15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2019 season with rebuilding expectations, as the team traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Two full months into the season, the Thunder are one game above .500 and are currently the seventh-best team in the stacked Western Conference. A big reason why has been the play of Chris Paul who, like a good neighbor, has provided stability to the team. Last night, Paul aaaaaaalllllmmmmmooooooooosssssttttt messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 11 8 0 0 5 3/6 9/18 4/4

On the season, Paul is a top 25 player for fantasy. Over the past 15 games, he’s been a top 15 player and averaged 33.1 minutes, 17 points, 1.5 tres, 5.5 boards, 7.5 dimes, and 1.4 steals. He’s been shooting 48% from the field and 94% from the line. The usage rate has been 21.6 and the turnovers have been a miniscule 1.7 per game. Now, Paul is 34 years old and since the 2015 season, he has missed 8, 21, 24, and 24 games. It may be time to explore getting some insurance, as there’s a good probability that Paul will miss more than a few games. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never misses a game? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Bruce Lee was the man. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He was an actor, director, philosopher, teacher, and professional ass-kicker. His speed and quickness would mesmerize and put me into a trance. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always mesmerizes? The Stocktonator. But what I most admired about him was his mind. My favorite Bruce Lee quote is, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash.” When he first arrived to the United States, he was all about the Wing Chun style, but he realized it was too rigid for the chaos of street fighting. As a result, he developed “the style of no style” which emphasized “practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.” Brother-from-another-mother, Damion Lee utilized the same techniques as he led the Warriors to a victory over the Rockets, 116-104.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 15 4 3 0 2 2/2 5/9 10/10

Made his fifth start in a row and played 31 minutes. He was efficient from the floor, displayed speed in getting his 211 on, showed flexibility in his game by dishing out dimes, and was practically impossible to bottle up. He flowed like water through and around the Rockets. Now, Lee is a two-way player, and he has 15 days left before he’s sent down to the G-League. The Warriors cannot waive anyone to free up a spot because they are right at the hard cap. They could trade someone like Marquese Chriss, Alec Burks, or Glenn Robinson III, but that is unlikely. Translation: this will probably not last. With that said, he’s been a top 25 player over the past three games. He’s averaged 31.4 minutes, 18.7 points, 2.7 tres, 9.7 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.3 steals. The turnovers have been low while the percentages have been good. Like brother-from-another Bruce, the party will likely end prematurely, but there will be plenty of ass-kicking until that happens.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No, not Michael. That would be weird and unbelieveable at the same time. Did he travel in time? Or did he sell his shares in the Hornets, pass through waivers, and get signed by an NBA team? He is 56 years old, so it would be quite the feat if he was able to ball in today’s NBA, and go on a scoring binge no less. Vince Carter is 42 years old and still playing, so anything is possible. Plus, if there was one guy who could pull off the feat, Michael Jordan would have to be at the top of the list. That would be one helluva 30 for 30. But alas, Michael is not the Jordan that I’m talking about. That would be Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went 30 in 30 last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 6 1 0 1 1 6/8 12/17 3/5

In 30 minutes! Jordan gets buckets. How could he not? In five of six NBA seasons, Jordan has scored at least 30 points in one game. Unfortunately, he’s inconsistent and has never averaged more than 17 points per game. Plus, his last name is Clarkson. Ok, 17 points ain’t bad, as De’Aaron Fox averaged 17.3 points per game last season, which was good for 44th in the NBA. Clarkson just doesn’t do much else, which crimps his overall fantasy value. On the season, he’s a top 140 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Press the above video and sing along.

….Born is the King of Philadelphia. 

They looked up and saw a star. Shining in the East beyond them far. And to the court he gave great light. As so it continued. Night after night. 

Joel, Joel, Joel, Joel Embiid is too damn good:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 13 6 0 1 2 2/3 12/21 12/14

On the season, Embiid is a top 20-ish player. Last season, he finished as the #10 player for fantasy. The minutes have decreased by 3. As a result, the points are down by 5, the boards are down by 1, and the blocks are down by 0.5. Don’t fret, though. Over the past seven games, the minutes have climbed back up to 33 a game and Embiid has been the #15 player for fantasy. He should be a 1/1/1 member at season’s end and he’s one of the few player in the league who can truly contribute in every category. Sing your praises and exalt his name, as it is Joel season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Tom and Jerry. Batman & Robin. Peanut Butter & Jelly. Magic and Kareem. Jordan and Pippen. Shaq and Kobe. Some of the greatest duos of all time. Are we witnessing the genesis of the next one? Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s great already? The Stocktonator. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have joined forces in Los Angeles, just in case your alien ship just docked yesterday. And early indications are that the Clippers are going to be a f’ing problem for the rest of the league due to their partnership. They are two of the best two-way players in the game currently. Both can get their shot up at anytime, while making the opposition wish they were ticketed for the next flight out to the nether regions of space. Last night, in Dallas, the duo helped limit the Mavericks to 99 total points while sharing the offensive load down the middle.

Kawhi Leonard

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 8 4 1 0 2 1/2 11/21 5/5

Paul George

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 4 2 6 0 2 4/11 8/21 6/6

To begin the season, Kawhi was a sole assassin, producing borderline top 10 production for fantasy. Then George returned to action and things have shifted a bit. In the four games that both have played together, Kawhi has been a top 45 player, while George has been a top 15 player. George has a 29.5 usage rate, while Kawhi is still garnering a 32.2 usage rate. The differences in overall value come from the tres for George (4.3 vs 2) and steals (2.8 vs 1.8). Kawhi is shooting a much better percentage, though (44% vs 35%). Things will even out as the season progresses. The floor and potential ceiling combo for both is elevated. The only things that can bring the house down are injury and load management.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!

Please, blog, may I have some more?