Ok, so he might not really be better than Nikola Jokic in real life, but heading into the game against Phoenix, Nikola Vucevic was ranked a mind-boggling 5th in overall fantasy value for standard leagues. Can we stop pretending like he’s not a superstar? He’s a complete player with no real holes, excels at scoring, grabbing boards, is sneaky good at assists, manages great percentages, and averages a triple one. What’s not to love?

Nikola Vucevic

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/20 1/2 2/5 25 15 3 1 1 2

What a beast. 25/15/3 with 2 3’s, 1 steal, and 1 block is such a nice all around contributing line. He’s way above his career averages in scoring and percentages, so a lot of fantasy GMs have been trying to move him. He won’t retain that top 5 ranking, but for a player that most GM’s drafted after pick 50, he’s paid off a ton. I love his game (scoring, shooting, boards, nice playmaking, and a triple 1, with very good percentages) and is my type of player.

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Ok, maybe they didn’t forget him, but Andre Drummond definitely doesn’t get the credit he’s due. He might have gotten lost in a massive 13-game night, filled with double-doubles, but let’s give Dre his due. He’s leading the league in rebounding, going for 16 boards a game, and averaging a career-high 19.4 points.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
9/18 5/8 0/1 23 20 1 3 5 1

I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the 23 and 20 or the 8 combined stocks. Over the past three seasons, Drummond had been averaging 1.5 steals per game (those are guard number!) So far this year, he’s only averaging 0.9 steals, but that is still great for a center. If the steals come back up, so will his fantasy value, but the free throw percentage will always be his anchor. If you punt free throw percentage, Drummond is a clear-cut top 10 player. 

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Last night was interesting because we had some surprise performances and inefficient scoring. One performance stood out, though. Both in statistics and in how he just took over the game. Remember on opening night when everyone was freaking out about Jayson Tatum? Kyrie Irving was being called washed up and there were a lot of reactionaries out there saying that this was now Tatum’s team. That take proved to be dumb. Watching Irving and Kawhi Leonard battle in an overtime affair was a pleasure to watch. Last night’s game became a classic and will help build anticipation for a potential showdown in the playoffs.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
18/26 4/6 3/6 43 2 11 3 1 3

Irving has been electric this season and was the sixth-ranked player in fantasy heading into last night’s game. He ended with a double-double (43 points and 11 assists). Add in three 3’s and three steals and you have an incredibly dynamic performance. The icing on the cake was the super efficiency on high volume. Boston is his team and they go as he does. For fantasy teams that roster Kyrie, your team goes as far as he can lead you, which is looking pretty far.

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Tonight was clearly defined by the insane performances by some of the leagues best big men. Crazy points, boards, and stocks were being earned all night long. Joel Embiid beat up on Charlotte’s inferior front line, driving to the bucket, getting insane put-back dunks, and swatting shots into oblivion. One of the best examples of his diverse skillset showed him bring the ball up across half court and then orchestrate a perfect give-and-go that led to an Embiid statement dunk. To top things off, he showed his range by hitting the tying 3-point shot near the end of regulation. He’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/18 19/22 1/2 42 18 4 0 4 3

This was an MVP performance from the big man. He must have been shaken by that Sabonis dunk last night, as he came out and crushed. How many other big men can hit 19/22 free throws in practice, let alone in a tightly contested game? The boards were huge, as were the blocks. He’s really starting to heat up, so ride him if you got him.

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Watching Chris Paul can be so fun. When he’s not catching spit followed by hooks from fellow old man Rondo, CP3 is hustling, using his old man tricks to take down young teams that dare challenge him. He’ll drive the lane, fake passes, shoot from 8 feet behind the line. He doesn’t care. Trying to keep the ship afloat without Harden is his responsibility and he’s gonna do it. Like the old curmudgeon in your neighborhood that refuses to offer candy to trick-or-treating kids, this grumpy old man will shoo you off his lawn and do what he wants.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
13/27 1/1 5/12 32 7 11 2 2 2

We got classic, but still grumpy CP3 tonight! Paul had a sensational game, carrying the Rockets on his back and beating an up-and-coming Brooklyn team. It always amazes me how he gets so many rebounds for someone who looks to be 5’11 tops. Ride him while Harden is out, but if he keeps playing 37 minutes, expect some rest games soon.

Here’s what else happened last night:

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There’s something oddly satisfying/cozy/exciting about watching premiers on a Friday night. Back in middle school, it was Lori Loughlin and Jaleel White giving me both reprise from schoolwork, as well as kind of a free pass from my parents to just veg out and enjoy unwinding and entertaining stuff on TV, usually accompanied by snacks. That was the best. The adult equivalent for many years has been enjoying the free pass for NBA League Pass on the first Friday night of the season, work already miles behind me, guilt-free, and enjoying a beverage. This is the night I wait for as soon as the NBA Finals end. Fantasy GMs and general fans alike are filled with high hopes and a sense that anything can happen…this could be our/my year! Well, for the sake of all of our readers here at Razzball, let’s make it your year. Enjoy your Friday nights and be on the road to winning some chips!

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After years of being a superstar-dominated team, Miami now has a plethora of good players with potential. Bucking the trend of Go Big or Rebuild, maestro Pat Riley and his protege head coach Eric Spoelstra seem perfectly content running it back with what they have; a good but not great squad that can be willed to elite status with leadership, coaching, and some luck. Being underrated like the Garfield Halloween Special can be a good thing. The lack of big name talent leaves Miami as the forgotten team. In a wide-open East anything can happen and, while Miami is not expected to crack the top 4, they have as good a chance as any to grab one of the remaining playoff spots and potentially advance in the playoffs. Also, keep in mind that Riley is very much in the hunt for Minnesota Timberwolves Jimmy Butler. Adding Butler to the equation would catapult Miami into the upper echelons of the East.

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We all need a fresh start on occasion. Atlanta has entered full-blown house cleaning #process territory. Along with the youth movement, they managed to move Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala for Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first rounder. Melo obviously didn’t fit their plans and they moved on, while paving room for Trae Young to take control of the backcourt in GM Travis Schlenk’s Golden State model. This squad will be bad, but in a fun way. It will be a few seasons until they can eat their lasagna, but at least they’re not Sacramento.

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It’s fitting that my rookie contribution to Razzball would be focused on this year’s rookie crop. I may tend to start off posts with a heavy Kevin-centric focus. I’ve been obsessed with Fantasy NBA for 15 years. Have I won chips? More than zero. Are my fantasy prognostications correct? Ride with me for a solid 50/50 shot at accuracy. What about real basketball? Was I a scrappy D3 player that really understands the game? I’m on the bottom half of bad pickup games, but I can dunk on an 8-foot rim. So yeah, you could call me an expert. Let’s begin!

UPSIDE!!!
The promise, upside, and mystery of rookies entice us Fantasy GMs every season. Yet there is statistical history that proves love, like Jon Arbuckle for Veterinarian Liz, generally goes unrequited.  Last season there was a boon in productive rookies, with 8 being standard league relevant (12 team, 13 player roster): Ben Simmons (27), Donovan Mitchell (39), Jayson Tatum (42), Lauri Markkanen (66), Lonzo Ball (78), John Collins (92), Kyle Kuzma (116), Jarret Allen (143). While that rookie class surpassed the hype, what’s in store for this year’s group? These youngsters carry a lot of weight in dynasty leagues, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on standard redraft leagues.

For a deep dive in terms of dynasty, check Craig’s rankings here and here.

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