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.

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I love Denver. The downtown district is vibrant and urban, yet it’s nestled on a river in close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Such a clean and scenic place. Maybe I didn’t go to the “right” areas. Or would it be the “wrong” ones? Anyways, weed is legal and it’s the easiest and most comfortable place to join the “Mile-High Club.” What more could a man or woman ask for? I also love, love, love their basketball team. If you perused my rankings….shameless plug….you’d know my love for all Nuggets players. Well, Denver was founded in 1858 by a group of gold prospectors, so it only makes sense that Denver shall be a place to mine fantasy gold for the 2017 basketball season.

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With this being the NBA All-Star Weekend, our typical weekend streamer options post will take a backseat to some fantasy implications of any trades that have (and will) occur with the trade deadline coming next week.  There’s been a couple of trades that already happened.  I was hoping to get a glimpse on all of them but looks like the players involved in the ORL-TOR trade didn’t suit up for their new teams.

I said fantasy implications, but let me just add to the growing voices that are asking the Magic management-WTF?!  You trade Victor Oladipo, a near solid (at the very least pretty darn serviceable) stretch 4 in Ersan Ilyasova, the #11 pick (Domantas Sabonis) for Serge Ibaka which you in turn trade for Terrence Ross and TOR’s 1st round pick which is probably no earlier than the 20th pick.  It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that ORL traded away all those essentially for Ross and that 1st round pick.  No disrespect to Ross but seriously?! </rant>

So, with both Ibaka and Ross not playing last night, we can only speculate as to see how they could initially be utilized in their respective teams.

Let’s start with Ross: I think he will end up being the starting SF.  The way I see it the starting lineup will be this:

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Down at halftime and without fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry took over in the 2nd half, carrying the Raptors to an overtime victory against the Pelicans. He hit a big time step back jumper with just 4.3 seconds to play to secure the win. Lowry finished with 33 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and a season-high 6 threes.

After returning to the court on Sunday, DeRozan experienced swelling in his ankle, forcing him to sit Tuesday’s game. He’s already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, giving Lowry another chance at monster scoring numbers.

Known for pouring it on in stretches, it was his 3rd straight 30+ point game, the longest streak of his career. Had he scored 1 more point last Wednesday, he’d have a streak of 5 games. You’re already starting Lowry regardless, but the loss of DeRozan really ups Lowry’s value.

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Andrew Wiggins will turn 22 in less than a month, but he knocked down what should be the first of many buzzer-beating game winners, becoming the youngest player of the season to do so:

A buzzer-beater win in Minnesota is rarer than a healthy Nikola Pekovic. The last one happened almost 5 years ago on a Luke Ridnour floater on February 22, 2012. About the same time as Pek’s last game.

In addition to the game-winner, Wiggins added 31 points (11-22 FG), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 threes. Wiggins continues to develop in his third NBA season and makes the young Timberwolves roster a fun team to watch.

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Half man, all amazing.  Or something like that. 49 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, and 2 steals.  Oh yeah, he also went 8-15 from deep.  He had 5 TOs, but I feel like we can forgive him with all of the extra 3s tonight.  The assists and boards have been off his triple double place, but man can this guy ball.

  • Jeff Teague – Absolutely slaughtered the depleted Nets backcourt with 21 points and 15 assists.  Throw in 9-13 shooting, and this tells you more about the bad defense than the good offense.

Man, without fantasy, blowout NBA games featuring sub-.500 teams might be more insufferable to watch than Vanderpump Rules. I would know, because I was watching both last night – L.A. hipsters being the absolute worst on the TV with the wife, then professional NBA players being the absolute worst on the iPad!

But of course some guys played well in the Denver @ Dallas travesty – a game I know Slim watched as well due to his Nuggets-bias – including Nikola Jokic going for a career-high 27/11/4/0/1. Hit 10-12 FG, 7-7 FT, and after Salah Mejri looked like Hassan Whiteside with 3 blocks in the first few minutes, Jokic really helped anchor down better post play.

Side note on those first two buckets for Jokic – look at Dwight Powell struggling to play D on centers. Just sayin’ based on our Pod this morning! Anywho, this is obviously the right step forward for Jock Itch to get unleashed, and he should have no problem working his way up to 30+ MPG every night now, right? RIGHT?!

[email protected]#% You, Malone. So that tells me both A) you don’t reward players for playing well, B) but you do punish players for playing poorly, C) actually that makes total sense! It’s why we keep seeing the rotations wildly different night-to-night with no consistency for good performers. It’s exploitative coaching 101 – you don’t reward your underlings for doing something good, only punish them if they disobey. This also tells me it’s yet another Jusuf Nurkic slam, who went 4/6/2/1/0 on 2-6 shooting with 3 TO, and got thrown around a little by Mejri. I think Slim chose the wrong time to be REL-biased by the Nuggets, shoulda stuck with his Jazz! Here’s what else happened last night in fantasy basketball action:

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As we’ve talked about in some of our intimate, 1-on-1 comments, Razzball Basketball is here to be your fantasy basketball therapist.  We coddle you through the bad breaks, get you through some SKIIIIIIIILES! frustration, help you be able to cut ties with injured players…  We’re a giant, comfy couch, and we want you to be comfortable and tell us why the fantasy gods hate you!

Well, in the same vein, you know I like to whine sometimes.  REL posts are great for that for my REL team, I sometimes get Kristaps Porzingis in 4 of 5 matchups in a hot week, etc. etc.  And I even pull in some real life whining, like today!  So, not for the first time, or the second time, but for the THIRD MF TIME in the past month, the Razzball Basketball studio’s internet got ripped from the house because a dumbass in an 18-wheeler-size Estes truck decided it was smart to drive it down our tiny side street.  That AND our good friends at Time Warner Cable assured us that the second time this happened, that it would be high enough to avoid large trucks.  The level of incompetency is unparalleled…  Well, I take that back, it’s about as competent as Mike Malone running his Denver rotations.  We talked about this in the comments that maybe he needs to become MALLLLLLLLLONNNNNNEEE!  …or something to that effect.  Just like ripping out a millennial’s life blood by taking out my internet, Malone has a team ritual every night, where he snatches up a fantasy basketball player and ties him up in the Denver locker room, and right before every game chants “KALI MA!  KALI MA!” and rips the poor guy’s beating heart out.  Depending on how many beats it has left is how long he plays Jusuf Nurkic.  Dude was playing fine last night!  11/3/1 in 17 minutes, with an efficient 4-6 FG and 3-4 FT – did have the 2 TO – but doesn’t play the final 22 minutes.  Even the poor Kenneth Faried owners got wrapped up in this mess, as Manimal played the opening 4 minutes, then didn’t play the rest of the first half, and got only 11 minutes total.  So you’re thinking big Nikola Jokic game right?!  21 minutes…  Joke was solid though, going 14/11/3/0/1 on 5-7 FG and 4-4 FT.  This is such a Temple of Doom, that even though it’s pretty common knowledge you should’ve been getting out ASAP, now it’s time to get out ASAP-er!  Drop Nurk, trade Joke off this game, I’m probably even dropping Faried.  Maybe in 12ers or limited-move RCLs you can give it one more game, but this was a good matchup against the Mess (even though Brook Lopez is playing on the perimeter now, maybe that screwed some stuff up), and if Malone has Faried in his doghouse, watch him start Darrell Arthur or some junk next Denver game.  Frustrating night!  Since I’m rushing through the notes at a Starbucks, this is going to be a lighter Daily Notes, so apologies for the brevity!  But I’ll be around for comments as always, so if something big happened I missed/you want to talk about, shoot your thoughts below!  Here’s what else happened last night in Fantasy Basketball:

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As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, I’ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold.  This open is especially witty for the Nuggets – and hey, look!  We’re at the Nuggets!  We’ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because I’m still figuring out how to rank the Warriors…

Denver Nuggets (33-49)

Nuggets

Key Acquisitions:

G Jamal Murray (Rookie)

G/F Juan Hernangomez (Rookie)

G Malik Beasley (Rookie)

Key Losses:

F/C Joffrey Lauvergne

Can still having Manimal on your roster count as a “key loss”?

Well, a team doesn’t HAVE to bring in any free agents, amiright?!  No seriously, am I right?  They didn’t bring in any FA of note?  Weird.  And just not much of an overhaul on this team at all!

Beyond that little nugget (too much fun!), Denver is assembling quite the young team.  We obviously LOVE their front line (minus Manimal), Mudiay still has upside, and mmmmmm, those wings!  I like the wings wayyyyy more than the drumsticks.  And you gotta get bleu cheese.  Ranch is sacrilege!  Wait, where is this going?!  Can you tell I wrote this while mad hungry?!  There’s more than one reason why I have an insatiable appetite while writing about Denver’s team!  Here’s how the Nuggets roster is coming together:

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Follow the white Babbitt!  If you had told me Luke Babbitt would be a critical add over the fantasy finals weekend, I would’ve beaten you to death with a sack full of lucky rabbit’s feet.   Would that be a …lucky way to die?

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke that Babbitt went 22/10/3/2/1 last night.  No, it’s a joke he took a team-high (and an absurdly-high!) 25 shots.  And no, it’s not a joke that the Pelicans won a game led by Luke Mother F Babbitt!  That’s right, a guy with a last night that sounds like how Grey incorrectly pronounces “BABIP” on the Razzball Baseball Podcast is all the sudden a must-own wing over the final 3 H2H days.  Such a Velveteen Babbitt!  “He said it was because I know you like rabbits, and I know you like cheese…”  The Pelicans have no reason not to throw (double negative police!) their scrubbiest of scrubs into the starting 5 and see what wet noodles stick on the wall, so I fully expect him to be a starter for you in most 12-team leagues or deeper on the final Sunday @BKN.  Throw him in your Babbitt Stew!  OK, enough rabbit puns, as Monty Python would say – “get on with it!”  Oh yeah, I shoulda used a Holy Grail reference.  TOO LATE NOW!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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