Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah, Boxing Day and Kwanzaa to everyone! Today is December 25, and we have had 16 full scoring periods in the inaugural season of Real Deal Dynasty Basketball. Let’s begin, as always, by taking a look at the playoff picture:
4. LA Clippers
6. Golden State
After a somewhat disappointing start, the Grizzlies are back on an elite trajectory and is one of just three teams left with fewer than 10 losses. This team has a way of sneaking up on you.
Dwight’s back, and that means the Hawks are back. See below for how much Dwight has truly impacted the team. Recent upswings from Horford, Redick, Mirotic and a previously-slumping Reggie Jackson have also made a world of difference. Plus, a new face in Atlanta will help the Hawks reach a new level. Expect the Hawks to soar from the bottom of the unfairly-tough Southeast Division any day now.
Curry and Klay are bona fide studs, with Curry standing out as a legit superstar. Mason Plumlee has been straight fire lately and if Brook ends up leaving Brooklyn, he’ll continue beasting.
As predicted, the Suns have begun their slow descent upwards. Westbrook has been MVP-like lately as this team is finally getting over the injury bug, but is it too late to make a playoff push? We’ll have to wait and see.
Hello, playoffs. See below for why.
Holy crap. Just like in real life, this division is more like the “Titanic Division.” Also just like in real life, it’s a race to the bottom for the Nets, Knicks, Sixers and Celtics and the Raptors are coming out on top just by virtue of not being terrible. It’s still only December, but nobody else has a prayer of winning this division, bar a miracle. The race is over and Toronto wins.
Derrick Rose has been disappointing, Rubio and Gordon are still hurt and everyone else has been underwhelming. I didn’t project this team very high going into the season, but the Bulls are in a huge hole and already toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
It wasn’t too long ago that Dallas was in the third position in the loaded West. Now, they’re looking at the 8 spot with three teams (Portland, New Orleans and the Lakers, all of which have been pretty hot as of late) biting right at the heels.
Losers of five straight, the Jazz are out of sorts and at 12-23 are in last place in the Northwest Division and seemingly out of the playoffs. The team has a lot of great pieces that just didn’t come together, and it might be too late to make a run at the postseason with such a strong competitive field in the West.
Since returning from whatever nasty virus that was, Boogie has resumed monster status to the tune of 26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and more than a steal and block per game, all while shooting 52% from the floor and 77% from the line. Short of Anthony Davis, there may not be a better player in all of Real Deal.
The exponential growth of Davis’ talent continues as he continues to blossom into the next Hakeem Olajuwon. What more can be said about this guy? Sure, his rebounding is down this month, and that might be a problem in terms of nabbing double-doubles with Asik hanging around in the low post, but the combination of scoring, shooting (60%!!!) and blocks with low turnovers makes him one of the most valuable players to own.
Much maligned for his defense last season, Harden has actually upped his game on the other end of the court and is no longer a pushover. That translates into fantasy numbers, as, believe it or not, Harden is averaging almost a block per game to go along with his 2+ steals. We know how elite he’s always been on offense, but he’s taken it to a new level this year (averaging 30 points a game in December) while also posting – dare I say it – LeBron-esque rebounding and assist numbers. He’s the best guard in the game by a mile.
LMA has been straight dominant through the month of December. This month, he’s averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and over 1 steal, block and assist per game while shooting 45%. He’s also notched 9 double-doubles in 12 games, which we all know is monumental in this league. Aldridge and the Blazers continue to prove the doubters wrong.
Maybe a homer pick, sure, but let’s talk about what “valuable means.” “Valuable” means taking a sub-.500 Atlanta Hawks team to a 6-game winning streak and getting that team over .500 for the first time since the early goings simply by returning to the lineup. “Valuable” is 20 points on 59% shooting and 13 rebounds a game. “Valuable” is posting a double-double in every contest since returning. “Valuable” means that, per game, Dwight is the 5th-best fantasy player this year. “Valuable” means the Hawks are going to the playoffs (file that under “Official Trash Talk”).
Now for something a little different. I’m going to take a look at each team and list their Christmas wishes for the rest of the year.
Atlanta Hawks: Please stay healthy, Dwight.
Boston Celtics: Might be time to rebuild. Let’s see the young rebounders like Hickson and Nurkic flourish.
Brooklyn Nets: Let’s try to get Deron’s and Brook’s contracts off the books (sound familiar?).
Charlotte Hornets: Hopefully someone on the Sixers will get hurt so Wroten gets big minutes again.
Chicago Bulls: Stay healthy for next season, DRose.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Don’t let the Knicks shut Melo down for the season, and thank you, Santa, for Dray Green.
Dallas Mavericks: Let Tony Parker come back already, and let the Hornets get rid of Lance already.
Denver Nuggets: The recent great play of Faried and Olynyk needs to continue.
Detroit Pistons: Great play from some truly unlikely sources (Mbah a Moute, Casspi, Rasual Butler) has helped push this team over the middle of the pack. Let that continue.
Golden State Warriors: Kill ’em, Plumlee!
Houston Rockets: Everything is fine. Please don’t change anything, Christmas wish gods.
Indiana Pacers: Don’t let the Bulls or Celtics catch me in the race to the bottom!
Los Angeles Clippers: A real center.
Los Angeles Lakers: No more missed games for KD.
Memphis Grizzlies: Let Afflalo, Carroll and Sullinger live up to their potential.
Miami Heat: Please, please do not let Collison get traded to the Nets, and give Kyle Anderson some more action.
Milwaukee Bucks: The starting lineup has been great. A little backup would be nice.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Don’t let Josh Smith go to Houston and eat Corey Brewer’s minutes.
New Orleans Pelicans: If someone could play anywhere near AD’s level, that would be great.
New York Knicks: A time machine would be cool, so maybe Melo could stay on the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Keep up the good work, Timmy.
Orlando Magic: Another good guard could push the team over the top.
Philadelphia 76ers: To tank or not to tank? Help me decide!
Phoenix Suns: Don’t let Russ get hurt again.
Portland Trail Blazers: Aside from Aldridge, Lillard and Butler, this entire team has struggled mightily. Bring in a ringer.
Sacramento Kings: No more missed games for Kobe and Boogie.
San Antonio Spurs: Youth movement appears to be in full swing. Let me hibernate until 2016.
Toronto Raptors: Ending up in this division was nice. Let’s hope the divisions stay the way they are!
Utah Jazz: This team needs a little bit more from everyone on the roster.
Washington Wizards: When John Wall leads the team in double-doubles, it’s time to bring in a big.
And there you have it. Happy Holidays, everyone, and as always, let me know what features you’d like to see in the next edition of the Real Deal Basketball Report!