Old-school basketball enthusiasts and connoisseurs of NBA history will appreciate the legendary success of the Showtime era. The Los Angeles Lakers produced one of the most successful runs in sports.

However, over the last few seasons, success in LA has been minimal. Laker fans hoped that would change a season ago with the addition of a new King in town. LeBron James made Los Angeles more competitive, but they still missed the playoffs again.

This was the sixth consecutive season without a Laker playoff game; a streak of failures 3-times longer than any in franchise history. But, the LA masterminds were hard at work during the off-season.

One trade and some timely free agent signings have reproduced an air of excitement in Los Angeles heading into the upcoming season. So, does the outlook for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019-20 mean it’s time for Showtime again?

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The 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets exceeded expectations in many ways, from player development to overall record. Few pundits had them making the playoffs, myself included, but I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated Kenny Atkinson, who has established himself as one of the  upper-echelon coaches in the league. Sean Marks can also be credited for assembling a team with a good mix of youthful exuberance and veteran experience. Although, they were bounced in the first round by Philadelphia, hardly any Nets fans could feel disappointed with how the season turned out given the low expectations.

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Jeremy Lamb was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. A few days before the start of the regular season, Lamb was traded in a package for James Harden to Oklahoma City. Sacrificial Lamb? In three years with the Thunder, Lamb never averaged more than 19 minutes per game and was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 2015. The first two years in Charlotte didn’t seem much different, as he averaged 18 minutes per game in each season. Then, in 2017 Lamb received close to 25 minutes per game and averaged over double-digits for the first time in his career, but during the 2017 NBA draft, the Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th overall pick. Sacrificial Lamb? Signs were pointing to Monk taking the starting shooting guard duties away from Lamb, as he seemed to have a higher upside. Well…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 6 3 2 0 0 3/3 11/18 6/7

Lamb played a team-high 49 minutes in a double-overtime game. For the season, he’s averaging 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 threeecolas per game. He’s shooting 43% from the field and 34% from downtown. Don’t expect many assists or blocks. Just solid top 60 production. No sacrificial Lamb this time because he’s baaaaaaaaad.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Last. A truly underrated word that gets a bad rap. We often associate the word with the sad events of life: that last kiss, last breath, last meal, last dollar, last call, last game, last day….sniff, sniff. I’m sad. But fret not, because one word can represent emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum. What do you think of when you read last man standing? Or last team left? Last = winner in that context. How about when the last shot goes in for the last score to leave the last team victorious? That’s exactly what Larry Nance Jr. did last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
15 16 6 3 1 2 1/3 7/14 0

Got the start, played 33 minutes, and tipped in the last shot to bring victory to Cleveland. Duh!! Play the man, especially at center, where he beasts. You did pay the man with a four-year, $45 million contract after all. Not talking to you, my much appreciated reader. Cleveland! Do you hear me??!!! I know you like Ante Zizic, but c’mon man! Over the past eight games, Nance has averaged 29.6 minutes, 11.3 points, 0.8 threeecolas, 8.8 boards, 4.5 dimes, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks. He’s shot 58% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. He’s been a top 20 player! Wake up Cleveland! Or you will literally be the last team, but maybe that’s what they want in order to draft LeBron 2.0.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. At 6′ 3″, 236 pounds, Ali was a physical giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 1960 was 5′ 8″, 166 pounds. In the ring, Ali could physically pummel foes into submission like a rhino, yet he was nimble enough to flutter around the opposition and peck them humming bird style. Wait? Why am I making this difficult? He could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. It was the lyrical flow that unlocked the Pantheon, though. He would talk trash, spit rhymes, and back it all up in the process. Depending on your persepective, it was entertainment or a fly buzzing around your head. Joel Embiid could be the modern day Ali. At 7′ 0″, 260 pounds, he is a giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 2018 is 5′ 9″, 195 pounds. Thanks McDonald’s. On the court, Embiid can bully down low in the post or Euro step left and spin cycle right on the perimeter, leaving defenders in a tizzy. Like Ali, Embiid has the lyrical flow, both on and off the court. Man, imagine Ali on Twitter! Like Ali, Embiid walks the walk, backs up all the talk, and is the living embodiment of The Process. For all the messing around he does, though, last night was the first time he messed around…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 13 10 0 2 2 4/7 6/20 3/4

….and got a triple-double. Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why I saw the Stocktonator watching old clips of Ali with Ice Cube blaring from the speakers yesterday morning. It liked Embiid a lot.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Kevin Durant is a polarizing player, due to his off-the-court decisions and shenanigans. There was the decision back in 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors that put many into a tizzy. I was fine with his decision, but I understand why people had issues with it. After being Mr. Nice Guy in OKC, Durant took on a blase, laissez-faire attitude. Some appreciated the rawness, while others wanted a more calculated, LeBron-esque persona. There was the burner account incident. Lame, but I kind of get it, as it’s tough for any celebrity to truly speak their mind. KD just be messing around. What can’t be questioned, though, is his production on the court. Over the past four years, Durant has finished as the 3rd, 1st, 2nd, and 5th player for fantasy according to Basketball Monster. Currently, he’s 3rd as he’s posting 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.5 threeecolas. He’s shooting 54% from the field and 91% from the line. So good. Anyways, last night he truly messed around:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 11 10 1 2 4 2/4 10/24 11/13

That was his 11th career triple-dub. A surprisingly low number, but he wasn’t always the most willing passer early in his career. With Steph Curry expected to miss a few more games, KD should continue messing around. Shoot, even when Curry returns, KD should continue messing around because that’s what he does.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Derrick Rose early on Wednesday morning in a jovial mood. How could he not? It was Halloween, a day to have fun, dress up, scare little kids, and eat lots and lots of candy. But as he drove up to the practice lot of the Timberwolves practice facility a little after lunch, things just didn’t feel right. The cloud that’s been hovering over the building for the last month or so looked a little darker. When he stepped out of the car, the wind was brisk and sent shivers throughout his whole body. As he approached Coach Thibodeau’s office, there was an eery light emanating from the crack between the bottom of the door and floor. Then a BAM! And a BOOM! KA BOOOOOOOOOOOOYACKA SHAKALA! WTF??!! Lying on the floor, Derrick Rose and entered Coach Thib’s office. “What’s wrong coach?” Coach Thibs responded with, “We are 3-4. 25th in defensive rating! Andrew Wiggins has four years and $147 million left on his contract! Jeff Teague can’t play tonight and Jimmy Butler is playing hard ball and won’t play until we trade him!!!…..And your hair looks f**king ridiculous!!!!” Derrick was not fazed. “Coach, I got this.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 4 6 2 1 6 4/7 19/31 8/11

I’d say he did. Derrick Rose to the occasion with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Tyus Jones all not playing by logging 41 minutes and bringing the Five-Oh. The fifty-burger was a career-high, which bested his prior mark of 42 points back in 2010. Now, Derrick is 30 years old and we all know about the injury history. He hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season since….2010. He’s obviously not going to bring the cops every night or shoot 31 times, but prior to last night, Derrick was a viable fantasy asset: 14.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 0.7 steals. No threeecolas and the field goal percentage was/is/won’t be pretty, but he was providing some decent counting stats. More importantly, he was getting over 28 minutes of run a game with the upside of moving into the starting lineup and getting more when someone sat. Scoop him up if he’s still available. If you own him, no one is going to buy high, so just let it ride. Happy Halloween!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The end of October is upon us, which means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and preparations are already being made for Christmas. It’s crazy I tell ya! So, it’s only appropriate that I present a little jingle for you:

Noel, Noel. Noel, Noel. The First Noel, the degens did say. Was to certain poor managers on teams where he lay. In leagues that weren’t too deep. Causing many a restless night’s sleep. Noel, Noel. Noel, Noel. Born was the King of saying farewell….

….to a four-year, $70 million offer in 2017. Doh. The pursuit of self interest is good, but greed? Not always the case. By turning down that $70 million to shoot for a max contract, Noel is now making $1.9 million and is an unrestricted free agent after this season. For all you kids out there: greed is not always good, especially when the career averages are 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks. As a result, the fantasy world said goodbye to the King of saying farewell, but like Jason on Halloween, he’s baaaaaack.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 15 2 4 1 1 0 9/14 2/3

With Steven Adams sitting due to injury, Noel got the start and played 26 minutes. He’s still only 24 years old and possesses crazy athleticism. In an uptempo environment with Russell Westbrook leading the action, it’s a prime spot for Noel to succeed. With that said, he was averaging only 14 minutes per game when Adams was healthy, so it’d be tough to rely on him outside of the deepest leagues, but he was a boards and blocks contributer during his limited action. When Adams sits, you know what to do. Cue up the Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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When people visit Los Angeles, they often go to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered on the intersection and it has a rich history in the entertainment industry. And entertainment is what Zach LaVine has been delivering for the hoops world and has many, especially our own Brent, clammoring that he is in fact an All-Star. I wonder which poster of LaVine that Brent is jerking off to right now.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 4 5 0 0 3 1/5 10/22 11/12

That now makes four straight games scoring at least 30 points. Before we put him in the Hall of Fame, he doesn’t even appear on the page when I query streaks with at least 30 points. For you inquiring minds, the leader is Kobe Bryant with 16 straight games back in 2003. As for the query itself, it stopped at 5 games. So, one more Zach and you’re on. Anyways, there’s no denying that Zach looks explosive and far removed from his knee injury. With that said, he’s shooting 62% from the field and 45% from downtown. His career rates are 44% and 37% respectively. The efficiency is going to come down. It’s just a matter of how much. Around 3 boards and 3 dimes are nice, but he doesn’t contribute much in the D department, so when the efficiency comes down, it’s….well, imagine you’re walking and you come to a ledge. It’s pitch black so you drop a coin down to see how low it goes. You drop it and you listen. And listen. And listen.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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