• Only 4 more scoring periods ‘til standard H2H playoffs.

    * * * * *

    Listening to Deodato last week got me playing the Deodato Camp Lo sample (sounds like the drum programming was a play on the same basic kick and snare that The Bridge is Over used), then I remembered the other Camp Lo sample* I got on wax digging’ in the crates and here we are, unexpectedly, with another theme week: Samples.

    First used mostly from drum samples taken Soul/Funk breaks, it led to sampling whole 4/4s, then horns, guitar and piano riffs, vocals, interpolations, pitch/chord/octave changes and now it looks like it’s starting anew.

    The game is easy, I’ll go with the original first and you listen for 20 seconds or so to see if you recognize it. If you do, you get a point (or more). If you specifically know which artist uses a sample of the original, you get an extra point. If you don’t know, you’ll get the sample version next which might, or might not, jog some memories.

    *That’s the Luchini sample (3 points).

    Okay, maybe a bit too obscure? I’ll start off easy and work my way through.

    Have you got the…? [That was a gimme (1 point) for anyone in my generation- late Xer/early Millennial.]

    No?

    Okay, I’ll start even easier.

    Week 17 Schedule

    Two games from the Jazz means you might need to call reinforcements if are depending on any of the big dogs in Utah. [Sample] (1 point).

    2 Games: UTA
    3 Games: BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, POR, TOR
    4 Games: ATL, IND, MIL, NOR, ORL, PHO, SAC, SAS, WAS

    Monday has 6 games: Nuggs at Pistons, Hawks at Wiz, Bucks at Nets, Pacers at Pels, Rockets at Suns and Spurs and Kings.

    Tuesday has 8: Clips at Hornets, Celts at Cavs, Lakers at Pacers, Pistons at Knicks, Raptors at Sixers, Wolves at Grizz, Magic at Thunder and Het at Blazers.

    Wednesday has 7: Nuggs at Nets, Pels at Bulls, Wiz at Bucks, Hornets at Mavs, Suns at Jazz, Rockets at Kings and Spurs at Warriors.

    Thursday has 6: Clips at Pacers, Wolves at Magic, Raps at Hawks, Lakers at Celtics, Grizz at Thunder and Spurs at Blazers.

    Friday has 8: Knicks at Pistons, Nuggs at Sixers, Cavs at Wiz, Bulls at Nets, Bucks at Mavs, Dubs at Suns, Wolves at Pels and Heat at King.

    Saturday has 9: Spurs at Jazz, Cavs at Pacs, Hornets at Hawks, Raps at Knicks, Clips at Celts, Wiz at Bulls, Pels at Grizz, Thunder at Rockets and Magic at Bucks.

    Sunday has 5: Blazers at Mavs, Lakers at Sixers, Suns at Kings, Magic at Hawks and Heat at Dubs.

    For My Streamers

    Don’t keep forgetting [Sample] (1 point). – If you’re from SoCal and are a real, live person of any age and have never heard this, your punishment is to go to LBC once a week for the rest of the year. There’s a quaint pier, fishing, decent bars, fantastic Cambodian food and Warren G. (3 bonus points if you’re Khmer).

    *all light schedule days in bold- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Atlanta, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Antonio play on 3 of these light days.

    ATL: 4- M, Th, Sa, Su
    BRK: 3- M, W, F
    BOS: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    CHA: 3- Tu, W, Sa
    CHI: 3- W, F, Sa
    CLE: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    DAL: 3- W, F, Su
    DEN: 3- M, W, Sa
    DET: 3- M, Tu, F
    GSW: 3- W, F, Su
    HOU: 3- M, W, Sa
    IND: 4- M, Tu, Th, Sa
    LAC: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    LAL: 3- Tu, Th, Su
    MEM: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    MIA: 3- Tu, F, Su
    MIL: 4- M, W, F, Sa
    MIN: 3- Tu, Th, F
    NOR: 4- M, W, F, Sa
    NYK: 3- Tu, F, Sa
    OKC: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    ORL: 4- Tu, Th, Sa, Su
    PHI: 3- Tu, F, Su
    PHO: 4- M, W, F, Su
    POR: 3- Tu, Th, Su
    SAC: 4- M, W, F, Su
    SAS: 4- M, W, Th, Sa
    TOR: 3- Tu, Th, Sa
    UTA: 2- W, Sa
    WAS: 4- M, W, F, Sa

    Back-to-Backs

    Sun (of Week 16)/Mon: none
    Mon/Tues: DET, IND
    Tues/Weds: CHA
    Weds/Thurs: SAS
    Thurs/Fri: MIN
    Fri/Sat: CHI, CLE, MIL, NOR, NYK, WAS
    Sat/Sun: ATL, ORL
    Sun/Mon (of Week 18): DAL, MIA, POR

    3 games in 4 nights

    Get them games so you can move on up. [Sample] (1 point).

    Mon/Tues/Thurs: IND

    Mon/Weds/Thurs: SAS

    Tues/Thurs/Fri: MIN

    Weds/Thurs/Sat: SAS

    Weds/Fri/Sat: CHI, MIL, NOR, WAS

    Thurs/Sat/Sun: ATL, ORL

    Tu/Thurs+: BOS, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, OKC, ORL, POR, TOR

    Working the Wire

    Point Guards

    Monte Morris- Jamal Murray’s ankle injury is reportedly “really serious” which makes Morris (top-60 over the last two weeks) a must-stream as he’s going to get some serious burn. Denver digs 3 times and Monte wants to do something freaky to you. [Sample] (1 point).

    Marcus Smart’s 4.5 cash counter last week made up for the 37.1% shooting (top-90), but he looks like he just might be slowing down a bit if Kyrie Irving manages to stay on the court/in a Boston uniform. Boston goes 3 times.

    Shabazz Napier put up top-105 value on 9-cat last week in 26.7 minutes per game. He would have landed in the top-85 if not for his shooting (39%), the usual culprit. The Nets play 3 games.

    D.J. Augustin’s
    9-cat value looked really pedestrian (top-185) despite having similar numbers as what he’s been doing. Such is life on the margins. Orlando plays 4 games.

    Jerryd Bayless has maintained top-80 play since he was inserted into the rotation and looks okay even with Derrick Rose (ankle) back. He’s not out of the woods yet but the early returns are encouraging. The Wolves play 3 times.

    Shelvin Mack was fantastic in a spot-start for Mike Conley (knee, trade block) – 19 points, two 3s, nine dimes and two steals, and Conley might get pined until the Feb. 7 trade deadline. After that it’s anybody’s guess but you might be able to stream him for at least 3 games this week. Maybe he can rise [Sample] (1 point). It gets noticeably harder from here on. .

    T.J. McConnell has a few rough games last week and landed outside the top-175 last week as Jimmy Butler (illness) returned to play. He’s still a decent low-end stream for assists and steals but obviously works better in deeper leagues considering his lower usage than the guys above. Philly goes 3 times.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a nice week (top-70 in 9-cat) with his 2.3 steals per game really standing out from his season numbers and it’s those peripheral cats that’ll determine if he can crack the top-100 permanently. He hasn’t been able to do it so far, but he is just a rookie. The Clippers have 3 games.

    Trae Young has been playing pretty well of late and as a result, Jeremy Lin played himself off even 16-deep streaming spots. Lin apparently has tiny dotard hands or maybe even grandma’s hands because the 0.1 steals over the past week is just weak. [Sample] (2 points). Atlanta goes 4 times.

    Shooting Guards

    No Gary Harris (how frustrating has this guy been to own this season) means Malik Beasley gets to bomb away from deep. Somehow, he was even better over his last four games (top-20!! In 9-cat) with 24.3 points, 4.0 treys and 1.3 steals on 62.7% from the field. Ready or not, Denver has 3 games. [Sample] and [Sample] (3 points for the first, 4 points for the second).

    Kevin Huerter got back on track with his top-80 ways last week and that was even with the abnormally bad shooting (39.5%). Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore didn’t seem to impact him too much and both are on the trade block, with Prince drawing the most interest. Atlanta has 4 games.

    Bryn Forbes (top-125) and Marco Belinelli (top-80) both showed some pep in their step last week and both can be used with 4 games this week though Marco is the hotter of the two.

    Alec Burks (top-145) and Rodney Hood (top-150) were actually useful last week; I would say stop the presses, but traditional print media is dead so it seems a bit anachronistic. That’s the absolute best you should expect from those two. The Cavs go 3 times.

    Mario Hezonja (top-160) looked better than Damyean Dotson (top-190)and Allonzo Trier (top-230) last week. Lil Timmy Hardaway is on his way out to be replaced by the aging Wes Matthews and Fiz is as unpredictable as ever. Good luck if you want to ride the train for 3 games. [Sample] (3 points)- that original is so crunk; one of my fav summer songs.

    Justin Holiday? Top-250 the last two weeks? Kill me now. Memphis goes 3 times this week.

    Avery Bradley broke his seven-game streak of scoring at least 10 points on Sunday but for the first time this year, he has two-week sample size ranking inside the top-150.  Can he keep it up when Gallo (back) returns? The Clippers go 3 times.

    Lance Stephenson (top-110) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (top-120) both benefited from the return of Rajon Rondo while Josh Hart still couldn’t get anything going (outside the top-250). The Lakers look to be players up to Thursday’s deadline so who knows if they can keep groovin’ [Sample] (4 points, 3 points if you watch a lot of Jazz games and an extra point if you knew the vocals are from the The Shogun Assassin. I think this is the only sample I’ve posted in the past- fav Wu sample hands down, yes, even more than the Method Man inspiration). The Lakers go 3 times.

    Wayne Selden had top-120 value last week with 12.0 points, 2.0threes, 3.5 dimes and 3.5 boards on 54.5% from the field in 34.0 minutes. Even if he can maintain that heavy burn, that shooting will auto-correct and thus he should be left for deep-leaguers. Jerry Reinsdorf’s pockets get filled 3 times this week.

    Small Forwards

    Tyreke Evans was outside the top-300 last week in 9-cat. You can do to him a what Tip and Ali Shaheed did to Loran’s Dance. [Sample] (4 points). Pacers go 4 times.

    Mikal Bridges finally scored some points (17.7 over his last three) and still can’t get picked up in non-competitive leagues lol. He got 30% more attempts from the field since he was so hot (67.9%), especially from deep (over twice his season output with 3.7). He’ll cool off but don’t drop him just because he’s not scoring. Oh yeah, he was no. 19 in 9-cat on the week.

    Josh Jackson stayed poppin’ Redenbachers filling in for T.J. Warren with 17.0 points, 1.0 threes, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 35 minutes per game and even the 57% from the line couldn’t keep his 9-cat value outside the top-160. In H2H, he’s a hold with this much run unless you just can’t take the FT hit.

    The Suns play 4 times.

    Jeff Green brought home top-65 value and Otto Porter was having trouble with his little piggies (toe sprain) but the numbers look pretty regular except the 2.2 treys and 1.0 blocks pop. The Wiz play 3 times

    Darius Miller got 13.3 points, 3.0 treys and 3.3 in a massive 37 minutes per game last week for a depleted Pelicans team. More surprising was the 2.0 steals. Pels go 4 times if you need a stream.

    Wave bye bye to DeAndre’ Bembry with Huerter, Prince and Bazemore back (outside top-260).  Atlanta plays 4 times if your league is incredibly deep.

    You might have noticed Bruno Caboclo if you were streaming for blocks over the last couple of days. The 5-game sample size is super small (top-150ish in 9-cat) and the one 4-block game is an outlier, but he blocked at least one shot in all but one of the games, JaMychal Green is banged up, Omri Casspi is out for six weeks and the Grizzlies might be entering late-season tank mode. Looks like a good spec add in deep leagues. Memphis has 3 games and I love music. [Sample] (4 points).

    I hit Cedi Osman with the yada yada yada last week and the basketball gods hit me with a mixed bag. He was great (aside from the FT shooting) and then he sprained his ankle on Saturday. Who knows what this week will bring (Kevin Love?). The Cavs do something 3 times this week.

    James Ennis’s 9-cat roto lines – his 8.0 points, 1.0 threes and just 0.8 stocks – was still inside the top-150 last week but that was mostly on 0.3 turnovers. The Rockets are also rumored to be looking for backcourt/wing help and any incomer from a trade would hit Ennis’ value. The Rockets play 3 times.

    Jake Layman looked good in his lone game of the week while Moe Harkless (knee) didn’t really, and both a kind of looking like deep-league plays at this point. The Blazers go 3 times.

    Jae Crowder shot it marginally worse (38.1% FG, 0% FT) last week and maintained his spot outside the top-175 in 9-cat.  Utah plays twice.

    Reggie Bullock managed 11.5 points and 3.0 treys last week and still ended up outside the top-200 in 9-cat thanks to literally zero defensive stats. Detroit has 3 games.

    Power Forwards

    Bobby Portis should be gone but you never know today [Sample] (6 points).

    Kelly Olynyk probably had his best two games of the season, scoring a season-high 21 points in 31 minutes on Friday and playing a season-high 34 minutes on Saturday, getting 14 points, two 3s, seven boards, three assists, two steals and a block. Despite his fantasy-friendly game, a two-game sample size doesn’t make a trend though I’d still add him in a streaming spot to see how he does.

    Neither Bam Adebayo (top-220 with 9.7 points and 6.5 boards in 23 minutes) not James Johnson (top-290) have done anything to stand out so maybe it sticks for the lanky Canadian.

    Miami plays 3 times.

    Luke Kornet (ankle) started his first game back but put up a dud in only 17 minutes. Enes Kanter’s still there in body if not in spirit and DeAndre Jordan soon will be too. The wide-open opportunity staring Kornet in the face just a week ago doesn’t look so available now.  The Knicks have 3 games to see what’s up.

    P.J. Tucker
    cooled the hell off last week (27.6% from the field) but he still nabbed 2.3 steals and added a triple a game. The Rockets run 3 times.

    Davis “don’t call me David” Bertans is back with typical standard-league value of 11.8 points, 2.8 threes and 1.0 steals. He’s been a low-key top-100 play over the last two months, so the floor is there for a low-usage big that hits threes, doesn’t hurt efficiency and gives you an occasional defensive stat. The Spurs jingle 4 times and I feel good whenever I call you friend. [Sample] (6 points)

    Jabari Parker put up similar stats last week but his 33.3% from the line dropped him to top-150. There’s not any upside in 17 minutes a game. Chicago does it 3 times.

    JaMychal Green played 3 out of his last four games, but played 7, 0, 5 and 20 minutes as he continues to deal with knee pain. The Grizz play 3 times. Will he?

    Ante Zizic grabbed 10.7 rebounds last week but not much else and Kevin Love will be back to crush his usage at some point. The Cavs show up 3 times.

    Centers

    Richaun Holmes is back (so is Deandre Ayton) and Dragan Bender is back on the pine. Last week, Holmes had top-60 value with 8.0 points, 5.7 boards and over 3 stocks in 25 minutes. He continues to be slept on. Suns shine 4 times and he’s living the good life. [Sample] (If you know this song that means you know me or E.Lee & Blakkass Westley from Impolite Society and you didn’t even say what’s up. How you ain’t gon’ speak? 0 points for you).

    Ivica Zubac was pretty good last week but he hurt his finger during Saturday’s loss to the Dubs. X-rays were inconclusive so he’ll be getting an MRI soon. Maybe of importance is news that JaVale McGee (11 minutes) was one of the vets that challenged coach Luke Walton after the game, so we’ll see if McGee is able to get some added time on the court. The Lakers go 3 times this week, then just once.

    Mitchell Robinson blocked 2.5 shots per game last week in addition to his 7.0 points (75% FG) 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Those were all improvements on his season numbers but the 33.3% from the line on a not-insignificant 4.0 times attempts per game dragged his value down to the top-115 in 9-cat. He did his work in less than 20 minutes per game, so I’m not worried about DeAndre Jordan’s arrival at all. The Knickerbockers fasten their britches 3 times.

    Ed Davis stayed extra boss last week with 11.3 boards in a normal 19 minutes a game. Boss, boss, boss this week.

    From last week: “Nerlens Noel hasn’t racked up many blocks since returning from injury but the steals are there.” In his last three games Noel gave you 10 blocks and that *dusting hands* takes care of that. OKC runs 3 times for two weeks.

    Alex Len was outside the top-200 last week but Atlanta has 4 games if you want to throw some unpredictable volume at the wall.

    Chef Rap-o-Rater:

    Now you add up all your points and see how well you know your hip-hip:

    50+: Ain’t no halfstepping

    42-49: Old head/backpacker

    31-41: Padwan

    21-30: You may or may not have been in a coma/on drugs for parts of the last 2 decades.

    0-20: You are under 20 y/o or retired/not of this realm (bassline would make a dope sample).

    Random Observations

    Somebody should have told me Bulls coach Jim Boylen was an actor. At least his coaching moves make sense now.

    Speaking of acting, Chris Paul’s in these recent State Farm commercials has been cringe-worthy; they need to give him the Scottie Pippen treatment, i.e. no talking allowed.

    Shout out to Buddy Hield. After coming up clutch in crunch time in a win over the Sixers, Hield had to endure an insufferable post-game interview. On his way back to the locker room, he still took the time to sign like 9 or 10 jerseys, banners and a basketball card. Good on you, Buddy.

    Not only did the Knicks get robbed in the Porzingis trade (DSJ, two almost washed vets on expiring deals and poor draft picks) but apparently there are some (many?) who think Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis will all join forces in N.Y. now that they have some extra cap space.

    Why?

    Why would Kyrie and Durant, both of whom want their own team, want to go to a franchise as dysfunctional as the Knicks? Since President Isiah Thomas fired head coach Don Chaney in 2004, the Knicks have had 10 different head coaches. 10 in less than 15 years. At least owner James Dolan has fun jamming and paying folks to be in his “band.”

    What a night for dancing,
    Chef

    P.S. RIP James Ingram

Fantasy News

  • Jonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next Head Coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option according to Donatas Urbonas.

    Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.

    Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of just 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.

    Source: Micha Adams on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.

    Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.

    The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.

    After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.

    Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.

    VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.

    Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.

  • Khris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.

    All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.

  • Eric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Bledsoe scored an inefficient eight points (3-for-9 FGs, 1-for-3 3-pointers, 1-for-2 FTs) in Saturday's loss while adding five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two turnovers.

    Bledsoe seemed to ebb and flow all series and just could not find the consistency that the Bucks needed during the Eastern Conference Finals. He has always been able to produce outside of scoring but his team really needed him to put the ball in the hoop this game.