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.
Whaddup Razzball nation! Welcome back to another edition of Any Given Saturday! Last night, the Thunder walked into Cleveland and embarrassed the Cavs, dropping a whopping 148 points. It was a team effort, but Russell Westbrook was especially impressive, dropping a double dimebag and going for 23/9/20/2 on 9-for-17 FG (1-for-1 3P, 4-for-5 FT) and five TOs. Russ’s efficiency is trending up nicely after being abysmal to start the season. All of a sudden, the Thunder look like an incredibly scary team. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
What’s up Razzballers? We had a doozy of a game last night in Toronto between the Raptors and the Warriors. I don’t typically like to give the lede to players on the losing team, but this was the best game in a night of great games, and DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show. He was a big reason the Raptors were even competitive as he went for 42/5/3 on 17-for-31 FG (0-for-4 3P, 8-for-10 FT) and two TOs. This was in a game the Raptors lost by just two after being down 81 to 54 (!) at halftime. The end was a big clusterfrick too. No other Raptor played more than 30 minutes, as the almost-comeback was mostly led by DeMar and the bench since Kyle Lowry was out with injury. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
Ben Simmons became the first player, since Hambone Williams in 1967, to post a triple-dub within his first four career games last night (stat courtesy of ESPN Stats). Freaking Oscar Robertson put up three triple-dubs in his first four career games. GOAT. Anyways, the final stat line for Simmons: 21 pts, 12 boards, 10 dimes, and one steal on 8-for-11 shooting. So this is what everyone’s been talking about! Before he even played a professional game, the City of Philadelphia nicknamed Simmons the “Fresh Prince.” After last night’s performance, it may be an apt nickname but….let’s not completely dismiss the OG Fresh Prince.
Did Ben ever grab the opening tip and drain a half-court shot before his feet touched the ground? Did Ben ever cut across the lane, catch the ball at the left elbow, then scoop it underhanded without turning to face the bucket? And banking it in? Huh? Huh? So, before we go crowning his ass, let’s pay some respect to the OG. I’ll be honest. I had some doubts regarding Ben coming into this year. I did think that he would grab boards and drop a ton of dimes, but would his lack of outside shot hold him down? After watching him play, he can get to the rim at will. He is so long and such a graceful strider that resistance is futile. He kind of reminds me of Giannis in that aspect. Ben has trouble finishing strong, though, while Giannis….uh…uh….oh my…..awwwwwwwwwww. Sorry, I just had to “take care” of something real quick. I also had some concerns that the Sixers would be conservative with Ben. Well, he’s playing 34.6 minutes on average over the first four games. Concern eradicated. He’s shooting 49.1% from the field, grabbing 10.8 boards, dishing out seven dimes, and pilfering one a game. There are no threes in his game with very few blocks (0.3). And he’s turning the ball over three times a game, but Ben is going to improve as the season rolls along. Who’s better? Will Smith or Ben Simmons? Will has a more diverse and explosive offensive game. He straight up clowns his opponents, but gotta knock him for level of competition. I gotta go with Ben here. It’s just no fun playing with Black Holes.