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.
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.
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:
Whether you’re in your head-to-head playoffs or gearing up for the final month of the roto season, I’m here to help you figure out which moves to make to maximize your chances to win. Last week, I discussed the amount of games played per week and for the remainder of the season for each team and how to value their players accordingly. This week, I’ll go through some free agent specialists to consider picking up. Next week, I’ll return to my bread and butter: punting categories. As always, I don’t only mean those that went with a season-long strategy of punting free throw percentage. By this point, you have so much more information about exactly what your team needs and, almost as important, what it doesn’t need. Of course you know that you should be focusing on steals if you’re only about 20 behind two other teams in the roto category or going all in on field goal percentage if that’s the only category you need to swing the final score in your playoff matchup. But, from my own experience, I know that you’re probably still focusing on players and categories that can no longer help you. It’s so hard to decide to sit a 25-point scoring all-star for the final month of the season. But, if you’re running away with points in a landslide, those points do nothing for you anymore. I remember multiple seasons where I had to completely ignore all stats except for steals and blocks for the final few weeks of a roto league. Sitting a guy like Damian Lillard (past 30 days: 0.9 steals and 0.2 blocks) for someone like Dewayne Dedmon (1.3/1.2). Forget the names and focus on the stats.
So, today, I’ll give you some players you may be able to grab who can help you in the specific categories you need. This time of year, that’s going to include some surprise players that are getting extra run and/or usage. So, this will also be a reminder to focus on what’s going on now as opposed to the numbers we got used to in the first half of the season.
For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).
Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.
So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.
Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.
A capella music is singing without instrumental accompaniment. According to choraldirectormag.com, here’s what’s needed to create an a capella group: soloist, great bass, original music, time together, and momentum. That basically describes the Houston Rockets. Let’s break it down. Mike D’Antoni doesn’t micromanage possessions like some coaches. Things flow naturally. Soloist. James Harden. Great bass, the voice that’s low and powerful. Clint Capela fills that role by battling down low and doing the dirty work on the glass. Original music. Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense from the Phoenix days combined with the analytics of Daryl Morey equals “Game the Math.” Time together. Self explanatory. Momentum. The Rockets offense in a nutshell. Yesterday’s game against the Indiana Pacers was a microcosm of the synergy they’ve displayed all season enroute to an 11-3 record, with six victories in a row. Harden led the way with 26 points, five boards, 15 dimes, and two steals. Capela provided the base with 20 points, 17 boards, one dime, and one block. Eric Gordon filled his gunner role by hoisting up 11 downtowners. He finished with 21 points, one board, four dimes, two steals, and one block. If this was college, you’d think he was trying to get laid. Trevor Ariza scored 15 points, grabbed five boards, dished out a dime, and pilfered two. He’s Mr. Versatility. Can hit the high, low, and middle notes. Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker provide toughness while still being an offensive threat. It’s going to be interesting when Chris Paul returns to the fray.
Man, you guys don’t even know. There’s been a mob outside my house every night for the past two weeks carrying tiki torches and screaming, “We want the Top 200 with stats!” Or at least I think that’s what they were saying. Anyways, big shout out to Rudy who waved his magic wand and created the beautiful looking spreadsheet below. It even sorts. Here is Rudy in his lab:
The Toronto Raptors are #good. They won 51 games last season and 56 games the prior year. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are bonafide stars. Yet….they seem to always get overlooked. Or is it just me? Maybe it’s because they are based in Canada. Maybe it’s because they have a #WeTheNorth slogan. Probably both. Regardless, one of their stars missed over a month of action and their identity changed mid-season, but they still were able to finish tied for second in the Eastern Conference and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
To you who are reading this post, I love you all. To those who aren’t, I hate you. Good thing those people will never see that. I don’t care if you are just a hoops junkie, need something to pass the time when on the can, or if you love/hate my work. You’re here and that’s all that matters. It’s been a long journey, but alas…sniff sniff…the end is here. There are a few upside players here that could definitely make a leap in the rankings, but for the most part, this post will be populated with specialists and “use in case of emergency.”
What a way to kick off the week! Well, that is, if you own Rudy Gobert! Monsieur Elbow says “No!” And “Oui, I own l’paint!” Absolutely monstrous 16/14/3/0/8 last night against the Pacers, hitting 7-12 from the field with only 1 TO.
So much swattage! His 13 blocks the last 2 games now gives him a 13.2/12.8/1.2/0.7/2.6 slash on the year, hitting 65% from the field. Oddly 65.5% from the stripe too! Which isn’t good, but not a punt either. BB Monster has him 20th overall in per game stats, and 12th in total. Absolutely insane draft day value, but it really grinds my gears he’s doing this this year, and not in 2015-16! Had him 11th and well above consensus, just one year too early – stupid FIBA wore him down. Focus on the NBA, you Frenchy! Oh shit, now he’s gonna hunt me with one of those elbows, NOOOOOO!!! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:
Man, what a horrid week for injuries! Highlighted by the worst injury of all: yesterday we got news that JB Gilpin – yes pickup basketball superstar – rolled his ankle in his after-work pickup game on someone else’s fat foot. That’s right, I got a kankle! Some rough swelling, probably out 1-2 weeks, go ahead and give me that INJ tag! No joke, this is the second time in a row I’ve gotten a kankle before a big trip. Now I’m gonna be gimpy walking around Spring Training games on my baseball trip starting this weekend! Stupid kankles…
Anyway, some lower-tier basketball talents also got news of rough injuries, of course highlighted by Kevin Durant‘s MRI revealing a Grade 2 MCL strain and a tibial bone bruise. Stupid Zaza Pachulia flying around willy-nilly! He’s going to be “re-evaluated” in 4 weeks, so there’s no way he’s making an impact on your fantasy playoffs. Mayyyyybe he plays in the last game or two, but I highly doubt it. According to BB Monster, he was by far the best per-game player and total value player, so it’s an unbelievable loss. But hey, he got you to your fantasy playoffs (hopefully) and anything can happen week-to-week in H2H leagues. Injuries are the mother-flippin’ worst! Here’s what else went down across the NBA last night, including one other major injury piece of news: