If you’re looking for intro material, check out yesterday’s post regarding the Eastern Conference All-Star team. If click and reading isn’t your thing, here’s a quick refresher:

The task was to assemble a 12-man ballot comprised of 3 Guards, 3 Forwards, 2 Centers, and 4 Flex positions with 9-category scoring (points, boards, dimes, steals, swats, turnovers, three-pointers made, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage) in mind. Votes were cast and write-ups were, uh, written up by the Razzball basketball staff.

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Flashback, if you will, to about three weeks ago — it was colder, snowier, and darker then, I’m sure you remember it — when I reached out to Son with an idea.

Mr. Hooper: I’ve got three words for you, Son: the 2020-2021 Razzball Writers Fantasy Basketball All-Star Team. We’ve got some sharp players in this corner of the Razzverse. Why don’t we poll the writers and have them submit ballots? We can tally the votes, form our own super team, and then present our readers with a fantasy basketball All-Star team from each conference. It will be great!

Son: That’s a lot more than three words, Hoop, but as long as you do the polling and tabulating and writing, I won’t stop you.

How do you not love a guy like that? Such inspiring stuff. Flashforward past doing some research and a half dozen emails about Google Forms and then a few more about Google Sheets, and poof! We’ve got a couple of All-Star teams for you to enjoy/critique/grouse about.

Before we do the big reveal, a few notes about what exactly we’ve done here. The task was to fill out a 12-man ballot for each conference that has: 3 Guards, 3 Forwards, 2 Centers, and 4 Flex positions. It’s also important to keep in mind that we were using 9-category scoring (points, boards, dimes, steals, swats, turnovers, three-pointers made, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage) when punching our ballots. Because it was a collaborative effort to construct each team, I also enlisted my fellow writers to share their thoughts about their favorite All-Stars.

Observant readers will notice that we ended up with more than 12 Eastern Conference All-Stars. It turns out the Leastern Conference is actually pretty stacked (check out Keith’s piece exploring the why) and when it came to the final two flex spots we found ourselves with a five-way tie. Because this is a for-fun exercise and I didn’t have the foresight to create a tie-breaker, we decided to expand the bench and bring all our favorites on board (plus we needed to find a way to get Julius Randle onto this team so Vas could cook.) In this case, asterisks are not scarlet letters for PED users, but signifiers that the player listed was part of that five-way deadlock.

Without further ado, Razzball readers, here are your Eastern Conference Fantasy All-Stars!

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Andre Drummond is THE prime example of why fantasy value is not equal to real-life value. When you look at his stats, with career averages of 13.8 REB, 1.4 STL, and 1.5 BLK you think you are looking at the best rebounder in the game and an elite defensive player. Surely this guy must be an elite player and perennial All-Star! The reality is far from that. First off, he is a player who is a non-factor from behind the arc, dismal from the free-throw line, and he doesn’t even have elite efficiency on his 2-point attempts. This year, his effective field goal percentage sits at a dismal 47.4%. This is ranked 118th in the league among qualifiers, below Kelly Oubre Jr. even with Oubre’s dismal start. Even though he is nowhere near the type of player any NBA team should be running their offense through in the modern game, he constantly demands the ball, putting his usage rate at 30.8%, higher than Kawhi Leonard, De’Aaron Fox, and Nikola Jokic. Simply put, he plays like he is Hakeem Olujawon when his skill level is that of Charlotte Hornets Dwight Howard. These, along with his bloated contract are the primary reasons why his real-life value is very low, and why his situation is causing serious uncertainty for his fantasy owners.

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Mason Plumlee: With Flake Griffin sitting, it’s the point center show in the Motor City.  This savvy Dukie can wheel and deal, pound and confound, folks.  Underrated center in the Association, who by the way has raised his FT% to 67%, which doesn’t sound like much, but up from career average of 56%.  See, old dogs CAN learn new trix.  Shhh, he taught Joker all he knows.  Case in point, 10 assists with only 1 turnover!

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OK, OK, I’m sure if you’re a regular Razzball reader, you’re staring at this article and thinking, “I picked up Immanuel Quickley off the waiver wire like 6 weeks ago.” And then you probably dropped him or forgot about your team or maybe never started him. Because now we’re into fantasy baseball season and Quickley is rostered in a measly 27% percent of leagues. I was about to drop an article on a guy who was rostered in 2% of leagues and then I saw Quickley next to said anonymous player, and thought to myself, “Sure would be nice to have a day drink right about now.” Then I thought about checking how many people roster Quickley. Yeah, none of you! So, let’s check in on the Knicks [waits for laughing to stop].

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As we approach the All-Star break it is likely increasingly difficult to find value either in a trade or off the wire. No matter what format you play in, be it weekly, head to head, or rotisserie, one of my favourite strategies is unearthing a player who is playing below their potential and executing a deal to obtain said player.

At this point in the season, rosters become hard-wired and GMs may exercise patience with their underperforming player as they have a large sample size of production to reference. However, if you are persistent and do your due diligence you will discover value in your league. This column’s intent is to be a curator of sorts, doing some of that research for you to deliver a player that I believe can be a positive contributor to your team and help increase your position as you move towards your championship aspirations.

My hope for you is that this player is one you are able to obtain before the break and have with you for the second half of the season.

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I would like to dedicate today’s intro to Joakim Noah, who announced his retirement from the game of basketball this week. Noah was a player who based his career solely on defense, but he was an imposing presence in the paint and a great defensive anchor, resulting in two All-Star appearances and a Defensive Player of the Year award. During his two best years in Chicago, he was also a solid fantasy contributor, finishing both years inside the top 20 with solid big man stats plus out-of-position assists. His unique free throw shooting style was also memorable, albeit usually for the wrong reasons.

This week is double for many leagues, counting stats up until the 14th of March, due to the All-Star break. I am really perplexed by the fact that the NBA decided to organize an All-Star game this year, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, but it will at least be a good chance for players to get a breather and nurse some of their lingering injuries, as they get ready for the second half of the season.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Saddiq Bey and Jalen Brunson have been solid, Jae’sean Tate got fewer minutes than I thought but I still like him, and Saben Lee was underwhelming. If you are losing minutes to Dennis Smith Jr, you are in trouble. But he is a rookie, so he gets a pass. Finally, Elfrid Payton was, is, and will remain a “Sell” candidate with the season he is having in New York and is currently also injured.

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Is Morant a physical marvel? Ja.

Can Morant dunk on anyone? Ja.

Does Morant jump higher than a flea? Ja.

Can Morant score with the best of them? Ja.

Is Morant about the sharing and caring life? Ja.

Does he get his 211 on? Ja.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 5 10 1 0 4 2/3 11/18 11/14

Is Morant consistent? Naw.

Is he great for fantasy? Naw.

Does he get his Mutombo on? Naw.

Ja has scored 35 and 44 points on the season. He’s dished out at least 10 dimes in seven games. He’s messed around once this season. With that said, there have been plenty of duds on the season. He’s scored fewer than 20 points 15 times. As a result, he’s just outside the top 100 on the season. Once he gets more consistent and provides more tres and steals, Ja will rule the fantasy streets.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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