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Basketball Daily Dose

Christian Wood goes off in Rockets debut

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: December 18, 2020, 9:50 am ET

Welcome to the 2020-21 NBA Season! This is the first of many Basketball Daily Doses that will roll out this season and I couldn’t be more excited about it!

Before we get into the meaningful news from Thursday night (Christian Wood, anyone?), I’d like to talk about a few things. First, did you catch this podcast in which I was recorded talking in my sleep about a “two-man draft?” If not, it’s worth checking out.

And secondly, have you seen the Rotoworld Fantasy Draft Show, in which we completed an entire draft on video? In my opinion, it’s a must-see. Brian Rosenworcel, Guster’s drummer, completely snipes me on Luka Doncic, with ill intent, Matt Stroup hosts, and I reach really far to ensure I get Michael Porter Jr. Regardless of whether you agree with my moves, it’s well produced and fun to watch.

Lastly, I’d like to recap a draft that took place on Wednesday, Dec. 16, hosted by the one and only Rick Kamla of NBA TV and Sirius fame, and included fellow managers (and former Rotoworld studs) Aaron Bruski and Mike Gallagher. It’s rare that I do a draft and walk away feeling like it went just the way I’d planned, but this one did. I’m not saying I’m going to win the league, nor am I even going to say that I have a great team. But what I do have is a total “My Guys” team, which has sort of become my goal over the last few years. Do I reach for players? Yes, I do. Maybe it’s because I know that everyone reads me and knows what I’m going to do, and if I don’t reach, I’m not getting guys I want. Maybe it’s because I have confidence in my drafting skills and presume I’m good enough at this to make up for the reaches in the later rounds of the draft. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But the bottom line is that I enjoy fantasy hoops a lot more when I gamble on my guys and then seeing if it pans out.

Editor’s Note: If you’re on the hunt for rankings, projections, strategy and advice on how to dominate your fantasy drafts, check out the 2020 Rotoworld NBA Draft Guide. And while you’re at it, be sure to save while on your way to victory. Use code HOLIDAY20 now through January 3, 2021 to get 20% off any EDGE+ package. Click here to learn more!

As you well know by now, I am the president of the Luka Doncic fan club and I have found that unless I have the No. 1 pick, I’m not getting him this year. I had actually forgotten about Kamla’s draft, but my trusty and intricate iPhone alarm system alerted me 10 minutes ahead of time that I had a draft to do. That put my plan of playing Golden Tee and hanging out with a few friends on hold and I was also a little nervous about doing my first draft totally on my phone. Yeah, I’m a dinosaur and still prefer my computer and dual monitors for the draft experience. However, as soon as I got into the Yahoo! app and found out I had the No. 1 pick, I got excited.

Of course, I took Luka No. 1 and then waited for Pick 24 to come back around in Round 2. I was targeting Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, but he went at No. 22 (as I knew he would) so I rolled with De’Aaron Fox and Christian Wood, who are both “my guys.” I reached for Wood in Round 3, but he wasn’t going to be there by the time it came back to me at the end of Round 4. Then I rolled with Buddy Hield (no Bogdan Bogdanovic in Sacramento) and my man, Michael Porter Jr., with the first pick of Round 5. Outside of not getting SGA, this thing was going perfectly. It’s a two-center league so I went with IU alum Thomas Bryant at the end of Round 6 and Wendell Carter Jr. to lead off Round 7. Waiting on centers can be risky and I was happy to lock these two up here. If Bryant can stay healthy and WCJ responds to Billy Donovan the way it appears he’s going to, I have no worries. And Wood is also a center. The end of Round 8 presented Marvin Bagley to me and I was happy to take him, despite him burning most of us in Round 4 last season. Josh Richardson kicked off Round 9 for me and he has had a really strong preseason. He’s competing with Tim Hardaway Jr. to be the No. 2 option behind Luka until Kristaps Porzingis (knee) is ready to roll. And that is still a huge question mark. I really think JRich is going to bounce back in Dallas this season and he seems to be vibing with Luka and the Mavs. I grabbed Cam Reddish at the end of Round 10 and grabbed another center in the form of Chris Boucher to kick off Round 11. Boucher may or may not blow up, but I love him and there isn’t a lot of risk with him in Round 11, and Reddish appears to be in a good spot in Atlanta, despite all their depth. I took Troy Brown Jr. in Round 12 who, fun fact, qualifies at PG, SG, SF and PF in CBS Sports leagues and Derrick Jones Jr. in Round 13. Brown has a chance to breakout this season and DJJ should have a nice role in Portland. Maybe I should have taken Dillon Brooks or Delon Wright instead of DJJ, but I didn’t. I finished things up with Gary Trent Jr. at the end of Round 14 and grabbed Bryn Forbes at the start of Round 15 to complete my draft. And yeah, they’re both two of my guys. Outside of SGA and Tim Hardaway Jr., who Kamla grabbed right before me in Round 12, I successfully got all my guys. Will this team perform and win me a championship? I have no idea. But I basically never got sniped and love the team I drafted. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if they can get it done. I think it’s fair to say my season may hinge on the play of Michael Porter Jr., and I’m good with that.

Thursday Night Headlines

Christian Wood was as good as advertised in his debut

I’m not sure that Wood could have been any better in his Rockets debut, racking up a team-high 27 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block, zero turnovers and two 3-pointers. He hit 10-of-18 shots and all five free throws, ran the floor and played like an All-Star. Y’all know I’m all in on him this season and nothing I saw last night changed my mind. In fact, he probably becomes a Round 3 selection after what he did last night. The hype train is rolling on Wood and I’m proud to be the conductor. Eric Gordon and James Harden also played well, but Harden is just biding his time until he’s traded. I think he’ll end up in Philly in a package for Ben Simmons, but he could literally end up anywhere. The good news is he’s James Harden and will ball out regardless of where he lands.

Luka Doncic hits 8-of-9 free throws

Luka Doncic hit just 6-of-18 shots, missed all six of his 3-pointers and hit 8-of-9 free throws for 20 points, five boards and seven dimes in an overtime loss to the Timberwolves. He hit just 6-of-10 free throws in his previous game but bounced back tonight. The 0-for-6 from downtown was a bit weird, but it’s the preseason and I’m not worried in the least. Matt Stroup and I have a ‘shirsey bet’ as to whether Luka will make at least 76 percent of his free throws and I actually think he’ll come in closer to 78 percent this season. Many industry folks don’t like Luka at No. 1 due to his shady free throws and turnovers, but I don’t care. As long as his ankles and body hold up, he could average 30-10-10 this season and his free throws and turnovers can easily be overcome. And given all the question marks surrounding guys like James Harden, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, I’m comfortable with rolling the dice on Luka. And speaking of No. 1 picks, I’m surprised I haven’t seen Stephen Curry go at No. 1 in one of my leagues yet. I don’t hate the idea.

Jarrett Culver is suddenly a free throw shooter

Jarrett Culver, who shot 46 percent from the free throw line as a rookie last season, hit all six of his free throws on Thursday to finish the preseason a cool 13-of-13 from the charity stripe. He also racked up 18 points, four boards, four assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers, and while he’s not a must-have fantasy player right now, he looks good enough to take a late-round flier on. His free throw percentage ruined his fantasy value last season, but he may have righted the ship.

Kelly Oubre fitting in well in GSW

Kelly Oubre played 23 minutes and went off for 22 points, four 3-pointers, four rebounds, one assist and a block against the Kings. Klay Thompson is out for the year and Oubre is going to go off alongside Steph Curry. I haven’t been able to get him anywhere, probably because of my obsession with CWood and MPJ, but Oubre is going to be a fantasy game changer this season. Oubre went in Round 6 of Kamla’s draft with guys like Coby White, Gordon Hayward, Lonzo Ball, Robert Covington, Brandon Clarke, T.J. Warren, John Wall, Tobias Harris, Ricky Rubio, Lauri Markkanen and Thomas Bryant in that round. And I wouldn’t be opposed to targeting Oubre in Round 5 to assure getting him. He’s going to be better than most of the players taken in Round 6.

Dillon Brooks is going to be a sneaky late draft pick

Dillon Brooks racked up 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting with four boards, four assists, four 3-pointers and a block. Ja Morant had 18 points and 13 dimes and is the guy to have in Memphis, but Brooks is showing a lot of promise and could be a sneaky pick in the later rounds of your draft. I seem to own him on multiple teams every year, but this could be his time to shine, especially with Jaren Jackson Jr. out for a while.

De’Andre Hunter playing better than advertised

De’Andre Hunter came through with 22 points, one rebound, one steal and five 3-pointers for the Hawks on Thursday. He’s had a great preseason and while a lot of late draft strategy has been targeted at taking starter Cam Reddish, Hunter can’t be ignored at this point. It’s very crowded in Atlanta and I’ve been targeting Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Reddish (as well as Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela), Hunter deserves some late-round consideration.

Devin Vassell is becoming interesting in San Antonio

Aside from my Golden Tee buddy’s company (Executive Pet Transport) moving Vassell’s dog on Thursday, Vassell was good again, racking up 18 points, six boards, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 8-of-13 shooting. He came in averaging solid numbers, including 3.5 steals, and appears to be a lock to be a part of the Spurs’ rotation this season. I can think of worse ways to blow a last-round pick and Vassell’s steals are more than intriguing. I haven’t drafted him anywhere, but it’s time to think about grabbing him late.

Delon Wright looks like a worthy sleeper

Delon Wright played just 19 minutes but had 13 points, three 3-pointers, three boards, two assists and three steals with zero turnovers on Thursday. He’s starting for the Pistons and while he was a bust in Dallas last year, he’s going to have a big role in Detroit. Jared Johnson is all about Delon this season and I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. He went in Round 13 of Kamla’s draft and he could easily end up being a steal that late.

Hornets are going to be a fun team this season

LaMelo Ball hit 7-of-17 shots and four 3-pointers for 18 points, two rebounds, five dimes and a steal on Thursday. This kid is fun to watch, period. And he’s only going to get better with time. He went in Round 9 in Kamla’s draft and I’m good with it, although I prefer my Josh Richardson pick there. He appears to be vibing with Miles Bridges in the second unit, as Bridges hit 8-of-12 shots and a 3-pointer for 17 points, four boards and two assists. Ball is throwing alley-oops to Bridges at will and he’s another guy I wouldn’t mind taking a late flier on. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham also looked good on Thursday but keep in mind that Gordon Hayward was out with a fractured finger. My guess is Bridges, Rozier and Graham are all going to have some big games this season, but once Hayward (day-to-day) is back in the mix, they’re all going to be inconsistent. Graham went in Round 8, Rozier went in Round 10 and Bridges went in Round 12 in the Kamla draft. And if you’re wondering, Hayward went early in Round 6 in the Kamla draft.

The Daily Dose will be back on Saturday and every other day of the NBA season to catch you up on what you missed while you were out on the town having fun. Oops, I mean while you were in bed sleeping, since going out is currently not an option. In any case, it feels good to be back and I can’t wait for the start of the season on Dec. 22! Anyone want to have a two-man draft?

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-20 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.