It pains me to write this, but I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan during his playing days, and I regret that fact, immensely. I never had him on my fantasy team. I never watched his games late at night on the east coast. I never applauded his championships and didn’t care much about his 60-point performance to end his career. With that said, his passing hit me much harder than I thought it would, and that was before I found out his daughter was alongside him, which made it all the more tragic. I have come to appreciate him more since his retirement. His business acumen, his desire to succeed in every facet of life, and his willingness to mentor young NBA players and aspiring professionals alike, is inspirational. Those are the types of things that I respect, as a professional and as a parent.

It occurred to me that Kobe Bryant had that Tom Brady effect on me. While my Knicks fandom was not directly affected by the Lakers’ success, I felt as if Kobe had the same suffocating hold on me as Tom Brady and the Patriots have on my Jets fandom. It turns out I was likely envious of the success my Lakers friends were witnessing, while I sat rooting for dysfunction.

Well, over the last few days I have taken the time to watch that final 60-point performance, along with tons of amazing highlights I have seen over the years, and I enjoyed every second of it. The culmination of the career of the immensely talented and competitive specimen that was Kobe Bryant came to a head on a historic night. I have taken the time to understand the competitiveness that drove Kobe, and I wish I had that Mamba Mentality on a daily basis. Seeing that Kobe’s passing has had such an impact nationally speaks volumes to who he was as a player, an icon, and a role model for so many, and he will be sorely missed.

Every year the trade deadline comes and goes. This year there are some intriguing names that could be hitting the market. The next man up mentality is true in all facets of the game, and trades open many opportunities for players to seize. Here are a few deep stashes for the upcoming trade deadline.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oladipo, Ho! That jam would always get me so pumped up, and it’s perfect for the return of Victor Oladipo to the NBA. Two years ago, after being traded to Indiana for Paul George, there were questions about Oladipo’s place in the league. Was he a bust? For fantasy, many said yes because he finished as the #87 player in 2016. Well…..Oladipo, Ho! He came out with a vengeance the following year, garnered a 30.2 usage rate and finished as the #10 player! 23.1 points, 2.1 tres, 5.2 boards, 4.3 dimes, 2.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks with 47% shooting from the field and 79% from the line! Oladipo, Ho! Unfortunately, the following season, he ruptured a tendon in his quad after 36 games and was done for the season. After year of grueling rehab, Oladipo made his season debut last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
9 2 4 0 0 2 1/7 2/8 4/4

In 21 minutes off the bench. The shooting efficiency was off, which was to be expected, but he did send the game to OT with a game-tying tres. Once a baller, always a baller. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always balling and shot calling? The Stocktonator. Anyways, the Pacers have said that there will be a 24-minutes cap through the All-Star break for Oladipo. It’s just nice to have him back on the court. If he can remain healthy, there’s a chance he gets ramped up to 30 minutes per game and help teams in the fantasy playoffs. Oladipo, Ho! 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Bam Adebayo is 6′ 9″ and 255 pounds with a 7′ 1″ wingspan. So, grabbing boards and accumulating defensive stats are within reach, which he does often. What separates Bam from the other big men in the league, though, are the handles and playmaking ability. During the Summer League before his rookie season, I remember watching Bam grab a rebound, dribble down the court, Euro step around a defender, then convert a layup as if he were a svelte point guard. That’s when I fell in love. He’s also an incredible passer. Whether it be getting the ball in the post, at the elbow, or at the top of the key, Bam is able to deliver precise passes to cutters flowing through the middle of the lane or slicing from the baseline. Bam often initiates the Heat offense himself by bringing the ball up court. The beauty of that is teams aren’t able to put pressure, and the action they can run off of it is deadly. The dribble-hand-off to a shooter works because he’s an excellent screener and his defender is usually a big man who can’t go over the top or slide over because Bam then has a clear path to the rim. If defenses switch that action, then Bam abuses the smaller defender down low. As a result, open three-pointers are readily available. So we have boards, dimes, and the defensive stats. Let’s not forget about the scoring. He has jump hooks in the lane, can cross over defenders on the perimeter leading to dunks, and the jumper is much improved. The range on the J hasn’t been expanded to downtown, but he’s draining 20-footers on the regular, so it’s only a matter of time. Last night, the full repertoire was on displays. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the full repertoire? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 10 10 1 0 1 0/1 10/16 0

His third time messing around in his career. On the season, Bam is a top 40 player for fantasy, averaging 16 points, 10.4 boards, 4.8 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The field goal percentage is 58%. The only bugaboos are the free throw shooting (69%) and the lack of tres. I can see both improving over the course of his career. He’s only 22 years old! I wrote this a week or so ago, but I need to post it again. Since 1946, there have been 10 times a player has averaged 20 points, 10 boards, 5 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block per game in a season: Giannis Antetokounmpo (twice), Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett (three times), and Chris Webber. Bam could be the eighth player to join that illustrious group.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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We are only seven games into the season and already two of the most promising young players in the league have been suspended. DeAndre Ayton and John Collins both received a 25 game suspension due to violations of the NBA’s Anti-Drug program and, although they will appeal the decision, chances are they will have to sit out the entirety of those 25 games.

I will not voice my personal opinion as we rarely get to know the full story but in both cases it’s a huge blow for their respective teams, but simultaneously, more opportunity for other players to contribute in fantasy and real life.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Finally, the fantasy season has started! At last we get to see our favorite players, the teams we support, the storylines that will unfold and, for the third straight year, my usual Buy/Sell column will be here every Wednesday to provide invaluable suggestions that are correct 110 % of the time. Don’t question it…I said don’t! And certainly don’t check my post history…

If you are a new reader, the articles usually start with a review of last week’s suggestions, followed by the “Buy” and “Sell” candidates. Comments regarding the proposed players are always welcome at the end of the article, along with general fantasy questions and suggestions. So, without further ado and with the hype that the early part of the season always brings let’s get to it!!

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Two nights ago, Andre Drummond punked the Indiana Pacers worse than Dr. Dre and Snoop did Eazy-E in Dre Day. 32 points, 23 boards, 2 dimes, 3 steals, and 4 blocks! With no Blake Griffin in the lineup, it’s all about Dre. I contemplated making his performance the lede, but Kyrie’s 50-burger took precedence, so Dre Day was overshadowed. Last night, Dre was nice again, putting up a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 12 2 4 1 4 0 8/12 5/6

Dre is stuffing the stat sheet and shooting 13-for-16 from the free throw line so far in two games!!! Yet, he was once again overshadowed by Trae Young, as last night was Trae Day.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
38 7 9 1 0 6 6/10 11/21 10/12

He shoots from the logo at halfcourt, breaks down defenders if they get up too close, and dishes exquisite dimes. The Hawks play at a hyper-fast pace and have a plethora of shooters surrounding Trae, so every game could be a Trae Day. Do we have to start calling him Trae Souffle? Because he cooks his opponents? How about Trae Sensei? Because he educates his defenders. Put your suggestions in the comments. Anyways, Trae isn’t going to shoot so efficiently from the field every game, and the turnovers will be high, but the points, tres, dimes, and excellent free throw percentage should be there every night. If he chips in boards, then…..

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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Average doesn’t really cut it in the NBA. It never really did, and it especially doesn’t in today’s league. But the perfectly mediocre Detroit Pistons were believers, squeaked into the playoffs with a perfectly mediocre 41-41 record, then got absolutely trounced by the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round, which began the next phase of their… plan. Whatever that plan is. Rebuild? Tank? From the looks of it, they plan to be content with their current state of just being meh.

Please, blog, may I have some more?