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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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Alright! Who’s still rockin’ in the playoffs? Some of us got screwed over by late-season injuries and will forever curse the names of the players who hurt themselves and cost us hundreds of dollars and bragging rights amongst our friends. With the season winding down and fantasy playoffs in full swing, there are many players who are suddenly becoming fantasy-relevant down the stretch. The Mavericks have fallen out of playoff contention, but fantasy owners are monitoring them closely because they have some juicy pickups. Maxi Kleber went 3-18-12-1-0-1-0 on 5-of-11 shooting and 5-for-5 FTs and Jalen Brunson went 4-22-4-2-0-0-0 on 8-of-18 shooting and 2-for-2 FTs. Both of these guys have suddenly become viable options, especially with the Mavericks playing four games next week. Brunson has been ballin’ over his last five averaging 21.2 points and 5.6 assists with really nice peripherals. I would definitely add him if he’s somehow available and would strongly consider adding Kleber if you have something to lose. There’s only two weeks left for most of us, so if a guy’s not producing, or you’re like me and lost Malcolm Brogdon, it’s time to cut bait and make a pickup.Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Domantas Sabonis missed five games due to an ankle injury. His first game back, he played 20 minutes and shot 1-for-7 from the field and scored 9 points. In the second game, Sabonis only played 18 minutes but shot 4-of-12 from the field and scored 10 points. Since we all live on Planet Earth, we have all experienced a storm. They don’t magically appear out of nowhere. A combination of low and high pressure systems merge, form clouds, and often produce high-speed winds. You can see the clouds approaching or feel the wind picking up. In its most severe form, a storm brings a deluge of rain, crackling thunder, and a light show that would make the greatest of deejays jealous. That’s what occurred in Indiana last night, as Sabonis made it rain and lit up the Thunder:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 7 4 0 1 0 0 7/12 12/13

In 28 minutes. When Sabonis is right, he provides points, boards, some dimes, and a smattering of stocks. He also shoots close to 60% from the field and over 70% from the line. The main issue for Sabonis is the minutes, though, as Nate McMillan likes to go with Thaddeus Young at power forward alongside Myles Turner. As a result, he only averages around 24-25 minutes per game. Last night against the Thunder, Sabonis was abusing Jerami Grant, so McMillan stayed big, but outside of obvious matchups or injury, I wouldn’t consider last night to be the norm going forward. Storms don’t happen often, and ones with both lightning and thunder are rare.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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O is the most important letter in the alphabet. Without it, we cannot spell food. It is so amazing that it can transform into a number without changing shape, and without 0, a game can never end. Before you saying anything, ties are stupid. Let’s not forget about the Big O, often elusive but well worth the wait. So, is there any wonder why Kelly Olynyk is today’s lede?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 11 1 2 1 1 5/7 8/14 1/1

Continues to start and played a whopping 45 minutes! Since entering the starting lineup 12 games ago, Kelly O has averaged 26.9 minutes, 13.7 points, 5.2 boards, 2.4 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 tres. He’s been shooting 52% from the field, 43% from downtown, and 95% on 1.9 attempts from the line. Over the last eight games, though, the minutes have rocketed up to 32.3 minutes and he’s been a top 25 player! Oh, Kelly O! You make me want to bellow and bestow good tidings for providing fantasy inferno. A few weeks ago, I was worried what would happy to Kelly O once James Johnson returned to the mix. I no longer have any worries from that angle. The one concern I do have is will Spoelstra stick with him if the shooting efficiency comes down, because Kelly O is not going to shoot 57% from the field forever. He’s more like a 48% shooter. Until that time, though, enjoy the ride.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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My wife grew up in Brooklyn, New York. More specifically, Bay Ridge. When I first met her, the neighborhood was primarily Italian. Now, it’s mainly Chinese. Everytime I head out there, I enjoy exploring, whether it be on foot, subway, or car. If I take the D train down towards Coney Island, it’s mainly Russian and Eastern European neighborhoods. If I drive a few miles north, the Orthodox Jews have laid down their roots. If I cross the bridge and enter Manhattan, Chinatown is right on the water front. But the landscape is always changing. Chinatown is now becoming hip with art gallerys and Trader Joe’s. And so it is with the basketball team in New York. Not too long ago, Kristaps Porzingis was the King of New York. Now, he’s in Dallas. But the vacuum has to be filled by someone. Welcome to Mister RobinSON’s Neighborhood.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
17 14 0 3 6 0 0 6/9 5/6

Mitchell RobinSON didn’t come out of nowhere, as he dominated in high school and was a McDonald’s All-American, but he did not play a game of college ball because he was suspended for violating team rules. At 7′ 1″ and 240 pounds, the physical talent was never questioned, yet he was an enigma and a risk because he did not play against college competition. As a result, he fell in the draft and was selected with the 36th overall pick. We saw what he could do in the Summer League, which would have gotten Mister Rogers to shout a few expletives. During the regular season, the minutes were sparse and erratic early on. He was blocked on the depth chart and he had a penchant for fouling. Despite that, Mr. RobinSON was among the league leaders in blocks per game. Then Enes Kanter got shipped off to Portland, DeAndre Jordan got hurt, and Coach Fizdale decided to give him more run. Over the past five games, Mr. RobinSON has been a top 15 player, averaging 24.6 minutes, 10.4 points, 10 boards, 1.4 steals, and 4.4 blocks! He’s even shooting 70% from the line on 4 attempts. The past two games, Mr. RobinSON has played 30 and 33 minutes. Now, Fizdale has been doing wonky things all season with the rotations, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he holds Mr. RobinSON down. The Knicks are “Not Tryin’ for Zion” after all, so Mr. RobinSON may be too good for that campaign. There’s also unknown as to how things will shake out when Jordan returns. Regardless, welcome to Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood, as he’s an important part of the community no matter how many minutes he gets.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Even though Trae Young was selected with the number five overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, there were haters and skepticism as to whether he would be able to perform in the League. He’s too small. He turns the ball over too much. He’s going to get abused on defense. All of those things were evident early on. Yet, he showed flashes of why some were infatuated with him. In his third professional game, he scored 35 points and dished out 11 dimes, while turning the ball over only once. Granted, it was against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s a professional team with professional ball players. Hmmm, maybe that’s debatable but they do collect checks for playing basketball so…As the season progressed, there were trials and tribulations mixed in with performances of rapture. Last night was pure bliss.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 6 14 1 1 6 3/9 6/19 7/9

Yes, the turnovers were high, but he was in total control running the offense last night. The Lakers defense was/is truly offensive, but Young carved them up with expert precision, even nutmegging LeBron James. Most of the hype surrounding Trae was due to his range on his jump shot, but his vision and passing ability are just as lethal. They just didn’t get as much pub. Trae has duds from time to time, but the consistency has been much better than earlier in the season. Hey, he’s still only 20 years old! The mental fortitude, calmness, and development have been impressive to watch. Trae was outside the top 200 for fantasy earlier in the season. Now, he’s just outside the top 100. I didn’t think Trae would be a fantasy asset until next year, but I can see him finishing in the top 100. It’s good to be Young.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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You listen to Kyrie Irving and get hypnotized, as the voice is smooth and the delivery is graceful. Then he hits you with the “Earth is flat” or “Ask me July 1.” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It’s the same story on the court, as the bevy of moves get you transfixed. Dribble, dribble, then jab step with the right foot, behind-the-back dribble, change directions with the left foot, then explode to the basket for 2. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

I have a hard time replicating his moves in NBA 2K! Anyways, yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 11 0 1 4 1/5 14/19 1/1

For the season, he’s a top 10 player, and has been the #4 player over the past four games, averaging 36.6 minutes, 27.8 points, 2.3 threeecolas, 5.8 boards, 9.3 dimes, 3 steals, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 54% from the field and 90% from the line. The usage rate has been over 30. So sick. For shits and giggles, I wanted to see how this season has compared to those in the past. The 49% shooting from the field, 41% from downtown, 1.2 offensive rebounds, 4.9 rebounds, 6.9 dimes, 1.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks are all career-highs. I knew he was having a good season. I didn’t know he was having a great one. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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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.

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We are all attracted to different things. Some like the boobs, while others prefer the butt. Some like the wit, while others like to laugh. Whatever you’re into, what you consider fine and what blows your mind is totally subjective. Nikola Jokic had his detractors when he came into the league. He was too pudgy. Not athletic enough. Doesn’t play D. He didn’t look like a ball player. That was one perspective. But he shoots and passes. Man, can he pass.

He did that during last night’s game against the Clippers, but that’s not all he did.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 14 10 0 2 1 0/5 8/19 2/3

Ho hum. Just Nikola messing around in back-to-back games and fifth time this season. I count another nine games in which he just missed as well. Such a Jokic! Anyways, he’s the #12 player on the season, but over the past eight games, he’s been #6. Jokic has averaged 33.8 minutes, 24.9 points, 1.3 threeecolas, 11.8 boards, 8.6 dimes, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks. 55% shooting from the field and 83% from the line on 3.8 attempts puts the cherry on top. Nikola may not have the body of supreme baller, but the way he plays the game and the skill set he possesses makes me googly-eyed, while the plays he makes blow my mind.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?