Much has been pontificated, written, said, even dreamed! about LeBron’s recent kerfluffle, kerfluffle being the *official* term, so I’ll leave that where it lays. It’s like how you’re never supposed to beat up a dead horse, mainly because I’m sure it smells and you shouldn’t be touching anything that’s been dead for a while. I’m sure that’s what that saying means. But man, is it just me, Captain Obvious, your friend, or do the Lakers kinda-sorta suck without LeBron James? With Thanksgiving Eve bringing a full slate of games and content, it was still too easy to focus on this Lakers vs. Pacers matchup that went to OT and saw LeBron play for 43 minutes, scoring 39 PTS on 13-29 shooting and 5-12 3PT with 5 REB, 6 AST, and 2 BLK. The performance and James leading the Lakers in the fourth quarter to force OT was what I call his usual Wednesday, but I guess he had to once again remind all the haters about his GOAT status, even playing center and being the best defender on the floor at the same time. Good Jokic if I ever saw one. With that pun already making me roll all of our eyes, let’s check out what else happened last night in the N-B-A…

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Five starters failing to score 10, four starters scoring less than ten combined, three teams that should blow it up, two Mondays skipped by the author, and one comment section debating Jayson Tatum. I realize it’s still November, but if the mall and my girlfriend force Christmas upon me I shall do the same to everyone reading this. Last night in the NBA, players failed to score, Andre Drummond proved he’s still Andre Drummond, and the Bucks disappointed everyone.

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The Brooklyn Nets are back for another Friday night, so it’s only fitting that the fantasy star of the night is from the Nets. James Harden ended with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in the narrow, 115-113 win over the Magic. We got a glimpse of the Nets with just one superstar on Friday as Kevin Durant was out with injury. Whenever one of these superstars plays alone, they will have immense upside and control the offense entirely. Harden continues to have more upside when both are on the court together because of his high assist numbers.

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Y’all know that I’m mainly a hip-hop guy but I do have a diverse musical palette. I enjoy classical, jazz, and metal. I actually played the bass guitar in elementary school with “our band.” Y’all also know that I’m a Lakers homer and have been on Talen Horton-Tucker since Day One. Watching him in the first three games of this season has gotten me so amped.

He could always drive to the rack but now he’s developed the side-step J and really improved his outside shot. With his wingspan, the defensive ability has always been there. This AC/DC song just kept playing in my head watching THT play last night in Milwaukee:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 12 3 2 1 3 3/6 9/18 4/4

In three games so far, he’s the number four player in fantasy!!! Alright, small sample size and he’s been getting a ton of run with LeBron James out of the lineup. There is uncertainty as to what exactly his role will be and how much run he will get when LeBron returns, but he’s going to be an important part of the rotation. If he’s still out there, scoop him up for sure.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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So, the Warriors might be good again, yeah? Coming into Tuesday’s showcase against Brooklyn with the best record in the Association, Golden State has spent the early-season feasting on one of the softest schedules in the league, and generally looking really good doing it. Steph Curry is in MVP-form, Draymond Green is locked-in and energized, and Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have been steady, positive contributors. The bench is already deep and there’s help on the way as James Wiseman and Klay Thompson inch their way back to the rotation. Going into Brooklyn and getting the Nets at home, even sans Kyrie, figured to be a good, real test for the Warriors (if there is such a thing in November) as their schedule firms up ever so slightly. The Nets are a quality opponent. Despite the sluggish start from James Harden and getting nothing at all from Irving, Kevin Durant has been fabulous even by his own standards, and that’s been good enough to power Brooklyn to a totally-respectable 11-4 start. It was supposed to be a competitive, compelling game.

It wasn’t.

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No, no not THAT The Used, though we could certainly chat about them a bit if you’re into it. No? Not here for that? Fine.

Well, I wanted to talk about “the used” in the NBA, as in the guys who have seen their usage climb in the past two weeks compared to the first two weeks of the season, and whether or not that’s sustainable for them. Cool with you, bro? Sweet, let’s begin.

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The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 114-116 on Sunday night, making them 3-3 since LeBron James has been sidelined due to an abdominal injury. None of the victories have been particularly impressive, but they’re doing what they need to do—staying afloat until they get healthy. After a lackluster performance that led to a 24-point loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves in their previous contest, Anthony Davis set the tone early for the purple and gold in this game. Davis had 19 points (8-10 FG) in the first quarter and finished the game with 32 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block. It was the kind of dominating performance the Lakers will need in James’ absence as well as when he returns if the Lakers have any hope of achieving their championship goals. This game also saw Talen Horton-Tucker return from injury, pushing Kent Bazemore all the way out of the starting lineup and into a DNP (Coach’s Decision). Horton-Tucker had a solid game with 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot the ball well at home and he received a surprise start in this game. He finished the contest with 15 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT) and five rebounds. He’s still shooting a ridiculous 47.3% from three on the season and an even more ridiculous 56% from three at home. Finally, Russell Westbrook had a quiet, efficient night for the Lakers. I might contend that quiet and efficient should be the goal for most of Westbrook’s contest given his rocky start to the season, but that’s a conversation for another day. Westbrook finished the game with 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-5 3PT), 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and seven turnovers.

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Luka Doncic provided the top fantasy performance of the night in a 123-109 win over the Spurs. He finished with 32 points, 15 assists, and 12 points. Luka has been heating up in recent games and finally exploded for a massive stat line. He remains a top-three fantasy option as an elite provider in the main three categories. Kristaps Porzingis matched Doncic with 32 points of his own in last night’s win. 

The Spurs struggled last night and were led by 20 points off the bench from Devin Vassell. It was an off night for the Spurs as many of their players posted worse than average stat lines. Dejounte Murray and others will look to get back on track in their next game.

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When I first moved out to the East Coast, the changing of the seasons was kind of cool because I had never experienced it before. After a year, F that. NAW mean? The summers are so freaking humid. The winters are cold and nasty. Fall is kind of cool with the leaves and all but it’s chilly as well. Spring time is when people are most jovial because they’ve been cooped up all winter but it’s also the nicest weather. NAW mean? So, why not be in a place that is spring all the time? If you want to frolic in the snow, then drive a few hours to the nearest mountain. NAW mean? Anyways, sorry for the rant but Nickeil Alexander-Walker got me all amped up from his performance last night.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Patrick Beverley continues to start even with D’Angelo Russell returning and looks like a solid pickup for the rest of the season. Damian Lillard had some encouraging signs in his last games so the buy-low window might be closing, Furkan Korkmaz was and will remain a great streamer for as long as the 76ers are not at full strength, while Derrick Jones Jr didn’t bring the defensive stats we were hoping but remains a specialist streamer. On the sell front, all of Kelly Oubre, Joe Harris, Duncan Robinson did nothing to improve their status, while the sell high window for Kyle Kuzma is shrinking with Rui Hachimura reportedly nearing a return in the coming weeks.

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