We are back for Week Five of the NBA season. While I admit it is early, there are already some patterns and trends that have begun to crystalize. The Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons will be amongst the worst teams in the league, as they lose for the hope to win the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Rostering Kawhi Leonard will be a colossal headache and likely not be worth the effort by seasons end, if not earlier. The Los Angeles Lakers will not be winning any rings this year, no matter if they make a trade or not. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the real deal Holyfield. (Mind Blown)

Of all the many things, the one I am most certain of is that this week’s feature player cannot keep shooting this poorly. I mean surely, he cannot, right? Nah, there is no possible way and that is why he is here.

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Hey Dallas, did you overlook your opponent just because they were 1-9? Was it because they were the Orlando Magic? Was it because their best player this year, Paolo Banchero, was out for the game? You only scored 87 points against a very inexperienced team and 53 of those points came from Spencer Dinwiddie and Luka Doncic. The bench depth as a whole has been a weak point for the Mavericks this season. Outside of Christian Wood, players such as Dwight Powell, Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber really haven’t been producing for them.

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A massive leap forward in regular and post season performance has the Dallas faithful hoping for another deep playoff run.  Whether or not they can pull it off depends largely upon their ability to address the backcourt gap left in the wake of Jalen Brunson’s offseason departure.  If Spencer Dinwiddie and the rest of the starters can’t backfill the offensive responsibilities shouldered by Brunson, we could see even more usage for Luka Doncic, who sits at the helm of perhaps the most top-heavy offensive lineup in the NBA (1- Luka………………………. 2- Spencer Dinwiddie/Christian Wood?).  Needless to say, standby for another plodding campaign from last year’s slowest team.

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The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 119-110 to remain ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. The two teams have identical 39-36 records, but with this win, the Hornets move to 2-1 against the Nets and secure the tiebreaker. Led by LaMelo Ball’s hot shooting, the Hornets spoiled Kyrie Irving’s home debut. Ball finished the game with 33 points (10-21 FG, 7-12 3PT), seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals. Miles Bridges added 24 points (9-24 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal. P.J. Washington tallied 18 points (8-12 FG, 2-3 3PT), 11 rebounds, and five assists. Terry Rozier notched 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-5 3PT), seven rebounds, four assists, and one steal. If the Hornets are making their threes they can be tough to beat and that was the case in this game. They shot 42% from the field as a team, but they shot 53% from three (17-32). As things currently stand, the Hornets would match up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in tournament, rather than the Nets. That’s unfortunate for us, the fans, as the pace of play and lack of defense on both sides would make a Nets vs. Hornets matchup must-see TV. Then again, there likely won’t be much defense in a Nets vs. Hawks series either.

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In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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The Nets defeated their in-state rival Knicks 110-107, behind a statement performance from Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 53 points (19-37 FG, 4-13 3PT), six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. The 53 points were a season-high and just a point shy of his career-high. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one block on a perfect eight for eight from the field. Bruce Brown, whose value and strong play has grown consistent of late, finished the game with 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Nic Claxton contributed off the bench, compiling 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Seth Curry was a late scratch due to an ankle injury. The Nets have now won three in a row after losing four in a row.  During this winning streak, Durant has reminded everyone in the league and everyone watching at home just how dominant he can be. The spiciest and most hilarious result of a late-season Nets winning streak would be a 76ers vs. Nets first-round matchup—one can only hope!

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With fantasy playoffs right around the corner, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go team by team and point out one player that should be available on waiver wire in most fantasy leagues. With most fantasy trade deadlines passing, I thought it would be informative that you know who’s available on waivers. A quick note before we get into the article, the percentages are based off of ESPN leagues, the numbers may vary on other platforms, however they shouldn’t change to a significant degree.

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That song always gets me amped for some reason. I went to school out in New York and lived/worked out there for many years, so I used to hear that song all the time. Didn’t matter what borough I’d walk through. There would always be a Puerto Rican blasting that while cruising in his ride. Ok, maybe not in Manhattan but everywhere else! As that song brought back nostalgic vibes, so did the return of one Victor Oladipo. Oladipo Ho! Oladipo Ho! Oladipo Ho! He last played in April of 2021 and finally made his season debut on Monday.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 1 4 0 0 1 2/3 4/7 1/2

Only played 15 minutes as that was the cap mentioned before the game. He wasn’t as explosive as before, but the shot looked smooth, he was navigating pick and roll action, and he was able to get by defenders and finish at the rim. Back in 2017, he finished as the 11th overall player on a per-game basis! He averaged 34 minutes, 23.1 points, 2.1 tres, 5.2 boards, 4.3 dimes, 2.4 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 47% from the field and 79% from the line. Dayam! He’s obviously not going to replicate that this season but he could eventually play around 20 minutes and be a contributor. Man, this Heat team could be scary. I actually put them at #1 in a power rankings I did a few weeks ago. The team is already top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If Oladipo can get healthy and be a significant contributor, the Heat get that much scarier because he’s another plus defender who can get his own shot on the offensive end.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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LeBron James put on a show with a season-high 56 points as the Los Angeles Lakers took down the Golden State Warriors, 124-116. James did so on impressive shooting splits and became only the fourth player at age 37+ to score 50+ points in a game. The only other players in this group are Jamal Crawford, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan.

Alongside James, four other players scored in double-figures including Russell Westbrook, who finished with 20 points. Carmelo Anthony also had a strong performance off the bench with 14 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

This win snapped a four-game losing streak, but they still are only 3-7 in their last ten games. At 27-35 they sit in ninth place in the West, but they are only half a game ahead of the Pelicans.

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Lonnie Walker IV has been on an absolute heater lately. The enigmatic wing dropped 30 off the bench for San Antonio on 12-of-20 from the floor, with five bombs from deep. It’s the fourth consecutive game Walker has scored 20 or more, and over his past seven games he’s averaged 21.7 PPG and 2.6 3PTM. Unfortunately he doesn’t really do anything else and has just two steals and one block total in that stretch, but if you need points, the notoriously streaky Walker is your best bet on the wire (28 percent rostered).

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What kind of person are you? Would you want an investment that went up or down 25% on any given day or one that increased 3% all the time? If you lit a fire to keep warm while stranded in the mountains, would you want the flame to burst up four feet in the air, providing tremendous warmth for 15 minutes but then it shut off for five minutes? Or a steady flame that didn’t keep you quite as warm but stayed on all the time? The upside is always alluring but sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and no player exemplifies that more than Jalen Brunson. He’s been in the top 70 to 90 range for the entire season. Last night was just another one of his solid, yet unspectacular performances:

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The fantasy star of the night rarely comes from a losing team, but RJ Barrett fully deserves it. After missing the last four games before the All-Star Break with an ankle injury, Barrett returned on Friday night to provide the best game of his career. He finished with 46 points and nine rebounds on 6-11 three-point shooting. He has been on a tear over his last 20 games and appears to be taking a leap forward as a player. He has been a huge disappointment for category players this year because of his shooting numbers and consistency but will look to finish strong in the remaining weeks of the fantasy season. Julius Randle added 11 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists in the loss. He struggled shooting the ball but was still a focal point of the offense. He should see a large facilitating role with Kemba Walker out of the rotation and with Derrick Rose set to have a cleanup surgery on his previously injured right ankle. 

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