My father was in a state of distress.
He's retired. Should be coasting. But now has to spend an hour a day contemplating the existential morass that is the Washington Nationals' 3rd base situation.
"How did we get here?" "How do you drive off an Anthony Rendon?" "How many chances is Kieboom going to get?" "Why not just admit your mistake and sign a free agent?" "Please. Tell me. How did we get here?"
Father has enough on his plate.
But then he read the Oklahoma City Thunder now have 34 draft picks through 2027. And it blew his mind.
My answer: respect The Process. If you're not in a marquee NBA city, this is how you have to build a contender.
Then I started ticking off OKC's recent moves. And the recitation made me a little dizzy.
For Wizards fans, intelligent, dynamic tanking is an exotic concept. We're used to effectively trading Stephen Curry for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Drafting Jan Vesley instead of Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson. Using our max-cap slot to sign Andrew Nicholson and Ian Mahimni.
The Hinkie-esque machinations of Sam Presti are a bit beyond we Washingtonians.
We respect The Process. Pull out our spreadsheets. Pan for fresh production possibilities.
What could give your team some playoff pop? Oklahoma City's lean into Chaotic Neutral. That's what. And by the way... OKC plays five games next week.
Let's look at the menu. Last night's box score.
PACERS 122 - THUNDER 116
Luguentz Dort, SG/SF: DNP (hip)
Dort + Usage Rate = dinner. Dort is a Process Fantasy Superstar. In per-game value? Top-25 player. Dort's last seven games: 15 points, 42 points, DNP (hip), 26 points, 29 points, DNP (hip), DNP (hip).
Verdict: Dort is too good. Dort is messing with The Process. Dort is a dart-throw fantasy play for the duration.
I'm not questioning Dort is hurt. I respect pain even more than The Process. But it's clear the Thunder aren't rushing Dort back onto the court. And Dort is the lynchpin. The key to the rest of the Thunder's production. There's a lot of Usage at stake.
I have Dort listed as "Perpetually Questionable." The next question: can you afford to burn a roster spot? Hang on in hopes of a few more premium lines? That is up to you and your needs.
If you need a possible haymaker for a playoff matchup? Try to hang on. If you need immediate depth? To maximize your games? Let Dort go.
Darius Bazley, SF/PF: 37 minutes
Maybe try using the backboard.
An evening of Darius Bazley management requires some averting of one's eyes. Looking away in fear as Bazely's ruthless assault on NBA rims ticks up into 20-25 FGA territory.
Bazley was 9-of-25 last night. Only one of nine conversions was a 3-pointer. In seven games since returning from a shoulder injury, Bazley is shooting 42.2% from the field. 24.4% from deep. That's a slight improvement over his percentages for the season. So I guess...that's good?
Points. Rebounds. 3s. That's what you're gonna get. All you're gonna get. But can your team stomach the inefficiency in the name of raw volume? That's between you and your imaginary roster.
Theo Maledon, PG: 36 minutes
Maledon is an SGA cover band.
If you're looking for diversified point guard play, Maledon will provide. He rebounds well for a PG. Has some pop in the steals department. The assists are solid replacement-level. If you like counting your counting stats, Maledon is worth a look.
Caveat emptor. Maledon is a Bazley-esque shooter. Like I tell my son: there is a difference between liking to shoot, and being able to shoot. No one appears to have had that talk with Maledon.
But The Process isn't about efficiency. It's about Pace. Possessions. Volume-driven inflation.
Svi Mykhailiuk, SG/SF: 36 minutes
How new is Mykhailiuk to my fantasy radar? I had to download a new word processing app to write this column. Because I don't possess the time to turn off the amount of autocorrects required to type his name uninterrupted.
Mykhailiuk is backup plan. Dort insurance.
Last night, he offered effective Dort cosplay. 36 minutes. 20 points. Nine rebounds. Four assists. Two blocks. Two threes.
Not bad. But until we get a firmer grip on Dort's availability, he's a streamer.
Kenrich Williams, SF: 28 minutes
Basically another version of Bazley with less volume and more efficiency. The key: the steals. Williams is starting to post multi-theft lines with regularity. He needs that extra category to enter the medium-league conversation.
Isaiah Roby, PF/C: 28 minutes
Roby has some upside. But even when he's getting the minutes, he's not getting the touches he needs to be roster-worthy. Roby's MPG mandates our attention. But he is streamer play for blocks until further notice.
Ty Jerome, PG: 21 minutes
I am interested in seeing what Jerome produce given 3-5 additional MPG. On paper, he's a dialed-down Maledon. But if you watch Jerome, you'll see he appears to have better handles. If you're bobbing for assists, keep an eye on Jerome.
Moses Brown, C: 16 minutes
Here's a comp: Daniel Gafford. And if you recall, I was first in telling Fantasyland to retain Gafford's services.
Give Brown 25 minutes? You'll get a double-double. 4.0 blocks + steals. Solid efficiency.
All the potential is there. What's standing in the way? Consistent minutes. What's standing in the way of consistent minutes?
And that is how we got here.