While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are some things in life that we can’t refrain from doing. When you text a crush and you see the reply bubble, you writhe with anticipation. When you drive by an accident and talk shit about all the people rubber necking, of course you gawk because traffic has slowed down anyways. When you buy a lottery ticket, you mental masturbate about what you would do if you won. When James Harden plays basketball, no matter how many times I’ve written him as the lede, I have to do it again because he keeps doing ridiculousness.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
57 9 2 2 1 5 6/15 17/33 17/18

In 34 minutes! With a supporting cast of P. J. Tucker, Daniel House Jr., Nene Hilario, and Austin Rivers!! Harden had a usage rate of 57.5 last night!!! His true shooting percentage was 69.6!!!! Exclamation points are no longer sufficient to capture the essence of what he’s doing. You ever seen the movie Boomerang?

That’s where we’re at with Harden. He’s making it difficult for NBA defenses. He’s making it difficult for me not to write him as the lede every night. He’s making it difficult for us to even comprehend what he’s doing. Harden difficult indeed.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Back in 2008, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM changed the landscape of radio. Listeners could customize their listening experience, had access to out-of-market stations, and were given a cornucopia of options (podcasts, news, sports, and channels for specific genres). Options equal versatility which enhances a product. That concept isn’t just for the radio world, though, as it has become the defining characteristic of the modern day, positionless basketball that has taken root. Last night, Josh Hart was a perfect example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 12 6 5 0 2 1/5 5/13 3/3

Hart played a team-high 44 minutes. At 6′ 5″ and 215 pounds, Hart can play the 1, 2, or 3. He’s strong enough to handle himself down on the block, but possesses the agility to guard on the perimeter. He does get burned from time to time, but more often than not plays sound fundamental defense. Hart can shoot from beyond the arc or finish strong at the rim. He’s a willing passer and is able to rack up steals. Now, since LeBron James went down with an injury, Hart has been given an opportunity and has not disappointed. He’s been a top 50 player and has averaged 34.6 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.8 threeecolas, 6.8 boards, 2.1 dimes, 2.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks. The only bugaboo has been the 38% shooting from the field. When LeBron does return, Hart will likely shift back to the bench and lose 7-9 minutes of run per game. With that said, because of his versatility, he will still contribute across the board and provide top 125-ish numbers.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you remember Young Joc, you lived through the downfall of hip-hop. OK, no one can really pinpoint when Rap music really started to go downhill, but there was a time when Young Joc captivated the minds and ears of 13-year-old children everywhere. Similarly, last night Jamal Murray captivated the minds of NBA fans by going 9-46-6-8-0-1-5 on 16-of-24 shooting and 5-of-6 FTs. It’s been a bit of a down year for Jamal, but he had 31 on Friday and 77 points in two games is going to help your team a lot, especially with 13 three-pointers. He’s been kind of a disappointment on the year, but could end up having a solid season.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA last night:

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Does it sometimes seem like what AD does on the basketball court is kind of unfair? He simultaneously makes everything look way too easy, while also looking like he hasn’t reached his potential. Those eyebrows only add to his mystique as some otherworldly basketball entity. I’m not saying he’s secretly a real life Monstar, but if that was revealed to be true, I would only be like 90% shocked. He’s the clear cut #1 option in fantasy basketball this year and it’s not even close. If you drafted him #1 this year, enjoy your chip.

Anthony Davis

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
20/32 8/11 0/2 48 17 4 1 2 1

AD has been on a crazy tear this season, and especially so in December. This game is just additional icing on the cake and shows his insane ability to produce in every cat. The only nitpick is the lack of 3’s, but hitting a go-ahead basket, in addition to nearly 50 points more than makes up for that.

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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Jeremy Lamb was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. A few days before the start of the regular season, Lamb was traded in a package for James Harden to Oklahoma City. Sacrificial Lamb? In three years with the Thunder, Lamb never averaged more than 19 minutes per game and was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 2015. The first two years in Charlotte didn’t seem much different, as he averaged 18 minutes per game in each season. Then, in 2017 Lamb received close to 25 minutes per game and averaged over double-digits for the first time in his career, but during the 2017 NBA draft, the Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th overall pick. Sacrificial Lamb? Signs were pointing to Monk taking the starting shooting guard duties away from Lamb, as he seemed to have a higher upside. Well…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 6 3 2 0 0 3/3 11/18 6/7

Lamb played a team-high 49 minutes in a double-overtime game. For the season, he’s averaging 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 threeecolas per game. He’s shooting 43% from the field and 34% from downtown. Don’t expect many assists or blocks. Just solid top 60 production. No sacrificial Lamb this time because he’s baaaaaaaaad.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ok, last night’s game between the Lakers and Pelicans didn’t have the drama and importance of Jordan’s classic flu game. In fact, if you watched the nationally televised game featuring a sick LeBron James facing up against Anthony Davis and leading his team to victory, it might be tough to tell James was even sick. He played with greatness and did everything that was needed to win. Now he has another Jordan-themed event he can check off his list.

LeBron James

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/20 6/9 0/4 22 12 14 2 0 2

LeBron had his version of the flu game. It wasn’t efficient, but he managed a triple-double and led the Lakers to victory. The old man is ranked #15 in standard cat leagues and helps fantasy GMs even more if you’re punting FT percentage.

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I loved Biggie. Being born and raised on the West Coast, that may be viewed as blasphemy, but whatever. Even though I went to school in NY and worked in the City for many of years, the simple fact of the matter was that he was a smooth, lyrical genius. He was Unbelievable. “Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one…Representing BK to the fullest.” Indeed he did, which is exactly what Spencer Dinwiddie did last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 2 5 1 0 4 4/6 11/18 13/14

All in 30 minutes off the bench. He was Unbelievable. The 39 points were a career-high and, over the past four games, he’s been a top 40 player with an insane usage rate of 34.1!!! Now, he’s not going to start and will likely average a tick under 30 minutes per game, but Dinwiddie is a professional getter of buckets and will chip in 2 threeecolas, 5 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game, which will place him in the top 110 range. But, as last night showed, he will Hypnotize from time to time.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?