There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
57 9 2 2 1 5 6/15 17/33 17/18

In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?

That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh yeah! Big Bad Blake, the Earthquake Griffin is the first player to get highlighted twice by me this year! Clap it up! I really wanted to give the lede to anyone else, but no-one else’s line came close to what Blake did last night. Blake Griffin went 5-44-8-5-3-1-4 on 13-of-23 shooting and 13-of-14 FTs as Detroit topped the Clippers 109-104. Detroit inches closer to that highly coveted 8th seed in the East, and Blake is licking his chops at the prospect of a seven-game series with the Raptors. I had to shoutout Blake for bringing the defensive stats last night for once. It was his first block in the last six games so I wouldn’t get used to this level of elite blocks production.

A lot went down last night so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Amazing, yet totally believable headline from earlier this season: “Pelicans’ Anthony Davis drops rare 5×5 statistical game…”

Jaw-dropping headline from last week that I’m still not over: “Nurkic’s NBA-best 5×5…..” <RECORD SCRATCH>

That’s TWO five-by-fives already this season! A 20/20 5×5 from Jusuf Nurkic!?! The NBA is definitely “Where Amazing Happens”.

Quick nostalgia video for my fellow StarCraft and/or Aliens fans regarding the quote I hear in my head each time a 5×5 is mentioned:

I’ll try to keep it relatively short this week, as the concepts won’t be new. I thought it was high time we look at statistical scarcity again, now that we have a significant sample of this season’s stats. We’ve talked about how statistical performances compare across categories based on player rater values and just how good stats have to be to offset those that negatively affect us among other similar ideas. But this time, I’m back to comparing the scarcity of our counting stats, this time through the lens of the 5×5.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

One of the beautiful things about the English language is its vast nature. One of the worst things about the English language is its vast nature. Take the word crane for example. It can describe a type of bird, a machine that lifts objects, or a specific type of neck movement. How about Derrick Rose saying “kill yourself” the other day? In a vacuum, it’s a terrible thing to say, but if you delve into the context, it does make some sense. It’s basically slang for “shut the F up.” Now, what about the expression “god damnit?” It’s usually used to express frustration or angst, but it’s also a military expression of encouragement. Thanks urban dictionary. Anyways, I’m going through all of this because of what Landry Shamet did last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 3 1 1 0 1 8/14 8/15 5/5

In 24 minutes off the bench! God Shamet! Am I calling Shamet a God? Am I expressing awe and amazement? Am I frustrated because I did not play him in DFS? It’s all about context, right? At the same time, I could answer yes to all three. Gotta love the English language. Shamet has appeared in every game this season, so he has the trust of the coaching staff and fills a specific need for the Sixers, which is to space the floor and knock down shots. From a fantasy perspective, he doesn’t have that much value, as he doesn’t play enough minutes or jack up the necessary shots. On the season, he’s averaging 4.4 threeecola attempts per game and, outside of last night, he had only one other game with more than 10 attempts. With that said, it was nice to have him as the lede, as it was getting boring talking about the same guys over and over. In addition, he’s someone to monitor if injury strikes or he does take on a more significant role as the season progresses.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Karl-Anthony Towns is an amazing player. He’s a seven-foot, 250 pound player who can post up down low, break ankles on the perimter, and drain threeecolas. While I question if he has enough dog in him to lead a team to the promised land, there is no denying his status as one of the elite fantasy players. Since entering the league, KAT has finished as the 12th, 6th, and 5th player in fantasy. So far, he’s the #7 player this season and puts up funky lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 18 3 2 4 3 1/4 11/20 5/5

I want to go to Funky Towns, though.

Can we Voltron up and get Andrew Wiggins out of Minnesota? KAT is averaging 16.2 shot attempts per game, good for 31st in the league. Wiggins is at 15.5 shots per game. Imagine a place sans Wiggins where KAT attempts over 20 shots per game and sees an uptick in usage and assist rate? That’s a place I want to go. The beyond funky contract of Wiggins makes it an almost impossible task, but one can dream.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I first started writing these recaps, Grey imparted into my tiny brain the wisdom of not writing about the same player in the lede. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but it made sense and I’ve tried to adhere to it as much as possible. But, but, but….Yes, I’m studdering mother [email protected]#!er. Sometimes a player is so good, so brilliant, so dominant that he moon walks over all the competition and I’m forced to do it. Let’s call it the James Harden fast rule.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
43 10 13 2 0 9 6/12 8/19 21/27

That’s four straight games with at least 40 points. According to Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen), Harden joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players over the last 30 years to score 400 points in 10 games. According to Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA), Harden was the first person in NBA history to score at least 40 points on eight field goal makes. He now has four trip-dubs on the season and 39 for his career. He’s been the #1 player for fantasy over the past seven games. All that is nice and dandy, but do you know what the craziest stat is? With both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon off the court, Harden has a 51.8 usage rate, an increase of 10.3%!!! The Harden Fast Rule is that when Paul and Gordon are off the court, James is gonna eat.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We know the NBA is a serious business, but even it is not immune to the occasional mix up. Such an occurrence happened last week, sparked by a three-team trade centered around Trevor Ariza. Per reports, part of the deal that Memphis agreed was to send MarShon Brooks to the Phoenix Suns, but Phoenix thought they were getting Dillon Brooks. I guess that’s what happens when you have two players with the same surname on the same team and you are trading with a team whose coach also has the same surname. And with that, the deal was off, only to happen two days later without the involvement of Memphis. Now that I think about it more, maybe the Wizards’ master plan was to trade their head coach, but Memphis found out before it was too late. Imagine a team with all three members of the Holiday family: Jrue, Justin, and Aaron. How about a team with all four members of the Antetokounmpo family: Giannis, Thanasis, Alex, and Kostas? I would pay just to hear trade discussions involving players from those two families.

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, Wendell Carter Jr. has hit the well-documented “rookie-wall,” but I still think he is an excellent Buy option, as he is too good to struggle for much longer. Nicolas Batum had a breakthrough performance vs the Knicks and I think he can improve more as we approach the second half of the season, while De’Anthony Melton maintained his minutes and production even with Devin Booker back. Finally, Trey Lyles has been underwhelming with his increased opportunity, but has the ability to get hot in a hurry, in contrast to Rodney McGruder, for whom I maintain the opinion that he should be off standard league rosters.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Remember when Emmanuel Mudiay was the #7 overall pick by Denver? He never seemed to live up to his potential or draft position. He ended up in NY and, for fantasy teams, was a complete afterthought. Well, looks like we were wrong because he has been playing great lately. I am skeptical about Mudiay’s overall production and his ability to continue, but for now, enjoy the ride because he’s playing like a totally new player. He’ll probably fall victim to the notorious Knicks rotation, but you have to like the production recently and, if you could use points, assists, and surprisingly solid percentages, you could do worse. He’s a definite sell high if you can find someone who is buying in. Just point to this game and see what a GM might give you in exchange.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
14/21 5/6 1/4 34 3 8 1 0 3

Wow! Mudiay had been hovering close to the top 100 over the last month, on the strength of nice scoring, assists, and FT%, but this was his coming out game. The 34 points were a career-high. More importantly, he showed confidence and swagger and seemed to know he was the man. He nearly hit the game winner, which we all thought was going in. He could be a contender for Most Improved Player if he keeps it rolling.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I have to start this article by saying that I’m a big fan of Stephen Curry, but simultaneously I’m a bigger fan of science. And those two seemed to have a conflict recently with Curry suggesting that the moon landing didn’t happen during a recent podcast. NASA’s response was immediate.

This is the second occurrence of an NBA player making such a comment after Kyrie Irving’s infamous flat earth theory. My humble personal opinion is that these guys are role models for millions of children worldwide and as role models, they ought to have a more well-informed opinion on scientific matters. Their opinions may shape the views of millions that look up to them, so their statements carry a significant weight. I would love to hear your opinion on that matter in the comments. I’m interested to see your point of view. OK, Rant over, let’s review last week’s calls and move on to this week’s suggestions!

Tim Frazier is doing exactly what is expected from him, with elite assists and contributions in steals and triples, and I really like him as long as Elfrid Payton is sidelined. Kevin Huerter has seen his minutes increase and is becoming a deep-league asset, while Marvin Williams returned quicker than expected and somewhat capped Miles Bridges’ upside. Finally, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell will have low end value until DeMarcus Cousins returns.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

 

 

 

 

The SouthLEAST Division

Here we are at the quarter turn, as teams have played approximately 25% of their games.

We know enough to be able to make some pretty cogent observations. Try this one on: this division is the worst in the NBA. Last year, the Heat won the division with 44 wins, while the Wizards had 43. Most thought it would be those two teams battling again, but alas, the Hornets and Magic currently sit atop the divisional heap. Any of these teams will be hard pressed to win 44 this year, although since they have to play each other four times each, somebody might get close. We could easily see a sub-.500 Division champion. What has been evident is that there are four coaches who are doing a notable job with inadequate star power, while one coach has been doing an inadequate job with notable star power.

Please, blog, may I have some more?