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.