We’ve made it through a quarter of the NBA season. Some players signed this summer will be eligible to be traded on December 15, others will be trade eligible on January 15. Fantasy trade deadlines aren’t far off. It’s  a good time to check-in on a few teams and see what’s shaking. The Miami Heat currently sit third in the Eastern Conference. They’re obviously firmly in the playoff race, but any Pat Riley-run organization is playing for much more than a simple playoff birth. The Heat are relying on two promising rookie guards and a third second-year player. How those players develop will not only help determine their fate this season, but it might also influence trade decisions around the deadline and in the summer. The Atlanta Hawks are at a bit of a hinge point in their rebuild. They came into the season with a lot of media buzz and some vague playoff talk. Trae Young went all scorched earth and they started the season 2-0. All hell broke loose after that. They’ve got to figure out what they have in their young players. Is this the beginning of the end of their rebuild or are they smack dab in the middle of it? The Minnesota Timberwolves are firmly in rebuilding mode, but for the first time they’re making decisions that prioritize Karl-Anthony Towns as the rightful centerpiece and key to their future. How do Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Jarrett Culver fit into their future plans? What do Ryan Saunders lineup decisions portend for later this season? And most relevant to all of you beautiful readers, what does this mean for you and your fantasy team? Keep reading to find out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Temples are buildings where religious or spiritual activities are performed. These acts have ranged from sacrifice to the more socially acceptable prayer. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and many other religions have utilized temples to worship their gods. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s a digitial god? The Stocktonator. And they are often open every day, yet people usually only go to worship once a week. Same goes for Garrett Temple. He’s played in every game this season. Early on, he was getting 16-18 minutes of run, then it was ramped up to 24-26 minutes. Since November 18th, Temple has averaged 34 minutes per game, primarily because of the Caris LeVert injury. With that said, he provides a fantasy relevent performance about once a week. Last night the weekly quota was met.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 4 3 0 0 2 6/9 10/16 1/1

If you pray hard enough, Temple will provide points, tres, boards, and dimes. Just don’t get greedy and expect any defensive stats. Save those prayers for world peace and an end to hunger.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 12 1 2 0 3 3/5 5/11 0

It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When something is referred to as historic, we think of arms raised toward the sky, fireworks bursting and illuminating the world, with smiles and wet panties. We think of heroes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also a hero? The Stocktonator. Yet, historic can also reference the zeroes. Those who do something so bad that it’s actually impressive. Joel Embiid had one of those games last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
0 13 2 0 0 4 0/4 0/11 0/3

Embiid is no doubt a hero. If he wasn’t, then there wouldn’t be a line outside of the stadium after every game with both men and women waiting to sex him. With that said, he was a straight zero, both literally and figuratively last night. And I wasn’t being hyperbolic when I said that he had a historic performance. Since 1946, there have been only two other players who went 0-for-10 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown, and 0-for-2 from the free throw line: Doug Christie in 1999 and Devean George in 2008. Make that duo a trio now. Now, Embiid is a fantasy stud, as he literally does everything. He hasn’t been producing like one recently, but have no fear, the good times will return again. If anyone is panicking, relieve them of their anxiety.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The stage was set.

After having a two-week long stretch of fantastic performances night after night, capped by a 27 point, five assist, seven rebound, and four steal pseudo-revenge game against the Bulls, all signs were pointing to Jimmy going OFF in the real revenge game on Saturday night.

The boos poured down from the Wells Fargo Center as he was introduced. It just felt like he was ready to explode and lead his Heat to their sixth-straight win. But alas, the opposite occurred. Harvard Sports Analysis actually found that superstars perform worse by a pretty good margin in “revenge” games, so maybe we should reverse that narrative. Here’s the line that Jimmy put up:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 5 3 2 0 1 0-2 4-13 3-4

Here’s what else happened around the league on Saturday night.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’re a habitual bad drafter like I am, you’re probably well acquainted with the power of the waiver wire. First I was a bad drafter in fantasy football and now that non-skill has transferred over to fantasy basketball. I often make too much of my hay on the wire. I have never won the championship in my fantasy football league—an indication that I haven’t had the top-end talent necessary to take home the trophy. But I have made the playoffs every year except one—an indication that timely, intelligent pick-ups on the wire are not to be taken for granted, especially in football where long injury absences are common. I also made the playoffs in my first year of fantasy basketball as an expansion team after auto-drafting. It’s a 14 team, 9-category, head-to-head Yahoo league for perspective. I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but to lay out my strengths and weaknesses, to cement my waiver wire guru credentials.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Julius Caesar was a successful military general who turned powerful politician in the ancient Roman days. His power became so immense that he was named “dictator for life”. Unfortunately, he pissed off the wrong people (i.e. the elites) and was eventually assassinated via stabbing, or as the kids be saying, “he got shanked”. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never pisses off the people? The Stocktonator. After the early returns from the three-year, $63 million contract given to Julius Randle, Knicks fans were ready to hive up and Twitter shank Randle. Then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 2 1 1 3/5 12/17 3/5

The 30 points were a season-high and it was only the second time this season in which he’s notched at least one steal and one block in a game. Now, before you start mental masturbating, keep in mind that last night’s game was against the Cavaliers. Need more? Kevin Love did not play and Cedi “Not So” Osman started at power forward. Any wonder why Julius went nuts? For fantasy, Randle provides points, boards, and some dimes. He even chips in some tres now. With that said, the percentages from both the field and free throw line are poor, and he provides little in the defensive categories. As a result, he’s outside the top 200 right now and will likely be a top 100-ish player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

2-18, 2-16, 9-19, 8-22.

In the four recaps that I’ve written this year that James Harden was a part of, those have been his three-point shooting lines. For you math whizzes, that averages out to 18.75 attempted threes per game, and expanded across an 82-game season, that means Harden will have chucked up 1,537 threes.

Pause. One thousand, five hundred thirty-seven. The NBA record, held by Harden himself, is 500 fewer than that total.

With that said, the four times I’ve written about Harden happen to be his four highest attempt totals from beyond the arc so far. But maybe it’s not totally coincidental. I write the recaps for Friday night and Saturday night games. Maybe there’s some sort of correlation between looking forward to the weekend and getting three-point happy?

A Reddit user, Angry Centric, found a pretty significant correlation between Harden’s performance and the quality of the strip clubs in the city he’s playing in. When the strip clubs are better, the quality goes down. Maybe, just maybe, this could factor into Harden’s three-point shooting. Could he hoist up more threes when he’s excited to go out to a strip club after the game? We’ll keep looking into this as the season goes on.

I guess Minnesota doesn’t have the best strip clubs, though, as Harden exploded last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK FG-FGA 3p-3pA FT-FTA TO
49 5 6 0 0 16-41 8-22 9-11 4

Here’s what else I saw from around the league on Saturday night.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Terry Rozier has been a scary player for fantasy nerds since 2017. He shot 39% from the field that season on 10 attempts per game. BOO! We should’ve known, though, as he shot 36% from the field in 2016 and 27% his rookie year, but the athleticism was tantalizing. He’s young they said. He’ll develop they said. Just wait until he starts they said. Well, he started 30 games in Boston, and while the percentages did improve, the increase only took his field goal percentage from 37% to 39%. BOOOOO!!!! So why did we keep going back to Terry? Why do you slow down and gawk at an accident? There’s a chance you may see nothing. There’s a chance you may be horrified. But there’s also that chance you may see something you’ve never seen before. Well, Rozier scored 33 points in a game during the 2017 season and has messed around once in his career. Just wait until he becomes a full-time starter they said. Well, we are dummies and keep falling for the bananna in the tailpipe. In 10 starts as the man to replace Kemba Walker, Rozier was shooting….class? Yup, 38% from the field. BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! But every once in a while, he accesses a ceiling game to keep us coming back for more. Last night was that instance…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 5 6 2 0 5 7/12 13/21 0

The usage rate is 25.4 and he’s averaging 31.8 minutes, 16.8 points, 2.4 tres, 3.9 boards, 5.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals. The 3.5 turnovers and 41% shooting (last night’s game increased his percentage 3%) from the field have him just outside the top 100, but he has value if you can stomach the poor percentages. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always shoots a high percentage? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?