We officially survived The Bubble. We adjusted, adapted, and social-distantly cried or cheered depending on the fate of our teams. Bron Bron is yet again a champ of the known carbon-based universe. The Brow is newly minted and giddy in his child-like man hoodness. Horton-Tucker tipped the scales and made the Larry O’ come back to the smoggy post apocalypse that is 2020 Los Angeles.

Let’s pause a moment to think back on all that has happened in hoops over the last decade.

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Coaches often become the scapegoat in situations where a team is underperforming, both realistically and sometimes in their owner’s eyes. A quick fix is to fire the coach and patience is often in short supply in situations like these. NBA fans are used to that, but Kenny Atkinson’s firing from the Nets is one of the most undeserving one of recent memory. His Nets are almost surely making the playoffs, either from the 7th or the 8th position, he coached the full season without Kevin Durant and most of it without Kyrie Irving. Last year he made the playoffs with the highest paid players on the team being Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, and Jared Dudley. Let that sink in for a moment….

He seems like an obvious hire for the Knicks, to be honest, or even for the underwhelming Bulls. Hopefully, he gets his chance soon as he seems very deserving. Maybe the pressure from Rodions Kurucs to get him fired was too much for the owners to overcome…

On the fantasy front, I have to admit last week was not a great week in terms of my suggestions. Royce O’Neal and De’Andre Hunter were mediocre, while Jae Crowder pulled a Houdini and disappeared from the rotation and the scoreboard in his last three games. Even Cody Zeller, who I suggested as a “Sell” candidate got his minutes back and unsurprisingly proceeded to have a team-low -16 in last night’s double overtime loss in Atlanta.

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15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

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I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.

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We made it! It was a journey filled with joy, elation, anxiety, frustration, and anger, but we got through it. I’ve grown facial hair, even though I’m Asian, and put on a few pounds through the process, but it was all worth it. I hope the odyssey was as exhilirating for you as it was for me. This may be….

….but the fun is just about to begin. I hope you join us all season long for the vast amount of content we plan on pumping out. Don’t worry, we are not two pump chumps!

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The 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets exceeded expectations in many ways, from player development to overall record. Few pundits had them making the playoffs, myself included, but I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated Kenny Atkinson, who has established himself as one of the  upper-echelon coaches in the league. Sean Marks can also be credited for assembling a team with a good mix of youthful exuberance and veteran experience. Although, they were bounced in the first round by Philadelphia, hardly any Nets fans could feel disappointed with how the season turned out given the low expectations.

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For some of us fantasy basketball players, this week doesn’t matter much. We’ve locked up our playoff spots and are just waiting for them to begin. For others, these last few games are critical to seeding. If you own Karl-Anthony Towns, you’ve most likely locked up a playoff spot by now, because he’s been a beast all year. If that’s your situation, you probably just wanted the game last night between the T-Wolves and the Wizards to come to an end, but it went into OT and KAT hurt his knee in the waning moments of the game. Although it doesn’t seem to be serious, he is still headed for an MRI and the Wolves could play it safe with him given their place in the standings. This is obviously bad news if your playoffs start next week and you don’t have a first-round bye. Towns played exceptionally well prior to the injury going 4-40-16-2-2-1-1 on 15-of-25 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. More will be known in the coming days regarding his knee, but this would be the worst possible timing, as he’s been cruising all year.

On a lighter note, here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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Vince Carter was the #5 overall pick waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1998. This is his 23rd season in the NBA! 7-Eleven has nothing on him because it closes from Eleven to 7. Half-man, Half-amazing? Naw. All man, All amazing! Last night was just another reiteration of that fact:

21 4 1 1 0 0 7/11 7/14 0

Played 26 minutes off the bench and led the Hawks in points! He’s 42 freaking years old! For you inquiring minds, he’d need to play a few more years to hold the title of the oldest player to ever play in an NBA game. Nat Kickey was 45 years, 363 days old when he played two games in 1947. That shouldn’t count but it does. For someone a little more relevant, Kevin Willis played five games during the 2006 season at the ripe age of 44 years, 224 days. Now, this lede is basically an homage to the awesomeness of Vince Carter, but he’s actually been a fantasy asset. Over the past four games, he’s averaged 27.4 minutes, 13.5 points, 3.5 tres, 3.3 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks! Good for top 85 value. Granted, the Hawks are banged up, as John Collins, Taurean Prince, and Omari Spellman have been out due to injury, yet……Nothing but amazing.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Look ahead—Trade Deadline Edition

Now we are just past the halfway mark of the season and into the annual fun that masquerades as the trade deadline.

Teams are either hoping to find the one additional piece to move them into championship contention, ensure that playoff slot which has eluded the home fans for several seasons, or offload some contracts to save a few bucks and better the future.

The interesting thing is figuring out who the sellers and buyers are. More intriguing for us fantasy hoop heads is how it affects/changes/improves/negates the numbers of current players and what kind of new opportunities can now be found for players in new situations.

We will take a look at the Eastern Conference first – identify some trade targets and discuss what that might mean.  Then we will do the same with the West.

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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.

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