UPDATED: 10/9/2017

Man, you guys don’t even know. There’s been a mob outside my house every night for the past two weeks carrying tiki torches and screaming, “We want the Top 200 with stats!” Or at least I think that’s what they were saying. Anyways, big shout out to Rudy who waved his magic wand and created the beautiful looking spreadsheet below. It even sorts. Here is Rudy in his lab:

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There are a ton of elite point guards that will be taken in the first three rounds of your draft. From Russell Westbrook to Mike Conley, there are not enough guys to go around for everybody. Okay, maybe there are, but nobody in any league I’ve ever been in was into sharing. There are even elite wings that will get you point-guard-like assists. This is mainly Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, but can even apply to guys like Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler.

But what happens if you’re picking in round 3 and you haven’t gotten an elite assist getter yet?

Do you panic? No.

Do you reach? Not for a point guard, but maybe for your beer (unless it’s Bud Light– if it’s Bud Light you throw that shit in the trash and re-evaluate.)

This is where you can adopt the “punt assist” strategy. This punt strategy often gets overlooked by more common punting strategies such as punting free throws, but it’s very helpful if the assist dominoes don’t fall in your favour the first few rounds. Here are some guys to target if you decide to go down the punt assist route, and how your team should shape up by the end of the draft.

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FIVE… DAYS. The NBA “offseason” has kept us almost constantly entertained with a loaded draft, free agency rumors, the best summer league ever, and multiple superstar trades. But, it’s time for some real, official action. And by that, I mean actual stats that count in our fantasy leagues, of course. This season, more than any other, I’m just a huge fan of the entire NBA and my fantasy teams. You see, I’m a longtime Bulls fan. And while I’m an optimist that’s been quite obsessed with the Sixers rebuild and their amazing potential, the Bulls have messed up their tank job in half a dozen ways prior to even getting it off the ground. So, I’m really itching for some Lonzo outlets, CP3-to-Capela lobs, and an unexpected six-steal game from my most recent free agent acquisition. Let’s get going already with this new crop of talent!

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Last week, I talked about ways to find advantages by removing certain stats your team doesn’t need for various reasons and shuffling up player values so you have a better idea of who’s actually the most helpful for your team during drafts. That’ll be a theme as the season goes on, because it really leads us to trades that can help us a ton, while helping the other team enough that they pull the trigger. But we’ve got another weekend of drafting to go, so I’ve compiled a list of a few more places to take advantage of what I see as market inequities. If you’ve already drafted, maybe this can spark some trade proposal ideas, too.

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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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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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The text came in: “We doing the basketball league again this year?”

While fantasy basketball is greater even than sliced bread, it can get a bit stale… uh, like the much vaunted bread. It was October, many years ago, and my league of high school buddies, with a few buddies of buddies having replaced original buddies that had dropped out (you know how it goes), was feeling way less awesome than a fantasy basketball league should. The half that paid close attention rose to the top every year. It was time, yet again, to wonder if the auto-drafters that only made a handful of moves and never responded to trade proposals would sign up again so we could at least fill out the league… yawn.

This year’s unofficial season-opening text came in: “Zizic is tearin’ it up, even after the trade to Darussafaka. *You chumps are toast next year.”

*actual trash-talk was likely dirtier and more clever.

But this was in January. And we truly cared about Ante Zizic’s line in a Turkish league. This was much better.

How did we get there? How do you light a fire under your league-mates hot enough to send them on an adrenaline-fueled, non-literal, Jerian Grant-over-that-dude-from-G-Tech-ian trip to the rack?

Hi, my name is Tad, and I’m a new writer here. I’m a bball geek and a statistical nerd. My goal is to provide you with as many advantages as possible so that you can win your league(s) and love fantasy basketball more than ever, even if you don’t. I’m going to run the numbers for you and show you where you can get an edge in drafts, trades, and acquisitions. Let’s start with a relatively simple example. Using last year’s ESPN 8-Category Player Rater data, adjusted for a free throw punt team, you might only be mildly surprised to learn that LeBron James was the 2nd most valuable player on a per game basis. But, can you believe that, per game, Dwight Howard would have been more valuable to your team than Isaiah Thomas or Kyrie Irving? And, you probably could’ve gotten LeBron and Dwight for Isaiah at just about any point last season once Mr. Irrelevant took it to MVP-candidate levels. Hopefully, I’ll also inspire you to run some numbers of your own so that you can customize player values to your specific leagues and teams. But this week, as the season draws near, I first want to get you and your league more excited and invested than you’ve been in a while.

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Whew. 100 down. 100 to go. It’s been a helluva ride, but we almost there. This is where things get really interesting, as it’s a group where some starters still reside, but is mostly populated with bench players. Do you go with a specialist or someone that contributes across the board? Decisions decisions.

Yes! I’m freaking pumped now. Go do your thing right now! I’m going to finish this post then run like Forrest Gump.

If you missed them, here are the links for:

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Since 1988, the year that Charlotte was blessed with a NBA presence, the team has had 32 first-round picks in the draft. There have been some good ones: Larry Johnson, Alozo Mourning, Baron Davis, Kemba Walker, and Kobe Bryant. Ouch. That last one must hurt for Charlotte fans. There have been some horrible ones: Adam Morrison. Is this where a mic drop is appropriate? Anyways, out of all the 32 first-rounders that the Hornets/Bobcats have selected over the years, Cody Zeller may be in the top-tier for most valuable. What what? Zeller missed 20 games last season. In those games, the Hornets went 3-17. In terms of ORtg difference, Kemba was +10.1. Zeller? +10.4. Nicolas Batum was the next closest with a +3.7. Ladies and gentlemen, your Charlotte Hornets.

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It’s been a while since the East has boasted a better division than the West, but even when you spot a lowly East team a big lead on a West team, nothing is safe!  Russell Westbrook just went insane (I would too if the Magic were beating my playoff bound team!) in the OKC comeback charge, turning around a 21-point deficit during the second half on his way to a 57/13/11/3/0 line.  He shot 21-40 from the field with 6 treys, just willing OKC to the W after this dramatic 3 to get it into OT.

Good thing Nikola Vucevic can’t hit his FT!  Westbrook took the missed freebie board, and no Magic was gonna stop him…  Take that, Voldemort!  It’s come to pass as just the norm, but at 31.8/10.6/10.4, it looks like Westbrook is going to easily average the tripdub, something I really didn’t think we’d ever see again.  Hopefully you built your team around his deficiencies fairly well, because man he’s tough to beat if you can slaughter the right cats.  Westy is your besty!  What an unbelievable season,  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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In a battle for real life playoff implications, Hassan Whiteside tipped in Goran Dragic’s missed putback to give the Heat a 97-96 win:

It was just the tip, but sometimes that’s all you need, as the Heat went up a game on the Bulls and 2.5 games ahead of the Pistons for the final playoff spot in the east. Whiteside finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Dragic added 28/4/4 on 9-16 shooting.

Oddly enough, it was the Heat’s first game-winning buzzer-beater since 2013, when a little known player by the name of LeBron James beat the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With the playoffs in full swing, every game matters, so here are the rest of your nightly notables:

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