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    After a holiday-fueled hiatus, we’re back at it again with picks and news around the Association. A lot has happened since we last spoke. The Suns have fallen all the way down to 12th in the West, while the Grizzlies and Nuggets have seized control of the conference. The Celtics remain in control out East but a surging (pre-KD injury) Nets team has been making noise as the Bucks loom dangerously as well.  Outside of the top tier teams: Jalen Brunson has the Knicks in playoff contention, Bam Adebayo is the best player no one is talking about and has the Heat back in the thick of the playoff hunt, and the Beam Team is still rolling in 4th place out in Sactown.

    In spite of all this fun and talent, one man has commanded our NBA attention unlike anyone else in the past 2 decades, LeBron James. He’s out here in year 20, putting up 29.7 PTS, 8.4 REB, and 7.0 AST every night, and is the only reason the Lakers have a pulse. And why does the King have our attention in spite of the Lakers being 20-24? Because he’s closing in on Kareem’s all-time scoring record. He’s 315 points back and with his current average of about 30 per game, that puts us at 10.5 games until he gets the record. With such a big moment looming, let’s take a look at who the Lakers play and which matchup would be the most fun to see Bron pass Kareem.

    1/31 – The Mecca

    How awesome would this be? As mid as the Knicks have been, since the ‘70s, the game’s biggest stars love showing out at the Garden. It’s hard to pick a better spot for LeBron to set this record than MSG. 

    Likelihood of this happening? Slim to none, Bron would need to average just under 40/night and that’s if he plays every game.

    AP Photo/Kathy Willens

    2/9 – Home Sweet Home

    In another fitting narrative, the Lakers take on the Bucks at home. Not only did Kareem start his career in Milwaukee, but this would be a fun ‘pass the torch’ moment as Bron sets this record against the league’s best young star in Giannis. This one is definitely a possibility being 12 games out from today. 

    2/11 – On Steph’s Court

    Another fitting matchup, the Lakers travel to Golden State on the 11th. As long as LeBron has been in the league it’s tough to nail down one true rival (Kobe, the Celtics, the Spurs, etc.). For me, it’s Steph, the finals matchups link these two forever. You just know Bron would love to get this done on Steph’s court. 

    Week 15 Pool Picks 

    We’re back, and hopefully better than ever.

    Game Picks 

    Warriors @ Celtics  1/19 – The Celtics and Warriors have gone in different directions after the Finals last year, but Steph is back. Warriors.

    Knicks @ Hawks 1/20  – Jalen Brunson. My gut has the Knicks thriving, and the Hawks have no idea if they’re contending or tanking. Knicks on the road.

    Kings vs. Sixers 1/21  – The Beam Team. The Sixers look great but I’m riding with the Kings at home!

    AP Photo/José Luis Villegas

    Survivor

    Nets over Suns 1/19 – No KD, no problem. The Suns are lost, take the Nets on the road.

    Clippers over Spurs 1/20- The Spurs are bad, but the Clippers aren’t.

    Survivor Trap

    Pelicans @ Magic 1/20 – These young kids are no joke down in Orlando even if the record shows they’re bad, stay away.

    Timberwolves vs Rockets 1/21 – Another lost franchise with the Wolves. Pass them up.

    Starting Five Picks – Week of 1/23

    Nikola Jokic $5:  3-time MVP incoming? Load up the Joker, he’s been on a tear.

    Bam Adebayo $2:  I catch flack for talking Heat (sure, I’m a homer), but Bam has been hot, he’s a walking 20-10 and sure to include some assists and blocks too.

    Lauri Markkanen $2:  Another value play here, the favorite for MIP continues to play well even as the Jazz have cooled off.

    Jaren Jackson III $1: JJJ is thriving and absolutely stuffs the stat sheet, capable of putting up 5+ blocks any given night and will add some scoring and rebounding punch too.

    Luka Doncic $5 –  By saving some cash with budget bigs, we can line up a second top-tier player with the best player in the league. 

    Remaining Budget: $0

    Beat my lineup: Every week for the rest of the year we’re giving out an NBA jersey to the top weekly score of a Starting 5 pool, sign up free here!

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    About Author

    Dan Childs

    Lifelong Yinzer, Daniel bleeds black and gold, not black and yellow as the 2010 Wiz Khalifa hit got wrong. An avid NBA and NFL fan, he provides his view on various topics from 'what-if' scenarios to which players you should be rolling out in your fantasy pools week-in and week-out.

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