This week we take a look at the Northwest Division, which boasts some exciting teams to watch, some great individual offensive talents, and one seriously unresolved soap opera situation. This division is filled with teams that keep coming at you; hardworking, team-oriented outfits that don’t stop until the whole tree is on the ground. In other words, what the Timberwolves want to be.

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I’m old enough to remember when # was something located at the bottom right of the phone dial pad. Geez, I’m old. I’m also old enough to remember when Stan was a person’s name. Now? It has a definition in the dictionary: an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity. Shoutout to Eminem. That’s what you call influence. Anyways, Khloe Kardashian must be a Tristan, right? How about you? No?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 16 4 0 1 3 0 9/12 1/3

How about now? Damn Tristan! He played 34 minutes and produced his third double-dub of the season. We all thought Larry Nance Jr. would be the man at center for the Cavaliers, yet he only played 14 minutes last night and has failed to reach the 20 minute mark in each of the past four games. If you need boards, Tristan is your guy. Just don’t expect much else and the free throw shooting is craptastic. I figured there wouldn’t be many other instances to stan for Tristan this season, and I’m an equal opportunity writer, so enjoy being a Tristan for a day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Utah Jazz provided the biggest surprise last season, taking advantage of a second half schedule that ranked as the easiest in the league to go on a remarkable run and finish as the 5th seed in the West. More importantly, they knocked out Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony from the first round of the playoffs with their usual gritty, defense-first style. The emergence of Donovan Mitchell as a potential NBA star, vast improvements in the pick-and-roll chemistry between Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert, and a roster that has been carefully molded to fit the system lends for plenty of optimism for the Jazz to build on last season’s success. It won’t be easier, however, as a number of teams in the West improved in the offseason. With that said, there should be plenty in the tank for the Jazz to walk away from the regular season looking forward to playoff basketball once again.

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

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If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re probably in your fantasy basketball championship week. If you’re not, you have a sick addiction to NBA basketball and still care how your friends’ weeks are going, or you’re a a masochist and want to see how you could have done if you made the finals. It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the NBA, with injuries, teams resting key guys, and extreme tanking. I would move your league’s final week up at least one week if I was you, because your team at this point in the year probably doesn’t resemble what it was even three short weeks ago. I think if you’re wise you will draft guys on mid to upper tier teams next year, who actually will be playing for something down the stretch. One of these guys is Paul Millsap. The Nuggets are battling for a playoff spot and Millsap got all the run he could handle going 2-36-9-2-0-0-1 on 13-of-18 shooting and 8-of-11 FTs. He could be on a lot of winning squads with four games this week. With that said, there have been some key steamers and beneficiaries of rested players and late season injuries. Here is what went down on a key Friday night for Fantasy Basketball:

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Russell Westbrook gets triple-doubles so often that I think most fans take for granted the greatness that we are witnessing. Like NBA history making greatness. Last night, Russ picked up the 100th triple-double of his career, as he led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over the lowly Atlanta Hawks in a game they were supposed to win.

Westy scored 32 points, dropped 12 dimes, and pulled down 12 rebounds to become the third-fastest player to reach the 100 trip-dub mark. Only Oscar Robertson (277 games) and Magic Johnson (656 games) got to number 100 quicker than Russ, who accomplished the feat in just his 736th game. These stats tell me two things: 1) Russell Westbrook is really awesome and we are lucky to be able to witness his greatness and 2) The Big O was friggin’ unbelievable! 277 games? I mean, what? Nikola Jokic better hurry if he wants to even come close to sniffing that kind of epic-ness.

LeBron James, the so called “King,” has played in over 1,000 NBA games and he is not really even that close to 100 triple-doubles (ok, he’s pretty close, but still). I am saying (typing) all of this in an effort to put Westbrook’s greatness in perspective (because I am sensing that he is not getting the kind of love he deserves, most likely because ya’ll jealous of the man’s killer threads and overall sense of style). But anyway, yeah he’s good. Russell Westbrook also only trails Robertson (181), Johnson (138), and Jason Kidd (107) on the career triple-double list and trails only Kidd on the my head’s shaped like a basketball list.

However, since we are a fantasy basketball website I will stop boring you with general NBA history and give you Russ’ final line from last night: 0/32/12/12/1/1. I know, zero threes, what a bum.

Here is what else I saw last night:

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Bow down when you come to AD’s town! (New Orleans) Anthony Davis went 1-45-17-2-5-5-2 on 17-of-34 shooting and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. Hopefully, I didn’t scare anyone with my headline. I could see how ‘Brow Down’ could seem like he went down with an injury, but I was merely making a Westside Connection reference. The Pelicans beat the Heat in overtime so there were some big lines from this game. *Note to self: draft Pelicans players next year.  Mainly AD.  Most guys won’t put up this good of a line in a week… Ahh, time to shake off the post All-Star Game rust! There was a huge 11-game slate so if I don’t get to your favorite player I apologize. Here’s what else I saw in fantasy basketball this Friday:

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I love craps. Not the sitting on the toilet kind, but the rolling of them two dice. It’s the one game that feels like I have some modicum of control. I shoot the dice, can decide when and where to bet, move chips around, and finally take money off the table if I so choose. It’s all an illusion, though. Yes, money management can always help, but the numbers are not in my favor over the long run. The probability of rolling a 7 is 16.67%. 13.89% to roll a 6 or 8, 11.11% to roll a 5 or 9, and 8.33% to roll a 4 or 10. The hardway bets? 2%. Even though I know the numbers, the game is too freaking fun. And I have those stories when I was down to my last chip and proceeded to go on a crazy heater, hitting multiple points, and making everyone jump around. It’s those times that keep me going back to the tables to replicate that feeling. That is what it must be like to own Tim Hardaway Jr.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 5 1 2 0 3 6/9 14/24 3/3

Every once in a while, he will go on a heater that gets you all excited. More often than not, though, he will shoot 4-of-13 and make you cry like that guy in the casino bathroom that just lost the proverbial house. Since the Knicks lost Porzingis, THJ has seen usage rates of 29.4, 21.9, and 28.3. The high usage rate and minutes should continue to be plentiful. But like my experiences at the craps table, the likely scenario will be “7 OUT!” As long as you keep expectations in check, THJ will have some value. Just beware of emotionally point-chasing the performance from last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Certain things in sports are sexier than others. It’s as simple as that. While Ichiro strives to make singles sexy, the saying goes, “chicks dig the longball.” In hockey, Barry Melrose’s mullet screams sexy over Ovechkin’s buzz cut.  Big hits catch the eye before a 3 yard run up the middle. Lastly, slam dunks will always be more exciting than a mid-range jumper. Larry Nance finds himself in quite the unique situation. How many times since the inception of the dunk contest, has a contestant debuted their fresh new jersey on that stage? I’ll admit, I didn’t look into this at all, but man would it make a great HQ trivia question. In comes Larry Nance, I assume junior, or maybe even the third, traded from the Lakers and now sporting a Cavs uni. The same Cavs that are his favorite team, the team in which his father, Larry Nance, probably the first, played for and won the slam dunk contest with. The same Larry Nance whose number is hanging in the rafters at the Q. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will. As Kevin Costner said, it’s hard not to get emotional about baseball. Wrong sport, yes, but the man just wanted to have a damn catch with his dad, and now he can!

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When I was younger, much younger, I used to consider myself a fairly athletic guy. Played competitive volleyball and could hang when I hooped at most courts. Then the Summer of ’96 happened. I was playing tackle football, when one of the guys brought his friend to play. The new guy was a third string cornerback for the University of Maryland and he said, “No tackle for me guys. Just two-hand touch.” Didn’t matter because no one could get one hand on the guy. Ok, I’m exaggerating. One hand was possible, but two hands? Fuggetaboutit. 3rd stringer for a Division 1 college team. I couldn’t even imagine the level of what a professional player would be at.  Which brings me to TJ McConnell. Myself and many others clown him that he should be playing at the YMCA, but let’s not forget that he’s in the top 1% of ballers on the planet. Last night, he reminded us all as he messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 10 10 11 6 0 2 0 5/11 0

Played 37 minutes off the bench. The last time TJ received 30 minutes of run in a game was on January 20th. More than likely, TJ will get around 24 minutes a game, but does have the capacity to contribute across the board. Just don’t expect 6 steals and for him to mess around on a nightly basis. More often than not, I’m going to talk about his hair. Every once in a while, though, he’s going to remind us that it’s fun to stay at the YMTJ.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?