Much has been pontificated, written, said, even dreamed! about LeBron’s recent kerfluffle, kerfluffle being the *official* term, so I’ll leave that where it lays. It’s like how you’re never supposed to beat up a dead horse, mainly because I’m sure it smells and you shouldn’t be touching anything that’s been dead for a while. I’m sure that’s what that saying means. But man, is it just me, Captain Obvious, your friend, or do the Lakers kinda-sorta suck without LeBron James? With Thanksgiving Eve bringing a full slate of games and content, it was still too easy to focus on this Lakers vs. Pacers matchup that went to OT and saw LeBron play for 43 minutes, scoring 39 PTS on 13-29 shooting and 5-12 3PT with 5 REB, 6 AST, and 2 BLK. The performance and James leading the Lakers in the fourth quarter to force OT was what I call his usual Wednesday, but I guess he had to once again remind all the haters about his GOAT status, even playing center and being the best defender on the floor at the same time. Good Jokic if I ever saw one. With that pun already making me roll all of our eyes, let’s check out what else happened last night in the N-B-A…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Before the Bucks took on the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday night, the matchup read a bit like one of those torturous “two trains are three hundred miles apart, traveling at two different speeds…” puzzles that I never learned how to solve in school. Yes, the Pistons are one of the worst teams in professional basketball, but they were catching an extremely shorthanded Milwaukee team in Motown, so it felt like there was a chance that they’d be able to steal one against the banged up Bucks. The reigning champs were without their starting center (Brook Lopez remained on the side lines with a bad back), starting point guard (Jrue Holiday was out with a turned ankle), starting wing (Khris Middleton tested positive for Covid and will be away from the team for a couple of weeks), and last year’s starting two-guard (Donte DiVincenzo’s rehab and recovery from ankle surgery continues), so there was a chance, after accounting for all these caveats, that the Little Engine That Could would turn into the Little Engine That Did, at least for the night.

Or not!

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When we moved from California to Wisconsin last October, we knew it would be hard. Catching the tail end of fall was the final gasp of good air before the dual jaws of winter and the pandemic clamped down on us. From there, we just had to ride it out. Hiding indoors, online, and in the NBA calendar was all there was to do. As the days got darker — in every sense — we were subjected, over and over again, to the Milwaukee mantra: Summers make winters worth it. Having no experience to draw on, we had to take these hearty midwesterners at their word. 

They were right. 

Ice thawed and snow melted. Patches of terra firma sprouted and then turned green. The Bucks exercised Miami demons in Game 1 of the Playoffs and squeaked past the Nets by the margin of a single shoe size. The Hawks were feisty but underseasoned, and then there was the block and the steal and the alley-oop over Phoenix. “Bucks in six” was the song of the summer. Flowers for The Good Land. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As of April 28, LaMelo Ball remains Vegas’ heavy favorite (-350) to take home Rookie of the Year honors. I don’t really have much quarrel with that, especially since the rookie of consequence I drafted this season wasn’t Ball or Anthony Edwards but James Wiseman. Whoops! Who’s the wise man? Not me. Despite missing some time, Ball will be a deserving winner if the oddsmakers in the desert prove to be correct. Of the top three picks, I feel like Edwards is the one who gets the least amount of shine despite being the no. 1 selection. Flying under the radar makes sense, especially when considering that he doesn’t hail from a(n) (in)famous family, his team has been in the postseason one time since 2005 and has been out of contention since November, and he’s not trying to integrate his game into the dying dreams of decaying dynasty. If you didn’t go looking for it (or if you didn’t draft him), Edwards’ fine first year could pass by more or less unremarked on.

Or dude could throw out a 40-burger and make himself the lede of my final Wednesday recap of the season like freakin’ boss.

Anthony Edwards

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
42 6 7 1 1 8 17/22 0/1 3

On the year, Ant is a top-100-ish player, a ranking that is weighed down by the 41% shooting from the floor. There have definitely been some clunkers over the course of the season and I generally have not been very quiet about them. That said, he’s been a top-50 guy over the final month, a top-35 player over the last two weeks, and a top-25 player the last week. The FG% has ticked up over that same span too, from 46% to 49% to 58%! Too late to put a dent in LaMelo’s case for the hardware, but definitely the kind of growth you love to see out of a young player. Keep eating, Ant! We’ll see you next year.

Here’s what else I saw on the penultimate Wednesday of the regular season…

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I feel like our children’s generation and their children’s generation are going to look back upon our generation and have a gross underappreciation of Kevin Durant. Maybe it’s because of all the narratives floating around but I rarely hear him mentioned as one of the greats. Because in my mind, granted my mind is small and has been heavily influenced by trees and mushrooms, he is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He’s a seven-footer who has handles like a guard, is a career 1/1/1 player, a career 27-point scorer, and a career 49/38/88 shooter. He’s got the hardware and is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the game. Because he’s missed so much time this year due to injury, he’s been out of the consciousness of many but Dudeisamazingant reminded us of his ability yesterday.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 10 2 1 0 5 7/13 16/33 3/4

In 40 minutes. The 58th time Dudeisamazingant has scored at least 40 points in a game. Durant has played 28 games this season and he’s the number six player on a per-game basis. Over the last seven seasons, he’s finished as the numero uno player for fantasy three times and been top five in six seasons. I hope he stays healthy so I can continue to watch his greatness.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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One, two, three and to the four. Giannis Antetokounmpo is all that we ask for. Ready to make an entrance so put your hands up. ‘Cause you know he’s about to hammer the cup. Give him the rock and it’s nothing but trouble. Maybe he’ll mess around and get a triple-double. He racks up more points than a daily double. Ain’t nuthing but a G thang, baby. One loced out G going crazy. He racks up so many stats that it’s hazy. Unfadeable so please don’t ever fade him. But, um, back to the lecture at hand. Perfection is perfected so you best understand. From G’s persepctive. Every defense is completely ineffective.

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Yep, I’m going to subject you all to my friends and family league yet again. We’re at the midway point of our regular season after today, so I wanted to go back and see where my predictions from the preseason were right and wrong, and which fantasy players are performing better or worse than their average draft position (ADP).

What I hope you can take from this is how to better formulate your strategy in your own leagues, and what seems to work best for people in a relatively average league. Our league is listed as a “silver” league on Yahoo!, which isn’t really scientific but indicates our team levels combined are slightly below the average of “gold.” We have two platinum, one gold, four silver, and five bronze managers. It’s a top-heavy league, which is the case in most scenarios as the people who run the league seem to be far more invested.

Anyways, the below records and rankings are based on if the scores stay the same as they are at the writing of this article. Those are subject to change, but not by much.

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Pascal Siakam continued his bounce back over the past few weeks, filling up the stat sheet again. He scored 27 points while making half of his shot attempts, chipped in six rebounds, five assists, two triples, two blocks, and a steal. He’s been a borderline top-10 player over the past 14 days.
Norman Powell is another Raptor who’s been hot lately. He lit up Milwaukee for 29 points on only 12 shots, hitting four threes and nailing seven of his eight foul shots. Over the past month, Powell has averaged a shade over 20 PPG, on close to 50/40/90 shooting while canning 2.5 3PTM—good enough for a place in the top-60 over that span. This is a continuation of his breakout last season and I, for one, am seriously regretting cutting bait after his slow start this season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?