I was prepared to lead this Friday Night Recap with a fancy take on Aaron Gordon, but King James had other plans. With Anthony Davis sitting the second half with a bum foot in the Lakers-Nuggets game, Denver had a double-digit third quarter lead and were cruising to a road win. Then LeBron James stepped into the center spot and ran circles around Nikola Jokic and friends, finishing with 30 points (13-20 FG, 1-4 3pt, 3-4 FT), 9 boards, 4 dimes and 2 steals along with a +26 in the 126-108 victory.

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Here’s a story of a man with two first names, who hit the age of 30, an age when most players say goodbye to their primes and buckle up for the descent below. And descend the man with two first names did, playing in 58 and 58 games the next two seasons. Many called him injury-prone and swore him off for fantasy. Father Time leaned back in the La-Z-Boy chair, grabbed the bowl of popcorn and just waited. But the man with two first names spit in the face of Father Time and proceeded to play 70, 70 and 65 games in his age 34, 35 and 36 seasons. So far this season, the man with two first names has missed five of 15 games and caused much consternation for those who drafted him. “We can squeeze one more year out of him!!!”, they said. It’s akin to having one taco left with no more freshly cut limes. You rummage through the whole table and squeeze every last drop out of what’s left. Anyways, the pain that has been felt by the Chris Paul owners has been nothing but elation for the Cameron Payne truthers. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 33.5 minutes, 15.6 field goal attempts, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals. On Sunday:

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The Nets are leaning more and more on Yuta Watanabe, and he’s rewarded them with hard-nosed defense and a sizzling start from beyond the arc. Watanabe has averaged 24 MPG over his last seven healthy outings (scoring in double figures in five of them), and was a key cog in 29 minutes last night after scoring 20 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and nailing five triples. With his 5-for-7 display from deep, he’s now up to a ridiculous (albeit unsustainable) 55.6 percent on his threes. A long, switchy wing who can keep defenses honest from distance is a good fit for Brooklyn, and Watanabe should stay in this prominent role as long as his jumper doesn’t go in the toilet. He’s a deep-league add who should be on the streaming radar in standard formats as well (three percent rostered in Yahoo! standard leagues).

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Hey Dallas, did you overlook your opponent just because they were 1-9? Was it because they were the Orlando Magic? Was it because their best player this year, Paolo Banchero, was out for the game? You only scored 87 points against a very inexperienced team and 53 of those points came from Spencer Dinwiddie and Luka Doncic. The bench depth as a whole has been a weak point for the Mavericks this season. Outside of Christian Wood, players such as Dwight Powell, Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber really haven’t been producing for them.

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One week after writing a piece about the fantasy fallout of Joshua Primo’s dismissal from the Spurs, I am back on the bad behavior beat. This week’s contestants, as you may have guessed, are the Brooklyn Nets. In an attempt to get ahead, I’ve consulted my Tarot cards to get a jump on next week’s piece and see the Charlotte Hornets coming down the pipe. NBA action, it’s not full of hypocrisy, double standards, and compromising morality in pursuit of competitive and monetary success – it’s actually fantastic! 

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The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest.

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My longtime fantasy flame Maxi Kleber chipped in 15 points on just five shots, knocking down three triples and going 4-of-6 from the line. The additions of Christian Wood and JaVale McGee were thought to be death knells for Kleber’s fantasy value, but the German’s defensive versatility and floor spacing are too much of a cozy fit for Dallas to sideline him permanently. Kleber is averaging a healthy 27 MPG on the young season, enough floor time to maintain his career rates and provide a decent blocks/treys combo for the end of your fantasy roster (seven percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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I was chilling out with pops the other night. Yes, your Son is actually a son. I know, mind-blowing. Anyways, we were chatting about who the superstars in the league are. Giannis, LeBron, KD, blah blah blah. Then Jayson Tatum came up. My pops shook his head…..which way though? Up and down or side to side? It was side to side with a crooked frown. For full transparency, he is a Lakers fan but he does know his hoops. He has skills, he said. He can score, he said but he’s missing that extra element that vaults him into the upper echelon. My response? 

I’ve seen him do fantastic things that make me go, daaayyam. I also remember that he and Kobe would train and converse so Mamba passed down secrets, no? Then I remember those games where I’m left completely underwhelmed. Well, last night, Tatum knocked on our craniums with….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 5 4 3 0 3 7/13 16/25 3/5

It was the eighth time Tatum has gone for at least 40 points in his career! Now, Tatum is shooting 42% from the field on the season. He has never finished with a mark below 45%. The early-season struggles may be dissipating as he’s been shooting over 50% from the field over the last seven games. Tatum was being drafted at the back end of the first round in most drafts. While he scores a ton of points, the efficiency has improved, and he chips in tres, boards, and some dimes, the defensive stats are lacking at 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks. Fine, they aren’t exactly lacking but in order to be a first-rounder, he will likely need to be in the 1/1/1 club. Get your act together, Tatum!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Nikola Tesla was of Serbian descent and is considered one of the most influential people of all time. He invented the Tesla coil, the magnifying transmitter, Tesla turbine engine, shadowgraph, radio, neon lamp, Niagra Falls transformer house, the induction motor, radio-controlled boat, but his crowning achievement was inventing alternating current, which allowed electricity to be sent over long distances more efficiently. Ranker.com has him at the top among famous people named Nikola. That’s fair, but Nikola Pekovic is number two? Granted, there is no number but the logical assumption would be that the next Nikola listed would be the number two Nikola, right? What about Nikola Jokic? Scrolls down. Nope. Scrolls down more. Where he at? Keeps scrolling, Nopenopenopenope. Finally CTRL-F. Big. Fat. Zero. Man, F#@! Ranker.com. As for Tesla, he’s dope and even has an awesome car named after him but when’s the last time he did this?

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Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!

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