We’re going to try a bit different slant heading into what is essentially the midpoint of the season, also called the “midseason” as spoiled by the title. We’ll go over a snapshot of where I think the teams are, the fantasy implications, and perhaps some of my skillful AND also delightful yo momma jokes. We’ll partition each post as a grouping and start from the bottom-up, just the way your mother likes it.
So let’s start this off with the worst of the worst of the worst. I call this grouping “Draft Capital” because it’s slightly more clever than just calling these teams a dumpster fire. Maybe. But also because these teams are going head first into a non-Wemby draft class and they’re all going to look terrible doing it. So of course you know who the first team, well, in this case, the last team is…
#30 – Detroit Pistons
Yeah, so I kinda thought the Pistons would be where the Rockets are now? Maybe best case would be something like what the Thunder did last season, flirting with seriousness and looking great in the play-ins. There was supposed to be some growth, especially after paying Monty Williams a contract worth the GDP of a small country and some improvement from the young players, but right now we have a team with the worst record in the NBA on-pace for the worst record in NBA history. If that wasn’t bad, they will probably finish in the standings behind the Wizards, which also carries a special shame. And sure, this is more of a fantasy-based ranking so the gap between the Pistons and, say, the Hornets is real close, but let’s be clear, all these teams kinda stink on the same stinky wave-length… if that makes sense. (Smells sense.)
Continue to keep an eye on Alec Burks, while “questionably serviceable” (it’s a real term!) depending on your needs, he has the highest usage rate in his career right now and had two 30-point games last week. I still like Cade Cunningham, despite the recent lack of playing time the last two weeks due to injury. Jaden Ivey continues to struggle from the 3-point line, shooting 31.8%, but his inside game has improved, shooting over 50 percent there.
#29 – Charlotte Hornets
While you could make the case that the Hornets could be ranked a bit higher, fantasy-wise, there’s just not much here. Especially after the Terry Rozier trade to the Heat, there’s LaMelo Ball (averaging 26+ points since coming back from injury) and a smattering of, uh. I have no idea. P.J. Washington? (Not even going to mention the dude I always confuse Mikal Bridges with…) Well, I guess getting Kyle Lowry in return is something? But honestly, the team continues to be dearth of everything unless you have a thing for Gordon Hayward, who has legs very similar to John Stockton. Don’t ask.
I can at least make the case here that the Hornets, while having a lower overall fantasy ceiling than the Pistons, have shown a willingness to retool their team and has enough middling talent and minutes available to provide some serviceable fantasy production, but I wouldn’t be angry if you flipped the two teams…
#28 – San Antonio Spurs
I would love to the put the Wizards here, but I think they barely edge the Spurs out just from having spread out mid-level production among multiple players where with this team, you basically just have Wemby and some dudes from the rec.
I don’t want to spend too much time on Victor Wembanyama, but the SEO gods demand some kind of content, so I’ll just say his first year has been quite a ride, but not enough to actually watch Spurs games. I mean, that’s what YouTube is for, right? And while the Wemby “and the gang” descriptor is probably a bit hyperbole, beyond him, there’s really not that much fantasy-ness. Totally a word. There’s Keldon Johnson, who seems to be garnering more attention via minutes, and there’s also Tre Jones moving into the starting five since January. I do like the idea of Dejounte Murray coming back in a potential trade, while his defense might have always been a bit overrated during his first stint, you can see the Spurs need him on the offensive side and the Hawks frankly do not, so this ranking could change a bit depending on the deadline activity.
#27 – Washington Wizards
With the team set to move into my backyard (literally, yes) in several years, the Wizards are even further motivated to continue and stick to their own new “process”. Shedding Beal in the offseason began what was to be a Poole and Kuzma-driven journey (much like an Aaron Rodgers darkness retreat), something that I both salivated at and knew I would be disgusted by… and boy, have those two not disappointed (three if you count Rodgers 2024 Schadenfreude tour), both in good and bad ways. Kyle Kuzma continues to be a whiz at being the worst player ever according to advance stats, yet still putting up a very casual and very useful 20/7/4. He has always been mid, but that has value and he could end up a great third or fourth option on a playoff-bound team. Poole continues to be, well, Poole, but Daniel Gafford along with Tyus Jones continue to provide quality numbers for their role and could be moved as well.
This ranking could also wildly change as Kuzma, who is one of the two primary scorers (more like shooters) continues to be an asset sought after in trade discussions, and where he ends up could be something to keep an eye on. (Funny to think that the Lakers could have used a player like Kuzma the last several seasons… could say that about Caruso too, but I digress…). So look for the Wizards to be super interesting, but only because Poole will continue to chuck up 90+ shots and there could be some trades with fantasy impact.
That’s it, those are the bottom-dwellers, aka the “Draft Capital” group! For those interested, I did contemplate adding the Trail Blazers to basement, but while the team is quite clunky in a lot of ways, it remains young, energetic, and competitive, Portland has a bit more fantasy relevance than the previous group and is probably closer to the Nets and Grizzlies than the Pistons and Spurs…
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.