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Previous “Jump Ball” articles:

9/19 – Russell Westbrook v Damian Lillard


San Antonio Spurs Team Chicago Bulls
SG, SF Position (Y! Eligibility) SG, SF
2014 Results
12th 9-Cat Rank (Total Value) 15th
6th 9-Cat Rank (Per Game) 8th
64 Games Played 65
31.8 Minutes Per Game 38.7
21.4 (T-93rd) Usage Rate (Rank) 20.6 (T-112th)
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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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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 Charlotte Hornets welcomed back Kemba Walker to their lineup on Wednesday evening. In 16 minutes off the bench, Walker posted 6 points, 2 assists, and 1 block in 16 minutes. It wasn’t the game we expect out of Walker, but he was going to be limited to 9 minutes per half and Coach Steve Clifford stuck to his word. Don’t be surprised if Walker continues to be on a minutes’ restriction and come off the bench through the weekend. It will take Walker a few games to get back into game shape.

Mo Williams started Wednesday’s game and continued his strong play of late, putting up 20 points and 8 assists. With Walker back, Williams will inevitably lose playing time. However, Williams should still hold some value. He’ll be a fine play through the next couple games, while Walker is on a minutes’ restriction.

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Man, at this rate Rudy Gobert might cost me a 2nd round pick!

“Rudy Gobert, the interior trance from France, the reason who is Parisian, the… the…” OK I’m out of boxer intro phrases.  He’s just really redonk good, going 19/22/2/0/4, just one point from a Goro!  And you can’t even say “just one more made FT” as he made all 3 of em!  8-11 FG, 3-3 FT, only one TO, and the Gobi desert has claimed the lives of another opposing frontline!

We all knew he’d be good, but I don’t think too many people thought he’d be this good.  Of those waiver-wire-added big men that have found their way to fantasy glory this year, I think it’s easily becoming Gobert as the front runner in 2015-16 Fantasy drafts.  You could say, he’s already working his way into my #1 sleeper glory hole.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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…It’s like the beginning of a 1950s B&W horror movie.  “As I recall it was a horror film!”

“…From the depths of the muck – ya know, that soft clay shizz at the bottom of a lake – comes the waiver-wired, until recently available in a ton of leagues, RODNEY STUCKEY!”

Monster game from R-Stuck, who gets to R-Stick it to a hot Reality-TV show wife, unquestioningly motivating him to a 34/6/7/1/1 line last night with an NBA Jam “he’s on fire!” 13-19 FG and 6 treys.  Just a redonk game in 31 bench minutes, especially since the Pacers started Damjan Rudez who couldn’t miss either, hitting 6-8 including 5-7 from deep.  It’s like the Pacers were playing on Fisher-Price baskets!  Although those “throwback” (well, just older, not too throwback) unis are schweet.  While a big game and all, Stuckey was averaging a monstrous 0.6 3PTM a game before last night, so a huge anomaly there.  1,000% more 3s!  And the dimes were an outlier as well, with only two games more than 6 before yesterday.  Anyone in the NBA can get hot on any given night, and Stuckey is a good low-to-mid-teens scorer ala that creeper who stayed home instead of going to college.  He’s fine as a last guy on your bench in 10 or 12ers, but I don’t think he’s someone to drop a stud for.  A great comment yesterday was Stuckey or Brandon Knight, who was spotted on crutches yesterday.  Yeah, unless you have a H2H week one bye, I’ll probably pick the guy who can currently walk.  Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy hoops action:

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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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Man, what an exciting trade deadline!  Thanks for checking out our Trade Deadline Live Post, where you can read about all the trades that went down yesterday

And off the emotional roller coaster of those deadline deals, the NBA is finally back after a week away.  I certainly need to consult my physician since it’s definitely lasting more than 4 hours…  Especially after seeing Serge Ibaka pull a Goro right out of the 2nd-half gate!  Twas an empty big man line, but 21/22/0/0/0 is a nice way to start a shortened week!  Hit 8-12 from the field and 5-6 FT which twill get it done.  Serge didn’t take a trey, and while he hit a few jumpers, look how much closer to the hoop his shot chart was:

Serge Ibaka Shot Chart

With Enes Kanter on his way to OKC to bring his own brand of mid-rangeness, I think Ibaka can look forward to a nice boost in FG%.  Sure it may cost him a trey here and there, but Serge should still seek shots from the seashore.  And while Kanter had his share of nice rebounding games with the Jazz, putting him out there for his mid-range O is going to help Serge’s post presence.  I really like the move for Ibaka’s value.  Here’s what else went down last night in our return to NBA action:

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