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Being in the middle is…..

Bad for a sports team, as perpetual mediocrity permeates. No chance at the trophy and no possibility to draft a franchise-changing player. Bad if you are a piece of lettuce or meat between two slices of bread. I guess everything in that situation sucks as they all get eaten. Bad if you’re an avid surfer that lives in Nebraska. There’s good, though. You ain’t poor. Malcolm did alright. You’ll never be first or last. In the NBA, being a part of the bourgeoisie is great. You’re not the worst of the 1% of the ballers on the planet. But, imagine if you are a part of the 1% of the 1%? Kyrie Irving doesn’t have to imagine because he’s living the dream. Yesterday, he went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 7 5 0 1 1 5/7 14/23 7/8

The Celtics lost to the Magic, 103-95. That should’ve been grounds for automatic disqualification from being the lede, but….a 40-burger is a 40-burger. You drop one of those and you’re always going to be a contender. Now, it’s felt like Kyrie has been a relatively quiet member of the fantasy elite, as he hasn’t been messing around or going nuts on a nightly basis. He’s the 14th player for fantasy and his numbers are almost identical to last year. Imagine if he was on a shitty team that didn’t play any defense?

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My Charlotte Bobcats fandom reached it’s peak during the 2006-2007 NBA season. My Bulls had been one of the worst teams in the NBA for nearly a decade and I liked cheering for the recent expansion team. I had NBA League Pass back then, since I was providing live box scores for a website more nights than not. The Bobcats weren’t one of the in-demand teams to cover, so I got to do a lot of their games. While the Bulls had just drafted LaMarcus Aldridge at #2 and traded him for #4 Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa (yes, that happened), the Bobcats selected one of my favorite players right between those picks to join forces with other favorites Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. That’s right, Adam Morrison was going to light up my tiny 19-inch box TV that sat beside my giant desktop computer as he turned (yes, people thought this) into Larry Bird 2.0! It was going to be fun watching this franchise, in just it’s third year, develop into a contender with those pieces.

Check it out! That weird, slippery ball they used briefly!

Okay, so the ‘Cats never really went anywhere, though Morrison did have some fun 3-point shooting streaks. I still love the snubbed and rightful 2012 Las Vegas NBA Summer League MVP and two-time NBA Champ (true). And, I still wear my Bobcats hat proudly (also true). Why am I going on and on about a player who only played in 161 career games and was out of the NBA four years after he was drafted? Because, he’s the theme of today’s strategy: The ‘Stache! I guess it’s The Stash, but at least I got to talk about Adam Morrison and Victor Khryapa.

This is a good time to stock up on and stash the players that might take off toward the end of the season and lead you to a championship.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When watching Kyle Kuzma play basketball, all I can think about is the Notorious B.I.G. One of my favorite songs is Juicy.

Many in the NBA thought Kuzma wouldn’t amount to nothin’. Now he’s in the limelight ’cause his hoops game is tight. Now honies play him close like butter played toast. Ha! What a line. Biggie Smalls was the illest. Anyways, Kuzma went from negative to positive and it all started when he was drafted 27th overall in the NBA Draft. The Summer League followed, where he dominated and led the Lakers to hoisting the trophy. Then the regular season started. He scored double figures in five of his first seven NBA games. It was on, baby bay-bee. In fact, there’s only been one other game in which he failed to score double digits. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s played 27 games, yet only started 11. Kuuuuuuuuuuuz! It all came to a culmination last night against the Rockets.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 38 7 4 0 1 0 7/10 12/17 7/10

This is no fluke. Kuz has been balling from day one and is only going to get better. It’s on, baby bay-bee!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In my younger days, I used to run with a pretty deep crew. Most of them were older and more experienced than me. Most were better looking and had more charisma then me. Emphasis on most. Not being the man was just fine. You’d be surprised at how many layups you’d get by just being. All of this happened on the basketball court as well. Anyways, with so much attention on the alphas, dudes like me would be afforded all sorts of opportunities to score. At some point, the stars would align and everything would come to a climax. Whether it be on the court or at the club, there’s always that moment. Last night, Clint Capela had his moment.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 24 20 3 0 2 2 0 10/12 4/5

It was his first 20/20 game of the season and he actually hit his free throws. Chris Paul, James Harden, and Eric Gordon all had great games, but it was all about Capela last night. Now, most of his opportunities came because of all the attention given to the superstars on the team. No matter. Production is production. And that’s how it’s going to be all season. Capela is a top 30 fantasy player right now. Imagine if he shot better than 58% from the charity stripe.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve got a punt free throw percentage dynasty team that I love so much that I practically cheer for missed free throws. Logically, I know this is silly, but bricked freebies are my brand, I guess you’d say. For those of you punters that can relate, today I’ll give you some adjusted player rankings for the season. And if you haven’t tried a punt strategy, or haven’t been successful with one, maybe this’ll pique your interest for next season.

Last week, I listed the top 20 players in each category as well as the relevant bottom 20. This week, we’ll kinda do the opposite. I’ll remove some categories that you might benefit from ignoring, whether it was part of your plan or you just found yourself uncompetitive in a category that’s not worth trying to catch up in by patching it together at the expense of other categories.

First, free throw punters. I’ll give you the top 20 in per-game value (and others that make big leaps) for 8-category and 9-category with free throw percentage removed (through 12/5). All of today’s lists come from Basketball Monster stat ratings. Keep in mind that you’re not just looking for the worst free throw shooters. Those are the guys that benefit the most from removing this category, but it doesn’t mean they’re the most valuable to your team. They ARE, however, significantly more valuable to a free throw punter than anyone else. So, if you’re at the bottom of your roto league in FT% (or if you never compete in head-2-head), don’t try to just add a couple good FT shooters to fix it. Maybe that gets you a roto point or two at most. Go all in, and trade off some good FT shooters for the guys below, especially those that are cheaper since they benefit the most from punting (in bold) and watch your team gain in FG%, rebounds, and blocks.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the Batman movies, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed as a subservient, damsel in distress character. “Oh no! There’s trouble in Gotham. Let me run up to the rooftop to signal the Batman so that he can take care of everything.” I kid. Commissioner Gordon was old and needed the youth, strength, and resources that Batman could provide. But, before he became a useless POS, Jim Gordon served in the US Marine Corps and was a Special Forces veteran who could kick some serious ass. That’s where we are at with Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic. He’s only 22 years old and 6′ 9″ 220 pounds. He can dribble, shoot, rebound, block, pass, jump like a flea, and run like a gazelle. He’s basically the new and improved version of Blake Griffin. Sad to see the Matrix slowly phasing out Blake for Aaron. Anyways, last night the NBA’s Commissioner Gordon put up the first 40-burger of his career:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 40 15 4 4 1 1 6/12 13/23 8/11

He led his team to a 121-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team led by Russell Westbrook, aka Beastbrook but I prefer to call him the Hulk. Off the court, Westbrook seems like a funny, charismatic guy. On the court, SMASH….SMASH….SMASH! Dude plays with reckless abandon, which results in an abundance of turnovers, but he will dunk on your grill at every opportunity. And keep coming. And coming. And coming. He truly leaves everything on the court, which is why I’d always want the Hulk on my side, because I know he’d always have my back. As for last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 37 11 5 5 0 7 7/10 11/23 8/12
Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Chosen One showed up last night in Washington to restore balance to The Force (The NBA). LeBron is still awaiting the return of his Padawan, Isaiah Thomas, and he made the Wizards look like Younglings in that scene where Anakin massacres all the Younglings. Yeah, I watched some Episode III earlier in the week…Anyway, last night I caught a bit of the NBA action and this is what I saw:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I love music. Fortunately, my young daughter does, too. We started her early on all sorts of stuff, but she eventually started requesting almost exclusively “girl songs.” So, I started combing through my CDs and mp3s for our daily drive to school, finding a decent amount of great female singers, mainly from the 90s. She really took to some (Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain), but not as much to others that I’d hoped she would (The Cranberries, Veruca Salt). We added in some more current stuff that she loves (Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor), and we have a great time. Now, I know there’s a good chance this isn’t resonating with you as much as it would if I said I’d kept trying to slip in more funk (she likes “Car Wash” and “Jungle Boogie”, at least), rock (Down on the Corner is popular with her, but there are only a few songs by Disturbed that are appropriate for four year-olds!), and rap (“Tricky” was a favorite for a while, fortunately), but stick with me, please. Because, I found something very enlightening when I introduced the very, very 90s classic, “Stay”, by Lisa Loeb. Was it that we only hear what we want to? That we won’t live forever? No, it’s this powerful line:

“You said you caught me ’cause you want me, and one day you’ll let me go. You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just so scared to lose.”

It’s like a record scratch every time I hear that line. YOU TRY TO GIVE AWAY A KEEPER??? She was brilliantly pointing out that YOU DON’T JUST GIVE AWAY A KEEPER! But at the same time, you don’t keep a player only because you’re scared to lose! Such wisdom. For decades, I swear I didn’t know that lovely song was about fantasy basketball keeper leagues.

Lisa Loeb. Fantasy Oracle.

While we’re still quite a few games away from a large enough sample of current season stats to really trust them, let’s talk keeper/dynasty strategy (dynasty being a league in which you keep a large amount of your team for next season). I thought I’d share some tips and have some fun looking back at what we thought of past rookies so that we don’t get overly excited about these 19 year-olds that we’re currently trusting to save our teams.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are a ton of elite point guards that will be taken in the first three rounds of your draft. From Russell Westbrook to Mike Conley, there are not enough guys to go around for everybody. Okay, maybe there are, but nobody in any league I’ve ever been in was into sharing. There are even elite wings that will get you point-guard-like assists. This is mainly Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, but can even apply to guys like Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler.

But what happens if you’re picking in round 3 and you haven’t gotten an elite assist getter yet?

Do you panic? No.

Do you reach? Not for a point guard, but maybe for your beer (unless it’s Bud Light– if it’s Bud Light you throw that shit in the trash and re-evaluate.)

This is where you can adopt the “punt assist” strategy. This punt strategy often gets overlooked by more common punting strategies such as punting free throws, but it’s very helpful if the assist dominoes don’t fall in your favour the first few rounds. Here are some guys to target if you decide to go down the punt assist route, and how your team should shape up by the end of the draft.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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