An extremely encouraging pattern is beginning to emerge with my every-other-week recapping of the Wednesday night games: Happy returns that are highlighted in the lede. You see, it was my distinct pleasure to highlight KAT’s return from his early season wrist + Covid absence, and I was the one who placed Kevin Durant in this place of prominence when he came back from the extended hammy vacation. Now, I’m due up for the recap on the night Jaren Jackson Jr. returned and you know damn well that I’m going to make him the lede. Welcome back, Jar—

Ah. Actually not. Sorry JJJ, I’m breaking up the welcome party and going with the 40 piece instead. We’ll see you later in the recap, because this lede (and maybe all of the Western world) belongs to…

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
40 11 6 1 0 6 11/21 12/13 4

This is second time in the last week that Julius has gone 40+/10+/6+ with 6 made threes. Wut. That’s just unspeakable heat from New York’s Caesar, who led the Knicks to an OT win against the Hawks last night. Woe to those of you having wrestle this monster in head-to-head playoffs. It might be better just to simply bend the knee when Randle is going like this.

Here’s what else stood out on another busy Wednesday in the Association…

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LeBron. Le Cordon Bleu. Le Diplomate. Le Creuset. Le Meruice. Le Meridien. Le PS5. Le Los Angeles Lakers. Le just means The but that doesn’t diminish its greatness. It’s the first one written, first one seen, first one spoken, and introduces all things, big or small. With that said, only a select few are blessed with the Le. In France, not so much but in the good ole’ US of A, it’s akin to finding Coke in a glass bottle. LeVert, as in Caris LeVert has been great and looks to have finally found his footing in Indiana. Two games ago, he went for 34 points, two tres, five boards, three dimes, one steal, and three blocks. For an encore, he went bonkers again….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 6 6 2 3 2 1/8 7/18 11/13

….in 36 minutes. The usage rate was a whopping 29. Over the last four games, LeVert has been a top 15 player. Houston sure could use a player of his caliber.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Fox has been on an absolute tear. In the last month, he’s shot 50.2% from the field and 80.2% from the line while averaging 28.3/3.5/6.1 and almost 2 steals per game. I still think the percentages are bound to fall, but this hot stretch might take Fox straight through the season, prompting many to take him too early in drafts next year. Be careful is all I’m saying, but enjoy the production for now.

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Career night for Joe Ingles, who stepped in as a starter for the resting Mike Conley. Ingles went off for a career-high 34 points on just 17 shots, including eight connections from long distance. With so much scoring he only distributed two dimes, but chipped in with a pair of steals as well. Conley’s return will cap Ingles’ value, but he’s still a borderline top-100 player off the bench contributing threes, assists and good percentages.

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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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In some ways, I have sympathy for what happened to the Celtics last night. After all, who among us hasn’t done the groggy barter with the alarm clock in the morning and hit the snooze button? Five more minutes, we tell ourselves, just a bit longer and then I’m getting up. Sometimes it’s fine — the bonus z’s make you feel better and you leisurely arrive at your morning rested and ready to go — and sometimes you really needed to get out of bed on time.

Roosters, nature’s alarm clock, have no snooze button. When it’s time to go to work, they’re going to let you know about it. Last night, the NBA’s Rooster crowed loudly and emphatically, but the Celtics slept right through it.

Danilo Gallinari

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 3PT FG FT
38 6 2 2 0 4 10 13/16 2/21

Unable to get up for their game against Atlanta, the C’s instead found themselves in waking nightmare featuring a 6’10” gamecock that also happened to be absolutely on fire. While the guys in green were rubbing sleep out of their eyes, Gallo canned the wide open triples. By the time Boston had put their slippers on and started closing out to him, Danilo had extended his range out to the logo. All told, Gallinari hit seven first half threes. The bonus three balls in the second stanza were his way of tucking Boston back into bed. Buona notte!

Sleep on the Rooster at your own peril.

Here’s what else happened on a busy Wednesday in the NBA:

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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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As most if not everyone knows, the NBA world and sports fans all over commemorated the passing of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant who passed away one year ago on January 26, 2019, in a terrible helicopter crash. In the world of sports, the signature trait that we remember him most by is what is called the Mamba Mentality. In the words of Bryant himself, the Mamba Mentality is the idea of being focused on the task of getting better and being better today than you were yesterday at whatever you want to do in life. But for most NBA fans, the Mamba Mentality is most notably seen in the form of one thing: Getting Buckets when the lights are brightest! So, to commemorate Kobe Bryant and the bucket getter mentality, let us celebrate and praise some of the best bucket getters in the league who showed up and showed out under the bright Friday Night Lights!

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