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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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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I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 12 1 2 0 3 3/5 5/11 0

It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When something is referred to as historic, we think of arms raised toward the sky, fireworks bursting and illuminating the world, with smiles and wet panties. We think of heroes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also a hero? The Stocktonator. Yet, historic can also reference the zeroes. Those who do something so bad that it’s actually impressive. Joel Embiid had one of those games last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
0 13 2 0 0 4 0/4 0/11 0/3

Embiid is no doubt a hero. If he wasn’t, then there wouldn’t be a line outside of the stadium after every game with both men and women waiting to sex him. With that said, he was a straight zero, both literally and figuratively last night. And I wasn’t being hyperbolic when I said that he had a historic performance. Since 1946, there have been only two other players who went 0-for-10 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown, and 0-for-2 from the free throw line: Doug Christie in 1999 and Devean George in 2008. Make that duo a trio now. Now, Embiid is a fantasy stud, as he literally does everything. He hasn’t been producing like one recently, but have no fear, the good times will return again. If anyone is panicking, relieve them of their anxiety.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Julius Caesar was a successful military general who turned powerful politician in the ancient Roman days. His power became so immense that he was named “dictator for life”. Unfortunately, he pissed off the wrong people (i.e. the elites) and was eventually assassinated via stabbing, or as the kids be saying, “he got shanked”. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never pisses off the people? The Stocktonator. After the early returns from the three-year, $63 million contract given to Julius Randle, Knicks fans were ready to hive up and Twitter shank Randle. Then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 2 1 1 3/5 12/17 3/5

The 30 points were a season-high and it was only the second time this season in which he’s notched at least one steal and one block in a game. Now, before you start mental masturbating, keep in mind that last night’s game was against the Cavaliers. Need more? Kevin Love did not play and Cedi “Not So” Osman started at power forward. Any wonder why Julius went nuts? For fantasy, Randle provides points, boards, and some dimes. He even chips in some tres now. With that said, the percentages from both the field and free throw line are poor, and he provides little in the defensive categories. As a result, he’s outside the top 200 right now and will likely be a top 100-ish player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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What excites you? Skantily-clad women? All-you-can-eat buffet? Damn, now you know all about me. Whistling while walking away. Aaaaannnyyyways, we all have love for the hoop game. And we all have favorite players who we enjoy watching. Well, I’ve never been the biggest fan of James Harden, but man, when I watch him play, I get Harden excited. He’s not the most athletic player, but the skill that he has with the basketball makes him one of the most dominant players in the game. He can get to the rim at will and has figured out ways to get off his J anytime against anyone. Oh, he also grabs boards, dishes out dimes, gets his 211 on, and even blocks a few shots. Last night wasn’t his best game….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 8 5 4 0 3 6/14 13/26 12/14

……kind of crazy that the above stat line is a little ho-hum for Harden. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what else is Harden-esque? The Stocktonator. He just seems to do it on a consistent basis and has shown to have access to a higher ceiling. Aren’t you Harden excited too? He’s the #2 player for fantasy right now and will likely end up either #1 or #2. Remember all the talk about Russell Westbrook? BSGALsgaskghas;khas;fhmv aiwwmus. Harden had a 40.5 usage rate last season. He’s at 40.3 this year. Lol.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Terry Rozier has been a scary player for fantasy nerds since 2017. He shot 39% from the field that season on 10 attempts per game. BOO! We should’ve known, though, as he shot 36% from the field in 2016 and 27% his rookie year, but the athleticism was tantalizing. He’s young they said. He’ll develop they said. Just wait until he starts they said. Well, he started 30 games in Boston, and while the percentages did improve, the increase only took his field goal percentage from 37% to 39%. BOOOOO!!!! So why did we keep going back to Terry? Why do you slow down and gawk at an accident? There’s a chance you may see nothing. There’s a chance you may be horrified. But there’s also that chance you may see something you’ve never seen before. Well, Rozier scored 33 points in a game during the 2017 season and has messed around once in his career. Just wait until he becomes a full-time starter they said. Well, we are dummies and keep falling for the bananna in the tailpipe. In 10 starts as the man to replace Kemba Walker, Rozier was shooting….class? Yup, 38% from the field. BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! But every once in a while, he accesses a ceiling game to keep us coming back for more. Last night was that instance…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 5 6 2 0 5 7/12 13/21 0

The usage rate is 25.4 and he’s averaging 31.8 minutes, 16.8 points, 2.4 tres, 3.9 boards, 5.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals. The 3.5 turnovers and 41% shooting (last night’s game increased his percentage 3%) from the field have him just outside the top 100, but he has value if you can stomach the poor percentages. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always shoots a high percentage? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I heard that Joel Embiid was suspended two games, I knew that my Sixers would need someone to step up if they wanted to win a tough contest against Portland. Al Horford was too obvious. The rest of the starters would fulfill their roles as usual. No… the Sixers needed to unveil a secret weapon. Furkan Korkmaz didn’t do much with the Sixers after they drafted him at 27th overall in 2016. In fact, he was such a non-factor that the team decided to declined his option heading into the 2019-2020 season. Korkmaz was going back home to play for Fenerbahce in the Turkish league.

That didn’t last long.

And, at least for one game, the Sixers are glad to have him around. Seriously, on a team with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and a few trusty bench weapons, who else but Furkan Korkmaz gets tasked with making the game-winning three pointer with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Basketball is magical sometimes. And for anyone who drafted Korkmaz for their daily fantasy roster after some telepathic sensation advised them to take the 22-year old guard, kudos to you.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 3 2 0 2 0 3-6 4-9 0-0

With stats like these, it may seem like Korkmaz has some fantasy value, but he doesn’t… don’t be fooled by this strong showing. Let’s instead give one more nod of recognition to Korky, and then dive into some relevant fantasy performers from Saturday night’s action.

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That song always did/does get me hyped up. Was I the biggest Ja Rule fan? Naw, but I did enjoy some of his songs and he was quite popular when I was growing up. Whatever you or I think about him, you can’t deny that he brought the energy and was a success. Just like Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, who brings it at both ends of the court, attacks the rim with ferocity, and has the conjones to take the last shot and lead his squad to victory.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 9 1 1 6 1/2 13/22 3/4

The game went to OT, because Ja blocked Kyrie Irving’s shot in regulation, then he dished a dime to Jae Crowder for the game-winning tres. There was some concern to start the season, as he only played 25 and 28 minutes respectively, but make no mistake about it; this is Ja’s squad and he’s a legitimate ROY candidate.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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After a season opener in which he was practically a non-factor, Dallas’s offseason acquisition of Delon Wright had a much more encouraging performance on Friday night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 7 3 5 0 0 0-1 8-12 4-4

This all around contribution is what we saw from him in small doses after he broke out last season, and he should be a valuable contributor going forward on a dynamic Mavericks team. Here are some other notes from Friday’s nearly-full slate of games.

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