The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2019 season with rebuilding expectations, as the team traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Two full months into the season, the Thunder are one game above .500 and are currently the seventh-best team in the stacked Western Conference. A big reason why has been the play of Chris Paul who, like a good neighbor, has provided stability to the team. Last night, Paul aaaaaaalllllmmmmmooooooooosssssttttt messed around.
On the season, Paul is a top 25 player for fantasy. Over the past 15 games, he’s been a top 15 player and averaged 33.1 minutes, 17 points, 1.5 tres, 5.5 boards, 7.5 dimes, and 1.4 steals. He’s been shooting 48% from the field and 94% from the line. The usage rate has been 21.6 and the turnovers have been a miniscule 1.7 per game. Now, Paul is 34 years old and since the 2015 season, he has missed 8, 21, 24, and 24 games. It may be time to explore getting some insurance, as there’s a good probability that Paul will miss more than a few games. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never misses a game? The Stocktonator.
I know the “Player of the Week” award is not that important. I know the return of Carmelo Anthony has been a pleasant surprise for many and I can freely admit, as evidenced here, that I was not a believer. But for the love of everything that is holy, Carmelo shouldn’t be the winner of the award this week by averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.37 assists. Not when Luka Doncic had 30.3/8.7/9.0 and especially not when James Harden had 47.0/4.5/6.5 during the same span.
Maybe it was the “Comeback Player of the Week” Award. Or the “Western Conference Player with a Last Name Starting with “Ant” Week Award”, since Giannis also won the Eastern Conference. I am definitely glad the league is highlighting other players besides the MVP candidates, but Harden’s week was too unreal to ignore.
Last week’s “Buy” suggestions fared pretty well, with both Nerlens Noel and Glenn Robinson III having productive weeks, while Frank Ntilikina was useful until he got ruled out due to a bad back. Finally, Cody Zeller lost his starting spot and has done nothing to convince me he is not a “Sell” candidate.
I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.
There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.
In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?
That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.
Summer Leagues are upon us and the recent draft class has already left their mark. Jayson Tatum has been an offensive revelation, Donovan Mitchell has displayed his potential on both ends of the floor, and Markelle Fultz has shown the offensive skills that we’ve been drooling over, although he still showed glimpses of defensive naivety. Bam Adebayo has dominated in the paint and surprised us with some big offensive numbers, while Jonathan Isaac has flashed potential, but confirmed that he is still a project.
Yes, Summer leagues matter. Every point, assist, and turnover changes the perception that the other owners in your dynasty league have on players in the pool. But, let’s not delve too much into summer leagues yet.
Here’s what you came for. Part Deux of my Dynasty Rookie Rankings: