When Zach LaVine popped his head out from his mother’s womb, his first words were, “Who’s got next?” On his first day of school, his mother tried to dress him in his finest clothes. LaVine responded, “No, mom. We skins today.” When the other kids would go out and party, LaVine would be in the backyard playing hoops. As a result, he would receive Valentine’s Day cards from basketballs and they/it would write letters to Santa saying that they were good basketballs and that all they wanted for Christmas was Zach LaVine. LaVine was born a baller. He lived his life as a baller. Now, he’s a baller on the grandest of stages. Last night was the latest example.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
41 9 4 2 0 5 8/11 15/21 3/4

Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s always a baller on the grandest of stages? The Stocktonator. That was the fifth 40-burger of the season for LaVine. He’s averaging 25.3 points on the season, which is good for 11th in all of basketball. The tres are at a career-high 3.1 per game, and so are the steals at 1.4 per. He’s not just a 3-and-D player, though. The usage rate is over 31 and he supplies a consistent supply of 5 boards and 4 dimes per game. That all translates to a top 35 player for fantasy on the season.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The foundation of a house is underrated. When guests come over, they never utter, “Oh my goodness! The foundation is absolutely amazing! How much did you pay for it?” Log onto Zillow.com and the description is never, “Exquisite colonial-style home with a foundation to die for.” It’s always the kitchen, the bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage, even the pool that get all the love. The pool! The place where little kids go to urinate in. I’m here to give the foundation its proper due. Without the foundation, the house would blow away when the big, bad wolf huffs and puffs. Without the foundation, that minor earthquake won’t be so minor. Without the foundation, there is no kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, bay windows, etc. So it only makes sense that Danuel House provides a solid foundation for fantasy.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 9 1 3 1 0 6/11 8/13 0

A team cannot consist of all superstars. Specialists and role players fill out the rosters of many fantasy squads, so a player who contributes in all the categories provides? Yes, a solid foundation. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what always provides a solid foundation? The Stocktonator. On the season, he’s a top 100 player, but over the past eight games, he’s been top 30. House has averaged 32.3 minutes, 12 points, 2.6 tres, 6.6 boards, 1.4 dimes, 1.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks. The field goal percentage has been 42% on 9.8 attempts while the free throw shooting has been excellent at 81% on only 1.4 attempts. Solid, solid foundation for this House.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

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What are the roles of a butler? To answer the phone, greet guests at the door, plan events and parties, serve drinks and food, manage the wine cellar, and keep the paparazzi and solicitors at bay. Jimmy Butler does none of those things. Jimmy Butler gets buckets. Jimmy Butler takes manhoods. Jimmy Butler gets defensive. But what Jimmy Butler does best is protect his house.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 7 10 0 1 2 0/1 7/10 16/18

In 34 minutes in an overtime victory over the Wizards, 134-129. The Miami Heat are 20-1 at home, with the lone loss coming to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is good but he ain’t that good. I kid. He protects his house. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been known to make themselves feel comfortable anywhere. For fantasy, it seems like Butler hasn’t done much this season, but you look at the numbers and he’s the #12 player on the season. Even when the shooting volume and efficiency aren’t there, he’s still posting top 30-40 value. That’s because of his all-around game. The tres have been light this season (first time under 1 since 2012), but the points, steals, blocks, good percentages have all been there. The biggest boosts have come in the boards and dimes departments; 7 boards and 6.5 dimes on the season, both career-highs. Butlers are good helpers. Jimmy Butler is the help and the master. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s also the help and a master? The Stocktonator.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s amazing how time can cause us to forget some of the greatest talents in our midst. The NBA, like any other sport, is a “what have you done for me lately” league. We sometimes forget that a potentially transcendent talent has yet to make his NBA debut. All the summer hype slowly disappears when the player, who’s talents surpass narrative, has been missing in action. The high school hype, the college hype, the draft hype, and injury hype, all wither away into the abyss, before sprouting it’s head once more, and injecting something special into our veins. The NBA needs a savior, in a dark time when stars are injured and ratings drop. The savior I am speaking of is not Zion Williamson, shocker, I know. I am talking about Michael Porter Jr.

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Brandon Ingram

The long-awaited Brandon Ingram breakout is here in earnest. So far this season, Ingram is averaging 25.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while shooting 55.2 percent from the field, 48.6 percent from three, and 74.3 percent from the free-throw line (all career highs). Ingram is not a legitimate 48 percent shooter from three, especially on five attempts a game. The dreaded regression to the mean is coming. Before this season, he had never shot 40 percent, topping out at 39 percent on 1.8 attempts a game in his sophomore season. Even with that in mind, there is reason to believe he’ll shoot better this year. Ingram’s field goal percentage has improved each season he’s been in the league and he entered the NBA with solid form and touch. The Pelicans play at a fast pace. They are currently sixth in the league in pace and increased transition opportunities should lead to more lightly-contested shots. Furthermore, when Zion returns the Pelicans will have yet another ball-handler who commands defensive attention, which could lead to more spot-up opportunities for Ingram.

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We are only seven games into the season and already two of the most promising young players in the league have been suspended. DeAndre Ayton and John Collins both received a 25 game suspension due to violations of the NBA’s Anti-Drug program and, although they will appeal the decision, chances are they will have to sit out the entirety of those 25 games.

I will not voice my personal opinion as we rarely get to know the full story but in both cases it’s a huge blow for their respective teams, but simultaneously, more opportunity for other players to contribute in fantasy and real life.

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I maintain, that when Steph Curry gets going, he’s the best show in the NBA. There are certainly other contenders for the NBA’s best show on hardwood, but Curry’s blend of fundamental and evolutionary NBA skills are what separates him from the competition. Curry walked into the league as an offensive engine in the mold of Reggie Miller, who shot 35.5 percent from three in year one and 40.2 percent from three in his second season in the NBA. Curry shot 43.7 percent from three in his first season. As a young player, Curry was not the statistical outlier he has become, as he only attempted 4.8 threes a game his rookie year. Miller took 2.2 threes as a rookie, but he was up to 4.4 attempts in his third season. Curry’s early career numbers were the result of the game’s natural evolution and increased acceptance of the three-point shot. In Curry’s early years, he did a lot of his work off-ball, running off screens and mirroring more traditional shooting guards like Miller and Ray Allen. It’s part of the reason many people insisted Curry wasn’t a true point guard. His conditioning allows him to run around for part of or even the entirety of some possessions. This non-stop movement draws a lot of attention and fatigues the defense, both mentally and physically—hence all the back-cut layups for Curry’s teammates. Check out this illuminating breakdown from the 2018-19 NBA Finals by Ben Taylor.

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I now understand why this forward position is named power, as it is a microcosm of society at large. There is the 1% vs everyone else. For fantasy basketball, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo vs womp womp womp. While all the other positions have multiple players who could legitimately vie for the top spot, everyone bends the knee to G. This is 1985-1989 Mike Tyson-esque domination. Could a Buster Douglas come out of nowhere? Sure, as black swan events can never be discounted, but outside of injury to G, that scenario is highly unlikely.

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My “What if?” game is inconsistent. Many of times, I’ll say F it and eradicate the question from my consciousness. As the Church of Nike preaches, I just do it. At other moments, I’m either too lazy or mental mind F myself to the point of paralysis. No bueno. Regardless, I am but a human, so even if I wanted to up my “What if?” game, my powers are limited. But the gods and aliens (maybe they are the same thing, but that’s a piece for another time) are not. Imagine their “What if?” game? Yo, Poseidon, what if you made the largest mammal to roam the sea without the ability to swallow a human? That would be hilarious! Oh, Jesus. You are a funny guy. What if you gave a tank the jumping ability of a flea? Think you could ask your pops to take care of that? And thus Zion Williamson was born. He’s a generational talent, already being compared to some of the greats in the game, but has the hype gone too far and is he being overdrafted in fantasy leagues?

Please, blog, may I have some more?