Potential, Potential, Potential

Potential is enticing, if fickle. Potential is a first date. A 0-0 count in the top of the first. Potential is a stray glance or wink, a few perfectly volleyed bits of of banter between two people soon to be lovers. Potential is the essay before its written, the hazy four-line outline in the mind. Potential is the moment before the moment, where dream and reality meet, if only for an instant.

Potential is not, however, negative capability, as Keats described it: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man ‘or woman’ is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without, any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” Potential implies a payoff, a return on investment. The hung curveball must be sent screaming to the seats. The alley must be ooped. The first date must lead to a second.

In the poem, the reward is the exploration of uncertainty itself. In fantasy sports, that irritable reaching after fact or reason is all we know. With that in mind, here are some players who’ve been blessed with the wicked kiss of potential.

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Imagine you just got crossed up really badly by James Harden, allowed a massive three, and fouled out of the game with under two minutes left to go. Harden’s three allowed his Rockets to go up by five against your team. You exit the game with this stat line:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
6 3 0 1 0 1 1-2 2-6 1-2

You probably wouldn’t be too arrogant, or braggadocious, if you will. But you’re not Pat Beverley, and Pat Beverley isn’t you.

Because after Russell Westbrook missed a three to take the lead after a late Clippers surge in the final 100 ticks, Beverley was seen mocking Russell Westbrook’s three-point stroke from the bench. Jumping around, giddy as hell, looking right at the opposing bench while he mimicked the missed three and the subsequent loss for the Rockets. The cojones on this guy!

Luckily, his teammates were there to bail him out and allow for that celebration. Here are notable stats from that game and from around the league on Friday night.

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It took 171 games, over two seasons, and 5800 minutes played, but Ben Simmons finally did it. He drained his first tres.

I know you have doubts, but tape don’t lie….

The fact that I’m making Simmons the lede for making a tres is sad, but what’s worse is that it took him 171 games, two seasons, and 5800 minutes! Now, let’s not forget that on this historic and momentous night, Simmons actually played a great overall game:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 7 13 1 1 1 1/1 7/9 3/4

In a whopping 42 minutes! Yes, it was against the Knicks but whatever. Production is production. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the production? The Stocktonator. For fantasy, Simmons is such an interesting player because he leads you down the punt one, punt two, punt three category strategy (tres, ft%, and turnovers). But, but, but….he has nightly “mess around” potential and will get his block and steal on. On the season, he’s a top 40 player despite his shortcomings.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Brandon Ingram

The long-awaited Brandon Ingram breakout is here in earnest. So far this season, Ingram is averaging 25.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while shooting 55.2 percent from the field, 48.6 percent from three, and 74.3 percent from the free-throw line (all career highs). Ingram is not a legitimate 48 percent shooter from three, especially on five attempts a game. The dreaded regression to the mean is coming. Before this season, he had never shot 40 percent, topping out at 39 percent on 1.8 attempts a game in his sophomore season. Even with that in mind, there is reason to believe he’ll shoot better this year. Ingram’s field goal percentage has improved each season he’s been in the league and he entered the NBA with solid form and touch. The Pelicans play at a fast pace. They are currently sixth in the league in pace and increased transition opportunities should lead to more lightly-contested shots. Furthermore, when Zion returns the Pelicans will have yet another ball-handler who commands defensive attention, which could lead to more spot-up opportunities for Ingram.

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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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P. S., the postscript, is something that needs to be eradicated. Why? Because it’s a symbol of laziness, and we can’t have that in our modern day society. Hmm, now that I think about it, there’s good lazy and bad lazy. Good laziness fosters innovation, as some of the greatest inventions were created because of it. Bad laziness is smoking weed, eating donuts, and watching tv all day and night. P.S. is bad lazy. Back in the day, when folks would dip their brushes in ink and write via candle light, the P. S. made perfect sense. Imagine spending hours writing a letter, then at the end you remember something. It wouldn’t make sense to scrap the entirety of the letter, hence the postscript. Even after society was blessed with Whiteout, the postscript still had function. Now? There’s no need for the P. S., as everything is done on computer. For those of you who still write letters…..WHY? For you heathens who use P. S. while typing on the computer, you some lazy mofos. Last night in Toronto, a P. S. was getting busy and was definitely no afterthought. Pascal Siakam went bonkers and put up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 18 5 0 1 4 2/5 11/26 10/11

Now, the game went to OT, but whatever. Siakam did most of the damage during regulation and had a usage rate of 35!!!! Kawhi Schawhi. I guess that preseason ADP of 20 wasn’t too high after all.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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LA’s “other” team no longer, the Clippers made a splash this offseason, putting together an unbelievable duo to complete with the other power couples throughout the NBA landscape. Arguably the signing and the trade of the off season belonged to the Clippers. With a newfound focus on defense, the Clippers still have enough fire-power to keep up on the offensive end while locking down teams 1 through 5. The length of Patrick Beverley, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard is going to very hard to penetrate and having guys like Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac waiting at the rim will make it hard to finish.

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The point guard position is where you will primarily be hunting for dimes. There are options later in the draft, but most have warts and will only provide around 4 per game. Compare that to the elite ones, who will dish out 7-9 dimes per game, while providing excellent free throw percentages, tres, and steals. The early rounds will dictate your fantasy path, as the top five point guards will likely be selected in the first two rounds of drafts.

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 “pg” and the table will sort by just point guards.

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