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It’s baaaaaaaaack. I know the wait was excrutiating. The eye fatigue from those countless hours staring into the digital dojo. The clicks. Oh, the millions of clicks on the mouse button that turned you into a one-armed Popeye. What was it all for?… <in a voice that echoes and decreases in volume each time the phrase is repeated> What was it all for?…What was it all for?….

The chance to be the best of the best of course!

I’ve been told that the RCLs are populated with some of the sharpest fantasy basketball minds in the land. Do you have what it takes?

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October is here and you know what that means, Dynasty Deep Dive is back to it’s weekly Saturday slot. Razzball Hoops has entered a new era, but for those of you DDD faithful, nothing has changed in what will be another year looking at the rookies, next year’s draft class, and of course my personal favorite, European basketball.

So what have I got for you this week? In a conversation sparked with a fellow basketball fanatic and birthday boy Jay Collins, I thought we’d keep things familiar and take a closer look at our shiny new toys, now that we know where they will call home.

“Best draft class in a decade.” “Multiple future All stars.” “Not seen a draft class like this since 1999.” We have been promised much from this rookie draft class, especially from myself over the past 18 months. Now, we are finally at the doorstep of yet another season and, once again, face those mixed reports on some of the future stars of the NBA. We must properly value these new students of the NBA so that we don’t overpay for them.

This week we will veer off the usual DDD path and delve deep into the murky underground of the unknown to look at how FT% may help, and just as importantly hinder, your roto leagues. Let me put my money where my mouth is and guide you through the Do’s and Don’ts.

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Two or three times a month, I take my kids to the local yogurt shop. It’s crazy the flavors they have these days: black forest cake, caramel macadamia, cinnamon coconut, guava grapefruit sorbet, etc. Man, when I was a kid, there was no fancy shmancy yogurt. We had ice cream. Flavors? Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. The classics. Now, any store you go into, there will always be vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors placed among the almond midnight mochas, cookies & creams, and alphonso mango tarts. Why? Although not sexy and often overlooked, they get the job done and still taste damn good. That’s how I feel about the Memphis Grizzlies. They play a boring, methodical style of basketball and don’t have star power, although Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are really good players. With that said, all they’ve done is make the playoffs for seven consecutive years.

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Even though I’m a Lakers fan, I’ve always had an odd fascination with the Trail Blazers. Is it the logo? If you look at it long enough it starts to spin, move, and slowly suck you in. Is it the fact that they drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan? You know when you drive by someone that got into an accident? Is that from a state of concern or morbid curiosity? I think those two things had something to do with it, but it’s the 1999 “Jail Blazers” that always fascinated me. The Lakers beat them that year in the Western Conference Finals, but that team was so stacked and truly had a DGAF attitude. Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon from UNLV. Brian Grant. A young Jermaine O’Neal. Scottie Pippen, granted the expired version but still drinkable. Arvydas Sabonis. Really wished he had come to the states in his prime. He was Jokic before Jokic. Detlef Schrempf and Steve Smith. Deadly shooters. Damon Stoudamire aka Mighty Mouse. Rasheed Wallace was unguardable. The height extension he got on his shot made it unblockable. Bonzi Wells. So strong, both mentally and physically. A straight bull in a china shop. I loved how they never backed down and were tough as shit. They smoked weed. Seriously, what’s wrong with that? When I smoked weed, the basket looked like it was 10 feet wide. Isn’t that a good thing? The worst thing I did on weed was buy too many twinkies. Anyways, I apologize for that trip down memory lane. Both myself and the Trail Blazers have come a long way since those days.

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One of my all-time favorite movies is Rounders. Matt Damon and Ed Norton talking all smooth and playing poker in cool-looking clubs with John Malkovich spouting repeatable lines in… sort of a Russian accent. Plus, there’s a great Counting Crows song during the credits that I’ve never been able to find anywhere. Anyway, Damon’s Mike McD is the relatively good boy, while Norton’s Worm is the slimier friend.

After Worm gets them beat up with all their cash stolen for having been caught cheating, the gloves come off in an overdue shouting match between the old friends.

Mike McDermott: What the F*** were you thinking?

Worm: I was trying to give us an edge… …I don’t think like that.

Mike McD: No, you don’t THINK!

Worm: No, I don’t think like YOU! You always think you can beat the game straight up. That’s not me. I told you, I’m always gonna look for that edge. Always.

As much as Mike is the better role model, if you’re picking from the two gambling addicts, in fantasy basketball you want to be like Worm. Even if you tried, you can’t cheat in most leagues, but you want to be the one thinking differently, finding your edge. Last week, I mentioned ways to make your league more engaging. From here on out, I’ll give you ways to get an edge in your league by using the numbers to your advantage. These next two weeks leading up to the season, we’ll talk drafting.

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I love Denver. The downtown district is vibrant and urban, yet it’s nestled on a river in close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Such a clean and scenic place. Maybe I didn’t go to the “right” areas. Or would it be the “wrong” ones? Anyways, weed is legal and it’s the easiest and most comfortable place to join the “Mile-High Club.” What more could a man or woman ask for? I also love, love, love their basketball team. If you perused my rankings….shameless plug….you’d know my love for all Nuggets players. Well, Denver was founded in 1858 by a group of gold prospectors, so it only makes sense that Denver shall be a place to mine fantasy gold for the 2017 basketball season.

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Let me start by saying this: do not go into a draft planning on building a punt FT (or punt anything for that matter) team. Never. Don’t. You aren’t being smarter than everybody else. You’re playing yourself. Unless you’re a late draft pick in a 36-team league, it’s probably not gonna work for you.

Also, never decide to build a punt FT team just because a punt FT guy falls a bit. I made this mistake last year and took Drummond in one of my leagues, after having Davis and Porzingis already on my roster. My thought process was, “I can definitely make some trades to make this work.” I did get Gobert, which helped, but throwing away a category to get better at stats your fantasy team already generates is, not only inefficient, it’s frustrating.

On top of this, do not draft guys when building a punt FT team just because they’re bad at free throws. I can not stress this enough. The point of drafting is to build a team that can win as many categories for you as possible, not to see how bad you can lose one. It’s comical how often people (myself included) try to see how bad they can get their FT percentage, thinking that they’re outplaying everyone else. You guys think this article is for you, it’s actually for me. I’m just trying to hold myself accountable when I’m drafting.

So when do you build a punt FT team? The simple answer is: when it helps you. What I’m hoping this article does is give you some scenarios when building a punt FT team makes sense. If you’re stubborn and are gonna go ahead and build one anyway, I’ll also give some advice on how to round out your team.

Wait, I forgot the most important piece of information you’ll see in this article. How the hell are there NBA players shooting less than 50% from the FT line? Seriously. I can’t wrap my head around it. That’s like an illiterate writer. That’s like a runner that can’t walk. That’s like the restaurant I used to work at who’s name was Burger’s etc. and stopped selling burgers. So many confused customers, just like there must be so many confused NBA fans.

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Jae Crowder, Demarre Carroll, Kawhi Leonard, and Justise Winslow. When you think of these four players, a few things should come to mind. They are all scrappy players known for their hustle stats, lockdown defense, improving jump shots, and for being fan favorites. Long wing spans, large biceps, and… the hair. The type of hair that makes you understand why the only rule that matters  is no touching of the hair or face… and that’s it! Go away, inner Ron Burgundy. These players may take time to develop into fantasy assets, but once they do, you better hope you have first row seats to the show, because these are league winning talents.

Winslow has yet to hit his peak, but looking at his numbers in limited time last year, we can see what he may become. His percentages have been rough, but his near 11 points, five boards, and four assists per game, coupled with 1.3 steals will prove very useful over the course of a full season. Take a look at Carroll. Four seasons of mediocre play for Memphis, Houston, and Utah before getting 30+ MPG for the Hawks and then the Raptors. His line looks a lot like Winslow’s above, but add in the 1.5 3PM and he’s become a useful fantasy asset. Crowder took a similar path as well. Three seasons of weak ball for the Mavericks and Celtics before his Boston breakout in 2015 where he had a line of 14.2/5.1/1.8/1.7/1.7 which was only exalted by the 2.2 3PM in 2016. The Cavs should open even more doors for Crowder, and his fantasy stock is on the rise.

Lastly, the star of the bunch, Kawhi Leonard. Three seasons as a high motor, defensive specialist putting up similar stat lines to the ones you see above, followed by three seasons taking over the reins of the Spurs steering wheel. He also has a relationship with Pop that none of us will ever understand. Scoring 25 a game, hitting two 3PM, adding in a slew of counting stats, and we have a first round pick everyday of the week and twice on Sundays… but not Mondays because that would be ridiculous. You can’t have that two days in a row, that’s just not fair to anyone else in the room. Damnit Bernice!

Is that you George Muresan?

You’re lost, aren’t you. Why are you telling us about players we already know about? Get to the good stuff, quit wasting my time! Wow, everyone relax, it’s coming… and you’re going to love it.

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Reid and I have been doing over-unders for the NHL (check out the Razzball Hockey Podcast) so I thought it was a great time to start covering the NBA’s!  Tehol joins me to look at the NBA’s Eastern Conference.  We cover every team looking at their betting line and deciding what side we would take and with what level of confidence.  Additionally, we look at the prices for teams to win the division and the Eastern Conference, along with MVP and Rookie of the Year odds.  All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Basketball Podcast brought to you by LeagueSafe!

You can have $10 added to your fantasy league’s prizepool by going to leaguesafe.com/razzbasketball

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