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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What is love? Haddaway asked that question many decades ago. Did he find the answer? Naw, just more questions but the one thing he wanted us to know is that he didn’t want to get hurt anymore. As we well know in the fantasy world, Love hurts. Last night, the Phoenix Suns were singing the same tune, as Kevin Huerter kept bringing the pain.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 15 8 1 0 2 4/5 8/14 3/4

Baby don’t Huerter, don’t Huerter, no more. It was a career game in terms of boards and dimes. As I’ve written in the past, the thing that most impressed me about Huerter’s game was the playmaking ability. He is an excellent ball handler and can navigate pick-and-roll action competently. He’s been averaging 4.8 dimes over the past four games. I thought he would strictly be a 3-and-D player when he was drafted, but his game is multi-dimensional. Case in point, over the past seven games, he’s averaged 7.1 boards per game. Now, he’s been shooting 49% from the field over that stretch. I was always bullish on his shooting acumen, but he was only shooting 42% from the field for most of the season. If the efficiency is real, then top 50 is attainable. I have my doubts, at least this season. Maybe going forward, but top 100 production this season is reasonable, with averages of 13 points, 2 tres, 4 boards, 4 dimes, 1 steal, with 43% shooting from the field and 83% shooting from the line.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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History is written by the victors. Alexander III was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC. Due to his undefeated record in battle and conquest of Persia, the III was replaced with The Great. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always great? The Stocktonator. Now, over 2000 years later, Alexander the Great has been etched into the history books and permeated our minds. Last night, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered a performance that imprinted him into the NBA archives.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 20 10 0 1 2 2/3 8/12 2/2

That was the 90th time since 1946 that a player has scored 20 points with at least 20 boards and 10 dimes. The last player to perform the feat was Russell Westbrook last season, when he went 20/20/21! Since 2000, it’s happened only six times before Shai’s performance. Now, for fantasy, Shai got off to a blazing start this season then cooled off. Over the past 16 games, though, he’s been a top 20 player for fantasy, averaging 36 minutes, 21.9 points, 0.9 tres, 6.6 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The field goal percentage has been a whopping 52% while the free throw shooting has been 85%. He’s garnered a usage rate of 23.9, yet Shai has only turned the ball over 1.6 times per game! Will this continue? Probably not. He’s not going to continue shooting 52% from the field. He shot 47% over the course of his rookie season, so that’s a reasonable expectation. The Logo, Jerry West, loved Shai and was instrumental in the Clippers drafting him. They had to trade him in order to get Paul George, so it’s understandable why they made the move, but West is one of the best talent evaluators in the league. If he’s high on someone, then so am I.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Over the first 10 games of the season, Tristan Thompson was must-see tv, as he averaged 33.5 minutes, 16.5 points, 11.4 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks. He was even shooting 50% on 0.6 tres attempts! He was the #31 player for fantasy! At the time, I attributed the out-of-Tristan’s-world production due to the fact that he was going to be a free agent after the season. He wouldn’t be the first, and won’t be the last, to “play harder” due to chasing the bag. Then, the production inevitably fell and Tristan became the Tristan we were accustomed to; boards, blocks, and shitty free throw percentage. But then last night’s performance forced me to dig deeper.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 14 3 1 3 2 0/1 15/20 5/6

In 45 minutes during an overtime game! A career high in points! As Vince Lombardi yelled, “What the hell is going on here?” Now, lean back, light a cigarette, and take a trip down the rabbit hole I inexplicably ventured into last night. The things I do for you guys. And I didn’t even eat shrooms. Alright, here we go.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Michael Porter Jr. was one of the top overall recruits in high school. At 6′ 10″ and 218 pounds, he was literally a giant amongst boys. Unlike most big men, though, he did most of his damage from the perimeter. He possessed both the handles and jump shot of a guard. With his height and athleticism, he would rise up over any challenger and drain shots from all over the court. Because of the stupid rule that forces players to showcase their talents in college for one year before entering the NBA, MPJ eventually decided to play for Missouri. Unfortunately, he injured his back and underwent surgery, forcing him to miss most of the season. As a result, he fell in the NBA draft before the Denver Nuggets selected him with the 14th overall pick. Back injuries are tricky, and the Nuggets selected MPJ for the long game, so the process was going to be a slow and tedious one. For the first 31 games of the season, MPJ played in 22 of them and averaged 9 minutes per game. Then, on December 29th, he received his first start and did what he do, which is score, score, and score some more. He scored 19 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 1 dime in 26 minutes. The Nuggets were short-handed that game, so I dismissed it as a one-off thing, but it looks as if the genie may be out of the bottle. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 5 1 0 0 1 2/3 11/12 1/2

In 23 minutes off the bench. He posted up smaller defenders, broke down bigs on the perimeter, showcased the Harden-esque step-back J, and attacked the rim on closeouts with dexterity. Over the past four games, he’s been a top 60 player for fantasy, despite averaging only 19.6 minutes. Now, before we go crowning his ass, MPJ is not going to shoot 74% from the field, which is what he’s done over the past four games. When that happens, the points will obviously go down, which will be an issue because most of his fantasy value is derived from scoring. He may be a hero right now, but he’s a zero in the defensive stats and dimes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a zero, and always a hero? The Stocktonator. In addition, his real-life defense isn’t great, which could be an issue regarding playing time because the Nuggets are legitimate contenders this season. I’ve added MPJ in every league where he was available, as the scoring upside is immense, and there’s always that small percentage chance that he could be the greatest thing since….most people go with sliced bread. I get it but not really. How about the internet? Nike Airs? Deodorant? I’m going with the Apple Pan banana cream pie. For those in LA, you know. For the unfortunate, you know what to do if you ever go to LA. Anyways, I’m not expecting much from MPJ to be honest, but willing to see where it leads.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Roses go through many stages of existence. First, there are the seed and germination stages, when life is created. Then, the flowers grow and reproduce. Finally, it’s all about spreading the seeds so that the circle of life can be completed. Derrick Rose knows all about that, as he’s played in Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Minnesota, and now Detroit. At 31 years old and coming off two knee surgeries, Rose obviously isn’t the bright flower he once was, but with proper pruning, he can still blossom with the best of them. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what allows you to blossom? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 6 8 1 0 3 2/5 8/17 4/4

Played 29 minutes off the bench, a season high. as the Pistons roster was pruned last night because both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond did not play. Over the past three games, Rose has been a top 65 player for fantasy, providing points, tres, dimes and steals. The usage rate has been 33 while the percentages have been good from both the field and line. When everyone is healthy, expect top 100-ish production, as he will likely receive around 24 minutes of run per game.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A ravine is a “deep, narrow gorge with steep sides” according to Google. LaVine’s RaVine is a sight to see. The drop off in his stats based on the outcome of the game is truly something to witness. In wins, he’s great… he averages 27.1 points per game, with an offensive rating of 119, a FG% of 51.7, and an absolutely absurd 3Pt% of 57.5. And that’s similar to the LaVine we saw last night, in the Bulls’ unexpected victory over the Kawhi-less Clippers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 4 2 2 0 3 4-7 11-21 5-6

In losses? LaVine’s scoring output falls to 20.2 points per game, with an offensive rating of 95 and FG and 3Pt percentages of 38.5% and 32.4%, respectively. That’s some sort of drop off, and it speaks to how much the Bulls depend on him if they want any chance of winning. His usage is nearly identical in both, but his inability to consistently perform at a top level makes us question his future as the leader of a team.

Here’s what else we saw around the league on Saturday night.

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He stands 7′ 4″  and weighs 290 pounds. Each hand is 10.75 inches long and 12 inches wide. The size of his hands are more impressive than the 7′ 4″ and 290 pounds for some reason. Do you realize how big 12 inch wide hands are? Go get a ruler. Now place the left edge of the ruler to the edge of your left hand. Exactly. He can dunk without jumping. He battles John Wick and gets in more than a few decent blows in….before getting munched with a book in the mouth. When on the court in a NBA game, though, he does all the munching. You don’t mess with the Boban:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
15 16 2 0 2 2 0 6/7 3/4

In 23 minutes, a season high! Now, the game was a blowout, so Boban got run. Normally, he doesn’t get much playing time because he can’t be effective in the modern game of pace and space. The first person who figures out how to time travel, better have taking Boban back to the 1950s as priority number one. Let’s see how George Mikan deals with a little Boban in his life. Anyways, Boban obviously isn’t fantasy worthy due to the few minutes he receives. He’s a circus act, but it’s always nice to give him a shout out and watch exactly how dominant he could be if basketball players didn’t have to actually run around.

Here’s what else I saw last yesterday:

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Imagine you just got crossed up really badly by James Harden, allowed a massive three, and fouled out of the game with under two minutes left to go. Harden’s three allowed his Rockets to go up by five against your team. You exit the game with this stat line:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
6 3 0 1 0 1 1-2 2-6 1-2

You probably wouldn’t be too arrogant, or braggadocious, if you will. But you’re not Pat Beverley, and Pat Beverley isn’t you.

Because after Russell Westbrook missed a three to take the lead after a late Clippers surge in the final 100 ticks, Beverley was seen mocking Russell Westbrook’s three-point stroke from the bench. Jumping around, giddy as hell, looking right at the opposing bench while he mimicked the missed three and the subsequent loss for the Rockets. The cojones on this guy!

Luckily, his teammates were there to bail him out and allow for that celebration. Here are notable stats from that game and from around the league on Friday night.

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With the release of Joker – a truly chilling and exceptional movie, by the way – the Jokic and Joker puns and references are becoming a bit tired. So let’s take this a different route: who gets a place on the Mount Rushmore of seemingly out-of-shape athletes? Jokic is certainly making a case for a position. He doesn’t look like the most trim guy out there.

So I got to thinking, and in terms of basketball, people like Bryant Reeves, Glen Davis, and Eddy Curry came to mind. Other sports have some really strong contenders, with baseball throwing out some especially heavy competitors. CC Sabathia, David Wells, Pablo Sandoval, and the Babe himself could create a fairly heavyset Mount Rushmore. The NFL is a different case, with guys like Vince Wilfork needing to be as big as they were in order to dominate the opposition.

It’s really an interesting discussion, so comment your picks below. But I digress. The point here is that Jokic was able to outwork the Greek – or rather Cameroonian – God himself, Joel Embiid, in the ultimate matchup of chiseled vs. flabby.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 6 2 2 1 2-9 10-22 4-5

The three-point efficiency is really the only thing to be mad about here… but the game-winning three that sealed the deal helped make up for that showing for Denver fans.

Here’s what else we saw from around the league on Friday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?