Bad time for Devin Booker to slump, right in the midst of fantasy playoffs. While Booker has hit clutch baskets and the Suns have mostly been winning, Thursday night marked the fourth time in his past six outings he was held under 20 points— mustering just 15, with no threes and five turnovers against just two assists. In this stretch, Book has shot just 37.5 percent from the field and a woeful 17.9 percent from deep, averaging under one made triple per game. Hopefully, he hasn’t shot your team out of a fantasy chip.

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Shake Milton stepped into Seth Curry’s starting spot and showed out, leading the team with 24 points and seven assists on outstanding efficiency. With reports of a positive Covid test for Curry coming in, Milton is a hot pickup as a short-term upside play (31% owned in Yahoo leagues). When he returns to the bench, Philly’s sixth man is still a decent streaming option with top-150 value.

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We’re just a shade under 1/10th of the way through the season, which is not at all a marker but something to think about, I guess. Overreactions abound during this time as owners of players who start hot begin designing their customized championship t-shirts and owners of under-performing players make poor choices by cutting the line far too early. It’s only week two, everyone just CALM DOWN!

One thing is for certain: We’re starting to get an idea about which teams are for real and which ones aren’t all that good. And there have been some surprises. In fantasy, it’s key to start looking right now at the struggling teams. Why? They’re far more likely to shake things up than a team that is groovin along. That means player values will shift and there’s space in there for a savvy fantasy manager to gain some value.

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The Dallas Mavericks were a historically great offense last season, posting the greatest offensive rating ever recorded at 115.9. Most of that due to Luka Doncic’s improvement to MVP levels. Luka put up 28/9/8 in his second season in the pros and the Mavericks put the ball in his hands as much as possible to facilitate their offense. This offseason the Mavericks needed to improve on defense, and they did.

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There was plenty of basketball to watch on Christmas Day, 13 hours worth to be exact. What figured to be a disappointing slate of easily predictable outcomes turned out to be a surprisingly fun, upset-filled NBA gift. A Golden State Warriors team full of two-way and minimum contract players managed to beat James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Houston Rockets. Joel Embiid played grinch for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, leading to fans firing up all of the familiar “Bucks are a regular season team” takes. The solid, wing-heavy Boston Celtics comfortably beat an injury ravaged Raptors team and a newly rejuvenated New Orleans Pelicans squad pulled out a victory against the Denver Nuggets. And in the most anticipated game of the day, Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted and outshot LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. I enjoyed myself.

I viewed the Christmas day outcomes as a reminder of all there is to love about the NBA. Star-players duking it out for legacy supremacy and short-lived bragging rights. Yes, the regular season isn’t the most accurate prediction of playoff success, but it is still entertaining and compelling nonetheless. Wednesday’s games continued to reinforce my belief that, if you’re truly interested in the NBA, there is more than enough nightly entertainment to satisfy your intrigue.

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Bruce Lee was the man. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He was an actor, director, philosopher, teacher, and professional ass-kicker. His speed and quickness would mesmerize and put me into a trance. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always mesmerizes? The Stocktonator. But what I most admired about him was his mind. My favorite Bruce Lee quote is, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash.” When he first arrived to the United States, he was all about the Wing Chun style, but he realized it was too rigid for the chaos of street fighting. As a result, he developed “the style of no style” which emphasized “practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.” Brother-from-another-mother, Damion Lee utilized the same techniques as he led the Warriors to a victory over the Rockets, 116-104.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 15 4 3 0 2 2/2 5/9 10/10

Made his fifth start in a row and played 31 minutes. He was efficient from the floor, displayed speed in getting his 211 on, showed flexibility in his game by dishing out dimes, and was practically impossible to bottle up. He flowed like water through and around the Rockets. Now, Lee is a two-way player, and he has 15 days left before he’s sent down to the G-League. The Warriors cannot waive anyone to free up a spot because they are right at the hard cap. They could trade someone like Marquese Chriss, Alec Burks, or Glenn Robinson III, but that is unlikely. Translation: this will probably not last. With that said, he’s been a top 25 player over the past three games. He’s averaged 31.4 minutes, 18.7 points, 2.7 tres, 9.7 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.3 steals. The turnovers have been low while the percentages have been good. Like brother-from-another Bruce, the party will likely end prematurely, but there will be plenty of ass-kicking until that happens.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Lyndon Baines Johnson presidency was a misunderstood one. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never misunderstood? The Stocktonator. Most view the administration unfavorably due to the Vietnam War, but LBJ did much to improve the domestic situation in the United States. He passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, created Medicare and Medicaid, increased funding for education, and declared a “War on Poverty.” Historians rank him as an above-average president. The people, though, gave him two thumbs down. The NBA LBJ administration, on the other hand, hasn’t been an administration at all. It’s been more a reign, as LeBron James aka The King has ruled over The League….not one….not two…..not three….not four…..not five…..but 15 seasons. It should be 16, but many viewed him as #TheWashedKing last year as he missed many games due to injury. As his play this season has shown, LBJ didn’t go anywhere. He continues to dominate and reign over the NBA. Last night was but the latest example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 13 7 1 3 4 4/10 12/21 4/7

LeBron is the #12 player for fantasy on the season. He’s leading the freaking league in dimes with 10.8 per game. The usage rate is 32.4 and he’s taking 20.1 field goal atttempts per game. The 34.6 minutes per game seem like a lot, right? Well, that’s a career low!!! Which is a good thing because health and Father Time are the only things that will stop this reign.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I have much to be thankful for. A loving wife. Beautiful kids. Razzball. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator. I’m thankful that there’s a holiday to remind us to be thankful, which gives us Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that companies can show their thanks by taking all our money. Gotta love capitalism. What’s next? Thankful Thursdays? At this point, might as well. The other week, someone texted me about Happy International Men’s Day. Are you f’ing kidding me? Does that imply that there’s a Domestic Men’s Day? Anyways, what I’m most thankful for this year has been drafting Bam Adebayo in every fantasy basketball league I could. Why? Just look what he did yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
17 16 1 1 1 4 0 6/14 5/7

Bam is only 22 years old. He’s 6′ 9″ 255lbs, so he can bang down low with the big boys, yet he’s agile enough to Euro step in transition for a dunk. The 7′ 1″ wingspan allows him to gobble up rebounds, while his vision and passing acumen have him dishing out 4.2 dimes per game. Bam is averaging 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks. The only thing he doesn’t contribute are tres, and the free throw shooting is poor (65%), although he’s been converting 72% of the freebies over the past seven games. Put it all together and Bam is a top 50-ish player for fantasy. Arigato Adebayo.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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For the first five games of the season, Nicolo Melli played an average of 15.2 minutes per game, with a high of 20. He showed the ability to shoot from downtown, but little else. The first four games of November, Melli played 10, 10, 5, and 17 minutes. He was rotting on the bench. But then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 6 4 3 0 0 1/6 4/10 5/5

Nelli got the call on the celli to notify him that he would play 27, 27, and 28 minutes over the past three games. Did I just time travel there? Anyways, Melli has responded by scoring 14, 16, and 10 points with a decent amount of boards and dimes. What really stands out is three steals in two separate games. Who knew this Italian was a smooth criminal? Perhaps he’s mafioso? He’s been a top 60 player over the past four games. This could be a short-term thing while the Pelicans are banged up, or it could be the start of something. I may be able to time travel, but I cannot predict the future. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what can predict the future? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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