Missing their vital third star, the Bucks achieved Wile E. Coyote physics for a round, rolling past Chicago in five, but could only hang in suspension for so long. Their time hovering beyond the cliff’s edge ended emphatically when Jayson Tatum and a turbo-charged Al Horford tossed the Khris-less defending champs an anvil and down they went. Streak-enders one day, a body-shaped silhouette in the desert the next. 

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I get why Trae Young vs New York is a thing. I too remember last year’s gentleman’s sweep in the first round, and I understand that any time the Knicks do anything it gets an unreasonable amount of attention because New York, the media, Stephen A., etc. I also know that America is the land of large appetites, so even though the NBA in late March can be a real grind, content must still be pumped into the great yawning maw. Trae turning heel in MSG is cheap heat and the Knicks are highly flammable. Ring the dinner bell, friends. It’s time to eat again.

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Jrue Holiday got off to a slow start, but has caught fire since Thanksgiving. Over his past 19 games, he’s shooting a scorching 56 percent from the field (on over 15 attempts per game), and 40 percent from deep despite a fair number of those games coming without Milwaukee’s two All Stars. He’s averaging a 21-5-7 over that span and has been a top-30 player over the past 30 days. Gotta show some love for Holiday, who’s deserving of an All Star nod himself.

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Apologies for last week’s DNP. I had a bit of a breakdown after digging out of almost a foot of snow and decided it was time to take matters into my own hands by driving to Punxsutawney to strong-arm a groundhog into making it stop. When I woke up in my bed the next morning with a driveway buried in snow and not a single groundhog pelt to be found, I understood that I had failed. Resigned and bitter, I’ve come to understand that violence against large marmots is not the solution to my winter problems. Endurance is the only way.

Keeping this lesson in mind, this week’s Hangin’ looks at three shooters who have disappointed thus far. Must they also be endured or is more dramatic action required?

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We finally made it! The 72-day wait for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season was excruciating. I kid, I kid. The turnaround from the end of last season to this year was a blur. My head is still spinning like a top, which has been compounded by the fact that Rona has nuked any conception of time that I may have possessed previously. So we’ve been mental masturbating over our drafts and teams for a few months, but now that the season has officially begun and we get to see the players play and stats get displayed, there’s nowhere to go but down. We all had banners flying and trophies hoisted right? With that said, there’s only one team that gets the chip each season. I hope that each of you is fortunate to be a part of the one. The season is a long one so embrace the journey and be diligent in managing your teams. Here’s what I saw last night:

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Julius Caesar was a successful military general who turned powerful politician in the ancient Roman days. His power became so immense that he was named “dictator for life”. Unfortunately, he pissed off the wrong people (i.e. the elites) and was eventually assassinated via stabbing, or as the kids be saying, “he got shanked”. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never pisses off the people? The Stocktonator. After the early returns from the three-year, $63 million contract given to Julius Randle, Knicks fans were ready to hive up and Twitter shank Randle. Then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 2 1 1 3/5 12/17 3/5

The 30 points were a season-high and it was only the second time this season in which he’s notched at least one steal and one block in a game. Now, before you start mental masturbating, keep in mind that last night’s game was against the Cavaliers. Need more? Kevin Love did not play and Cedi “Not So” Osman started at power forward. Any wonder why Julius went nuts? For fantasy, Randle provides points, boards, and some dimes. He even chips in some tres now. With that said, the percentages from both the field and free throw line are poor, and he provides little in the defensive categories. As a result, he’s outside the top 200 right now and will likely be a top 100-ish player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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You listen to Kyrie Irving and get hypnotized, as the voice is smooth and the delivery is graceful. Then he hits you with the “Earth is flat” or “Ask me July 1.” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. It’s the same story on the court, as the bevy of moves get you transfixed. Dribble, dribble, then jab step with the right foot, behind-the-back dribble, change directions with the left foot, then explode to the basket for 2. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

I have a hard time replicating his moves in NBA 2K! Anyways, yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 11 0 1 4 1/5 14/19 1/1

For the season, he’s a top 10 player, and has been the #4 player over the past four games, averaging 36.6 minutes, 27.8 points, 2.3 threeecolas, 5.8 boards, 9.3 dimes, 3 steals, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 54% from the field and 90% from the line. The usage rate has been over 30. So sick. For shits and giggles, I wanted to see how this season has compared to those in the past. The 49% shooting from the field, 41% from downtown, 1.2 offensive rebounds, 4.9 rebounds, 6.9 dimes, 1.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks are all career-highs. I knew he was having a good season. I didn’t know he was having a great one. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

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The Dallas Mavericks have one of the greatest European basketball players ever – and they also have Dirk Nowitzki. The baton is being passed from Dirk to Luka Doncic, as the Mavericks jumped at the chance to draft the Euroleague Player of the Year, even forfeiting a first round draft pick in 2019 for the opportunity. When you add in the fact that DeAndre Jordan will now jump center for his home state Mavs (a few years later than originally envisioned and devoid of Clippers intervention) with an expected second year leap from point guard Dennis Smith Jr., you can see why Mark Cuban is feeling giddy. Anyone who has ever watched Shark Tank knows Cuban does not like to lose, so he could not have been pleased about a 24-win season. In a stacked Western Conference, the Mavs are not ready to start printing playoff tickets, but after upgrading 40% of the starting lineup, they definitely don’t intend to be looking up at the Sacramento Kings again.

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After a tough loss in Detroit, it’s safe to say things have yet to take flight for this year’s Houston Rockets. While many came into the season thinking Houston’s out-of-this-world lineup had the potential to challenge the incumbent Golden State Warriors for the title as best team in the West, those dreams came crashing back to earth weeks ago (and Kevin McHale is still searching through the wreckage for the cause of the incident). Last night’s struggles are just another indication of this season’s overall trend: the Houston Rockets are looking more like Team Rocket when they step on the court.

Even a near triple double from James Harden (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn’t enough for Houston to surmount a surprising Pistons squad. With Harden passing 40 minutes for the fourth straight game, it’s looking like the Rockets are going to be riding their thoroughbred until the saddle cracks. In fairness, a monster game from Harden is probably the best chance Houston has to win every night, but for fantasy owners, the team’s struggle bodes well for the Beard’s outlook. Harden is going to score in abundance while racking up rebounds, assists, 3s, and steals as Houston fights to stay in the playoff hunt early. I think these past five games are particularly telling for the current state of the team as well as Harden’s prospects for the next few weeks as they try to right the ship (or the rocket).

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