If your fantasy team had the misfortune of facing James Harden this week, my condolences. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and you family. You ran into the buzzsaw. I would know, I was one of them. Last night Harden went 8-48-8-6-4-1-6 on 14-of-30 shooting and 12-of-15 from the line in his worst scoring performance of the week. In three games this past week, he went 19-163-27-14-7-3-15. To be fair, there were two overtime games so his numbers got a slight boost, but this is probably the greatest three-game scoring performance in recent memory. RIP to my fantasy team. On a lighter note, here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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I’m back after a one-week break due to unavoidable obligations (I know, boring real-life) and a lot happened while I was gone in the fantastic world of the NBA. Giannis and James Harden are literally going head-to-head for the MVP award, the Lakers are in a disarray without Lebron, but the most important news report surfaced yesterday. The Philadelphia 76ers are signing the one, the only, the real fantasy king and Son’s favorite player of this century, Corey Brewer!!

Get up from your chair at work, from your bed, or from your bathroom and run to pick up the player that was projected 91st this summer. Sorry Son, I had to do it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, acquaint yourselves to our inside joke by searching for the 91st ranked player here and taking a look at the comments…

The only upside to not publishing an article last week is that my suggestions can be judged on a two-week basis, which is a markedly larger sample size, so let’s quickly go through them. Both Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant had great performances and will continue to have solid value without John Wall around. The same cannot be said for Willy Hernangomez, who has so far failed to capitalize on his increased opportunity and is thus a tough hold in standard leagues. But to compensate for this bad suggestion and, if you allow me to toot my own horn, both Derrick White and Austin Rivers have outperformed expectations and possibly have won some matchups with their performance during the last two weeks. Finally, it’s been a rollercoaster ride with Luke Kornet, as he had three awesome games and three bad one. Enes Kanter missed some time but Mitchell Robinson’s potential return could complicate things for Luke. I will have the pleasure to watch him in all his awkwardness live in the London game, so you will have a first-hand report of his performance next week.

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Oh yeah! Big Bad Blake, the Earthquake Griffin is the first player to get highlighted twice by me this year! Clap it up! I really wanted to give the lede to anyone else, but no-one else’s line came close to what Blake did last night. Blake Griffin went 5-44-8-5-3-1-4 on 13-of-23 shooting and 13-of-14 FTs as Detroit topped the Clippers 109-104. Detroit inches closer to that highly coveted 8th seed in the East, and Blake is licking his chops at the prospect of a seven-game series with the Raptors. I had to shoutout Blake for bringing the defensive stats last night for once. It was his first block in the last six games so I wouldn’t get used to this level of elite blocks production.

A lot went down last night so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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Jeremy Lamb was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. A few days before the start of the regular season, Lamb was traded in a package for James Harden to Oklahoma City. Sacrificial Lamb? In three years with the Thunder, Lamb never averaged more than 19 minutes per game and was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 2015. The first two years in Charlotte didn’t seem much different, as he averaged 18 minutes per game in each season. Then, in 2017 Lamb received close to 25 minutes per game and averaged over double-digits for the first time in his career, but during the 2017 NBA draft, the Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th overall pick. Sacrificial Lamb? Signs were pointing to Monk taking the starting shooting guard duties away from Lamb, as he seemed to have a higher upside. Well…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 6 3 2 0 0 3/3 11/18 6/7

Lamb played a team-high 49 minutes in a double-overtime game. For the season, he’s averaging 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 threeecolas per game. He’s shooting 43% from the field and 34% from downtown. Don’t expect many assists or blocks. Just solid top 60 production. No sacrificial Lamb this time because he’s baaaaaaaaad.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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We know the NBA is a serious business, but even it is not immune to the occasional mix up. Such an occurrence happened last week, sparked by a three-team trade centered around Trevor Ariza. Per reports, part of the deal that Memphis agreed was to send MarShon Brooks to the Phoenix Suns, but Phoenix thought they were getting Dillon Brooks. I guess that’s what happens when you have two players with the same surname on the same team and you are trading with a team whose coach also has the same surname. And with that, the deal was off, only to happen two days later without the involvement of Memphis. Now that I think about it more, maybe the Wizards’ master plan was to trade their head coach, but Memphis found out before it was too late. Imagine a team with all three members of the Holiday family: Jrue, Justin, and Aaron. How about a team with all four members of the Antetokounmpo family: Giannis, Thanasis, Alex, and Kostas? I would pay just to hear trade discussions involving players from those two families.

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, Wendell Carter Jr. has hit the well-documented “rookie-wall,” but I still think he is an excellent Buy option, as he is too good to struggle for much longer. Nicolas Batum had a breakthrough performance vs the Knicks and I think he can improve more as we approach the second half of the season, while De’Anthony Melton maintained his minutes and production even with Devin Booker back. Finally, Trey Lyles has been underwhelming with his increased opportunity, but has the ability to get hot in a hurry, in contrast to Rodney McGruder, for whom I maintain the opinion that he should be off standard league rosters.

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This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.

Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.

We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.

Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.

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Lauri Markkanen was selected by the Bulls with the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I had seen a few of his games in college, so he seemed like a legit prospect, but I did not fully embrace him until I watched him play in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. You could see he had that….bow wow wow yippee yo yippe yay….dog in him, and it translated to his first year in the NBA, as he ended as the #66 player for fantasy: 15.2 points, 2.1 threeecolas, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 43% from the field, and 84% from the line. Naturally, big things were expected for his sophomore year, but he injured his elbow before the start of the season and missed the first 23 games.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 10 1 2 1 3 5/13 8/24 0

Well then. That didn’t take long. Played 32 minutes after logging 26 in his season debut. Markkanen is so skilled for a 7′ 0″, 240 pound player and, as mentioned above, he has that dog in him. As a result, I have a feeling that this is going to be Markkanen’s team, sooner rather than later, which puts a slight damper on Zach LaVine’s fantasy prospects.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Cue the epic guitar solo! Hayward’s owners can lay their weary heads to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Last night Gordon Hayward went 4-30-9-8-2-0-2 on 8-of-16 shooting and a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe in 30 minutes off the bench. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of the return of Hayward to his old self. It has been pretty miserable owning him this year, but this could be a turning point for him. He’s still getting his confidence/sea-legs back and was  averaging only 10.3 points coming into this one. This was on the heels of a back-to-back as well which means Brad Stevens is confident enough in Hayward’s health to give him big minutes. Many owners used a 4th/5th round pick on him, so if he can return to any semblance of the player he was in Utah, his owners will be happy.

There were seven games on the slate last night in the NBA so let’s dive on in to the Daily Notes!

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This season of 50-point games and JaVale McGee relevance is already about 25% complete. How are your teams looking? We should have a pretty good picture of what we can expect from our lineups and most players, so where can we go from here? Let’s get creative. I’ve been talking about how the practice of ignoring categories that aren’t affecting us can give us an advantage (even if we weren’t trying to punt categories), as it presents a market tilted in our favor. Shaking up the values of players and customizing them to our teams is a great way to make some effective trades. Trades that are more likely to get accepted, because they can more easily be win/win deals. Today, I’m going to give a variety of lists of multi-category “punts” to help identify targets that often go undervalued, in addition to those that complement punting teams best.

I’ve gone on and on about how most categories get overlooked. That’s something that can give savvy managers an advantage. The masses, if they aren’t looking closely at player raters and rankings, may essentially be “punting” the ignored categories like steals, for example. As I often mention, I truly think most fantasy managers subconsciously weigh points, rebounds, and assists more heavily than the other stats. It’s understandable, as that’s how most media outlets report stats, but it’s ridiculous to do so in fantasy, as all categories are created equal.

So, first up, here’s a list of some startable players with the biggest jumps in 9-cat per-game value (per Basketball Monster through 11/25) when we ignore Points, Rebounds, and Assists. These 6-category rankings should give us the players that are most undervalued, especially by casual fantasy players. Think of them as the thinking-man’s fantasy all-stars, fittingly led by it’s perpetual mascot.

Please, blog, may I have some more?