The Nets were mired in a two-game losing streak, dropping games to the Hawks and Wizards no less. Then he heard the news that Kevin Durant would miss the next four games due to COVID protocols. Frustrated, Nash stood up from the couch, heel kicked the soccer ball conveniently laying on the floor, then began heading it against the wall. At first, it was a slow rhythmic pace….thump…..thump…..thump

Then thump..thump..thump..thump..thumpthumpthumpthumpthump. The woodpeckers in the neighborhood all flocked to the noise and gawked in amazement at the display of pecking dexterity. Then he heard it. “Honey, rewind that. And turn up the volume.”

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As the holidays bring some hopefully non-COVID cheer (those caps are official, which makes sense. COVID should always be yelled), we can all celebrate some measure of happiness that the NBA is back and games are being played. And with the start of the season, we have actual games to start actualizing what our team does and what we can start to expect. Now, it’s still early yet, of course, but the past couple of days have already revealed some interesting choices available to you right now. A player that has piqued some interest for me thus far is none other than Nicolas Batum.

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We finally made it! The 72-day wait for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season was excruciating. I kid, I kid. The turnaround from the end of last season to this year was a blur. My head is still spinning like a top, which has been compounded by the fact that Rona has nuked any conception of time that I may have possessed previously. So we’ve been mental masturbating over our drafts and teams for a few months, but now that the season has officially begun and we get to see the players play and stats get displayed, there’s nowhere to go but down. We all had banners flying and trophies hoisted right? With that said, there’s only one team that gets the chip each season. I hope that each of you is fortunate to be a part of the one. The season is a long one so embrace the journey and be diligent in managing your teams. Here’s what I saw last night:

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In 2019-2020, the Charlotte Hornets looked to be a veritable goldmine for fantasy hoops. Practically out of the gate, youngsters Devonte’ Graham, P.J. Washington and Dwayne Bacon all showed themselves to be unexpected sources of production. But by the time the season had ended, Bacon had fallen out of James Borrego’s rotation and only Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier found themselves anywhere close to top-100 production. Let’s not dwell on the negatives, though. Charlotte is a land of basketball opportunity. As proof, Graham and Rozier finished 12th and 25th, respectively, in minutes played per game. That’s a lot of minutes for two solid if not All-Star-caliber players, and it bodes well for future talent.

GM Mitch Kupchak has gone on the record saying that the Hornets won’t be buyers in the upcoming free agent class. That’s to be expected considering where the Hornets are currently situated, firmly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a good amount of young talent. Of course, they also have the third overall pick in the 2020 Draft. Putting aside the pick, what this means is we can expect the young guys to continue getting all the minutes they can handle and to make improvements on what we saw from them last season.

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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:

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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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The Dallas Mavericks are powered by two nuclear reactors. Unfortunately, the Luka Doncic Reactor was damaged a week ago and needed to be shut down. The Kristaps Porzingis Reactor has been throttled up in the meantime, but more power was required. Mark Cuban was wise to have alternative power sources at the ready. Bunsen burners don’t provide a ton of heat and are primarily just used in laboratories, but they provide a continuous source of fire. That is exactly what Jalen Brunson provides. Yesterday, the dial was turned up to full max:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 4 9 1 0 2 2/5 8/14 3/3

In 34 minutes. Now, the Doncic Reactor’s repairs are almost finished, so the Brunson Burner will be relegated once again to just laboratory experiments, but he’s someone to keep in mind if injury strikes again. In seven games as a starter this season, Brunson has averaged 29.8 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.4 tres, 4.3 boards, and 6.9 dimes. The shooting efficiency has also been excellent; 46% from the field and 100% from the line. In 22 games off the bench, he averages a meager 14.7 minutes. The Brunson Burner will never be able to fully power the Mavs on a consistent basis, but he’s more than capable of providing fire when called upon. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always brings the heat? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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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:

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Points guards are the Mother Teresas of the fantasy basketball world, as they like to give. Shooting guards are….the cavemen. See ball, shoot ball, take ball, then shoot ball. Rinse and repeat. These are obviously generalizations, but shooters shoot, and that’s what this post is all about. I kid, kind of. The elite at this position are across-the-board contributers, while the rest are indeed cavemen.

To see my per-game value projections for each player, click HERE. In the “Pos” box (which stands for position, not the other thing you were thinking), type in “sg” and the table will sort by just shooting guards.

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