I often reminisce about the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder squad: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and…..Cole Aldrich. I kid, I kid. Serge Ibaka aka I-block-a…aka Air Congo….aka Serge Protector was a freaking animal, blocking over 3.7 shots a game and grabbing 7.5 rebounds. Man, that team. One of the greatest video game teams of all time? Anyways, Ibaka was raw from an offensive stand point, but was a maven on the glass and defensive end of the floor. If he could hone his offensive game, we were looking at the next superstar. The athleticism was that profound. Well, he did ascertain an offensive game and extended his range out to beyond the arc. Unfortunately, the rebounds went down and the block numbers cratered to the 1.3 mark set last season. He lost a lot of that dog, as he preferred to just chill on the perimeter and shoot jumpers all night. Well, it looks like Bow Wow made a visit because, so far, Ibaka is grabbing more rebounds (over 7 for the first time since 2014) and the blocks have ticked back up. We will never see the 3.7 level again, but any increase is a good increase. We are not here to talk about the blocks and boards, though. We are here to talk about the scoring Serge Ibaka exhibited last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 10 2 2 0 1 1/1 15/17 3/3

A career-high!!! And he wasn’t just camped out outside. He was running in transition and making hard cuts to the basket in the half court. Ferocious dunk after ferocious dunk. Now, he may not start every game, as Jonas Valanciunas will likely go up against bruisers, but he should consistently get around 28 minutes regardless, as Coach Nurse does like play small-ball with Ibaka at the 5. I think a huge change for Ibaka this season is the fewer attempts from downtown. It’s allowed him to shoot a higher percentage from the field and gets him more involved for rebounds, as he’s not just spectating on the perimeter. Don’t ever expect any assists from him, but points, rebounds, and blocks with good percentages are on the menu. Ibaka is currently the #36 player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The young season has already provided some serious ups and downs, surprises, and plenty of excitement. We’ve seen several 50-point games, a Derrick Rose time machine experience, some thrilling overtime finishes, and one Javale McGee three-pointer.

One thing I don’t get is why players need rest when they have been chilling on the beaches of Jamaica, hanging out in Paris, or making some extra change running basketball camps, which they don’t really run, but is a way for their high school buddies to capitalize on their name and make a few dollars.

Yet, here they are resting in week 2. Gordon Hayward, I get. I certainly don’t get Kawhi resting. He rested all last year!

In this piece, I will provide some info on the basketball and fantasy trends of the teams in the Association. We will start this week with the teams located on the Left Coast.

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I try to reserve the lede for players that had unbelieveable games. It usually works out because one of the superstars is always doing something amazing. Every once in a while, though, an outlier happens which pushes all others to the wayside. Last night, we had one of those events, as the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their first win of the season over the Atlanta Hawks. Geez, how bad are the Hawks? Anyways, the Cavs are dead-last in defensive efficiency and near the bottom in offensive pace, assists, efficient field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. Good times. Looking at the schedule, they play the Hawks once more on December 29th. 2-80!!!

When looking at the stats below, make sure you view them in the proper context: they played the Atlanta Hawks.

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For those who are new here, welcome and know that I often clown Blake Griffin. Not because he can jump over cars and triple-dub on any night. That would be stupid. I make fun of him because he rarely brings the D, which could be a reason he is no longer with Kendall Jenner. I kid. For a man of his height and athleticism, he should be blocking more than 0.5 shots a game. Hence, the reason I call him Ricky Lake Griffin. He doesn’t deserve that B. I had so much fun comparing the block number to Serge Ibaka’s assist number last season. If that was a drinking game, no one would get drunk. But it is I who dons the clown suit today. Actually, I’m the one who should be donning the clown suit everyday, but let’s not completely crush my self worth. Anyways, Blake Griffin was absolutely fantastic last night. He was so good that….what’s that sound I hear?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 14 6 0 1 1 5/10 20/35 5/11

A freaking 50-burger and, more importantly, 1 block! 35 shot attempts and only 1 turnover! AND he led his team to a 133-132 victory over the 76ers in overtime. You da man, Blake! You da man.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In Latin, Anno Domini means “in the year of the Lord.” Any coincidence that Anthony Davis is the fantasy lord? I think not. AD was the consensus overall number one pick coming into the season, and for good reason. He hammer times and moon walks over the competition by literally doing everything. For the infidels who blasphemously inserted another player on the throne, take a look at last nights line and ponder your unfulfilling existence.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 16 8 3 3 1 0 13/21 6/7

This wasn’t no “Devin Booker score 70 points in a double digit loss” line. This was a “let’s beatdown the Houston Rockets by 19 points” line. Bend the knee.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The roster of the Sacramento Kings reminds me of a second-hand jigsaw puzzle that is bought from a car boot sale, only to get home and find that it has too many pieces. Despite drafting De’Aaron Fox, one of the fastest point guards in the 2017 Draft, the Kings complicated matters by not only playing at the league’s second slowest pace at just 98.1 possessions per game, but also signing George Hill as a veteran presence. Fast forward 12 months and things are more clear, as the over-priced Hill is no longer on the roster and the current personnel portends for an uptempo style of play to utilize the strengths of Fox and this years premium draft pick of Marvin Bagley III. The Kings have complicated matters in the front-court, though, with Harry Giles now healthy and the acquisitions of Nemanja Bjeilica, Wenyen Gabriel, and Deyonta Davis added to an already stacked core of Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufas, Skal Labbissiere and Zach Randolph.

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Nants ingonyama bagithi baba…..Sithi uhhmm ingonyama. Anyone recognize? How about now?

Now, let me make a few alterations and….Voila! Nants inKemba bagithi baba….Sithi uhhmm inKemba. Translation? There comes a Kemba…..Oh yes, it’s a Kemba. At least I think that’s how it translates. Anyways, Kemba Walker was the King last night. King of the court. King of the Grizzlies. And King of the hearts of fantasy owners everywhere…..at least the ones that had him on their squads.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
46 3 4 1 0 2 10/14 13/18 10/10

He did all of that in 28 minutes, outscoring the Grizzlies 17-14 in the first quarter. He almost outscored them for the half, but fell 7 points short of the feat (42-35). The Kembas defeated the Grizzlies by 61 points! 140-79. Insert Ron Burgundy impressed meme. For all the other contestants in the 2018 Tankathon, take notes and watch the tape. That’s how you tank. As for Kemba, he had been struggling a bit, failing to eclipse the 25 point threshold in eight straight games. With that said, he does have three 40-burgers on the season, so the potential is always there. I’m just not sure he’s going to get crazy run down the stretch, as the Hornets are out of the playoff picture and will want to get the young kids more playing time.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I often think about what it would be like if Denver never traded Jusuf Nurkic to the Trailblazers and they had a starting frontcourt of Nurkic and Jokic. Not that they would be a better team, but just that I am a big fan of rhyming teammates. My dream concludes with Denver trading for Bojan Bogdanovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Cole Aldrich. That team would be itchier than a dog with fleas rolling around in a bed of poison ivy.

Anyway, jumping back to reality, Nurkic makes the lead because of his line last night: 0/27/16/3/0/3. He has been relatively disappointing this season, but lately a double-double and a block or two has been an almost certainty. Not too shabby.

Here is what else I saw last night:

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I love craps. Not the sitting on the toilet kind, but the rolling of them two dice. It’s the one game that feels like I have some modicum of control. I shoot the dice, can decide when and where to bet, move chips around, and finally take money off the table if I so choose. It’s all an illusion, though. Yes, money management can always help, but the numbers are not in my favor over the long run. The probability of rolling a 7 is 16.67%. 13.89% to roll a 6 or 8, 11.11% to roll a 5 or 9, and 8.33% to roll a 4 or 10. The hardway bets? 2%. Even though I know the numbers, the game is too freaking fun. And I have those stories when I was down to my last chip and proceeded to go on a crazy heater, hitting multiple points, and making everyone jump around. It’s those times that keep me going back to the tables to replicate that feeling. That is what it must be like to own Tim Hardaway Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 5 1 2 0 3 6/9 14/24 3/3

Every once in a while, he will go on a heater that gets you all excited. More often than not, though, he will shoot 4-of-13 and make you cry like that guy in the casino bathroom that just lost the proverbial house. Since the Knicks lost Porzingis, THJ has seen usage rates of 29.4, 21.9, and 28.3. The high usage rate and minutes should continue to be plentiful. But like my experiences at the craps table, the likely scenario will be “7 OUT!” As long as you keep expectations in check, THJ will have some value. Just beware of emotionally point-chasing the performance from last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The snake, The rat, The cat, The dog

How you gonna see them if you living in the fog?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_4tr_-OznU

Ah, this is the classic hip hop that I love. DMX is one of my favorite rappers, mainly because everything he raps about is probably true. He made three songs about Damien, so I assume he actually has a demon that follows him around and tells him to do bad things in order to get money and fame. I mean the man did like 12 bids…Despite that, he’s one of the most legendary rappers of all time, and I couldn’t help but think of this song after watching Lillard absolutely demolish the Kings last night. Damian Lillard a.k.a. The Omen, stole the headlines last night, going 8-50-1-6-3-0-2 in only 29 minutes, as the Blazers blew out the Kings 118-100.  He shot 16-of-26 and had 10-for-10 FTs. ”It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” and here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops last night:

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