice 32 piece and stealing the ball three times. Immanuel Quickley also had an eye-catching game since he racked up 33 minutes of playing time with Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton not being available for this game. IQ scored 21 points on the back of three triples. 

The Thunder had a balanced scoring effort since they had eight players hit double digits in points. The young Frenchman Theo Maledon scored ten, had two triples, and dished out three assists. Fan-favorite, Lu Dort, scored 14 and grabbed six rebounds with five assists and Al Horford contributed with 16 points and five boards. A new hopeful in the world of fantasy who seems primed to come into a bigger role now in the second half of the season after the dust from the trade deadline settles is Aleksej Pokusevski who scored a measly four points but grabbed seven rebounds with two assists. I think we can expect much better from Poku moving forward. 

The Knicks pick up a much-needed win here ahead of a brutal second half scheduling-wise while the Thunder continue their development in a season where they have exceeded all expectations.

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Is Morant a physical marvel? Ja.

Can Morant dunk on anyone? Ja.

Does Morant jump higher than a flea? Ja.

Can Morant score with the best of them? Ja.

Is Morant about the sharing and caring life? Ja.

Does he get his 211 on? Ja.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 5 10 1 0 4 2/3 11/18 11/14

Is Morant consistent? Naw.

Is he great for fantasy? Naw.

Does he get his Mutombo on? Naw.

Ja has scored 35 and 44 points on the season. He’s dished out at least 10 dimes in seven games. He’s messed around once this season. With that said, there have been plenty of duds on the season. He’s scored fewer than 20 points 15 times. As a result, he’s just outside the top 100 on the season. Once he gets more consistent and provides more tres and steals, Ja will rule the fantasy streets.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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After ending the season on an 8-0 run in the Bubble and just missing out on the 8th/9th seed play-in game, the Suns entered this offseason looking to elevate themselves to a legitimate contender in the tough Western Conference. That is exactly what they did, acquiring All-Star point guard Chris Paul to form a tremendous backcourt duo with fellow All-Star Devin Booker. The Suns will be looking for Paul to continue his All-NBA caliber play and for their young core to take another leap this season to solidify themselves amongst the top teams in the West. 

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The 2020 NBA Draft and six-month wait is finally over. According to the ESPN broadcast, every pick was great and no team made a bad pick. Let’s get back to the days when a pick was made, Jalen Rose gave a bad comp for the pick, and then Bill Simmons and Jay Bilas would actually argue and debate the picks. Give real opinions without fear that someone’s feelings would get hurt. Today, I will do that for the first 10 picks. Feel free to hop in the comment section and debate with me. That’s what makes the draft fun.

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I have sporadically mentioned in these articles how much I admire Gregg Popovic. Not only for his coaching ability, love for the game, and competitiveness, but also for his personality. The guy is a quote machine, always providing something clever/funny/deep to comment, depending on the situation. And after a game-winning performance by DeMar Derozan against the Raptors, he had this to say.

DeRozan got the star treatment on his return in Toronto but Pop was quick to bring him back to earth in his own unique way. It really makes you think about the culture of the San Antonio organization as a whole and appreciate their commitment to success through teamwork.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bradley Beal returned, but this hasn’t slowed down both Ish Smith and Jordan Mcrae, who continued their productive streaks. Sekou Doumbouya also looks like a big hit, as Blake Griffin should be out for the rest of the season and Daniel Gafford is a start-worthy player as long as Wendell Carter Jr. is out.

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