For this week’s introduction I am going to be laconic, like my Spartan ancestors. I will just present another exhibit of the intelligence and charisma of the man known as Shaq.

No extensive comments needed, just pure, raw Shaq entertainment. If he was accompanied by the classic “Inside the NBA crew” this video would have been legendary.

Moving on to fantasy and to last week’s players, Kris Dunn was a victim of my bad luck and got immediately injured after my recommendation.

Payton on the other hand is on fire with one triple-double and two near ones in his last three games, while Daniel Theis has been usable if unspectacular. Finally, Jeff Teague and Jarrett Culver, both ‘Sell’ candidates, did nothing to prove they are worthy of an add in standard leagues for the time being.

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I am 25 years old. I idolized Michael Jordan, but was too young to watch him live when he built his legend. On the contrary, the player that my generation grew up with is Kobe Bryant. We got to witness him build his dynasty with the Lakers, hit tough shot after tough shot, return from gruesome injuries and give his absolute all for the game he loved so much. And after his retirement, we watched him grow as a businessman, a community leader, an ambassador for basketball, and a motivator for any young player that wants to get better through hard work and devotion.

His influence is not easy to grasp or describe and that’s why his loss has that enormous an impact to the whole basketball world. Kobe was unique in every way, a true sports titan and he will be remembered for a long time to come, whether from basketball fans appreciating his game and mentality or by anyone shooting a piece of paper to a can and yelling “Kobe”. It is always a reality check when these tragic things happen as people of his stature, so famous and successful, seem invincible. It’s an instant reminder of our own morality and how fragile and precious human life is. It’s not a great time to talk about player performances and fantasy contributions but I’ll try my best.

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Bam Adebayo is 6′ 9″ and 255 pounds with a 7′ 1″ wingspan. So, grabbing boards and accumulating defensive stats are within reach, which he does often. What separates Bam from the other big men in the league, though, are the handles and playmaking ability. During the Summer League before his rookie season, I remember watching Bam grab a rebound, dribble down the court, Euro step around a defender, then convert a layup as if he were a svelte point guard. That’s when I fell in love. He’s also an incredible passer. Whether it be getting the ball in the post, at the elbow, or at the top of the key, Bam is able to deliver precise passes to cutters flowing through the middle of the lane or slicing from the baseline. Bam often initiates the Heat offense himself by bringing the ball up court. The beauty of that is teams aren’t able to put pressure, and the action they can run off of it is deadly. The dribble-hand-off to a shooter works because he’s an excellent screener and his defender is usually a big man who can’t go over the top or slide over because Bam then has a clear path to the rim. If defenses switch that action, then Bam abuses the smaller defender down low. As a result, open three-pointers are readily available. So we have boards, dimes, and the defensive stats. Let’s not forget about the scoring. He has jump hooks in the lane, can cross over defenders on the perimeter leading to dunks, and the jumper is much improved. The range on the J hasn’t been expanded to downtown, but he’s draining 20-footers on the regular, so it’s only a matter of time. Last night, the full repertoire was on displays. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the full repertoire? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 10 10 1 0 1 0/1 10/16 0

His third time messing around in his career. On the season, Bam is a top 40 player for fantasy, averaging 16 points, 10.4 boards, 4.8 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The field goal percentage is 58%. The only bugaboos are the free throw shooting (69%) and the lack of tres. I can see both improving over the course of his career. He’s only 22 years old! I wrote this a week or so ago, but I need to post it again. Since 1946, there have been 10 times a player has averaged 20 points, 10 boards, 5 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block per game in a season: Giannis Antetokounmpo (twice), Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett (three times), and Chris Webber. Bam could be the eighth player to join that illustrious group.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Weed. Pot. Grass. Dope. Reefer. Ganga. Hash. Herb. Chronic. These are all names for marijuana, but not all weed is the same. There’s swag, dank, kind, kush, etc. The quality, aroma, taste, and potency differ depending on which you choose. Obviously, the higher the quality, the better the high, but sometimes the bargain basement green can be just as productive as the most expensive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s of the highest quality? The Stocktonator. The Sacramento Kings drafted Marvin Bagley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Yes, ahead of Luka Doncic. Regardless, Bagley is high quality, but unfortunately he fractured his thumb in the season opener. Enter Nemanja Bjelica. The Nemanja isn’t bargain basement, but he’s not the highest quality either. He is more than capable of producing and can even access the highest of high ceilings. Last night was one of those games:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 1 1 0 4/7 13/18 0

Nemanja has started 21 games this season and produced top 85 value for fantasy. He provides points, tres, boards, a handful of dimes, and a little something something in the defensive cats. The percentages are decent as well. Over the past four games, though, he’s been the #12 player, as he’s averaged 17.5 points, 2.5 tres, 7.8 boards, 3.3 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 53% from the field. The Nemanja has been potent! Now for the buzzkill. Bagley is set to return soon. Once that happens, he will likely get around 20 minutes of run per game.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It took 171 games, over two seasons, and 5800 minutes played, but Ben Simmons finally did it. He drained his first tres.

I know you have doubts, but tape don’t lie….

The fact that I’m making Simmons the lede for making a tres is sad, but what’s worse is that it took him 171 games, two seasons, and 5800 minutes! Now, let’s not forget that on this historic and momentous night, Simmons actually played a great overall game:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 7 13 1 1 1 1/1 7/9 3/4

In a whopping 42 minutes! Yes, it was against the Knicks but whatever. Production is production. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the production? The Stocktonator. For fantasy, Simmons is such an interesting player because he leads you down the punt one, punt two, punt three category strategy (tres, ft%, and turnovers). But, but, but….he has nightly “mess around” potential and will get his block and steal on. On the season, he’s a top 40 player despite his shortcomings.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The point guard position is where you will primarily be hunting for dimes. There are options later in the draft, but most have warts and will only provide around 4 per game. Compare that to the elite ones, who will dish out 7-9 dimes per game, while providing excellent free throw percentages, tres, and steals. The early rounds will dictate your fantasy path, as the top five point guards will likely be selected in the first two rounds of drafts.

To see my per-game value projections for each player, click HERE. In the “Pos” box (which stands for position, not the other thing you were thinking), type in “pg” and the table will sort by just point guards.

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The Chicago Bulls play in the Central Division alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and the reigning league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and yet, the Bulls are the most intriguing team in the division. This offseason they added veteran leadership, some talented young players, and the returning young guys are all a year older and more experienced. They should certainly be healthier than they were last year. Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. missed significant time last season. Zach Lavine also missed a stretch of games before being shut-down at the end of the season. Ditto for Chandler Hutchison. Denzel Valentine never even got rolling. Here are the major additions and departures from last season:

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Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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