It was a bit of a light week for watching games here in the Hooper house. I know this is a fantasy corner of the internet, but reality always manages to find a way in. The ratio of news to NBA games got flipped in the middle of the week, so instead of longer, deeper looks into one or two specific teams, this edition of Hangin’ will feature check-ins on past (incorrect) statements and some quick hitters on what I was able to catch this week. I’m aiming to get back on track this week — aren’t we all? — so hopefully next time will be less doom and gloom and more dimes and dunks.

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If you haven’t heard of statistical scarcity before, it’s a pretty simple concept. Basically, the less of a statistic available in the pool of rostered fantasy players, the more valuable it is. It’s important to keep in mind that this is comparative scarcity as well. So even while league wide there may be rebounds being grabbed, we’re going to look at the top 188 players in 9-cat according to Basketball Monster and see where their production lands.

Sure, Dwight Howard has grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game this season, but he doesn’t do enough to warrant being in the top 188 for fantasy value and he’s only rostered in 12% of Yahoo! leagues as of the writing of this article, so he’s probably not producing that for many teams. Make sense?

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Wall continued to look rejuvenated posting this line over 37 minutes, and if I bet you $5 that his usage rate was over or under 37.5, you’d probably take the over and ask me for my Venmo as it was 35.8. It was a bit maudlin for Rockets announcer Bill Worrell to repeatedly claim last night that the 2010 no. 1 overall pick looked like he was still in high school, but Houston must feel slightly better paying him $40-plus million the next three years with this level of production.

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Bucks fans, rejoice. On December 15th, Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a five-year/$228 million super-max contract extension to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks. He even broke the news himself on Twitter which was an undoubted baller move that received mixed responses. Some people, like myself, cried tears of joy because of the loyalty he showed to a small market and the commitment to the franchise that drafted him, while others went on to trash him and the Bucks, saying that he will never win a championship with this team. However, what remains to be seen is if this retooled team (shout out to my new favorite player Bobby Portis) has what it takes to take the Bucks to the promised land. Let’s break it down.

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By any objective measure, the Milwaukee Bucks are a historic team. They have the best record in the league at 41-6, they have the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they’re on pace to win 71 games. The Bucks rank first in Defensive Rating and second in Offensive Rating, behind a historic Dallas Mavericks offense. They would pass any old school eye test—they score in the paint (3rd in the league in points in the paint), get to the free-throw line often, and prevent teams from getting to the basket by walling off the paint with a conga-line of seven-footers (1st in the league in opponent points in the paint). At the same time, Daryl Morey would have few complaints with their offense. They are first in the league in fast break points at 18.8 a game, they take the fifth most threes a game at 38.5, and they attempt the fifth most free-throws a game at 24.7. They give up only the least desirable three-pointers and there is a full season’s worth of data validating this unique defensive strategy—they were first in the league in Defensive Rating last year.

The only thing the Bucks are incapable of doing is drawing the interest of the average fan. The Bucks are so dominant in such a specific, ruthlessly efficient way, as to make the outcome perfunctory, eliminating most if not all intrigue…..

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The Dallas Mavericks are powered by two nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, the Luka Doncic Reactor was damaged a week ago and needed to be shut down. The Kristaps Porzingis Reactor has been throttled up in the meantime, but more power was required. Mark Cuban was wise to have alternative power sources at the ready. Bunsen burners don’t provide a ton of heat and are primarily just used in laboratories, but they provide a continuous source of fire. That is exactly what Jalen Brunson provides. Yesterday, the dial was turned up to full max:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 4 9 1 0 2 2/5 8/14 3/3

In 34 minutes. Now, the Doncic Reactor’s repairs are almost finished, so the Brunson Burner will be relegated once again to just laboratory experiments, but he’s someone to keep in mind if injury strikes again. In seven games as a starter this season, Brunson has averaged 29.8 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.4 tres, 4.3 boards, and 6.9 dimes. The shooting efficiency has also been excellent; 46% from the field and 100% from the line. In 22 games off the bench, he averages a meager 14.7 minutes. The Brunson Burner will never be able to fully power the Mavs on a consistent basis, but he’s more than capable of providing fire when called upon. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always brings the heat? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Brooks are serene, calm, and picturesque. But looks can be deceiving. I was once fishing at the local brook (I don’t fish and I live in Los Angeles), when I heard some commotion behind me. There were two squirrels holding onto my bait box and trying to drag it back to the tree from which they came from. As I turned around and rose from the log I was parked on, I heard a splash behind me. A beaver had pulled the pail, which housed all the fish I caught, into the stream. A coordinated attack. After my inital anger, I was truly impressed. From that day, I always watched my six and didn’t fall for the old “bird singing then shitting on my head” distraction. Anyways, Brook Lopez is big, tall, and lumbers around the court. He should bang down low, grab boards, and operate in the paint. But looks can be deceiving. Lopez likes to hang out on the perimeter and launch salvos from downtown. When he first entered the league, he was a boarding maniac. Now? Not so much. Business decisions. The most baffling aspect of his game, though, is his penchant for getting his 211 on. Don’t believe me?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 4 2 4 3 1 0/3 3/8 4/4

Last night was the fifth time in his career that Lopez has pilfered four in a game. Not something you expect from a lumbering giant such as Brook. Anyways, the one predictable and not surprising aspect of Brook’s game is in the block department. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always predictable? The Stocktonator. He’s fifth in the league with 2.2 blocks per game. From a fantasy perspective, Brook is a top 70 player. The free throw shooting is excellent (90% on 2 attempts) and there’s the aforementioned blocks. He provides 1.4 tres per game, but the scoring is way down from previous years due to the 38% shooting from the field. The minutes are also down to 26 from 28.7 last season. Brook is too good of a shooter to continue converting sub-40% from the field. I’d expect that to normalize as the season progresses.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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After an animal or person dies, the joints of the body stiffen. Did you know that death is the number one killer in this country? If you know what movie that’s from, then we are kindred spirits. Anyways, this stiffened state of the body is called rigor mortis, and lasts around three days. Last night, the Chicago Bulls were dealt a fatality by the New York Knicks, 105-98. A big reason why was due to the play of Bobby Portis, who put up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 11 2 0 2 0 4/4 10/14 4/5

Portis did this in 30 minutes off the bench and is responsible for the Bulls experiencing Rigor Portis. Good thing the effects last only three days because they play the Cavs in two days (a game they should win while deceased) and then the following game isn’t until Friday. Now, we often hear about the revenge narrative in sports. It’s mainly cockamamie, but if there’s one sport where it could be feasible, it’s basketball. Portis was drafted by the Bulls with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. After four years with the team, he was traded to the Washington Wizards, then signed with the Knicks over the summer. So…..REVENGE! Ha! I kid, I kid. From a fantasy perspective, Portis can provide points, boards, and tres, but the minutes and production will be inconsistent.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?