I was never a huge fan of D’Angelo Russell when he was a Laker. The shooting efficiency was poor, the D was porous, and the decision-making and decisiveness were lacking. It was as if DLoading was a picture loading back in the dial-up internet days; one line of pixels at a time. At least now the buffering just shows a ring with a percentage number. Anyways, Russell was a young pup back then. Only 19 and 20 years old. Now, he’s a grizzled, 22-year-old veteran. I kid, but he’s really developed and improved his game, to the point where he’s leading his team to victory over one of the top teams in the NBA.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 6 11 0 0 3 6/9 10/23 1/1

In his first three years in the league, Russell was a 41% shooter from the field and never topped 80% from the line. Now, he’s a 43% shooter from the field and 81% from the line. He’s averaging a tick under 20 points per game, 2.7 tres, 3.7 boards, 6.4 dimes, and 1.1 steals. He’s increased both the tres and dimes by almost 1 per game. In addition, he’s jacking up over 17 shots per game, has a usage rate north of 30, and is a top 50 player on the season for fantasy. When Caris LeVert returns from injury, things could change and Russell could cede some usage, but Russell will continue being a vital part of this Nets team. All the pixels have been revealed and the picture is a glorious one.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The NBA trade deadline is upon us! There are already some deals that have been finalized and more are sure to be done by tomorrow, so this week’s article will be structured in a different format than usual. Instead of looking at Buy/Sell players individually, we will review each trade for fantasy winners and losers, in chronological order. But first, as per usual, let’s take a quick look at last week’s suggestions.

Patrick Beverley has been a steady contributor for the short-handed Clippers and only stands to benefit without Tobias Harris (more on this trade later). Another trade influenced Trey Burke’s value but unfortunately, he takes a huge hit in Dallas and is an easy cut candidate. Shabazz Napier and Jerryd Bayless had good performances this past week and will continue to produce until their respective teams get healthier. Finally, I still maintain that D’Angelo Russell is a prime sell candidate and his shooting this past week only reinforced this belief.

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Entering last night’s game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 131st on Yahoo rankings, mainly due to the high turnovers, low free throw percentage, and lack of threeecolas. Well, Giannis said F U to all the rankings and went HAM last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 15 4 0 2 3 1/3 13/29 4/6

Granted, it was the Knicks but I don’t see many teams being able to slow him down, especially in this Budenholzer offense. He’s averaging a ridonkulous 16.5 rebounds, 25.5 points, 6.4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal so far. The usage rates for each game have been 41, 38, and 37! The lack of threeecolas have always been an issue, and I don’t see that improving too much this year. The poor free throw shooting should improve, as he’s a career 74% from the charity stripe, and the turnovers should abate by a huge margin. Currently, he’s at 7 per game, while his career rate is 2.5. Ain’t nothing but a G thang, baby! G will be that top 10 player you drafted sooner rather than later.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’m not one to boast or present fluff pieces, so when I provide a recommendation, EF Hutton is in the house. Now, a good buddy of mine told me to come check out a new restaurant he opened up. No joke. Indubitubly the best place in town. Was it the food? It was aiight. Then what? You know when people rave about the ambiance of an establishment? Well, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve gone to The Place. As you walk from the parking lot towards the building, there are hundreds of cameras and sensors that scan your body and connect with your literal and virtual mind. This process takes about 5 seconds, so that by the time you reach the curb, The Place knows what you’re craving and digitally alters the environment to fit each individual customer. In my case, the golden arches appeared. Chicken nuggets? French fries? Sausage McMuffin with egg? Negative. The Place knew I was in search of a cheap shooting guard for my DFS lineups. Supersize it The Place asked? Indubitably. A machine printed out a small piece of paper, like the ones you see inside a fortune cookie. On it was written: Rodney McGruder.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 8 6 0 1 2 3/7 7/12 3/3

Mind blown.

McGruder is 27 years old and has been in the league for three years. He’s played a total of 97 games, and the 20 points scored were a career high. Last night, he did get the start and played 34 minutes. Now, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow did not play due to injury, but McGruder has the trust of coach Spoelstra and will play when there are injuries on the wing.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Portland Trail Blazers are an odd team for fantasy basketball. They are a good regular season team, but for fantasy there are only two stars and Jusuf Nurkic, a borderline top 100 player. They’re in a tough spot because everyone knows they’re not going to compete for a championship, big free agents are hard to lure to Portland, Oregon, and the team is too good to get a high draft pick. Damian Lillard is locked up, for this year and the next, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021. He has gone on the record stating that he’d like to stay in Portland, but if the Blazers front office doesn’t do something drastic, this team is going to be on the proverbial treadmill for years.

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What’s up Razzballers? We had an epic standoff last night between two of the league’s best teams, the Celtics and the Warriors. And this game didn’t disappoint. The Celtics pulled out to an early lead, but Steph Curry simply proved to be too much to handle as he led the the Warriors to the big win. On the night, Steph put forth 49/4/5/2 on 16-for-24 FG (8-for-13 3P, 9-for-10 FT) with only one TO. This guy is a cheat code. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Santa Claus is known by the names of Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle. Rajon Rondo is known by the names of Johnny, Swag, and The Yoga Instructor (nicknames courtesy of Basketball Reference). Claus’ height and weight are classified. Rondo is 6′ 1″ 186 pounds. Claus moves around via reindeer-drawn sled. Rondo uses his own two legs to run around the court. Claus is a global icon. Rondo could be if he hired the right marketing agency. Claus and Rondo are different on so many levels, but both are some of the most generous entities that man has ever known. Claus gives gifts to children that are well-behaved and coal to the bad children. Has anyone ever figured out why Claus is so freaking generous? Like, what’s his motivation? We are taught not to accept candy from strangers, especially those that stick their heads out from a windowless van. And for good reason. The candy is the bait to lure us in. And Claus? Anyways, regardless of motivation, Claus is a generous dude. Rondo is also generous. He dishes out dimes that enable his teammates to score buckets easier. In fact, he is so generous that he had dished out 6,216 dimes, good for 31st on the all-time list, before the start of last night’s game.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 2 7 25 1 0 3 0/1 1/5 0

Make that 6,241 dimes, good for 30th on the all-time assist list. The 25 assist game was the ninth-best of all time! Scott Skiles, of all people, holds the record with a 30 assist game. Go figure. Rondo is not going to contribute much outside of assists and rebounds, but the dimes will definitely be plentiful. As for Claus vs Rondo, the edge has to go to Claus, as he has no rival and always seems to deliver. Rondo has his off nights.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve always been infatuated with the “zone,” that state of consciousness when one has Neo’d the Matrix. Mental steroids and practice can induce it, but often it’s a state that transcends reality. Life progresses frame by frame, as if someone pressed the slow motion button on the VCR. My fault, I mean DVR. In the real world, a shooter believes that every shot will go in, while understanding that it’s a mathematical impossibility. In the “zone,” screw math. Everyone morphs into a video game Dion Waiters on rookie mode. Well, last night, Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic gobbled the mushroom, morphed into Super Mario, and entered the “zone.”

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 28 6 2 3 0 2 8/12 10/18  0

Now, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier did not play yesterday, so Mario was afforded an opportunity to showcase. When those two return, Super Mario will shrink back to the bench. Just file it away for the future that Mario has the ability to enter the “zone” when called upon.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Image result for 76ers logo

It’s nice to live minute-to-minute. Riding the wave of life, experiencing the gamut of emotions, and acquiring a rolodex of memories with nary a stress in the world. A life lived like this is unfulfilling, though. To truly get the most out of life, one must try to achieve. And in order to achieve, one must have a plan. Look at the current NBA. So many smart people running teams, yet they navigate the landscape like a stoned teenager walking through a grocery store. Look! Twinkies! Mmmmm, I’m so hungry. These will taste so good. Oh! Chips. 

Former general manager of the 76ers, Sam Hinkie, had a plan. If you haven’t read his Manifesto, I highly recommend that you do. There’s so much goodness there, but I wanted to focus on this excerpt:

“It is critical to be cycle aware in a talent-driven league. In a situation like yours at the Sixers, where a variety of circumstances left you near a trough in the cycle (and falling), amplifying this cycle became crucial. Today’s outcomes for every team are heavily impacted by decisions past (who to draft, sign, trade, hire, etc.). Jeff Bezos says that if Amazon has a good quarter it’s because of work they did 3, 4, 5 years ago-not because they did a good job that quarter. Today’s league-leading Golden State Warriors acquired Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and Klay Thompson almost 4 years ago, nearly 4 years ago exactly, and almost 5 years ago. In this league, the long view picks at the lock of mediocrity.”

TTP. Trust the Process.

Please, blog, may I have some more?