The Memphis Grizzlies are young and on the upswing.  Last year they surprised all when they missed the 8th seed by just one win.  With a complete 15 man roster and an intact, custom-built young core, the Memphis Grizzlies are Grit-N-Grind 2.0 and rearing to go.

The Big 3 of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke bring above-the-rim intensity and classic Memphis two-way play back to the culture of the young Grizzlies.  These young cubs are hungry, motivated, and complement each other.  Rugged, yet up-tempo, I project this team to improve from the 34 wins last year to 40-42 this season. 

Expect increased roles for Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, and the new incoming draftees. With all the young Memphis core under contract, and no significant contributer allowed to walk, and, this team will have continuity going forward.

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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.

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 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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15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

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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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The 2019-20 Grizzlies are going to be a lot of fun to watch. Ja Morant is going to be dunking on fools and buzzing screaming lefty passes by defenders’ ears. Jaren Jackson Jr. is going to keep bombing from deep and blocking everything in sight at the rim. Brandon Clarke is the perfect pick and roll lob partner for Morant, as he’ll have plenty of opportunities to sky above ten feet and throw down feathery Morant passes. Kyle Anderson is going to keep cheekily breaking down defenses with his awkward, dawdling euro-step game and random bursts of quickness. The Grizzlies are also going to be bad this season, but that’s okay. A great League Pass team doesn’t always rack up the W’s, take last year’s Sacramento Kings for example. The Kings were a fast-paced ball of fun even though they ultimately wound up missing out on the playoffs—expect the same from this year’s Grizz.

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The All-Star Break means three more weeks, or 2.5 more matchups, until the head-to-head playoffs begin in most leagues. And even for Roto-Leaguers, we’re already 70% of the way through the season. At this point, you know your teams. Or, at least you can if you take a few minutes to examine them. Odds are that there are stat categories that hardly matter to you by now. Once again, that can be because of a punt strategy or simply because of the way your team and league shook out. For example, though I didn’t intend to punt any categories this season, I ended up dead last in FG% in a roto league with no chance of catching up. That category doesn’t mean anything to me now, so I can ignore it. Similarly, in the head-to-head Razzball Experts League, I have little chance to win assists in any given week. I could try to make that up or I could double down and load up on the other categories. I have a feeling your teams may have also lost some categories early. Or maybe more likely, you have a team that just dominates a category or two to the point that you can ignore it and still win. And even if you don’t find yourself far out in front or way behind in any categories, there are likely a few roto stats where you’re too far away from the teams above and below you to worry about them.

So, today it’s time to check up on who might be available and extra-valuable to YOUR team. We’re not just looking at traditional hot waiver wire pickups. Some of them would apply, but glance through this list after you know what stats you can safely ignore, and see if somebody’s right for you. Consider using the opposite train of thought when deciding who to drop, too. You’re lapping the competition in rebounds? You may want to drop an end-of-the-roster big instead of a worse overall player.

You’ll see the top players I recommend that are available in at least one-third of Yahoo leagues here, along with their 8-category and 9-cateogry punt rankings that are based on the per-game performances of the past 60 days (through 2/12) according to Basketball Monster.

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A nuclear warhead was launched and detonated by agent Rich Paul yesterday when he notified the New Orleans Pelicans that Anthony Davis has no intention of re-signing with the team and has requested a trade. Let the madness begin. All the dots connect to him being in Los Angeles sooner than later, but I have heard some alternative theories that could land him elsewhere. I’m both intrigued and entertained. The L. A. Times reported that any offer from the Lakers would have to begin with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a first-round pick. The salaries of Ball, Kuzma, and Zubac equal $10.7 million. Davis will make $25 million, so that won’t be enough from a money perspective. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope makes $12 million (expiring contract), so he’d likely have to be included in any deal. Rob Perez @WorldWideWob laid out the scenario of Kyrie Irving going to the Lakers, with Davis going to Boston, and Ball, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, and Lance Stephenson going to New Orleans. The Knicks have been mentioned as serious players, as they may be willing to part with Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and a first-round pick for Davis. Portland has been mentioned with C. J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a first-round pick for Davis. AD is 25 years old and moon walks over the rest of the competition. He’s a player that teams should be willing to push all the chips into the middle of the table. Yes, he’s missed some games in his career (82 in 6 1/2 years) but he’s that freaking good. I can’t wait to see who else emerges in the sweepstakes and where he eventually ends up, because it has a chance to completely change the landscape in the NBA. AD is resetting. Can’t wait to see where year 0 A. D. begins.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Damian Lillard got the night off in Portland to get some well deserved rest, and the rest of the Blazers all got a decided boost; none more than CJ McCollum, who went 2-28-10-10-1-0-3 on 10-of-23 shooting and 6-for-7 from the line. This was CJ’s first career triple-double and just shows he’s more of a complete player than people thought. He still didn’t give you much in the way of defensive stats, but this will probably go down as one of his best stat-lines of the season.  Just keep in mind if Lillard misses any other games, CJ and the rest of his Blazer Buddies become viable DFS options. It was a pretty short schedule for a Saturday night with only five games. I guess with no real NFL games in the week before the Super Bowl, they wanted to stack Sunday, with no competition from football. Anyway, there is still a lot to get into so without further ado, here’s what else went down last night:

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While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?