Back when I was a youngun and not lazy as hell, I used to play in a pickup basketball game, mostly of men 10+ years older than me. There was an older guy, Lou, who came to play in full gear. Wrist bands, knee braces, slicked back silver hair. He would bring up the ball, run the point, fake passes that fooled nobody, wave his finger around like he was running a play, the whole kit and caboodle. The only thing he lacked were rec-specs. He even hit the occasional flat footer from the top of the key. When Lou scored, the whole place sighed, making the defender feel like shit. At the end of the game, Lou would take off his shirt, wipe down his sweat, make you feel like you’re in a public pool locker room, zip up his nylon jacket, and wish everyone a good evening. He also cursed like a trucker and set the most illegal picks known to man.
Kind of like this guy
Something about Lou Williams reminds me of good ol’ Lou. When Williams comes off the bench, you know he’s shooting, but you can’t stop it. He takes some shots that make you close your eyes, yet, he’s draining them. He plays every game like it’s a revenge game, and his stat line somehow never disappoints. Williams is 17 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.2 3PM per game, shooting 45% from the field and over 90% from the line. Those are useful numbers. It makes no sense to me whatsoever that he’s available in leagues across America. We’re talking about a guy with multi-positional eligibility, who’s been unconscious from all over the floor, especially the last week or so, and he’s not virtually owned. Now, maybe, just maybe, the only reason why I have him as my man pots and pans this week is because I wanted to write about my boy Lou from back in the day, but, please, go out and pick up Lou Will asap, because dude is going Jon H-A-M every, single, night.
This is a crazy time of year. Halloween just ended and now we prepare for Thanksgiving, which basically means that Christmas is almost here, which signifies the end of the year, but also means new beginnings. Whew….So much. Too much. Last night, though, everything was straightforward, as it was simply a Jrue Holiday. 34 points, five boards, and 11 dimes in 42 minutes. While the calendar year is littered with holidays (Thanks Hallmark), each one occurs once a year. That’s how we should look at Jrue’s year. We know that there will be big games littered throughout the year. Just don’t expect them to occur on a daily basis. Through 12 games, Jrue has a 19% usage rate. Anthony Davis has a 28% usage rate, while DeMarcus Cousins a 33% rate. His numbers are down across the board, except in boards. Ha! The Universe is awesome.
Part of fantasy basketball is forming a team using the predictable stats in a way that maximizes your roto points or head-to-head category wins. Another part is getting the less predictable stats right more often than your competition, whether that means you’re benefiting from an increase in value or avoiding a decrease.
It’s early, but I thought I’d take a look at what the biggest differences are in this season’s stats versus last season’s by using the ESPN Player Rater averages (per-game).
Aaron Gordon. This season’s highest leaper.
First, a quick detour while I’m talking player rater. Here’s something it teaches us that we should keep in mind. Many people think of rankings as linear. Like, the best player is the same amount better than the 5th player as the 5th player is better than the 9th player. Not so, and we see the difference especially among the top few players when we look at their overall rating. Like with most data sets, there are outliers. That’s these fantasy stars. The top five players with their per-game ratings in each of the past two seasons:
There was no Batman in Boston last night, as Aron Baynes ran roughshod over the team from Tinseltown. 21 points, eight boards, and three dimes in 23 minutes. The 21 points were a team and career-high. Baynes was drilling jumpers from the elbow, dunking over hapless defenders on the baseline, setting screens then pinning smaller defenders onto his buttocks, jump hooking with the right, jump hooking with the left, and skying through the air for putback dunks. It was quite the performance. Thanks Batman. Signed, Lakers fans. Now, Baynes played a prominent role because Al Horford missed the game due to a concussion. Horford missed nine games last season due to a concussion, so there’s a chance that Baynes continues to wreak havoc on the league. Interestingly enough, Charlotte, a team that supposedly has a Superman, is next on the docket. In two games, they travel to New Jersey, which is a hop and a skip from Gotham City. DFSers heeded the signal and played him last night. He’s worth an add for the quickie, as the Celtics are super-thin in the front court.
The Player Rater is a tool to evaluate the performance of a player with only one number. This is not a perfect tool, and will not guarantee victory in fantasy, but this is useful to improve and evaluate your team.
In each category of scoring, a number is calculated to represent the average total in that category. If a player has the average, his rating in that category is 0.00. The numbers represent how much a player is above or below the average.
If the rating is positive, that player is an above-average fantasy player in that category. If the rating is negative that player is below-average. The sum of all ratings in each category gives us a number (the PR), and then we rank the players accordingly.
I have not included turnovers, as the evaluation in PR is very controversial in my opinion, so if you’re in a league with turnovers, you must keep in mind this.
I love music. Fortunately, my young daughter does, too. We started her early on all sorts of stuff, but she eventually started requesting almost exclusively “girl songs.” So, I started combing through my CDs and mp3s for our daily drive to school, finding a decent amount of great female singers, mainly from the 90s. She really took to some (Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain), but not as much to others that I’d hoped she would (The Cranberries, Veruca Salt). We added in some more current stuff that she loves (Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor), and we have a great time. Now, I know there’s a good chance this isn’t resonating with you as much as it would if I said I’d kept trying to slip in more funk (she likes “Car Wash” and “Jungle Boogie”, at least), rock (Down on the Corner is popular with her, but there are only a few songs by Disturbed that are appropriate for four year-olds!), and rap (“Tricky” was a favorite for a while, fortunately), but stick with me, please. Because, I found something very enlightening when I introduced the very, very 90s classic, “Stay”, by Lisa Loeb. Was it that we only hear what we want to? That we won’t live forever? No, it’s this powerful line:
“You said you caught me ’cause you want me, and one day you’ll let me go. You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just so scared to lose.”
It’s like a record scratch every time I hear that line. YOU TRY TO GIVE AWAY A KEEPER??? She was brilliantly pointing out that YOU DON’T JUST GIVE AWAY A KEEPER! But at the same time, you don’t keep a player only because you’re scared to lose! Such wisdom. For decades, I swear I didn’t know that lovely song was about fantasy basketball keeper leagues.
Lisa Loeb. Fantasy Oracle.
While we’re still quite a few games away from a large enough sample of current season stats to really trust them, let’s talk keeper/dynasty strategy (dynasty being a league in which you keep a large amount of your team for next season). I thought I’d share some tips and have some fun looking back at what we thought of past rookies so that we don’t get overly excited about these 19 year-olds that we’re currently trusting to save our teams.
Domantas Sabonis had a tough rookie season. He averaged 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.5 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game. The NBA was a lot different than playing the Santa Claras and Pepperdines night in and night out. He needed a break, so he called up pops after the season ended. “Tetis, let’s take a trip somewhere this summer. You good for Fourth of July weekend?” Arvydas replied, “Taip, good idea. It’s been a long time since we went to Gotland. I’ll make the arrangements.” After spending five days lounging at the beach and drinking quarts of beer, Arvydas decided that he wanted to check out some of the old castles littered around the country. “Domantas, you want to join me?” “No thanks,” was the reply. “I just want to relax on the beach.” So off Arvydas went to visit Lojsta Castle, where he wandered aimlessly until he saw a tent with a woman sitting inside. “Come in, come in” she said. Intrigued, Arvydas sat down and marveled at how the tent was able to accomodate his massive frame. “What would you give to be able to play in the NBA again?” she asked. As a man that never got flustered, Arvydas looked her straight in the eyes and replied, “My soul.” On July 6, 2017, Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo were traded to Indiana for Paul George. Is it a coincidence that Bill Walton once said that “he had the skills of Larry Bird?” I think not. Last night, Arvydas…I mean Domantas scored 12 points, grabbed 16 boards, and dished out five dimes in 25 minutes. If the game wasn’t such a blowout, he would’ve put up more numbers. Sabonis has grabbed at least 10 boards in each of the past five games and scored in double-digits in four. He’s also had two games with at least five assists. Remember that stat line from his rookie year? Well, so far, granted in a super small sample size of six games, he’s averaging 13 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 25.8 minutes. Arvydas lives! Now, Myles Turner should be returning soon so Sabonis should cede minutes. But, but, but….he’s likely sewed up the backup center spot and could play alongside Myles at times to give the Pacers an interesting frontcourt combo. What if Arvydas and Domantas really did switch bodies?
What’s up Razzballers? I have the pleasure of taking over the Saturday Daily Notes going forward. A little about myself: I’m 22, I’m Canadian, I like long walks on the beach, I cannot feel pain, and I’ve defeated a man of every race in formal combat. A medical doctor and two priests have written and signed a document confirming that I have no soul. But you didn’t come here to read about me, you came to read about sports! So let’s get into it. Here’s what I saw yesterday in fantasy basketball:
What an exciting beginning to the season we have had thus far. Injuries, coach gettin fired, trade rumors already stirring, and plenty more. Here’s your update for who’s ballin and who’s fallin. Good luck all!
Two days ago, Ben “Fresh Prince” Simmons was the toast of the fantasy basketball world after posting his first career triple-dub. He got the title, picture, and intro paragraph for my nightly recap post. The amount written about him required six scrolls of the mouse. Now, my computer monitor is 12″ in height. I use Google Chrome, so the post without the ad at the top is nine inches in height. Each scroll of the mouse moves the page one inch. That sounds much more impressive than the 387 words I actually typed. Anyways, last night Lebron “King” James reminded us that he’s still one of the best basketball players on the planet. You don’t know how many times I clicked the back arrow. Is he the best or is he one of the best? I initially went with best, but eventually settled with one of the best because Lebron is not blemish-free and there are a couple of players that are in the vicinity. Anyways, 29 points, 10 boards, 13 dimes, and four blocks in 41 minutes of run last night. He shot 12-for-20 from the field and 1-for-2 from downtown. This came against the Brooklyn Nets and he did turn the ball over eight times, though. In addition, 4-for-8 from the charity stripe. Whatever.
Any excuse to post some Run DMC. Now, Lebron may be in store for an epic, epic fantasy season. Key word being may. It’s early in the season, but the Cavs may not waltz through the Eastern Conference this year. Look at the roster. Outside of Kevin Love, who’s getting buckets? Jeff Green? Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose? They will contribute in spurts but can they be counted on consistently? The Cavs just lost to the Nets in a game Lebron went HAM. Granted, it was on a back-to-back. Cavs are now 0-2 on back-to-backs by the way. That just makes the probability of Lebron going bonkers this season even higher. We all know he’s gone after this season. At least I know. This will be Lebron’s Last Stand. On a side note, why is Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer of Custer’s Last Stand so revered and famous? Didn’t he and his men get slaughtered? The FT% will hold Lebron back in fantasy, but the counting stats could be of epic proportions.
Sorry for the long intro paragraph. I just wanted to make sure it was 388 words long.