As you may or may not have heard (read?), we’re doing some Midseason Rankings just to see how the NBA fantasy landscape is shaping. If you tuned in last time, we covered the “Draft Capital” tier, which seems like inadvertent shade since the upcoming draft is pretty barren compared to the recent WEMBYPOCALYPSE, but it’s only fair, since those teams are shading themselves with terrible play and rosters full of despair and deadline trade targets.
This time, a little less despair, but still a rung lower than the teams competing for a play-in. I would like to call this group “Almost Draft Capital Tier” since many of these teams could end up interchanging with the previous list due to potential trades or just general collapse, but some of these teams also have enough time to still kinda turn it around and make some noise post-All Star break. It’s definitely an in-between grey area, so we’ll just call this tier “The Greys!”. (It works as an homage to Grey Albright too!)
#26 – Portland Trailblazers
I had mentioned in the last post that the Trailblazers probably belong over there, but I’ve actually watch them for a bit and yes, I can confirm that they do suck. I mean, you probably want defense in the backcourt at some point, but I just love the energy and competitive nature of the team. Very blue collar of me, I know, Bernie would be proud. And yeah… Scoot Henderson has been unimpressive, to be sure, but he obviously will have a lot of time and room to grow. (He just scored a career-high 33 points against the Suns.) Deandre Ayton continues to be overrated, or I guess at this point correctly rated, but I think Anfernee Simons could heat up a bit.
So basically, if you’re asking me why the Blazers get a pass into this group, overall, I like the personnel (Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon could be a trade targets) a bit more than their immediate peers, like the Hornets and Pistons, and their schedule does get a bit easier the next month. A lot can change, but I’m comfortable with Portland being a bridge between suck and super suck. Just like your mom.
#25 – Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are certainly comparable to the Trailblazers in a lot of ways for me. I like the roster, the fantasy production versus cost, but it’s another team that could look a lot different in a few weeks. Mikal Bridges has taken a step back defensively, but he remains an intriguing play. Cam Johnson does Cam Johnson like things all the time… basically you know you’re going to get points and that’s about it, or am I talking about Cam Thomas? I can never tell because I’m lazy to the point where I’m okay with the 50/50 chance I get the wrong Cam. And then you have Dinwiddle, Finney-Smith and Nic Claxton who could all be traded if the Nets decide to reset a bit.
While I wouldn’t be surprised, I could also see the Nets making some lateral moves to try and make the play-ins. I probably wouldn’t do this, but they have no first-round pick, so tanking really doesn’t help much, and if that’s the case, the Nets could find themselves movin’ on up a few spots.
#24 – Atlanta Hawks
I’m not entirely sure how to rank the Hawks and Grizzlies. Both are having difficult seasons for different reasons. For the Hawks, it’s clear that the duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray has not worked out, which has led Murray’s name to be high on the rumor mill list. And it’s difficult to gauge what the real world and fantasy fall-out would be for both the team and Murray when he gets traded. Though, the two likely destinations, the Lakers and Spurs are actually great spots for him. And depending on who comes back, I could see the Hawks going back to just letting Trae be Trae, which has always been great for him and his numbers, maybe not so much for the team.
Bogdan Bogdanovic has not looked great the last few weeks, leading him to being left out of the rotation at the end of games during that time. While a cause for some concern, he still offers solid scoring in context. I’m not giving up on Saddiq Bey, but it’s clear that the Hawks fantasy production will soon once again completely flow through Young. Good or bad? Guess we’ll find out!
#23 – Memphis Grizzlies
This ranking is based on the voluminous number of injuries (and gun-flashing) this roster has suffered… and while this team has most likely closed shop for next year, the talent that still remains is enough to buoy them into “the Grey” tier. See that name drop? Expert level. Most of that remaining talent derives from Desmond Bane, JJJ and Marcus Smart who are still stable fantasy plays, but without Steven Adams and Ja Morant, the overall ceiling for the team remains limited. (Morant, Bane, Smart and Jaren Jackson Jr. had only played a total of six games together before Ja went down.)
Xavier Tillman can be interesting sometimes, and perhaps Kennard can find stronger value if traded, and I do want to keep an eye on Jacob Gilyard at the point, known mostly for his defense, he has been getting starters minutes… but yeah, this team will kinda just remain meh.
You have no idea how much I wanted to put the Warriors here, and while the hate flows through me for Draymond, it’s clear that you can never count out a team with Steph Curry. Also, Draymond may punch me. Anyways, join us next time when we cover the old and busted Warriors, along with other teams who are struggling a bit, but are in the play-in picture…
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell.