As NBA fans and fantasy basketball players we all lust for the power of NBA general managers. Many of us wrongly assume we could do a better job heading our favorite team’s basketball operations—it isn’t hard to get those ideas if you happen to be a Knicks, Magic, Timberwolves, Suns, or Kings fan. But what we long for as much as the power, is the seriousness of the endeavor. NBA GM’s get to make decisions that carry weight. A draft pick is quite simply a choice—a highly public, decade-defining choice in some cases, but a choice all the same. We make choices every day—the blue or the red tie, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, Fleabag or The Good Place, two drinks or twelve, poetry or literally anything else that might actually pay the bills. We make applicable sports decisions as well. We choose between Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard in our fantasy draft, we add Kendrick Nunn or Davis Bertans off the wire, we kill Russell Westbrook in the group chat, we build property on Julius Randle, Dion Waiters, or Lonzo Ball Island. We tweet, we engage, and we argue. We win our league or we don’t. In time, we are either vindicated or pilloried. At best, we have a lighthearted thing to lord over people we care about, at worst, we have to dye our hair, wear ugly ill-fitting clothes, or in a more recent trend, consume enough waffles to avoid sleeping in a Waffle House. But largely, no one notices or cares, as our sports opinions are indiscernible dots in a sea of data points.

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Michael Porter Jr. was one of the top overall recruits in high school. At 6′ 10″ and 218 pounds, he was literally a giant amongst boys. Unlike most big men, though, he did most of his damage from the perimeter. He possessed both the handles and jump shot of a guard. With his height and athleticism, he would rise up over any challenger and drain shots from all over the court. Because of the stupid rule that forces players to showcase their talents in college for one year before entering the NBA, MPJ eventually decided to play for Missouri. Unfortunately, he injured his back and underwent surgery, forcing him to miss most of the season. As a result, he fell in the NBA draft before the Denver Nuggets selected him with the 14th overall pick. Back injuries are tricky, and the Nuggets selected MPJ for the long game, so the process was going to be a slow and tedious one. For the first 31 games of the season, MPJ played in 22 of them and averaged 9 minutes per game. Then, on December 29th, he received his first start and did what he do, which is score, score, and score some more. He scored 19 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 1 dime in 26 minutes. The Nuggets were short-handed that game, so I dismissed it as a one-off thing, but it looks as if the genie may be out of the bottle. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 5 1 0 0 1 2/3 11/12 1/2

In 23 minutes off the bench. He posted up smaller defenders, broke down bigs on the perimeter, showcased the Harden-esque step-back J, and attacked the rim on closeouts with dexterity. Over the past four games, he’s been a top 60 player for fantasy, despite averaging only 19.6 minutes. Now, before we go crowning his ass, MPJ is not going to shoot 74% from the field, which is what he’s done over the past four games. When that happens, the points will obviously go down, which will be an issue because most of his fantasy value is derived from scoring. He may be a hero right now, but he’s a zero in the defensive stats and dimes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a zero, and always a hero? The Stocktonator. In addition, his real-life defense isn’t great, which could be an issue regarding playing time because the Nuggets are legitimate contenders this season. I’ve added MPJ in every league where he was available, as the scoring upside is immense, and there’s always that small percentage chance that he could be the greatest thing since….most people go with sliced bread. I get it but not really. How about the internet? Nike Airs? Deodorant? I’m going with the Apple Pan banana cream pie. For those in LA, you know. For the unfortunate, you know what to do if you ever go to LA. Anyways, I’m not expecting much from MPJ to be honest, but willing to see where it leads.

Here’s what else I saw last 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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Kawhi & The Clips

Kawhi Leonard entered the 2019-20 season as a first-round fantasy talent and one of the best two or three players in the NBA. He’s lived up to that billing and then some to start the season. Over the first four games, Kawhi is averaging 27 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He’s shooting 51.9 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from three, and 84 percent from the free-throw line. The 7.5 assists per game are particularly noteworthy since prior to this season, Kawhi had never averaged more than 3.5 assists a game, which he did in the 2016-17 season. Yes, the sample size is microscopic, but the evidence is hard to ignore. In the second game of the season against the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi matched his career high for assists in a game with nine. In game three against the Phoenix Suns, he set a new career high with 10 assists. This is no blip on the radar. Of the very few weaknesses in Leonard’s game, playmaking was the largest.

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Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!

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You’re all aware of the safety warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” right? If not, please text me before you drive so I can stay home. Anyways, the warning is placed on the side mirrors of cars because the convexity of the mirror, while allowing one to see more area, also makes objects appear smaller. This gives the impression that an object is closer than it appears. So easy a SON can get it. Well, if you’ve been reading me all year, you know that I walked 500 Myles earlier in the season. It was a challenging endeavor, but all worth it in the end, as last night Myles Turner was able to post a career-high in…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 11 2 0 7 2 1/1 3/11 3/4

…..blocks. He had posted 6 blocks in a game five times in his career. Now, due to my loyalty when things were tough, Myles let me ride shotgun as we drove along the coast and reminsced. As he was telling me stories of his childhood, I got freaked out when I saw Brook Lopez’s face in the mirror. It kept getting bigger and bigger, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I was about to pass out when Myles just turned, smirked, and said, “chill out, Son. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” He then calmly explained that Lopez was a distant second to him in blocks because he played seven fewer games. Myles has 159 blocks on the season in 57 games, compared to 143 in 64 games for Lopez. That breaks down to 2.79 vs 2.23. Whew. Anyways, from a fantasy perspective, the blocks are great and he provides tres from the big man position, but because he likes to hang out on the perimeter, the boards, points, and efficiency from the field are light. He also doesn’t provide dimes. With that said, over the past four games, he’s been a top 25 player primarily on the blocks alone, as he’s Myles ahead of the competition in that category.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Clint Capela was producing at a top 20 level, averaging 17.1 points, 12.5 boards, and 1.8 blocks. Then, he suffered a thumb injury and missed 14 games. Upon his return, D’Antoni gave him 33, 28, and 34 minutes of run, in which Capela produced top 100 value. Every performer needs a warm up or time to get into the groove. Well, if last night was any indication, Capela is done with rehearsing and reading for prime time.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 17 2 1 1 0 0 10/16 3/4

Capela played a team-high 41 minutes. Now, Kenneth Faried did miss some time last night due to injury, so that may explain some of the minutes bump, but Capela looks ready to go for the stretch run. Prior to the injury, he was averaging close to 35 minutes per game and produced three 20/20 games. The Rockets are getting healthy and I can’t wait to see what the main act provides.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve got to admit. I was a D’Angelo Russell hater before he came to the Nets. The incident where he exposed Nick Young as a cheater by filming him, talking about it, and posting it on social media made me think he was kind of a bonehead and a snitch. I also thought he was a guy who would never meet the expectations of being the number two overall draft pick. I also, was not a fan of his game from a fantasy perspective. He turned it over too much and he had poor shooting percentages, both from the field and the line, while contributing almost nothing in the way of D stats. However, since being traded to the Nets I have changed my tune on him, especially this season. He made a huge improvement in his FTs, going from 74% last season to 81.8% this season. He also upped his assists by 1.5 while not adding too many turnovers, and upped his scoring by nearly 5 points. He has also shown the ability to absolutely take over games and last night was one of those nights. D-Loading went 6-40-1-7-2-1-4 on 14-of-31 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. It was also his 23rd birthday, so as a Nets fan I felt compelled to give him the lede. It’s hard to believe he’s already a four-year veteran, but that’s what happens with these one-and-done guys. They also can take some time to fully download.

There was a huge slate of games last night so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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P. S. stands for postscript, which comes from the Latin word postscriptum and literally means “written after.” It’s used for an afterthought, not cool enough to be a part of the main piece. Like, oh by the way, I forgot to mention this but blah blah blah. It gets a bad rap, but as Shaun Usher of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The P. S. is the most charming part of a letter. It’s the wink you give as you walk away.” It’s the cherry on top, the bam for the wham, and the mic drop. Like, P. S. – You the shiznitz. What? What?! Which segues perfectly to Pascal Siakam.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 10 2 0 3 4 4/5 15/25 10/12

A career-high in points scored. On the season, Siakam has been a top 40 player, but over the past four games, he’s been top 25. The usage rate has spiked to 28 and he’s averaged 35.3 minutes, 26 points, 1.5 tres, 9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 1 block while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line on 8 attempts! He literally does it all. Like literally, as he can play center or be a point forward. The improvement in his game has been nothing short of amazing. P. S. is no longer an afterthought and has to be a no-brainer for Most Improved Player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Damian Lillard got the night off in Portland to get some well deserved rest, and the rest of the Blazers all got a decided boost; none more than CJ McCollum, who went 2-28-10-10-1-0-3 on 10-of-23 shooting and 6-for-7 from the line. This was CJ’s first career triple-double and just shows he’s more of a complete player than people thought. He still didn’t give you much in the way of defensive stats, but this will probably go down as one of his best stat-lines of the season.  Just keep in mind if Lillard misses any other games, CJ and the rest of his Blazer Buddies become viable DFS options. It was a pretty short schedule for a Saturday night with only five games. I guess with no real NFL games in the week before the Super Bowl, they wanted to stack Sunday, with no competition from football. Anyway, there is still a lot to get into so without further ado, here’s what else went down last night:

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