The big news last season for the Washington Wizards was the shuffle at the top, as Tommy Sheppard replaced team president Ernie Grunfeld as the key personnel decision maker for the team. Since then, Sheppard has been busy. In the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Wizards were involved in six trades and twelve signings. That doesn’t even include all the Exhibit 10 contracts they executed to get a look at young talent.

But no contract was bigger than Bradley Beal’s 2-year, $72 million extension. Getting Beal to extend his contract was the team’s top objective for the season and his enthusiastic acceptance was their best case scenario. It was a “lost” year for the Wizards, as John Wall never returned from a ruptured Achilles tendon, so making sure they secured Beal for the future was the only good potential outcome.

Sheppard did a great job nabbing a lot of “no risk” gambles. Every player he signed or traded for had high potential at dirt cheap cost. Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, Gary Payton II, and Moritz Wagner all fit that mold. None of them panned out to be a monster given the opportunity, but with another year of development, one of them may surprise us. Bonga is the most appealing to me because of his 6’8″ frame combined with the rumors he has the court vision to be a “point forward.” However, he only managed 2.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season. I’m quickly losing faith in NBA scouts.

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Entering the season, Jrue Holiday was being drafted as a top 12 player for fantasy. And for good reason, as he finished as the 22nd and 21st player on a per-game basis the past two years. Anthony Davis was gone, so the expectation was that he was going to be the alpha, with the young kids following his lead. That is not how things worked out to begin the season, though. Jrue looked like he was on a Holiday, while Brandon Ingram took the league by storm. Then Zion Williamson returned from injury and the hype was all on him. Now, Lonzo has been Ball-ing with his new shot, which looks excellent by the way, and Jrue became the forgotten man. We are silly humans because Jrue never went anywhere. Last night, Jrue reminded us that he can still barbecue the opposition. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always cooks the competition? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 9 8 1 1 1 3/8 13/20 8/9

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalmost messed around, which would have been the fifth time in his career. Over the past 21 games, Jrue has been a top 25 player. Over the past four games, he’s been top 15. He’s been lurking in the bushes, sniping off Charlie without anyone noticing. But I see you, Jrue! The usage rate isn’t crazy like most stars, as it’s in the 22% range, but he’s playing a ton of minutes for a team that plays at a fast offensive pace, and contributes across-the-board production. The only bugaboo to his game is the 70% free throw shooting.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Back when Larry Nance Jr. was a Los Angeles Laker, younger Son had a Nance Romance. I’d watch this 6′ 7″, 245 pound poster maker get busy night in and night out. With his 7′ 1″ wingpan and 37.5″ hops, Nance would Statue of Liberty every dunk. It didn’t matter if there was a defender there or not. It was patriotism at its finest. Unfortunately, he was never able to get more than 22 minutes of run per game, as he was down on the depth chart, suffered an injury when the opportunity finally arrived, and his tweener status gave coaches the heebie jeebies. When he got traded to Cleveland, I was sad to see him go but was curious to see if he could thrive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always thrives? The Stocktonator. Once again, the depth chart was not kind to Nance, but the team signed him to a four-year, $44.8 million extension. He had to play, right? Of course not because it’s the Cavs we are talking about. He could never carve out a significant role and primarily relied on injuries to get run. Well, here we are now. Tristan Thompson is out with a knee injury while Andre Drummond is nursing a calf injury. Last night against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 15 4 4 0 2 2/5 7/13 3/6

In 39 minutes. Nance has always been a good rebounder due to his athleticism and pursuit, but he’s developed a decent shot from downtown to go along with his handles and passing ability. He’s always been a maven for steals, as he plays the passing lanes well. The one conundrum has been the lack of blocks. He’s never come close to averaging 1 block per game despite receiving around 27 minutes per game during stretches. Probably has to do with overall defensive IQ, as athleticism isn’t the issue. Maybe he and Blake Griffin studied at the same dojo for how not to get blocks. Regardless, in nine games as a starter for the Cavs, Nance has averaged 35.2 minutes, 14.1 points, 1.3 tres, 9.9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line. That’s equated to top 40 production for fantasy. Wouldn’t he be the perfect player for the Houston Rockets? Anyways, only use Nance when both Thompson and Drummond are out, or if the Cavs come out and say that he’s going to be the starting power forward from now on. Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Naz Reid was a highly-touted recruit in high school and was ranked as the third-best power forward/15th-best overall player in the nation. He played his college ball at LSU and declared for the draft after one season. He’s 6′ 10″, 240 pounds, has feathery touch from downtown, has decent handles with a wicked spin move to maneuver in the paint, is agile for a man his size, and can dish out dimes. Then why did he go undrafted? He didn’t dominate his one year in college and tanked the pre-draft combine. But the Minnesota Timberwolves knew because it wasn’t hard to tell that he was Illmatic…….

Ahhhhh, love that song. Anyways, can’t give the Timberwolves that much credit because if they truly knew then they would’ve drafted him. Regardless, they took a shot and their gamble looks to have paid off.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 14 3 3 2 1 1/4 5/12 2/2

In 27 minutes. Over the past seven games, Naz has averaged 25.4 minutes, 10.9 points, 0.9 tres, 7 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks. A 1/1/1 player!!! The field goal percentage is very poor for a big man, though, as it’s been 40% recently and 41% on the season. He’s a 70% shooter from the free throw line. Now, much depends on whether or not Karl-Anthony Towns returns. If he does, then Naz will have little value, but if KAT does get shut down, then……Naz will be Illmatic. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always Illmatic? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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My buddy was talking about his girl a week or so ago and mentioned that he loved taking her out to eat now. She doesn’t eat sushi, which is healthy on the wallet. He no longer needs to take her to fancy steakhouses now because the last time he took her to one, she ordered her meat well done. “Woman,” he said, “if you want your meat cooked well done, I could’ve just taken you to Fatburger!” Meat should be cooked on the rare side so that it’s extra tender and juicy. Veal is no different. Beal on the other hand? Well done, all day and all night, especially when cooked into a 50-burger.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
53 5 4 2 1 7 5/11 15/27 18/20

A career-high and the second 50-burger of Beal’s career!!! Mmmmmm, delicious! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what provides deliciousness every day? The Stocktonator. Over the past four games, Beal has garnered a usage rate of 40% and averaged 34.8 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 3.8 dimes, and 2 steals, while shooting 46% from the field and 85% from the line. He’s been a top 40 player. On the season, he’s averaging 6 dimes per game, which accounts for the lower overall value. When the dimes are getting cashed, Beal is a top 25 player for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In Dave Hickey’s seminal basketball essay, “The Heresy of Zone Defense,” he celebrates and argues that the game of basketball has been fair, civil, and liberated, from its very inception. Hickey celebrates basketball’s continuous evolution toward freedom, though he has nothing but contempt for college basketball and (naturally) zone defense. By the time Hickey wrote and published his essay in 1995, zone defense had been outlawed in the NBA in favor of the now defunct illegal defense rules. Obviously, the illegal defense rules morphed into its own form of limiting monotony, and though it does not appear that Hickey expected such an evolution, there’s no doubt that he’d support its elimination once it ceased to inspire innovation. In 2020, zone defense is back with a vengeance, but the reality of zone defense today is different from the one Hickey saw as dangerous, uninteresting governance.

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In the lead-up to the February 6, 2020 NBA trade deadline, there was a flurry of activity. Reports of a quiet deadline were greatly exaggerated. Below, I take a look at two of the biggest deals and break down how the new environments might affect the fantasy production of the players involved. So much of team and player success is about fit. How are roles assigned? Can a player fulfill his adequately? Would he be better suited for something different? How do the surrounding pieces in a lineup accentuate the strengths or weaknesses of any individual player? Not all of this information is necessary to make sound fantasy decisions, but it can certainly help. I won’t be doing any in-depth trade analysis or draft pick tracking. I’m strictly focused on how each of the key players will fit in their new environment.

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For much of the season, Collin Sexton was a one-dimensional, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am player. He’d huck. He’d chuck. He’d blow you away with how little the contributions would be in the periphery stats. There have been only three games this season in which he’s scored single digits. He’s failed to jack up double digits shots in just one game. What makes it more impressive is that he dished out more than four dimes in only four games and hasn’t been punched in the face by his teammates. Yet, here we are in game number 45. Are we witnessing a new, improved, and more mature Sexton show?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 4 4 2 0 2 2/2 10/15 7/7

Jordan Clarkson was traded from the Cavs 15 games ago. When he left, Sexton saw an increase of over two minutes of run per game and close to two more shot attempts. Over the past three games, though, Sexton has averaged 23.7 points, 2.7 tres, 5.3 boards, and 4 dimes! The usage rate has been 30.8 and he’s jacking up 20.7 shots per game. The boards and dimes are the most eye-opening stats, as the season numbers are 3.3 boards and 2.4 dimes. Small sample size I know. Not something you want at a Sexton show. Anyways, Sexton is only 21 years old and has played 126 career games. There’s a chance things have clicked. Now, from a fantasy perspective, Sexton is still outside the top 100, even with the increase in boards and dimes, because of the lack of defensive stats. Hey, can’t go from a zero to a hero overnight. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s heroic every day? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?