On a night riddled with postponed NBA games due to COVID-19 protocols and safety precautions, the avid basketball fan was probably a little underwhelmed. I mean no Bradley Beal going off for 40+ against the Pistons. No matchup between Stephen Curry and Devin Booker. Shoot, we could not even see Anthony Edwards show out against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, the games we did get were nothing less than entertaining. There were a few blowouts but there were also plenty of nail biters to go around. But what made these games so great was the emergence of even more young talent across the NBA landscape. The New York Knicks with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickly. Zach Lavine and Coby White over in Chicago. Even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came out and had a career night. There is a saying that goes “Out with old and in with the new.” Well, I am here to say that there are a handful of “new” guys that are starting to make a name for themselves, and what better way to announce yourself to the league than great performance under the Friday night lights! Here are some of the top performers from yesterday’s games.

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Should I just call it the ‘Rona Roundup? Sheesh. Like half of my fantasy rosters and half of my beloved Celtics can’t hoop at present because of this scourge. My ability to marginally function during all this madness right now largely depends on access to NBA hoops and steak. You mess with that? I get cranky and mouthy. Even though some players are ineligible right now who would otherwise be available in normal times, I’m focusing on the positive: Most players are active.

And I can say negatives things about them to soothe myself.

So you know what? I’mma try something new this week with my round-up: Two players from each team, one of whom did the Best Work, and one who is the Biggest Jerk and probably killed your fantasy team (as long as they played).

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I did okay last time I posted my picks here, so why not try again yeah? I won 24% of my bet on 1/5, but I didn’t take my own advice and faded Jarrett Allen. Woof.

No sweat, there’s another chance tonight my dudes and dudettes. It’s another five-game slate that starts at 7:30 ET. Keeping an eye on Anthony Davis’s status would be advisable. If he sits you can find some really great value in Montrezl Harrell, and then LeBron James becomes a more viable play obviously. It’s possible LBJ sits too as the Lakers have a back-to-back, but I would wager if AD sits he’s a go.

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Those of you who have been with me for the last four years know of my love for Nikola Jokic. I was rooting for him from the moment he entered the league because I had been watching him from his days playing for Mega Basket in the Adriatic League and his steady rise to superstardom has been a pleasure to behold. Centers were pretty dominant earlier in basketball but the super teams during the last decade in Miami (Lebron, Wade, Bosh) and Golden State pushed the sport toward small-ball lineups, evident by the fact that Shaq was the last center to win the MVP award in 2000. Jokic looks like the only center from his generation that can be as effective in his team’s play and a candidate to win that award again for centers. But I’m personally in love with his passing and court awareness.

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We’re just a shade under 1/10th of the way through the season, which is not at all a marker but something to think about, I guess. Overreactions abound during this time as owners of players who start hot begin designing their customized championship t-shirts and owners of under-performing players make poor choices by cutting the line far too early. It’s only week two, everyone just CALM DOWN!

One thing is for certain: We’re starting to get an idea about which teams are for real and which ones aren’t all that good. And there have been some surprises. In fantasy, it’s key to start looking right now at the struggling teams. Why? They’re far more likely to shake things up than a team that is groovin along. That means player values will shift and there’s space in there for a savvy fantasy manager to gain some value.

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The name of the game is to put the ball in the basket by any means. Bucket Getters win ball games. In Friday’s onslaught of games, we saw a variety of different offensive outputs that highlight and glorify everything that makes today’s more offensive oriented NBA so special. Double-doubles, triple-doubles, game-winners, and breakout performances. Although typically the big performances come from some of the games’ best players, this week has a handful of new faces bursting onto the season to make their presence felt. The NBA is full of rising talent and that was definitely on display as these guys lit up the scoreboard and put the league on notice!

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Surprise, I’ve taken over the Wednesday recap this week, let’s get jiggy with it!

Nets vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks undefeated 2020-2021 season came to an end at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, December, 30th, but not without some positive signs of progress for this new look roster. At the moment, the Hawks have the second best Offensive Rating in the league at 119.9 and their opponent, the Nets, have the best Defensive Rating at 98.3. I’m not sure if these numbers include the data from Wednesday’s competition, but either way, the Hawks were the team that lived up to their statical billing in this one. The teams went shot for shot through most of the game until Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Hawks suffered enough empty possessions on offense to walkaway with their first L. Both teams broke a hundred by the third quarter and the final score of 141-145 tells you everything you need to know. Neither team played much defense in this game and that end of the floor will remain the biggest question for both teams going forward.

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To all, a Merry Christmas and jolly end of the year as the NBA gave us some wonderful holiday games to help kick off the new NBA year! There are young and rising stars with all kinds of franchises that are universally renowned! The NBA gave us Christmas early this year as the 2020-21 season started much earlier than anticipated and with that, they so far have not disappointed. We have seen the duos and buckets and blowouts alike. A perfect start to an NBA season to help kick things off just right. With the NBA in full effect and the season finally here, let’s continue to enjoy all these great games and pray that 2021 will be a better year!

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