It pains me to write this, but I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan during his playing days, and I regret that fact, immensely. I never had him on my fantasy team. I never watched his games late at night on the east coast. I never applauded his championships and didn’t care much about his 60-point performance to end his career. With that said, his passing hit me much harder than I thought it would, and that was before I found out his daughter was alongside him, which made it all the more tragic. I have come to appreciate him more since his retirement. His business acumen, his desire to succeed in every facet of life, and his willingness to mentor young NBA players and aspiring professionals alike, is inspirational. Those are the types of things that I respect, as a professional and as a parent.

It occurred to me that Kobe Bryant had that Tom Brady effect on me. While my Knicks fandom was not directly affected by the Lakers’ success, I felt as if Kobe had the same suffocating hold on me as Tom Brady and the Patriots have on my Jets fandom. It turns out I was likely envious of the success my Lakers friends were witnessing, while I sat rooting for dysfunction.

Well, over the last few days I have taken the time to watch that final 60-point performance, along with tons of amazing highlights I have seen over the years, and I enjoyed every second of it. The culmination of the career of the immensely talented and competitive specimen that was Kobe Bryant came to a head on a historic night. I have taken the time to understand the competitiveness that drove Kobe, and I wish I had that Mamba Mentality on a daily basis. Seeing that Kobe’s passing has had such an impact nationally speaks volumes to who he was as a player, an icon, and a role model for so many, and he will be sorely missed.

Every year the trade deadline comes and goes. This year there are some intriguing names that could be hitting the market. The next man up mentality is true in all facets of the game, and trades open many opportunities for players to seize. Here are a few deep stashes for the upcoming trade deadline.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, there was much chatter about a certain 19-year-old from Slovenia who signed a contract with one of the top teams in Europe, Real Madrid, at the tender age of 13. In 2015, at the age of 16, he made his professional debut, making him the third-youngest player to make a debut in The Liga ACB, the top division in the Spanish basketball league. Within only two years, this wizard guided Real Madrid to a EuroLeague finals victory and earned the EuroLeague MVP award. Watching the YouTube highlights, you saw the step-back tres, the amazing handles, exquisite passing, and high IQ. He was no doubt the next best thing. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what is no doubt the best thing? The Stocktonator. The weird thing, though, was that there were some who questioned his ability to play in the League due to the lack of athleticism and the fact that he didn’t play in the States. “He’s good, but he ain’t Doncic!!”, they said. Well, Luka Doncic has been taking a [email protected]#t on all the haters and put up what has become a daily stat line yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 6 10 2 1 6 5/14 15/29 6/8

On the season, Doncic is the number five player for fantasy. He’s averaging 33.9 minutes, 30.6 points, 3.3 tres, 10.1 boards, 9.8 dimes, 1.3 steals, and is shooting 49% from the field and 81% from the line. The only blemishes are the 4.6 turnovers and lack of blocks. In his rookie season, Doncic ended as the #100 player for fantasy, primarily due to the 42% shooting from the field and 71% from the free throw line. You do the math. Really, all we can do is bow down and sing our praises.

Shoutout to Isaac Lee and the Ringer for that all-time video.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Kobe Bryant is the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points. He could shoot from downtown, break your ankles and flush it down your throat, and pump fake, pump fake, pivot, spin, then fade away and splash from the mid-range. Bottom line: Kobe was a professional getter of buckets. He’s often viewed as a ball hog, though. Some of it is fair.

Some of it isn’t. Many of his shots came with the shot clock or game clock near zero. The ultimate argument against it, though, is the 2005 Lakers. After Lamar Odom and his 11.6 field goal attempts that season, it was Smush Parker with 9.5, Chris Mihm with 7.8, Brian Cook with 6.3, Devean George with 6, Kwame Brown with 5.4, Luke Walton with 4.8, Sasha Vujacic with 3.8, Laron Profit…..Can I stop now? Kobe against three defenders gave the Lakers a better chance than Smush Parker wide open, right? Anyways, I kind of kid, as Kobe was an all-around player who averaged close to 5 dimes per game over the course of his career. With that said, even I as a Lakers fan can consider him a ball hog. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. Anyways, Kobe didn’t play much his rookie year (15.5 minutes per game) and he only averaged 5.9 shots per game. His second year in the league, the minutes went up to 26 and the field goal attempts were at 11.6. It was the third year when he started to go bonkers, averaging 37.9 minutes and 15.6 shots per game. Coby White of the Chicago Bulls scoffs at those numbers, as he’s only averaging 24.2 minutes but jacking up 12.4 shots per game!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 3 1 1 0 1 7/11 8/14 4/4

Can’t score if you don’t shoot, and Coby did plenty of both last night. Granted, it was against the Knicks so value must be cut in half. With that said, this is the second time scoring at least 25 points in a game. Now, on the season, the field goal percentage is at 36%, so the range of outcomes is 1 point to somewhere in the 20s. The most promising development, though, has been the playing time. White has played 27, 27, 30, 24, and 25 minutes over the past five games. Will it continue? Tough to say because Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn are still receiving playing time in the low 20s. This looks to be a “hot hand” situation, which sucks for fantasy. If White starts getting consistent minutes in the 30s or one of the other guards gets injured, then I’d consider him for fantasy. Until then, he’s best viewed as a streamer.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There have been 59 players in the history of the NBA who have scored 50 points in a game more than once. Laughably, Wilt Chamberlain produced a 50-burger 118 times. For perspective, Michael Jordan is second on the all-time list, and he was “only” able to do it 31 times. Only nine players have accomplished the feat at least 10 times. What I’m trying to say is that scoring fifty points in a game is freaking hard and few are able to do it. You know who knew, though? The Stocktonator, as it had Kyrie as the #3 player last night. Entering last night’s game, Kyrie Irving had accomplished the feat two times.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 8 7 0 1 0 7/14 17/33 9/10

Make that three now. When a player drops a 50-burger, the world is truly his. Look, it’s an auto intro in my daily recaps. Now, since the world is Kyrie’s, if he says the world is flat, then the world is flat. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the 50-burger was dropped on the corner of FLATbush Avenue and Atlantic Ave inside the Barclays Center? Me thinks not. But then I remembered something about history, in that it is written by the victors. Despite Kyrie’s heroics, the Nets fell to the Timberwolves in OT, 127-126. You round Earthers live to fight another day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!

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Entering the second year of the David Fizdale Era, the New York Knicks have nowhere to go but up. They are clearly in the process of a rebuild, and development is the key word for this team. A lot of people will say they whiffed in free agency. I am one of those people. Just kidding! Kind of… They did make some under-the-radar signings of solid basketball players, who could become long-term pieces. Who’s going to step up and solidify themselves as a piece moving forward? That is what the Knicks will try to find out this year as they push towards relevancy in 2021.

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Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When you think of the great basketball players this season, who does your mind gravitate towards? James Harden? Paul George? Steph Curry? Karl-Anthony Towns? Giannis Antetokounmpo? There are likely 15-20 other players you would list before arriving at Andre Drummond. The free throw shooting stinks and he doesn’t provide treys, but you know what?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 21 5 2 1 1 0 9/20 3/6

That’s what’s up. Dre leads the league in dub-dubs with 58 and has posted a 20/20 game 12 times this season. He’s 10th in blocks per game, 11th in steals per game, 1st in rebounds, and 19th in field goal percentage. On the season, he’s a top 25 player for fantasy. Yes, the free throw shooting and lack of treys put a ceiling on his value, but he does so much in the other categories that…..we must never forget about Dre.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve always enjoyed the Godzilla franchise. When I was young, it was all about the monsters fighting, special effects, and destruction levied upon the landscape. As I got older and delved into the origins, I appreciated the franchise that much more. As with most things in life, though, the journey is cyclical and it’s back to the good old awe-inspiring, destructive force. Which brings me to Giannis Antetokoummpo. All season, I’ve been calling him G, as he’s a straight gangster, and when he balls the F out, it’s been Nuthin’ but a G Thang. There have been moments of O. M. G. But yesterday, everything became crystal clear.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 16 7 2 1 1 3/8 15/26 19/21

A 50-burger and this…..

He called Ben Simmons a “f’ing baby” but then Simmons came back and dunked on his head. In addition, Joel Embiid produced a 40-burger and the Sixers defeated the Bucks, 130-125. I felt like I was watching a Godzilla movie in which he had to fight Gigan, Destoroyah, Mothra, and Ghidorah at the same time. Anyways, Gzilla is a freaking beast. Top 5 player over the past seven games. He’s been averaging 30.3 points, 1.1 treys, 13.1 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block while shooting 58% from the field and 82% from the free throw line on a whopping 11.4 attempts! The turnovers are high, but whatever. Now, with Malcolm Brogdon out for a while, Gzilla may be making more appearances down the stretch, as Brogdon had a usage rate in the low-20s. Other teams better hope they have a couple of monsters to negate Gzilla, because he’s coming to wreak havoc.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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In a motorsport race, a pace car is utilized to….if you guessed set the pace, then winner winner chicken dinner! There are many reasons the pace car exists: to keep the competitors bunched up so that advantages of time and space are negated, to conserve fuel, and for safety concerns during bad weather or accidents on the track. In essence, they are the boring cars on the track because they don’t get to race and compete for victory. That’s not to say the pace cars are hoopties, though. They are often performance cars that would dust any commercial vehicle on the market. For example, the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 was a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which boasted 755 horsepower, could go from 0-60 in 2.85 seconds, and had a top speed of 212 mph! Bojan Bogdanovic is a pace car in the NBA. He’s boring and delivers steady production, but there’s muscle under the hood. Last night, Bojan was able to put the pedal to the metal and paced Indiana to victory.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 7 4 0 0 1 4/7 13/22 7/9

The 37 points and 22 shot attempts were both season-highs. His career-high was 44 points back in 2015. I told you. There’s muscle under the hood. Now, since Victor Oladipo succumbed to injury back on January 26th, Bogdanovic has played 15 games and averaged 32.2 minutes, 20.6 points, 3.7 boards, 2.1 dimes, and 0.7 steals. He’s shot 51% from the field on 15.3 attempts, 38% from downtown on 5.5 attempts, and 81% from the line on 3.5 attempts. He’s consistently been a top 100 player, has scored in double figures 18 straight games, and is garnering a usage rate close to 30. Bogdanovic won’t win many weeks for you, but he consistently delivers what you expect from him and has access to ceiling games.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?