Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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It’s a story as old as time. Hot girl from a different continent arrives at the new local high school. All the dudes go goo-goo gah gah over said hot girl. Popular girls at high school, who were the hot girls before are now relegated to has-been status. But they ain’t going out like that. They get their hair done, splash some intoxicating perfume on, hike up their skirts, and flash some boob, then voila! All the dudes in the house go, what? WHAT?! LaMelo Ball was the hot girl and got all the love and attention in the preseason with his fancy passes and what not, but Terry Rozier wasn’t impressed.

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Lots of question marks around Miami’s reload in the Eastern conference this year.  Their unraveled depth and #HeatCulture rose them through the gauntlets of the Eastern Conference bubble to rise from the 5th seed to Eastern Conference Champs.  Their core is fired up, focused, and gaining continuity.  I see seven solid rotation players.  This year, with the losses of Goran “Dragon” Dragic (16/3/5 in 28 minutes), Jae Crowder (10/6/2.8 in 29 minutes), and Derrick “Air Plane Mode” Jones Jr. (8/4/1 in 23 minutes) it remains to be seen how Riley and Spoelstra work their magic to fill out this roster.

Those three rotation players have left with a total of 34 points per game.  How will end-of-bench role players step up with their new opportunities?  Why was Udonis Haslem’s contract extended? Does Iguodala have anything left in the tank to earn the two-year, $20 million extension he got?  So many questions surround the depth and bench this year.  With only 10 guaranteed players under contract, how will management round out this roster?

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Fantasy basketball forces you to take a critical look at the NBA’s unmitigated success stories. Will a breakout performance translate from one season to the next? Should we expect the dreaded faux-scientific sophomore slump for rookies? Will a natural year-to-year fluctuation in shooting push a player out of fantasy relevance? These are the relevant questions we have to weigh as the NBA season winds down and the fantasy playoffs start. It will be the fantasy offseason before you know it—it’s never too early to start planning for the future.

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Everything in life is relative. People often compare their wealth to that of their neighbor, their happiness to their relatives, and their performance to their coworkers. Height can also be relative, apparently. I feel quite tall in my everyday life, but would be an absolute dwarf in an NBA locker room. But even amongst NBA players there are a lot of scales when it comes to height. There are short players, tall players, very tall players, and then there is Boban.

“Let me show you how it’s done, punny, 7 feet 3 Kristaps”. I live for the day Boban gets to play against Tacko Fall, one on one in the post.

Two players really shined from last week’s suggestions and those were Trevor Ariza and Malik Beasley. Both look like good values for the rest of the season and should be scooped up immediately. Cody Zeller and Bruce Brown were not that impressive as the two aforementioned, but were still usable.

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On July 31, 2019, RTS Sat (Radio Television Serbia) sent a team to Memphis, as the Grizzlies signed Marko Guduric to a multi-year contract. Their first questions for the Serbian star were, Do you like Memphis? Ja. Do you like rock-n-roll music? Ja. Do you like Elvis? Uh huh huh. Fast forward six months, and the RTS Sat crew didn’t care about the 13.2 minutes in 33 games played for their Serbian. What excites you most about the Grizzlies? Ja. Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Ja. What will the name of your child be? Ja. The RTS Sat crew wasn’t messing around. Guduric wasn’t messing around. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what also never messes around? The Stocktonator. Ja Morant, on the other hand, messed around for the first time in his young career last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 10 1 1 3 2/7 9/17 7/9

In 35 minutes. On the season, Ja is just outside the top 100 for fantasy. Much of that had to do with the playing time, as there were many games, especially early on, when he was receiving only 25 minutes of run a night. That was probably by design, to bring Ja along slowly. He’s at 30 minutes per game right now. If he gets another two to three minutes per game, a top 75 finish isn’t out of the question because he averages around 18 points, 4 boards, 7 dimes, and 1 steal per game. The percentages are excellent, around 50% from the field and over 80% from the line. The most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to get to the rim and convert amongst the bigs. Over 65% of his shot attempts are within 10 feet from the basket. He’s 6′ 3″ and 174 pounds, y’all! And only 20 years old! Wait until he fills out physically! The comps to Russell Westbrook have been made. The advanced stats for NBA.com only go back to 2013, the sixth year of Westbrook’s career, and only 38% of his shots were within 10 feet! Will Morant be better than Westbrook? Ja?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Miami Heat are in a truly delicious position. They are second in the Eastern Conference with a 31-13 record, a near lock to make the playoffs, and a good bet to have home court in the first-round. The Heat are good, but not great, flawed and exciting because of it. They shoot threes and shoot them well—they’re second in the league in three-point percentage at 37.9 percent and eighth in the league in three-pointers made at 12.8 a game. They play more than enough zone to satisfy curmudgeonly high school coaches; they are always in an overtime game and they keep winning those overtime games and other close games in dramatic, heart-pounding fashion. Most league insiders expected them to make the playoffs, finishing the season somewhere in the 4 to 6 range in the Eastern Conference. They’ve overshot all reasonable expectations during the first half of the season and have arrived as a pesky playoff contender ahead of schedule. For the moment, the Heat are playing with house money.

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General Mills is an American multinational corporation that produces…..everything! Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs, Cheerios , Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Lucky Charms are but a few of the brands that contribute baking mixes, cereals, yogurt, and ice cream. Total revenue exceeds $15 billion per year! Patty Mills is the antithesis of General Mills, as he specializes in points and tres. Specific Mills we shall call him. Last night, Specific Mills generated revenue. Not billions of dollars, but revenue nonetheless.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 5 3 0 0 1 4/10 5/11 4/4

In 29 minutes. Over the past three games, Mills has played 23, 24, and 29 minutes. He’s averaged 18 points on 12.3 shot attempts and 4 tres. The usage rate has been 23.5 and he’s converting 51% of his shots from the field. Scoring is not the issue for Mills, as when he plays for the Australian National Team, he morphs into the Aussie Steph Curry. No, the issues are the inconsistent playing time and usage. He can easily play 18 minutes and shoot seven times or shoot 15 times in 28 minutes. If you need tres, Specific Mills can be a viable option, but know that the playing time is tough to predict. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what predicts everything well? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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As NBA fans and fantasy basketball players we all lust for the power of NBA general managers. Many of us wrongly assume we could do a better job heading our favorite team’s basketball operations—it isn’t hard to get those ideas if you happen to be a Knicks, Magic, Timberwolves, Suns, or Kings fan. But what we long for as much as the power, is the seriousness of the endeavor. NBA GM’s get to make decisions that carry weight. A draft pick is quite simply a choice—a highly public, decade-defining choice in some cases, but a choice all the same. We make choices every day—the blue or the red tie, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, Fleabag or The Good Place, two drinks or twelve, poetry or literally anything else that might actually pay the bills. We make applicable sports decisions as well. We choose between Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard in our fantasy draft, we add Kendrick Nunn or Davis Bertans off the wire, we kill Russell Westbrook in the group chat, we build property on Julius Randle, Dion Waiters, or Lonzo Ball Island. We tweet, we engage, and we argue. We win our league or we don’t. In time, we are either vindicated or pilloried. At best, we have a lighthearted thing to lord over people we care about, at worst, we have to dye our hair, wear ugly ill-fitting clothes, or in a more recent trend, consume enough waffles to avoid sleeping in a Waffle House. But largely, no one notices or cares, as our sports opinions are indiscernible dots in a sea of data points.

Please, blog, may I have some more?