Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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Surprise, I’ve taken over the Wednesday recap this week, let’s get jiggy with it!

Nets vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks undefeated 2020-2021 season came to an end at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, December, 30th, but not without some positive signs of progress for this new look roster. At the moment, the Hawks have the second best Offensive Rating in the league at 119.9 and their opponent, the Nets, have the best Defensive Rating at 98.3. I’m not sure if these numbers include the data from Wednesday’s competition, but either way, the Hawks were the team that lived up to their statical billing in this one. The teams went shot for shot through most of the game until Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Hawks suffered enough empty possessions on offense to walkaway with their first L. Both teams broke a hundred by the third quarter and the final score of 141-145 tells you everything you need to know. Neither team played much defense in this game and that end of the floor will remain the biggest question for both teams going forward.

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Another fantasy and NBA year have started, so every Wednesday will bring advice on all the players that you fine folks should “Buy” or “Sell”, to ensure greatness for your fantasy teams. I don’t know why, but this year I was more excited than usual for the start of the season and I have been watching way more games than my timezone permits. Maybe it’s because of the whole 2020 thing, maybe it’s because quarantine hasn’t allowed me to play actual basketball for over 3 months, or maybe I started enjoying the little things in life more. Like sitting on your couch with a hot cup of coffee or a fine glass of whiskey and watching the top-level talents compete against each other…

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It’s a story as old as time. Hot girl from a different continent arrives at the new local high school. All the dudes go goo-goo gah gah over said hot girl. Popular girls at high school, who were the hot girls before are now relegated to has-been status. But they ain’t going out like that. They get their hair done, splash some intoxicating perfume on, hike up their skirts, and flash some boob, then voila! All the dudes in the house go, what? WHAT?! LaMelo Ball was the hot girl and got all the love and attention in the preseason with his fancy passes and what not, but Terry Rozier wasn’t impressed.

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Fantasy projections are hard. We look to others in the industry for guidance without plagiarizing or pilfering, overanalyze quotes from team personnel, and process the preseason (paltry as this one is) like we’re being given tea leaves to read — when by and large they should be treated like used tea bags and be tossed. Yet, we try to put forth the best information possible — even if some of it is conjured from the Ether — because, above all, NONE of us want to hear about it later if we miss poorly.

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R. J. Barrett is the 361st player on a per-game basis for the 2019 fantasy basketball season. There are 13 active players on each of the 30 NBA teams. That means that there are 390 active players. Thanks to my handy dandy abacus, that means that Barrett is better than 29 players. Yippee……That’s kind of not good for the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But he’s put together three straight decent games in a row. Are things turning around and is there merit to Barrett being fantasy relevant?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 5 5 1 0 3 3/8 10/18 4/7

The 27 points tied a career-high, which Barrett has accomplished three times this season. Barrett can score, even though he shoots with the wrong hand. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs regardless of the circumstances? The Stocktonator. He can also grab boards and dish out dimes. There is a reason why he was selected number three overall. With that said, there is a cavernous hole in his game: the shooting efficiency. On the season, he’s shooting 39% from the field and 59% from the line. There are stretches when he shoots sub-40% from the line. I will never understand how a professional ball player can’t shoot free throws at a high clip. It’s like literally their job. Anyways, he’s only 19 years old, so from a dynasty perspective, there is hope. For this season, he’s too inconsistent and doesn’t excel enough in the other categories to make the destruction of percentages worth it. So, the only merit to Barrett is in fading him.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I love rolling them dice in Vegas. There is no better game than craps……when there’s a hot shooter. Everyone is laughing, shouting, high-fiving, and having an awesome time. If you’re the hot shooter, then you are freaking Nick Papagiorgio! The ladies wanna sleep with you and the men? They wanna sleep with you too. Unfortunately, there’s a reason why Vegas is adorned with bling and has lights shining from corner to corner. 7 out!!!! But it’s okay, because the memory of those hot runs are seared into our memories, which keeps us returning back to the tables, time and time again. Well, that is the Tim Hardaway Jr. experience. He shoots. He mostly craps out, but every once in a while, he will get hot, which keeps us coming back for more and more. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never craps out and is always hot? The Stocktonator. Last night, he was even hitting the Hardaway 6 bets…over and over again.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 3 1 0 0 5/10 12/18 4/5

On the season, THJ is a top 150 player, as he’s shooting 43% from the field and doesn’t contribute much outside of points and tres. Buuuuuuuuuuuuut…….he gets hot from time to time and keeps shooting…then making…then shooting….then making….then shooting….then making. There’s high-fiving, laughing, screams of joy, and overall adoration. Just remember that the good times never last. As long as you know that he will crap out soon, and probably more often than you want to believe, then you will be fine.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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