The Marvel Universe has been on quite a heater lately, culminating in the recently released Black Panther movie. With that said, an underappreciated and rarely talked about character is The Juggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength and durability, is virtually unstoppable once in motion, and immune to mental attacks when donning a helmet. He’s fought and taken on all comers. Sounds alot like LeBron James aka LeJuggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength? Check. Is durable? Has played 1130 career games and missed 111, with many of those due to “rest.” As this fivethirtyeight.com article stated, LeBron has “never missed a playoff game” even though he has the “sixth-most regular season minutes of all time.” He’s in the top 3 all time of games played per season as a percentage of the player’s teams’ total regular-season and playoff games. Among active players, “no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James.” I think that’s a resounding Check. Is unstoppable once in motion? Check. Immune to mental attacks? He had his moments early in his career when it seemed like LeBron was mentally fragile, but as time has gone on, he’s shown to be impervious to distractions both on and off the court. Check. Last night, LeJuggernaut messed around by rampaging through the Milwaukee Bucks.
There are 12 games left in the regular season and the Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. IND, WAS, and PHI are only one game back in the loss column. It’s winning time and LeJuggernaut has been unleashed for the stretch run. If you don’t believe me, take a look below:
“ If you play good attack, you win the game, but, if you play good defense you win championships” (Zeljko Obradovic)
Semifinals time. Maybe in rotisserie leagues the results are more fair, but in head-to-head there’s more excitement. If you had Kevin Durant or Gary Harris and are in the semifinals, it will be a difficult endeavor, but that’s h2h fantasy life for you. On the other hand, if your opponent has one of those players, you’re smiling from ear to ear.
Another thing I learned this week (again), is how crucial working the waiver wire is to succeeding in fantasy basketball. Corey Brewer and Buddy Hield were first-round values in the quarter-finals, and Taurean Prince, Maurice Harkless, and Quinn Cook were second-round values.
Here is how the action went down in Week 22 across our 12 RCL Leagues:
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “messing around?” Perhaps a joke. Maybe it takes you back to high school. First base. Second base. Third base with Peggy Sue or Billy Bob. How about Ice Cube when he called up the homies and asked them which park are y’all playin’ basketball? Whatever it may be, “messing around” is not associated with being of the serious variety. For fun. For shits and giggles. For Russell Westbrook? “Messing around” ain’t no joke. It’s 100% pedal to the metal. It’s I’m going to dunk on your head and shoot in your eye. It’s I’m grabbing every rebound because the ball is mine. That reminds me of Shaq’s T.W.I.S.M. Any of you remember that? Ha! Anyways, for Russ, it’s I’m dishing every dime because I will not be denied of my stat orgy. Yesterday, Russ notched his 102nd career triple dub.
That’s now five straight triple-dubs. For the season, he’s 0.3 rebounds shy of AVERAGING a triple-dub, which would make back-to-back seasons of accomplishing the feat. Damn, Russ ain’t no joke, espccially when it comes to “messing around.”
There are two points of a fantasy basketball season where seasons can be won and lost: the first is at the draft and the second is when there are about twenty games left in the season. The draft is obvious. That is when you set the foundation of your team. The second point is a little more subtle.
For those owners in head-to-head leagues, this second point is important because you are setting your team up (hopefully) for the playoffs. You want players who have a lot of games and are on teams who will not be resting them during the critical time. The subtle part is directed more at owners in roto leagues. There are still enough games left to make moves in categories you can climb in or maintain your lead in categories you are ahead in.
The waiver wire is your tool to win the league at this point. Young players are finally putting it together and playing well and injuries are opening up time for bench guys who have played well when given minutes. The Golden State Warriors, and their massive amount of injuries to star players, is a team to focus on in order to find one or two players who can help you with that late season charge.
Quinn Cook is the player I want to focus on in this recap, and if you need threes, points, assists, steals, I will pause for a moment so you can go and pick him up. While we are waiting for those owners to get back can we just talk about how dumb they are for not picking up Cook yet and having him active for this game against the lowly Suns? Wait, wait, quiet, they’re coming back…
Welcome back, we were just waiting quietly for you. I hope you were able to add him. Cook is a 2-way player, no, that is not sexual. It means that he is one of two players each team can send back and forth to the G-League during the season. Cook has dominated G-League play for most of the year and now, because of injuries to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, Cook is getting 40 minutes per game and putting up more than decent fantasy point guard stats. Last night Quinn Cook went for: 5/28/4/4/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 40 minutes. This was on 11-17 shooting, including 5-7 from three. Pick him up.
Here is what else I saw on a busy St. Patrick’s Day:
Man, the Warriors cannot catch a break… I mean, I don’t feel bad for their fans a bit, because they’ve been one of the most dominant teams in all of sports the last couple of years, but lately their luck has been running out. Kevin Durant will miss two weeks with an apparent rib injury he sustained against the Wolves back on March 11th. Obviously, this is a a heavy blow for his fantasy owners. You’re probably gonna have to stream heavy to win. Good luck is all I’ve got to say to you. Steph Curry is going to miss at least the next week and Klay Thompson is out for the foreseeable future. One of the main winners in this horrible situation is Quinn Cook. Last night, he went 5-25-4-3-3-0-1 on a scalding 10-of-13 shooting in 40 starter’s minutes. He’s probably worth the add with all the injuries to the Warriors if you want to gamble, but it’s relatively unknown what he’s capable of.
March Madness is in full effect. Shout out to The University of Maryland, County of Baltimore for ruining my bracket… Unfortunately, fantasy hoops playoffs also started this week, so many of us are going to just OD on Bball these next few weeks, as we slip slowly into baseball season. Anyway, here’s what went down in professional basketball last night:
When I was younger, I used to love watching The Jeffersons. Always made me laugh. It wasn’t until later in life that I fully appreciated what the show was about, though. Race and the American Dream. It was possible for people of color to achieve success and move up the proverbial ladder. In the case of George Jefferson, he was able to accomplish it through the opening of a chain of dry cleaning stores. But there are a myriad of ways to accomplish the feat. Which brings me to Al Jefferson of the Indiana Pacers. The 33-year-old has played 14 seasons in the NBA. A once 20/10 player had been relegated to bench mob, averaging less than 15 minutes a game over the past two seasons. Last night, though, he got his opportunity due to injuries for both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
What year is it? Anyways, it was a season-high for points, rebounds, and minutes played. With Sabonis out until next week and Turner possibly out as well, Jefferson is movin on up that depth chart.
Whether you’re in your head-to-head playoffs or gearing up for the final month of the roto season, I’m here to help you figure out which moves to make to maximize your chances to win. Last week, I discussed the amount of games played per week and for the remainder of the season for each team and how to value their players accordingly. This week, I’ll go through some free agent specialists to consider picking up. Next week, I’ll return to my bread and butter: punting categories. As always, I don’t only mean those that went with a season-long strategy of punting free throw percentage. By this point, you have so much more information about exactly what your team needs and, almost as important, what it doesn’t need. Of course you know that you should be focusing on steals if you’re only about 20 behind two other teams in the roto category or going all in on field goal percentage if that’s the only category you need to swing the final score in your playoff matchup. But, from my own experience, I know that you’re probably still focusing on players and categories that can no longer help you. It’s so hard to decide to sit a 25-point scoring all-star for the final month of the season. But, if you’re running away with points in a landslide, those points do nothing for you anymore. I remember multiple seasons where I had to completely ignore all stats except for steals and blocks for the final few weeks of a roto league. Sitting a guy like Damian Lillard (past 30 days: 0.9 steals and 0.2 blocks) for someone like Dewayne Dedmon (1.3/1.2). Forget the names and focus on the stats.
So, today, I’ll give you some players you may be able to grab who can help you in the specific categories you need. This time of year, that’s going to include some surprise players that are getting extra run and/or usage. So, this will also be a reminder to focus on what’s going on now as opposed to the numbers we got used to in the first half of the season.
For playoff bound teams, every win at this point in the season is huge. This was not only a big win for the Washington Wizards, it was avoiding a terrible loss. Yes, they are missing All-Star point guard John Wall, but the Boston Celtics were starting someone named Guerschon Yabusele.
I did some digging and discovered that Mr. Yabusele, before donning a jersey and being announced with the Celtics’ starting five, was one of those giant security guards that stand at the bottom of each staircase with their arms crossed and their backs to the court during the game. In fact, prior to playing 18 minutes in last night’s double-OT loss against the Wizards, the most exciting thing to ever happen to Guerschon on a basketball court was high-fiving Marky Mark Wahlberg after a Kyrie Irving game winner.
The Celtics may have ultimately lost the game, but to get as close as they did is a real testament to just how much the Wizards play down to an opponent’s level. I am pretty sure a Division II high school basketball team could take Washington down to the wire.
Besides the Wizards almost losing the Celtics G-League squad, here is what else I saw last night:
The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to help improve and evaluate your team.
In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.
If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.
I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.
If you are wondering about the title, just look at the postscript at the end of the article. It’s not basketball related but some things are far greater.
The playoffs have started for most fantasy leagues and I hope your teams are competing in them. May the basketball gods bless you with no injuries to your key players (ahem Stephen Curry) and good percentages to lead you to the championship. If you are instead in a Roto league, like I prefer for the most part, these injuries affect you less but it’s still a good time to focus on the categories that can give you the most points in the standings and shape your team accordingly.
On a completely different subject, as soon as I saw Josh Richardson and James Johnson celebrating after a made triple, I knew I had to include it in the article.
Master Yoda, you sure look taller…..The phrase “teamwork elevates you” gets a new meaning with these guys.
As per usual, let’s check the performance from last week’s suggested players, but before that, an extra shout out to my man Nemanja Bjelica, who I mentioned 2 weeks ago and is straight carrying my teams for the past weeks (ranked 18th during this period). Larry Nance Jr. has taken full advantage of the starting role in Cleveland, with three double-doubles in his last 5 games and will maintain this production for as long as Tristan Thompson is sidelined. On the other hand, Jakob Poeltl’s impressive defensive numbers faded this week as he averaged only 1.0 block after going for 2.7 per game during the previous two weeks. Finally, Skal Labissiere had two solid games before going down with a minor injury, while Marcin Gortat and Al-Farouq Aminu proved good drop calls as they had at best forgettable performances.