I was a big subscriber of superstitions and curses in my younger days. Sports team I root for wasn’t playing well? Had to move to another seat, like I was some antenna made out of aluminum foil. Never drafted a player in fantasy football if he graced the cover of Madden. I mean, come on. Without fail, either a player got injured or production fell off hard the following year. We have grown as a society, though. I have grown as well. We now utilize our brains to explain things that were previously unexplainable. For the Madden Curse, a logical explanation was that players are celebrated by being on the cover of the videogame because they have reached the pinnacle of their careers.

pin·na·cle
ˈpinək(ə)l/
noun
              “he had reached the pinnacle of his career”
There’s literally no place to go but down. Add in the age factor and number of games played, and the “curse” doesn’t seem so mysterious after all. How things have gone down the past couple of weeks in the NBA, I’m beginning to reevaluate my stance on the issue. In late January, LeBron James and Steph Curry particiated in the All-Star Draft.

First, DeMarcus Cousins went down with injury. Then, Kevin Love. John Wall. The latest victim? Kristaps Porzingis. Last night, he tore the ACL in his left knee after this. I will think of you everytime my 2-year-old daughter puts on My Little Pony. Michael Beasley is the obvious get, but he’s probably been rostered already. Kyle O’Quinn is also an interesting pickup, as he would be the big off the bench to give either a break. Yo, LeBron. Whatever you’re doing? STOP!!!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Most are familiar with chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son <Hey! That’s me!!!>, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Before storm clouds gather up above and lightning fries my plump physique into a mush of cooking oil, I was just joking God. Ha ha. I’m probably fine because I’m sure he/she/it was overloaded yesterday, but….out of respect and….juuuuust in case. Anyways, because we go next level here at Razzball, I want to mention chapter 3, verses 18-19 of the Gospel of John: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. <Hey! It’s me again!!!!> This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Yesterday, the fervent followers and believers of the NBA were graced with a sermon from the Book of John Henson, chapter 3, verses 18-19.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 18 3 0 2 0 0 8/14 3/5

Granted, it was against the Brooklyn Nets, a team that is atrocious against the center position. With that said, since Jason Kidd was fired as coach of the Bucks (seven games), Henson has averaged 29.4 minutes, 12 points, 7.57 boards, 2.42 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 1.1 blocks. As long as the Bucks do not trade for a center at the deadline, have faith in the Henson. Is it any coincidence that I am Son and John is a Henson? I thinks not. See the light and come out of the darkness. If the Bucks trade for DeAndre Jordan or any other big man, then you can tear the Book of Henson out, get on your knees, and scream to the heavens: Why have you forsaken me?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day. It’s a day that many take for granted. Many focus on the fact that there’s basketball all day or that there’s no school or work or something about someone having a dream. MLK day is about celebrating the greatness of a man. Who called out the establishment. Who stood up for the rights of the oppressed. Who wanted to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” The King was truly a great man, which brings me to the King of the NBA, LeBron James. Last night, the LeBrons faced off against the Warriors and lost 118-108. In defeat, James went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 32 8 6 3 4 8 0/2 12/18 8/13

I almost did not make him the lede for this post. There were players that scored more points. There were players that collected double-dubs. There were multiple players who almost messed around. There were players that led their team to victory. I almost overlooked LeBron, but then I came to my senses. Look at that line! It’s freaking amazing. Ok, the turnovers aren’t great but I said he’s a King, not God. Anyways, sometimes we don’t truly appreciate the greatness of LeBron. We hold him to such a high standard that we expect more. The crazy thing is that “more” is usually attainable. Think about that. Anyways, it’s only appropriate that I made the King of the NBA the lede for a post on the day after Martin Luther King day. Both are great, yet both are underappreciated at times. Let’s never forget either.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First, we lost Gilligan’s Island. Then, Fantasy Island met it’s doom. Now, the unthinkable has happened. Waiters Island has been shut down for the season. Dion Waiters is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo.com. The Heat can go in many directions. Tyler Johnson can start at shooting guard with Josh Richardson at small forward and Wayne Ellington the main guy off the bench. Or, Derrick Jones Jr. could start at shooting guard, which would keep Tyler Johnson in a reserve role to back up Goran Dragic. Since Waiters hasn’t played since late-December, the preferred lineup has been Dragic at the point with Johnson at shooting guard and Richardson at small forward. Ellington has been the main scorer off the bench and should continue to be an excellent source for 3s. It’s safe to drop Waiters if you haven’t already. I’m going to miss the antics of Waiters for the remainder of the season, but at least he should return next season, unlike the other famous islands of tv past.

Here’s what else I saw last nig

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

Welcome to the Kawhi Leonard-return waiting room. We hope you enjoy your stay. Leonard is getting close to returning to action and it can happen as soon as this week. But as the gods of basketball always seek to keep balance, the gods both giveth and taketh away. Unfortunately, both Stephen Curry and Devin Booker went down with injuries that could likely keep them out for an extended period of time. Even my boy Tim Hardaway Jr and his $70 million contract caught the injury bug and will be reevaluated in two weeks. Maybe this is a good opportunity to buy kinda low on these guys, if you feel comfortable you can make the playoffs by giving some immediate production for them. As for last week’s calls, Rudy Gobert was eased back into action but the fact he beat his initial 4-6 weeks timetable by a week is a great sign. Pascal Siakam pulled a Houdini and disappeared, while Wesley Johnson is bringing great defensive stats with awesome consistency (nine straight games with at least a block and a steal), but his shooting is off. The attempts are there so be patient and he will eventually start making them. Moving to the sell candidates from last week, Justin Holiday’s window of opportunity to sell high will remain open for a little longer as Zach LaVine’s return got pushed back to January. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came back to Earth, averaging a more realistic 12.3 attempts from the field and Rajon Rondo has actually benefited from Anthony Davis’ absence and his usage warrants a pickup. Before the prologue gets into the “too long didn’t read” category, let’s get to this week’s Buy/Sell suggestions…

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For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).

Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.

So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.

Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the Batman movies, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed as a subservient, damsel in distress character. “Oh no! There’s trouble in Gotham. Let me run up to the rooftop to signal the Batman so that he can take care of everything.” I kid. Commissioner Gordon was old and needed the youth, strength, and resources that Batman could provide. But, before he became a useless POS, Jim Gordon served in the US Marine Corps and was a Special Forces veteran who could kick some serious ass. That’s where we are at with Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic. He’s only 22 years old and 6′ 9″ 220 pounds. He can dribble, shoot, rebound, block, pass, jump like a flea, and run like a gazelle. He’s basically the new and improved version of Blake Griffin. Sad to see the Matrix slowly phasing out Blake for Aaron. Anyways, last night the NBA’s Commissioner Gordon put up the first 40-burger of his career:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 15 4 4 1 1 6/12 13/23 8/11

He led his team to a 121-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team led by Russell Westbrook, aka Beastbrook but I prefer to call him the Hulk. Off the court, Westbrook seems like a funny, charismatic guy. On the court, SMASH….SMASH….SMASH! Dude plays with reckless abandon, which results in an abundance of turnovers, but he will dunk on your grill at every opportunity. And keep coming. And coming. And coming. He truly leaves everything on the court, which is why I’d always want the Hulk on my side, because I know he’d always have my back. As for last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 11 5 5 0 7 7/10 11/23 8/12
Please, blog, may I have some more?

Another Wednesday, another Buy/Sell column for you good folks. As established in the last post, I will start by briefly assessing the performances of the players I included last week. Will Barton has not yet taken off with two underwhelming games to end the week, but I still believe he is the one to benefit the most from the Millsap injury. Bojan Bogdanovic is on a THRAGNOFy streak for the ages and, in the past three games, is averaging 17.0/1.0/1.7/0/0.3/0/0.7. I can’t believe that a player averaging 36 minutes in those games has so little peripheral stats, but he is the wing scorer Indiana needs and trusts. Denzel Valentine is filling up the stat sheet and has been more than useful. Kris Dunn had his breakout performance yesterday with a career-high 24 points and as Son says, “the PG competition in Chicago in Dunn.” Finally, Lord Covington’s shot started to fail him as predicted (35% in his last five games), so I hope you capitalized on the sell high opportunity. Without further ado, let’s look at this week’s candidates…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Celtics’ impressive 16-game winning streak is now over. Is it a coincidence that 16 is half of 32, which is the number of games that the ’71 Lakers won in a row? I do not believe in coincidences, until I do. Which makes this iteration of the Celtics half the team of that glorious Lakers squad. All kidding aside, it was an impressive run. The team stepped up when they lost Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens is now a legitimate Presidential candidate, Kyrie is…..well, Kyrie, and the defense has been the league’s best, by a big margin according to defensive efficiency. I tried everything in the book to jinx the streak. Voodoo dolls, shrines, sacrificing of virgins, and rubbing my scrotum with four-leaf clovers. All to no avail. I had to harken back to the past. All the way back to the ancient days of the early 1990’s. It was during that time, the secret was unlocked by the Leprechaun movies. You see, in the original, the leprechaun is defeated when the well it falls into is blown up. Explosion. Fire. In the third movie, the lepechaun is defeated via flamethrower. Heat was needed and Heat we got Wednesday night, as the Miami Heat took down the Boston Leprechauns 104-98. Who led the way? None other than Goran Dragic, aka the Dragon, who was spewing fire from all over the court: 27 points, five boards, four dimes, and one liberation. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Waiters Island was booming, as Dion Waiters scored 26 points, grabbed two boards, and dished out six dimes. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 4-of-10 from downtown. How do you beat the Celtics? Shoot 49.4% from the field, which was 4% higher than their season average. Translation: bring the Heat.

Please, blog, may I have some more?