You can’t win a championship at the beginning of a season, but you can lose one. Much as it pains me to say, I think I’ve already lost.

After a successful Writer’s League last year that ended against Kostas in the semifinal and a pretty intensive offseason of thinking about hoops, I came into this year’s draft feeling like I was in decent shape to post a good showing again. But this year ain’t last year. Stats and success don’t carry over, and if you’re resting on laurels rather than applying lessons learned, there’s no way to bank Ws on account of “experience.” If you’ve been following Kelder’s weekly recaps, you might have noticed that my team isn’t anywhere in the mix. Indeed, you’ve got to scroll almost the way to the bottom of the table to see my name. A record of 19-34-1 is good enough for 11th and I feel all but certain the hole that I’ve put myself in is going to be too deep to recover from. I’m not quite ready to quit on some other struggling squads, but I think it’s safe to let go of preseason expectations at this point and set a different goal for the remaining three-quarters of the season here in the Writer’s League.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m pretty sure Ivica Zubac doesn’t have a pocket full of rocks. He’s definitely not skinny and likely has never gotten his ass kicked. He was probably doing the ass kicking. He’s not smoking blunts but has made millions without having to cut a quarter ounce. That said, if Zubac wants to continue making millions, he’s gotta keep dealing and ballin’. And ballin’ he did as no one can take Sunday’s game away from young Z:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 29 3 0 3 5 0 14/17 3/3

Holy schiztnitz. It was a White Man’s World. The only other player who has put up a 30-point, 29-rebound, 3-assist, and 3-block game was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in 1978 when he went for 37 points, 30 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 blocks! As a Lakers fan, it makes me sad that the Lakers traded him away. And to the Clippers no less for Mike Muscala. And by Jerry West, who is the greatest general manager in the history of the game and ended up consulting for the Clippers.

“The Clippers, sources said, never even called the Lakers to inquire about Zubac. The Lakers made the offer and the Clippers gladly accepted. Sources said that those at the dinner table shared a hearty laugh at the Lakers’ expense.”

Excuse me as I go perform seppuku for the eighth time in my life. I guess I’ll find out soon if I’m a cat or not.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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For drama.

Yes, this isn’t just a TNT thing (is that still their tagline or did I just date myself?), and a large reason why I love the NBA so much. True, I still tune into the Super Bowl and some playoff matchups every year, I might watch over a dozen or so Padres games here and there if I feel like hating myself. But the NBA, the players have always done that great job where they have my curiosity and then they have my attention. And while you should never start a sentence with “The” and “Jews”, from Kyrie to Jalen Brown to Isaiah Thomas, there’s definitely some beer being held onto. Then you have Ladder vs. Man, Montrez Harrell standing firm as the defender of ladders. You dig the romance part of soaps? Did you know that Booker/Jenner is officially no more? And oh yeah, there are actual games being played too, crazy I know! So Happy Thanksgiving y’all, here’s what I saw during last night’s games…

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The starting small forward positional battle for Portland was fierce all offseason. Chauncey Billups would change the dial, start bobbing his head, then go to the next channel and start bobbing his head some more. He’d turn the dial to the right, but like Beyonce, would get to the left. And start bobbing his head some more. Nassir Little, Justise Winslow and Josh Hart were all viable candidates. Little is the most athletic of the bunch but he lacks the experience of the others. Winslow has the biggest frame and can do a variety of things on the court. Hart is small in stature but he plays much bigger than his frame and his experience and IQ are top level.

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The Golden State Warriors, somehow, enter the 2022-23 season as unsteady defending champions after winning what nearly everyone described as their sweetest championship a season ago. A championship that came after two years in the wilderness of abject failure and mediocrity due to injuries to Thompson and then Curry and then Thompson again. Last season’s championship run also unfolded in the absence of all the “you broke basketball” talk that surrounded Kevin Durant’s arrival in the Bay and it saw Steph Curry win his long overdue finals MVP after a historic series in which there was no doubt he was the best player, not only on his own team, but on either team in the Finals. And yet, here we are.

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I’ll be honest, my original plan was to have this piece written and published at the end of last season, back when the failed chase for the top spot in the RazzJam was still fresh in my mind. But the NBA season is long and the Playoffs are so good, so when I fell just short of a championship, it seemed just fine to me to put this on the shelf for a bit. So, I sat on this with it being 95% completed and rested instead. Then Middleton went down and the Bucks got beat. The sun came out, the Celtics ran out of gas, and another Golden State summer onto my shores like a warm wave, even though I’ve traded in the Bay Area for Bay View. 

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Changing the format slightly, as I will choose two players from each NBA game last night who are available on the waiver wire. I highly value minutes played and opportunities given when it comes to fantasy. Every single NBA player is elite at basketball and, given the right opportunity, every single player could produce fantasy goodies. There’s a reason every player made the league, so the more chances they’re given the more likely they can produce. So without further adieu, let’s get into the first match from last night.

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I get why Trae Young vs New York is a thing. I too remember last year’s gentleman’s sweep in the first round, and I understand that any time the Knicks do anything it gets an unreasonable amount of attention because New York, the media, Stephen A., etc. I also know that America is the land of large appetites, so even though the NBA in late March can be a real grind, content must still be pumped into the great yawning maw. Trae turning heel in MSG is cheap heat and the Knicks are highly flammable. Ring the dinner bell, friends. It’s time to eat again.

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The Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 129-98. In a rarity for this version of the Pacers, they were the more veteran team. Oshae Brissett spearheaded the Pacers’ attack, as he tallied 24 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. His day also included a highlight reveal reverse dunk in transition which came off a behind-the-back pass from Lance Stephenson. Have I mentioned that the Pacers are fun now!? Justin Anderson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith notched 17 points, five rebounds, and one block in just 17 minutes of play. I’m not sure if Smith will ever become the player the Suns hoped they were getting when he was drafted with the 10th pick in 2020, but he has at least grown into an intriguing prospect. He was 2-of-3 from behind the arc and also whipped out a Dirk-esque step-back off the dribble in the midrange. Terry Taylor (17) and Duane Washington Jr. (13) both had solid games as well. The Pacers led wire to wire and the lack of competitiveness of the game is reflected in the lower minute totals for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Hield tallied nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finally, Lance Stephenson scored just two points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and swiped three steals.

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In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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Many cat lovers don’t just have one cat. I don’t understand it but if it’s akin to the Lay’s commercials of “Betcha can’t eat just one!” then I get it. I’ve seen the shows with the lonely woman who dies and has dozens of cats feasting on her festering corpse. Yuck. Having so many cats would seem to be a big f’ing problem. First of all, the more cats, the more food that is needed. Cliques and territory. More cats would bring prison rules to the landscape. I’ve seen cats fight. They go so illmatic that Nas would be motivated to start sampling the fracas. Poo and pee. The literal shit would be everywhere because, unless you had a kitty litter for all, there’s no way cats would patiently wait in a line like at an NBA arena. If given enough time, I’m sure I could come up with many more reasons why having many cats would be an issue but I got things to do, people to see, and blurbs to write. Which brings me to Karl-Anthony Towns. The KAT of the NBA. Normally, I trash KAT a bit because KAT doesn’t seem to have that dog in him. I’ve always acknowledged KAT’s fantasy greatness though because KAT has few weaknesses and provides a solid base to build a team around. But the time with Jimmy Butler exposed some things about KAT that brought doubts to KAT’s ability to lead a team to the championship. Last night, all of that was shoved into the drawer for at least one night because we had not one KAT, not two KATs….We need some Dr. Seuss in the house because we had 60 KATs:

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Folks are finally starting to catch on to Bruce Brown, whose roster share in Yahoo! leagues nearly doubled to 52 percent. He had a modest line in a blowout victory over Philly, with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, a couple of boards and a steal, but he’s been on a tear since entering the Nets’ starting lineup recently. In fact, over the past 30 days, Brown has actually been a borderline top-50 overall player, with averages of 13.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, and 1.0 3PTM on fantastic shooting while hardly ever turning it over. He’s still out there in nearly half of leagues so check your waivers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?