First things first. Happy New Year to everyone! For myself, long gone are the days of trying to time orgasms with my wife at the stroke of midnight. Now, the orgasm comes from getting the kids to sleep. There’s no mess or slipping one by the goalie! Anyways, I hope you all had a good holiday season and are ready to usher in 2018. Wishing you all prosperity for the new year. With all that said, let’s get it on!
I flew to the Wrong Coast for the holidays. To this day, it still boggles my mind that we are able to fly in the air. Keep in mind, that I still can’t fully comprehend how a bunch of 0’s and 1’s allow me to do what I’m doing right now. So, flying to outer space? Fugget about it. I even watched a ton of Robotech as a kid and still….As a result, whenever I hear or read about the Apollo 13 mission, my brain pretty much explodes. A spacecraft was launched back in 1970! To fly to the moon! But a few days after launch, there was an explosion that crippled the craft, which prompted the “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Only by channeling their inner MacGyver, were the crew and craft able to return safely to Earth. James Harden of the Houston Rockets boggles my mind. He mesmerizes defenders with his dribble like what snakes do with their prey, and always gets them to reach so he can blow by them. His step back J allows him to get his shot up over any defender. Last night in a double overtime game against the Lakers, Harden went:
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
40 2 11 2 2 1 3/8 10/20 17/21
Mind boggled. But….”Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Harden left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. Ruh oh. We will have to keep an eye on the situation, like “CSI at scene” eye. Chris Paul should see a massive uptick in usage, while Eric Gordon and newly acquired Gerald Green should both see more minutes.
When watching Kyle Kuzma play basketball, all I can think about is the Notorious B.I.G. One of my favorite songs is Juicy.
Many in the NBA thought Kuzma wouldn’t amount to nothin’. Now he’s in the limelight ’cause his hoops game is tight. Now honies play him close like butter played toast. Ha! What a line. Biggie Smalls was the illest. Anyways, Kuzma went from negative to positive and it all started when he was drafted 27th overall in the NBA Draft. The Summer League followed, where he dominated and led the Lakers to hoisting the trophy. Then the regular season started. He scored double figures in five of his first seven NBA games. It was on, baby bay-bee. In fact, there’s only been one other game in which he failed to score double digits. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s played 27 games, yet only started 11. Kuuuuuuuuuuuz! It all came to a culmination last night against the Rockets.
This is no fluke. Kuz has been balling from day one and is only going to get better. It’s on, baby bay-bee!
In all walks of life, we yearn for predictability. How long will the commute take? Is it going to rain tomorrow? Will the Big One occur tomorrow (I live in Cali)? What if we could predict the stats for every player on a nightly basis? That would be a good thing, right? Ever do a fantasy draft in NBA 2K or Madden against the computer? How about a fantasy basketball mock draft against the AI? What if your significant other did the exact same routine under the sheets every single time? Life would get boring and mundane. Imagine a world with no surprises. Imagine a world with no highs and lows. Just a living flat line. Fantasy sports would become an efficient market with everyone valuing players the same. I bring all this up because Victor Oladipo‘s career has been anything but predictable. Selected by the Orlando Magic with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, greatness was expected. And why not? At 6’ 4″ 210 pounds with a 42″ vertical jump, Oladipo had the physcial tools. Judging from his production at Indiana University, he also had the skills. But then life happened. After three seasons in Orlando, the team traded him to Oklahoma City. After one season in OKC, he was shipped off to Indiana for Paul George. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe he didn’t gel with his teammates. There are so many factors to consider, but one thing is certain: He’s found a home with the Pacers. Oladipo is scoring almost eight more points than last year on four more shot attempts, the shooting percentage has increased substantially (from both the suburbs and downtown), the rebounds are up, assists are up, steals are up, and blocks are up. I guess I could’ve just said every statistical category has improved, but I like the dramatic effect of spelling everything out. He’s the 14th overall player right now!!! Anyways, yesterday against the Nuggets, Oladipo played 45 minutes in an OT game and went:
Zach Randolph had a night against Demarcus Cousins and the Pels on Friday, going 5-35-13-2-1-0-3. His numbers are almost identical to last year, but he had the 3-ball going last night and he led the Kings to victory against New Orleans. I don’t think much comes of this, but it was nice to see the wily old vet have a renaissance and show that he’s still got it.
Before we dive on in, I’d just like to apologize for the brevity. I am doing this write-up from my Kindle Fire with no keyboard, and it is brutal. Please cut me some slack as I get my laptop situation fixed. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on Friday in the NBA:
The Celtics’ impressive 16-game winning streak is now over. Is it a coincidence that 16 is half of 32, which is the number of games that the ’71 Lakers won in a row? I do not believe in coincidences, until I do. Which makes this iteration of the Celtics half the team of that glorious Lakers squad. All kidding aside, it was an impressive run. The team stepped up when they lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens is now a legitimate Presidential candidate, Kyrie is…..well, Kyrie, and the defense has been the league’s best, by a big margin according to defensive efficiency. I tried everything in the book to jinx the streak. Voodoo dolls, shrines, sacrificing of virgins, and rubbing my scrotum with four-leaf clovers. All to no avail. I had to harken back to the past. All the way back to the ancient days of the early 1990’s. It was during that time, the secret was unlocked by the Leprechaun movies. You see, in the original, the leprechaun is defeated when the well it falls into is blown up. Explosion. Fire. In the third movie, the lepechaun is defeated via flamethrower. Heat was needed and Heat we got Wednesday night, as the Miami Heat took down the Boston Leprechauns 104-98. Who led the way? None other than Goran Dragic, aka the Dragon, who was spewing fire from all over the court: 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and one liberation. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Waiters Island was booming, as Dion Waiters scored 26 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out six dimes. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. How do you beat the Celtics? Shoot 49.4% from the field, which was 4% higher than their season average. Translation: bring the Heat.
Howdy basketboys and girls, welcome back to another Saturday recap special. There was a great game last night as Ben Simmons and the Sixers almost cooked Steph Curryâ€™s Warriors. The Sixers jumped out to an early 47-28 lead after the first quarter, but the Warriors did Warriors things and pulled off their own 47-15 rout in the third quarter to take back the lead and put the game away. Simmons had 23/8/12 on 11-for-15 shooting and only one turnover in the close loss. Wow. We knew he was great, but heâ€™s blowing past everyoneâ€™s expectations this season. Anyway, hereâ€™s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy basketball:
There was a time when fans actually brought cowbells into a NBA stadium. Back in 2003, Phil Jackson called Sacramento “an old cow town.” As a result, fans proceeded to bring cowbells to home games and provide a truly unique home court advantage,
We haven’t heard much about it lately because, well frankly, the team has sucked. And who has the energy to lug a cowbell into a stadium and ring it when there are very few things to cheer about? They have not won 40 games in a season since Metta World Peace played for the Kings and was named Ron Artest. Man, I totally forgot he played two years in Sacramento. Crazy. Anyways, things are slowly transforming. The team opened Golden 1 Center last year, installed a three-foot-tall cowbell on the wall, and have changed their logo. I love the logo. The lions and the color scheme make me think of the Decepticons from the Transformers and the Voltron lions. The most shocking development has been the positive feedback from the basketball community about their personnel moves. When’s the last time that’s happened?
The danger in doing rankings before Summer League is that a lot can change in terms of perception. After a slew of Summer League games, we now have a better picture of how the best players that college had to offer match up against their peers.
Keep in mind that the Summer League is filled with players at different levels. Think of NCAA College Basketball as High-A in minor league baseball. Summer League would be akin to Double-A. The Euroleague, not to be confused with domestic European divisions, would be Triple-A.
In addition to the final piece of my post-draft rankings, this post will also include some of the players who have moved up in my rankings after watching Summer League games. Believe me, my evenings have been spent doing little else.
Here are some caveats about my rankings:
Only includes rookies from the 2017 draft class. Players such asÂ Ben SimmonsÂ and Bogdan Bogdanovic are not included.
This is for dynasty purposes. NOT for redraft leagues.
Landing spots are important, but the main focal point is the overall projection for the playersâ€™ career.
It often takes time for NBA prospects to adjust to the NBA. Just because players donâ€™t crack the rotation from the outset doesnâ€™t mean they are a bust. Three years is often a good time frame to define roles in the NBA.
This is my own personal rankings, and not representative of all the writers at Razzball
Before I begin, I want to address something @Jordan brought to my attention. My previous rankings omitted Luke Kennard. This was a pure oversight on my part and I’d slot Kennard into the late-teens.
So, here we go for a real deep dive into some candidates that might actually matter more than you think: