The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, or maybe they’ve already arrived for you. Tough decisions will need to be made—the game is survival. Some of you may be in win-now mode. Others may be planning ahead, looking for keeper value on the wire, or last-minute trades with an eye toward the future.

The primary league I play in is a 9-cat Yahoo keeper league. You’re allowed to keep five players. I enjoy the keeper format because it’s an (extremely mild) replication of the control and decision-making required of an NBA general manager. You don’t start with a brand-new team every year in the NBA (as you do in re-draft leagues). You pay a price for the bad decisions of yesteryear or reap the benefits from the good ones. Keeper and dynasty leagues also force you to do the most scouting and projecting. If you insist on waiting until a player pops, you’re going to miss out on a lot of players. A competitive league ups the pressure to be first, it pushes the timeline of your decision-making forward. Of course, if you’re wrong about a player, that comes at a cost too.

Keeper values incorporate a value estimation and vague salary cap structure, at least during the offseason and through the draft. In the Scorekeeper League, you’re allowed 5 keepers and your draft capital is $200 minus the cost of your keepers. Every player’s cost increases by five dollars each year and you can only hold a player for four seasons. Keepers force you to always be thinking about the future even as the present rages on.

With the playoffs two weeks away, my Fat Mamba fantasy team is sitting in 9th place. I’m faithfully looking ahead to next season. Just in case you are too, here are some thoughts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

History is written by the victors. Alexander III was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC. Due to his undefeated record in battle and conquest of Persia, the III was replaced with The Great. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always great? The Stocktonator. Now, over 2000 years later, Alexander the Great has been etched into the history books and permeated our minds. Last night, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered a performance that imprinted him into the NBA archives.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 20 10 0 1 2 2/3 8/12 2/2

That was the 90th time since 1946 that a player has scored 20 points with at least 20 boards and 10 dimes. The last player to perform the feat was Russell Westbrook last season, when he went 20/20/21! Since 2000, it’s happened only six times before Shai’s performance. Now, for fantasy, Shai got off to a blazing start this season then cooled off. Over the past 16 games, though, he’s been a top 20 player for fantasy, averaging 36 minutes, 21.9 points, 0.9 tres, 6.6 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The field goal percentage has been a whopping 52% while the free throw shooting has been 85%. He’s garnered a usage rate of 23.9, yet Shai has only turned the ball over 1.6 times per game! Will this continue? Probably not. He’s not going to continue shooting 52% from the field. He shot 47% over the course of his rookie season, so that’s a reasonable expectation. The Logo, Jerry West, loved Shai and was instrumental in the Clippers drafting him. They had to trade him in order to get Paul George, so it’s understandable why they made the move, but West is one of the best talent evaluators in the league. If he’s high on someone, then so am I.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Back in 2000, Eminem released “Stan”, a song about Stanley “Stan” Mitchell who wrote multiple letters saying that he was Eminem’s biggest fan. Over the course of the song, Stan gets angry when Eminem doesn’t respond and becomes obsessive, ultimately killing himself. The song/story is deeper than that, but I’m not here to write a synopsis of the song. I bring up “Stan” because the name eventually became a part of pop culture to reference obsessed fans. It was even included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Well, last night, there was a performance worthy of Stanning, as Davis Bertans went nuts:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 9 1 0 1 0 8/12 11/18 2/2

Did you know that you can’t spell Bertans without Stan? The universe truly is a wonderful place. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s wonderful as well? The Stocktonator. Anyways, over the past seven games, Bertans has been a top 10 player for fantasy. He’s averaged 31.5 minutes, 20.5 points, 5.3 tres, 4.9 boards, with 51% shooting from the field and 92% from the line. 5.3 tres!!! There have even been some contributions in the defensive categories; 0.6 steals and 0.9 blocks. I heard on the Wizards broadcast a few games ago that Bertans is essentially a shooting savant. While in San Antonio, the coaches tweaked his shooting form and it only took him a day to fully implement it. What I’m saying is that there’s merit to what Bertans is doing right now. He’s shooting 45% from downtown this season, but he’s a career 41% shooter. In addition, with Thomas Bryant out for at least a month, Bertans is going to continue getting plenty of run. Now, he’s not going to continue being a top 10 player for fantasy, but top 50 is a reasonable expectation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What was the address of the house you grew up in? Please include your Social Security number and bank pin number while you’re at it. What about the first apartment you rented? And the motel you lost your virginity at? I kid, I kid. We all have memories about certain addresses in our lives. For some reason, 21 Jump Street is the address that always pops up for me. Anyways, last night, Devin Booker established a new home in New Orleans:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 8 9 2 0 5 5/11 13/24 13/13

The festivities at 44 Booker Street lasted for 42 minutes and the new residence was established due to the 139-132 Suns victory over the Pelicans. Booker had a 40-burger back on November 4th and he had scored at least 30 points four other times. With that said, his season seemed a little underwhelming for some. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never underwhelming? The Stocktonator. The usage this season was down to 28 from 32 last year and the PPG dipped to 25 from 26.6. It’s not all about points, though, for Booker, although he can obviously access 40 to 50-burger ceiling. Booker is a top 30 player for fantasy this season beause he’s shooting 94% from the free line and 50% from the field, with the 6.3 dimes, 3.9 boards, and 2.3 tres. He just needs to contribute the defensive stats. If he can do that, he’d easily be a top 20 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When Kyrie Irving went down to injury on November 14, the Nets lost their leader. The fantasy community lost its leader. And hope was starting to look bleak for the upcoming stretch of games without the explosive veteran running the point.

But Spencer Dinwiddie has not missed a beat. In the eight games that he’s started in place of Irving, he has averaged 24.5 points, 7.8 assists, three boards, a steal, and a block per game. He’s shooting 93% from the line with a decent sample size of 7.5 attempts per game. He has limited his turnovers to 2.4 per game. The only knock has been his efficiency from the field (42.4%) and from deep (34%), but all things considered, Dinwiddie is deserving of many thanks from his teammates.

His teammates were especially thankful last night, as he was giving at a particularly generous rate and recorded the following stat line:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 5 11 2 2 4 6-8 10-19 6-6

His 11 dimes led the NBA (along with LeBron and Luka), and his sharp-shooting from deep led the Nets to a great win over the division-rival Celtics. Here’s what else happened around the league on Friday 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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I heard that Joel Embiid was suspended two games, I knew that my Sixers would need someone to step up if they wanted to win a tough contest against Portland. Al Horford was too obvious. The rest of the starters would fulfill their roles as usual. No… the Sixers needed to unveil a secret weapon. Furkan Korkmaz didn’t do much with the Sixers after they drafted him at 27th overall in 2016. In fact, he was such a non-factor that the team decided to declined his option heading into the 2019-2020 season. Korkmaz was going back home to play for Fenerbahce in the Turkish league.

That didn’t last long.

And, at least for one game, the Sixers are glad to have him around. Seriously, on a team with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and a few trusty bench weapons, who else but Furkan Korkmaz gets tasked with making the game-winning three pointer with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Basketball is magical sometimes. And for anyone who drafted Korkmaz for their daily fantasy roster after some telepathic sensation advised them to take the 22-year old guard, kudos to you.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 3 2 0 2 0 3-6 4-9 0-0

With stats like these, it may seem like Korkmaz has some fantasy value, but he doesn’t… don’t be fooled by this strong showing. Let’s instead give one more nod of recognition to Korky, and then dive into some relevant fantasy performers from Saturday night’s action.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After an animal or person dies, the joints of the body stiffen. Did you know that death is the number one killer in this country? If you know what movie that’s from, then we are kindred spirits. Anyways, this stiffened state of the body is called rigor mortis, and lasts around three days. Last night, the Chicago Bulls were dealt a fatality by the New York Knicks, 105-98. A big reason why was due to the play of Bobby Portis, who put up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 11 2 0 2 0 4/4 10/14 4/5

Portis did this in 30 minutes off the bench and is responsible for the Bulls experiencing Rigor Portis. Good thing the effects last only three days because they play the Cavs in two days (a game they should win while deceased) and then the following game isn’t until Friday. Now, we often hear about the revenge narrative in sports. It’s mainly cockamamie, but if there’s one sport where it could be feasible, it’s basketball. Portis was drafted by the Bulls with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. After four years with the team, he was traded to the Washington Wizards, then signed with the Knicks over the summer. So…..REVENGE! Ha! I kid, I kid. From a fantasy perspective, Portis can provide points, boards, and tres, but the minutes and production will be inconsistent.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There have been 59 players in the history of the NBA who have scored 50 points in a game more than once. Laughably, Wilt Chamberlain produced a 50-burger 118 times. For perspective, Michael Jordan is second on the all-time list, and he was “only” able to do it 31 times. Only nine players have accomplished the feat at least 10 times. What I’m trying to say is that scoring fifty points in a game is freaking hard and few are able to do it. You know who knew, though? The Stocktonator, as it had Kyrie as the #3 player last night. Entering last night’s game, Kyrie Irving had accomplished the feat two times.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 8 7 0 1 0 7/14 17/33 9/10

Make that three now. When a player drops a 50-burger, the world is truly his. Look, it’s an auto intro in my daily recaps. Now, since the world is Kyrie’s, if he says the world is flat, then the world is flat. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the 50-burger was dropped on the corner of FLATbush Avenue and Atlantic Ave inside the Barclays Center? Me thinks not. But then I remembered something about history, in that it is written by the victors. Despite Kyrie’s heroics, the Nets fell to the Timberwolves in OT, 127-126. You round Earthers live to fight another day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?