Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s crunch time fantasy ballers! These are the games that make or break your season. A lot of guys who have been reliable stat-stuffers all season disappear or are rested down the stretch and waiver pickups come up with career performances. Bam Adebayo has been fairly reliable for a while, but came up huge last night going 16-11-8-0-4-5 on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-for-4 from the line. Hassan Whiteside is in Eric Spoelstra’s doghouse for one reason or another, which has opened the door for Bam to flourish. It’s all about the adds and drops at this point, so I’m not gonna get into all the big-name superstars. So let’s dive on into the daily notes, and the game-changing performances in the fantasy basketball playoffs. BAM!

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This past week was a frantic one. Injuries to key players wreaked havoc for H2H leagues. Many last seeds overcame the undisputed first seed favourites, which is why owners both love and hate the head-to-head format. I particularly enjoyed discussing in the comments about readers’ leagues and how diligently they prepared for the week, in an attempt to maximize their teams’ games and subsequently improve their chances for a win. This week we have some very high-profile names as Sell candidates, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. It’s playoffs time after all!

The candidates from last week were overall helpful, with Mikal Bridges contributing close to 3 steals per game and Moe Harkless also bringing the hustle stats. The one player that stood out however was Jalen Brunson, who has the starting spot locked up in Dallas and is playing heavy minutes. He looks like the real deal and his playing time will be safe going forward with the Mavs in player development mode. Finally, Tim Hardaway Jr. saw an increase in minutes and triples made, but his fg% is still a major problem and Tyler Johnson got injured so there is zero incentive to hold onto him.

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When you think of the great basketball players this season, who does your mind gravitate towards? James Harden? Paul George? Steph Curry? Karl-Anthony Towns? Giannis Antetokounmpo? There are likely 15-20 other players you would list before arriving at Andre Drummond. The free throw shooting stinks and he doesn’t provide treys, but you know what?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 21 5 2 1 1 0 9/20 3/6

That’s what’s up. Dre leads the league in dub-dubs with 58 and has posted a 20/20 game 12 times this season. He’s 10th in blocks per game, 11th in steals per game, 1st in rebounds, and 19th in field goal percentage. On the season, he’s a top 25 player for fantasy. Yes, the free throw shooting and lack of treys put a ceiling on his value, but he does so much in the other categories that…..we must never forget about Dre.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I’ve always enjoyed the Godzilla franchise. When I was young, it was all about the monsters fighting, special effects, and destruction levied upon the landscape. As I got older and delved into the origins, I appreciated the franchise that much more. As with most things in life, though, the journey is cyclical and it’s back to the good old awe-inspiring, destructive force. Which brings me to Giannis Antetokoummpo. All season, I’ve been calling him G, as he’s a straight gangster, and when he balls the F out, it’s been Nuthin’ but a G Thang. There have been moments of O. M. G. But yesterday, everything became crystal clear.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
52 16 7 2 1 1 3/8 15/26 19/21

A 50-burger and this…..

He called Ben Simmons a “f’ing baby” but then Simmons came back and dunked on his head. In addition, Joel Embiid produced a 40-burger and the Sixers defeated the Bucks, 130-125. I felt like I was watching a Godzilla movie in which he had to fight Gigan, Destoroyah, Mothra, and Ghidorah at the same time. Anyways, Gzilla is a freaking beast. Top 5 player over the past seven games. He’s been averaging 30.3 points, 1.1 treys, 13.1 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1 steal, and 1 block while shooting 58% from the field and 82% from the free throw line on a whopping 11.4 attempts! The turnovers are high, but whatever. Now, with Malcolm Brogdon out for a while, Gzilla may be making more appearances down the stretch, as Brogdon had a usage rate in the low-20s. Other teams better hope they have a couple of monsters to negate Gzilla, because he’s coming to wreak havoc.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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What else is there to say about James Harden? He’s been so consistently amazing that it’s easy to lose sight of just how good he is playing. Fantasy GMs that roster him have held a serious advantage all season. Every way you slice this line, it’s amazing. On one hand, he was one board away from a 40 point triple-double. If you look even closer, he was just 2 blocks away from a 5×5. That’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
12/25 14/17 3/11 41 9 11 6 3 6

Everything about this line is massive. The turnovers are tough, but we all knew that going in. He continues to be the top play and should keep it going through the rest of the fantasy playoffs. Any team facing Harden better come correct.

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I thought I’d send out a reminder for those of you in keeper leagues. This probably applies more to roto players than head-to-headers, since those in roto leagues aren’t scraping and clawing for every last game they can get with their limited moves. I’m talking about stashing some of next year’s potential breakouts. Yeah, just about everyone worth taking next year is on a roster already… just about. In my keeper league, I once grabbed this Draymond Green character in the last few weeks of the season, since he’d been on a hot streak. He ended up finishing as a top-30 player the following season. Nearly the exact same story for C.J. McCollum the next year. And if I’d have been on my game at the end of last season, I’d have grabbed Cedi Osman, preventing me from having to waste an early draft pick on him this season (we keep a lot of players). There’s a ton of unknown between now and next October’s fantasy drafts (gloriously entertaining unknown, by the way), but we can make some educated guesses at this point. Do you have some players you know you’re not keeping next season that also aren’t making a difference on your team? Replace ’em with lottery tickets, and maybe one or two will pay off. They could at least give you some extra trade value.Some keeper and dynasty leagues don’t have a trade deadline, so I’ll be including some players here that might be near-universally owned in addition to those who have a good shot at being free agents in your league. Speaking of free agents, that’s how we’re going to unearth some of our targets. The other aspect I’ll look at are rookies and second-year players that could be in line for a bump in playing time and usage. And there will be some nice overlap in who we find from each strategy, I’m sure.

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Out of all the sports, basketball is the most projectable, as there are more possessions to provide a larger sample size. But that doesn’t mean variance doesn’t exist. Blake Griffin can miraculously block a shot one game or DeAndre Jordan can shoot 8-for-9 from the free throw line on any given night. The LA nightlife can affect a team’s performance or the hotel wifi could cause players to go on tilt which affects their performance on the court. Whatever the reason, shit happens sometimes.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 0 0 0 2 8/12 11/16 3/4

C. J. Miles did that. C. J. Miles never does that. He hasn’t scored more than 15 points in any game this season. To be fair, C. J. Miles used to do that. His career high is 40 points, back in 2010. In his prime, he’d only average around 12-13 points, but he’d go off for 30+ points every once in a while. Anyways, he will likely score 5 points in the next game, so in no way am I advocating walking 500 Miles with him. With that said, it’s always nice to acknowledge greatness, even if it probably won’t be replicated.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I usually highlight a player for the lede, but today, it’s all about the playoffs for many of you. You’ve scratched and clawed for 21 weeks. If you heeded my advice, you also likely sacrificed a few virgins as well. Anyways, don’t get complacent now. Utilize all your moves for the week. Send out the scouts and project your opponent. Where is he/she weak? How does your squad match up? Games played, minutes, and opportunities are truly king now. It’s win this week or go home. I wish everyone good fortune and let’s bring home some chips for the Razzball family!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what I saw in yesterday’s action:

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