Jump Ball A Matty Series PNG

Piggy-backing off of Slim’s (in?)famous “Slim vs. Slim” series of years past, I’m going to be writing a number of articles pitting two players with similar ADPs against one another. The format will be slightly different, but the goal remains the same – provide fantasy owners some food for thought to better inform their decision if faced with these two players come draft day. It’s not a groundbreaking idea across the fantasy sports spectrum, but I’ve always found it to be a good way to help avoid a coin toss scenario once the clock starts ticking. So in lieu of a long-winded introduction, let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we?

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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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Ah, the late-round fliers!  Which I think is “fliers”.  A lot of the time, I almost write it “flyers”.  Zach LaVine is a late round flyer!  Eesh, being a married man makes you start getting reallllll corny with the jokes.

So as I’ve mentioned a few times getting through the top 100 (Rank 1-10 | Rank 11-20 | Rank 21-50 | Rank 51-75 | Rank 76-100), there just isn’t many warm bodies out there to call “JB’s late sleepers”.  And, well, a lot of that is because I have guys that are ranked in the 100s on Yahoo and ESPN in my mid-rounds (cough, Jordan Clarkson – ESPN 99 Yahoo 144, what the hey?! aherm, cough cough – I’ve caught the plague!), while just as much is the lack of sexy rookies in good situations.  Jahlil Okafor is awful for fantasy.  D’Angelo Russell loves talking 401ks with Josh Smith by the turnovers at the breakfast buffet.  Stanley Johnson looks awesome, but Detroit has a bigger wing mix than Bdubs.  Asian zing – that one my jam!

With these final rounds of players, it’s also important to factor in league size.  These ranks are [hoping to tailor] for a 12-team league, so I’ll reach for a tad more upside the later we go than go for stability.  Tristan Thompson is going to be mad consistent for some points and boards for the very deep leagues, but lordy he’ll be unownable in a 12er.  You’re fired!  Can’t believe this Trump stuff is still going on…  Anyway, here’s the Top 150 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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With an ADP of 68.6 in drafts all the way back in 2014, Jimmy Butler has been an absolute revelation and made all his fantasy owners rich with value.  “Butler, I need some extra steals!  A couple more blocks!  Some artisan cheese!”  And the trusty ol’ Butler would always deliver.

Unfortunately, all that caviar and pancetta piled on that silver serving plate really wore down the Butler’s elbow, and Jimmy Buckets is going to miss 3-4 weeks.  Hey, on the bright side this is the NBA and not a year-long pitcher injury!  So the billion dollar question – to drop or not to drop JB?  Well don’t drop me!  I’d try to hold where I could.  I’d much rather have JB at the end of my bench than stashes of Kemba Walker or Paul George.  Even in 10ers, I think I’d probably hold on as most Jimmy Buckets teams are doing pretty well.

In his stead, the vastly improved Tony Snell should get the tiger’s share of minutes.  He’s greeeeeeeeeat!  I don’t think he’s a must-own in even 12ers though, since he’s a semi-ThrAGNOF with steals upside.  Not that I don’t like him!  But I would say a little better FG%/FT% version of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  The real interesting addition to me is Nikola Mirotic, who should get a lot of run while Taj Gibson is out at least another week.  And with Butler gone, maybe he gets a handful of SF minutes here and there, even though it hasn’t gone that well when experimenting with that before…  But experiments take a lot of tries before they go right!  Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Oh man, Russell Westbrook has turned into Oscar Robertson meets Michael Jordan!  It’s like the first time you heard your favorite off-the-radar album, you’re like, “it sounds like Godspeed You! Black Emperor meets Between the Buried and Me on acid!”  And right at the end of yet another tripdub with monster scoring Friday night (40/13/11), Andre Roberson pulled a Van Damme from Kickboxer and kneed the shizz outta RW’s face.  Friggin’ Roberson and his fat knees!  After the game, the fashion photographers were like, “Russell, show me your good side, no no the other way, give me Le Tigre!  Ferrari!  MAGNUM!”

Luckily facial reconstruction for face dents doesn’t include a long healing period; maybe they just went in under the skin and used a Pops A Dent!  It’s been reported he could’ve even come back yesterday if it were the playoffs.  I’d guess he’ll miss another game or two, but looks like we dodged a bullet.  More like, Westbrook’s cheek caught the bullet, just it bounced off his Adamantium!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Well, one outta three of the letters in MCW is in efficient…  That makes sense seeing as he usually shoots 33%!

In his debut for the Bucks, Michael Carter-Williams looked solid against his former Sixers for 7/0/8/2/0 in only 17 and a half minutes.  All with only one TO!  Shot 3-5 from the field, did split his two FT, but a mad efficient game in his new colors.  Off the toe sprain, I’m not surprised his minutes were kept in check as the Bucks unsurprisingly took it to the Sixers.  Full tank!  Yesterday on the Podcast, Slim said even a great game wouldn’t have him change his MCW valuation too much, and he’s the logical one.  But I’m antsy and loved what I saw!  I don’t think he’s suddenly the top-50 guy I thought he’d be, but I think he’ll keep the %s in check with that decent MIL supporting cast, and he won’t make you want to kill yourself.  And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is…. Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball:

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So ya know, sometimes it’s good to be late to the party.  Ya get to seem like you had a lot of more important shizz to do, if it’s lame it won’t matter as much if you dipset early…  If only that principle worked in fantasy analysis!

After a fantastic weekend, the buzz to go and grab Terrence Jones was like a hot party right in its peak.  “New York’s hottest new club is JELLY BONES!  Located on the Lower Upper Side, this random home invasion is the creation of legally drunk clothing designer Nick Nolte and Gabana. As you walk in, you’ll be handed a glass of champagne – or is it piss?”  With the Rockets hesitancy to stretch him out, adding Josh Smith back in the day, and the return of Dwight Howard at some point, I was like, “F that shizz, sounds like a lame sausage party!”  But Houston put TJones in the starting line-up last night, and he went straight Nolte for 15/15/0/1/2 making 6-9 FG.  He’s kinda looked like what the optimistic Kenneth Faried backers were hoping for!  Plus he can hit threes!  Now a must-own in all leagues, and I certainly would be dropping Manimal for him.  That said, when Dwight is back, it might not be as rockin’ as JELLY BONES at midnight.  It could be another month before Dwight is out there though, so TJones my Jelly Bones!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy NBA action:

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It’s always nice to see the deep league guys you love turn into Mr. Planters and go nuts!

After 22 minutes, many of which trying to play through it, Jimmy Butler finally waved the white flag and checked out with a shoulder injury.  He first hurt it last Sunday, and that black tape stuff (that I still don’t completely understand how it works) didn’t keep Buckets’ shoulder together.  Maybe the black tape is more a statement.  Like, “Yeah brah, I got a jacked up shoulder but I’m still gonna go ham!”  Either way, it opened up some huge run for Tony Snell, playing 41 minutes.  And they were 41 heat check minutes!  Made his first 6 from the field including 4 treys, ending up with a career-high 24 points in a 9-11 FG (4-6 3PTM 2-2 FT) 24/2/2/1/0 line with no TO.  Snell going full Mr. Planters!  Even with Mike Dunleavy returning after nearly a month-and-a-half off, you can’t suppress the sense of Snell!  I keed of course, this is an anomaly type of game, but Butler could easily get tomorrow night off against the Cavs to rest that shoulder through the ASB making Snell a very interesting end-of-the-short-week streamer (only the one game Thursday night).  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy NBA action:

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Man, who woulda thought the Bucks without Brandon Knight (sat with minor injuries) would’ve been able to beat the Raptors last night?!  I figured that big Jurassic Park reboot trailer during the Super Bowl would have pumped the Raps up!  Well, I guess Canadians don’t really watch the Super Bowl, so their loss!

And while the 82-75 win was a defensive grinder, it didn’t slow down that impressive O from The Duchess K Middleton!  25/9/1/3/0 for Khris Middleton, hitting 10-17 FG (3-4 3PTM 2-2 FT) and only 1 TO.  All that with Jorge Gutierrez as the fill-in starting PG!  It didn’t matter though, since they had a JB waiting in the wings as well…  But more there later.  With 25 Pts last night, K-Midd is 17+ points in 4 of 5 and 3+ treys in 4 of 5.  And multi-steals in 4 of 5 for good measure as well!  Even though a lot of the counting stats are lower than the breakout last year, so are the minutes and the %s are much better.  But my favorite leap is 1.0 steals in 30 minutes last year to a whopping 1.5 in only 26 this year.  The Duchess is secretly a world-class thief!  I think Keira Knightley could star in that movie.  Larry Drew could be the evil drug lord!  Maybe Ersan Ilyasova can be a Turkish arms dealer.  The script is writing itself!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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