Happy New Year to all the Razzball readers out there. I hope the new year brings health, peace, and fantasy silverware from all your competitive leagues. So we are officially at 2020. It’s incredible how mind-blowingly fast time passes. It seems like it was yesterday when Dirk led the Mavericks to one of the most satisfying championships of all time or since the Boston’s Big 3 brought the Larry O’Brien trophy back to where it is used to be, for the 17th time. But it’s been nine and 12 years respectively. Did I mention how quickly time flies? On a more optimistic note, you just have to love the symmetry of the new Year’s number, which of course plays a major role in how good and productive it will turn out to be. Joking aside, I decided to take a look at the three best individual fantasy games from the start of the season so far, and all of them reminded me how NBA players can produce truly spectacular performances when they are locked in.

No 3: James Harden vs ATL 60/8/3/8/3/1/3 on 66.7%/87%

No 2: Anthony Davis vs MIN 50/0/7/6/4/1/1 on 69%/100%

No 1: James Harden vs ORL 54/10/5/7/2/3/3 ON 61.3%/100%

Where to begin and where to end…Especially the last line by Harden is dazzling. Truly magnificent performances overall and I can’t wait to see them try to best them.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Roses go through many stages of existence. First, there are the seed and germination stages, when life is created. Then, the flowers grow and reproduce. Finally, it’s all about spreading the seeds so that the circle of life can be completed. Derrick Rose knows all about that, as he’s played in Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Minnesota, and now Detroit. At 31 years old and coming off two knee surgeries, Rose obviously isn’t the bright flower he once was, but with proper pruning, he can still blossom with the best of them. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what allows you to blossom? The Stocktonator.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 6 8 1 0 3 2/5 8/17 4/4

Played 29 minutes off the bench, a season high. as the Pistons roster was pruned last night because both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond did not play. Over the past three games, Rose has been a top 65 player for fantasy, providing points, tres, dimes and steals. The usage rate has been 33 while the percentages have been good from both the field and line. When everyone is healthy, expect top 100-ish production, as he will likely receive around 24 minutes of run per game.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Back in 2000, Eminem released “Stan”, a song about Stanley “Stan” Mitchell who wrote multiple letters saying that he was Eminem’s biggest fan. Over the course of the song, Stan gets angry when Eminem doesn’t respond and becomes obsessive, ultimately killing himself. The song/story is deeper than that, but I’m not here to write a synopsis of the song. I bring up “Stan” because the name eventually became a part of pop culture to reference obsessed fans. It was even included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Well, last night, there was a performance worthy of Stanning, as Davis Bertans went nuts:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 9 1 0 1 0 8/12 11/18 2/2

Did you know that you can’t spell Bertans without Stan? The universe truly is a wonderful place. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s wonderful as well? The Stocktonator. Anyways, over the past seven games, Bertans has been a top 10 player for fantasy. He’s averaged 31.5 minutes, 20.5 points, 5.3 tres, 4.9 boards, with 51% shooting from the field and 92% from the line. 5.3 tres!!! There have even been some contributions in the defensive categories; 0.6 steals and 0.9 blocks. I heard on the Wizards broadcast a few games ago that Bertans is essentially a shooting savant. While in San Antonio, the coaches tweaked his shooting form and it only took him a day to fully implement it. What I’m saying is that there’s merit to what Bertans is doing right now. He’s shooting 45% from downtown this season, but he’s a career 41% shooter. In addition, with Thomas Bryant out for at least a month, Bertans is going to continue getting plenty of run. Now, he’s not going to continue being a top 10 player for fantasy, but top 50 is a reasonable expectation.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Weed. Pot. Grass. Dope. Reefer. Ganga. Hash. Herb. Chronic. These are all names for marijuana, but not all weed is the same. There’s swag, dank, kind, kush, etc. The quality, aroma, taste, and potency differ depending on which you choose. Obviously, the higher the quality, the better the high, but sometimes the bargain basement green can be just as productive as the most expensive. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s of the highest quality? The Stocktonator. The Sacramento Kings drafted Marvin Bagley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Yes, ahead of Luka Doncic. Regardless, Bagley is high quality, but unfortunately he fractured his thumb in the season opener. Enter Nemanja Bjelica. The Nemanja isn’t bargain basement, but he’s not the highest quality either. He is more than capable of producing and can even access the highest of high ceilings. Last night was one of those games:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 1 1 0 4/7 13/18 0

Nemanja has started 21 games this season and produced top 85 value for fantasy. He provides points, tres, boards, a handful of dimes, and a little something something in the defensive cats. The percentages are decent as well. Over the past four games, though, he’s been the #12 player, as he’s averaged 17.5 points, 2.5 tres, 7.8 boards, 3.3 dimes, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 53% from the field. The Nemanja has been potent! Now for the buzzkill. Bagley is set to return soon. Once that happens, he will likely get around 20 minutes of run per game.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We’ve made it through a quarter of the NBA season. Some players signed this summer will be eligible to be traded on December 15, others will be trade eligible on January 15. Fantasy trade deadlines aren’t far off. It’s  a good time to check-in on a few teams and see what’s shaking. The Miami Heat currently sit third in the Eastern Conference. They’re obviously firmly in the playoff race, but any Pat Riley-run organization is playing for much more than a simple playoff birth. The Heat are relying on two promising rookie guards and a third second-year player. How those players develop will not only help determine their fate this season, but it might also influence trade decisions around the deadline and in the summer. The Atlanta Hawks are at a bit of a hinge point in their rebuild. They came into the season with a lot of media buzz and some vague playoff talk. Trae Young went all scorched earth and they started the season 2-0. All hell broke loose after that. They’ve got to figure out what they have in their young players. Is this the beginning of the end of their rebuild or are they smack dab in the middle of it? The Minnesota Timberwolves are firmly in rebuilding mode, but for the first time they’re making decisions that prioritize Karl-Anthony Towns as the rightful centerpiece and key to their future. How do Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Jarrett Culver fit into their future plans? What do Ryan Saunders lineup decisions portend for later this season? And most relevant to all of you beautiful readers, what does this mean for you and your fantasy team? Keep reading to find out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 12 1 2 0 3 3/5 5/11 0

It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The stage was set.

After having a two-week long stretch of fantastic performances night after night, capped by a 27 point, five assist, seven rebound, and four steal pseudo-revenge game against the Bulls, all signs were pointing to Jimmy going OFF in the real revenge game on Saturday night.

The boos poured down from the Wells Fargo Center as he was introduced. It just felt like he was ready to explode and lead his Heat to their sixth-straight win. But alas, the opposite occurred. Harvard Sports Analysis actually found that superstars perform worse by a pretty good margin in “revenge” games, so maybe we should reverse that narrative. Here’s the line that Jimmy put up:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
11 5 3 2 0 1 0-2 4-13 3-4

Here’s what else happened around the league on Saturday night.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It took 171 games, over two seasons, and 5800 minutes played, but Ben Simmons finally did it. He drained his first tres.

I know you have doubts, but tape don’t lie….

The fact that I’m making Simmons the lede for making a tres is sad, but what’s worse is that it took him 171 games, two seasons, and 5800 minutes! Now, let’s not forget that on this historic and momentous night, Simmons actually played a great overall game:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 7 13 1 1 1 1/1 7/9 3/4

In a whopping 42 minutes! Yes, it was against the Knicks but whatever. Production is production. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides the production? The Stocktonator. For fantasy, Simmons is such an interesting player because he leads you down the punt one, punt two, punt three category strategy (tres, ft%, and turnovers). But, but, but….he has nightly “mess around” potential and will get his block and steal on. On the season, he’s a top 40 player despite his shortcomings.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, I was walking in the woods. The booty call chirps from the male birds filled my ears while the wind blew crispness onto my face like a bug on a windshield. Since the season is autumn, the ground was layered with leaves of many colors; red, brown, and orange. It was pleasing to the eyes, but depressing when I got philomosophical about what I was seeing. The leaves were that color and on the floor because they were dead. As I crunched one leaf, then smooshed another, I began to fall deeper and deeper into a depressive state when……I saw it; a sole Leaf hovering in the air with a ray of light shining upon it. It was center stage, floating, wavering, then eventually started dancing; making a mockery of the autumn wind. This Leaf was none other than T. J. Leaf of the Indiana Pacers, who danced to a line of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
15 15 1 1 1 2 1/2 6/13 0

Before we mental masturbate over the prospects of this Leaf flying forever, keep in mind that he only played 22 minutes off the bench, and those 22 minutes only came as a result of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis not playing. Leaf has some potential, as he’s a big who can rebound, shoot from downtown, and run the floor. Unfortunately, his defense is suboptimal and he’s buried on the depth chart.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last year, Jahlil Okafor had a plan to “burn fat and significantly improve his athleticism and stamina.” He hit the weight room and implemented yoga into his regimen. The biggest change was in diet, though. He had tried being a vegan, as he heard that certain foods were inflammatory. One of the side effects, though, was that it caused the iron level to be low, which affected his cardio. He needed more protein. Now, there are no processed foods, sugars, and red meat, but instead plenty of fish and chicken. As everyone that has tried to diet can attest to, there’s what’s called “cheat days.” Well, last night, Okafor had one of those, as he feasted on Denver Nuggets to the tune of:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 5 0 2 1 3 0 8/13 10/13

He looked spry and nimble, cutting to the basket and pirouetting in the lane for bucket after bucket. Granted, Nikola Jokic looked completely disinterested in playing last night, but was that due to the age old question of: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Okafor received the start and played a whopping 34 minutes because Derrick Favors sat due to a knee injury. It sounds like Favors will return shortly, so Okafor will be relegated to the bench, but when Favors does sit, Jahlil could have another cheat day and feast.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?