I had the good fortune of playing on some pretty good basketball teams in my youth. Well, good fortune in the sense that I was on teams that won a bunch of games and had the best seat in the house at the end of the bench. The two high school classes ahead of mine were absolutely loaded, creating a bottleneck of talent and pushing varsity-caliber players down to a JV squad that churned through overmatched programs over and over again. Winning by 15+ and then getting an earful about how poorly we played the next day in practice was a pretty routine occurrence. I’m not sure we lost more than three games over the course of two years.

What Jonas Valanciunas did to the Wizards reminded of these glory days, as JV was absolutely dominant against a frontcourt that didn’t have anything resembling an answer for the Memphis big man. Jonas is a load in the paint, and if you don’t have a big body to throw at him, the results can be Just Vicious.

Jonas Valanciuias 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 3PM FG FT
29 20 3 0 4 2 0 12/21 5/7

JV feasted on Washington’s undersized group. Moritz Wagner could only hang for 21 minutes with him before collecting six fouls. Davis Bertans racked up five fouls in 20 minutes. Robin Lopez fared better than those other two, but Scott Brooks eventually had to turn to his fourth big, Alex Len, for a couple of minutes in search of relief from the abuse. This is the second time Valanciunas has posted a 20+  points and 20+ rebounds line this year. Skilled and huge, he abuses teams that don’t have an ogre of their own to throw at him. With only two games on the slate, there was nowhere to hide JV’s dominance.

Here’s what else I saw on slow Wednesday in the NBA:

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There are four types of fossil fuels currently in existence: petroleum, coal, natural gas, and orimulsion. They are all made from plants and animals that decompose. As of 2018, petroleum accounted for 34% of the world’s energy source, coal 27%, and natural gas 24%. What is orimulsion? Is it like Bitcoin and Top Shot? Nuclear energy was 4.4%, hydroelectric 6.8%, while solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wind combined for 4%. In the three years since those percentages were tabulated, the numbers have skewed more towards the non-fossil sources as the world has become more conscious about saving Mother Earth. Yipee! Halliburton, though, is one of the world’s largest oil field service companies and is the Dolph Lundgren to Mother Earth: If she dies, she dies. They make billions of dollars, keeping their shareholders happy but draw the ire of the children of Mother Earth. But, but, but…..a new energy source has been discovered in Sacramento and his name is Tyrese Haliburton. Is he a fossil fuel? Well, he does kill defenders and decomposes them into the stat sheet, so yes. But he is also a green source of energy because he delivers the goods so cleanly and efficiently. Win, win for everyone. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 5 9 3 1 1 4/9 9/20 1/2

In 40 minutes off the bench. Haliburton has only started two games this season yet is a top 40 player on the season. Over the last four games, he’s been a top 20 player averaging 34.2 minutes. 17.5 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 6.5 dimes, two steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 48% from the field and 75% from the line. Dayam. Since 2000, only seven rookies have finished inside the top 40 at season’s end. Both LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton could accomplish the feat this year. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Is Mason Plumlee the Great White Hope? This is the second consecutive time I’ve written him up for the lede to this internationally renowned fantasy basketball blog, and y’all know how precious this real estate is. Not good enough? How about the fact that not since B-Rabbit has a white guy gotten the folks in Detroit to get up off their seats, bob their heads up and down, and raise their hands to the sky? Still not feeling it? Then how about this?

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Nikola Tesla was of Serbian descent and is considered one of the most influential people of all time. He invented the Tesla coil, the magnifying transmitter, Tesla turbine engine, shadowgraph, radio, neon lamp, Niagra Falls transformer house, the induction motor, radio-controlled boat, but his crowning achievement was inventing alternating current, which allowed electricity to be sent over long distances more efficiently. Ranker.com has him at the top among famous people named Nikola. That’s fair, but Nikola Pekovic is number two? Granted, there is no number but the logical assumption would be that the next Nikola listed would be the number two Nikola, right? What about Nikola Jokic? Scrolls down. Nope. Scrolls down more. Where he at? Keeps scrolling, Nopenopenopenope. Finally CTRL-F. Big. Fat. Zero. Man, F#@! Ranker.com. As for Tesla, he’s dope and even has an awesome car named after him but when’s the last time he did this?

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We knew from the start that this was going to be a weird season. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become a part of our life for the last year and basketball couldn’t remain unaffected. During the last 2 weeks, more and more cases are appearing in the league and some games have already been postponed. Furthermore, there are teams that are decimated by the virus and the contact tracing procedures that it involves, with these teams playing many games with 8 or 9 active players and usually without their stars. It is a difficult and unique situation that the experts expect to escalate during the next month. Maybe a pause in action for 1-2 weeks would prove beneficial for all parties, as neither teams, nor fans want to watch games with depleted rosters or constant postponements and uncertainty. The league has just implemented stricter restrictions for NBA players and personnel, that pretty much affect the whole spectrum of their everyday life, in an attempt to contain the spread.

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If you haven’t heard of statistical scarcity before, it’s a pretty simple concept. Basically, the less of a statistic available in the pool of rostered fantasy players, the more valuable it is. It’s important to keep in mind that this is comparative scarcity as well. So even while league wide there may be rebounds being grabbed, we’re going to look at the top 188 players in 9-cat according to Basketball Monster and see where their production lands.

Sure, Dwight Howard has grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game this season, but he doesn’t do enough to warrant being in the top 188 for fantasy value and he’s only rostered in 12% of Yahoo! leagues as of the writing of this article, so he’s probably not producing that for many teams. Make sense?

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I’ve been running the same fantasy basketball league with roughly the same players for nearly a decade now and a while back we converted it into a keeper league. This past Tuesday we had our fantasy draft. We are like most leagues in that there are a few players nearly always on the top and the rest of the league is a mixture of people who don’t care nearly as much or are just novices trying to learn. If you’re in a casual league, it probably looks a lot like this.

One important thing to keep in mind is that this is a KEEPER league, and as such 41 of Yahoo!’s top 50 players were kept and unavailable to be drafted. You’ll see them pop up in rounds much later, in most scenarios, as they were kept on the cheap. It’s a 9-cat H2H league as well with nothing to play for but a trophy we have engraved every season. We added two more teams this season that did not play at all last season and held an expansion draft before the actual draft, and we replaced one manager who decided to focus on his life instead (which is totally okay and encouraged, btw.)

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When Zach LaVine popped his head out from his mother’s womb, his first words were, “Who’s got next?” On his first day of school, his mother tried to dress him in his finest clothes. LaVine responded, “No, mom. We skins today.” When the other kids would go out and party, LaVine would be in the backyard playing hoops. As a result, he would receive Valentine’s Day cards from basketballs and they/it would write letters to Santa saying that they were good basketballs and that all they wanted for Christmas was Zach LaVine. LaVine was born a baller. He lived his life as a baller. Now, he’s a baller on the grandest of stages. Last night was the latest example.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 9 4 2 0 5 8/11 15/21 3/4

Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always a baller on the grandest of stages? The Stocktonator. That was the fifth 40-burger of the season for LaVine. He’s averaging 25.3 points on the season, which is good for 11th in all of basketball. The tres are at a career-high 3.1 per game, and so are the steals at 1.4 per. He’s not just a 3-and-D player, though. The usage rate is over 31 and he supplies a consistent supply of 5 boards and 4 dimes per game. That all translates to a top 35 player for fantasy on the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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On July 31, 2019, RTS Sat (Radio Television Serbia) sent a team to Memphis, as the Grizzlies signed Marko Guduric to a multi-year contract. Their first questions for the Serbian star were, Do you like Memphis? Ja. Do you like rock-n-roll music? Ja. Do you like Elvis? Uh huh huh. Fast forward six months, and the RTS Sat crew didn’t care about the 13.2 minutes in 33 games played for their Serbian. What excites you most about the Grizzlies? Ja. Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Ja. What will the name of your child be? Ja. The RTS Sat crew wasn’t messing around. Guduric wasn’t messing around. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what also never messes around? The Stocktonator. Ja Morant, on the other hand, messed around for the first time in his young career last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 10 1 1 3 2/7 9/17 7/9

In 35 minutes. On the season, Ja is just outside the top 100 for fantasy. Much of that had to do with the playing time, as there were many games, especially early on, when he was receiving only 25 minutes of run a night. That was probably by design, to bring Ja along slowly. He’s at 30 minutes per game right now. If he gets another two to three minutes per game, a top 75 finish isn’t out of the question because he averages around 18 points, 4 boards, 7 dimes, and 1 steal per game. The percentages are excellent, around 50% from the field and over 80% from the line. The most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to get to the rim and convert amongst the bigs. Over 65% of his shot attempts are within 10 feet from the basket. He’s 6′ 3″ and 174 pounds, y’all! And only 20 years old! Wait until he fills out physically! The comps to Russell Westbrook have been made. The advanced stats for NBA.com only go back to 2013, the sixth year of Westbrook’s career, and only 38% of his shots were within 10 feet! Will Morant be better than Westbrook? Ja?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?