When you have the initials JC, you’ve already got a lot to live up to. John Collins is definitely on his way. Okay, not going to get into the religious stuff, but 3-30-12-5-0-1-1 on 12-of-20 shooting and 3-for-4 FTs in a win against a good Nuggets team is pretty Godly. I seriously underestimated the jump Collins would take from year one to year two. Especially, with the injury setback. He’s already averaging nearly eight points more than last year. The blocks should come up as well as he averaged 1.1 last season in four fewer minutes. I expect his FG% to come down a bit from 62.2%, especially since he’s attempting 2.5 3-pointers at a 25.9% clip, up from his 0.6 attempts last year. Enjoy him if you drafted him, but I doubt you’ll be able to pry him from his owners’ icy grip in your league.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Saturday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I used to play a lot of fighting video games. Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and the like. I think I aged out around the time they were up to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Super Street Fighter 2 Championship of Everything Ever Edition Turbo. But I know they kept going, adding more characters, merging games. And that’s sort of what I wanted to do this week. I’ve written a decent amount about stuff like category specialists, how scarce the stats in each category are, how volume skews percentage stats, and just how detrimental the percentage and turnover performances of your players can be. Well, today, we’re going to witness a 2018 battle royale of sorts. Using Basketball Monster, I took the standard deviation value of each individual’s statistical performance in each category, and ranked them. Other sites have slightly different values due mostly to alternate assumptions and weights. There are some writers out there who have explained fantasy basketball standard deviation values in depth and in ways that are much more exciting than those in my old college statistics books. So, if you’re really curious, you can find out more with a little searching. I’ll just say that, in general, a standard deviation score of 2 means that the performance is roughly better than almost 98% of the rest of the league. A score of 3 is about where you’d expect the best performance in the league to be, as it’s usually around the 99.9th percentile. Same thing for negative values, just reversed. So, if you see a value exceeding 3, and I’ve shared some of those insane standard deviation scores from the last few decades in previous posts, it’s super-valuable (turbo edition 64?). Some categories don’t have anyone reaching 2 or -2, meaning the numbers are more bunched up together. But some have some extreme outliers. That’s what we’re looking for today.

Boban’s gotta be in there somewhere, right?

I present to you the most and least valuable individual category performances of the year (per-game through 12/4, with some small sample players removed).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Buffalo Wild Wings has a chart for the spiciness of the sauces in their menu: smilin’, sizzlin’, and screamin’. An Indonesian restaurant I saw on the internet had a chart of spiciness on the wall: 1 pepper, 2 peppers, 3 peppers, 4 peppers, and 5 peppers. The greatest spiciness chart, though, comes from my Korean brethren:

  1. Don’t worry
  2. I’m OK
  3. So So
  4. Hot
  5. Too hot
  6. Oh my god
  7. F**k

Last night, Steph Curry was at 8.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 9 7 1 0 2 9/14 11/20 11/12

Played 34 minutes last night. After missing 11 games due to injury, Curry has played 34, 29, and 37 minutes in the three games since. With the nine threeecolas, that brings his total for the season to 80, which places him second in the league behind James Harden’s 83. Curry has played five fewer games!!! It’s only been 15 games, but Curry is the #2 player for fantasy om a per-game basis. The 30.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game are ridiculous. The 93% from the free throw line on 4.8 attempts is fantastic. The 51% from the field when he attempts 10.4 threeecola attempts a game is ludicrous. But the most laughable stat for Curry is the 5.3 threeecolas he makes per game. That’s almost more than the rebounds and assists per game. Harden is second with 4.2. Third place? Lauri Markkanen with 3.5. Way past F**k, right?

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Lauri Markkanen was selected by the Bulls with the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I had seen a few of his games in college, so he seemed like a legit prospect, but I did not fully embrace him until I watched him play in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. You could see he had that….bow wow wow yippee yo yippe yay….dog in him, and it translated to his first year in the NBA, as he ended as the #66 player for fantasy: 15.2 points, 2.1 threeecolas, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 43% from the field, and 84% from the line. Naturally, big things were expected for his sophomore year, but he injured his elbow before the start of the season and missed the first 23 games.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 10 1 2 1 3 5/13 8/24 0

Well then. That didn’t take long. Played 32 minutes after logging 26 in his season debut. Markkanen is so skilled for a 7′ 0″, 240 pound player and, as mentioned above, he has that dog in him. As a result, I have a feeling that this is going to be Markkanen’s team, sooner rather than later, which puts a slight damper on Zach LaVine’s fantasy prospects.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There was a time when the streets were flooded with bookstores: B. Dalton, Borders, Coles, Crown Books, and Encore Books. Then the internet came along and changed the whole paradigm. No longer did people have to get off their asses to buy books. Instead, a click here and a click there and…poof…like magic, the book would appear at their door. As a result, brick-and-mortar locations became obsolete and the aforementioned stores went kaput. But one company, Barnes & Noble, was able to rise from the carnage and remain relevant. While there was no need to have a bookstore at every corner, some people still enjoyed that walk-in experience. As a result, Barnes & Noble has remained and continues to serve the community. Which brings me to Harrison Barnes. A five-star recruit and Mr. Basketball USA in high school, All-Conference and All-American in college (North Carolina), and All-Rookie in the NBA, business was booming in the Barnes household. But then he got scared of his own shadow during the NBA playoffs (2015) , in a contract year no less, and kaput. No more Golden State. Mark Cuban, though, saw value and paid $94 million over four years to acquire his services. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ During his time in Dallas, Barnes has averaged 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.4 threeecolas, and 0.2 blocks. Not great, but serviceable. Is that worth $94 million? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But every once in a while, Barnes does deliver:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 9 1 0 1 3 3/9 11/28 5/5

Over the past six games, Barnes has been a top 60 player, but he’s more like a top 100 player. Since 2014, he’s finished as the 109th, 119th, 79th, and 90th player. Barnes doesn’t provide much of a ceiling but the floor is pretty high, as he shoots a ton of shots. Not everyone likes bookstores, but they do provide a function for some. That’s the best way to describe Harrison Barnes for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Man…I really feel for Markelle Fultz. He was the #24 recruit out of high school and received scholarships from over 20 colleges, participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, was a member of the Team USA Under-18 squad, First-Team All-Pac-12 and Third-Team All-American in college, and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. On top of the world, as they say, at the tender age of 19 years old. But then the yips surfaced. “The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation…It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.” The most well-known athletes to succumb to the yips are Chuck Knoblauch, Nick Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, and Rick Ankiel. Is Fultz about to join them?

It’s looking likely, as TheAthletic wrote an article yesterday saying that Fultz is dealing with wrist and shoulder issues AND would prefer to move to another team. I’ve been a mental midget at times in my life and have dealt with depression as well, so I empathize but understand some of the realities of the shituation. I was able to hunker down in my cave and deal with my demons, but he’s in the public sphere with everyone all up in his business. The pressure and attention must be debilitating. I feel for you Fultz and wish the best.

This is a fantasy website, though, so I must address the implications from a fantasy perspective. The Fultz stops here. Do not use the Fultz, as the issues seems to be mental. He took an entire season off to deal with it, yet it’s only gotten worse. If he’s having trouble with this, imagine Draymond Green yapping about the yips in his ear. He’s a drop in most formats. I guess in the deepest of leagues, you could stash him as a lottery ticket, but that’s about it.

Did the Boston Celtics sabotage him? I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is that one should always be cynical when a team is willing to pass on the consensus number one overall pick in the draft.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician and politician, who expanded the Roman Empire. He got greedy, though, when he declared himself dictator. As a result, members of the Roman Senate conspired and stabbed him in the back, both literally and figuratively. Julius Randle is a no-nonsense player who bullies defenders down low. Bull in a china shop is an apt description, especially since he’s 6′ 9″ and 250 pounds. After he spent the first four years of his career in Los Angeles, he took his talents to New Orleans and didn’t mess around. He was the same bull that he had been with the Lakers. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 10 1 0 0 0/1 9/13 3/3

….Julius did mess around, notching his sixth career triple-dub. In only 25 minutes! There’s been nothing but love for Julius in New Orleans, as he provides the team with a physical presence down low, who can also be a playmaker in the third-fastest team in the NBA for offensive pace. Ain’t nobody stabbing this Julius in the back. From a fantasy perspective, though, don’t go slicing and dicing your team to acquire his services. He’s a fine player, as he’s currently the 87th player according to Basketball Monster. The issues are the limited minutes, lack of threeecolas, low assists, and miniscule defensive contributions. Hopefully no one comes and stab me in the back now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

 

Most of the teams in this division are what we thought they were. The Dallas Mavericks are more competitive with their new additions, but still not playoff ready. The Memphis Grizzlies, with a healthier roster, are returning to Grit-and-Grind, playing at a pace nobody wants to play. The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as AD takes them, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum of sweeping the Trail Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but ultimately realizing the rest of the roster has a second-round ceiling. The Spurs are the Spurs, so even with multiple roster changes, the Kawhi Leonard drama, loss of veteran leadership, injuries, and adjustments, Coach Greg Popovich is still the master puppeteer who will figure out how to win more than he loses. He would probably do that even if you gave him a roster of Lilliputians. Which leaves the exception and the outlier, the Houston Rockets, who have not been what we thought they were. We all thought they would take a step back defensively, but who thought they would forget how to shoot? They seem to be finding their sea legs, and even beat the World Champion Golden State Warriors, but who would have guessed the team with the best record in the league last year would be happy to be 7-7 after 14 games?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Kevin Durant is a polarizing player, due to his off-the-court decisions and shenanigans. There was the decision back in 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors that put many into a tizzy. I was fine with his decision, but I understand why people had issues with it. After being Mr. Nice Guy in OKC, Durant took on a blase, laissez-faire attitude. Some appreciated the rawness, while others wanted a more calculated, LeBron-esque persona. There was the burner account incident. Lame, but I kind of get it, as it’s tough for any celebrity to truly speak their mind. KD just be messing around. What can’t be questioned, though, is his production on the court. Over the past four years, Durant has finished as the 3rd, 1st, 2nd, and 5th player for fantasy according to Basketball Monster. Currently, he’s 3rd as he’s posting 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.5 threeecolas. He’s shooting 54% from the field and 91% from the line. So good. Anyways, last night he truly messed around:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 11 10 1 2 4 2/4 10/24 11/13

That was his 11th career triple-dub. A surprisingly low number, but he wasn’t always the most willing passer early in his career. With Steph Curry expected to miss a few more games, KD should continue messing around. Shoot, even when Curry returns, KD should continue messing around because that’s what he does.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So, we’re three weeks into another joyous fantasy basketball season. The hot waiver pick-ups are gone or have fizzled out. Hope you got the ones with lasting value. Pretty soon, the sample sizes will be large enough to know that what we’re seeing is more or less legit. For now, there’s still a lot of regressing to the mean yet to come. Hot and slow starts will mostly fade away, and the players will be themselves over the long haul. Not everyone, as plenty of players take significant leaps or stumbles for the entire season, whether it has to do with a change of scenery, personnel, and/or usage. It can be tough to figure out whose rebounds and steals changes, for example, will stick. However, we can trust with a good amount of confidence that most players shooting percentages will end up relatively close to their previous numbers. And, this early in the season, when, say, Serge Ibaka goes 15-for-17 and then 8-for-8, percentages can be way out of line and skew value if you’re looking at rankings in a trade scenario.

Please, blog, may I have some more?