It pains me to write this, but I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan during his playing days, and I regret that fact, immensely. I never had him on my fantasy team. I never watched his games late at night on the east coast. I never applauded his championships and didn’t care much about his 60-point performance to end his career. With that said, his passing hit me much harder than I thought it would, and that was before I found out his daughter was alongside him, which made it all the more tragic. I have come to appreciate him more since his retirement. His business acumen, his desire to succeed in every facet of life, and his willingness to mentor young NBA players and aspiring professionals alike, is inspirational. Those are the types of things that I respect, as a professional and as a parent.

It occurred to me that Kobe Bryant had that Tom Brady effect on me. While my Knicks fandom was not directly affected by the Lakers’ success, I felt as if Kobe had the same suffocating hold on me as Tom Brady and the Patriots have on my Jets fandom. It turns out I was likely envious of the success my Lakers friends were witnessing, while I sat rooting for dysfunction.

Well, over the last few days I have taken the time to watch that final 60-point performance, along with tons of amazing highlights I have seen over the years, and I enjoyed every second of it. The culmination of the career of the immensely talented and competitive specimen that was Kobe Bryant came to a head on a historic night. I have taken the time to understand the competitiveness that drove Kobe, and I wish I had that Mamba Mentality on a daily basis. Seeing that Kobe’s passing has had such an impact nationally speaks volumes to who he was as a player, an icon, and a role model for so many, and he will be sorely missed.

Every year the trade deadline comes and goes. This year there are some intriguing names that could be hitting the market. The next man up mentality is true in all facets of the game, and trades open many opportunities for players to seize. Here are a few deep stashes for the upcoming trade deadline.

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I am 25 years old. I idolized Michael Jordan, but was too young to watch him live when he built his legend. On the contrary, the player that my generation grew up with is Kobe Bryant. We got to witness him build his dynasty with the Lakers, hit tough shot after tough shot, return from gruesome injuries and give his absolute all for the game he loved so much. And after his retirement, we watched him grow as a businessman, a community leader, an ambassador for basketball, and a motivator for any young player that wants to get better through hard work and devotion.

His influence is not easy to grasp or describe and that’s why his loss has that enormous an impact to the whole basketball world. Kobe was unique in every way, a true sports titan and he will be remembered for a long time to come, whether from basketball fans appreciating his game and mentality or by anyone shooting a piece of paper to a can and yelling “Kobe”. It is always a reality check when these tragic things happen as people of his stature, so famous and successful, seem invincible. It’s an instant reminder of our own morality and how fragile and precious human life is. It’s not a great time to talk about player performances and fantasy contributions but I’ll try my best.

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Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Adam’s apple is a lump in the neck, primarily seen in males. It’s size increases during puberty and is viewed as a secondary characteristic of males due to hormonal activity. It protects the vocal chords and produces a deepening of the voice. For those who travel to Thailand, figuring out who and who doesn’t have an Adam’s apple is a good skill to have. There’s no questioning the manhood of Steven Adams, though. He is 7′ 0″ and 250 pounds. He probably boxes kangaroos in this spare time and provides shade for the wild life. Last night, Steven went to the Big Apple and made sure everyone knew that he was THE man…….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 18 3 2 0 2 0 3/5 4/7

….as he was instrumental in the Thunder being victorious over the Nets, 111-103 in OT. Earlier in the season, Adams was straight awful, and dropping him wouldn’t have been crazy. He eventually turned things around and, over the past two months, has been a top 55 player for fantasy. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never turns things around because it’s always at the top? The Stocktonator. He’s a low usage player, so points won’t be voluminous, but boards, blocks, and excellent field goal percentage are the core of his value. The most surprising aspect of his season, though, has been the increase in dimes. He’s averaging 2.7 per game on the season. The last five years, he had never averaged more than 1.6. Now, he probably won’t finish as a top 50 player for fantasy, but top 80-90 wouldn’t be bad and is a reasonable expectation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s amazing how time can cause us to forget some of the greatest talents in our midst. The NBA, like any other sport, is a “what have you done for me lately” league. We sometimes forget that a potentially transcendent talent has yet to make his NBA debut. All the summer hype slowly disappears when the player, who’s talents surpass narrative, has been missing in action. The high school hype, the college hype, the draft hype, and injury hype, all wither away into the abyss, before sprouting it’s head once more, and injecting something special into our veins. The NBA needs a savior, in a dark time when stars are injured and ratings drop. The savior I am speaking of is not Zion Williamson, shocker, I know. I am talking about Michael Porter Jr.

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Back in 2008, D. J. Augustin was awarded the Bob Cousy Award, which was given to the top collegiate point guard. That summer, the Charlotte Bobcats selected him with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. This D. J. obviously produced good music and got the crowd to throw their hands in the air, and wave them like they just didn’t care. In 2010, D. J. averaged 33.6 minutes, 14.4 points, and 6.1 dimes. But then the lights came on and people realized that the selection of songs were limited. He didn’t have the resources to expand the library, so D. J. tried to compensate by mixing and scratching more. That just ended up in more skipping and booing from the crowd. Realizing his limitations, he stopped trying to be fancy and just kept things simple. And it worked, as he’s been getting gigs for 12 years now. Every once in a while, though, he thinks about what could have been and channels something from within. It happened last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 3 9 2 0 1 2/6 7/15 9/10

In 31 minutes off the bench. Now, Markelle Fultz had some foul trouble last night, so D. J. got some extra run. In addition, Fultz is and will be the starter for the Magic. With that said, over the past four games, D. J. has been spinning the goods, as he’s been a top 85 player, averaging 28.3 minutes, 14.5 points, 1.5 tres, 5 boards, and 1 steals. He’s been shooting 90% from the line on 5.5 attempts. Not bad. The shooting efficiency, though, has only been 42%. Orlando plays at one of the slowest offensive paces in the league, but if you need dimes and tres, D. J. can be of value. Plus, he will go retro and spin the goods from time to time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what spins the goods all the time? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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We’ve made it through a quarter of the NBA season. Some players signed this summer will be eligible to be traded on December 15, others will be trade eligible on January 15. Fantasy trade deadlines aren’t far off. It’s  a good time to check-in on a few teams and see what’s shaking. The Miami Heat currently sit third in the Eastern Conference. They’re obviously firmly in the playoff race, but any Pat Riley-run organization is playing for much more than a simple playoff birth. The Heat are relying on two promising rookie guards and a third second-year player. How those players develop will not only help determine their fate this season, but it might also influence trade decisions around the deadline and in the summer. The Atlanta Hawks are at a bit of a hinge point in their rebuild. They came into the season with a lot of media buzz and some vague playoff talk. Trae Young went all scorched earth and they started the season 2-0. All hell broke loose after that. They’ve got to figure out what they have in their young players. Is this the beginning of the end of their rebuild or are they smack dab in the middle of it? The Minnesota Timberwolves are firmly in rebuilding mode, but for the first time they’re making decisions that prioritize Karl-Anthony Towns as the rightful centerpiece and key to their future. How do Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Jarrett Culver fit into their future plans? What do Ryan Saunders lineup decisions portend for later this season? And most relevant to all of you beautiful readers, what does this mean for you and your fantasy team? Keep reading to find out.

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Temples are buildings where religious or spiritual activities are performed. These acts have ranged from sacrifice to the more socially acceptable prayer. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and many other religions have utilized temples to worship their gods. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s a digitial god? The Stocktonator. And they are often open every day, yet people usually only go to worship once a week. Same goes for Garrett Temple. He’s played in every game this season. Early on, he was getting 16-18 minutes of run, then it was ramped up to 24-26 minutes. Since November 18th, Temple has averaged 34 minutes per game, primarily because of the Caris LeVert injury. With that said, he provides a fantasy relevent performance about once a week. Last night the weekly quota was met.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 4 3 0 0 2 6/9 10/16 1/1

If you pray hard enough, Temple will provide points, tres, boards, and dimes. Just don’t get greedy and expect any defensive stats. Save those prayers for world peace and an end to hunger.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I have much to be thankful for. A loving wife. Beautiful kids. Razzball. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator. I’m thankful that there’s a holiday to remind us to be thankful, which gives us Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that companies can show their thanks by taking all our money. Gotta love capitalism. What’s next? Thankful Thursdays? At this point, might as well. The other week, someone texted me about Happy International Men’s Day. Are you f’ing kidding me? Does that imply that there’s a Domestic Men’s Day? Anyways, what I’m most thankful for this year has been drafting Bam Adebayo in every fantasy basketball league I could. Why? Just look what he did yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
17 16 1 1 1 4 0 6/14 5/7

Bam is only 22 years old. He’s 6′ 9″ 255lbs, so he can bang down low with the big boys, yet he’s agile enough to Euro step in transition for a dunk. The 7′ 1″ wingspan allows him to gobble up rebounds, while his vision and passing acumen have him dishing out 4.2 dimes per game. Bam is averaging 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are tres, and the free throw shooting is poor (65%), although he’s been converting 72% of the freebies over the past seven games. Put it all together and Bam is a top 50-ish player for fantasy. Arigato Adebayo.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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