The NBA season may only be 72 games this season, but it’s still going to be a long and grueling slugfest regardless. The players we consider locks for value now will be the drops of tomorrow, and the undrafted players will suddenly become league-winners overnight.

But how does that happen?

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Lineup shifts are a real thing too as people slide into and out of minutes. A lot of that is hard to predict but likely trade candidates, on the other hand, are less difficult to forecast.

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The Memphis Grizzlies are young and on the upswing.  Last year they surprised all when they missed the 8th seed by just one win.  With a complete 15 man roster and an intact, custom-built young core, the Memphis Grizzlies are Grit-N-Grind 2.0 and rearing to go.

The Big 3 of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke bring above-the-rim intensity and classic Memphis two-way play back to the culture of the young Grizzlies.  These young cubs are hungry, motivated, and complement each other.  Rugged, yet up-tempo, I project this team to improve from the 34 wins last year to 40-42 this season. 

Expect increased roles for Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, and the new incoming draftees. With all the young Memphis core under contract, and no significant contributer allowed to walk, and, this team will have continuity going forward.

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When was the last time you remember a true rivalry developing in the NBA? I mean aside from good old Draymond provoking everyone whenever he got the chance, there is no real “beef”, as they call it, between top players or teams lately. Like back in the day, there was Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins and David Robinson vs Hakeem Olajuwon. It’s back now, though, after James Harden went on record saying, “I wish I could just be 7 feet and run and dunk. That takes no skill at all” about Giannis.

On a completely unrelated note, Rockets play the Bucks on the 25th of March and it just became must-watch TV. Imagine this matchup in the NBA finals…

Also, slim Chris Tucker looks like Rajon Rondo’s twin in the above Gif. Just wanted to lay it out there. And no, my eyesight is just fine, thanks for asking…

Finally, I wanted to squeeze in this clip of Luka from the closing moments of yesterday’s game.

Jrue Holiday (hurt ego) has begun therapy sessions and will be reevaluated in two weeks…

Moving on to fantasy, last week’s suggestions were pretty successful, albeit to a different degree. Coby White continues to ball and there is no reason for a slowdown the rest of the season. Dieng and Temple both had a productive week and can still serve as low-end assets until their teams get back to full strength. Finally, the two “Sell” candidates, Kanter and Howard, proved worthy of that designation, with Kanter even picking up a DNP-CD against the small- ball lineup of the Houston Smurfs.

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R. J. Barrett is the 361st player on a per-game basis for the 2019 fantasy basketball season. There are 13 active players on each of the 30 NBA teams. That means that there are 390 active players. Thanks to my handy dandy abacus, that means that Barrett is better than 29 players. Yippee……That’s kind of not good for the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But he’s put together three straight decent games in a row. Are things turning around and is there merit to Barrett being fantasy relevant?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 5 5 1 0 3 3/8 10/18 4/7

The 27 points tied a career-high, which Barrett has accomplished three times this season. Barrett can score, even though he shoots with the wrong hand. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs regardless of the circumstances? The Stocktonator. He can also grab boards and dish out dimes. There is a reason why he was selected number three overall. With that said, there is a cavernous hole in his game: the shooting efficiency. On the season, he’s shooting 39% from the field and 59% from the line. There are stretches when he shoots sub-40% from the line. I will never understand how a professional ball player can’t shoot free throws at a high clip. It’s like literally their job. Anyways, he’s only 19 years old, so from a dynasty perspective, there is hope. For this season, he’s too inconsistent and doesn’t excel enough in the other categories to make the destruction of percentages worth it. So, the only merit to Barrett is in fading him.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There are countless amazing moments that happen every year in the NBA. Dunks, blocks, buzzer beaters, you name it. But there are also some that are head scratching. Like this for example.

Did the spirit of Nate Robinson enter Kyle Lowry’s body? Did he make an informed judgment call that he could fit through there? Was that a futile attempt to draw a foul. Fatigue just kicking in? Or was that an unsuccessful attempt at a forced piggyback ride? We will never know with certainty. Nick Nurse’s surprised reaction is just the icing on the cake.

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Joel Embiid is 7 feet and weighs 249 pounds. There are only around 2800 people in the world who are 7 feet or taller. With 7.4 billion people, that comes out to 0.000038% of the population! Add in the fact that he’s as nimble as a ballerina, possesses the feathery touch of players much smaller than him, and is almost as witty as Grey…..it all culminates in a human that is…..is he even human? Regardless, Embiid is truly a unique breed. Last night was just the most recent display of his uniqueness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
49 14 3 3 1 4 1/3 17/24 14/15

The #11 player for fantasy on a per-game basis, which is key because he’s missed 16 games on the season. That is the only chink in the armor. It’s a massive one for sure, but things can change quickly. Just look at KAT. On the season, Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 1.3 tres, 12 boards, 3.2 dimes, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks with 47% shooting from the field and 82% from the line. He literally does it all. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what literally does it all day in and day out? The Stocktonator. Now, Ben Simmons did not play last night and could be out for a while. Without Simmons on the court, Embiid garners a usage rate of 36.4, and increase of 4.2%. He scores 1.59 fantasy points per minute! Here’s praying for the health of this outlier of a human.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I have sporadically mentioned in these articles how much I admire Gregg Popovic. Not only for his coaching ability, love for the game, and competitiveness, but also for his personality. The guy is a quote machine, always providing something clever/funny/deep to comment, depending on the situation. And after a game-winning performance by DeMar Derozan against the Raptors, he had this to say.

DeRozan got the star treatment on his return in Toronto but Pop was quick to bring him back to earth in his own unique way. It really makes you think about the culture of the San Antonio organization as a whole and appreciate their commitment to success through teamwork.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bradley Beal returned, but this hasn’t slowed down both Ish Smith and Jordan Mcrae, who continued their productive streaks. Sekou Doumbouya also looks like a big hit, as Blake Griffin should be out for the rest of the season and Daniel Gafford is a start-worthy player as long as Wendell Carter Jr. is out.

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Over the first 10 games of the season, Tristan Thompson was must-see tv, as he averaged 33.5 minutes, 16.5 points, 11.4 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks. He was even shooting 50% on 0.6 tres attempts! He was the #31 player for fantasy! At the time, I attributed the out-of-Tristan’s-world production due to the fact that he was going to be a free agent after the season. He wouldn’t be the first, and won’t be the last, to “play harder” due to chasing the bag. Then, the production inevitably fell and Tristan became the Tristan we were accustomed to; boards, blocks, and shitty free throw percentage. But then last night’s performance forced me to dig deeper.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 14 3 1 3 2 0/1 15/20 5/6

In 45 minutes during an overtime game! A career high in points! As Vince Lombardi yelled, “What the hell is going on here?” Now, lean back, light a cigarette, and take a trip down the rabbit hole I inexplicably ventured into last night. The things I do for you guys. And I didn’t even eat shrooms. Alright, here we go.

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The 1992 movie, Boomerang, is severely underrated. Rotten Tomatoes has a Tomatometer score of 44%, while the Audience Score is 59%. Rotten Tomatoes is stupid and so is the audience. Fine, the movie does suck but there are some great things about it. Eddie Murphy is in his prime, a young Halle Berry is so damn fine, and there are some of the greatest cinematic scenes of all time: GSCOAT #1. GSCOAT #2. GSCOAT #3. But the reason for referencing Boomerang in this post is because of this scene: Marcus, darling. Lady Eloise is old and over-the-hill, but she still has the gumption of a youngster, just like Marcus Morris Sr. of the New York Knicks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 5 1 2 1 3 6/7 13/19 6/10

On the season, Morris is a top 65 player. Over the past three games, he’s been a top 40 one, averaging 34.5 minutes, 27 points, 4 tres, 5 boards, 2 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks whille shooting 50% from the field on 18.3 shot attempts! LOL! Recently, Morris said that he would prefer to stay in New York. No shit! He’s getting paid $15 million this season to jack up a ton of shots on a shitty team and live in NYC. Plus, he knows the Knicks are so dumb that they may actually give him a multi-year extension. The Knicks have said that they would like to keep Morris. Maybe they are playing 3-D chess or are just dummies. I side with the latter. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a dummy? The Stocktonator. Regardless, what you think the Knicks do with Morris determines how you should view him for fantasy. If he stays on the Knicks, then he can be a top 75 player for fantasy, as the sheer volume and playing time would allow him to produce. If he gets traded, then there’s no way he sees the minutes or shot attempts, and would likely be outside the top 100.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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