I’m fascinated by the 2019-20 Pacers. They lost their two best wing-defenders (Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic), two veteran point guards (Darren Collison and Corey Joseph), and two other wing scorers (Tyreke Evans and Wesley Mathews), and Zach Lowe thinks they’re in trouble. He’s probably right, but I don’t care. I’m in on these new-look Pacers. As long as they don’t wear those hideous Hickory jerseys too often, they should be a lot more fun to watch this season. I like that they, and other teams are getting weird and starting two big men. I like that they seem to be counting on TJ Warren as an integral piece after the Suns gave him away for nothing. Victor Oladipo will eventually return. This team has three TJ’s, two Holiday’s, and the almighty Dougie McBuckets. Myles Turner is ascending and yet he or Sabonis could get traded? Maybe the on-court product turns out to be less thrilling than I expect and this team falls flat on its face. Either way, the the storylines are here.

My best guess at a starting lineup sans Oladipo: Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner.

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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:

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Alright! Who’s still rockin’ in the playoffs? Some of us got screwed over by late-season injuries and will forever curse the names of the players who hurt themselves and cost us hundreds of dollars and bragging rights amongst our friends. With the season winding down and fantasy playoffs in full swing, there are many players who are suddenly becoming fantasy-relevant down the stretch. The Mavericks have fallen out of playoff contention, but fantasy owners are monitoring them closely because they have some juicy pickups. Maxi Kleber went 3-18-12-1-0-1-0 on 5-of-11 shooting and 5-for-5 FTs and Jalen Brunson went 4-22-4-2-0-0-0 on 8-of-18 shooting and 2-for-2 FTs. Both of these guys have suddenly become viable options, especially with the Mavericks playing four games next week. Brunson has been ballin’ over his last five averaging 21.2 points and 5.6 assists with really nice peripherals. I would definitely add him if he’s somehow available and would strongly consider adding Kleber if you have something to lose. There’s only two weeks left for most of us, so if a guy’s not producing, or you’re like me and lost Malcolm Brogdon, it’s time to cut bait and make a pickup.Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Domantas Sabonis missed five games due to an ankle injury. His first game back, he played 20 minutes and shot 1-for-7 from the field and scored 9 points. In the second game, Sabonis only played 18 minutes but shot 4-of-12 from the field and scored 10 points. Since we all live on Planet Earth, we have all experienced a storm. They don’t magically appear out of nowhere. A combination of low and high pressure systems merge, form clouds, and often produce high-speed winds. You can see the clouds approaching or feel the wind picking up. In its most severe form, a storm brings a deluge of rain, crackling thunder, and a light show that would make the greatest of deejays jealous. That’s what occurred in Indiana last night, as Sabonis made it rain and lit up the Thunder:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 7 4 0 1 0 0 7/12 12/13

In 28 minutes. When Sabonis is right, he provides points, boards, some dimes, and a smattering of stocks. He also shoots close to 60% from the field and over 70% from the line. The main issue for Sabonis is the minutes, though, as Nate McMillan likes to go with Thaddeus Young at power forward alongside Myles Turner. As a result, he only averages around 24-25 minutes per game. Last night against the Thunder, Sabonis was abusing Jerami Grant, so McMillan stayed big, but outside of obvious matchups or injury, I wouldn’t consider last night to be the norm going forward. Storms don’t happen often, and ones with both lightning and thunder are rare.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.

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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:

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It’s been a disappointing season for Khris Middleton, as the consistency and shooting efficiency have been lacking. With G one year more experienced and Coach Budenholzer implementing his offense, things were looking bullish before the season started. He did finish as the #25 player on a per-game last season. He’s playing 4 fewer minutes this year, but the shot attempts have remained the same, the tres have gone up, and so has the usage rate. It’s all about the shooting efficiency. Warm it up, Khris. Is he about to?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 2 4 3 0 3 4/7 8/15 7/9

Let’s hope so. Middleton isn’t the flashiest player, as he’s got that YMCA old man game. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get love. He’s a really good player and contributes a little something something in everything but blocks. Hopefully he can warm it up down the stretch and reward those that stayed strong.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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You’re all aware of the safety warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” right? If not, please text me before you drive so I can stay home. Anyways, the warning is placed on the side mirrors of cars because the convexity of the mirror, while allowing one to see more area, also makes objects appear smaller. This gives the impression that an object is closer than it appears. So easy a SON can get it. Well, if you’ve been reading me all year, you know that I walked 500 Myles earlier in the season. It was a challenging endeavor, but all worth it in the end, as last night Myles Turner was able to post a career-high in…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 11 2 0 7 2 1/1 3/11 3/4

…..blocks. He had posted 6 blocks in a game five times in his career. Now, due to my loyalty when things were tough, Myles let me ride shotgun as we drove along the coast and reminsced. As he was telling me stories of his childhood, I got freaked out when I saw Brook Lopez’s face in the mirror. It kept getting bigger and bigger, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I was about to pass out when Myles just turned, smirked, and said, “chill out, Son. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” He then calmly explained that Lopez was a distant second to him in blocks because he played seven fewer games. Myles has 159 blocks on the season in 57 games, compared to 143 in 64 games for Lopez. That breaks down to 2.79 vs 2.23. Whew. Anyways, from a fantasy perspective, the blocks are great and he provides tres from the big man position, but because he likes to hang out on the perimeter, the boards, points, and efficiency from the field are light. He also doesn’t provide dimes. With that said, over the past four games, he’s been a top 25 player primarily on the blocks alone, as he’s Myles ahead of the competition in that category.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In a motorsport race, a pace car is utilized to….if you guessed set the pace, then winner winner chicken dinner! There are many reasons the pace car exists: to keep the competitors bunched up so that advantages of time and space are negated, to conserve fuel, and for safety concerns during bad weather or accidents on the track. In essence, they are the boring cars on the track because they don’t get to race and compete for victory. That’s not to say the pace cars are hoopties, though. They are often performance cars that would dust any commercial vehicle on the market. For example, the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 was a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which boasted 755 horsepower, could go from 0-60 in 2.85 seconds, and had a top speed of 212 mph! Bojan Bogdanovic is a pace car in the NBA. He’s boring and delivers steady production, but there’s muscle under the hood. Last night, Bojan was able to put the pedal to the metal and paced Indiana to victory.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 7 4 0 0 1 4/7 13/22 7/9

The 37 points and 22 shot attempts were both season-highs. His career-high was 44 points back in 2015. I told you. There’s muscle under the hood. Now, since Victor Oladipo succumbed to injury back on January 26th, Bogdanovic has played 15 games and averaged 32.2 minutes, 20.6 points, 3.7 boards, 2.1 dimes, and 0.7 steals. He’s shot 51% from the field on 15.3 attempts, 38% from downtown on 5.5 attempts, and 81% from the line on 3.5 attempts. He’s consistently been a top 100 player, has scored in double figures 18 straight games, and is garnering a usage rate close to 30. Bogdanovic won’t win many weeks for you, but he consistently delivers what you expect from him and has access to ceiling games.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There are times when it’s okay to love your cousin. If he/she is hot….and you are the only people on an island in the middle of nowhere. If you live down South. Ha! I kid. Seriously though, many places allow love and marriage to a cousin. Even in the US of A, 19 states allow marriage to first cousins and 41 allow them to live together. In Amish society, their group is relatively small in number and marriage outside of their religion is forbidden. Simple suppy, demand, and survival equation there. Don’t sweat it fellow fantasy basketballer, though. You can love DeMarcus Cousins without shame or remorse.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 11 3 1 3 1 1/4 9/15 5/5

Played 31 minutes, the first time eclipsing the 30 minute mark all season. Steve Kerr did mention recently that he will ramp up the minutes for Cousins. Well, it’s good to know that Kerr is not a liar. Over the past four games, Cousins has been a top 30 player, averaging 16.5 points, 1 tres, 11.3 boards, 3.3 dimes, 1.5 steals, and 2 blocks. The 41% from the field isn’t good (43% on the season), but he’s shooting 88% from the line (78% on the season). Man, I was wrong about Cousins, as I didn’t think he’d be able to come back from that Achilles injury. Much love Cousins. Much love.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?