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I’m thankful for DeMar DeRozan, Boogie & fantasy basketball


Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

I’m going to list off some of the things I’m grateful for this year along with a focus on the players on my fantasy team for whom I’m thankful.

I’m grateful for many things this year, but perhaps none more than this:

I think that’s just about the funniest thing I’ve seen in the past year. The subject matter changes from love and the full beauty of the human spirit to furiously, hysterically bleak swifter than anything outside of a Dr. John Wall hyperdrive to the basket. He goes from awesome, funny Grandpa to stern, mean GrandFATHER in less time than it takes to snap your fingers. My God, that’s funny. Of course, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of crocodile attacks in Australia, and indeed, all around the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these reptiles will kill us all. But, before that inevitable apocalypse, let’s count our blessings and express our gratitude for this wonderful world full of post-dinosaur monsters that want to eat us.

I’m thankful for DeMar DeChozan! The Rapturous Raptor has, so far this season, his best field goal percentage of his career (48.4%) and his best true shooting percentage of his career (58.2). He’s also averaging the most assists and most steals of his career, AND he’s finally succumbed to the New NBA and he’s shooting the most threes of his career. He also-also has the best plus-minus of his career in this young season. DeChozan is 28 years old. He is in what greybeards like me used to call his “prime.” He’s currently ranked 30th on ESPN’s player rater, in between Al Horford and Andre “Actual Sharpshooter” Drummond. (He’s 28th in my fantasy league which has more and different stat categories than ESPN basic; he’s in between Otto Porter, Jr. and Devin Booker in our league.) I’ve loved DeChozan for a long time, mainly because of how unapologetic he is for his “old school” game. He shoots from midrange, he gets to the line, he used to refuse to take threes, and all he does is get better every year. I don’t love this Raptors team, and I certainly don’t think they’d beat a Celtics team at full strength with Gordon Hayward in a playoffs series, but Toronto is, at least, a team that can get to the second round. If they could make a trade for some defense (Toronto is currently 3rd in offensive efficiency, and tied for 10th in defensive efficiency with Memphis), perhaps Deandre Jordan from the Clippers?, then this team could become a terrifying force in the postseason, when the games slow down. Regardless, DeChozan is an elite player and I’m grateful that I have him on my fantasy team.

I’m grateful that our nuclear weapons are secure and safe from foreign attacks!

I’m thankful for Boogie “One of the best 5 players in the NBA” Cousins. I love Boogie. He’s currently averaging the fifth most points in the league at 26.6 (his bandmate The Brow is sixth with 25.8; NBA, please put more Pelicans games on national TV!). Boogie is ranked 3rd in ESPN basic. He’s attempting SEVEN THREE POINTERS A GAME (tied for 9th in the league with Ryan Anderson). He’s averaging the most rebounds of his career, the most assists of his career, and the most steals of his career (and, the best true shooting percentage of his career). He is 27 years old, just like Klay Thompson, another unheralded and hidden superstar in the New NBA. Boogie is absolutely magnificent. I’m torn between wanting to watch Boogie and the Brow stay together and try to force a New Twin Towers dominance on the league, and wanting them to split up so they can play as more traditional big men (Boogie to Toronto and AD to the Spurs are my two favorites). But, honestly? I love variety, I love teams with unique identities, and I love the idea of Boogie and the Brow playing basketball together and touring back-bayou R&B lounges for the next 5 years. Their debut album, The Sky Ain’t a Limit, went quintuple-platinum.

I’m grateful that Russia doesn’t have crazy sci-fi weapons! Seriously, doesn’t that sound like the story for Thunderball? Man, old trailers would not be acceptable these days.

I’m thankful for Victor Oladipo! Hell yeah! I liked Dipo when he played at Indiana, even though my Go Blue! bona fides force me to tell you that I’m lying and I’ve NEVER liked players from other Big Ten teams! Never! Dipo, finally freed of Sergeant Westbrook’s MVP/Scorched-Earth campaign, is performing like we thought he might when he was (slowly) improving in Orlando. He’s currently ranked 11th on ESPN basic, with averages of 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and almost 2 steals per game. He’s 13th in scoring in the NBA right now and the Pacers are 10-8, and would be the 8th seed if the playoffs started today. Indiana is an interesting team, one that might end up selling or buying at the trade deadline. One thing’s for sure: the Paul George trade does NOT look as bad as we originally thought. We might owe Kevin Pritchard an apology, especially if the Pacers make the playoffs and the Thunder don’t.

I’m thankful for Gary Harris, Old Man Redick, Tony Snell, and Kyle Korver. These guys are shooters. There’s something Pure Basketball about dudes who can just catch and shoot and drain. We celebrate the greats, like Steph 1.0, Durant, Klay, Harden, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, and, ugh, Larry Legend (Go Pistons Forever), but it’s just wonderful watching the blue collar sharpshooters ply their trade. Gary Harris has been improving every year, OMR has been good seemingly since the introduction of electricity, and Tony Snell and Kyle Korver are tops in true shooting so far this season. OMR’s ratios are a bit down compared to his career, so his numbers will probably improve. As it is, none of those guys are top 50 fantasy players, but they are excellent third-tier fantasy role players: solid foundations, better than average ratios, minutes, opportunities, and a singular strength. They’re like the outside analogs of centers who rack up boards and free throws. Say what you will about the three pointer, and whether it improves the NBA or not, one thing is ferdamsher: no other play in basketball makes an arena erupt in applause more than a clutch three pointer. Just ask Ray Allen (haha, sorry, Heat fans!).

I’m grateful that we live in a country where we’re free to roam and explore the internet without having to worry about our every move being watched and recorded by unknown forces for unknown reasons, and I’m grateful that we live in a country where we’re free to visit any website we want, like, without interference from corporations or the government. What if we lived in a world where we couldn’t visit SBNation or make posts about our favorite teams? Thank God that we’re not in any danger of being denied access to Amazon or Netflix or, no!, just because Comcast is in a corporate dispute with them.

And, I’m very grateful to live in a country wherein at least one of our branches of government (might) care about (some) precedent and (some) norms and, y’know, due process and the rule of law.

I’m grateful for, Football Outsiders, SBNation, Beyond the Boxscore, and, obviously,, as well as all the other analytics and fantasy sites. The writers and the community, and all of their analysis, have enhanced my enjoyment of sports, rather than lessened them. Fantasy is about players you like, but also the reasons why you like those players. Stat and sabermetric sites help you pinpoint and explain why you think someone’s good, as well as discovering unheralded players who are good but no one’s seemed to notice. In other words, who the hell doesn’t like sleepers? So a big ol’ muchas gracias to the analytics community; you all made sports better, no matter what the haters say.

I’m thankful for Giannis and for KD. They are both on the No Cigar team. In the inaugural auction draft for Ball Don’t Lie, in 2014, I spent $118 (out of $250) on Durant (LeBron was the most expensive at $126); I spent $1 on Giannis. This is what can happen when you read sabermetric sites. Thank you, again, basketball analytics peeps! The No Cigars would be nothing without you! [Editor’s Note: Natty’s second most expensive player was Greg Monroe at $36. So, take his fantasy acumen with a Moose Monroe-sized grain of salt.]

I’m grateful that America is doing better than the ancient Roman Empire.

I’m thankful for my rookies! I have Frank Ntilly, OG Anunoby, and the Mad Monk. None of them have a positive player rating on the season, but they’re all fun to watch, and really, that’s all I want from rookies. While other fantasy owners have to obsess over Markelle Fultz’s shot or Lonzo Ball’s, uh, “shot,” I get to enjoy watching good, young players who seem destined to have solid NBA careers, at the very least. Ntilikina is an absolute DEFENDER, OG plays with a professional competence and patience (and, his name is “OG”; please, allow me to direct you to the Ultimate Nickname Hall of Fame, wherein you’ll find The OG’s HOF plaque, bust, wax figurine, manga caricature, and his favorite Mobb Deep songs), and the Mad Monk is just as mad as advertised. I want Monk to shoot 15 times a game. Unfortunately, the return of Nic Batum depresses Monk’s value, and playing time, but I still tune into Charlotte games, in case I can catch him. Plus, Charlotte is kinda fun to watch this year! As much as a Dwight Howard team can be fun to watch, I mean.

I’m grateful for the Great Lakes! My home state of Michigan is surrounded by fresh water, and the Great Lakes are as big an influence on, ugh, Michiganders as the auto industry, Motown, cherries, or insane Canadians who escaped across from Windsor with mad dreams of being polite to everyone they meet, EVEN IF THAT PERSON ISN’T POLITE BACK TO THEM. I’m super grateful that the Great Lakes are freshwater lakes because A) it’s nicer to swim in freshwater than saltwater, and B) there are no carnivorous freshwater sharks. I’m just a fan of lakes, in general, really.

Finally, I’m “thankful” for Austin Rivers who, as the prophecies foretold, is still the starting point guard for No Cigar. Pat Beverly hysterically opted for surgery after declaring that he doesn’t roll that way, referring either to the Clippers’ losing record, or...uh...Anyway! Austin Rivers is averaging 12.5 points on, uh, 12 field goal attempts per game, with a couple of rebounds, assists, and steals per game. His ratios are, how you say, nnnnnnnnnnot-good, but he gets volume stats because he gets volume minutes. And, until Milos Teodosic comes back, that’s how it’s gonna be. He’s, um, shooting 65% on free throws. His true shooting percentage is, sweet baby Jesus, 46.6. Mother of God, he’s my starting point guard. Do you think Doc Rivers wakes up every morning thinking that exact same thing? Except, Austin is his son…

One of my favorite books, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, ends in this way:

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

Austin, you are my haunted ghost river. And, you always have been.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting!