Hey there all you Razzball readers! The Duke is coming at you with an entire rundown of the Western Conference from a 9-cat fantasy perspective. We’ll start with a top 20 player ranking, then go team by team looking at all the viable fantasy options for the 2020-2021 season and see how to fit them into your roster to bring home another chip for the mantle!

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Back when Larry Nance Jr. was a Los Angeles Laker, younger Son had a Nance Romance. I’d watch this 6′ 7″, 245 pound poster maker get busy night in and night out. With his 7′ 1″ wingpan and 37.5″ hops, Nance would Statue of Liberty every dunk. It didn’t matter if there was a defender there or not. It was patriotism at its finest. Unfortunately, he was never able to get more than 22 minutes of run per game, as he was down on the depth chart, suffered an injury when the opportunity finally arrived, and his tweener status gave coaches the heebie jeebies. When he got traded to Cleveland, I was sad to see him go but was curious to see if he could thrive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always thrives? The Stocktonator. Once again, the depth chart was not kind to Nance, but the team signed him to a four-year, $44.8 million extension. He had to play, right? Of course not because it’s the Cavs we are talking about. He could never carve out a significant role and primarily relied on injuries to get run. Well, here we are now. Tristan Thompson is out with a knee injury while Andre Drummond is nursing a calf injury. Last night against the Boston Celtics:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 15 4 4 0 2 2/5 7/13 3/6

In 39 minutes. Nance has always been a good rebounder due to his athleticism and pursuit, but he’s developed a decent shot from downtown to go along with his handles and passing ability. He’s always been a maven for steals, as he plays the passing lanes well. The one conundrum has been the lack of blocks. He’s never come close to averaging 1 block per game despite receiving around 27 minutes per game during stretches. Probably has to do with overall defensive IQ, as athleticism isn’t the issue. Maybe he and Blake Griffin studied at the same dojo for how not to get blocks. Regardless, in nine games as a starter for the Cavs, Nance has averaged 35.2 minutes, 14.1 points, 1.3 tres, 9.9 boards, 3 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line. That’s equated to top 40 production for fantasy. Wouldn’t he be the perfect player for the Houston Rockets? Anyways, only use Nance when both Thompson and Drummond are out, or if the Cavs come out and say that he’s going to be the starting power forward from now on. Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Naz Reid was a highly-touted recruit in high school and was ranked as the third-best power forward/15th-best overall player in the nation. He played his college ball at LSU and declared for the draft after one season. He’s 6′ 10″, 240 pounds, has feathery touch from downtown, has decent handles with a wicked spin move to maneuver in the paint, is agile for a man his size, and can dish out dimes. Then why did he go undrafted? He didn’t dominate his one year in college and tanked the pre-draft combine. But the Minnesota Timberwolves knew because it wasn’t hard to tell that he was Illmatic…….

Ahhhhh, love that song. Anyways, can’t give the Timberwolves that much credit because if they truly knew then they would’ve drafted him. Regardless, they took a shot and their gamble looks to have paid off.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 14 3 3 2 1 1/4 5/12 2/2

In 27 minutes. Over the past seven games, Naz has averaged 25.4 minutes, 10.9 points, 0.9 tres, 7 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks. A 1/1/1 player!!! The field goal percentage is very poor for a big man, though, as it’s been 40% recently and 41% on the season. He’s a 70% shooter from the free throw line. Now, much depends on whether or not Karl-Anthony Towns returns. If he does, then Naz will have little value, but if KAT does get shut down, then……Naz will be Illmatic. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always Illmatic? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My buddy was talking about his girl a week or so ago and mentioned that he loved taking her out to eat now. She doesn’t eat sushi, which is healthy on the wallet. He no longer needs to take her to fancy steakhouses now because the last time he took her to one, she ordered her meat well done. “Woman,” he said, “if you want your meat cooked well done, I could’ve just taken you to Fatburger!” Meat should be cooked on the rare side so that it’s extra tender and juicy. Veal is no different. Beal on the other hand? Well done, all day and all night, especially when cooked into a 50-burger.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
53 5 4 2 1 7 5/11 15/27 18/20

A career-high and the second 50-burger of Beal’s career!!! Mmmmmm, delicious! Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what provides deliciousness every day? The Stocktonator. Over the past four games, Beal has garnered a usage rate of 40% and averaged 34.8 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 3.8 dimes, and 2 steals, while shooting 46% from the field and 85% from the line. He’s been a top 40 player. On the season, he’s averaging 6 dimes per game, which accounts for the lower overall value. When the dimes are getting cashed, Beal is a top 25 player for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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On July 31, 2019, RTS Sat (Radio Television Serbia) sent a team to Memphis, as the Grizzlies signed Marko Guduric to a multi-year contract. Their first questions for the Serbian star were, Do you like Memphis? Ja. Do you like rock-n-roll music? Ja. Do you like Elvis? Uh huh huh. Fast forward six months, and the RTS Sat crew didn’t care about the 13.2 minutes in 33 games played for their Serbian. What excites you most about the Grizzlies? Ja. Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Ja. What will the name of your child be? Ja. The RTS Sat crew wasn’t messing around. Guduric wasn’t messing around. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what also never messes around? The Stocktonator. Ja Morant, on the other hand, messed around for the first time in his young career last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 10 10 1 1 3 2/7 9/17 7/9

In 35 minutes. On the season, Ja is just outside the top 100 for fantasy. Much of that had to do with the playing time, as there were many games, especially early on, when he was receiving only 25 minutes of run a night. That was probably by design, to bring Ja along slowly. He’s at 30 minutes per game right now. If he gets another two to three minutes per game, a top 75 finish isn’t out of the question because he averages around 18 points, 4 boards, 7 dimes, and 1 steal per game. The percentages are excellent, around 50% from the field and over 80% from the line. The most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to get to the rim and convert amongst the bigs. Over 65% of his shot attempts are within 10 feet from the basket. He’s 6′ 3″ and 174 pounds, y’all! And only 20 years old! Wait until he fills out physically! The comps to Russell Westbrook have been made. The advanced stats for NBA.com only go back to 2013, the sixth year of Westbrook’s career, and only 38% of his shots were within 10 feet! Will Morant be better than Westbrook? Ja?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Bam Adebayo is 6′ 9″ and 255 pounds with a 7′ 1″ wingspan. So, grabbing boards and accumulating defensive stats are within reach, which he does often. What separates Bam from the other big men in the league, though, are the handles and playmaking ability. During the Summer League before his rookie season, I remember watching Bam grab a rebound, dribble down the court, Euro step around a defender, then convert a layup as if he were a svelte point guard. That’s when I fell in love. He’s also an incredible passer. Whether it be getting the ball in the post, at the elbow, or at the top of the key, Bam is able to deliver precise passes to cutters flowing through the middle of the lane or slicing from the baseline. Bam often initiates the Heat offense himself by bringing the ball up court. The beauty of that is teams aren’t able to put pressure, and the action they can run off of it is deadly. The dribble-hand-off to a shooter works because he’s an excellent screener and his defender is usually a big man who can’t go over the top or slide over because Bam then has a clear path to the rim. If defenses switch that action, then Bam abuses the smaller defender down low. As a result, open three-pointers are readily available. So we have boards, dimes, and the defensive stats. Let’s not forget about the scoring. He has jump hooks in the lane, can cross over defenders on the perimeter leading to dunks, and the jumper is much improved. The range on the J hasn’t been expanded to downtown, but he’s draining 20-footers on the regular, so it’s only a matter of time. Last night, the full repertoire was on displays. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the full repertoire? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 10 10 1 0 1 0/1 10/16 0

His third time messing around in his career. On the season, Bam is a top 40 player for fantasy, averaging 16 points, 10.4 boards, 4.8 dimes, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The field goal percentage is 58%. The only bugaboos are the free throw shooting (69%) and the lack of tres. I can see both improving over the course of his career. He’s only 22 years old! I wrote this a week or so ago, but I need to post it again. Since 1946, there have been 10 times a player has averaged 20 points, 10 boards, 5 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block per game in a season:¬†Giannis Antetokounmpo¬†(twice), Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley,¬†DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett (three times), and Chris Webber. Bam could be the eighth player to join that illustrious group.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, despite leading the NCAA Division I in three-point shooting with 4.47 per game and finishing second to Trae Young in scoring with 25.9 points per contest. He played his rookie season with the Warriors G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and averaged 19.3 points in 29 minutes. In the offseason, the Miami Heat took a chance on him and were shown the Power of Nunn. In a preseason game against the Rockets, Nunn dropped a 40-burger. As a result, he entered the starting lineup, which he hasn’t relinquished in 40 straight games. Now, despite starting every game, it’s been a rollercoaster in terms of production. He got out of the gates on fire, then cooled off, then picked it up, then plateaued for a bit. Well, last night, he reminded us of what the Power of Nunn looks like.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 4 2 0 2 5/7 13/18 2/2

Nunn is averaging a little over 28 minutes per contest. The usage rate is in a healthy range of 23-25 and he’s jacking up 13 shots per game. He will provide a handful of boards and dimes with the occasional steal, but he’s primarily a points and tres player. Nunn is obviously not going to shoot 72% every game. On the season, he’s converting 45% of his shots. Not bad. The turnover rate is miniscule at 1.8, so that should endear him to the coaches, which provides a relatively high floor for fantasy. If you ain’t on the court, then you ain’t good for us. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never leaves the court? The Stocktonator. Nunn is currently a top 120 player on the season. If he continues to start, then that’s a reasonable expectation of where he ends the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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History is written by the victors. Alexander III was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC. Due to his undefeated record in battle and conquest of Persia, the III was replaced with The Great. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always great? The Stocktonator. Now, over 2000 years later, Alexander the Great has been etched into the history books and permeated our minds. Last night, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered a performance that imprinted him into the NBA archives.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 20 10 0 1 2 2/3 8/12 2/2

That was the 90th time since 1946 that a player has scored 20 points with at least 20 boards and 10 dimes. The last player to perform the feat was Russell Westbrook last season, when he went 20/20/21! Since 2000, it’s happened only six times before Shai’s performance. Now, for fantasy, Shai got off to a blazing start this season then cooled off. Over the past 16 games, though, he’s been a top 20 player for fantasy, averaging 36 minutes, 21.9 points, 0.9 tres, 6.6 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The field goal percentage has been a whopping 52% while the free throw shooting has been 85%. He’s garnered a usage rate of 23.9, yet Shai has only turned the ball over 1.6 times per game! Will this continue? Probably not. He’s not going to continue shooting 52% from the field. He shot 47% over the course of his rookie season, so that’s a reasonable expectation. The Logo, Jerry West, loved Shai and was instrumental in the Clippers drafting him. They had to trade him in order to get Paul George, so it’s understandable why they made the move, but West is one of the best talent evaluators in the league. If he’s high on someone, then so am I.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Michael Porter Jr. was one of the top overall recruits in high school. At 6′ 10″ and 218 pounds, he was literally a giant amongst boys. Unlike most big men, though, he did most of his damage from the perimeter. He possessed both the handles and jump shot of a guard. With his height and athleticism, he would rise up over any challenger and drain shots from all over the court. Because of the stupid rule that forces players to showcase their talents in college for one year before entering the NBA, MPJ eventually decided to play for Missouri. Unfortunately, he injured his back and underwent surgery, forcing him to miss most of the season. As a result, he fell in the NBA draft before the Denver Nuggets selected him with the 14th overall pick. Back injuries are tricky, and the Nuggets selected MPJ for the long game, so the process was going to be a slow and tedious one. For the first 31 games of the season, MPJ played in 22 of them and averaged 9 minutes per game. Then, on December 29th, he received his first start and did what he do, which is score, score, and score some more. He scored 19 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 1 dime in 26 minutes. The Nuggets were short-handed that game, so I dismissed it as a one-off thing, but it looks as if the genie may be out of the bottle. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 5 1 0 0 1 2/3 11/12 1/2

In 23 minutes off the bench. He posted up smaller defenders, broke down bigs on the perimeter, showcased the Harden-esque step-back J, and attacked the rim on closeouts with dexterity. Over the past four games, he’s been a top 60 player for fantasy, despite averaging only 19.6 minutes. Now, before we go crowning his ass, MPJ is not going to shoot 74% from the field, which is what he’s done over the past four games. When that happens, the points will obviously go down, which will be an issue because most of his fantasy value is derived from scoring. He may be a hero right now, but he’s a zero in the defensive stats and dimes. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never a zero, and always a hero? The Stocktonator. In addition, his real-life defense isn’t great, which could be an issue regarding playing time because the Nuggets are legitimate contenders this season. I’ve added MPJ in every league where he was available, as the scoring upside is immense, and there’s always that small percentage chance that he could be the greatest thing since….most people go with sliced bread. I get it but not really. How about the internet? Nike Airs? Deodorant? I’m going with the Apple Pan banana cream pie. For those in LA, you know. For the unfortunate, you know what to do if you ever go to LA. Anyways, I’m not expecting much from MPJ to be honest, but willing to see where it leads.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?