Like most of you fantasy nuts, I am starved for basketball this time of year and can’t wait to get started. I decided to take matters into my own hands and started a league. I wanted it to be realistic and meaningful, so I set the buy-in at $200. Thankfully, I was able to gather 11 knowledgeable players and we drafted last week. Most of these guys are sharp, so there weren’t many bargains. Here is a recap of how it went down.

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Not only was James Harden the only player to stay healthy for the entirety of the fantasy basketball playoffs, but he has also been putting up insane lines. Last night he went 7-50-11-10-0-0-3 on 13-of-31 shooting and 17-of-18 FTs. You must feel like a fool if you didn’t draft this man number one overall. He’s the clear cut top fantasy player, and he didn’t take any rest days in the crucial games of the fantasy season, unlike pretty much every other relevant player in the league. For most of us, today is the last day of the fantasy basketball season, and we are sad. Many of us have mentally moved on to fantasy baseball, but for one last day let’s reflect on the fantasy season that was, and enjoy one last day of fantasy basketball before the inevitability of the Warriors championship run commences. Here’s what went down last night in the NBA:

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Clint Capela was producing at a top 20 level, averaging 17.1 points, 12.5 boards, and 1.8 blocks. Then, he suffered a thumb injury and missed 14 games. Upon his return, D’Antoni gave him 33, 28, and 34 minutes of run, in which Capela produced top 100 value. Every performer needs a warm up or time to get into the groove. Well, if last night was any indication, Capela is done with rehearsing and reading for prime time.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 17 2 1 1 0 0 10/16 3/4

Capela played a team-high 41 minutes. Now, Kenneth Faried did miss some time last night due to injury, so that may explain some of the minutes bump, but Capela looks ready to go for the stretch run. Prior to the injury, he was averaging close to 35 minutes per game and produced three 20/20 games. The Rockets are getting healthy and I can’t wait to see what the main act provides.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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If you want a guaranteed chuckle, watch this Al B. Sure! video. Ha! Gotta love the late-80s and early-90s. As much as we clown now, though, Al B. Sure! was a star back then. The above song was No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and he was nominated for Grammy and AMA awards. There’s another Al that gets clowned on as well: Al Horford. Why? Click HERE. Ha! Too funny. He also seems to be underrated and underappreciated in the fantasy community. Well, last night he reminded us all why he’s so damn good…

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 17 5 2 3 0 2/6 8/21 3/4

Over the past four games, Horford has been the #6 player in fantasy. On the season, he’s top 25. Many view him as a better real-life player than fantasy asset, yet since 2010, Horford has ended as a top 20 player five times and has never finished below #43 on a per-game basis. Al B Good for Sure!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I live in Los Angeles and enjoy skiing and snowboarding. I also like long walks on the beach while strumming tunes on my ukulele. Although there are ski resorts less than two hours drive away, it doesn’t rain often here. Los Angeles averages around 12.8 inches of rain per year. Last year, LA received 4 inches of rain. Only Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego average less. For perspective, New Orleans averages 62.7 inches, while many of the big cities in the U. S. are in the 40-50 range. If it doesn’t rain often, then it doesn’t snow often, which means the slopes are no bueno, even with the artificial snow makers. Now, recently it’s been raining so much that I’ve been Googling ark blueprints. All that rain has been like frozen manna for the local resorts. A picturesque perfection of powder. Which describes the situation for JaVale McGee.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 13 1 1 1 1 0 10/15 1/3

McGee has started the last two games because Ivica Zubac was traded to the Clippers. He’s played 26 and 30 minutes, and averaged 19 points, 10.5 boards, 1 block, and 0.5 steals. Per 36, he’s averaging 18.3 points, 11.2 boards, 1 steal, and 3.4 blocks! He’s probably not going to get 36 minutes of run per night, but with only Tyson Chandler, Moritz Wagner, and Mike Muscala the only threats to playing time, McGee should get close to 30 minutes per night. The conditions are pristine at McGee Mountain. Enjoy your stay.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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A few years back, there was this popular book series that was also one of the first click-baitey lists I remember seeing online. It was called “Eat This, Not That!”. Or, as it might as well have been called: “Feel Guilty Every Time You Have A Deep-Fried Onion Appetizer.” They’d present two relatively similar items at a restaurant, one with roughly half the calories and a fraction of the saturated fat. That one was usually smaller, and shockingly, not deep-fried. I remember grumpily learning that some of the absolute worst things you could eat were also some of my favorites, of course. That would be these beauties:

The Triumvirate: The Awesome Blossom, The Bloomin’ Onion, and The Cactus Blossom. No thanks! I won’t be substituting grilled salmon and fresh vegetables! I LIKE having my entire recommended weekly allowance of calories BEFORE my entrée arrives!

So, this week, I thought I’d take from that and from another idea I’ve always liked: Comparing nameless stat-lines. So, let’s do a Roster This, Not That! How’s this going to give us an advantage? What I’m going for here is, unsurprisingly, picking two players with relatively similar stat sets. One will generally be a player that your typical fantasy manager will value close to his draft price, and the other will be an overachiever, and possibly an under-the-radar one at that. Then, if you think that player might not be properly valued in your league, you should try to acquire him, as he could come cheap. If you have the player he’s being compared to, you could even see if you could make the swap and upgrade somewhere else at the same time. Now, if the other manager is up on their current player rankings, you may not get a deal, but, even so, they could be skeptical that the surprising player can keep it up. I’ve admitted before that I’m reluctant to change my perception of a player quickly. I pretty much value players where they were drafted for a little too long, since I’m resistant to believe the small sample size is more predictive than the career body of work. Which is right? That’s part of the fun, of course. So, here are a handful of comparisons I came up with (see if you can guess a few). It’s less about these specific players than the overall concept. Make sure you’re not just sticking with the big names. When it comes to fantasy, you’ve got to think of these players as a set of numbers.

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Earlier in the season, I was ROFL and LMAO, as LaMarcus Aldridge was struggling with consistency. He’d pop a 37-point game then produce back-to-back 15-pointers. In the month of December, he scored 6 points twice and blessed us with a 7-point outburst. But then, things started to click. The consistency returned and now he is the lede for this world famous blog. Ok, maybe not famous but we are international, so world is appropriate. Shout out to all the homies in other countries.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 9 6 1 2 2 0/2 12/21 6/6

Over the past seven games, LMA has been a top 20 player. On the season, he’s top 25. Who’s laughing now? Surely not I. Sorry Shirley. Wasn’t talking to you. Anyways, DeMar DeRozan missed yesterday’s game, but regardless, LMA has had a usage rate over 30 over the past seven games and attempting 17.4 shots per game. The efficiency is excellent (53% from the field and 85% from the line). While he won’t provide many threeecolas, LMA averages 23.1 points, 9 boards, 3.6 dimes, 0.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks. LMA with the O!

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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The Oklahoma City Thunder are Russell Westbrook’s team. Or are they? Westbrook was drafted by the Thunder and has known no other team in his 11-year career. He also leads the team in usage with a 31.2 rate. But….it can be argued that Paul George has been the best player for the Thunder this season. George is averaging more points, more threeecolas, shoots more efficiently from both the field and line, and takes care of the ball better. Last night, George put up:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
36 8 4 5 1 3 3/6 10/21 13/15

Westbrook also had a great game, which I will discuss further below, so it’s an interesting debate as to who’s been the better player, but there’s no question that George has been a beast this year. From a fantasy perspective, he’s been a top 10 player, consistently for the entire season. That type of performance must place him in the pantheon of Georges: Boy George, Curious George, and now Paul George.

Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator had George as the #2 player last night.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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While perusing the standings the other day, I was surprised to see we’re already past the half-way mark of the NBA season. And for those in head-to-head leagues, that means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the fantasy regular season! It’s time to take stock of our team(s) and see where injuries, pick-ups, and dropped busts have left us situated. For example, half my starters this week on one team have been free agent pickups. I have some idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it’s a vastly different group than what I started with. Once we identify our short-comings, it’s as simple as grabbing a couple centers for a pair of guards to make up ground in boards and blocks, right? Maybe. But there are constraints that might make it more complicated than that. You may be losing stats you need by doing that and you may not be able to fit two extra centers into your lineup, anyway.

This week I’d like to bring up a concept many of you are probably familiar with, but often goes forgotten: Out-of-position stats. What if you’re low in rebounds, but you don’t have room to add/start a center? Well, you could trade a traditional point guard (assuming you were set with PG stats) for Dejounte Murray (9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and yes, by the way, I’m choosing an alternate universe in which he’s healthy for this hypothetical situation). Considering trading for or picking up players that get atypical stats for their position can make a ton of sense for a lot of reasons. Maybe you lost a big assist guy like John Wall or your dominant rebounder in Clint Capela. Maybe you’ve got another out-of-position stats guy that hurts you because of what he lacks (Dejounte’s assists and three-pointers, for example). Also, when you have out-of-position stats, like say Nikola Mirotic’s 3s, you can afford to have additional atypical players that others in your league might devalue, like Elfrid Payton, a guard that doesn’t hit many threes. Get creative and check out some of the players I’ve listed below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?