R. J. Barrett is the 361st player on a per-game basis for the 2019 fantasy basketball season. There are 13 active players on each of the 30 NBA teams. That means that there are 390 active players. Thanks to my handy dandy abacus, that means that Barrett is better than 29 players. Yippee……That’s kind of not good for the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But he’s put together three straight decent games in a row. Are things turning around and is there merit to Barrett being fantasy relevant?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 5 5 1 0 3 3/8 10/18 4/7

The 27 points tied a career-high, which Barrett has accomplished three times this season. Barrett can score, even though he shoots with the wrong hand. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs regardless of the circumstances? The Stocktonator. He can also grab boards and dish out dimes. There is a reason why he was selected number three overall. With that said, there is a cavernous hole in his game: the shooting efficiency. On the season, he’s shooting 39% from the field and 59% from the line. There are stretches when he shoots sub-40% from the line. I will never understand how a professional ball player can’t shoot free throws at a high clip. It’s like literally their job. Anyways, he’s only 19 years old, so from a dynasty perspective, there is hope. For this season, he’s too inconsistent and doesn’t excel enough in the other categories to make the destruction of percentages worth it. So, the only merit to Barrett is in fading him.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For much of the season, Collin Sexton was a one-dimensional, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am player. He’d huck. He’d chuck. He’d blow you away with how little the contributions would be in the periphery stats. There have been only three games this season in which he’s scored single digits. He’s failed to jack up double digits shots in just one game. What makes it more impressive is that he dished out more than four dimes in only four games and hasn’t been punched in the face by his teammates. Yet, here we are in game number 45. Are we witnessing a new, improved, and more mature Sexton show?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 4 4 2 0 2 2/2 10/15 7/7

Jordan Clarkson was traded from the Cavs 15 games ago. When he left, Sexton saw an increase of over two minutes of run per game and close to two more shot attempts. Over the past three games, though, Sexton has averaged 23.7 points, 2.7 tres, 5.3 boards, and 4 dimes! The usage rate has been 30.8 and he’s jacking up 20.7 shots per game. The boards and dimes are the most eye-opening stats, as the season numbers are 3.3 boards and 2.4 dimes. Small sample size I know. Not something you want at a Sexton show. Anyways, Sexton is only 21 years old and has played 126 career games. There’s a chance things have clicked. Now, from a fantasy perspective, Sexton is still outside the top 100, even with the increase in boards and dimes, because of the lack of defensive stats. Hey, can’t go from a zero to a hero overnight. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s heroic every day? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

While Christmas has morphed into a commercialized phenomenon, let us not forget why we engorge in capitalistic orgies because of it. Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; the son of God, the final piece of the Holy Triumvirate, the One who died for our sins so that we may experience salvation. To say that He is an important figure in history is an understatement. So, it is only fitting that on the day after Christmas, a Christian would ball out and be the lede of this post. And it makes sense that such an elevating performance would be delivered from a player named Wood because who doesn’t like elevated Wood. Anyways, Christian Wood delivered:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 7 3 0 1 3 2/4 7/9 6/6

In 24 minutes off the bench. Now, the Pistons….POOF….made the Wizards disappear, 132-102 last night. As a result, Wood received more run than normal. On the season, he’s averaging 15.3 minutes per game, which is a shame because he balls out when he’s on the court. Maybe this Wood cannot perform for extended periods of time. I kid, I kid. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what performs 24/7? The Stocktonator. The reason why Wood has been passed around more times than a blunt in a cypher (he’s played for five teams in five years) is because of immaturity and a lack of professionalism off the court. So far this season, Coach Casey has brought him along slowly and made him earn everything. Wood can score, provide tres, grabs boards, contribute defensive stats, and shoot efficiently from the field. Back on December 1st, Wood scored 28 points, grabbed 10 boards, dished out 2 dimes, blocked 1, and stole 1 in 22 minutes!!! That’s the kind of upside we are talking about here. There’s a chance Wood can carve out a more substantial role as the season progresses. For now, he can’t be counted on but make preparations for when that time comes. Sort of like how the celebration of Christmas has evolved over the years. First, it was just about one day a year. Now, it’s something that people begin preparing for right after Thanksgiving.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I used to spend hours upon hours upon hours upon hours playing franchise mode in NBA 2K. I was a fantasy draft guy, so I’d draft my team. Then I’d go into the playbook and select all the plays I wanted for my offensive system. The rotations and minutes distribution would be all taken care of. I’d make sure the players were happy with their roles, and ensure contracts were all taken care of. Finally, I’d spend hours upon hours upon hours upon hours tweaking the sliders so that the game would play as realistically as possible. One slider in particular would always cause me much consternation: the injury slider. If I put it too low, then no one would ever get injured and the simulation experience would be tainted. On the other hand, if I put it too high, then I’d want to throw my controller into the wall….repeatedly. Well, whoever is handling the NBA matrix has put the injury slider too high! Just yesterday, Brandon Ingram’s knee tightened up before the game and will now have an MRI on Tuesday. Danuel House suffered back contusions and left the game after 12 minutes. De’Aaron Fox sprained his ankle during practice and will be out at least 3-4 weeks. Finally, Gordon Hayward will be out six weeks after undergoing surgery on his injured hand. Whew! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never gets injured and is always there working for you? The Stocktonator. O. G. Anunoby left after 2 minutes due to an eye injury. Landry Shamet only played 12 minutes due to an ankle injury. Now, from a fantasy perspective, if Ingram misses time, then Josh Hart will likely start in his place. Jrue Holiday should be the one to soak up the most usage. If House is unable to play, Ben McLemore would likely replace him in the starting lineup. With Fox out for a while, Cory Joseph will likely start but Bogdan Bogdanovic probably benefits the most. There’s been talk that Fox could be out more than 3-4 weeks, and when he does return, he won’t be as explosive. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should see a bump in playing time if Anunoby misses time. As for Shamet, Rodney McGruder could see more run or Lou Williams may get a few more minutes. Not sure there’s a direct beneficiary from the situation, but we will monitor to see how Doc decides to play it. Since we can’t rage quit and press reset on the box, we must make do with what we have and offer sacrifices to the injury gods.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Sing the below to the tune in the video:

“And then a Herro comes along. With the tres to carry on. And you cast your fears aside. And you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone. Click your team and be strong. And you’ll finally see the truth. That a Herro’s all you need.”

Tyler Herro, the 19-year-old, 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft of the Miami Heat, and yet another player who John Calipari wasted at Kentucky, has been strong. Is the truth. And is all that we need. Ok, the last part is hyperbole, but he’s been very good since the Summer League. With Jimmy Butler missing the first three games of the season, Herro played 34, 32, and 35 minutes and scored 14, 14, and 8 points respectively. He also grabbed some boards and contributed some steals. Butler returned to the lineup last night, yet Herro had his most productive game to date in 29 minutes off the bench:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 7 2 0 0 0 3/4 7/9 12/16

The 16 free throw attempts were likely an outlier, so don’t construct the shrine yet, but Herro has proven that he belongs and can be a source of points and tres.

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:

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I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.

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The Mavericks finished just above the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference last season. The future, however, is so bright that they need sunshades, as the roster now boasts two of the top young stars in the Association. ESPN has Luka Doncic listed as a SF and Kristaps Porzingis as a PF, but talk to any real basketball savant and they will tell you they both defy positional description. KP is built like a telephone pole but shoots like a shooting guard, while Doncic is built like a tight end but passes like a willow the wisp PG. Mark Cuban can’t wait to see how their skill sets merge on the court, and we can’t either. There is not enough talent around them to make the playoffs, but their development as a duo will be must-see TV.

Having given up this year’s first-rounder to move up to draft Luka, and having traded 2nd rounder Lithuanian Deividas Sirvydis to the Pistons, the Mavs have no drafted rookies in camp. But youth still abounds in developing players Justin Jackson, acquired in the Harrison Barnes trade, Delon Wright, acquired from Memphis in a sign-and-trade deal, and last year’s 2nd round rookie, Jalen Brunson.

It will definitely be a wait and see season for the Mavs. Wait and see how healthy KP is. Wait and see how all the pieces mesh. Wait and see if Rick Carlisle can meld these pieces into a reasonable team.

Will the Mavs better last year’s 33-49 record in a decidedly stronger Western conference? We will have to wait and see.

Please, blog, may I have some more?