Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been as plugged into fantasy basketball as I am this season, but I feel like I’ve heard Neil Olshey’s quote about Anfernee Simons’ potential over and over again this year. If you’ve somehow missed it, here’s what the Blazers GM said back in June:

“He’s as talented as anybody we’ve ever drafted since I’ve been here, in terms of just natural gifts. He’s not the player [Lillard] and [McCollum] was, but in terms of just natural, God-given, basketball ability, Anfernee is as gifted as anybody I’ve ever drafted.”

It’s the kind of quote that grabs attention. Considering that he said it almost a year ago and it’s still rattling around in my head, it’s also a quote that sticks. Anfernee Simons, reads a dusty card catalog in my mind, Extremely gifted? Simons, who is still just 21 years-old, had played 142 NBA games prior to last night and his career numbers don’t exactly make you forget about Damian Lillard. But game 143 pulled the curtain back a bit and lended some credibility to Olshey’s big talk last summer. Simons was on.

Anfernee Simons

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 4 4 2 0 9 9/13 0/0 0

Those nine triples he hit? They were consecutive. In total, Simons connected on 13 straight threes over four games. Mercy. That’s some heat from deep. Unfortunately for our game, the minutes haven’t been consistent enough for the reigning Dunk Champ for many of us to be in a position to capitalize on his hot shooting. We’ll just have to admire the feat from the other side of the waiver wire. Still, nine (or 13) straight will get you into the lede around here.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Tuesday…

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An extremely encouraging pattern is beginning to emerge with my every-other-week recapping of the Wednesday night games: Happy returns that are highlighted in the lede. You see, it was my distinct pleasure to highlight KAT’s return from his early season wrist + Covid absence, and I was the one who placed Kevin Durant in this place of prominence when he came back from the extended hammy vacation. Now, I’m due up for the recap on the night Jaren Jackson Jr. returned and you know damn well that I’m going to make him the lede. Welcome back, Jar—

Ah. Actually not. Sorry JJJ, I’m breaking up the welcome party and going with the 40 piece instead. We’ll see you later in the recap, because this lede (and maybe all of the Western world) belongs to…

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
40 11 6 1 0 6 11/21 12/13 4

This is second time in the last week that Julius has gone 40+/10+/6+ with 6 made threes. Wut. That’s just unspeakable heat from New York’s Caesar, who led the Knicks to an OT win against the Hawks last night. Woe to those of you having wrestle this monster in head-to-head playoffs. It might be better just to simply bend the knee when Randle is going like this.

Here’s what else stood out on another busy Wednesday in the Association…

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The Lakers held down the fort against a very depleted Utah Jazz team that was without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to name a few. 

The Jazz needed contributions from their role players and bench mob and some did step up. Jordan Clarkson, Sixth Man of The Year candidate, scored 27 points off the back of five triples while also getting five rebounds, dishing out four dimes, and stealing the ball once. Joe Ingles had an impressive outing with a double-double of 20 points and 14 assists while also getting three steals. Ersan Ilyasova took advantage of all the minutes tonight and scored 20 points with six threes while also hauling in five boards and stealing the ball an impressive four times. 

The Lakers had three players score 25 or more points. Andre Drummond flirted with a double-double of 27/8 while also stealing the ball twice and getting three dimes. Dennis Schroder had an excellent game scoring 27 points, handing out eight assists, and grabbing six rebounds, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 on 44.4% efficiency and also had five rebounds and two steals. 

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The fantasy hoops world is one of diversity, danger, and drip. Some parts of the world are in constant drought with bricks raining down from the heavens. In others, there are only waterfalls that splash to the rhythm of a metronome. Tucked on the highest peak in the most remote part of the world lies a pantheon of extraordinary magnitude: The Nikola Pantheon. Nikola Jokic has been sitting on its iron throne for much of the season, as he has been the numero uno player in fantasy hoops. Nikola Vucevic has been valiantly trying to unseat Jokic. While he’s been a tier below Jokic for much of the season, there have been moments when the guardians of the Nikola Pantheon have discussed making it a timeshare. Last night, Vucevic went for 32 points, 17 boards, five dimes, and one block while shooting 14-for-29 from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown. Jokic went for 27 points, eight boards, 11 dimes, one steal, and one block in only 27 minutes. What a Jokic! Vucevic is the number 11 player for fantasy and has been narrowing the gap somewhat, but the divide is still a massive one. The iron throne on the Nikola Pantheon is no joke as it will be inhabited by Jokic for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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In some ways, I have sympathy for what happened to the Celtics last night. After all, who among us hasn’t done the groggy barter with the alarm clock in the morning and hit the snooze button? Five more minutes, we tell ourselves, just a bit longer and then I’m getting up. Sometimes it’s fine — the bonus z’s make you feel better and you leisurely arrive at your morning rested and ready to go — and sometimes you really needed to get out of bed on time.

Roosters, nature’s alarm clock, have no snooze button. When it’s time to go to work, they’re going to let you know about it. Last night, the NBA’s Rooster crowed loudly and emphatically, but the Celtics slept right through it.

Danilo Gallinari

PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 3PT FG FT
38 6 2 2 0 4 10 13/16 2/21

Unable to get up for their game against Atlanta, the C’s instead found themselves in waking nightmare featuring a 6’10” gamecock that also happened to be absolutely on fire. While the guys in green were rubbing sleep out of their eyes, Gallo canned the wide open triples. By the time Boston had put their slippers on and started closing out to him, Danilo had extended his range out to the logo. All told, Gallinari hit seven first half threes. The bonus three balls in the second stanza were his way of tucking Boston back into bed. Buona notte!

Sleep on the Rooster at your own peril.

Here’s what else happened on a busy Wednesday in the NBA:

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There are four types of fossil fuels currently in existence: petroleum, coal, natural gas, and orimulsion. They are all made from plants and animals that decompose. As of 2018, petroleum accounted for 34% of the world’s energy source, coal 27%, and natural gas 24%. What is orimulsion? Is it like Bitcoin and Top Shot? Nuclear energy was 4.4%, hydroelectric 6.8%, while solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wind combined for 4%. In the three years since those percentages were tabulated, the numbers have skewed more towards the non-fossil sources as the world has become more conscious about saving Mother Earth. Yipee! Halliburton, though, is one of the world’s largest oil field service companies and is the Dolph Lundgren to Mother Earth: If she dies, she dies. They make billions of dollars, keeping their shareholders happy but draw the ire of the children of Mother Earth. But, but, but…..a new energy source has been discovered in Sacramento and his name is Tyrese Haliburton. Is he a fossil fuel? Well, he does kill defenders and decomposes them into the stat sheet, so yes. But he is also a green source of energy because he delivers the goods so cleanly and efficiently. Win, win for everyone. 

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 5 9 3 1 1 4/9 9/20 1/2

In 40 minutes off the bench. Haliburton has only started two games this season yet is a top 40 player on the season. Over the last four games, he’s been a top 20 player averaging 34.2 minutes. 17.5 points, 2.8 tres, 3.5 boards, 6.5 dimes, two steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 48% from the field and 75% from the line. Dayam. Since 2000, only seven rookies have finished inside the top 40 at season’s end. Both LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton could accomplish the feat this year. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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We had some options this week my Razzball revelers as there was no shortage of players who fit the profile of the name bestowed upon this column. Unfortunately, for some managers in your league or perhaps even you, there are underperformers taking up real estate on squads with the hope they are able to return to form or at least come close to expectations. The question for those with ownership of an underperformer becomes, “how long do I wait?”

“What if this is the new normal and he never sniffs his ADP?”

“Should I drop him for a hot hand off the wire?”

“Trade him to whoever gives me an offer?”

There we have it, the thought process of a frustrated GM as they approach the crescendo of reasoning within themselves. This is the sweet spot where a savvy fantasy basketball Don such as yourself looks to get in on the ground floor of a stock with the potential to exceed the cost.

We are off to the Eastern Conference for a closer look at a player that has been doing not much for just long enough to allow a window of opportunity.

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Masonry is difficult work. It requires technical savvy, can be physically taxing, and is dirty work. Bricks, concrete blocks, and natural stones are all used to build fences, walls, and walkways. To become a Freemason is just as difficult but from a different perspective. It is more mentally taxing than physical and requires three degrees, […]

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