In Dave Hickey’s seminal basketball essay, “The Heresy of Zone Defense,” he celebrates and argues that the game of basketball has been fair, civil, and liberated, from its very inception. Hickey celebrates basketball’s continuous evolution toward freedom, though he has nothing but contempt for college basketball and (naturally) zone defense. By the time Hickey wrote and published his essay in 1995, zone defense had been outlawed in the NBA in favor of the now defunct illegal defense rules. Obviously, the illegal defense rules morphed into its own form of limiting monotony, and though it does not appear that Hickey expected such an evolution, there’s no doubt that he’d support its elimination once it ceased to inspire innovation. In 2020, zone defense is back with a vengeance, but the reality of zone defense today is different from the one Hickey saw as dangerous, uninteresting governance.

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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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Brooks are serene, calm, and picturesque. But looks can be deceiving. I was once fishing at the local brook (I don’t fish and I live in Los Angeles), when I heard some commotion behind me. There were two squirrels holding onto my bait box and trying to drag it back to the tree from which they came from. As I turned around and rose from the log I was parked on, I heard a splash behind me. A beaver had pulled the pail, which housed all the fish I caught, into the stream. A coordinated attack. After my inital anger, I was truly impressed. From that day, I always watched my six and didn’t fall for the old “bird singing then shitting on my head” distraction. Anyways, Brook Lopez is big, tall, and lumbers around the court. He should bang down low, grab boards, and operate in the paint. But looks can be deceiving. Lopez likes to hang out on the perimeter and launch salvos from downtown. When he first entered the league, he was a boarding maniac. Now? Not so much. Business decisions. The most baffling aspect of his game, though, is his penchant for getting his 211 on. Don’t believe me?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 4 2 4 3 1 0/3 3/8 4/4

Last night was the fifth time in his career that Lopez has pilfered four in a game. Not something you expect from a lumbering giant such as Brook. Anyways, the one predictable and not surprising aspect of Brook’s game is in the block department. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always predictable? The Stocktonator. He’s fifth in the league with 2.2 blocks per game. From a fantasy perspective, Brook is a top 70 player. The free throw shooting is excellent (90% on 2 attempts) and there’s the aforementioned blocks. He provides 1.4 tres per game, but the scoring is way down from previous years due to the 38% shooting from the field. The minutes are also down to 26 from 28.7 last season. Brook is too good of a shooter to continue converting sub-40% from the field. I’d expect that to normalize as the season progresses.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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If you go to Lawry’s and order the prime rib, there are five cuts to choose from: The California Cut (for lighter appetites), the English Cut (three thin slices), the Diamond Jim Brady Cut (an extra thick portion, bone in), the Beef Bowl Double Cut (celebratory Rose Bowl cut), and the Lawry Cut (the traditional and most popular). Because I’m a fat ass, it’s all about the Beef Bowl Double Cut, 22 ounces of heaven.

Heaven ain’t no place in the sky. It’s right down here on Earth….at Lawry’s. There are not many things better looking than that. But since we are fantasy nerds, seeing your player mess around and drop a triple-double in the stat box has got to be up there. Last night, Kyle Lowry expertly cooked the Triple-Double Cut:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 10 10 2 1 3 3/6 5/17 7/8

Mmmm, mmmm, mmm. So delicious. Since returning from injury, Lowry has AVERAGED 38.6 minutes per game! For the season, he’s second with 37.3, right behind James Harden. That is great for fantasy, as the counting stats have been abundant: 2.3 trees, 5.8 boards, 8 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The shooting has been atrocious, though, as he’s been shooting 31% from the field. For the season, he’s at 40%. As a result, he’s putting up top 45 production and will likely finish in the top 35-40 range when all is said and done. Outside of the poor shooting, the other main concern is health. He’s already missed games this season and, with the elevated run per night, can he hold up for the entire season? If he can, there should be more cooking of the Triple-Double Cut this season, as Lowry has now messed around 15 times in his career. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never messes around? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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A ravine is a “deep, narrow gorge with steep sides” according to Google. LaVine’s RaVine is a sight to see. The drop off in his stats based on the outcome of the game is truly something to witness. In wins, he’s great… he averages 27.1 points per game, with an offensive rating of 119, a FG% of 51.7, and an absolutely absurd 3Pt% of 57.5. And that’s similar to the LaVine we saw last night, in the Bulls’ unexpected victory over the Kawhi-less Clippers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 4 2 2 0 3 4-7 11-21 5-6

In losses? LaVine’s scoring output falls to 20.2 points per game, with an offensive rating of 95 and FG and 3Pt percentages of 38.5% and 32.4%, respectively. That’s some sort of drop off, and it speaks to how much the Bulls depend on him if they want any chance of winning. His usage is nearly identical in both, but his inability to consistently perform at a top level makes us question his future as the leader of a team.

Here’s what else we saw around the league on Saturday night.

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There are few things in life that get me hard and excited. Let’s see, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, 9-0 h2h victory for fantasy, PornHub, and watching the LeBron/AD pick-and-roll. I have to add James Harden to the list. I try not to write up the same player for the lede, but Harden is a freaking basketball savant and could be one of the best one-on-one players of all time. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also an all-timer? The Stocktonator. The jumper from downtown is so pure that Skunk Works is reverse engineering it. The handles have caused many of sleepless nights for Ricky Jay. He’s also 6′ 5″ 220 pounds, so he can stampede to the rim against smaller players and big men have no chance on the perimeter, as he just makes them dance. Last night was yet another example of his brilliance:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
55 3 8 2 2 6 10/18 20/34 5/5

This was Harden’s 22nd career game scoring at least 50 points, which is good for fourth all time. Kobe Bryant had 25 while Michael Jordan had 31. Laughably, Wilt Chamberlain posted 118 50-point games!! LOL. Anyways, Harden is the numero uno player for fantasy on the season. He’s AVERAGING 37.9 minutes, 38.7 points, 4.9 tres, 5.9 boards, 7.5 dimes, 2 steals, and is shooting 88% from the line on 14 attempts! The turnovers are sky-high at 5 per game, but the production is so bountiful in the other categories that it is but a fly on the windshield. Are you not Harden excited?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There was a time when Channing Tatum was an international sensation, as he starred in blockbusters such as Step Up, G. I. Joe, 21 Jump Street, White House Down, and the Lego Movie. Ok, maybe some hyperbole but 43 movies are 43 movies. Don’t forget about the TV shows, video games, music videos, Saturday Night Live, and MTV Awards. Times started getting lean around 2014, though. The Google queries declined. The downloading of pics ceased. But then his phone began beeping incessantly in 2017, as he set up notifications whenever anyone Googled his name. He was back! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves? The Stocktonator. Life was good again. Unfortunately, the queries all consisted of, “Is Jayson Tatum related to Channing Tatum?” Whatever, he took whatever he could get. Jayson Tatum was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He was a sensation his rookie year, to the point where some were saying that they wouldn’t trade him for Anthony Davis. Crazy. Anyways, the sophomore slump came and so did Channing’s pain, as his phone stopped buzzing. But here we are in 2019, as Channing’s phone has been off the hook, as his brother-from-another- mother has been balling out this season. Last night, he…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 11 2 2 2 4 4/6 7/14 1/2

His rookie year, Tatum ended as the 63rd player for fantasy. The following year, he finished as the 59th player. So far this season, he’s the 33rd player. Over the past six games, Tatum has been a top 10 player!!! The points, tres, boards, dimes, and steals have all increased. The shooting efficiency has declined, which sucks because the volume has increased, but that’s been the only blemish. The usage rate is 28 on the season, but it’s ticked up to over 32 at times. People are going to be Googling Tatum’s name for a long, long time. That makes Channing very happy.

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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I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 12 1 2 0 3 3/5 5/11 0

It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When something is referred to as historic, we think of arms raised toward the sky, fireworks bursting and illuminating the world, with smiles and wet panties. We think of heroes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also a hero? The Stocktonator. Yet, historic can also reference the zeroes. Those who do something so bad that it’s actually impressive. Joel Embiid had one of those games last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
0 13 2 0 0 4 0/4 0/11 0/3

Embiid is no doubt a hero. If he wasn’t, then there wouldn’t be a line outside of the stadium after every game with both men and women waiting to sex him. With that said, he was a straight zero, both literally and figuratively last night. And I wasn’t being hyperbolic when I said that he had a historic performance. Since 1946, there have been only two other players who went 0-for-10 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown, and 0-for-2 from the free throw line: Doug Christie in 1999 and Devean George in 2008. Make that duo a trio now. Now, Embiid is a fantasy stud, as he literally does everything. He hasn’t been producing like one recently, but have no fear, the good times will return again. If anyone is panicking, relieve them of their anxiety.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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