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RotoBaller NBA Recap: JAH!!!!!


Welcome to the RotoBaller NBA Recap. In this feature, we highlight three fantasy basketball takeaways from last night's slate of NBA games. Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the NBA featured its usual all-day slate of games to commemorate King. 11 games, stretching from a lunch-time tip for Thunder/Knicks and concluding with what seems like the 10th Warriors/Lakers game of the season.

For fans of competitive basketball games, it wasn't a great day. The Sixers beat Houston so bad that James Harden didn't play in the fourth quarter. The Nets, Magic, Bulls, and Thunder all won handily. While a close Portland/Utah contest helped things out, the overall feeling after a day of basketball watching wasn't something overly positive.

Let's take a closer look into what happened around the league on January 21st, 2019.

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JAH TIME

With Anthony Davis out for a couple of weeks, the Pelicans turned to Jahlil Okafor to start at the five. You probably know Okafor best for being drafted by the 76ers in 2015, when there were serious people who thought he might go first overall ahead of Karl-Anthony Towns. The Sixers took him one spot over Kristaps Porzingis, and while you can argue that that worked out since it ultimately helped them be just bad enough to jump to the first pick for Ben Simmons, there's still a lot of what if there.

Okafor never worked in Philadelphia because his game was predicated on being good near the basket offensively and...nothing else, really. He didn't have an offensive game outside of the paint. He didn't pass well. He wasn't a good defender.

Those things are still issues, but with David sidelined in New Orleans, the Pelicans -- a team built around maximizing the usefulness of their bigs -- are giving Okafor a chance. On Monday, Jah scored 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked two shots.

Okafor showed off his post moves on plays like this:

He's still not a threat anywhere but near the basket, but Okafor showed enough on Monday to make him a deep league fantasy option until Anthony Davis returns. Maybe he'll never be a good NBA player, but in these spot minutes that he's getting, he's effective enough to make an impact for the Pelicans. Go ahead and grab him in 14-team leagues if you need scoring and rebounds.

 

Collin Sexton's Assist Problem

On Sunday, Collin Sexton dished out a career-high seven assists, but he followed that up with zero assists on Monday against the Bulls.

Sexton did score 18 points and he added a pair of steals as well, but at some point we have to worry that he's not doing the kind of work as a passer that you need a starting point guard to do, which hurts the Cavaliers and also creates some serious concerns for fantasy owners who need more production from Sexton.

The Cavaliers pass the ball the third-fewest times per game in the NBA and average the second-fewest assists per game, but even that doesn't account for Sexton's 2.9 assists per game. Sexton makes 43.5 passes per game and receives 56. He's ranked 31st in the NBA in passes received per game, but only one player ranked above him passes the ball less than Sexton. Essentially, virtually every other NBA player who has the ball passed to him as much or more than Sexton then is likely to pass it away, but that hasn't been the case with Sexton.

 

Paul George: The Best Thunder?

Is Paul George the best player on the Oklahoma City Thunder?

It's becoming a more and more popular take these days. Let's compare some advanced stats between George and Russell Westbrook:

True Shooting Percentage: George, .577; Westbrook, .475

Offensive Box Plus/Minus: George, 4.2; Westbrook, 1.3

Value Over Replacement Player: George, 2.9; Westbrook, 2.6

But regardless of where you stand on that question, one thing is clear: George, already a great player and an incredibly valuable fantasy option, is continuing to get better at being a vital part of everything the Thunder are doing.

George, who finished Monday's win with 31 points on 9-for-18 shooting and added four rebounds and four assists, has seen his scoring load increase since December, and in January he's posted his best offensive rating of any month of the season. George is scoring more, doing it more efficiently than he was earlier in the year, turning the ball over less, and now has his third 30-point game in OKC's last six outings. It's probably too late to get good value in trading for George (November was probably the prime time for that), but why not toss an offer the way of the George owner and see what happens.

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