I don’t particularly believe in second chances. It is usually hard for me to forget the disappointment and give someone another shot. But boy, I’m glad I gave one to Jahlil Okafor last week, despite the letdown from the previous season. He has been on fire since getting the starting job with 21.2/0/11/0.4/0.4/2.6/2 on 74.6%/63.2% shooting and is therefore ranked 17th during that span. The most encouraging stat is the blocks and he has looked rejuvenated and more mobile than ever, surfacing as a feel-good story this season. Anthony Davis’ return will hurt him (I will talk about his potential trade probably next week when the dust has settled a bit and we have a clearer picture) but until that happens….JAH RULE !!

Apart from the obvious success of Okafor, the other big man from last week’s article, Mitchell Robinson, is providing blocks (2.8) and steals (1.2) and has been a top 50 player. Despite Fitzdale’s comments about finding more minutes for him, he is only averaging 16.9, so watch out if he can increase those closer to 25. Finally, Rajon Rondo has been doing Rondoian things (I claim this word as mine) with 5.7 rebounds and 11.7 assists and will continue to provide standard league value until Lonzo Ball returns. On the contrary, the Lakers’ Sell candidate from last week, which was Kyle Kuzma, got hurt and the impeding return of LeBron James won’t do him any favors.

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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I loved Biggie. Being born and raised on the West Coast, that may be viewed as blasphemy, but whatever. Even though I went to school in NY and worked in the City for many of years, the simple fact of the matter was that he was a smooth, lyrical genius. He was Unbelievable. “Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one…Representing BK to the fullest.” Indeed he did, which is exactly what Spencer Dinwiddie did last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 2 5 1 0 4 4/6 11/18 13/14

All in 30 minutes off the bench. He was Unbelievable. The 39 points were a career-high and, over the past four games, he’s been a top 40 player with an insane usage rate of 34.1!!! Now, he’s not going to start and will likely average a tick under 30 minutes per game, but Dinwiddie is a professional getter of buckets and will chip in 2 threeecolas, 5 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game, which will place him in the top 110 range. But, as last night showed, he will Hypnotize from time to time.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Frank Sinatra was a cool cat. A member of the Rat Pack, Sinatra was a singer, actor, producer, and was considered one of the most iconic performers of his generation. “Ol’ Blue Eyes” would make the women swoon and get Son to sing one of his most famous tunes….My Way….at a K-Town karaoke establishment.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do…And saw it through without exemption. I planned each chartered course….Each careful step along the byway….And more, much more than this….I did it my way.”

Sounds like my fantasy career, which brings me to Langston Galloway.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 3 3 2 0 0 4/10 9/20 2/3

Played 37 minutes yesterday. The prior game, Galloway played 31 minutes and attempted 15 shots, with nine from downtown. The Pistons are banged up right now, as Ish Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Stanley Johnson are all down with injuries. You could regret picking up Galloway, as he’s a career 38% shooter from the field. But then again, he is a career 35% from downtown. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. If you need threeecolas, Galloway has attempted 19 in the past two games. Chart the course. With each injury that the Pistons endure along the way, there will be minutes and shot attempts….and more, more like this….realize that you did it Galloway.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Allonzo Trier seemed destined for greatness from an early age. Dubbed a hoops prodigy at the tender age of 13 years old, Trier was featured on the cover of New York Times Magazine in 2009. He utilized the childhood workouts of Pete Maravich found on the internet, travelled and starred in the A.A.U. circuit, and even had his own line of clothing with the signature: “When the lights come on, it’s time to perform.” Throughout middle school, he and his mother moved to four different cities (Seattle, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa) all for basketball. In high school, he was a McDonald’s All-American, a five-star recruit, and the Washington Post wrote that he “may be the purest high school basketball scorer in the county and the most devoted to his craft.” At the University of Arizona, he was the Most Outstanding Player of the the Pac-12 Tournament and Second-team All-Pac-12 in 2017. The following season he earned First-team All-Pac-12 honors. Unfortunately, he tested twice for PEDs, which Trier said was medication given to him due to a car crash. As a result, he was ruled ineligibile and declared for the 2018 NBA draft. Then one team did not believe. Then two. Then three. Then thirty? Like a bad nightmare that was set on loop, the 30 teams passed over him again. Undrafted. There were no believers in Trier, but on July 3, 2018, the New York Knicks signed him to a two-way contract. After balling out in the preseason, coach David Fizdale conveyed that he was indeed a believer in Trier, and declared that he would spend most of the time in the NBA, rather than the G-League. Fizdale kept his word and Trier received close to 21 minutes per game….and Iso Zo was born. Or better yet, Trier was Carmelo Anthony reincarnate. There were inconsistencies and plenty of bricks early on, but Trier eventually shed his Melo mask and….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 10 7 0 0 1 1/2 7/11 9/12

Played 31 minutes off the bench. Trier had his Iso moments, but more often than not, he was initiating offense via pick-and-roll action and dishing out dimes. He’s explosive and finishes strong when he attacks the rim, but he always looks smooth and composed with the ball, and never seems to rush anything. He’s averaging only 1.8 turnovers per game and is shooting 49% from the field, 45% from downtown, and 82% from the charity stripe. I’m a believer in Trier.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Taking a different approach than my norm, I would like to dedicate the usual introduction of the article to the Washington Wizards. Boy, has it been an interesting season in the nation’s capital. After an atrocious start to the season, John Wall and Bradley Beal called out their teammates (heavily implying Otto Porter Jr.) for caring only about the number of shot attempts. Meanwhile, their combined shots attempted from the field this season were 34.6. Hmmmmm.

Furthermore, Scott Brooks continues to frustrate with his rotations, Dwight Howard is usually on the sidelines, Beal called out management, and Wall dropped the F bomb on his coach in last week’s practice. So, what is the next logical step? But of course, to come from 20 points behind in last night’s game for a win against the Clippers in LA. I have a feeling that one of Wall, Beal, or Porter is going to be traded away sooner than later. It’s going to be a very interesting season in Washington.

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, both Mike Muscala and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are starting to see more opportunities and Jeff Teague had one awful and two good games, but his value will increase with Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia. As for the sell suggestions, both Taj Gibson and Tyreke Evans have done nothing to warrant ownership in standard leagues and Evans particularly was uninspiring with Oladipo missing two games due to injury.

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I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

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There are certain things that cut across all cultures and have the same meaning, irrespective of language differences. When a signficant other says, “We need to talk,” you’re F’d. When a parent addresses you by your full name, you done F’d up. When you hear the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, something bad is about to happen. Or someone bad is about to do some very bad things. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons was a bad, bad man yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 22 3 3 2 2 0 9/16 5/7

That was Drummond’s fifth 20/20 game of the season and 10th double-dub. He has played 12 games. He is also leading the league in rebounds with 16.6 per game. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Currently, he is the 39th player according to Basketball Monster after finishing as the 22nd player last season. The main reason is the drop in assists (3 vs 1.5). If only he could hit his free throws! Regardless, 19.6 points, 16.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 56% from the field makes for a bad, bad (as in good, good) player for fantasy. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND.

Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why the Stocktonator had Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on loop yesterday. It loved Drummond and had him as the #4 player.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Klay Thompson was not having a good start to the 2018 season. He had failed to reach the 20-point mark in any of the first seven games and was shooting under 40% from the field and 14% from downtown. Klay is a career 45% shooter from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. Regression hit hard and heavy last night, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 5 0 1 0 2 14/24 18/29 2/2

The third time he has eclipsed the 50-point barrier in his career and the third time he has notched a record: 11 three-pointers during a playoff game (2016), 37 points in a quarter (2016), and the 14 threeecolas last night bested his teammate, Steph Curry, who held the previous record of 13 (2016). Klay has some of the most ridiculous heaters I’ve ever seen. Anyways, for fantasy, he’s currently the 76th player according to Basketball Monster. The minutes are down, assists are down, threeecolas are down, and field goal percentage is down. The only concern would be the minutes and assists, but the shooting will come around. He’s just too good, and reminded us all in a big way last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In Latin, Anno Domini means “in the year of the Lord.” Any coincidence that Anthony Davis is the fantasy lord? I think not. AD was the consensus overall number one pick coming into the season, and for good reason. He hammer times and moon walks over the competition by literally doing everything. For the infidels who blasphemously inserted another player on the throne, take a look at last nights line and ponder your unfulfilling existence.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 16 8 3 3 1 0 13/21 6/7

This wasn’t no “Devin Booker score 70 points in a double digit loss” line. This was a “let’s beatdown the Houston Rockets by 19 points” line. Bend the knee.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?