First 30-point, double-double debut by teammates in NBA history per Yahoo! Sports. Friggin’ Brennan Huff and Dale Doback have reunited to stuff shit up. “Look at the turnovers, though!” That’s like telling someone about the terrible gas mileage that their monster-truck gets before the demolition derby, nobody’s gonna care about that right now.

Does the Harden deal leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth? Can you imagine what would happen if we put on 25 pounds and told our respective partners that they needed to change? Given that Harden played 39 minutes (Durant clocked 40), any physical impediments haven’t manifested themselves, yet, so The Beard’s The Belly doesn’t seem to be anything that should concern us as fantasy owners.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Tatum is the man in Bean-town.  The prince who assisted the former alpha in Kemba, has now taken the crown.  All hail this efficient volume scorer!  Starting to feel just like another regular game from Tatum.  21 shots in 37 minutes is the kind of usage that makes Tatum so valuable this season.  His youthful pairing with Brown is a huge reason the Boston Celtics are now 6-3 out the gate.

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I try not to write up the same player in the top blurb two days in a row for a variety of reasons. It’s good to change it up. My wife and I are on page 360 of the Kamasutra book that we “read” every night before bed. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’ve been married for 12 years and have two kids. Page 360. Ha! It’s nice to show love to everyone, as there is so much skill in the league, and every night greatness is produced by many. But sometimes, a string of performances is so great that there is nothing to do but bow down and pay homage. In my many years at Razzball, I think I’ve only written a player in back-to-back nights maybe four or five times. Now, this is not a back-to-back, but it’s damn close. On Sunday, Julius Randle went 29/14/7 against the Bucks. After meditating and correcting his issues, Randle came back the next game and went HAM….

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The Orlando Magic have made it to the playoffs in two straight seasons and they’ll be returning with pretty much the same lineup, same head coach in Steve Clifford, and not a whole lot to be excited about except rookie Cole Anthony. Jonathan Isaac suffered a pair of devastating knee injuries which will reportedly sideline him for the entirety of the 2020-21 season.

That will leave a huge hole to fill as he averaged a shade under 29 minutes per game last season to go with 18.3% usage. Most importantly though it leaves the team with a severe lack of identity. There’s a logjam at point guard and very little to suggest they will get a different result than last season. It looks like another year of drudgery for 30-year-old Nikola Vučević and 28-year-old Evan Fournier, who should headline the offensive side of the ball.

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In 2019-2020, the Charlotte Hornets looked to be a veritable goldmine for fantasy hoops. Practically out of the gate, youngsters Devonte’ Graham, P.J. Washington and Dwayne Bacon all showed themselves to be unexpected sources of production. But by the time the season had ended, Bacon had fallen out of James Borrego’s rotation and only Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier found themselves anywhere close to top-100 production. Let’s not dwell on the negatives, though. Charlotte is a land of basketball opportunity. As proof, Graham and Rozier finished 12th and 25th, respectively, in minutes played per game. That’s a lot of minutes for two solid if not All-Star-caliber players, and it bodes well for future talent.

GM Mitch Kupchak has gone on the record saying that the Hornets won’t be buyers in the upcoming free agent class. That’s to be expected considering where the Hornets are currently situated, firmly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a good amount of young talent. Of course, they also have the third overall pick in the 2020 Draft. Putting aside the pick, what this means is we can expect the young guys to continue getting all the minutes they can handle and to make improvements on what we saw from them last season.

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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:

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There are few things in life that get me hard and excited. Let’s see, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, 9-0 h2h victory for fantasy, PornHub, and watching the LeBron/AD pick-and-roll. I have to add James Harden to the list. I try not to write up the same player for the lede, but Harden is a freaking basketball savant and could be one of the best one-on-one players of all time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also an all-timer? The Stocktonator. The jumper from downtown is so pure that Skunk Works is reverse engineering it. The handles have caused many of sleepless nights for Ricky Jay. He’s also 6′ 5″ 220 pounds, so he can stampede to the rim against smaller players and big men have no chance on the perimeter, as he just makes them dance. Last night was yet another example of his brilliance:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
55 3 8 2 2 6 10/18 20/34 5/5

This was Harden’s 22nd career game scoring at least 50 points, which is good for fourth all time. Kobe Bryant had 25 while Michael Jordan had 31. Laughably, Wilt Chamberlain posted 118 50-point games!! LOL. Anyways, Harden is the numero uno player for fantasy on the season. He’s AVERAGING 37.9 minutes, 38.7 points, 4.9 tres, 5.9 boards, 7.5 dimes, 2 steals, and is shooting 88% from the line on 14 attempts! The turnovers are sky-high at 5 per game, but the production is so bountiful in the other categories that it is but a fly on the windshield. Are you not Harden excited?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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It took 171 games, over two seasons, and 5800 minutes played, but Ben Simmons finally did it. He drained his first tres.

I know you have doubts, but tape don’t lie….

The fact that I’m making Simmons the lede for making a tres is sad, but what’s worse is that it took him 171 games, two seasons, and 5800 minutes! Now, let’s not forget that on this historic and momentous night, Simmons actually played a great overall game:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 7 13 1 1 1 1/1 7/9 3/4

In a whopping 42 minutes! Yes, it was against the Knicks but whatever. Production is production. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the production? The Stocktonator. For fantasy, Simmons is such an interesting player because he leads you down the punt one, punt two, punt three category strategy (tres, ft%, and turnovers). But, but, but….he has nightly “mess around” potential and will get his block and steal on. On the season, he’s a top 40 player despite his shortcomings.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm lately. I know, I know. I’m like 20 years late but keep in mind that I finally watched (and absolutely loved) The Wire last year. Anyways, I just saw an episode of Curb in which a kid does a card trick for Larry David. Larry is impressed and asks the kid to tell him how he did it. The kid responds that he can’t because a magician never reveals his secrets. Well, Larry then asks how he learned the trick and the kid responds that a magician taught him the trick. Larry looks at him and tells him that when the magician taught him the trick that he was not a magician, so if he wasn’t a magician when he learned the trick, then he could tell Larry how the trick was performed. The kid responds that he’s a natural magician and that Larry is not. Ha! I love that show. Anyways, not all magic tricks are hidden secrets. Domantas Sabonis made the Magic disappear last night, as the Pacers defeated the Magic 109-102. How?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 16 7 1 1 2 0/2 9/18 3/4

On the season, Sabonis is a top 25 player, as he’s averaging a whopping 35.6 minutes, 20 points, 13 boards, and 4.1 dimes. The percentages are excellent as well (52% from the field and 85% from the free throw line). Now, Myles Turner missed his fourth game in a row, so that’s been a boon for his short term production. The usage rate has fluctuated all over the map, but the assist and rebound percentages are significantly higher without Myles on the court. Makes sense. When Myles returns, Sabonis will likely return to being a top 50-60 player. It’s not smoke and mirrors that he’s a top 25 player, though. He is legit, but he’s not going to be the lone ranger all season long. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s not smoke and mirrors and is straight legit? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?