The legend grows. 

With the Jazz hanging on to a 1-point lead with seconds left on the clock, Collin Sexton stepped to the line and choked away two free throws in a row. But our hero, Walker Kessler, Utah Ranger – who kicks posterior not just for a living, but for America – bullied his way to an offensive rebound and was fouled. 

There, he faced his most challenging nemesis of all: the free throw line. What’s he do? But, of course, he steps up and drains back-to-back; turns, and flashes a look to the camera that says, “Even I can’t believe how much of a badass I can be.”

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Christmas Day is among the most hyped lineup of games during the NBA season. But Friday, Dec. 23, was a Festivus celebration for the rest of us. After all, the Association exemplifies feats of strength and airing of grievances this time of year, as the slow-starting teams begin to gripe in the locker room, trade chatter reaches new highs, and the established powers of the season start showing more muscle in impressive wins. 

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Earlier this week, Mr. Hooper outlined his redemption attempt from a lackluster RazzJam performance with a mid-season 12-team roto league draft (which starts counting stats Dec. 26) that I managed to snag a spot in as well. 

How’s my RazzJam team doing? Oh, well, thanks for asking. Pretty dang well! I’ve been the pace car most the season in my league, currently with a healthy lead over second place Guiseppe Racco. I was in the Top 10 overall for a bit, but have dropped back to 16th in the last few days. Still a long way to go, so definitely not doing any early celebrating. 

But I digress. I thought it would be fun to compare rookie draft ranking in the current draft, making the turn into round 21 of 25 as I write this, to preseason ADP to gauge the market for rookie performances so far this season. I’m using NFBKC for the pre-season ADP and Monster Basketball for current rankings.

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Who else did a double take when they thought they saw D. Robinson show up twice in Miami’s box score? But no, that second one was actually an O—as in Orlando Robinson. The rookie big man nearly doubled his career minutes total with 36 for a shorthanded Heat squad. He made them count with nine points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks. He attempted a pair of threes, though he didn’t connect, and shot 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Now, this was obviously a complete one-off as it was just Robinson’s third appearance of the season, but Miami is always short on warm bodies, so he might be fantasy relevant at some point. He produced an intriguing mix of stats, so keep the name in the back of your mind (zero percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).

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I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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Following back-to-back years of Top 40 production, Terry Rozier has disappointed so far this season, mainly due to some rookie-level percentages (in fact, his worst percentages since his rookie season as it stands). But he’s just a hot shooting streak away from producing as owners have become accustomed to, and on Friday he helped the Hornets edge the Wizards 117-116. Rozier scored 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting, 2-of-5 from deep, with 5 boards, 8 assists, 2 steals and a season-low zero turnovers. Charlotte has been paying the doctor’s new vacation home so far this season, and Rozier’s percentages should benefit whenever (if ever) LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward return. For the time being, the assists are up along with his usage rate, and he’s a great buy target, especially for those punting the FG% category.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Buy Low. Sell High. 

It’s a simple concept, projected every week of every season in fantasy sports. And for good reason. It’s the foundational strategy to get the most out of in-season trades and improve your roster. The only problem is that it’s all based on general consensus of which players are performing below ADP and should improve, and who’s overplaying their hand and is due for regression. There’s always variable opinions on what the best moves are in the buy low / sell market. But, for the most part, there’s agreement of what players fit in that box on any given week.

So – if for nothing else other than a matter of practice – let’s think outside the box for a moment, using as an example the biggest sell high candidate of the moment. 

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Here’s a story of a man with two first names, who hit the age of 30, an age when most players say goodbye to their primes and buckle up for the descent below. And descend the man with two first names did, playing in 58 and 58 games the next two seasons. Many called him injury-prone and swore him off for fantasy. Father Time leaned back in the La-Z-Boy chair, grabbed the bowl of popcorn and just waited. But the man with two first names spit in the face of Father Time and proceeded to play 70, 70 and 65 games in his age 34, 35 and 36 seasons. So far this season, the man with two first names has missed five of 15 games and caused much consternation for those who drafted him. “We can squeeze one more year out of him!!!”, they said. It’s akin to having one taco left with no more freshly cut limes. You rummage through the whole table and squeeze every last drop out of what’s left. Anyways, the pain that has been felt by the Chris Paul owners has been nothing but elation for the Cameron Payne truthers. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 33.5 minutes, 15.6 field goal attempts, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals. On Sunday:

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While I’d love to talk about Tim Hardaway testing the double-jeopardy statute of being cancelled (there is no law), quickly getting right back into it after his post-hate clarity of attacking and then apologizing to the LGBTQ community and then moving straight into describing basketball plays as raking. It could have been graping because no one ever thinks about the grapes, you know? But as I said, Tim’s swan song as an NBA broadcaster isn’t exactly “fantasy basketball” relevant, so it might be better to focus on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s continued emergence as a legit NBA star (second team for sure, first team anyone?). Coming off a night where he scored 37 points with 4 rebounds and 8 assists, there were times last night (and during the season) where he just looks simply unguardable. Even the Celtics, who don’t run too many doubles, were throwing everything at him. While still pulling out the win, the Celtics’ elite defenders exposed SGA’s agility and shot IQ to be exceptional and confirmed that this may actually be a very special year despite tanking towards Wembanyama. (Trademark pending.)

Here’s what else I saw during last night’s light slate of games:

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“Houston, we have a problem” … is the headline I had to fight off for days when contemplating an article on the early returns (or lack thereof) from No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. And that’s just wrong. Literally. The astronauts of Apollo 13 actually said to mission control, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” While we’re at it: Forrest Gump said, “Life was like a box of chocolates;” Marie Antoinette wanted them to eat a pastry, not cake; Manfred Mann was “Revved up like a deuce;” the cornfield winds whispered “If you build it, he will come;” and Darth Vader’s famous line is, “No, I am your father” (either way, its hilarious to say into a fan). Thanks to my Master’s degree in Web Searchography, I know those formations of false collective memories are called the Mandela Effect. What does this have to do with Smith? I have no idea, but it was a fun way to cut through some writer’s block.

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If you have been reading my rumblings throughout the years you will have figured by now that I love niche statistics from the NBA world. And much to my delight yesterday, I found this tweet and that led me to a long rabbit hole to research stats from the Knicks season. The tweet mentions that the Knicks are currently 5-5 with a 0.0 points differential, 16th in offense, 16th in defense and are also 1-1 in overtime games. What I also found out with some digging is that they are also 4-4 vs the East and 1-1 vs the West! And to complete the perfectly balanced picture they are also 3-3 in October and 2-2 in November! Thanos from the Marvel universe must have front row season tickets for the Knicks this year…

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