December 8, 2017, 5:45 am
It finally happened. The Sixers found a suitable trade partner and were able to free Jahlil Okafor from the DNP-Purgatory. The Sixers offloaded Okafor along with Nik Stauskas as well as a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for Trevor Booker.
Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this seemingly-like-news-but-not-news event. We expect Okafor to play and get heavy minutes as the Nets starting center moving forward. Unfortunately, he really has not had much of a track record of success when he did get his opportunities back when he was a Sixer. What will change? Very little. Seeing him as a poor man’s Enes Kanter is likely best-case scenario. He won’t suddenly learn to block shots, nor will he magically figure out how to control his turnovers. That said, given that there are so many injured big men right now, you could do worse scraping the bottom of the FA barrel. Maybe. Nik Stauskas will be lost in the shuffle behind the Nets’ crop of young projects. He’s not a target right now, not even in deep leagues. Last but not the least, we come to Trevor Booker. You know how the Lakers have a three-way big man logjam? Well, Booker will form a similar trio with Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson over at Philly, the difference being all three of them will be playing behind Joel Embiid and Dario Saric (once he’s healthy and back in action). That and they will also eat into each other’s already precarious fantasy values.
But wait, there’s more! What about Jarrett Allen and is intriguing upside? Well, the Okafor trade does throw a bit cold water on it. That said, given that Okafor can’t block a shot to save the World from a nasty zombie apocalypse, Allen will find his own minutes in the rotation. Eventually. He’s always been a raw talent and his post-All-Star outlook remains bright albeit a little bit hazy now.
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Bro! Lonzo Ball be Ballin’ Like a Big Bad Baller Yo! (a bit much?)
Brandon Ingram sank the game-winning trey to lift the Lakers to a 107-104 victory over the Sixers. His team-high 21 points that came with seven boards and six dimes were a welcome sight. Who fed him the ball though? Lonzo did. He had a great game of his own, flirting with a triple-double with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals, four blocks and zero turnovers. Did this change unimpressed look on my face everytime he hits the floor? A little. Let’s put it this way, I now trust him in fantasy a bit more than I loathe his dad.
The Process had an excellent game as he exploded for 33 points, blocked five shots among some other wonderful stats. Robert Covington had a nice two-way game with four treys and four blocks to go with his 19 points for the night. And of course, there was Ben Simmons, who dropped a triple-double with 12 points, 13 points and 15 dimes. Not much else though, but who cares? A trip-dub is a trip-dub and we’ll take it.
No Wall, No Problem
Bradley Beal did “Bradley Beal things” and took care of business with a 34-point game. It’s a good thing that he did, because Otto Porter just took a detour into “Buy Low Avenue” with yet another dud as he struggled to score with four points to his name.
Beal got his help from Markieff Morris, who delivered with a solid all-around game. At the end of it all, the Wizards came away with the 109-99 win over the Suns.
The Suns were led by T.J. Warren’s 23-point game but also got some solid production out of starters Greg Monroe and Tyler Ulis. Sans Booker, it appears that Warren is the only real stable asset from the Arizona franchise right now. Marquese Chriss delivered a marginally acceptable performance, thanks in part to his ability to avoid fouling anyone and everyone including the guy tossing hotdogs to the fans. He still has a long road back from the Out-of-Shapeville. It will take time, but he will get back on track from where he left off in 2016-17. The catch is that the ride will be bumpy and annoying.
LeVertical Leaps and Bounds
The undermanned Nets (trade) upset the underwhelming Thunder 100-95. Caris LeVert had arguably the game of his career as he exploded for 21 points, 10 dimes and other juicy peripherals. This is his second straight solid game. We could be witnessing the start of a breakout. Could we? Heck, I don’t want to jinx it.Rondae Hollis-Jefferson manned up and played through an ankle injury to deliver a stat sheet-stuffing performance of his own. They wanted the win and they got it. All of that despite Spencer Dinwiddie getting slowed down by foul trouble.
Russell Westbrook did his best to carry the team with his 31-point game, but it was simply not enough. Not with the team sorely missing the services of an injured Paul George and with Carmelo Anthony’s shooting slump kicking into high gear. The Thunder storyline is a thing to follow this season. We could see PG-13 bolt for L.A. and join forces with LeBron. Maybe? Heck he could even land with the Sixers and fit in nicely there as well.
Chris Paul Does It All, Does It Well
We caught a glimpse of what a vintage Chris Paul looks like as a Rocket. He dropped a full line and was impressive on both ends of the floor. He clearly had an amazing on-court rapport with James Harden, who by the way did his part with 29 points and four triples.
Clint Capela was stifled by foul trouble but it’s nothing to really worry about.
The Jazz were no match for the scorching Rockets, falling 101-112. Not even Donovan Mitchell’s 26 points could carry them.
Alas, Ricky Rubio remains, well, terrible, to say the least. It’s frustrating. I know. I own tons of Rubio all over the place and it’s killing me. And not softly. The only thing we can do now is wait. Patiently. And hope against hope that he finds his old self. Well at least his 2016-17 post-All-Star self. That one. That would do nicely. Anyone up for a Christmas miracle?