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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I may not be the most religious of men, but I do believe in a higher power and understand the significance of the Christmas day holiday. Many view it as a day of giving thanks, and participate in the commercialization of the holiday without understanding the true significance of the day. Christmas is the day Jesus Christ was born. The same Jesus Christ who died later for the sins of man, then was reborn three days later. Christian Wood has traversed that birth/death/ressurection story many times in his career. Undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, he latched on with the 76ers, then went to the G League, returned to the league with the Hornets, then went back to the G League. He got another chance with the Bucks then went down to the G League once again. In 2019, the Pelicans gave him another shot and, while he has never sniffed the G League again, he went to the Pistons and Rockets before ending up with the Mavericks this season. But the story doesn’t end there. He was coming off the bench and playing fewer than 30 minutes a game in the early part of the season, but then injuries struck the front court and he started the last four games. So, it’s only fitting, that on Christmas, this Christian balled out:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Tuesday night’s five-game slate presents me with my first opportunity to bring you a game recap!  Normally, I’m the guy who writes up borderline players and streamers on Thursday afternoon, so it’s a nice change to profile some of the league’s studs.  It’s kind of like hate watching Hallmark Christmas movies (Mingle All the Way, among others) for the first few weeks of December before switching gears and watching It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story.

Disclaimers: Because I was too busy watching Santa Switch last night, and the fact that I’m on Greenwich Mean Time, I haven’t had a chance to watch the games.  As a result, all of my observations are through a strictly fantasy lens and don’t necessarily account for every nuance.  Additionally, all of my ranking references are based on category-league values as a default.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yes, I spent a couple nights watching the NBA, and yes of course I had thoughts.  My first thought was should I watch Manifest?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Who wouldn’t like a Lost knock off, right?  It’s kinda dumb and a good excuse for 40 minutes to make fun of everything you’re watching with your lovely wife.

I’m gonna name each category after my favorite TV shows I’ve seen, in no particular order.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m pretty sure Ivica Zubac doesn’t have a pocket full of rocks. He’s definitely not skinny and likely has never gotten his ass kicked. He was probably doing the ass kicking. He’s not smoking blunts but has made millions without having to cut a quarter ounce. That said, if Zubac wants to continue making millions, he’s gotta keep dealing and ballin’. And ballin’ he did as no one can take Sunday’s game away from young Z:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 29 3 0 3 5 0 14/17 3/3

Holy schiztnitz. It was a White Man’s World. The only other player who has put up a 30-point, 29-rebound, 3-assist, and 3-block game was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in 1978 when he went for 37 points, 30 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 blocks! As a Lakers fan, it makes me sad that the Lakers traded him away. And to the Clippers no less for Mike Muscala. And by Jerry West, who is the greatest general manager in the history of the game and ended up consulting for the Clippers.

“The Clippers, sources said, never even called the Lakers to inquire about Zubac. The Lakers made the offer and the Clippers gladly accepted. Sources said that those at the dinner table shared a hearty laugh at the Lakers’ expense.”

Excuse me as I go perform seppuku for the eighth time in my life. I guess I’ll find out soon if I’m a cat or not.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The big Fin Lauri Markkanen put up a big stat line, hit a big shot and led the Jazz to a big win Friday night over the Suns. He scored a career-high 38 points on a silly 15-of-18 from the floor, 2-of-3 from deep and 6-of-8 at the line, and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a giveaway to the line. 

So far this season Markkanen has delivered late 2nd / early third-round value, which isn’t too  surprising. The skills were evident, it was just a matter of the fit and program in what was supposed to be a tanking Jazz team. And so far he’s fit like a glove worn by a big white dude in Utah. 

His counting stats aren’t too far from this 2019-20 breakout sophomore season, before things got stormy in the Windy City. The major difference is his ability to get shots inside, and being surrounded by willing and able passers helps, too. Markkanen is shooting 65.6% on 2-point shots with nearly 10 attempts a game, numbers comparable only to Nikola Jokic. The other improvement in the stat line is nearly 2.5 assists per game – again a result of playing in an offense that complements his skill set. 

Most of his career high points were actually easy buckets while taking advantage of a string of blown defensive plays. However, the difficulty level was high on this Kobe/Dirk vintage turnaround jumper:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Much to the disappointment of pundits chomping at the bit to argue whether the Lakers play better without LeBron, L.A. lost again Friday night, 120-114 to the Kings, because De’Aaron Fox maneuvered about the roost like the sly creature he is, feasting on chicken defenders and dropping bags of leftover bones through the net left and right. Fox finished with 32 points (13-19 FG, 2-5 3pt, 4-5 FT), 7 boards and 12 assists. He’s averaging about 25-5-6 with a steal and just under 3 turnovers to start the season. His 3-point shooting (36%) has been slightly better than years past, as well as from the line (86%), but it’s inside the arch he’s been lethal, converting 63% of 2-point shots. Also, mark the “Clutch” checkbox next to Fox’s name on the stat sheet, as he led the Kings to victory with 10 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-7 shooting and three rebounds, four assists and a crucial steal.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ain’t no party like a west coast party, cause a west coast party don’t stop.

Welcome back, Razzball Nation, to your Underperformer of the Week digest.

It has been only a few weeks in our beloved NBA but there has been no shortage of storylines on and off the court that have us rubbernecking trying to keep up with all of the drama unfolding. While this and that have been happening, the one thing that seems to remain a constant is there always seems to be a player underwhelming us enough to extract some value moving forward for the savviest of GM’s.

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Well, defense. Defensive is the issue. The Golden State Warriors’ defense is broken. I realize it’s early, but the early signs are not good, as the digression has been stark. Year-over-year there is major movement in several important categories.

It is unlikely half of the league is that much improved from the 2021-22 season, therefore the only logical conclusion is, Golden State is that much worse. Let’s get into the numbers, then try to establish any possible fixes.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Golden State Warriors, somehow, enter the 2022-23 season as unsteady defending champions after winning what nearly everyone described as their sweetest championship a season ago. A championship that came after two years in the wilderness of abject failure and mediocrity due to injuries to Thompson and then Curry and then Thompson again. Last season’s championship run also unfolded in the absence of all the “you broke basketball” talk that surrounded Kevin Durant’s arrival in the Bay and it saw Steph Curry win his long overdue finals MVP after a historic series in which there was no doubt he was the best player, not only on his own team, but on either team in the Finals. And yet, here we are.

Please, blog, may I have some more?