That's right! WELCOME BACK! It's been a long, yet eventful offseason. You know the dramas. You know the situations, so no need to go there. You are here for the Top 10, but before I unveil the goods...I like to play hard to get...there are some things I need to do. First and foremost, have to give props to the great and venerable Rudy Gamble, who blessed me with his Excel wizardry. Also, shout out to Viz....Nobody Beats the Viz....who helped me tinker, refine, and make the list what it is. He’s a Jazz fan so guess who got a huge bump? Finally, I'll give you a brief window into my process. I went through each team individually, mapped how I saw the depth chart playing out, and allocated the 240 minute-per-game pie. The one thing I wanted to do when projecting the players was to weight volume for both FG% and FT%. Therefore, in my projections below, I will use a-FG% and a-FT%, instead of FG% and FT%. I then threw all the players into a list and calculated the Z-score for each statistical category, then added them all up to get my final list. EZ-PZ. Not really, but that's why I get the big bucks...not really. Every Wednesday, I will blurb about and reveal more players, culminating in the final release of the entire list, which is 340 deep. I’ll only blurb about the Top 200, though. Hope you enjoy!
The NBA is now a year-round drama, but the last 24 hours have been nuts! LeBron James finally made his decision and will join Laker Nation, whose fans are preparing for the next chapter in their colorful existence. Not only do we get to see LeBron adorn the sacred Purple and Gold, but the theatrics of LaVar Ball and Lance Stephenson, which could simulate the experiences of the Ultimate Fighter Challenge. It wasn't all about Lebron, though. Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Chris Paul committed to the Warriors, Thunder, and Rockets respectively. The West now hoards all the talent, while the East looks to be the land of opportunity. Free agency dominoes have, and will continue to fall over the upcoming weeks, but don't let that distract you from another piece of the NBA machine: SUMMER LEAGUE.
John Wall went from hero to zero back to hero in Washington this season. Nobody will argue that John Wall is the most talented player on the Wizards, but when he went down with a knee injury and the team started playing its best basketball of the season, people started questioning Wall’s value to the team. His selfish play was viewed as holding the team back in the day-and-age of the Hoosier method of at least three passes before a shot. The team’s hot streak wore off, however, and everyone started clamoring for Wall’s return. Now the Wizards are battling for a playoff spot and John Wall stepped up for one of his best games of the season: 4/29/7/13/3/3. I mean, wow, nice game and nice timing. Anyone still playing in fantasy who has John Wall is as excited about the timing of this as the city of Washington D.C. Anyway, here is what else I saw last night as teams battle for the last playoff spot and just plain old last place:
We choose to supersize that meal or put cheese on the burger so that our stomachs look like Kuato in Total Recall. That's our choice. We choose to wear the jimmy hat or live dangerously. That's our choice. We choose to draft KAT over Anthony Davis in fantasy. That's our choice. But there is so much out of our control. The world we were born into. Our parents. What we look like. In a videogame, we choose what difficulty level we play on. In life, that has been chosen for us. Some play on hard, while others get cheat codes. Willy Hernangomez hit the genetic lottery. 6' 11" 240 pounds, athletically skilled, and good looking. Sure, he worked his ass off to get where he's at. Lifting weights, running, and plucking eyebrows, but he had a nice base to work with. Last year during his rookie campaign, he was a monster per-36: 16 points, 13.6 boards, 2.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% field goal percentage, and 73% free throw percentage. Unfortunately, he only played 18 minutes per game. Out of his control. Regardless, Willy was viewed as a franchise piece, but then the Knicks acquired Enes Kanter. The minutes plummeted to 9 a game, even though the per-36 numbers were still robust. Out of his control. If you go back to my earlier blurbs regarding Willy, I mentioned that he hooked up with Hornacek's daughter. I'd hit up the Google machine right now. Wouldn't you? I'm still not dismissing that angle, so maybe Willy had some control in the matter. Anyways, after bitching and complaining, he finally got his wish and was shipped to the Hornets. Too bad the Hornets had some guy named Dwight Howard. Can't forget about Cody Zeller as well. So, Willy was not freed and the situation looked identical to the one in New York. But, Zeller is out for the season due to injury and yesterday, Willy played a season-high 22 minutes.
Per-36 in CHA, Willy is at: 17.7 points, 14.9 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture and there's no reason to push Dwight, so Willy should see significant run to end the season. Free at last....free at last....Willy is free at last.
Here's what else I saw yesterday:
I'm going to take a break from numbers this week. A break from Trey Burke, Quinn Cook, and Denzel Valentine impacting fantasy playoff teams infinitely more than Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard. A break from dealing with players on tanking teams sitting indefinitely every time someone steps on their toe, or from players on playoff teams resting without notice. Heck, a break from the NCAA tournament that only has one projected lottery pick left to watch. This is probably going to most interest dynasty and keeper league players, but those already itching to rank and project players for next season will find this intriguing, too. Today, I'm going to look at who this summer's free agents are. That period from the draft (draft lottery only 47 days away!) through the first week of free agency is probably my favorite on the NBA calendar, since about a third of the league seems to change teams. So many new dynamics to consider for so many teams. The impact on fantasy is huge, too. I'm definitely no insider with information to help predict who's going where, but I do find it helpful to know whose value is likely to remain the same and whose has a wide range of outcomes. The latter are often good targets if you need to get risky to improve your keeper/dynasty team over the summer. Do you have a Terry Rozier type that would gain a ton of value if he moved on to a starting role? Is he free to do so? Also, remember to think of which teammates might be affected by these players should they change teams. For example, are the players blocking Mario Hezojna's path to more minutes likely to get out of his way? Then again, might LeBron, PG13, and CP3 all be coming to your player's team to squash his usage? Here are the most fantasy relevant free agents. Wow, this summer could be a big one.
When my wife was pregnant, the experience was.....interesting. At least for me. I can't even begin to try and understand what my wife was feeling. All I know is that women are the GOAT. Anyways, after the initial gamut of emotions, things became very business-like. Doctor's office. One month. Two months. Three months. Everything was mapped out and the "ride" was slow and steady. Then, the due date approached and....well, I was Robert DeNiro in Heat. The bags were packed and the routes were mapped out with contingencies for all possibilities. At the same time, though, I was like my five-year-old son in the back of the car on a long trip: "Are we there yet? When will we be there? Why is it taking so long?" Damian Lillard and his girlfriend had been expecting the birth of their child for the past few days. Lillard had been struggling a bit with his shooting efficiency, but the raw production was still there. It could have been the matchups or anxiousness with the pregnancy. Regardless, it was Lillard Time for the whole family last night.
A 40-burger!!! On Damian Jr.'s birthday. Y'all know what time it is.
Here's what else I saw last night:
Average. Middle. Meh? I guess it all depends on perception. Someone born into poverty would be praised if he/she achieved average economic status. On the flip side, if you are a one-percenter, I assume that average would prompt seppuku. Average is often associated with boring. He/she was average in the sack. The higher above the line probably correlates well with intenstity of orgasm. For flip side? Supplant higher with lower. Why does average get such a bad rap? It ain't great, but it puts food on the table. It often gives 1.5 children and a white picket fence, if you are so inclined to have either. With that said, we are a "what have you done for me lately" society. We are all about celebrating the highs, while conveniently eschewing the trials and tribulations. Well, yesterday Joe Harris was not your Average Joe.
The CLE defense is atrocious, but let's not forget about the......REVENGE!!!! Harris was drafted by the Cavaliers back in 2014. He played two seasons there, never averaging more than 10 points or scoring 3 points a game. During the 2016 season, though, Joe underwent surgery on his foot and was traded to ORL a week later. Then he was immediately waived. BKN picked him up and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years with the Nets has produced.....wait for it (an homage to HIMYM).....average results. This season, in particular, Joe is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 boards, 1.5 dimes, and 1.8 downtowners in 25.1 minutes a game. He's scored double figures in 41 of 71 games played, but has not eclipsed the 20 point threshold once. Anyways, I clowned him earlier in the season, but Harris is no Average Joe, and the Nets don't think so either. Even with all the wing players that they have, Joe has been getting consistent playing time for most of the season. He can shoot and is able to drive strong to the rack and finish. An Average Joe on most nights, but yesterday, he was anything but.
Here's what else I saw yesterday:
What’s up Razzballers? Fan favourite Aaron Gordon had a monster line, destroying the lowly Suns to the tune of 29/11/8/3/1 on 10-for-18 FG (3-for-6 3P, 6-for-9 FT) and three TOs. It was a clean and lethal stat line, and exactly the kind that you needed on the Saturday of your playoff semifinals. AG’s been a beast since his return and I really hope you stashed him where you could. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:
Basketball is a funny game. The Atlanta Hawks were riding a six-game losing streak and heading to Utah to face off against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Dennis Schroder, the point guard for the Hawks, had failed to score 20 points in each of the six losses. Then, a funny thing happened. The D went missing. Did Dennis change his name to Ennis? No!
Forty burger! Against a team that was 8th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Against Ricky Rubio, who was 10th in defensive real plus minus. Schroder had a 42.7 usage rate last night! Going forward, though, I wouldn't expect too many performances like last night. Taurean Prince, who had been the alpha in terms of usage, got Prince'D, so someone had to step up. In addition, while Schroder has had a couple of big games this season, they have been too few to count on. Expect scoring to be in the 18-20 point range with 5-7 assists, and 2-3 boards.
Here's what else I saw last night:
What do you think of when you hear the phrase "messing around?" Perhaps a joke. Maybe it takes you back to high school. First base. Second base. Third base with Peggy Sue or Billy Bob. How about Ice Cube when he called up the homies and asked them which park are y'all playin' basketball? Whatever it may be, "messing around" is not associated with being of the serious variety. For fun. For shits and giggles. For Russell Westbrook? "Messing around" ain't no joke. It's 100% pedal to the metal. It's I'm going to dunk on your head and shoot in your eye. It's I'm grabbing every rebound because the ball is mine. That reminds me of Shaq's T.W.I.S.M. Any of you remember that? Ha! Anyways, for Russ, it's I'm dishing every dime because I will not be denied of my stat orgy. Yesterday, Russ notched his 102nd career triple dub.
That's now five straight triple-dubs. For the season, he's 0.3 rebounds shy of AVERAGING a triple-dub, which would make back-to-back seasons of accomplishing the feat. Damn, Russ ain't no joke, espccially when it comes to "messing around."
Here's what else I saw yesterday: