Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: Don’t sleep on Raptors and Bucks

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For all the talk of the power imbalance between conferences in the NBA, this past weekend of action confirmed two of the league’s truly elite teams in both real and fantasy terms reside in the Eastern Conference.

With no offense [Editor’s note: pun intended?] to Boston and their top-ranked defense, ranking 27th in offensive rating isn’t exactly favorable for fantasy purposes. cheap nfl nike jerseys from china Instead, I’m talking about the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, two Eastern powerhouses who have a combined record of 17-2 and rank third and fourth, respectively, in offensive efficiency.

Even with Kawhi Leonard missing Sunday night’s game at the Staples Center with a sore foot, the Raptors drubbed LeBron James’ Lakers. The Lakers trailed by as many as 31 points in the first quarter, becoming the first team in the past 20 seasons to trail by at least 30 in the first quarter at home. Kyle Lowry likely could have tried to chase Scott Skiles’ 30-assist opus from 1990, given he had a career-high 12 dimes at the half against the Lakers, but settled for 15 in the convincing win.

The Bucks trounced the otherwise surging Kings on Sunday afternoon via scoring 144 points, their most in a non-overtime game since 1979 against the Spurs. Giannis Antetokounmpo produced his 11th career triple-double in the victory — and his first accomplished within three quarters — snapping the Kings’ five-game winning streak.9

We already knew Lowry and Antetokounmpo were impact fantasy contributors, but how about finding affordable paths to shares of these elite rosters?

For the Raptors, we find Serge Ibaka surging statistically as if he were a young member of the Thunder again. Ibaka delivered a career-high 34 points (15-17 FG) against the Lakers and started the game by hitting his first 14 shots from the field — the most consecutive field goals made to begin a game since Shaquille O’Neal made his first 14 back in February of 2006 against the SuperSonics, per Elias.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Ibaka joins Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns as the only players averaging at least 18 PPG and 1.4 BPG this season and yet is available as a fantasy free agent in nearly half of ESPN leagues.

If Ibaka is already scooped up in your league, how about Pascal Siakam? The defensive-minded forward earned an endorsement in my recent waiver wire update thanks to averaging 1.7 combined blocks and steals while producing solid rebounding results and efficient scoring production. Siakam has averaged a rewarding 33.1 MPG the past five games, all starts, and merits to be rostered in more than 12 percent of ESPN leagues.

Fantasy hoops roto rankings: Wendell Carter Jr. among bigs taking flight

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What his four points against Cleveland Thursday and seven points two nights later against Utah reinforced, however, is that Jokic shouldn’t be ranked as high as a player like Joel Embiid who is just as versatile and averaging 20.7 shots a game compared to Jokic’s 12.0.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

In a week with minimal movement in the top 15, this is one of the notable changes, as Embiid moves up to No. 7, Russell Westbrook comes in at No. 8 and Jokic slides a couple spots to No. 9.

Take away Jokic’s offensive struggles, and it’s difficult to find too many other big men who under-performed the past week. In fact, most shined.8

Karl-Anthony Towns (10) recorded three double-doubles since last Monday and put his early-season struggles squarely in the rear-view mirror, raining down 13 3-pointers and making major contributions on defense with six steals and nine blocks during the past five games.

Rudy Gobert (14) showed his usual strengths as one of the league’s most efficient players, rebounders and shot-blockers.

And then things got interesting, as Nikola Vucevic (19), Marc Gasol (27) and prized Chicago rookie Wendell Carter Jr. (55) each jumped up considerably with eye-opening numbers and tremendous consistency.

Vucevic is more of a double-double threat than Gasol at this stage because Gasol doesn’t pull down the rebounds he once did, but Gasol takes and makes more 3s. Both rack up a lot of assists. Vucevic gets more blocks. Gasol gets more steals; in fact the Grizzlies’ center has averaged 2.8 SPG during his past five contests!cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The week kind of belonged to Carter, though, if we’re being honest. On the waiver wire in many leagues when last week started, Carter stepped in to play more minutes than usual with Bobby Portis out and showed the poise of a five-year vet. In four games, Carter averaged 17.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 2.0 BPG, 1.8 SPG while going 16-of-18 from the free throw line.

Joe Horn thanks Michael Thomas for cellphone celebration, buys his jersey

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Joe Horn said he was watching Sunday’s game when New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas channeled the most memorable moment of Horn’s career: pulling a cellphone from the bottom of the goalpost to celebrate a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

When asked for his reaction, Horn responded with a Muhammad Ali quote.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life,” Horn said. “That’s what I want to say.”

Horn and Thomas don’t know each other well. Horn said Thomas didn’t tell him the celebration was coming. But he said it “absolutely” meant a lot to him, and he called Thomas “my hero.”10

Horn said he texted Thomas and “thanked him for doing what most athletes in his position would never do.”
Horn, a Saints Hall of Famer who caught 50 touchdown passes for the franchise from 2000-06, will forever be remembered for his controversial 2003 touchdown celebration, which resulted in a $30,000 fine in an era when receivers such as Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Horn were regularly coming up with elaborate celebrations. The penalty was harsher because it was Horn’s second offense of the season, and the NFL reportedly considered suspending him.

Thomas was penalized for using a prop in his celebration, too, and he should also expect a fine, though likely a more lenient one as a first offense.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Horn was criticized by his own coach and general manager for being selfish at the time. Likewise, Saints coach Sean Payton didn’t give his approval to Thomas’ celebration, saying he wasn’t “fired up” by it, though he was quick to praise Thomas for how well he played. Thomas had 12 catches for 211 yards in the Saints’ 45-35 win.

When asked if he thinks he was more praised or criticized for his original celebration, Horn said, “I was criticized more for it because back when I did it, that was nothing that was expected. But I was more loved for it from the people who loved me and cared about me, my teammates.”

Nick Mullens’ big debut should be enough to get another start

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Less than 24 hours after Nick Mullens posted one of the greatest statistical debuts in NFL history, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t ready to name him the starter for the team’s next game. Or, if he was, he wasn’t ready to do so in a public forum.

“I don’t need to decide yet, so I’m taking my time with it,” Shanahan said Friday. “Also, I wouldn’t want to do that with all the guys out of the building. I’d like the whole team in here, too, when I decide that.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

On the heels of the Niners’ 34-3 demolition of the Oakland Raiders and Mullens’ impressive debut, in which he threw for 262 yards and three scores, there doesn’t seem to be much for Shanahan to consider when choosing between Mullens and C.J. Beathard as his starter for the Nov. 12 game against the New York Giants. At least on the surface, it’s clear Mullens should get another opportunity even if Beathard is fully recovered from his right wrist injury.

With the Niners getting four days off after their Thursday night victory, the eventual decision will come down to a variety of factors leading to one primary criterion.9

“You’d love to give people who deserve it and earn it and everything, but it’s all about who gives you the best chance to win,” Shanahan said. “That can be a week-to-week decision, that can be a quarter-to-quarter decision. You do everything you can to win games.”

Mullens’ first opportunity came not because he was considered the quarterback who was best but because he was the healthiest (and thus most capable that night) of leading the 49ers to a victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

To any outside observer, Mullens did more than his share in helping the 49ers get their second victory. He completed 16 of 22 passes for a rating of 151.9. That passer rating was the best by a quarterback making his debut with at least 20 attempts since 1970, and his trio of touchdown tosses made him the first Niners quarterback to do that in his first game with the team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

That the 2017 undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss accomplished all of that in his first NFL regular-season game on a short week in which the Niners conducted zero regular practices only speaks further to the job he did. To be sure, Mullens deserves every bit of the credit he’s gotten in the days since his big night.

But it’s also worth taking a deeper dive into the performance so as to keep proper perspective. While Mullens earned the plaudits thrown his way, there were other things contributing to his success. Namely, the Raiders’ abysmal defensive effort and Shanahan’s well-designed game plan and playcalling.

Manchester United were ‘in awe’ of Juventus but can win in Turin – Chris Smalling

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Manchester United Chris Smalling has said he and his teammates were “in awe” of Juventus in their recent Champions League clash, and has challenged the players to put things right in their return meeting.

Juventus won 1-0 when they visited Old Trafford in a game in which United were punished for a slow start but improved after half-time — something that is becoming a theme of the season for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Smalling said that he and his teammates were much improved after the interval, and that gives them the belief that can get something at the Allianz Stadium.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I think Juventus, we started the game a bit in awe, we were off the pace and they were on the front foot but the second half we showed we could give them a game,” Smalling said.10

“We created chances and we can take that second half performance to Turin and we will be more on the front foot and I think you’ll see a better performance than you did, particularly in the first half.

“Juve have shown they don’t concede many goals and hopefully we can get on the front foot. The first half, I think we learned from that and we showed that in the second half and on Wednesday you will see a difference.”

Meanwhile, Smalling has challenged United to use the momentum from their last-gasp win at Bournemouth to earn statement wins in a week which sees them play Manchester City after Juventus.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Smalling described United’s first-half performance at the Vitality as their “worst” of the season.

But after Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner, which gave United a 2-1 victory, Jose Mourinho’s team now head into a heavyweight week in the Champions League and Premier League on the back of two straight wins.

“We know we are going into a very tough week now but we can come out with some results it can be seen as a good month especially as it’s a tough month now,” Smalling said. “It would galvanise us knowing that we have had some big games this month and that we have gone toe to toe and picked up some big results.

Manchester United’s Chris Smalling on defensive criticism: ‘You need to have thick skin’

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Chris Smalling has admitted he has had to develop a thick skin as Manchester United’s defensive problems continue.

Callum Wilson’s goal for Bournemouth on Saturday was the 18th United have conceded in 11 Premier League games this season — more than West Ham, Brighton and Crystal Palace.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Manager Jose Mourinho branded the defending in the first half at the Vitality Stadium “awful” while regular centre-backs Smalling and Victor Lindelof have had to deal with their share of criticism from some supporters.9

“You can’t get away from it [the criticism] but I’m not going to sit there and read all my comments [on social media],” Smalling said.

“I think as players you need to have thick skin. It’s about making sure you have more good days than bad.”

Smalling is into his ninth season at Old Trafford after joining the club from Fulham in 2010.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Mourinho has spent more than £60 million on centre-backs since taking over in 2016 but Smalling was still trusted to play nearly 50 games last season and the 28-year-old has been a regular in the team again this term.

“To be able to be a club like this and last as long as I have you need to have that courage and belief in your ability,” Smalling said.

“You won’t have good days every week and the bad days are often highlighted when you’re at a big club. I believe in myself and I keep working.”

Carmelo Anthony: Perception of Knicks hurt team in free agency

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Carmelo Anthony believes the perception of the Knicks during his tenure with the club had a negative effect on its chances to land a top free agent.

“I think just the business. Everything that was going on. The perception of New York Knicks … not basketball but the organization,” Anthony said Thursday when asked what kept the Knicks from landing a top free agent when he was there.

“I think it probably scared a lot of people away. Scared some people away. Not knowing the nuances and the ins and outs of kind of what was going on, who is in charge, who is not. So it was more than just basketball when it came to people making those decisions,” he said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

During Anthony’s six-plus seasons in New York, he played under four different team presidents/general managers and four different full-time head coaches.10

After team president Phil Jackson signed Anthony to a max contract in the summer of 2014, the Knicks had a chance to add a significant free agent in the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016.

But New York couldn’t get a top-tier free agent to sign in either year. In the summer of 2016, the Knicks didn’t get a meeting with free agent Kevin Durant, and signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract after trading for Derrick Rose, his teammate with the Bulls.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

During Rose and Noah’s first season in New York, the relationship between Anthony and Jackson publicly deteriorated, leading to a negative perception of the club among some NBA players. Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City prior to the 2017-18 season by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Mills believes the perception of the Knicks has changed recently. The club plans to pursue a top free agent in the 2019 offseason. Anthony, in Brooklyn on Thursday to practice with the Houston Rockets ahead of Friday’s meeting with the Nets, was complimentary of first-year Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

“I think we all have to start from somewhere. And I think what Coach David is doing over there, he’s getting it right as far as mindset goes,” Anthony said. “The talent will come, but I think the mindset of how he approaches the game trickles down to the organization, how serious he takes the game, his approach to the game. You could just tell by the energy he brings.”

Gordon Hayward ‘a bit sore’ but pushes through to help Celtics win

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When Gordon Hayward went up to attempt to block a layup try by Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton midway through the second quarter of the Celtics’ 117-113 victory at TD Garden, it looked like simply one moment among many in what easily was Hayward’s best game of the young season.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But after Hayward was called for goaltending on the play, he landed fully on his left leg — the same one he suffered a gruesome injury to last season just six minutes into his Celtics debut, costing him the remainder of 2017-18. Unlike that play, however, Hayward on Thursday night felt only a momentary flash of pain — and then got up and kept playing.

By the end of the game, he’d not only put up an impressive stat line — a season-high 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting overall, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, plus 4 rebounds, 5 assists and a block in 27 minutes — but he’d also checked off an important box in his attempt to return to his pre-injury level of play.8

“I can feel it right now,” Hayward said afterward. “It’s definitely a little bit sore … something new that I haven’t done in a while. Those are things I just have to work through, maybe some scar tissue that I can grind out a little bit. It did feel a little bit sore, but I think it held up just fine.

“I have to get knocked down. I have to land on that one foot a little awkwardly, just so mentally I know I can do it, but also physically I can hold and be strong.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

This was a night that not only saw the Celtics finally break out of a sluggish start to the season offensively in a big way — they went 24-for-55 from 3-point range as a team, setting a franchise record and coming within one triple of tying the NBA record — but also saw Hayward give Boston glimpses of what he can do when he’s right.

Hayward opened the scoring for Boston with a 3-pointer, then followed that up with a block on a drive by Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and a driving layup against him at the other end. It was a sign of things to come for Hayward in a game that saw him show the kind of ballhandling prowess that gives the Celtics another option on the perimeter to create shots. That, in turn, allows Kyrie Irving to hunt for shots off the ball. Irving had a second straight strong shooting game with 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting, including 6-for-12 from 3, to go with 7 assists.

“It started off with a good start,” Hayward said. “Just was out there competing, playing. … I’ve said it before, but game by game there’s different things [I’m improving on]. I’m getting more and more comfortable. Had some open looks from three that were good and was able to knock them down, and tonight was good for me.”

Golden Tate departs as one of best receivers in Lions’ history

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But more than anything, Golden Tate played with a passion the Detroit Lions needed. It was similar to the guy he replaced in 2014, Nate Burleson. They both played with the same sort of swagger, the same intensity and confidence.

And for four-plus seasons in Detroit, Tate was that for the Lions.

Every year, the Lions knew what to expect from him. At least 90 catches, close to, if not more than, 1,000 yards. A guy who would play every week and turn small catches into big gains. A guy who would play with a different level of emotion than some of his teammates.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

In a little over four years, Tate made a massive impact on the franchise. He’ll leave seventh in team history in receiving yards (4,741), fifth in receptions (416) and 15th in receiving touchdowns (22), and he was the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions per game with 5.9 — half a reception more per game than his running mate in the Lions’ receiving corps his first two years with the club, Calvin Johnson.10

Beyond his on-field work, Tate was lauded off the field in Detroit. He was one of the more active Lions players in the community, working with local veterans on a yearly basis. He was also one of the more well-liked Lions players because his personality oozed out of his uniform and into the fan base.

They could see the passion he brought, that he was an emotional player who sometimes would get carried away — he’d even admit that. But it was that passion that endeared him to Detroit and part of why the move to trade him was so surprising.

That was the case for Tate after his arrival in Detroit during the offseason of 2014, the first big splash of former coach Jim Caldwell’s tenure. He would frequently tell the story about how he flew into Detroit during a snowstorm and ended up signing the deal before he left. It’s a story that brought him more fans in a city where he played so well. Nine of the top 10 receiving games of his career were in Detroit. He made his only Pro Bowl with the Lions.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

And he proved to be worth every dollar of his contract — one that will now play out in Philadelphia.

Jets quiet at deadline, refuse to sacrifice future for present

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They protected their future assets — and they’ll need plenty to repair this roster — but you have to believe coach Todd Bowles would have appreciated some reinforcements. He’s concerned about now, not the future, because his job is to win games. He has lost 27 of his past 40, so, yeah, there might be a sense of urgency, but he doesn’t have the final say on trades. That belongs to general manager Mike Maccagnan.nfl cheap jerseys nike

So the Jets (3-5), losers of two straight, will have to live with their underwhelming pass rush and beaten-up group of receivers. A segment of the fan base might be upset, wishing their team had done something. Anything.

Frankly, I don’t blame the Jets for not pulling the trigger on Fowler. It didn’t make sense to pay a premium for a two-month rental. They’ve liked Fowler since 2015, when he came out of Florida, but the price was steep. The Los Angeles Rams gave up a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 fifth-rounder for the free agent-to-be, who underachieved through most of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Rams are a Super Bowl contender; the Jets are not. They can wait until March, when they probably will try to overpay him as a free agent.8

Cooper would’ve made sense because he’s only 24 and under contract in 2019, but no team was crazy enough to meet the Oakland Raiders’ demand of a first-round pick. Oh, wait, the Dallas Cowboys did just that. The Jets would’ve been nuts to give up that much, considering their first-round pick might be in the top 10 — again.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Golden Tate? He’s 32 years old and headed to free agency, so he wasn’t a good fit for the Jets. The Philadelphia Eagles, trying to defend their Super Bowl title, sent a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Tate.

Demaryius Thomas? At 6-foot-3 with a wide catch radius, he would have helped rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who is being forced to make too many tight-window throws. Thomas is 30 years old, but he’s signed through 2019 — a non-guaranteed $14 million. Pricey, but he might have been worth a test drive. He wound up going to the Houston Texans, who gave up a fourth-round pick as part of their swap with the Denver Broncos.