With the release of Joker – a truly chilling and exceptional movie, by the way – the Jokic and Joker puns and references are becoming a bit tired. So let’s take this a different route: who gets a place on the Mount Rushmore of seemingly out-of-shape athletes? Jokic is certainly making a case for a position. He doesn’t look like the most trim guy out there.

So I got to thinking, and in terms of basketball, people like Bryant Reeves, Glen Davis, and Eddy Curry came to mind. Other sports have some really strong contenders, with baseball throwing out some especially heavy competitors. CC Sabathia, David Wells, Pablo Sandoval, and the Babe himself could create a fairly heavyset Mount Rushmore. The NFL is a different case, with guys like Vince Wilfork needing to be as big as they were in order to dominate the opposition.

It’s really an interesting discussion, so comment your picks below. But I digress. The point here is that Jokic was able to outwork the Greek – or rather Cameroonian – God himself, Joel Embiid, in the ultimate matchup of chiseled vs. flabby.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 6 2 2 1 2-9 10-22 4-5

The three-point efficiency is really the only thing to be mad about here… but the game-winning three that sealed the deal helped make up for that showing for Denver fans.

Here’s what else we saw from around the league on Friday night:

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I always enjoyed the cartoons with the little red devil on one shoulder while the white angel was on the other. Maybe it’s my appreciation for the duality of life. Or maybe it’s because I understand there’s a time for talking shit and another time for just letting the results speak for themselves. Gordon Ramsay is the ultimate shit talker. How someone hasn’t grabbed a souffle and shoved it down his throat is beyond me. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what doesn’t talk shit and just delivers results? The Stocktonator. With that said, his Hell’s Kitchen franchise is a rousing success. The reality show was viewed by millions, primarily due to his berating of chefs. The restaurants seem to be popular (I’ve never gone), but I’ve heard that Ramsay isn’t just some shit talker with nothing behind it. He’s actually a good cook, but the shit-talking persona is why most people are familiar with him and his food. Gordon Hayward Heaven’s Kitchen is the complete opposite. Hayward is unassuming and has that All-American look. His game isn’t flashy but very effective. Last night, though, he put on a heavenly performance that was almost flawless:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 7 8 0 0 2 1/4 17/20 4/4

Unfortunately, the 40-burger wasn’t on the menu but there were plenty of goodies to go around. Granted, it was against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who don’t have the most stifling defense, but Hayward looked smooth, attacked the basket when given the opportunity, and his mid-range game was lethal. Fully healed from his gruesome leg injury two years ago, Hayward is currently the #28 player in fantasy and will likely end up in the 30-40 range come season’s end.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I heard that Joel Embiid was suspended two games, I knew that my Sixers would need someone to step up if they wanted to win a tough contest against Portland. Al Horford was too obvious. The rest of the starters would fulfill their roles as usual. No… the Sixers needed to unveil a secret weapon. Furkan Korkmaz didn’t do much with the Sixers after they drafted him at 27th overall in 2016. In fact, he was such a non-factor that the team decided to declined his option heading into the 2019-2020 season. Korkmaz was going back home to play for Fenerbahce in the Turkish league.

That didn’t last long.

And, at least for one game, the Sixers are glad to have him around. Seriously, on a team with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and a few trusty bench weapons, who else but Furkan Korkmaz gets tasked with making the game-winning three pointer with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Basketball is magical sometimes. And for anyone who drafted Korkmaz for their daily fantasy roster after some telepathic sensation advised them to take the 22-year old guard, kudos to you.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 3 2 0 2 0 3-6 4-9 0-0

With stats like these, it may seem like Korkmaz has some fantasy value, but he doesn’t… don’t be fooled by this strong showing. Let’s instead give one more nod of recognition to Korky, and then dive into some relevant fantasy performers from Saturday night’s action.

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Kawhi & The Clips

Kawhi Leonard entered the 2019-20 season as a first-round fantasy talent and one of the best two or three players in the NBA. He’s lived up to that billing and then some to start the season. Over the first four games, Kawhi is averaging 27 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He’s shooting 51.9 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from three, and 84 percent from the free-throw line. The 7.5 assists per game are particularly noteworthy since prior to this season, Kawhi had never averaged more than 3.5 assists a game, which he did in the 2016-17 season. Yes, the sample size is microscopic, but the evidence is hard to ignore. In the second game of the season against the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi matched his career high for assists in a game with nine. In game three against the Phoenix Suns, he set a new career high with 10 assists. This is no blip on the radar. Of the very few weaknesses in Leonard’s game, playmaking was the largest.

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Last year, Jahlil Okafor had a plan to “burn fat and significantly improve his athleticism and stamina.” He hit the weight room and implemented yoga into his regimen. The biggest change was in diet, though. He had tried being a vegan, as he heard that certain foods were inflammatory. One of the side effects, though, was that it caused the iron level to be low, which affected his cardio. He needed more protein. Now, there are no processed foods, sugars, and red meat, but instead plenty of fish and chicken. As everyone that has tried to diet can attest to, there’s what’s called “cheat days.” Well, last night, Okafor had one of those, as he feasted on Denver Nuggets to the tune of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 5 0 2 1 3 0 8/13 10/13

He looked spry and nimble, cutting to the basket and pirouetting in the lane for bucket after bucket. Granted, Nikola Jokic looked completely disinterested in playing last night, but was that due to the age old question of: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Okafor received the start and played a whopping 34 minutes because Derrick Favors sat due to a knee injury. It sounds like Favors will return shortly, so Okafor will be relegated to the bench, but when Favors does sit, Jahlil could have another cheat day and feast.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Sing the below to the tune in the video:

“And then a Herro comes along. With the tres to carry on. And you cast your fears aside. And you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone. Click your team and be strong. And you’ll finally see the truth. That a Herro’s all you need.”

Tyler Herro, the 19-year-old, 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft of the Miami Heat, and yet another player who John Calipari wasted at Kentucky, has been strong. Is the truth. And is all that we need. Ok, the last part is hyperbole, but he’s been very good since the Summer League. With Jimmy Butler missing the first three games of the season, Herro played 34, 32, and 35 minutes and scored 14, 14, and 8 points respectively. He also grabbed some boards and contributed some steals. Butler returned to the lineup last night, yet Herro had his most productive game to date in 29 minutes off the bench:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 7 2 0 0 0 3/4 7/9 12/16

The 16 free throw attempts were likely an outlier, so don’t construct the shrine yet, but Herro has proven that he belongs and can be a source of points and tres.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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After a season opener in which he was practically a non-factor, Dallas’s offseason acquisition of Delon Wright had a much more encouraging performance on Friday night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 7 3 5 0 0 0-1 8-12 4-4

This all around contribution is what we saw from him in small doses after he broke out last season, and he should be a valuable contributor going forward on a dynamic Mavericks team. Here are some other notes from Friday’s nearly-full slate of games.

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There have been 59 players in the history of the NBA who have scored 50 points in a game more than once. Laughably, Wilt Chamberlain produced a 50-burger 118 times. For perspective, Michael Jordan is second on the all-time list, and he was “only” able to do it 31 times. Only nine players have accomplished the feat at least 10 times. What I’m trying to say is that scoring fifty points in a game is freaking hard and few are able to do it. You know who knew, though? The Stocktonator, as it had Kyrie as the #3 player last night. Entering last night’s game, Kyrie Irving had accomplished the feat two times.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
50 8 7 0 1 0 7/14 17/33 9/10

Make that three now. When a player drops a 50-burger, the world is truly his. Look, it’s an auto intro in my daily recaps. Now, since the world is Kyrie’s, if he says the world is flat, then the world is flat. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the 50-burger was dropped on the corner of FLATbush Avenue and Atlantic Ave inside the Barclays Center? Me thinks not. But then I remembered something about history, in that it is written by the victors. Despite Kyrie’s heroics, the Nets fell to the Timberwolves in OT, 127-126. You round Earthers live to fight another day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Ah, centers. The literal giants of the fantasy basketball world. There are 56 centers listed below, with the shortest being Montrezl Harrell who stands at 6′ 8″ tall. In the United States, the average height of a male is 5′ 9″, which puts Montrezl in the 99.988 percentile. But he’s the shortest player in this piece. Many, if not most, are seven feet or taller. In the entirety of the world, there are approximately 2800 people seven feet or taller, which translates to 0.000038% of the population on Planet Earth. And 1.7% play in the NBA! Crazy! The outliers don’t stop there, though. Nikola Jokic is the only center who is projected to average over 4 dimes per game, with a whopping 7.5! Since these literal giants tower over the landscape, it would make sense that they dominate the blocks and boards categories. There are 15 players projected to grab at least 10 boards per game. 12 are centers. For blocks, 19 players are projected to reject at least 1.5 shots per game. 13 are centers. Let’s all bow down and pay homage to these titans of the fantasy basketball world.

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The young Nuggets are on the rise, and the future is bright with a team full of young guns and great depth. This team is fun to watch in real life, and a gold mine for fantasy purposes. Despite missing Garry Harris and Will Barton for a large chunk of the year, they still managed to finish 2nd in the Western Conference. They return this season largely the same, and will look to build on last year’s success. Barton and Harris are reportedly healthy, so that should give them an added boost. Their season ended last year by running into the buzzsaw that is Damian Lilliard, but they are a year older and wiser, so look for them to make another deep run in the playoffs.

Please, blog, may I have some more?