Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:

*PLEASE NOTE: RECORDS AND STATS TAKEN BEFORE THE GAMES ON 3/28*

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….More solid than reinforced concrete. Plays lots of tricks and provides plenty of treats. Is not indiscreet when he provides the latent heat. Fills up most of the stat sheet. Is not from the main street. Yet remained upbeat. Put in the time until he became elite. This did not happen in a heartbeat. No conceit. Just a regular athlete who kept all the receipts to make the haters obsolete. Last night, turned the Bucks into mincemeat. 

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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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In Brooklyn, the veterans always preferred DeAndre Jordan over him, even though he was better. Now in Cleveland, he’s forced into a timeshare with Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. When will Allen get his due? According to leading armchair psychologists, it was all that pent-up frustration that led to this outburst. In contention for the line of the year so far.

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Health is wealth this season for the New Orleans Pelicans. Before the NBA Bubble, the Pelicans were in the midst of a breakout season for Brandon Ingram, and we finally got to see Zion Williamson in action. He had some crazy highlights in his first few games, and the team looked to be in a great position to make a run at the 8th seed in the Western Conference. After the return from the break, though, the team looked disengaged, most notably Lonzo Ball, and the team went on to lose six of eight games in the play-in tournament. This offseason, the team fired Alvin Gentry and hired Stan Van Gundy as the new head coach. They also traded their most tenured player in Jrue Holiday in an attempt to build for the future. With this retooled roster though, the Pelicans have a strong shot at a low playoff seed.

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In 2019-2020, the Charlotte Hornets looked to be a veritable goldmine for fantasy hoops. Practically out of the gate, youngsters Devonte’ Graham, P.J. Washington and Dwayne Bacon all showed themselves to be unexpected sources of production. But by the time the season had ended, Bacon had fallen out of James Borrego’s rotation and only Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier found themselves anywhere close to top-100 production. Let’s not dwell on the negatives, though. Charlotte is a land of basketball opportunity. As proof, Graham and Rozier finished 12th and 25th, respectively, in minutes played per game. That’s a lot of minutes for two solid if not All-Star-caliber players, and it bodes well for future talent.

GM Mitch Kupchak has gone on the record saying that the Hornets won’t be buyers in the upcoming free agent class. That’s to be expected considering where the Hornets are currently situated, firmly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a good amount of young talent. Of course, they also have the third overall pick in the 2020 Draft. Putting aside the pick, what this means is we can expect the young guys to continue getting all the minutes they can handle and to make improvements on what we saw from them last season.

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Naz Reid was a highly-touted recruit in high school and was ranked as the third-best power forward/15th-best overall player in the nation. He played his college ball at LSU and declared for the draft after one season. He’s 6′ 10″, 240 pounds, has feathery touch from downtown, has decent handles with a wicked spin move to maneuver in the paint, is agile for a man his size, and can dish out dimes. Then why did he go undrafted? He didn’t dominate his one year in college and tanked the pre-draft combine. But the Minnesota Timberwolves knew because it wasn’t hard to tell that he was Illmatic…….

Ahhhhh, love that song. Anyways, can’t give the Timberwolves that much credit because if they truly knew then they would’ve drafted him. Regardless, they took a shot and their gamble looks to have paid off.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 14 3 3 2 1 1/4 5/12 2/2

In 27 minutes. Over the past seven games, Naz has averaged 25.4 minutes, 10.9 points, 0.9 tres, 7 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks. A 1/1/1 player!!! The field goal percentage is very poor for a big man, though, as it’s been 40% recently and 41% on the season. He’s a 70% shooter from the free throw line. Now, much depends on whether or not Karl-Anthony Towns returns. If he does, then Naz will have little value, but if KAT does get shut down, then……Naz will be Illmatic. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always Illmatic? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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History is written by the victors. Alexander III was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC. Due to his undefeated record in battle and conquest of Persia, the III was replaced with The Great. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always great? The Stocktonator. Now, over 2000 years later, Alexander the Great has been etched into the history books and permeated our minds. Last night, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered a performance that imprinted him into the NBA archives.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
20 20 10 0 1 2 2/3 8/12 2/2

That was the 90th time since 1946 that a player has scored 20 points with at least 20 boards and 10 dimes. The last player to perform the feat was Russell Westbrook last season, when he went 20/20/21! Since 2000, it’s happened only six times before Shai’s performance. Now, for fantasy, Shai got off to a blazing start this season then cooled off. Over the past 16 games, though, he’s been a top 20 player for fantasy, averaging 36 minutes, 21.9 points, 0.9 tres, 6.6 boards, 2.7 dimes, and 1.4 steals. The field goal percentage has been a whopping 52% while the free throw shooting has been 85%. He’s garnered a usage rate of 23.9, yet Shai has only turned the ball over 1.6 times per game! Will this continue? Probably not. He’s not going to continue shooting 52% from the field. He shot 47% over the course of his rookie season, so that’s a reasonable expectation. The Logo, Jerry West, loved Shai and was instrumental in the Clippers drafting him. They had to trade him in order to get Paul George, so it’s understandable why they made the move, but West is one of the best talent evaluators in the league. If he’s high on someone, then so am I.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Ah, centers. The literal giants of the fantasy basketball world. There are 56 centers listed below, with the shortest being Montrezl Harrell who stands at 6′ 8″ tall. In the United States, the average height of a male is 5′ 9″, which puts Montrezl in the 99.988 percentile. But he’s the shortest player in this piece. Many, if not most, are seven feet or taller. In the entirety of the world, there are approximately 2800 people seven feet or taller, which translates to 0.000038% of the population on Planet Earth. And 1.7% play in the NBA! Crazy! The outliers don’t stop there, though. Nikola Jokic is the only center who is projected to average over 4 dimes per game, with a whopping 7.5! Since these literal giants tower over the landscape, it would make sense that they dominate the blocks and boards categories. There are 15 players projected to grab at least 10 boards per game. 12 are centers. For blocks, 19 players are projected to reject at least 1.5 shots per game. 13 are centers. Let’s all bow down and pay homage to these titans of the fantasy basketball world.

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