ante-zizic

So here we are again Razzball nation, another week down and another action packed weekend of NBA action just around the corner. The week has seen the good (James Harden putting up back-to-back 15 assist nights on Tuesday and Wednesday), the bad (injuries to Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Jeremy Lin, Will Barton and Ricky Rubio) and the ugly (Sam Dekker tripping over his own feet on a clear path to the basket to bounce the ball off his face).

Today I will be focusing on a somewhat specialist subject of mine: European basketball players plying their trade outside of the USA. Being European myself, and residing 50 miles south of London, my fascination for basketball in Euroleague and domestic leagues across Europe matches that of my love for the NBA and NCAA game (albeit, not doing my laptop much good with illegal streaming for domestic European league basketball from some questionable sites).

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Hello Razzballers!  Welcome to the inaugural edition of the “The Numbers Game”.  I know, plain vanilla title but hopefully there will be some interesting golden nuggets of actionable information each week for everyone.  And I promise to not make it sound as boring as Statistics class.

This weekly segment will dig a little deeper into some league, team and players stats WITHOUT (hopefully) having to use the words Standard Deviation, Z-Scores, and all those weird stat symbols.  Who needs those when we can all exchange friendly banter in the comments section, criticize coaches and go through the roller coaster ride we submit ourselves each NBA season in the comments section.

The season is young and therefore take all of these stats with a grain of salt.  Nothing like the lack of sample size to skew numbers as outliers can easily move the numbers.  There is also the subjective aspect of it–whether it be a coaching change (did I hear someone say Asshat?) or a major lineup change or even just a relatively higher number of back to back games so far.

So without further ado, let’s get down to the it. This is a grid provided by BBM to its readers.  You might want to open it up in another tab as you might want to look back at it while reading further below.

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We did it! YES WE CAN!! Make rankings great again! Oh man, I’m ready for election season to be over… But I’m even more ready to have my top 200 out into the world!

So I don’t really have a sound philosophy for these final ranks… We do all of our rankings for 12-team, 9-cat H2H, since that’s how we play our Razzball Commenter Leagues. Shameless promo time! We need more RCL Players out there in Razzball Nation! Just follow that link and either start up or join an open league today! Anywho, in a 12-team RCL league (13 roster spots), you’re only drafting 156 players, so most of these ranks are guys you’re not drafting. Do I rank guys all as sleepers for your final pick? I’m not sure that really helps anyone. So the final ranks here are a blend of sleeper potential, and possible last-roster-spot-usability for a specific build. Is Arron Afflalo REALLY going to be your last pick? Meh, probably not, but maybe he has a hot month and it could be the first month! You never know… If you’re still catching up, check out all our ranks in the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50, Top-75, Top-100 & Top 150 which you can also find linked above in the 2016-17 Ranks menu. Here’s our final big rankings post, the Top 200 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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We’re officially at a crossroads! We push all the way to the triple-digits and protrude into the late rounds. That’s a weird word, protrude. Sounds like a scene title from the Anchorman DVD when Will Ferrell complains about the pleats… Hey, I’ve written 100 ranks now, don’t act like you’re not impressed!

Get ready to be impressed by links! Here’s my Top-10, Top-25, Top-50 & Top-75 if you’re still catching up. Ranks, ranks, ranks! And with us now getting to the top 100, I’m sure we’re going to start seeing a lot of comments about guys that fell off the horse. I just double-checked myself looking at Yahoo’s ranks for the first time, and they have someone top-40 that I didn’t even rank yet! Lunacy… Here’s the Top 100 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Ahhh, the early mid-rounds. This is where you can really start zagging when owners want you to zig, or zig when they wanna zag, or just be a total Zags homer and draft Adam Morrison for the hell of it! Stupid Jordan picks…

So here we start vaulting into some of the bolder calls, where hopefully you don’t say “stupid JB picks”… I finally start going an island with a few calls, particularly some saucy PF-types. Choo choo! “Know what I’m SAYIN’!!!” Uh oh, I am starting to go delirious with the rankings already… I feel like Russell Crowe in that forest outhouse with magazine clippings everywhere. “What did Oladipo say in Slam Magazine about playing with Westbrook?!” Enough foreplay! You can check out the Top-10 and Top-25 though some clickage right there, and here’s the Top 50 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:

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Man, crazypants Thursday night!  I know what you’re all thinking…  “A live reaction to the madness would be better!”  Well, hopefully you downloaded and listened to our Draft Day Live Podcast!  If not, listen to it while reading this if you have a fluky-good, multi-tasking mind.  It’s tough for me to read while listening to a Podcast, it’s like that feeling when someone just starts shouting random numbers at you when you’re trying to count.  1-2-3-4-5 “17!” 6-7-8 “22!” 8… 8…  ugh, I lost my spot!  Assholes…

The first 9 picks went fairly unsurprisingly, although we did miss on virtually everything in our Mock Draft.  Pretty sure I beat Slim 2-1 overall (edit – ugghhhh Slim’s right he got Zizic, we tied, ahhhhh!)!  Then when the Bucks made their 10th pick…  All hell broke loose!  Dudes I joked around about as 2nd round sleepers getting picked in the lottery, Suns making baller trades, someone’s twitter getting hacked…  Oh wait, that was the NFL draft.  I guess it wasn’t quite THAT crazy!  Here’s my analysis for each rookie’s fantasy impact, along with my grade for each team’s pick in a real-life context and my guess at where each rookie will rank in my 2016-17 redraft rankings to come out this summer:

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Well, kids…we have officially entered the NBA silly season.

Coaches for teams locked into the post-season are only too happy to rest their starters, as evidenced Tuesday by LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka all receiving healthy DNPs.

Coaches for teams destined for the lottery are exercising extreme caution with future core players, as seen last night with the Nets’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson & Thaddeus Young getting a precautionary rest day, and franchise center Brook Lopez sitting for the entire second half of a blowout loss.

Even teams not in action on Tuesday were making headlines by shutting down players or announcing their plans to rest star players periodically as the 2015-2016 season draws to a close. DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday have all been added to the “shutdown watch” list. (And in Jrue’s case, you can officially stick a fork in him. He’s done.)

Additionally, DeMarre Carroll suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery and won’t be of use to fantasy players until next year, Nikola Vucevic can’t get cleared to return from what was believed to be a mild groin strain, and the starting Philly frontcourt of Nerlens Noel & Jerami Grant is going to be treated with kids’ gloves due to knee injuries.

It’s bad, folks. It’s real, real bad.

Thankfully for fans of the NBA and fantasy owners grinding through the final days of their season, a select few professional basketball players did, in fact, decide to earn their pay checks last night. Let’s take a look at who shined brightest, who fell short of expectations, and who else made waves on a six-game Tuesday slate.

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Perhaps no player since the great Oscar Robertson has felt like such a nightly threat to record a triple-double than Russell Westbrook. Lately, when the Thunder point guard takes the court on any given night, you’re expecting huge production. You can just tell how much he wants it. He is a special player with an unparalleled combination of aggression and talent…and it was on full display on Tuesday night.

For the third game in a row and the sixth time this month, Russell Westbrook poured in double-digit points, grabbed double-digit rebounds, and handed out double-digit assists. He finished Tuesday’s home win with 21, 13 & 15.

After Tuesday’s game, Westbrook now has March averages (11 games) of: 20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.

The remarkable thing though, is that Russ is ranked 54th for 9-category per-game fantasy value this month, due in large part to 4.7 turnovers per game and a high-volume .408 mark from the field. This is a perfect illustration of how eye-popping numbers can be misleading when gauging a player’s actual value to your team. In contrast, Kawhi Leonard is a full 50 ranking spots ahead of Westbrook this month with more modest averages of 22.7/7.4/2.9. But when you add in a .495 shooting percentage and only 1.6 TOs, the valuation swings wildly in his favor.

So while Russell Westbrook is posting trip-dub after trip-dub, it’s prudent for fantasy owners to keep in mind exactly what goes into the making of a star in the real world versus the fantasy world as this 2015-2016 season comes to an end.

Let’s take a look at some of the other note-worthy performers on a quiet four-game Tuesday night in the NBA…

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Lob City was alive in well in Houston on Wednesday. Chris Paul was throwing DeAndre Jordan alley-oops left and right. By halftime, Paul already had 11 assists. He finished the blowout with 15 points and 16 assists, while Jordan added 23 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan even shot over 50% from the FT line (7-13 FT, but not by much!). J.J. Redick also knocked down 5-9 from the 3PT line to finish with 25 points. It was all Clippers from the beginning and the Rockets just couldn’t find an answer.

James Harden did his usual thing, trying to carry the disappointing Rockets, but it wasn’t enough. He finished with 33 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Big men Dwight Howard (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Clint Capela (3 points, 3 rebounds) were rendered useless against Jordan. The only other bright spots for the Rockets were Trevor Ariza (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 threes) and newly acquired forward, Michael Beasley, who scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench. Coming over from China, Beasley makes a good waiver wire add for all teams.

The Rockets started the season with lofty expectations, but are currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the 7th playoff spot. If they finish 7th or 8th, they’ll end up playing the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors in the first round of playoffs, something that nobody wants to do.

The Warriors, by the way, won their 50th straight game at home on Wednesday, dismantling the New York Knicks by 36. Stephen Curry hit 8 threes and scored 34 points (6 rebounds and 4 assists), before sitting out the 4th quarter of the blowout.

I don’t think anyone saw the Warriors playing on an historic level or the Rockets playing this poorly at the beginning of the season, but that’s why you play the game!

Now onto the other nightly notables:

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You’d think a team decimated by injuries would throw in the towel. Not the case with the Bulls. Already missing Jimmy Butler (left knee strain), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), and Joakim Noah (shoulder surgery), Derrick Rose was a last-minute scratch due to right hamstring tendinitis. The Bulls won anyways, their third straight victory.

Playing alongside a makeshift lineup, Pau Gasol played through the flu, just missing a triple-double with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. While it wasn’t Michael Jordan’s flu game, it was a still a pretty strong line.

Even with the Bulls’ starters ailing, there is value to be had on the roster. Under-owned guys like Taj Gibson (17/7/7), E’Twaun Moore (17 points and 3 rebounds), and Doug McDermott (14/5/2), can and should be relied upon down the stretch for both the Bulls and your fantasy teams. McBuckets also had the dunk of the night.

They won’t win you a championship on their own, but don’t overlook lesser named (and owned) guys during your playoff push.

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