You aren’t going to find too many elite fantasy basketball assets sitting on an NBA bench. You’re going to find them on a 50’ wide by 94’ long stretch of hardwood, running their shoes tread-bare.

Fantasy production or “numbers” – essentially the only thing you’re mining for as you prepare for your drafts – is what results from the beautiful union between talent and opportunity.

Talent with limited opportunity (think: Jonas Valanciunas) leaves you with little choice but to sit back and wonder what could have been. Conversely, all the opportunity in the world afforded to players short on talent (I’m looking at you, Courtney Lee) has you questioning why you’re tending to vines that bear no fruit.

Unfortunately, in the world of the National Basketball Association, opportunity is usually held to a finite number each night – and that number is 240. Two hundred and forty minutes is all a given team can distribute amongst its roster during a regulation game. (For our purposes here today we’ll refrain from delving into the impact of overtime/multi-overtime games adding to the pool of minutes, though it does obviously impact the calculus.)

With NBA coaches now regularly employing rotations of nine and 10 men, there are very few players (regardless of talent, youth and good health) who are asked to play more than 75% of a game. In point of fact, during the 2014/2015 NBA season a grand total of six players averaged over 36 minutes of court time. Go just one year farther back and that number jumps to 16. The 12-13 campaign? 22 such players eclipsed the 36 MPG mark and seven ran for over 38 minutes a night. And to really put things into perspective – less than a decade ago we saw nine players average 40 minutes, with the kicker being that none of them missed more than 10 games.

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Stromile Swift here; I will hopefully be bringing you some weekly 8-cat information to Razzball this season. The below article relates to 8-cat Roto leagues – I’ve always played 8-cat leagues and prefer no turnovers, as I feel it can sometimes punish the elite players. Below are some of my value picks that will hopefully help win 8-cat championships.  Please feel free to comment on any of the article below and I’ll respond to all and sundry.  I’m very excited to join the team and look to develop my skills as a writer and commenter on Razzball.

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So we’re out of the top-50, it’s time to start playing it riskier!  Although, there’s still some pretty boring vets in this range, but it’s mainly because they have to go somewhere…  Kinda like those stupid sheep tiles in Catan.  Man, I hate that game…  It’s glorified dice without the money, and replace swagger with my nerd friend saying “mad sheep-game!” every time his hotel gets some sheep cards…  Worst game ever.

Anyway, it’s cliche to say “you can win your leagues with strong mid-round breakouts”, so I’ll just say “it certainly helps getting your mid-round picks right than getting busts!”  Oh man, if that’s not award winning analysis, I don’t know what is…  Here’s the Top 75 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Mid-rounds – when it starts getting tricky!  And when personal biases and a soft spot for Latin Lovers can creep into your thoughts and dreams!

You don’t have to look far to see that I covet upside youth as early as the 20s, with a few gut calls that could make or break my 15-16.  As long as MCW isn’t in there!  One thing I’ve found over last year is there seems to be pretty good talent and upside through the mid-40s, so as long as everyone in your league isn’t going for a FT punt, you should be able to get through 3-4 rounds with your desired build and a few fitting options each pick.  Enough wankery, we want ranks already! Here’s the Top 50 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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The NBA really is Jordan Belfort.  The Wolf of Fantasy Sports!  It’s tantric and never slows down, from the Finals ending less than two weeks before the draft, free agency hitting a week later and we’re already starting summer ball.  And the NBA will soon revel in the excess that is the 16-17 salary cap boost with a TV deal that put Seinfeld reruns to shame.  I need my ludes to get me through!

Even the Spurs couldn’t avoid the world of excess and massive free agency signings, bringing in LaMarcus Aldridge for a cool $80 million.  Loosening up the purse strings!  My first thought was, “dammit, Kawhi is never gonna be the guy!”  Then again, he got over $90 mil with his extension, so there’s that!  But Kawhi Leonard sometimes struggles with the mid-range and long-distance shooting, so L.A. should help Kawhi by opening up some lanes and keeping him in his game.  This is going to be a crazy offense, with Tim Duncan moving to center and likely being his solid old self.  Which leaves us with what to expect from Aldridge…  And, me no likey for fantasy.  After being really durable early in his career, he’s had a few bumps and bruises (I know, I know, playing through a torn thumb tendon gets mad props) and the Spurs – as we all know – love to limit the minutes.  I also don’t think he quite gets to 20 shots a game like we’ve seen the past few years.  I had him 20 in my way too early rankings, but the move drops him a few spots at the least.  L.A. in S.A. is not OK!  Here’s what else has gone on through the first few days of free agency and rookie ball:

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The nitty gritty!  Oh man, ranking an early Top 50 before the draft and free agency is a bigger fool’s errand than hiring the Clippers a FT coach.  Especially since DeAndre Jordan might go to the Mavs!  Cuban will use some sort of Shark Tank invention to help him out at the stripe.  Flubber 2!

We’ve gone through the Top 10 and Top 20 for our early 2015-16 ranks, but 21-50 certainly gets interesting.  My biggest takeaway is the sheer depth at PG.  Almost every team will have a fantasy-viable PG (cough, not the Bucks, cough) so it’s a position to fill up on in the mid rounds.  Sure I’d like to start with one of the top 10 overall elite guys, but I’m likely filling up on a wing and a big, then it’s time to go with the sides.  Mmmmm, this is sounding like a great KFC order…  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 50 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Everyone put on their big boy, triple-double pants last night, that’s for sure!  Imagine the same pants Fat Albert would wear…  With extra room built in for his Prince Albert!

First there was Bootstraps Bootstraps (!!), Evan Turner raising fantasy-owners’ Jolly Rogers for his patented tripdub with nothing else.  13/11/12/0/0 on 6-17 FG with one trey.  But hey, a tripdub is a tripdub – and only 1 TO!  Then, just a few minutes later, Boogie was like,”Ello Poppet!”  Miss Turner was easily upstaged by DeMarcus Cousins, who had one of the best lines on the season.  Tripdub?  Check.  Goromotaro?  Check.  Rainbow line?  Check.  Double rainbow line?  Almost!  24/21/10/3/6, but did only hit 2-6 FT.  And Beard may have upstaged EVEN THAT himself in that game, but more later…  Then Russell Westbrook went into double-digits with his triple-doubles!  31/11/11 for his 10th tripdub, but took him a bajillion shots for 10-32 FG (2-11 3PTM 9-11 FT).  Man, just a great night of NBA basketball, and hopefully your championship teams reaped the rewards from this all-you-can eat stats buffet.  A few more nights like this, and we’ll forget all about the tanking and DNP-rest issues impacting the NBA!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Fractions.  Math.  It’s hard…

Kinda like variables…  Is it IT2?!  Is it IT3?!  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Apparently it’s “IT2” when alluding to his non-related, same-named NBA legend Isiah Thomas.  For like a year I thought Isaiah Thomas was legit his son!  But then Thomas flashed the “IT3” nickname because he…  shoots a lot of 3s?  Eesh.  Originality is lacking!  So I have officially donned him IT2/3 to solve all the confusion, and to reference his diminutive size.

After returning from elbow and back injuries, IT2/3 was atrocious last Wednesday for 4 Pts and 3 TO against the Heat.  I was passing on him in at least 2/3 of comments!  But IT2/3 had a monster weekend with 18/1/6 and 19/0/7 lines with a combined 17-19 at the stripe.  Getting a foul called on 2/3 of his drives!  Certainly a must-own down the stretch, it has also made Marcus Smart a dumpster fire.  Hopefully those of you still alive in Razzball Nation ignored my 2/3-of-the-time wrong advice and can ride IT2/3 through the H2H Finals!  Here’s what else happened over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Playoffs? Unlike Jim Mora, there’s no question it’s playoff time. With the season almost over, tough decisions and moves need to be made. A guy that helped you during the regular season may not be helpful now. You’re trying to win a championship and there are only so many weeks left in the season to accomplish that. Hopefully your team is healthy, but if not, here’s an update on the latest injuries:

Dwight Howard returned for the Houston Rockets, after missing 26 games with swelling in his right knee. In 16 minutes as a starter, Howard recorded 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. Howard only played 16 minutes because of a minutes’ restriction, rather than because of foul trouble (he had 4 fouls in the game).

This is definitely good news for the Rockets and fantasy owners’ playoff runs. Each game, Howard should see his minutes rise, but it probably won’t be another week or so until he’s back to playing full minutes. Even then, he may sit a game or two if he feels any discomfort or the Rockets decide to rest him for the playoffs. This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me, since Howard has been limited to 33 games this season. The Rockets want to be careful with him.

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Well, I can’t say I haven’t been steadfast (double negative police!) about my Dwight Howard hatred…  Look at that rock bottom red right there!

And with Dwight coming back from his knee injury and the precursing news of his return, I have said I wouldn’t add him in virtually any 10 or 12ers.  I don’t trust the minutes, and after giving Slim a 19 minutes over/under for Dwight’s return on the Pod, he only went for 16:27 putting up 4/7/2/0/1 with a TO.  At least he stayed off the FT line!  After we had started the Pod, McHale said he was only giving Dwight 16 minutes, just enough to be sure his TO and FT% wouldn’t hurt fantasy teams.  I may have been liberal with McHale’s quote for that last part…  In 8-cat or non-FT% leagues I guess he probably should be scooped up, but he’ll probably sit back-to-backs and the Rockets have a pair left on the schedule with Sun/Mon and Wed/Thurs games this upcoming week.  Get your sales ready, Big & Tall, we got a bigun needing more street clothes!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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