Yeah. It goes like this right here. It’s the return of the writings of Slim! That reminds of an Outkast song, and that song reminds me of 1998. If you don’t remember it was the year we learned there was yet another way to be disgusted by a cigar. That near, far, wherever you are you probably found yourself at some point rooting for the most unlikeliest of protagonists, Billy Zane. And of course it was the year the ‘Blue Screen of Death‘ truly became a meme, long before anyone knew what a meme was.

Gangstaaaaa… It’s the return… turn…

In the NBA draft that year there were 3 guys drafted that are still playing and should one day be in the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you a hint, the top 3 draft picks were Michael Olowokandi, Mike Bibby, and Raef LaFrentz, and if you were playing fantasy basketball back then you might have gone all-in on one of them. Give up? They are Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Pick number 5, 9, and 10 respectively. That’s not to say great players aren’t drafted 1st, but the only thing guaranteed when you are first overall is a whole boat load of money. Something about the use of the word ‘only’ there doesn’t quite feel right.

Return… Ganstuhuhuh… It’s the re…

It seems so easy to see when you’re talking time traveling, something mind unraveling. Get Down. It’s a whole lot harder to do here and now using some funky combination of math, logic, illogical fandom, a random number generator, and of course the occasional dart throw. For some reason though, after about an hour on 350 (or about 176c) it develops a creamy caramel colored crust. Once it cools, just cut it up and consume. So here’s you’re 1st taste. Slim’s, I can’t believe I’m writing this in 3rd person, RCL playoff schedule post.

Da Cream of …

Not quite yet, two things. First when I refer to a ‘heavy schedule day’ I mean at least 2/3rds of the league is playing that night. Many times that means you have a full roster and a guy on your bench, or that you have a full roster playing and you can’t add another guy for streaming, which in the playoffs is extremely advantageous, if not necessary. Second thing is that I tend to have a bit of a bias toward the importance of each round. The 1st round is the least important because 2 out of the 6 teams can ignore it all together. Granted you don’t know that now, but it also means you don’t have to go against the best competition in the league in the 1st round either because they have a bye. The most important round for me is the 2nd, the semis. This is the make or break match-up and the reason is simple. The finals don’t mean anything if you can’t make it to them.

Da Cream of Da Crop Tier

CHI – 4/4/5, DEN – 4/4/4, WAS – 4/4/4, SAC – 4/4/4, CLE – 4/4/4, ORL – 4/4/4, GSW – 4/4/4

Once again we have a clear cut #1 head-to-head fantasy playoff schedule. Da Bullssss schedule is head and shoulders above the rest, fortunate since Noah needs all the help he can get with that mop on top of his head. Poor puns aside the Bulls play the most overall games in the playoffs with that extra game in the finals and they do it with missing one of the heavy schedule days there. Jimmy Butler can’t move up in the rankings too much, but he should certainly be a target and any comparison to George, Wiggins, Carmelo gets easily shut down with the extra game(s). Kawhi (SAS is in the last tier) gives a better FG% than Jimmy Butler, but with a significantly worse playoff schedule I’ll be taking Jimmy and I don’t think it’s close. The icing on the cake is that Jimmy Buckets isn’t a high turnover guy and is a high end FT% guy, so the extra counting stats don’t come with much in the way of negatives. Pau Gasol comes with plenty of risk given his age, but with two good percents and acceptable turnovers he easily surpasses Horford (ATL is in the last tier) and his brother. You could also make a case to take Pau over Griffin and Ibaka given that he has an extra game in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Derrick Rose is a very different case, he’s a high end TO guy (in a bad way) and with extra games he could do some serious damage to your FG%; I’ll be avoiding him for this reason alone. Joakim Noah gets a slight boost but it isn’t enough to overdraft him given how much he struggled last year, but if he has a bounce back year he could prove to be a goldmine come playoff time. The last guy that sticks out is Nikola Mirotic. Hopefully his ADP is low enough (or is it high enough?) since his role is still unknown.  But given what he did last year when he got minutes and the age of the players in front of him, Mirotic represents a late round gamble well worth taking.

The next 6 teams all have a 4/4/4 playoff schedule but Denver gets a slight nod over the rest since they miss a heavy schedule day in the 2nd round and twice in the 3rd. Whether or not this helps depends on what teams the rest of your roster plays for, but I would bet this helps out everyone at least once. JBs high ranking of Danilo Gallinari looks a little better and a career year could go a long way in securing a fantasy title. I don’t see anyone he leaps in the rankings, although for me this solidifies him over Danny Green (SAS is in the last tier), but at least if we overdraft him and he doesn’t quite pan out we still get him for an extra game or two when it really matters. Kenneth Faried had a good run in the 2nd half and if he replicates that, an extra game or two could really benefit our FG%.  He’s someone I’ll look to target in the 5th assuming I need a big. Wilson Chandler is a nice ThrAGNoF late, but at less than a steal and a block per game the extra game doesn’t give us much in the way of extra counting stats. Emmanuel Mudiay is a tough one, sure he’s higher than Russell (LAL is in the last tier) but I’m not sure I really want his extra game of two poor percents and high TOs. In a punt build though, the extra counting stats put him ahead of his clone, MCW (MIL is in the last tier). I haven’t been overly optimistic about Jusuf Nurkic and I assume he starts off slowly after off-season knee surgery, but if you can handle that and he develops as the year progresses, then a late round flier could turn into a top 100 performer with a top-notch schedule.

The Wizards have basically the same schedule as Denver but they only miss one heavy schedule day in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds. And with that John Wall easily passes Kawhi for the final spot in the top 10. Maybe he’s a punt turnover type but that’s got to be the easiest category to punt. I think JB is seriously underselling Bradley Beal. Injury risk aside he should post top 75 value as his floor with Pierce gone and I would bet he gets a career high in both points and assists and flirts with top 50 value, at the ripe old age of 22. The only other top 100 player is Marcin Gortat and where JB has him ranked is fine (7th round in a 12er), but even with a good schedule I won’t be reaching. Outside the top 100 you could look for Otto Porter who played pretty well in the playoffs last year with a whopping 33.1 min per game.

DeMarcus Cousins is going to be fun to own this year and it’s especially nice to see another late 1st rounder with a 4/4/4 playoff schedule, including missing a heavy schedule day in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Whether or not he passes the 1st round PGs is debatable since their are plenty of 2nd round bigs but very few 2nd round PGs. Rudy Gay should once again be a rock solid 3rd rounder but with steals and blocks on the decline he’s another guy that would have to fall a bit for me to seriously consider him. It might just be me but Darren Collison is a really good fantasy contributor and I think Rajon Rando‘s career is just about over. Colly should be a nice 4th PG with plenty of upside, if he can stay healthy. Outside of the top 100 there’s Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein. McLemore is a prototypical ThrAGNoF but sometimes we need just that. Willie should get a fair amount of minutes but his production will be limited to steals and blocks so he’s just a niche guy if that’s what you need.

Last year Cleveland players were nearly unownable and I don’t mean because LeBron James is a ball hog. Hey-Oh! They had a 4/3/2 schedule and were easily avoided, but this year they have a 4/4/4 and miss one of the heavy schedule days in the 3rd round. LeBron is fine at 5th overall, but with Durant’s issues last year and 1 less game in the 2nd round, I wouldn’t argue with LeBron leapfrogging him in the ranks. If we assume Kyrie Irving is going to be 100% (I’m not) and that Mo Williams doesn’t eat into his minutes (he should) then an argument can be made for Kyrie in the 1st round (but I won’t). I’m probably just being over cautious, he should be fine at the 1st-2nd round turn [editor’s note – this was written before Kyrie’s slow recovery from injury]. Kevin Love is one of the toughest players to rank but he has more games than Aldridge and Bosh (both are in the last tier) and he’s 4-5 years younger than both. I’d take him over both since neither is much of a shot blocker anyway. Love vs Favors or Noel is much tougher and if I don’t feel great about my blocks then I’m passing on Love. Timofey Mozgov should be fine, albeit low end. Tristan Thompson is still Tristan Thompson, and the SG position looks to be a serious logjam for minutes. I’ll be avoiding all Cavs outside of the top 100.

Just like Cleveland last year, Orlando players were almost unownable with their 4/2/3 playoff schedule. But just like Cleveland they too have a 4/4/4 schedule while missing one of the heavy days in the 3rd round. Nikola Vucevic is solid but needs to be paired with a high end shot blocker, or on a punt block team. Either way works fine but I don’t think a good playoff schedule moves him into the 2nd round. Elfrid Payton was so good at the end of the year last year it’s tough to see him making it past the 4th round, but with his high end assists I’m sure the pick will be completely justified. With that said I think he’s behind Victor Oladipo. Rainbowladipo should continue to progress and gives you one of those SG eligible PGs. Granted his assists aren’t at Elfrid’s level but Oladipo is going to crush him in points, 3s, FT% without being too far off in steals. What to do with Tobias Harris? His rank just outside of the top 50 assumes a healthy season and if that happens he’ll be well worth the pick. Maybe it would be prudent to pass on him if your 1st four picks carry injury risk too (I’m looking at you Brow). Outside of the top 100 Aaron Gordon looms large. He dominated in summer league but his FT% might mean he’s earmarked for a punt FT team only. In his 3 summer league games he shot .524 at the stripe with 7 attempts per game. That’s kind of scary but he also had 2.0/1.3/1.7 3s/stls/blocks.

Unlike the previous two teams, Golden State had the best playoff schedule last year and they once again do not disappoint going 4/4/4 while missing one of the heavy schedule days in the 3rd round. With the top 3 being so close and Stephen Curry getting an extra game in the 2nd round over Brow and in the 3rd over Harden, Curry jumps both for numbero uno in the ranks. Klay Thompson should be fine and you could justify taking him at the 1st-2nd round turn, but I’m not entirely trusting of last year’s stat line. Draymond Green in no way should make it out of the 2nd round. I know we hope he does, but in an RCL against other Razzball readers I’m sure he won’t. Harrison Barnes is probably going to be playable but he’s just a low end ThrAGNoF, I’d rather gamble on the previous mentioned Otto Porter. Andrew Bogut should give an ok 40-50 games of boards and blocks but I wouldn’t count on anything else, or any more games played.

The Good Tier

IND – 3/4/4, MIN – 3/4/4, PHO – 3/4/4, HOU – 4/4/3, CHA – 4/4/3

What separates the next three teams from the previous tier is just one less game, or is it one fewer? I’m not sure. The next transition is brought to you by Joel McHale – “Anyways”. A 3/4/4 schedule, including missing a heavy schedule day in the 2nd and 3rd round, still doesn’t do much for Paul George. The best comps I can think of is for Wiggins (MIN is basically the same schedule) and Melo (NYK are in the last tier). I would take Wiggins for that sweet sweet upside and if you’re reading this, and I assume you are, then I seriously doubt you’re debating George vs Melo. Monta Ellis is priced pretty well these days and it looks like he can be drafted with confidence either a few higher or lower. George Hill is tough. We have to assume he does less than last year but he still makes for a nice 3rd PG in most builds. If you reach for Myles Turner you’ll more than likely be rewarded, especially late in the year, but it isn’t without risk.

Alright, Alright, Alright. Sure it’s an old cliche but it’s origin is only two years older than Kevin Garnett’s career. The Wolves 3/4/4 playoff schedule goes a long way in insuring Andrew Wiggins makes it on at least one team of mine this year. He’s just not quite in Jimmy Butler’s range, yet. Ricky Rubio probably scared off a few owners from last year but I imagine he’ll be fine. That doesn’t come off sounding too confident though. It’s that lack of confidence that keeps him out of the Reggie Jackson/Goran Dragic range, even with a better playoff schedule. I want Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns on all my teams. The most obvious comparison for me is Duncan (SAS is in the last tier) which appears to make Gorgui and Towns guys I would look for in the 6th round. Kevin Martin is fine for what he does but there’s a lot of risk if he gets traded which would make the MIN playoff schedule pretty irrelevant.

The Suns 3/4/4 schedule impacts quite a few players. Purely speculation of course, but I’m guessing Markieff Morris isn’t one of them. JB’s high ranking of Eric Bledsoe still looks good and there isn’t a single PG near him to compare. I don’t mean ‘near’ like Brandon Knight standing a couple feet away from him since Knight is more like 3 rounds away from him. Knight is a nice fallback plan for a 3rd PG and he still fits as a PG to target with SG eligibility. Tyson Chandler is what he is. It’s useful I guess, just boring. A good schedule doesn’t change that. P.J. Tucker is in the same boat as Chandler. His minutes look safe though considering what he does and that Phoenix downsized their roster at several positions. A lot could change depending on what happens with a seemingly inevitable Markieff trade though.

We’re now through every team with four games in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds and everyone else (besides BKN) play either a 4/3 or 3/4 schedule in those rounds, so the drop-off from here on out isn’t going to be severe. What sets Houston apart from the other 4/4/3 schedules is that they miss a heavy schedule day in the 2nd round and two more in the finals. I know LeBron plays an extra game in the finals but I don’t think that’s enough for him to jump ahead of James Harden in the ranks. Terrence Jones is going to be on everyone’s sleeper list, at least he should be. I can’t see him jumping into the 4th round but a 5th round pick certainly seems reasonable and a nice playoff schedule cements it. Trevor Ariza is getting up there in age but he’s still a high end 3s/steals wing; sure he doesn’t block like Danny Green (SAS is in the last tier) but a better playoff schedule means I’ll take Ariza if given the option. It’s tough to predict what Ty Lawson will do and even harder to predict where he’ll be drafted but I like where JB has him ranked and at that spot I’d be willing to draft him. I probably don’t need to mention Dwight Howard since he’ll only be on a punt FT team, but even on that punt FT team I still wouldn’t look for him before pick 100.

The Hornets 4/4/3 is similar to Houston’s, with the only difference being that Houston misses an extra heavy schedule day in the 3rd round. Well, that and Charlotte misses the Wednesday in the 2nd round that Houston does not – it’s the heaviest scheduled day of any. More on that in the next tier. Someone has to draft Al Jefferson but I doubt it’ll be me. Where JB has him is fine, basically the last big man worthy of a 4th round pick. Kemba Walker is in the middle of a bunch of PGs in the ranks, I’m not sure if he moves up or down but I’ll take Oladipo and Elfrid (ORL is in the top tier) ahead of him for most team builds. Nicolas Batum is another guy who is tough to rank. I can’t argue with where JB has him, basically the 1st wing taken after the 5th round. If you believe in a bounce back year and need assists then you could easily justify reaching for him a round early. Outside of the top 100 I’ll be looking for Frank Kaminsky. He might start, should see big minutes, and could be a very useful late round guy to help in some offensive categories.

The Average Tier

BKN – 3/3/5, TOR – 5/3/4, NOP – 4/3/4, MEM – 4/3/4, OKC – 4/3/4, PHI – 4/4/3

Alright I admit the next two teams’ schedules are anything but average. Brooklyn goes 3/3/5 and misses a heavy schedule day in the semis, and even with the extra game, or two, in the finals over every non-Bulls player they stay a tier below the teams above because of the 3/3 in the 1st 2 rounds. I like where JB ranked Brook Lopez, not because I think I can get him there but because someone is sure to draft him higher so I won’t need to have to decide if his injury risk is something I want to deal with. JB ranked Thaddeus Young, Joe Johnson, and Jarrett Jack back-to-back-to-back at 87, 88, and 89.  At that spot there’s plenty of potential reward for all 3. But more importantly it means I should only be able to get one of them if I think they fit a need I have at that point.  Outside of the top 100 there’s Bojan Bogdanovic.  While I do concede that he exists, his upside is relegated to being a ThrAGNoF only.  However this is useful and he’s certainly worth a last pick flier.

The Raptors 5/3/4 schedule while missing a heavy schedule day in the finals could very well be a tier above, but I can’t in good conscience call them a good schedule with only 3 games in the semifinals. A trend you probably picked up on by now.  Kyle Lowry vs Jeff Teague (ATL is in the last tier but plays 4 games in the semis) is a pretty good comparison. Teague gets the FG% and Lowry gets the 3s with extra games in the 1st and 3rd rounds but one less in the semis. There isn’t an obvious answer here and really I wouldn’t argue (much) with whichever you choose.  DeMarre Carroll is your prototypical 3-and-D guy, which sounds to me like a menage a quatre but in actuality means they hit 3s and give steals, or so they say. JB has Carroll ranked right next to Middleton (MIL is in the last tier) and I think this schedule solidifies Carroll above the Duchess. JB might be a little low on Jonas Valanciunas considering he’s ranked a spot after Robin Lopez (NYK are in the last tier) but if JV gets equal minutes he will finish much higher. I doubt anyone would argue that. I made it well known last year that I can’t stand DeMar DeRozan‘s fantasy game, remember when people were comparing him to Hayward? We were so much younger then… DeRozan won’t make my team unless I’m punting FG% but I may be all alone on that one.  I mean seriously, I’d rather take PJ Tucker (PHO is in the tier above) and stream the extra points.  Outside of the top 100 brings us a solid sleeper candidate in Patrick Patterson. He’s not the best for counting stats but with 2 good percents and low TOs all it takes is a little more usage and he could easily be top 100.

The next three teams have 4/3/4 schedules, but what makes them average is that they miss the heaviest schedule day of the playoffs, Wednesday in the semis. This is mostly for streaming purposes, but it’s almost guaranteed to help get an extra game in when you otherwise would have a guy benched. The Pelicans also miss a heavy schedule day in the finals.  Anthony Davis is amazing and all, the added 3pt game should only help his stats, but I’m still taking Curry’s extra game in the semis. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are both ranked by JB in the mid-70s. At that point they are well worth the risk.  However I’m taking Bradley Beal (WAS is in the top tier) over Reke, but there aren’t too may PGs left at this point and the ones that are left don’t have nearly the upside of Jrue. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon also represent significant injury risk but outside of the top 100 you could do far worse, and that late if you had to drop them for a hot free agent, so be it.

The Grizzlies have the same 4/3/4 and they miss both heavy schedule days in the semis so they get my vote for average. Marc Gasol had a great year in his injury comeback but with his age I find it difficult to move him into Gobert (UTA is in the next tier) territory, and given his brother’s number one schedule, he’s still forced to languish in his brother’s shadow. We all know JB hates Mike Conley, rationally or not Conley would be an amazing value where JB has him. He won’t drop that far, so if you want him then he will probably cost you a 3rd round pick. However that is probably too high. If he misses 10+ games again though, then I will reluctantly admit JB is right. Sure Zach Randolph is probably collecting Social Security already, but we can rely on him and at pick 100ish we could certainly do worse.  I feel forced into mentioning Tony Allen and Courtney Lee, although I’m not sure why.  Neither will make it on any of my RCL teams on draft day, but there, they’re mentioned.  Don’t forget they will have to contend with Jeff Green and the newly acquired Matt Barnes.

After the halfway point we finally run into the two 1st rounders for OKC whose 4/3/4 schedule misses a heavy schedule day in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. For my money Kevin Durant isn’t in the same tier as the top 3 guys, the risk is just too great.  But compared to LeBron, who could very well get a rest day or two late, the Durant re-injury risk feels justified. Selecting either at #4 is fine but to be perfectly honest I have no idea which I would take if given the choice. There’s no denying what Russell Westbrook accomplished last year, but we don’t get to use last year’s stats for this year.  He’s slab dab in the middle of the 1st round PG run and the only one with a good playoff schedule is Wall, but I don’t think the extra game for Wall is enough to leapfrog Westy. I might be wrong about that though.  Serge Ibaka is as good as any 2nd round big. The toughest comp with playoff schedules taken into account is Pau Gasol (CHI is in the top tier). But with Gasol’s age and injury history I’m still taking Ibaka in any build. Ibaka has a nice rounded game but just like Marc Gasol he isn’t in Gobert territory. Enes Kanter is another guy that really benefited from all the OKC injuries last year and I doubt anyone thinks he can replicate it this year. JBs ranking in the 90’s near Zach Randolph feels like a perfect fit. Dion Waiters just isn’t for me. Maybe he’s OK for a little ThrAGNoF but there are others I’d rather gamble on with my last pick.

This may be the only time you read this statement all year – the 76ers are in the average tier. They don’t miss that Wednesday in the Semis but they miss two of the heavy days in the finals with their 4/4/3 schedule. Nerlens Noel is a nice 4th round pick and pairs very nicely with a PG who doesn’t give high end steals *cough* Lillard *cough* Reggie *cough*. When I look at who I would take him over though, Love, Aldridge, Jefferson, Bosh, I think he may be closer to being a 3rd rounder. Robert Covington was playing so well last year that he was benched in favor of Jason Richardson. Maybe that isn’t true, but it’s the only reason I can come up with. The FG% is a problem, which keeps him a tad bit lower than Middleton (MIL is in the last tier) but I wouldn’t argue with taking Sir Covington ahead of the Duchess in the right build. Someone is going to draft Jahlil Okafor. If they aren’t punting FT% then please feel free to mock them at every possible opportunity.

The Not as Good as the Above Tiers Tier

BOS – 4/3/4, DAL – 4/3/4, POR – 4/3/4, UTA – 4/3/4, LAC – 4/3/4, DET – 4/4/3

There isn’t much difference between these teams and the teams above, with the exception being that they don’t miss that crucial Wednesday in the semis. Boston’s 4/3/4 schedule doesn’t miss a single heavy schedule day but I’m not sure we really care too much. There’s Isaiah Thomas in the top 100 and that is it, which might be the reason he had an absurd 32.1 USG% for the Celtics.  While JB says his rank is based off a starting job I don’t think it’s all that important for someone like IT2/3rds. The playoff schedule doesn’t help his case for making it on my team though, at where JB has him ranked. With that said, if he falls a bit then he would make for a very nice 3rd PG. The starting back court of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are draftable late but it’s IT2/3rds team and both don’t have too much upside with Thomas replicating his usage. The Celtics flustercuck of a front court is especially tough to predict. My money is on Jared Sullinger, JB’s is on Kelly Olynyk, and both might not be starters. I’ll avoid it until the very end of the draft.  If one of us is right they will be worthy of rostering in an RCL though.

The Mavs 4/3/4 schedule is slightly better than Boston’s since they miss the non-Wednesday heavy schedule day in the semis. But truth be told, it isn’t that heavy of a day and it may not even matter.  There may not be a riskier group of players than the Mavs. Chandler Parsons coming off injury, Wesley Matthews coming off injury, Deron Williams and his well-documented ankle woes, and the ageless wonder that is Dirk Nowitzki just isn’t as ageless or wonderful as he used to be.  It isn’t impossible I draft one of these guys, just highly unlikely. The guys I might draft are their backups.  Justin Anderson looked great in summer league and he will play, how much depends on the previously mentioned guys. Dwight Powell is another popular sleeper but he too will probably need a little help to be RCL rosterable. And I guess Zaza Pachulia could be useful too, albeit pretty low end. Unfortunately their not-so-good playoff schedule means they might just make my watch list and not my team coming out of the draft.

The Portland Lillard’s don’t have the greatest playoff schedule going 4/3/4 and missing a heavy day in the finals but it could be worse. Damian Lillard is going to be a monster and it’s not like the other 1st round PGs have that much of a better schedule. Whichever you decide to take will be just fine by me. A reasonable case can be made for any of the four. I don’t want to list 10 players so the only other Trailblazer worth mentioning is C.J. McCollum. I can’t justify calling him a top 100 guy but if he does finish inside the top 100 it won’t surprise anyone.

Finally I get to my Utah Jazz! I know their 4/3/4 schedule without missing any heavy schedule days isn’t ideal but I don’t care. For me this is a case of, “you still have to make the playoffs for playoff schedule to matter”, but I’m pretty biased. We all love Rudy Gobert and I think he’s in a tier of his own, especially if his FT% continues to climb. The closest comp is Millsap (ATL is in the last tier). They are very different players and Frank the Tankly these are the two guys I want to pair together at the 12/13 turn. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors should both go in the 3rd, Yahoo pre-draft ranks be damned! I already made the Love vs Favors comp above. Nothing has changed in the last 5 minutes. I’ve always been a fan of Alec Burks but it’s tough to reach for a guy who doesn’t have a good playoff schedule. I might get him but probably not in the top 100. We still don’t know what will happen at PG and that makes Trey Burke extremely tough to reach for, but with that said he probably gets the most minutes regardless of who starts. Finally I’ve got to mention Rodney Hood. He helped a lot of people win their league last year, but with a healthy Alec Burks it’s tough to predict more than 24-26 minutes for Hood.

The Clippers and their 4/3/4 schedule while missing heavy schedule days in the 2nd and 3rd rounds are only in this tier because they play on that semifinals Wednesday. The team is nearly identical to last year and we should know what to expect from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. However with a lukewarm schedule, a case can be made for each to be on the low end of their respective positional tiers. Reliability has its benefits though, so I’m not going to drop any of them further than where JB ranked them. The rank I do take issue with is J.J. Redick, the ThrAGNoF poster child. Paul Pierce will take more shots than Matt Barnes and for Redick to have value he needs those shots. I imagine I’ll look elsewhere – re: McCollum.

It is unfortunate Detroit falls here with a 4/4/3 schedule while missing all the heavy schedule days. I expect this won’t change anyone’s opinion when it comes to taking Andre Drummond and punting FT%, and it shouldn’t. He’s going to have a career year and an argument can still be made to take him at the 12/13 turn. And since there are more teams who play 4 games in the finals than in the semis, the missed game is easy to make up for. There seems to be a debate on where Reggie Jackson should fall. For me he’s top 50 and I see no scenario in which he doesn’t finish as such. You can compare him to Elfrid (WAS is in the top tier) due to high end assists, but they offer a very different stat line. A comparison with Dragic (MIA is in the last tier) or Kemba (CHA is in the 2nd tier) is even more off since they don’t offer the assist upside. What I’m trying to say is that Reggie is unique and as such the playoff schedule won’t effect where I draft him. Then there are the four, yes four, Detroit fliers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope might lose minutes to Jodie Meeks, Ersan Ilyasova has played more than 60 games just once in the past 5 years, Marcus Morris is just ThrAGNoF and might miss the beginning of the year with his off the court issues, and Stanley Johnson is going to be amazing, but when? Ilyasova is being drafted 1st and I get it, but for my last pick or two, Stanley is the Manly.

The Bad, Well Not Bad-Bad, Just Not-Good-Bad… and the Lakers

SAS – 3/4/3, MIL – 3/4/3, ATL – 3/4/3, MIA – 3/3/4, NYK – 3/3/4, LAL – 2/4/3

There was a lot of nit-picking with the above schedules but it’s pretty obvious the last six teams are the worst.  The Spurs with a 3/4/3 and they do miss two heavy schedule days in the finals but I feel like my position on not drafting Kawhi Leonard in the 1st round is now solidified.  LeMarcus Aldridge and the question marks surrounding him make him an easy avoid as well. Crisis averted! Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will be drafted by someone but with a poor playoff schedule and a propensity for a DNP-OLD I’m sure it won’t be me.  Danny Green takes the smallest hit since the playoff schedule is the only real downside, assuming of course you’re looking at him near JB’s rank of 58.  If he’s a top 40 guy for you, hopefully this schedule will help dissuade you from taking him that high.

The Bucks 3/4/3 while missing one heavy schedule day is a bit of disappointment, or is it? Greg Monroe is a solid fantasy guy but without the shot blocking the upside is capped, is he really a top 50 guy then? Khris Middleton had a great season last year and maybe he can repeat it, or maybe he doesn’t, it’s too early in his career to tell. The Giannis Antetokoumpo hype train should come to a screeching halt, but it doesn’t. Granted this should insure he doesn’t go in the top 50 but when drafting in the 60’s the reward still feels worth it. Michael Carter-Williams is an avoid for most of us and compared to Mudiay (Den is in the top tier) it’s now a no-brainer. But I’m not sure I want either unless I’m punting a percent or TOs. Jabari Parker and John Henson are both solid players but neither can be trusted for consistent minutes and with the playoff schedule I imagine I’ll be gambling elsewhere.

Atlanta’s 3/4/3 schedule while missing a heavy schedule day in the finals really is a bummer. Our love for all things Paul Millsap takes a hit. However it’s not like it’s a guaranteed loss or anything so he’s still going to be my guy at the 12/13 turn. Jeff Teague takes a hit and this one hurts pretty bad. He’s still draftable and all but he’s no longer someone I’ll reach for. Lowry (TOR in the 3rd tier) and even Reggie Jackson (DET is in the tier above) are now much closer than they would be with even schedules. Those two hurt but I’m still going to draft them, Al Horford on the other hand won’t make any of my teams. There are just too many good bigs drafted around him with much better playoff schedules. Are you taking Horford over Pau Gasol (CHI is in the top tier)? Safe to say, well not really safe since they both have some injury concerns, but with schedules Pau is light years ahead of Horford. Throw in Vucevic and Marc Gasol and there is just no scenario in which Horford makes my team. I don’t want to talk about Kyle Korver. Can I just avoid him cause I don’t like his fantasy game and he’s coming off a major injury? That was rhetorical, and he’s no Justin Holiday anyway! I really need to stop talking about Holiday…

Miami’s 3/3/4 schedule while missing a heavy schedule day in the 2nd and 3rd rounds isn’t pretty but the worst part is that I have to put them in the same conversation with the Knicks and Lakers. The top ranked Heat player is… Hassan Whiteside.  OK, easily avoided since he’s no Favors (UTA is in the above tier) or Noel (PHI is in the 3rd tier). Throw in the quotes about Whiteside sitting against small ball lineups and the playoff schedule might just save us from a poor draft day pick. It sounds like Chris Bosh is going to be fine and ready to go when the season starts and where he’s being drafted is well below what he’s capable of doing.  I’m not going to guarantee to avoid him but he would need to drop a bit more for me to bite.  Goran Dragic takes a hit too but so do most of the PGs around his draft slot. This does however move him to the bottom of that list, but certainly still draftable. Dwyane Wade is a big fat avoid everywhere. Even if I thought he’d play 70 games (I don’t) you now have to contend with a poor playoff schedule too. Some risks are worth taking. This isn’t one of them. Is Luol Deng still being drafted? Everything seems to be on the decline, even if he had the best playoff schedule I don’t think he would make any of my teams.

We’re through 28 teams and we finally get to talk about what I like to call the “Sportscenter 2”. The Knickerbockers craptastitic 3/3/4 schedule also comes with playing on every single heavy schedule day. Have you been debating where to draft Carmelo Anthony? Well that debate is finally over, and the answer is… nowhere! He’ll cost a 2nd round pick if you want him and even in the best case scenario he still gets fewer games than Paul George (IND is in the 2nd tier) and Wiggins (MIN is in the 2nd tier). For me this is an easy avoid.  There’s been a bit of a debate between Robin Lopez and Valanciunas (TOR is in the 3rd tier) and the Knicks playoff schedule makes that choice very easy to make.  The borderline Knick players are easily avoided now: Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, and whoever else is well past their primes. The one guy I’m still looking at though is Kristaps Porzingis.  I think he’s going to be a special player and even though his role is very much up in the air I tend to take the tact that talent always finds a way (7-word alliteration! Bam!).

Mother *bleep*, god *bleep, bleep, bleep*… Why do you do this to me you spiteful fantasy gods? The LA Clarksons claim the top spot, well bottom really, for worst playoff schedule, 2/4/3 while missing a heavy schedule day in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. It looks terrible on the surface but if you get a 1st round bye then in actuality it isn’t all that bad at all. Needless to say Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert are undraftable, but then again they were bordering on that before knowing the schedule. That may have been hyperbolic. The big takeaway from this is obviously Jordan Clarkson. I refuse to call him undraftable, especially since I plan on getting a 1st round bye, emoticon. What I will have to do though is somehow make up for the 1st rounds lack of games. My favorite pairing would be with Lowry (TOR is in the 3rd tier) since Toronto plays 5 games in the 1st round. What I can’t do is pair him with PGs who only play 3 games in the 1st round. For instance, Teague, Dragic, Clarkson would only be 8 games out of PGs in the 1st round, but Lowry, Kemba, Clarkson would be 11 games. And to top it off, both squads would get 11 games in the 2nd round. So there it is, over 6000 words of playoff schedules broken down into two sentences.

  1. dan-o1 says:
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    aw yeah baby!…might be the MVA(most valuable article ) right hurrr.
    thank you for taking the time and effort to put this together for us.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @dan-o1: You are most very welcome. I appreciate you staying with it. I know it’s a bit unwieldy with the length but at least it’s all in one place.

  2. MAC says:
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    RAZZUP slim?!!! what are ur thoughts on going gobert bledsoe at the 12 13 turn? ur next pick is at 36 37, ur gonna miss some pgs, and u better have 1 of the elite bigs (gobert drumm jordan i have in mind). they r not gonna last that long as well.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @MAC: So who are the 36/37 targets? I’ll go with Favors and a PG, there should be plenty left there.

      So I guess for me it boils down to is Millsap and a 2nd 36/37 PG (there’s like 5 or 6 of em I’d feel good about and we’re taking one with the Bledsoe pick also right?) vs Favors and Beldsoe. Hmph…

      Gobert/Bledsoe/Favors/We’ll go Teague or Dragic I guess.
      Gobert/Millsap/Teague or Dragic/and the other one or Reggie or Elfrid maybe.

      Phew. I guess that’s 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other but yeah I can’t argue with either plan. I guess the big thing with drafting Gobert is that we’re gonna need to makeup for the loss of points. Not difficult or anything but it means there are a few guys I would probably avoid with a high pick. Draymond, Noel, Elfrid would really put you behind in that category if paired with Gobert. As far as playoff schedules go Bledsoe is the best one there and Favors is better than Millsap. Bledsoe may be the way to go…

      • MAC says:
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        @Slim:
        the thing with millsap is, would rather go draymond over him considering the schedule. so for me, its gobert draymond or gobert bledsoe. as much as i like draymond, i would rather reach for bledsoe there than him with the fact that bled is a tier above than the next pg on board and having favors at 36 in mind as well.

        as of now, im no way gonna pass up an elite big in the 2nd round, with gobert drumm jordan in that order in mind. so basically, draft order is the key in which pg il be having in the first round. tnx!!!

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @MAC: I’m having a tough time with a Gobert/Draymond pairing. The points come up kinda short for a 1st 2 picks. Not the end of the world or anything but I think I’m going to avoid that pairing.

          • MAC says:
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            @Slim: definitely going gobert bledsoe at 11 12 13 14 turn. after top ten (curry, davis, harden, lbj, paul, kd, westbrook, wall, lillard, cousins) in that order for me, its definitely tough. and the thing is, theres a slight chance draymond even slides at 35 36 picks since its not a razzball league. ha!

            anyways, who would you pair up each of the first round picks?

            • Slim

              Slim says:
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              @MAC: So that puts Gobert at 11? Alright. I’m on board. Then who’s 12? Drummond punt FTs maybe.

              • MAC says:
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                @Slim:
                i mean, if u end up with pick 11 or 12, as of right now im going gobert bledsoe as my first 2 picks.

                what do you think of punting ft off the bat? like going drumm instead of gobert there? im a big fan of atleast punting 1 cat in h2h. and with drumm over gobert, ur basically choosing pts over killing ur ft.

                • Slim

                  Slim says:
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                  @MAC: Yeah that’s kind of what I was getting at. I think Drummond is 12 in 9cat H2H. Gobert gets the edge with the lack of FT punt but also I think he’s going to out block Drummond by a fair amount.

                  • MAC says:
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                    @Slim:
                    yeah. that blks is the deal breaker. though, its not like you have an advantage in ft just like the the elite players. tnx my man!

  3. Nishinga says:
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    Been waiting for this.
    I’m glad that the undraftable team is LA, they suck anyway and I ain’t no touching dat.
    Last year I had Vuc and Oladipo from Magic and it costed me the lose in the semi final, if only I have read the schedule article before…

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @Nishinga: Yeah ORL and CLE last year were so bad. Nothing quite like that this year. Just got to make sure not to load up on guys with a single poor schedule week. 13 players with 3 games vs 13 players with 4 is almost unwinnable irregardless of who the players are, well not irregardless but considering both teams are good enough to make the playoffs it kind of feels irregardless.

  4. decaf says:
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    Hey Slim!

    This was a great breakdown, unfortunately my league drafted early so I can’t take advantage of it anymore draft-wise. But maybe you could give me a few things to look out for in trades after the All-Star break to improve my playoff schedule (assuming I make it). 10-team H2H 9-cat:

    (4) James Harden
    (17) Paul Millsap
    (24) Draymond Green
    (37) Rudy Gobert
    (44) Reggie Jackson
    (57) Tobias Harris
    (64) Terrence Jones
    (77) Elfrid Payton
    (84) Khris Middleton
    (97) George Hill
    (104) Giannis Antetokounmpo
    (117) Jusuf Nurkic
    (123) Ed Davis

    JB already pointed out that I may be negating Harden’s awesome FT% by drafting a couple of weak guys in that department, but I just couldn’t help drafting value! Anyways, I’m not too worried about that yet at the start of the season, so looking far ahead into late season before the playoffs may be when I can adjust for this.

    Thanks! ^_^

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @decaf: Nothing jumps out at me. The value for a bunch of guys is amazing. Gobert @ 37, Giannis @ 104. You may be a little shy on assists for a 10er but not much. There were probably some grumbles with that Reggie pick @ 44 but it looks fine to me.

      • decaf says:
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        @Slim:
        I have Razzball to thank for those value picks! 🙂
        Noted on the assists. There was a really early rush for PGs, including the mid-tier ones in the early rounds, that I had to pick Reggie at the 5th round to not miss out. I also couldn’t go for a punt assist line-up, since my early wings have generally good AST for their positions. I’m hoping that Reggie and Payton live up to their AST projections, and then get a feel for the AST totals of the other teams to see if I need to add one more PG.
        Thanks for your insight!

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @decaf: Yeah its really not many. The Draymond/Millsap pairing really helps.

  5. CTMN says:
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    Are you worried that LeBron and/or Curry will get rested at least once during the important weeks, making their schedules closer to equal to Harden’s? Besides low minutes during the year, I think they’re really gonna take it easy with both those guys.
    Kerr is a Spurs guy and he showed once last year that he was willing to give a rest night, so I’m sure now that they have experience he’ll be more willing to risk losing homecourt throughout the playoffs in order to rest his guys, especially Steph. I don’t think Harden and Brow’s teams will have that luxury.
    For LeBron, he was ranked 12th last year, right? And his FT% is rough even if he does improve the weird turnovers thing from last year. I think he’s still the best player in the world but in fantasy terms, I don’t know if I want him top 5.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @CTMN: I’m worried about LeBron more than Curry. I put more value into home court vs the Spurs but I don’t know what they think… I agree though Harden and Brow won’t get DNP-rest. LeBron in the East, which seems to have only gotten worse at the top, and he’s older and going to have to carry the team in the early going. Yep I’m going with there’s a better chance LeBron sits late in the year.

      I hope I don’t have to make a LeBron team and without Drummond in the 2nd it really doesn’t seem all that fun. If i’m forced to take LeBron then I will. Vs the 4 PGs and Cousins below him? They all have their faults. It’s all close but yeah I hope someone else takes LeBron before me.

      • CTMN says:
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        @Slim: Makes sense, none of the guys behind LBJ seem great to pick at 5. Thanks!

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @CTMN: I agree. Kind of solidifies Durant at 4 I guess.

  6. CTMN says:
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    I really wanted your thoughts, Slim, on my ranking of the first round PGs. Feel free to disagree as much as you do, it would actually be more helpful because I just wanted the rationale for having the top 5 fantasy PGs in a different order than mine.
    1. Curry – Everyone agrees on that
    2. Wall – He’s played every game the last 2 seasons. With Pierce gone, I think his assists might even go up a bit, although 10.1 is already huge. In the whole league, only CP3 can compete in assists. Points should also go back up to 19-20 with Pierce gone cause Otto Porter will have low usage.
    3. Lillard – Never missed a game in his career, worst group of teammates for a high usage star guard since 2007 LeBron and early-mid 2000s Iverson (even if the talent isn’t the same). Unlimited upside and probably one of the most fun players to own this year.
    4. Westbrook – His injuries make me want Lillard and Wall over him, especially with how reliable they’ve been. Matty covered Lillard vs. Westbrook, I think it’s super close but health is a key factor. Wall’s assists push him over but I have my reasons (kinda) for the next one.
    5. CP3 – Ok, this might be because I hate the Clippers but he has as bad a playoff schedule as Lillard, and he had injuries the 2 years before last year. His steals dropped significantly last year, under 2 for the first time since 2007. He’s approaching 30 so there’s some risk of drop off, even if it’s small. I’d rather have a younger guy trending upward.

    Thanks for the playoff article, probably the most useful thing all year for fantasy!

    • kai says:
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      @CTMN: cp3 and RUBIO!!!!!

      • CTMN says:
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        @kai: haha, I like Rubio a lot more than CP3 but there’s just no way I’m picking him at all, in any round, any situation. *Waits for browser to crash and site to never work again*

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @CTMN: Something really bad would have to happen for me to draft Rubio. Maybe next year, after a healthy year.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @CTMN: There’s nothing to disagree with. Predicting the injuries is always the toughest thing. Is CP3 injury prone is kind of the thing right, that and who really wants to root for the Clippers anyway? If you don’t want him all the other 3 are worthy for sure. Westbrook with a healthy team plus Kanter and a new coach has plenty of risk too. Who knows how much lower than last year he could go. I’m with you Lillard will be the most fun, but I agree with everything you say about Wall. Esp without papa Pierce.

      • CTMN says:
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        @Slim: Ok thanks! I just wasn’t sure if I was crazy to think about Wall as high as 6.

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @CTMN: Nah not at all. Even Wall v LeBron could be debated.

  7. CTMN says:
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    Also, I know you wrote you’d still take Millsap 12/13, which I agree with, but would Draymond pass Millsap in rank? They both do everything, I guess Millsap has an advantage being centre eligible but does the extra game in the Finals help Draymond?

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @CTMN: I don’t really want to pair Gobert and Draymond. This is actually a case of wanting some more points out of my top picks. Steals and Blocks are real good. The dropoff in assists from Draymond to Millsap really isn’t that much. Yeah. It’s the points. Lillard with Draymond though, that’s quite a pairing.

      • CTMN says:
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        @Slim: Interesting, I didn’t think about points too much, good point. 3 for 3 on my questions : )

  8. dom says:
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    wow this is fantastic work. I always called them “quality games”, games when not a lot of teams are playing, aka the inverse of “heavy nights”, usually Thursdays and Sundays if I remember correctly. The national TV popular teams (NY, LA) had a lot of them last year and they end of making a big difference in both roto and h2h. Good stuff this will be a huge help in drafting

    • CTMN says:
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      @dom: I heard that there’s a lot less quality games this year because the NBA wants to reduce 4 games in 5 nights so they just let more teams play on the nights that usually don’t have many, at least up until now.

      • Slim

        Slim says:
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        @dom: @CTMN: I don’t have it front of me but I remember thinking there were alot more games on Thursday than usual.

      • A Hill O' Beans says:
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        @Slim: @CTMN: There’s such a difference in the number of quality games (or short schedule day games) between one team and another. If you take days with 5 or less games as a “quality game” then you end up with this. Miami has 22 quality games, LAL 19, and OKC has 18. Then there’s BOS with 6, CHA with 5, and ORL with a grand total of 3!

        That may be worth a column if you get time Slim. Could make a big difference in getting to the playoffs with such a discrepancy between teams.

          • A Hill O' Beans says:
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            @dom: Basketball Monster has them.

            • scrotchs says:
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              @A Hill O’ Beans: anyway you could post the whole list?

  9. Clyde Prompto says:
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    Awesome, Slim. This is one the most invaluable posts all year in any sport on any site.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @Clyde Prompto: Yikes, I don’t know if I can live up to that… I try.

  10. Mark says:
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    is this schedule for week 20, 21, 22?

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @Mark: I realized yesterday I forgot that part. Yeah 20 (Week of March 14). 21 (March 21). 22 (March 28).

  11. DK says:
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    Not posts lately and BAM! You delivered a power post! I have to say you really changed how I should approach this draft. Makes me even more cautious of LAL and Jordan Clarkson. Now I have to study your post more in depth. This stuff is really good!!!!!

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @DK: Writing isn’t really a strength of mine but this is important to me and it’s way too much to try to go over in a podcast. Plus it can be something worth consulting when presented with a trade later on in the year. It’s no where near as important as last year since the differences in schedules aren’t as severe but there is nothing worse than dominating your league all year only to lose to lesser players with more games.

      • DK says:
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        @Slim: One of the best reads and useful post! I have already bookmarked this. I didn’t even know some teams have such bad schedule to affect the semis. Makes me look at Millsap somewhat differently even though I do really like his game. So far in my mock, Gobert is always gone. Millsap, Draymond and Leonard is still there.

  12. miles proudfoot says:
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    Hey Slim, amazing work, thank you! You gave me some direction on where to draft players and even more to think about. Your ability to present the number of games, and integrate your analysis of the team’s schedule and individual players is remarkable.

    • dan-o1 says:
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      @miles proudfoot: as a newer fantasy basketball’r, that’s the biggest thing i take away from the article too, miles proudfoot. this info is indispensable and a fundamental to learning fantasy basketball. a good team isn’t made by using stats alone,imo

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @miles proudfoot: Thank you very much. I’d be lying if I said I only read that once. I kind of imagine JB threw his hands up and yelled, “Don’t feed his ego more!”

      • JB Gilpin

        JB Gilpin says:
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        @miles proudfoot: @Slim: DON’T FEED IT, IT’S GLUTTONY AT THIS POINT!

  13. hisXLNZ says:
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    Razzup freaks! There are leagues out there that extends upto week 24 to 25 for their Finals to utilize all the team’s 82 games per season, thinking this could help….just dont have the Thur skeds which is another factor for those who usually lacks games for that day….
    455, 14
    Chi

    445, 13
    Cle, ind, min, orl, phx, sac, was
    Gsw

    436, 13
    cha, lal, sas

    346, 13
    lac, mia, nop, tor

    355, 13
    Bkn

    444, 12
    Den

    435, 12
    Atl, det, hou, mil, phi

    345, 12
    Bos, dal, mem, okc, uta

    344, 11
    Nyk, por

    Man, Chi is really the cream of the crop and NYK really sucks…. SAS and LAL gets a huge boost here while Por gets a bump….

    • hisXLNZ says:
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      btw, I had it week 22, 23 and 24/25….

      • Slim

        Slim says:
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        @hisXLNZ: Nice. I would highly recommend avoiding playing the last week/week and a half of the season if at all possible. The good players/players on playoff teams get benched like crazy at the end. Anyone with a hangnail won’t play. The randomness of it reminds me of the last week in football which I’m pretty sure most people avoid. It’s fun for the daily aspect though. Jabari Brown went for something like 27 in the last game of the year.

  14. Ryan says:
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    Thanks for taking the time to not only analyze the number of games each team has during the playoffs, but also whether or not these games fall on heavy-schedule days. This is something that I usually spend A LOT of time figuring out when putting together my teams.

    Great stuff man. I know you mostly do podcast stuff, but I look forward to your future write-ups. I personally prefer them because it is just easier and less time consuming for me to read them than it is for me to listen to an hr podcast. Plus, I’m sure you can cover things in much greater detail this way.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @Ryan: You are most welcome and I am very gracious of the kind words.

      Yeah… they both have their pros and cons. I really like how on the podcasts it isn’t just my incredibly biased opinion. We can discuss and either come to an understanding or vehemently disagree. Maybe even change each others mind. It doesn’t hurt that an hour podcast only takes me 1 hour but a 2000 word post takes me something like 6. I know I’m a slow writer and that can get frustrating at times. I have an RCL draft on the 4th and I plan on writing a recap but I want to do it a little differently. I think I’m going to try to discuss my draft prep too, which is always different depending on the league settings. But hopefully useful.

  15. DK says:
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    Slim, as luck put it, my random draft order put me in the last draft position of my 14 team 9 cat. Sigh, makes all the elite PGs out of reach. How do you think I should approach the draft, especially top 5 picks?

    Some players come into mind would be Gobert/Millsap or Gobert/Draymond. Basically it is all mine. Then 3rd and 4th prob one of the PGs like Rjax, etc. Which meant I probably need to draft 3 PGs in round 3-5.

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @DK: We assume the universally accepted top 10 are gone… lets see that 3rd/4th picks are number… 42/43. Yeah Definitely looking for a PG there. I’ve had a few conversations about Bledsoe at the turn and I’m starting to get on board. Also it seems the odds of Favors making it to 42 are pretty good. I’m definitely warming to the idea of a Gobert/Bledsoe combo then Favors/PG combo. The next pick isn’t until 70 so I think PGs are probably gone by then. Maybe Elfrid falls but there will almost certainly be a good wing there.

      So… Gobert/Bledsoe/Favors/PG/Wing would be pretty strong.
      Some backups…
      Millsap/Bledsoe/Noel/PG/Wing
      Draymond/Bledsoe/Favors/PG/Wing

      Or if you go big/big then I think you are absolutely forced into PG/PG with the 3/4 pick, especially with the 5th pick being so far away. It feels a little riskier though cause there might be a run on PGs in the 4th and since you’re looking for 2 you might be SOL. Taking Bledsoe in the 2nd for some reason feels a bit safer.

      • DK says:
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        @Slim: Hmm, when you break it down like that it makes so much more sense to reach for Bledsoe. Let’s assume Gobert is not there, wouldn’t it better to go for big like Ibaka to secure my big man stats? Rather than Millsap or Draymond?

        After that getting Favors, might not be easy. I might end up getting Noel.

        Why are you unsure about Bledsoe? Because his stats drop off towards the end? High TO? After Bledsoe the rank drop off seemed huge. Bledsoe at 19 then, the rest of the PGs 33, 34, 38, 40. I wonder if Dragic or even Teague could go higher? I imagine my 2nd PG available would be Rjax, Payton, Kemba and Dipo. Dragic/Teague/Lowry/Conley usually gone.

        So would the following work?
        Gobert/Bledsoe/Favors/PG/PG?

        A fifth PG? In case if Elfrid or Rubio is still available. Or would it better to go for wings like Gallinari? My obversation is by 5-6 round (pick 72/72), the only ones left are Clarkson, KAT, Dieng, Gortat, Tyson, Myles, Covington

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @DK: I wouldn’t be against pairing Bledsoe with Ibaka. I guess I favor Millsap and Draymond a bit more for the assists. I know I gave Ibaka a pretty nice projection but I think he’s definitely more risky than Millsap and Draymond since we really don’t know what kind of role Ibaka will have offensively with a healthy team, new coach, and Kanter.

          The only trepidation I have with Bledsoe is that by taking him that high we’re assuming a significant improvement. Maybe a little too much but with that said the dropoff in PG is too steep to ignore and 14th pick in a 14er, waiting till pick 42, for the 1st PG might really backfire. I think the risk justifies the pick and the deeper the league, with a late pick, the more I lean towards taking Bledsoe.

          We should probably just lump pick 5 and 6 together so we’re looking at
          Big/PG/Big/PG then 2 picks. If Elfrid or Rubio is there at 70 then I say go for it but Gallo there will be so difficult to pass on so I think I would lean that too. Esp since at this point we’re a bit short on 3s and not great at FT%, 2 of Gallo’s biggest advantages. He’s definitely ahead of all those others given the build. So if we call him one of them then it comes down to a PG or a big with the other pick. I would say to go PG (assuming a decent one is there), esp if you went Gobert. And it’s definitely worth mentioning that there are a lot more upsidey bigs late than there are PGs. Next picks are 98/99. That is so far away… I guess at that point it would pretty much turn into best player available, while kind of praying one of those bigs you have listed falls.

          • DK says:
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            @Slim:

            Well here’s some of my mocks. What do you think?

            1. Rudy Gobert (Uta – C)
            2. Eric Bledsoe (Pho – PG,SG)
            3. Jeff Teague (Atl – PG)
            4. Derrick Favors (Uta – PF,C)
            5. Reggie Jackson (Det – PG,SG)
            6. Danilo Gallinari (Den – SF)
            7. Jordan Clarkson (LAL – PG)
            8. Gorgui Dieng (Min – PF,C)
            9. Myles Turner (Ind – C)
            10. P.J. Tucker (Pho – SG,SF)
            11. Alec Burks (Uta – PG,SG)
            12. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Det – SG)
            13. Mo Williams (Cle – PG,SG)

            1. John Wall (Was – PG)
            2. Rudy Gobert (Uta – C)
            3. Jeff Teague (Atl – PG)
            4. Nerlens Noel (Phi – PF,C)
            5. Isaiah Thomas (Bos – PG)
            6. Andrew Wiggins (Min – SG,SF)
            7. Terrence Jones (Hou – SF,PF)
            8. Jordan Clarkson (LAL – PG)
            9. Patrick Patterson (Tor – PF,C)
            10. Otto Porter (Was – SF)
            11. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Det – SG)
            12. John Henson (Mil – PF,C)
            13. Justin Anderson (Dal – SF)

            • Slim

              Slim says:
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              @DK: There isn’t a pick among them I disagree with where you got them. I love how the 1st wing isn’t until the 6th round. Clarkson as a 4th PG is perfect, even if some (Yahoo) thinks it’s a reach. I think the top draft probably finished a little better, but you take what you can get at that point. There’s a fair amount of risk with the 3rd and 4th bigs for both teams. I might look for a 5th big instead of KCP just to make sure you don’t get too far behind in case they don’t work out. I’m calling TJones a wing since ideally he slots in at SF.

              • DK says:
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                @Slim: Thanks Slim. My issue is probably getting the 2nd C of Favors or Noel. Those 2 might be hard to get considering the choices at that range. Also might end up with alternate choice PGs like IT2 and Rubio instead of more solid PGs like Teague and Rjax.

                What do you think of Reke as the 4th PG if there’s not much other choice? It seems Holiday won’t play back2backs.

                • DK says:
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                  @DK: on a random thought, what do you think of pairing Gobert with Butler or Klay? Chances those 2 will be fast gone, but I do like Butler’s game especially. He gives you nice amount of guard stats.

                  • Slim

                    Slim says:
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                    @DK: Tyreke is looking more and more like a solid PG3 even. I know 2 subpar percents, TOs, and low 3s but everything else is where it should be.

                    Gobert with those 2 isn’t unreasonable. I’d go Butler over Klay but that’s mostly because I don’t trust Klay to replicate last years stats. I’ve got Butler at 3.1 assists and Millsap at 3.2. I know Butler said he wants triple doubles but so do I. Doesn’t really change my projection of myself. I still think you would need 2 PGs at the 36/37 turn which means waiting until 60/61 for a 2nd big. Not impossible but for me it just isn’t ideal considering the plethora of available wings there.

                    • DK says:
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                      @Slim: Yeah, I tried messing around with getting wings instead of Gobert/Bledsoe and end up having quite a bit of wings and not so reliable PGs like Deron or Collison. Word is Reke’s rank seems to be picking up quite a bit with Holiday so unstable.

                      This is my latest mock. I feel that the steals might be weak. Any suggestion to improve that number for pick 7-10 (87/88, 116/117) and ? So far I am targetting players like Burks, W.Chandler, Nurkic, KCP. PJ Tucker seems one of the better ones to maintain good reb and steal. I find I am kind lost at pick 10-12.

                      1. Rudy Gobert (Uta – C)
                      2. Eric Bledsoe (Pho – PG,SG)
                      3. Derrick Favors (Uta – PF,C)
                      4. Reggie Jackson (Det – PG,SG)
                      5. Isaiah Thomas (Bos – PG)
                      6. Terrence Jones (Hou – SF,PF)
                      7. Gorgui Dieng (Min – PF,C)
                      8. Danilo Gallinari (Den – SF)
                      9. Jordan Clarkson (LAL – PG)
                      10. Myles Turner (Ind – C)
                      11. Alec Burks (Uta – PG,SG)
                      12. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Det – SG)
                      13. Greivis Vasquez (Mil – PG,SG)

  16. John says:
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    Yo Slim, I have the 6th overall pick for my draft this year. From doing acouple of mock draft, please rank them in the order who would you take if available:
    KD, CP3, Westbrook, Cousins

    Thanks!

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @John: Yeah that’s the order I’ve got them. Settings can change it a bit but KD is ahead of all irregardless. Throw out TOs and I’ll take Cousins and Westbrook over Paul.

  17. Jay says:
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    Just did my real draft and wanted your input on any potential moves that should be made or any immediate weaknesses that my team has. This is for a 10 man, 10 cat (FG%, FT%, 3PM, OREB, REB, AST, STL, BLK, TO, PTS) H2H league.

    Also… don’t ask me how the combination of the first two picks happened, but for whatever reason he just kept slipping and slipping – and then the 16th pick went to Carmelo.

    4 – Kevin Durant
    17 – Damian Lillard
    24 – Paul Millsap
    37 – Nerlens Noel
    44 – Andrew Wiggins
    57 – Mike Conley
    64 – Terrence Jones
    77 – Karl Anthony-Towns
    84 – Tyson Chandler
    97 – Jarrett Jack
    104 – Myles Turner
    117 – Thaddeus Young
    124 – Mo Williams

    • Slim

      Slim says:
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      @Jay: Lillard in the 2nd with Durant pretty much covers most of the counting stats and easily gives you the most points out of the 1st 2 picks and Durant covers Lillards FG%, scary. Millsap and Noel make up for the lack of steals and gives a good start on blocks. Wiggins in the 4th is nice and the scoring is now way up there, even with Noel. Some great value out of Conley and a PG was really the only way to go there. Everyones favorite sleeper in TJones, and a good time to make your run on bigs. Jack was a real nice late addition to what had become a bit short on assists at that point.

      Yeah. I can’t find a single fault with this team. I would be extremely happy if my drafts went this well. It’s a real nice mix of youth and established vets too. Pretty low on injury concern… If I was looking for anything I’d say another PG maybe, a few more 3s couldn’t hurt either.

      • Jay says:
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        @Slim: Someone in my league just dropped Kyrie, and luckily I was able to snatch him up from waivers before anyone else saw that he had been dropped. Got rid of Myles Turner (maybe temporarily) for the time being since I’m solid in blocks and probably wasn’t winning either rebound category anyways, so Kyrie’s addition gives me the threes and assists that I was missing (with the addition of extra steals, points, and FT% in case I didn’t have that locked up already).

        That being said, I’m not sure why he was dropped in the first place – have you heard anything recently about him having an injury setback that will for sure keep him out for a prolonged period of time?

        • Slim

          Slim says:
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          @Jay: He’s absolutely worth holding. I guess the other owner got scared off by a report saying Kyrie might be out until January. I don’t know if this is going to happen or not. I think it’s safe to say he’ll miss the beginning of the year though.

  18. DK says:
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    I actually have to try mock drafts where I assume Gobert is gone even at my draft position 14. He’s getting picked up more lately. The buzz will only increase. What do you think would be a good alternative scenario?

    My imagination is pairing with Millsap. So it would be Millsap + Butler/Klay/Kawhi/Draymond. Or the standard combo Millsap/Bledsoe. If it is Millsap+wing, then I would grab 2 PGs in 42/43. If Millsap/Bledsoe, probably go for Favors/PG. I definitely lose my elite blocker/rebounder from Gobert. This year PG all packed at 3rd-4th pick really makes it all a risk. 42/43 definitely have to go PG or you might just lose the chance to get a decent 2nd-3rd tier PG.

    I tried a mock where Gobert was actually gone. The roster don’t look bad ya?

    1. Jimmy Butler (Chi – SG,SF)
    2. Paul Millsap (Atl – PF,C)
    3. Jeff Teague (Atl – PG)
    4. Gordon Hayward (Uta – SG,SF)
    5. Isaiah Thomas (Bos – PG)
    6. Tyson Chandler (Pho – C)
    7. Gorgui Dieng (Min – PF,C)
    8. Jordan Clarkson (LAL – PG)
    9. Myles Turner (Ind – C)
    10. P.J. Tucker (Pho – SG,SF)
    11. Zaza Pachulia (Dal – C)
    12. Mo Williams (Cle – PG,SG)
    13. John Henson (Mil – PF,C)

  19. scrotchs says:
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    Love the article, great resource for drafting and trading. Please help me out with the following trade proposal considering rankings and playoff schedule.

    I am in a keeper league with 3 year contracts. I have the first pick and the best available is curry who I could keep for 3 years. A big warriors fan is trying to trade me his 7 th pick and Westbrook for #1 pick. It would work out as …

    Curry 3 years

    For

    Westbrook 1 year
    Lillard or wall 3 years
    2016 2nd round pick

    Do I go for it? I am worried about giving up 3 years of curry.

    It is 6 cat, h2h, no %’s or TO.

    My keepers are Bledsoe, Monroe and Favors

    Thanks!

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