I guess when it comes down to it, I’m just a sucker for a comeback story. Call it homerism, or a Great Lakes bias, or Stockholm syndrome — it doesn’t much matter to me — because I am here for the redevelopment plans that are starting to come together in the Central division. The Bucks provided the blueprint: Invest heavily in your own (Giannis, Middleton) and then bring in outside help (hello, Jrue!) to get you over the top. After breaking through in a big way last year with their own in-house Big Two of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, the Cleveland Cavaliers seized on New York’s hesitation and snatched an in-his-prime All-Star guard to help them get where they want to go. The cost of doing business was steep in both cases — the Cavs only have one future first-round pick from now until 2030 — but that’s what it takes to trade for a player as good as Donovan Mitchell. Spida arrives in Believeland carrying 25 points per game, and while there will be an adjustment period as the usage rates find their new levels, his presence makes it all the more challenging not to take Cleveland seriously in a fiercely competitive Eastern Conference. There’s still a hole on the wing and the depth is a bit shaky, but the youth of the core four puts the Cavs in a position of strength for years to come as they try to replicate the Milwaukee Miracle on the shores of Lake Erie.

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Last night’s version of Dennis Schroder is exactly what the Celtics need to save their season. A legitimate third scoring option they can rely upon when Tatum and Jaylen are either being double teamed or are having a bad shooting night. Considering how the rest of this roster is built, defense isn’t a concern at all. As for if he’s worth picking up in fantasy, I would have to say a hesitant no. Plenty of other more consistent scoring options available league wide such as Kelly Oubre Jr. or Jalen Brunson.

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Following a heartbreaking buzzer-beater loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Oklahoma City Thunder respond with a last-second bucket of their own to take down the LA Clippers, 104-103. The big basket came from none other than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who finished the night with 18 points and six assists. Lugentz Dort led the team with 29 points, but the guy to watch in this one was Josh Giddey. Although the rookie finished with only eight points, he also grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out ten assists. He may not be getting the same Rookie of the Year buzz as guys like Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes, but statistically, he should definitely be in the discussion.

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Five starters failing to score 10, four starters scoring less than ten combined, three teams that should blow it up, two Mondays skipped by the author, and one comment section debating Jayson Tatum. I realize it’s still November, but if the mall and my girlfriend force Christmas upon me I shall do the same to everyone reading this. Last night in the NBA, players failed to score, Andre Drummond proved he’s still Andre Drummond, and the Bucks disappointed everyone.

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Yes, the 1995 Magic with Shaq, Penny, 3D, Nick Anderson, and Ho Grant were my favorite team as a kid. Yes, I still have the Magic locker in my house that I got in 1995. Oh, and yes, I am currently rocking a NBA Jam shirt with Shaq and Penny on it.  Unfortunately, those guys are all retired and while some call Orlando the happiest place on earth the Magic were a pretty sad team in 2020-21. They struggled with injuries starting with Jonathan Issac who didn’t play a single game. Starter Markel Fultz played only eight games before tearing his ACL, and regular rotation guys Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, and Terrence Ross played a combined total of 126 out of a possible 216 games. The Magic finished last in FG%, 26th in 3PM,  28th in assists, and they traded two-time All-Star Nikola Vučević to Chicago at the deadline. All this led to a 21-51 record and a resignation from head coach Steve Clifford.

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Daniel Theis still got the start even with Nikola Vucevic back in the lineup. The former Celtic contributed across the board in his 26 minutes, with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with 7 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and a three. Theis (46 percent owned in Yahoo!) has averaged 12.5 PPG over his past six, while also amassing some defensive stats and making close to one triple a game. He’s a great streaming option if he’s still out there in your league.

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Shake Milton lit it up off the bench for Philly, dropping 27 points on uber-efficient 10-of-14 shooting (including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc). That marks the eighth consecutive game Milton has scored in double figures—topping 20 points for the third time in that span. Consider picking up Shake (22 percent owned in Yahoo!) if you need points and threes.

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Carmelo Anthony has been a reliable source of points and treys on good efficiency, and stayed on brand Thursday night with 20 points and four triples, while hitting all four of his freebies and turning the ball over just once. Adding Norman Powell to the mix shouldn’t have too much of an impact on Melo, who should continue to get minutes in the mid-20s and put up enough shots to retain value.

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I had the good fortune of playing on some pretty good basketball teams in my youth. Well, good fortune in the sense that I was on teams that won a bunch of games and had the best seat in the house at the end of the bench. The two high school classes ahead of mine were absolutely loaded, creating a bottleneck of talent and pushing varsity-caliber players down to a JV squad that churned through overmatched programs over and over again. Winning by 15+ and then getting an earful about how poorly we played the next day in practice was a pretty routine occurrence. I’m not sure we lost more than three games over the course of two years.

What Jonas Valanciunas did to the Wizards reminded of these glory days, as JV was absolutely dominant against a frontcourt that didn’t have anything resembling an answer for the Memphis big man. Jonas is a load in the paint, and if you don’t have a big body to throw at him, the results can be Just Vicious.

Jonas Valanciuias 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 3PM FG FT
29 20 3 0 4 2 0 12/21 5/7

JV feasted on Washington’s undersized group. Moritz Wagner could only hang for 21 minutes with him before collecting six fouls. Davis Bertans racked up five fouls in 20 minutes. Robin Lopez fared better than those other two, but Scott Brooks eventually had to turn to his fourth big, Alex Len, for a couple of minutes in search of relief from the abuse. This is the second time Valanciunas has posted a 20+  points and 20+ rebounds line this year. Skilled and huge, he abuses teams that don’t have an ogre of their own to throw at him. With only two games on the slate, there was nowhere to hide JV’s dominance.

Here’s what else I saw on slow Wednesday in the NBA:

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The Toronto Raptors have finally strung together wins while the Philadelphia 76ers are making statements with wins over the Lakers and the Celtics. After another week of NBA action, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves on top of the East with a 13-6 record followed by the Bucks, the Pacers, and the Nets to round off the top 4. The Celtics are in the middle of the pack after dropping a couple of games thanks to their absences while the Cavs find themselves still at .500 after some gritty performances and wins. The Hawks are also at .500 while the Knicks find themselves at the 8th seed tied with the Orlando Magic. I think this is how the East will look like moving forwards just instead of the Hawks and the Knicks and maybe even the Cavs it will have the Heat, the Raptors joining the top 8. This means that one of the Knicks or Cavs may find themselves in a playoff spot which is insane to think about. But with this season who knows? The Wizards continue to struggle and Bradley Beal continues to look miserable. Maybe signing that extension wasn’t a good idea huh, Brad? This week, I want to put the Wizards in the spotlight.

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We knew from the start that this was going to be a weird season. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become a part of our life for the last year and basketball couldn’t remain unaffected. During the last 2 weeks, more and more cases are appearing in the league and some games have already been postponed. Furthermore, there are teams that are decimated by the virus and the contact tracing procedures that it involves, with these teams playing many games with 8 or 9 active players and usually without their stars. It is a difficult and unique situation that the experts expect to escalate during the next month. Maybe a pause in action for 1-2 weeks would prove beneficial for all parties, as neither teams, nor fans want to watch games with depleted rosters or constant postponements and uncertainty. The league has just implemented stricter restrictions for NBA players and personnel, that pretty much affect the whole spectrum of their everyday life, in an attempt to contain the spread.

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