Welcome to the second season of Run The Numbers. For those of you that are new here, I’m Tad. That clip was an homage to my avatar and my favorite basketball movie. I’m a stats nerd and I grew up in the Chicago area during the Jordan years. These days, I drool over highlight montages of prospects and manipulate spreadsheets of NBA statistics to find ways to squeeze out every last drop of value I can.

I’m not as much into predicting sleepers and breakouts. You get enough of that, anyway. I’m into finding advantages. Market inequities. This season, I’ll be providing ways to maximize the value of your team and philosophies that yield stats at a discount. I’ll also regularly update you on players most valuable to certain builds and punt strategies, which helps you even if you aren’t intentionally ignoring any categories in particular. So, you’ll definitely be getting names to target and pick up as well. We want to play smarter than our competition. Treat these players as fantasy assets. A set of numbers. Don’t get swayed by flashy plays and hyped-up, empty double-doubles. I mean, of course it’s way more fun to have highlight dunks to go along with your stats, but it’s the most fun to win!

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Let’s recap the four-year Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit. One season above .500 (44-38). Three seasons with win totals of 39, 37, and 32 games. Acquired Blake Griffin and his five-year, $171 million contract for essentially a first-round draft pick and Tobias Harris, who put up 19.3 points, 6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.2 threeecolas last season. Ricky Lake Griffin contributed 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.9 threeecolas. In the 2017 NBA Draft, SVG selected Luke Kennard ahead of Donovan Mitchell. Shaking my head vociferously. His previous draft picks were Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije, Stanley Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who has turned out to be the best of the group but, of course, was traded for Cameron Bairstow back in 2016. Re-reading what I just wrote makes me think of a part from my favorite movie. There’s hope, though, as the Wicked Witch of the East….urrr….I mean SVG is dead. Not literally of course.

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

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Ever seen the video that shows 30 hornets killing 30,000 bees? If not, here you go. I’m always fascinated and mesmerized by that video, which is the opposite of when I think about the Charlotte Hornets. Maybe we should call them the Charlotte Honey Bees. Since the team’s inception in 1988, the Bobcats/Hornets have had three 50-win seasons (10%), nine 40-win seasons (32%), and three seasons with less than 20 wins (10%). In 2011, the Hornets won a whopping seven games, which puts them in the pantheon of winning percentage futility. I know I’m being harsh, but I just watched hornets killing bees for the past 20 minutes. I’m amped and expect more! There is hope, though. James Borrego is the new coach and the team has an infusion of young talent. This could be an exciting year for the franchise.

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Deja vu much? Maybe so. As I said in the Celtics preview, one game away. That’s how close I was to being right in predicting the Celtics and Rockets in the finals and basking in that glory. The Rockets, in my opinion, had the best shot at beating the Warriors last year, and I think we will see them in the Western Conference finals once more. This time going the distance and winning the championship. This is a fantasy-friendly site and fantasy-based article, so I can leave my hot takes at the door, but I think the Rockets got better with their additions, and I look forward to watching their success this coming year.

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Not one. Not two. But three, as in this will be LeBron James’ third and most likely final team he plays for. From a macro sense, the three questions that pervade my mind are: 1) Can LeBron join Robert Horry and John Salley as the only players in NBA history to win championships with three teams? 2) Can LeBron do enough in LA to join West, Chamberlain, Baylor, Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, Worthy, Goodrich, Wilkes, O’Neal, and Bryant x2 on the walls of Staples Center? 3) Can LeBron and Jr. become the first father/son combo to play in the NBA at the same time? LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. Blah. Blah. Blah. This is a Lakers team preview, but you know what? Everything revolves around LeBron. Don’t believe me? It’s been five years since the Lakers made the playoffs. Here are the win totals during that span: 35, 26, 17, 21, and 27. With the acquisition of LeBron, the Lakers are now 10/1 to win the championship! And 6/1 to win the Western Conference! The projected season win total ranges from 48-50.5, depending on which book you look at. Welcome to LA, LeBron!

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Every fantasy basketball season there are players who come out of nowhere and decide fantasy championships. Donovan Mitchell and Tyreke Evans were those guys last year. Both were overlooked for two totally different reasons, as Mitchell was a rookie and Evans had struggled with injuries over his brief career. But both got an opportunity due to injuries on their respective teams and proceeded to go nuts. So let’s take a look at five guys who are available late in drafts and have the talent to be fantasy basketball difference makers:

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October is upon us and that is a wonderful thing. The leaves turn beauteous colors while the weather provides crisp breezes. Both adults and kids get to dress up. Kids to beg for huge bags of candy. Adults to fantasize and act silly. There is even a holiday when some folks get to stay home from work to celebrate the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus! But the real greatness of October lies in the fact that it is the month where our sports converge together like women for the 70% off sale at Nordstroms. College football, which if you haven’t heard, is its own religion in the South, and the NFL are into their second month. The guys in the US and Canada start wielding sticks and slapping pucks around, as the NHL season begins. Our national pastime breaks into its glorious playoff season. But for fantasy hoopheads, the most important thing that happens is the NBA season kicks off in earnest.

It is almost here. We have just a few days until October 16, and there are mock drafts, real drafts, online drafts, auction drafts, snake drafts, and dynasty drafts scheduled over the next two weeks in every hamlet in this fair country.

On September 28th, we saw Gordon Hayward in the Boston Green to kick off the preseason. Each team will play five games that don’t count in preparation for those that do. What then to watch for to help you  hoodwink all your buddies and have the best draft imaginable?

I will look Division by Division to give you some keys to watch that might provide some guidance.

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On this week’s pod, Brent, Craig, and Son hit on a wide array of topics.  Among the notables are Jimmy Butler and his trade requests, players that each member thinks will be a bust for this fantasy basketball season, the fast tempo of the Sacramento Kings, and position battles in training camps throughout the NBA.  All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Basketball Podcast!

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