At 61.1 percent, the San Antonio Spurs currently own the best running regular season win percentage of any franchise.  Prior to their three most recent campaigns, they had posted only one losing season since 1988-89.  The five titles they earned in that era serve as proof that their regular season excellence translated into post-season brilliance.  They were so good that their success became blasé over a decade ago.  The last time they were in a rebuild (no, I’m not counting 1997-98), very few of us were even walking the earth!

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Regarding last week’s suggestions the four Brooklyn players contributed in varying degrees and will still be relevant as the Nets are battling injuries, as is the case for the Bucks duo of Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen who continue to contribute with both Giannis and Middleton sidelined. Larry Nance Jr. on the other hand seems like a good bet to retain value for the rest of the season as his good performances are not a result of absences. On the “Sell” front, Zion Williamson is nowhere near a return and Spencer Dinwiddie is getting worse by the day and was even held scoreless, so I remain fairly confident for both suggestions.

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Hope and confidence are high for the Atlanta Hawks heading into the 2021-22 NBA season after their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last year’s playoffs. After this offseason, the Hawks have maybe the best mix of veteran reliability and youthful upside in the entire NBA. Delon Wright and Lou Williams can comfortably back up Trae Young as well as play alongside him in the right matchups. Sharife Cooper will be there to soak up all the veteran know-how whenever he’s not testing the limits of his creativity for the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks G League affiliate. Ditto for Jalen Johnson. It’s unreasonable to expect the Hawks to make it back to the Conference Finals, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Barring a long-term injury to Trae Young, this team should be even better than they were in the regular season last year. For those who “couldn’t watch Trae Young” because of his mastery of the dark arts of foul drawing—you’re in luck! The rules changes should see Young and every other crafty on-ball creator playing more “honest” basketball this season. Combine that with the wealth of talent on the roster and the Hawks should be a popular league pass team. They came in at #7 in Zach Lowe’s annual League Pass Rankings.

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After years and years of stability in the forms of David Robinson and then Tim Duncan and co., things began to wobble in San Antonio during the baton pass to Kawhi Leonard. After the situation became untenable (and very weird), the Klaw was spun off to Toronto and the Spurs entered the brief and somewhat unsuccessful (by their own standards) LaMarcus Aldridge/DeMar DeRozan era. Now that DD is off in Chicago and LMA is in Brooklyn, what was once just a little bit shaky has become unfamiliar, if not a touch unstable. After 22 straight seasons in the playoffs, the Spurs finished below .500 and stayed home during the 2019-20 postseason. There was a flash of hope last year when San Antonio made the playoffs (well, the play-in) but were bounced by the upstart Grizzlies. 

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I feel like our children’s generation and their children’s generation are going to look back upon our generation and have a gross underappreciation of Kevin Durant. Maybe it’s because of all the narratives floating around but I rarely hear him mentioned as one of the greats. Because in my mind, granted my mind is small and has been heavily influenced by trees and mushrooms, he is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He’s a seven-footer who has handles like a guard, is a career 1/1/1 player, a career 27-point scorer, and a career 49/38/88 shooter. He’s got the hardware and is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the game. Because he’s missed so much time this year due to injury, he’s been out of the consciousness of many but Dudeisamazingant reminded us of his ability yesterday.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 10 2 1 0 5 7/13 16/33 3/4

In 40 minutes. The 58th time Dudeisamazingant has scored at least 40 points in a game. Durant has played 28 games this season and he’s the number six player on a per-game basis. Over the last seven seasons, he’s finished as the numero uno player for fantasy three times and been top five in six seasons. I hope he stays healthy so I can continue to watch his greatness.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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In Brooklyn, the veterans always preferred DeAndre Jordan over him, even though he was better. Now in Cleveland, he’s forced into a timeshare with Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. When will Allen get his due? According to leading armchair psychologists, it was all that pent-up frustration that led to this outburst. In contention for the line of the year so far.

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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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