Fantasy basketball forces you to take a critical look at the NBA’s unmitigated success stories. Will a breakout performance translate from one season to the next? Should we expect the dreaded faux-scientific sophomore slump for rookies? Will a natural year-to-year fluctuation in shooting push a player out of fantasy relevance? These are the relevant questions we have to weigh as the NBA season winds down and the fantasy playoffs start. It will be the fantasy offseason before you know it—it’s never too early to start planning for the future.

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The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks played one of the most exciting games of the season on Tuesday, October 10. The Heat eventually came out victorious in overtime 135-121, but only after Trae Young pronounced the game “over,” right before the Heat scored six straight points to tie the score in the final 59 seconds of regulation. The Heat then scored 16 straight points in overtime, making the final outcome a formality. The fireworks didn’t start or stop there, however. Trae Young had a relatively quiet first half (8 points and 6 assists), but he came out aggressive in the second half and scored 10 quick points and finished with 11 points in the quarter, and then the fourth quarter happened. Young was in rhythm and headed for another gaudy stat-line before Erik Spoelstra made the astute decision to put Derrick Jones Jr. on him. Jones Jr. is length personified, or as Scott Van Pelt used to say, “He’s all arms and legs, he can’t buy pants at the mall.” Jones’ length and quick feet turned a potentially explosive night into a sour one for Trae Young and the Hawks—Young finished the fourth quarter with only two points. He was unable to draw fouls to counter Jones’ length and physicality, though it was not for a lack of trying. There might be some brewing animus between Jones and Young. Fortunately for us, the Hawks and Heat matchup one more time this season. Get the popcorn ready.

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What was the address of the house you grew up in? Please include your Social Security number and bank pin number while you’re at it. What about the first apartment you rented? And the motel you lost your virginity at? I kid, I kid. We all have memories about certain addresses in our lives. For some reason, 21 Jump Street is the address that always pops up for me. Anyways, last night, Devin Booker established a new home in New Orleans:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 8 9 2 0 5 5/11 13/24 13/13

The festivities at 44 Booker Street lasted for 42 minutes and the new residence was established due to the 139-132 Suns victory over the Pelicans. Booker had a 40-burger back on November 4th and he had scored at least 30 points four other times. With that said, his season seemed a little underwhelming for some. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never underwhelming? The Stocktonator. The usage this season was down to 28 from 32 last year and the PPG dipped to 25 from 26.6. It’s not all about points, though, for Booker, although he can obviously access 40 to 50-burger ceiling. Booker is a top 30 player for fantasy this season beause he’s shooting 94% from the free line and 50% from the field, with the 6.3 dimes, 3.9 boards, and 2.3 tres. He just needs to contribute the defensive stats. If he can do that, he’d easily be a top 20 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Luka Doncic was a name most fans of European basketball knew long before he was drafted. We knew all about his potential and, most importantly, his experience that was uncharacteristic for a player of his age. His rookie year was already promising but we are currently witnessing the birth of a true superstar in his sophomore year. Luka is currently averaging 30.1/3.1/10/9.5/1.4/0.2/4.7. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in….That’s almost a triple-double from a second-year player at age 20. Truly unreal…

Also, check out this response to “Why the Dallas defense has improved this year?”

Dirk was notorious for his humor so Luka looks like a deserved heir both on and off the court.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Markelle Fultz had a great week and is trending up in a hurry while Moritz Wagner and Jaxson Hayes performed well but not spectacularly. Finally, Kevin Love justified being a “Sell” candidate as the rest days started and they should be a regular occurrence moving forward.

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It’s hard to grasp, but we are already past the 15% mark of the regular season! Time does indeed fly and there have been some surprising and underachieving teams. The surprises have been the Celtics (11-2), Heat (9-3) and Suns (7-6), while the underachievers have been the Warriors (3-12), Pelicans (5-9), and Trail Blazers (5-10). Although it’s early in the season, don’t be surprised if some of the underperforming teams make some major moves to try and shake things up. Some are even getting desperate…

I don’t hate Carmelo’s fit in Portland. He can be a valuable contributor if he moves the ball willingly and at least tries on the defensive end. But those are two big “ifs”, as history has taught us.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Alec Burks is one of the last Warriors standing (that sounded more heroic than I planned) with any kind of talent, so he will get all the usage he can handle. The fg% will be occasionally bad, but the scoring and counting stats will compensate. Finally, Marcus Smart also had a good week, while Cory Joseph has been disappointing in his starts and is a drop candidate.

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After an animal or person dies, the joints of the body stiffen. Did you know that death is the number one killer in this country? If you know what movie that’s from, then we are kindred spirits. Anyways, this stiffened state of the body is called rigor mortis, and lasts around three days. Last night, the Chicago Bulls were dealt a fatality by the New York Knicks, 105-98. A big reason why was due to the play of Bobby Portis, who put up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 11 2 0 2 0 4/4 10/14 4/5

Portis did this in 30 minutes off the bench and is responsible for the Bulls experiencing Rigor Portis. Good thing the effects last only three days because they play the Cavs in two days (a game they should win while deceased) and then the following game isn’t until Friday. Now, we often hear about the revenge narrative in sports. It’s mainly cockamamie, but if there’s one sport where it could be feasible, it’s basketball. Portis was drafted by the Bulls with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. After four years with the team, he was traded to the Washington Wizards, then signed with the Knicks over the summer. So…..REVENGE! Ha! I kid, I kid. From a fantasy perspective, Portis can provide points, boards, and tres, but the minutes and production will be inconsistent.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Ah, centers. The literal giants of the fantasy basketball world. There are 56 centers listed below, with the shortest being Montrezl Harrell who stands at 6′ 8″ tall. In the United States, the average height of a male is 5′ 9″, which puts Montrezl in the 99.988 percentile. But he’s the shortest player in this piece. Many, if not most, are seven feet or taller. In the entirety of the world, there are approximately 2800 people seven feet or taller, which translates to 0.000038% of the population on Planet Earth. And 1.7% play in the NBA! Crazy! The outliers don’t stop there, though. Nikola Jokic is the only center who is projected to average over 4 dimes per game, with a whopping 7.5! Since these literal giants tower over the landscape, it would make sense that they dominate the blocks and boards categories. There are 15 players projected to grab at least 10 boards per game. 12 are centers. For blocks, 19 players are projected to reject at least 1.5 shots per game. 13 are centers. Let’s all bow down and pay homage to these titans of the fantasy basketball world.

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