The Lakers lost eight of their first 10 games. Anthony Davis did not play in one of those contests and he put up fewer than 50 DraftKings points in seven. Since then, Davis went over 50 DK points in every game with three over 70 and a high of 84.8. The Lakers won seven games during that span. On Sunday, Davis said “Hold my beer” to no one in particular. Maybe to the world that is filled with despicable keyboard warrior haters that populate mom’s basements across the world. And he did this:

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Watched a delightful little game between the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.  They are my favorite teams to watch!  So many dunks, Ja Morant is great, I’ve been following Brandon Ingram since he was in my area high school, and even with Zion Williamson sitting, this game was teeming with talent.

I won’t bore any of you with a take on Morant (I, at one point, thought RJ Barrett was a better pick than Ja.  I, at one point, needed a lot more sleep).  What I noticed was there were so many good players on either team that could shower us with fantasy goodness any time someone hits the injured list, health and safety protocols, or is simply tired and needs a night off.  I’ll give some stats from last night and my take on each team.

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With Christian Wood out, there is an opportunity for one of the Dallas bigs to emerge as a viable fantasy option. Last night it was Dwight Powell, who drew the start and compiled 14 points, seven rebounds, and one steal in 26 minutes of action. Powell has shown the ability to score in the low teens on very high field-goal percentage as a lob threat, while being athletic enough to pilfer some steals defensively to remain interesting. However, his role has been highly volatile this season, and he just came off a two-point, four-rebound game in Wood’s absence the previous night. Maybe he’s worth a stream on a light night like last night, but you can’t trust him (or any Mavs big for that matter) for much more than that (two percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).

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After one week of regular season play, the NBA has started in a less-than-predictable way for most teams. DFS and annual fantasy leagues are humming right along, with many of the usual suspects producing as expected. Just as we thought, the best team in the Western Conference are the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs. Everyone saw that coming.

Similarly, the Eastern Conference has been equally predictable, with both the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat starting 1-3, and the Brooklyn Nets at 1-2. One point of normalcy is the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics currently sit atop the east.

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The starting small forward positional battle for Portland was fierce all offseason. Chauncey Billups would change the dial, start bobbing his head, then go to the next channel and start bobbing his head some more. He’d turn the dial to the right, but like Beyonce, would get to the left. And start bobbing his head some more. Nassir Little, Justise Winslow and Josh Hart were all viable candidates. Little is the most athletic of the bunch but he lacks the experience of the others. Winslow has the biggest frame and can do a variety of things on the court. Hart is small in stature but he plays much bigger than his frame and his experience and IQ are top level.

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Does anyone remember Zion Williamson? Strange as it sounds, he still exists most clearly in my mind as a cannonball at Cameron Indoor. Basketball Reference tells us that there have indeed been three professional seasons for Zion, but none of them have been able to dislodge the image of him in the clean white and blue from my mind, youthful explosiveness so undeniable that the shoes on his feet crumble when he steps. Teenage Zion made quite an impression.

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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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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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There was no doubt in this Friday’s fantasy star of the night as LeBron James scored 50 points in a must-win game as the Lakers try their best to stay afloat in this season. James has been a top-five category player this year and will look to continue his hot streak to close out the fantasy season. Malik Monk added 21 points on 5-7 three-point shooting while battling early foul trouble last night. Monk will continue to operate as the second scoring option until Anthony Davis returns from injury. 

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The Charlotte Hornets were on a three-game losing streak heading into this Sunday evening matchup with the Atlanta Hawks—a bad loss to the Rockets in overtime, a sluggish and overmatched defeat against the Bulls, and a buzzer-beating loss at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. LaMelo had a standout game against the Bucks and before Giannis’ game-winning layup, he hit a beautiful leaning three over Pat Connaughton to tie the game. Sometime after their loss to the Bucks, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels, and Mason Plumlee were placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. At the time of that announcement, Ball was leading the Hornets in points, assists, steals, and rebounds per game. Heading into this contest, I was bummed to not get a chance to watch these two teams compete at something closer to full strength. But as is so often the case with the Hornets, they did the unexpected, beating the Hawks 130-127 with two of their best four players sidelined.

Don’t spit the bit was the directive from Eric Collins—after the Hornets coughed up leads against the Rockets and Bucks. Collins—the team’s television play-by-play announcer and rising star in the NBA universe—brought his full bag of phrases for this road game. It was almost like Collins was trying to will the undermanned Hornets to a victory by unloading his full clip of quips—and it worked! (Miles Bridges might have helped)

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