Last. A truly underrated word that gets a bad rap. We often associate the word with the sad events of life: that last kiss, last breath, last meal, last dollar, last call, last game, last day….sniff, sniff. I’m sad. But fret not, because one word can represent emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum. What do you think of when you read last man standing? Or last team left? Last = winner in that context. How about when the last shot goes in for the last score to leave the last team victorious? That’s exactly what Larry Nance Jr. did last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
15 16 6 3 1 2 1/3 7/14 0

Got the start, played 33 minutes, and tipped in the last shot to bring victory to Cleveland. Duh!! Play the man, especially at center, where he beasts. You did pay the man with a four-year, $45 million contract after all. Not talking to you, my much appreciated reader. Cleveland! Do you hear me??!!! I know you like Ante Zizic, but c’mon man! Over the past eight games, Nance has averaged 29.6 minutes, 11.3 points, 0.8 threeecolas, 8.8 boards, 4.5 dimes, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks. He’s shot 58% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. He’s been a top 20 player! Wake up Cleveland! Or you will literally be the last team, but maybe that’s what they want in order to draft LeBron 2.0.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.

Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.

We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.

Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. At 6′ 3″, 236 pounds, Ali was a physical giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 1960 was 5′ 8″, 166 pounds. In the ring, Ali could physically pummel foes into submission like a rhino, yet he was nimble enough to flutter around the opposition and peck them humming bird style. Wait? Why am I making this difficult? He could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. It was the lyrical flow that unlocked the Pantheon, though. He would talk trash, spit rhymes, and back it all up in the process. Depending on your persepective, it was entertainment or a fly buzzing around your head. Joel Embiid could be the modern day Ali. At 7′ 0″, 260 pounds, he is a giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 2018 is 5′ 9″, 195 pounds. Thanks McDonald’s. On the court, Embiid can bully down low in the post or Euro step left and spin cycle right on the perimeter, leaving defenders in a tizzy. Like Ali, Embiid has the lyrical flow, both on and off the court. Man, imagine Ali on Twitter! Like Ali, Embiid walks the walk, backs up all the talk, and is the living embodiment of The Process. For all the messing around he does, though, last night was the first time he messed around…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 13 10 0 2 2 4/7 6/20 3/4

….and got a triple-double. Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why I saw the Stocktonator watching old clips of Ali with Ice Cube blaring from the speakers yesterday morning. It liked Embiid a lot.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

LeBron James was born in Akron, Ohio, played high school ball for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which is located in Akron, Ohio, and was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose stadium is a 50 minute drive from Akron, Ohio. He is the SON that morphed into the King, but no reign endures forever and every SON eventually leaves the nest (two times now for LBJ). When LeBron left back in 2010, the Cavaliers went from winning 61 games and losing in the Eastern Conference Semis to losing 63 games. He did leave behind a couple of SONs, though: Daniel GibSON, J.J. HickSON, and Antawn JamiSON. Barf. Last year, the Cavaliers wont 50 games and lost in the NBA Finals. With LeBron moving to Hollywood, the Cavaliers were 1-11 entering last night’s game. Vomit. This time, though, LeBron left behind a different group of SONs (Tristan ThompSON, Jordan ClarkSON, and Andrew HarriSON), who produced a performance befitting a king last night for a 113-89 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Tristan ThompSON

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 21 5 0 0 4 0 5/6 1/2

TT has been en fuego lately, as he’s produced a double-dub in four straight games, has averaged 32 minutes over that span, has hoisted up 11 shots per game, and has been a top 100 player for fantasy! What world are we living in? If you need blocks and boards, this is one reality show you want to subscribe to. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator must love reality tv because it liked Thompson last night.

Jordan ClarkSON

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 5 2 0 1 4 1/4 9/15 5/5

Clarkson is a professional hucker and chucker, as he’s jacked up 13.5 shots in 23.8 minutes on the season. Due to all the recent injuries, Clarkson has been receiving over 28 minutes per game (three games) and has been contributing in boards and assists. Seriously, we are living in a world where Tristan Thompson is a top 100 player for fantasy and Jordan Clarkson is contributing in other categories besides points.

Andrew HarriSON

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

Played 13 minutes. That’s when you know things are going good. Andrew is the forgotten SON because he sucks, but he’s family, so we have to show him some love.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Entering last season, most of the focus was on how the Bulls would adapt to the post-Jimmy Butler era. Given the current laugh-a-minute situation in Minnesota, it seems like the return of Lauri Markannen, Zach Lavine, and Kris Dunn has resulted in a big win for the Bulls. The team will be looking for big contributions from all three, as well as their marquee free agent signing of Jabari Parker and first round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., to build upon a lackluster 27 wins from the previous year and, more importantly, show flashes of progression. The East is now Lebron and DeRozan-less, so the Bulls will be looking towards that 8 seed as a realistic target.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With the season a week away, and drafts in full swing, now is the perfect time to dig deep for those late round fliers. Once you get past round 9, I believe the best strategy is to pick players who may pop in a moments notice. Whether they are in a new scheme, new location, getting more minutes or just primed for a breakout, there are potential underrated stars to be had on every team. I will go team by team in each conference and highlight a player who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner rather than later.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Times are a changin’. Out with the old, in with the new. All good things must come to an end. Any more of those and the cliche police are going to have me cuffed and begging for forgiveness. Well, the biggest change is by far and away the departure of LeBron to Hollywood. Last time this happened the city burned his jersey, but now they reminisce about the most impressive feat of his storied career, beating the Warriors in the midst of their rule as a dynasty. The perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse will now be fighting for a playoff spot, but that doesn’t mean the fantasy gods left us hanging. When pieces move, value arises, and that is what we have in The Land.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Sorry Andre, but there is breaking news: Joel Embiid will have surgery to fix an orbital bone fracture and will miss at least 2 games but could be out as much as 4 weeks. I would wait to hear something more sound before dropping him, but it definitely makes Richaun Holmes a nice pick-up. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled recap:

Andre “Beast Mode” Drummond had his old school ground and pound game working last night as he led the Pistons to an 11 point win over the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Even without Blake Griffin, who went through warm-ups but could not play and is now headed for an MRI on his injured ankle, the Pistons were able to blow the game wide-open in the 3rd quarter mostly because of Drummond’s pure dominance in the paint.

Andre put the beat down on Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi to the tune of 0/24/23/4/0/1 with only 1 turnover in 37 minutes. Drummond shot 10-16 from the floor and 4-7 from the line, which is the type of efficiency spoiled fantasy owners have come to expect from Mr. Drummond this season. The free-throw shooting still isn’t Curry-esque, but it has become strong enough to elevate Drummond to the elite fantasy player level.

Besides the lesson in classic center play that Drummond gave the Wizards, here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What’s up Razzballers? Fan favourite Aaron Gordon had a monster line, destroying the lowly Suns to the tune of 29/11/8/3/1 on 10-for-18 FG (3-for-6 3P, 6-for-9 FT) and three TOs. It was a clean and lethal stat line, and exactly the kind that you needed on the Saturday of your playoff semifinals. AG’s been a beast since his return and I really hope you stashed him where you could. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are two points of a fantasy basketball season where seasons can be won and lost: the first is at the draft and the second is when there are about twenty games left in the season. The draft is obvious. That is when you set the foundation of your team. The second point is a little more subtle.

For those owners in head-to-head leagues, this second point is important because you are setting your team up (hopefully) for the playoffs. You want players who have a lot of games and are on teams who will not be resting them during the critical time. The subtle part is directed more at owners in roto leagues. There are still enough games left to make moves in categories you can climb in or maintain your lead in categories you are ahead in.

The waiver wire is your tool to win the league at this point. Young players are finally putting it together and playing well and injuries are opening up time for bench guys who have played well when given minutes. The Golden State Warriors, and their massive amount of injuries to star players, is a team to focus on in order to find one or two players who can help you with that late season charge.

Quinn Cook is the player I want to focus on in this recap, and if you need threes, points, assists, steals, I will pause for a moment so you can go and pick him up. While we are waiting for those owners to get back can we just talk about how dumb they are for not picking up Cook yet and having him active for this game against the lowly Suns? Wait, wait, quiet, they’re coming back…

Welcome back, we were just waiting quietly for you. I hope you were able to add him. Cook is a 2-way player, no, that is not sexual. It means that he is one of two players each team can send back and forth to the G-League during the season. Cook has dominated G-League play for most of the year and now, because of injuries to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, Cook is getting 40 minutes per game and putting up more than decent fantasy point guard stats. Last night Quinn Cook went for: 5/28/4/4/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 40 minutes. This was on 11-17 shooting, including 5-7 from three. Pick him up.

Here is what else I saw on a busy St. Patrick’s Day:

Please, blog, may I have some more?