Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

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Juan is twenty THREE years old. This is year THREE in the NBA for Juan. Entering last night’s game, Juan had made an average of two point THREE shots and one point THREE THREE-pointers. Juan had attempted THREE minus zero point one THREE-pointers. Last night was start number THREE for Juan. Well, Juan is the lede so he must have done something good.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 9 1 1 0 1 2/5 9/12 5/7

THREE more points and Juan would have set a new career-high! Before I get internet tomatoes thrown at my internet head, I focus on THREE because the boy can shoot from beyond the arc. He’s a career 38% shooter from downtown, but that mark should be higher because it’s tainted by a 28% mark in a 25 game sample last season. Juan is starting, getting minutes, and should continue providing THREEs and rebounds. When Will Barton returns, Juan will likely return to the bench, but that won’t be for at least a couple more weeks. Ready? Juan, two, THREEE!!!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

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Volcanoes are fascinating objects. They tower into the sky and blot out the horizon. Inside, there is magma that is being pushed up from the Earth’s core that is searching for ways to lather the surface. Now that I think about, they are the Earth’s pimples. Ewww. They are no laughing matter, though, because when they do erupt, the lava flows create a path of destruction and the smoke and plume can erase the sun and prohibit planes from flying. Yet, they can also be vehicles of creation, as many of the Earth’s island masses are formed as a result of the lava flows from volcanoes. Like I said, fascinating. Which brings me to Hassan Whiteside, one of the NBA’s most fascinating players. He’s 7′ 0″, 265 pounds, so he does blot out the horizon on the court for many and pummels the rim with a ferocity unmatched by many. Yet, he’s quick and nimble on his feet to hunt down rebounds and chase blocks. Inside, though, is a swirling mass of unknown, as he can disappear on the offensive end at times. But volcanoes eventually erupt, and that’s exactly what happened with Mt. Whiteside last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 20 2 0 9 1 0/1 10/18 9/11

For the season, Whiteside is the 38th player according to Basketball Monster. You’re getting elite rebound and block numbers with above average field goal percentage.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I often reminisce about the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder squad: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and…..Cole Aldrich. I kid, I kid. Serge Ibaka aka I-block-a…aka Air Congo….aka Serge Protector was a freaking animal, blocking over 3.7 shots a game and grabbing 7.5 rebounds. Man, that team. One of the greatest video game teams of all time? Anyways, Ibaka was raw from an offensive stand point, but was a maven on the glass and defensive end of the floor. If he could hone his offensive game, we were looking at the next superstar. The athleticism was that profound. Well, he did ascertain an offensive game and extended his range out to beyond the arc. Unfortunately, the rebounds went down and the block numbers cratered to the 1.3 mark set last season. He lost a lot of that dog, as he preferred to just chill on the perimeter and shoot jumpers all night. Well, it looks like Bow Wow made a visit because, so far, Ibaka is grabbing more rebounds (over 7 for the first time since 2014) and the blocks have ticked back up. We will never see the 3.7 level again, but any increase is a good increase. We are not here to talk about the blocks and boards, though. We are here to talk about the scoring Serge Ibaka exhibited last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 10 2 2 0 1 1/1 15/17 3/3

A career-high!!! And he wasn’t just camped out outside. He was running in transition and making hard cuts to the basket in the half court. Ferocious dunk after ferocious dunk. Now, he may not start every game, as Jonas Valanciunas will likely go up against bruisers, but he should consistently get around 28 minutes regardless, as Coach Nurse does like play small-ball with Ibaka at the 5. I think a huge change for Ibaka this season is the fewer attempts from downtown. It’s allowed him to shoot a higher percentage from the field and gets him more involved for rebounds, as he’s not just spectating on the perimeter. Don’t ever expect any assists from him, but points, rebounds, and blocks with good percentages are on the menu. Ibaka is currently the #36 player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Okay, admittedly, a lot of us “Fantasy Basketball Experts” hate on Blake Griffin, due to his lack of defensive stats and overall efficiency. However, he has been straight beasting to start the year for Detroit. Let’s be honest, who else can get buckets? There’s something to be said about a player that has aggressiveness. Some players are solid fantasy players, but lack that intangible quality that makes a real difference maker in the NBA. Blake Griffin went 2-38-13-6-2-0-7 on 12-of-21 shooting and 12-for-16 from the charity stripe. He’s never going to be a blocks guy, but the out-of-position assists really float his value outside of the points and boards. Maybe there’s something abut him, that you just don’t like, but the man has been getting it done this year so far. Will he sustain it? Well, I think the points and the FG% come down some, but the rest of the numbers are fairly sustainable, so he’s pretty much a hold unless you wanna be a hater like the rest of us ‘perts.

There were eight games on the schedule this Saturday in the NBA, so let’s dive on in to the daily notes!

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When people visit Los Angeles, they often go to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered on the intersection and it has a rich history in the entertainment industry. And entertainment is what Zach LaVine has been delivering for the hoops world and has many, especially our own Brent, clammoring that he is in fact an All-Star. I wonder which poster of LaVine that Brent is jerking off to right now.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 4 5 0 0 3 1/5 10/22 11/12

That now makes four straight games scoring at least 30 points. Before we put him in the Hall of Fame, he doesn’t even appear on the page when I query streaks with at least 30 points. For you inquiring minds, the leader is Kobe Bryant with 16 straight games back in 2003. As for the query itself, it stopped at 5 games. So, one more Zach and you’re on. Anyways, there’s no denying that Zach looks explosive and far removed from his knee injury. With that said, he’s shooting 62% from the field and 45% from downtown. His career rates are 44% and 37% respectively. The efficiency is going to come down. It’s just a matter of how much. Around 3 boards and 3 dimes are nice, but he doesn’t contribute much in the D department, so when the efficiency comes down, it’s….well, imagine you’re walking and you come to a ledge. It’s pitch black so you drop a coin down to see how low it goes. You drop it and you listen. And listen. And listen.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The long wait is finally over. The meaningless preseason games are already behind us and you have drafted your teams that will guide you to fantasy glory. And we here at Razzball are your personal compass to help you get to that glorious destination. Every Wednesday, this article is dedicated to the players that you should consider buying, either straight from the waiver wire or from a frustrated owner, or selling for a profit or outright dropping them for a hot free agent. The first week of the season always provides many players that fit the afforementioned criteria so let’s dive straight in…

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In Latin, Anno Domini means “in the year of the Lord.” Any coincidence that Anthony Davis is the fantasy lord? I think not. AD was the consensus overall number one pick coming into the season, and for good reason. He hammer times and moon walks over the competition by literally doing everything. For the infidels who blasphemously inserted another player on the throne, take a look at last nights line and ponder your unfulfilling existence.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 16 8 3 3 1 0 13/21 6/7

This wasn’t no “Devin Booker score 70 points in a double digit loss” line. This was a “let’s beatdown the Houston Rockets by 19 points” line. Bend the knee.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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If you think there was a changing of the guard in Cleveland, then you forgot about the Spurs’ offseason. This is a team whose slogan should be “out with the old, in with the new.” Losing one of the best players in the NBA is hard, but gaining youth while maintaining veteran leadership is impressive. What makes the Popovich era so great in San Antonio is his ability to rebuild while contending and, while last year was a down year, I think things pick up quite nicely for the Spurs in 2018-19. Now for the fantasy spin on this years Spurs squad.

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