The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the New York Knicks 112-97 in the matinee matchup yesterday. The Bucks are now back to their winning ways, having beaten the Rockets in their previous game after losing their first game with Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton in the lineup against an undermanned Miami Heat team on Wednesday. The sweet machine of destruction that is the Milwaukee Bucks appears to have returned. Seven players scored in double figures for the Bucks, led by Khris Middleton, who finished the game with 24 points (8-17 FG, 4-11 3PT), eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 20 points (7-16 FG, 0-2 3PT), 10 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, and one block. Bobby Portis chipped in 19 points (7-14 FG, 3-7 3PT), 10 rebounds, and three steals. Jrue Holiday added 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT), four rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Rodney Hood rounded out the double-digit scorers’ list.

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The Good Land indeed. It has been a magic time on the western shores of Lake Michigan. Winter became a distant memory, Summerfest returned, and after 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA Champions. Though fall is in the air, everything is still glowy up here. This kind of joy will do that to a place: 

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Now, Kevin Durant really did hit that Game 7 jumper and the Nets really were a toe’s length away from the ECF and maybe more. Personally, I find the championship asterisk conversation to be tired and fruitless. However you feel about it, the Milwaukee Bucks are the reigning champs and their title defense begins with the third best odds at repeating, as Vegas likes Brookyln and LA more than the Cream City Champs (the Warriors and the Bucks both begin the season at +900.) With an improved Eastern Conference, there’s no reason to think that the path back will be without challenges.

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All the injuries for Portland has them dusting off the cobwebs from players further down the bench. Anfernee Simons (nine percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) is in line for a nice minutes bump, especially if Derrick Jones Jr. now misses time as well. Simons played 28 minutes on Thursday and put up 14 points (including four treys) and eight rebounds. Would be nice to see him add some assists going forward.

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Portland took a step back last year, falling from 3rd in the Western Conference to 9th despite the best efforts of Damian Lillard, who recorded his best season since turning pro. On the face of it, the most glaring difference was the absence of the Bosnian, Jusuf Nurkic, who sat the entire season with a leg injury. Losing Nurkic and later Zach Collins seriously crippled the Blazers, as they were forced to trot out a starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony for much of the season, though Whiteside owners weren’t complaining. The much-maligned big man absolutely demolished his ADP, ranking within the top-20 on the season. Say what you will about Whiteside, but given the minutes, he’s always produced.

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Terry Rozier has been a scary player for fantasy nerds since 2017. He shot 39% from the field that season on 10 attempts per game. BOO! We should’ve known, though, as he shot 36% from the field in 2016 and 27% his rookie year, but the athleticism was tantalizing. He’s young they said. He’ll develop they said. Just wait until he starts they said. Well, he started 30 games in Boston, and while the percentages did improve, the increase only took his field goal percentage from 37% to 39%. BOOOOO!!!! So why did we keep going back to Terry? Why do you slow down and gawk at an accident? There’s a chance you may see nothing. There’s a chance you may be horrified. But there’s also that chance you may see something you’ve never seen before. Well, Rozier scored 33 points in a game during the 2017 season and has messed around once in his career. Just wait until he becomes a full-time starter they said. Well, we are dummies and keep falling for the bananna in the tailpipe. In 10 starts as the man to replace Kemba Walker, Rozier was shooting….class? Yup, 38% from the field. BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! But every once in a while, he accesses a ceiling game to keep us coming back for more. Last night was that instance…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 5 6 2 0 5 7/12 13/21 0

The usage rate is 25.4 and he’s averaging 31.8 minutes, 16.8 points, 2.4 tres, 3.9 boards, 5.2 dimes, and 1.1 steals. The 3.5 turnovers and 41% shooting (last night’s game increased his percentage 3%) from the field have him just outside the top 100, but he has value if you can stomach the poor percentages. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always shoots a high percentage? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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With the release of Joker – a truly chilling and exceptional movie, by the way – the Jokic and Joker puns and references are becoming a bit tired. So let’s take this a different route: who gets a place on the Mount Rushmore of seemingly out-of-shape athletes? Jokic is certainly making a case for a position. He doesn’t look like the most trim guy out there.

So I got to thinking, and in terms of basketball, people like Bryant Reeves, Glen Davis, and Eddy Curry came to mind. Other sports have some really strong contenders, with baseball throwing out some especially heavy competitors. CC Sabathia, David Wells, Pablo Sandoval, and the Babe himself could create a fairly heavyset Mount Rushmore. The NFL is a different case, with guys like Vince Wilfork needing to be as big as they were in order to dominate the opposition.

It’s really an interesting discussion, so comment your picks below. But I digress. The point here is that Jokic was able to outwork the Greek – or rather Cameroonian – God himself, Joel Embiid, in the ultimate matchup of chiseled vs. flabby.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 6 2 2 1 2-9 10-22 4-5

The three-point efficiency is really the only thing to be mad about here… but the game-winning three that sealed the deal helped make up for that showing for Denver fans.

Here’s what else we saw from around the league on Friday night:

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When I heard that Joel Embiid was suspended two games, I knew that my Sixers would need someone to step up if they wanted to win a tough contest against Portland. Al Horford was too obvious. The rest of the starters would fulfill their roles as usual. No… the Sixers needed to unveil a secret weapon. Furkan Korkmaz didn’t do much with the Sixers after they drafted him at 27th overall in 2016. In fact, he was such a non-factor that the team decided to declined his option heading into the 2019-2020 season. Korkmaz was going back home to play for Fenerbahce in the Turkish league.

That didn’t last long.

And, at least for one game, the Sixers are glad to have him around. Seriously, on a team with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and a few trusty bench weapons, who else but Furkan Korkmaz gets tasked with making the game-winning three pointer with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Basketball is magical sometimes. And for anyone who drafted Korkmaz for their daily fantasy roster after some telepathic sensation advised them to take the 22-year old guard, kudos to you.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 3 2 0 2 0 3-6 4-9 0-0

With stats like these, it may seem like Korkmaz has some fantasy value, but he doesn’t… don’t be fooled by this strong showing. Let’s instead give one more nod of recognition to Korky, and then dive into some relevant fantasy performers from Saturday night’s action.

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What a wild first week it was! Players were dropping like flies and no one knows what to do with Deandre Ayton! Each week I will present a list of players who can be picked up from the waiver wire in order to help ease the pain. Note that I will only list players who are widely available at the time of writing, so that you actually have a chance of getting them.

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That song always did/does get me hyped up. Was I the biggest Ja Rule fan? Naw, but I did enjoy some of his songs and he was quite popular when I was growing up. Whatever you or I think about him, you can’t deny that he brought the energy and was a success. Just like Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, who brings it at both ends of the court, attacks the rim with ferocity, and has the conjones to take the last shot and lead his squad to victory.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 9 1 1 6 1/2 13/22 3/4

The game went to OT, because Ja blocked Kyrie Irving’s shot in regulation, then he dished a dime to Jae Crowder for the game-winning tres. There was some concern to start the season, as he only played 25 and 28 minutes respectively, but make no mistake about it; this is Ja’s squad and he’s a legitimate ROY candidate.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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