There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
57 9 2 2 1 5 6/15 17/33 17/18

In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?

That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Off the top of my head, Phil and Joan are the most famous people with the last name Collins. Well deserved and they sit on the thrones in the pantheon of Collins’s. Is that right? Or would it be Colline? Whatever, English is my second language. Ebonics was my first. Perusing the list of Collins’s or Colline got me thinking that people that pursue fame are dumb because 99% of the time that you think you’re famous, no one gives a shit or remembers. I guess that’s something someone who’s not famous writes. Anyways, John Collins has been making a case to be on the list.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 14 1 1 0 3 1/2 12/21 5/6

Collins has played 25 games, yet is 22nd in the NBA with 16 dub-dubs. For persepective, Joel Embiid leads the league with 36 in 40 games. Over the last eight games, he’s been a top 50 player, averaging 31.7 minutes, 19.3 points, 1.3 threeecolas, 11.8 boards, 2.3 dimes, with 57% shooting from the field and 75% on 4 attempts from the free throw line. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are the D stats. The Hawks play at the fastest pace in the league, so the environment is ripe for Collins to thrive. Unfortunately, the lack of D stats will keep him from challenging Phil or Joan for the throne, but that’s okay. At least he’s in the conversation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I was a preteen, I remember a super rare baseball card of Cal Ripken’s brother, Billy Ripken. The normal card had him holding a baseball bat without anything worth noting on the card. But there were a few prints of an original that showed where the goofball Billy decided to scribble a curse word that was gold to 12-year-old baseball card collectors. There were only a few copies of this card and I was lucky enough to find one in a fresh pack. It was so rare, that I managed to sell it to a classmate for $50, which I then wasted on more baseball cards. Sometimes an amazingly rare thing happens and you just have to enjoy the moment. Marcin Gortat managed to turn back the clock and post this out-of-nowhere gem on the Suns.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/10 2/2 NA 18 13 1 0 1 2

Now, this was unexpected. Gortat has been a complete nonfactor this season, but managed a gem of a game. I wouldn’t expect a repeat any time soon, but it’s nice to be able to talk about the Polish Hammer once again.

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When I first started writing these recaps, Grey imparted into my tiny brain the wisdom of not writing about the same player in the lede. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but it made sense and I’ve tried to adhere to it as much as possible. But, but, but….Yes, I’m studdering mother [email protected]#!er. Sometimes a player is so good, so brilliant, so dominant that he moon walks over all the competition and I’m forced to do it. Let’s call it the James Harden fast rule.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
43 10 13 2 0 9 6/12 8/19 21/27

That’s four straight games with at least 40 points. According to Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen), Harden joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players over the last 30 years to score 400 points in 10 games. According to Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA), Harden was the first person in NBA history to score at least 40 points on eight field goal makes. He now has four trip-dubs on the season and 39 for his career. He’s been the #1 player for fantasy over the past seven games. All that is nice and dandy, but do you know what the craziest stat is? With both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon off the court, Harden has a 51.8 usage rate, an increase of 10.3%!!! The Harden Fast Rule is that when Paul and Gordon are off the court, James is gonna eat.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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Ok, last night’s game between the Lakers and Pelicans didn’t have the drama and importance of Jordan’s classic flu game. In fact, if you watched the nationally televised game featuring a sick LeBron James facing up against Anthony Davis and leading his team to victory, it might be tough to tell James was even sick. He played with greatness and did everything that was needed to win. Now he has another Jordan-themed event he can check off his list.

LeBron James

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/20 6/9 0/4 22 12 14 2 0 2

LeBron had his version of the flu game. It wasn’t efficient, but he managed a triple-double and led the Lakers to victory. The old man is ranked #15 in standard cat leagues and helps fantasy GMs even more if you’re punting FT percentage.

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Mondays can be rough for many. Some may be recovering from too many adult beverages, while others may still have the bass bumping in their heads from the clubbing. There are those that went out of town and….are still mentally there. Whatever the case may be, for those that don’t work on the weekends, Mondays are a recuperation and recovery day. Which is apparently what happened in the NBA, as players were scratched left and right, and many others got injured during the game. I’m not saying that the nightlife was the culprit, but I just wrote it so….All jokes aside, yesterday was one of the craziest slates I’ve seen in a while. Below is a list of the inactives:

Pre-game:

John Wall (heel)
Ish Smith (groin)
Kyrie Irving (shoulder)
Gordon Hayward (illness)
Al Horford (knee)
Aron Baynes (ankle)
Blake Griffin (rest)
Reggie Bullock (ankle)
Hassan Whiteside (personal)
Evan Fournier (personal)
Stanley Johnson (knee)
E’Twaun Moore (rest)
Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (neck)
Jamal Crawford (knee)
During the game:

Jimmy Butler (groin)
Henry Ellenson (ankle)
Glenn Robinson III (ankle)
Otto Porter Jr. (knee)
Nikola Mirotic (ankle)
Tristan Thompson (foot)
Lou Williams (hamstring)
Thank goodness tomorrow is Tuesday.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Party favors are the best. You get a gift for giving a gift. You get a gift for good attendance. I kid. They are gestures of appreciation or gratitude from the hosts for helping them celebrate an event. Doesn’t matter how big or small, how luxurious or crappy, they always put a smile on the face. That’s exactly what Derrick Favors did last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 10 0 1 1 1 0 10/13 4/4

That was his second double-dub of the season. Now, did it help that Rudy Gobert got ejected three minutes into the game? Sure. The minutes, shot attempts, and rebound opportunites all ticked up. With that said, he’s been a top 100 player all season, even though he’s been averaging only 22.8 minutes per game. 10.4 points, 7 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks are not bad numbers. Like I said, party favors come in all shapes and sizes. This party Favors will put a smile on your face most nights.

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In this week’s episode, Craig Bozic is joined by Brett Nelson, one of our new writers at Razzball to answer listener questions, talk Wendell Carter Jr while also looking at the dynasty outlooks of Josh Richardson and Jaylen Brown.

Craig finishes the show taking a look at the marquee college season opener between Duke and Kentucky, profiling the impressive debut performances from Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish.

Got a question for next week’s show? You can find Craig Bozic on Razzball in the comments section or on twitter @storytelling41

Please, blog, may I have some more?