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:
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:
Back in 2004, Dwight Howard was an affable kid with human heads as shoulders. Selected #1 overall by the Orlando Magic out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Dwight looked to be the next superstar of the NBA. Look was an understatement. He averaged a double-dub, played in every game his rookie season, and was named to the All-Rookie Team. The next three years, Howard got bigger, stronger, and led the Magic to the playoffs. In 2008, he became Superman when he donned the cape in the dunk contest. All was good in the world of Dwight. But then things began turning the other way. The Magic couldn't advance in the playoffs and the league started to employ the Hack-a-Dwight, due to his atrocious free throw shooting. Then, in 2012, he asked to be traded, tried to get his coach fired (allegedly), but ended up signing with the Magic and hugging his coach. Huh? It got worse, though. Dwight had back surgery and missed the rest of the 2012 season. Then, asked to be traded to BKN, but got shipped to LA instead, where Kobe ripped him a new one. Houston for three years, then Atlanta, then finally Charlotte. I can't wait for the ESPN 30 for 30 on Dwight, but I'm not writing about that. I'm writing about that fact that Dwight went:
The first 30/30 game since Kevin Love accomplished the feat in 2010. Harvey Pollack, the Sixers' Director of Statistical Information back in 2010, told John Hareas of NBA.com that "there have been 131 30/30 performances." Wilt Chamberlain did it 103 times! Ha! Well, add Dwight to the list.
Here's what else I saw last night:
The Marvel Universe has been on quite a heater lately, culminating in the recently released Black Panther movie. With that said, an underappreciated and rarely talked about character is The Juggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength and durability, is virtually unstoppable once in motion, and immune to mental attacks when donning a helmet. He's fought and taken on all comers. Sounds alot like LeBron James aka LeJuggernaut. Possesses superhuman strength? Check. Is durable? Has played 1130 career games and missed 111, with many of those due to "rest." As this fivethirtyeight.com article stated, LeBron has "never missed a playoff game" even though he has the "sixth-most regular season minutes of all time." He's in the top 3 all time of games played per season as a percentage of the player's teams' total regular-season and playoff games. Among active players, "no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James." I think that's a resounding Check. Is unstoppable once in motion? Check. Immune to mental attacks? He had his moments early in his career when it seemed like LeBron was mentally fragile, but as time has gone on, he's shown to be impervious to distractions both on and off the court. Check. Last night, LeJuggernaut messed around by rampaging through the Milwaukee Bucks.
There are 12 games left in the regular season and the Cavs are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. IND, WAS, and PHI are only one game back in the loss column. It's winning time and LeJuggernaut has been unleashed for the stretch run. If you don't believe me, take a look below:
Here's what else I saw last night:
“ If you play good attack, you win the game, but, if you play good defense you win championships” (Zeljko Obradovic)Semifinals time. Maybe in rotisserie leagues the results are more fair, but in head-to-head there's more excitement. If you had Kevin Durant or Gary Harris and are in the semifinals, it will be a difficult endeavor, but that's h2h fantasy life for you. On the other hand, if your opponent has one of those players, you're smiling from ear to ear. Another thing I learned this week (again), is how crucial working the waiver wire is to succeeding in fantasy basketball. Corey Brewer and Buddy Hield were first-round values in the quarter-finals, and Taurean Prince, Maurice Harkless, and Quinn Cook were second-round values. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQVKRjhrYDo[/embed] Here is how the action went down in Week 22 across our 12 RCL Leagues:
There are two points of a fantasy basketball season where seasons can be won and lost: the first is at the draft and the second is when there are about twenty games left in the season. The draft is obvious. That is when you set the foundation of your team. The second point is a little more subtle. For those owners in head-to-head leagues, this second point is important because you are setting your team up (hopefully) for the playoffs. You want players who have a lot of games and are on teams who will not be resting them during the critical time. The subtle part is directed more at owners in roto leagues. There are still enough games left to make moves in categories you can climb in or maintain your lead in categories you are ahead in. The waiver wire is your tool to win the league at this point. Young players are finally putting it together and playing well and injuries are opening up time for bench guys who have played well when given minutes. The Golden State Warriors, and their massive amount of injuries to star players, is a team to focus on in order to find one or two players who can help you with that late season charge. Quinn Cook is the player I want to focus on in this recap, and if you need threes, points, assists, steals, I will pause for a moment so you can go and pick him up. While we are waiting for those owners to get back can we just talk about how dumb they are for not picking up Cook yet and having him active for this game against the lowly Suns? Wait, wait, quiet, they’re coming back… Welcome back, we were just waiting quietly for you. I hope you were able to add him. Cook is a 2-way player, no, that is not sexual. It means that he is one of two players each team can send back and forth to the G-League during the season. Cook has dominated G-League play for most of the year and now, because of injuries to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, Cook is getting 40 minutes per game and putting up more than decent fantasy point guard stats. Last night Quinn Cook went for: 5/28/4/4/2/0 with only 2 turnovers in 40 minutes. This was on 11-17 shooting, including 5-7 from three. Pick him up. Here is what else I saw on a busy St. Patrick’s Day:
Anthony Davis gave all his fantasy owners, and fans of basketball, a scare at the end of last week when he exited with a hand injury. His owner in one of my leagues immediately messaged, “Well, there goes Davis, probably season-ending.” Well, it wasn’t season-ending and he made it back just in time to play on his 25th birthday. Davis and his fantasy owners were celebrating in style as The Brow put up the rarest of triple-doubles: 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks! Yes, 25 points on his 25th birthday is pretty friggin’ cool, but watching a guy block 10 shots and also hit a three pointer while only turning the ball over 2 times in 40 minutes is just plain amazing. His final line was: 1/25/11/3/3/10. Wow! Here is what else I saw on a packed Sunday night:
When I was growing up, I would always hear these words.....Be quiet.....Listen.....Don't cry.....Have no fear.....Don't worry.....It was as if everyone wanted me to be a robot. I get it. Being robotic brings many beneficial things, like efficiency, discipline, and the ability to perfect technical things that can be achieved through repetition. But I'm human. We are human. It is emotion that allows us to experience the full gamut of life. It is emotion that allows us to access realms of our brain that no robot can. It is emotion that allows us to feel, for better or for worse. Last night, I was both happy and sad when I watched Larry Nance Jr. get his first start for the Cavs.
He played 32 minutes, but it could have been a bigger night. Unfortunately, the Cavs blew out the Pistons, 112-90. I've been wanting to see Nance play the small ball 5 for both the Lakers and the Cavs. He can shoot from the perimeter J, grab boards, and play D. His basketball IQ is high, he's unselfish, and he plays his ass off. He is fleet of foot, able to switch multiple positions on D, and has the hops of a flea. A little undersized, but he makes up for it with all the things I just listed. As a Lakers fan, I was happy to see him ball out because he showed that ability in Los Angeles. As a Lakers fan, I was also sad because he is now in Cleveland. Now, Tristan Thompson did not play due to injury, but how can the Cavs not go with Nance going forward? Anyways, there's a perfect song from back in the day that filled me up with emotion and made me bob my head and made me wanna dance. Enjoy. Both the song and fantasy production that Nance will deliver.
Here's what else I saw last night:
Don't take Anthony Davis in the top 5. He'll miss at least 25 games. Avoid Old Man LeBron James, because he rests all the time. Tyreke Evans has only played 65 games in the last two years combined. Not even worth drafting. A few of the prevailing opinions going into the season that I thought had gotten a bit overblown. The risk of missing games is scary, but it's not often very predictable. And yes, I'm cherry picking examples, but AD has played 54 of the first 60 games and is #4 on the ESPN Player Rater (#3 per game). LeBron hasn't sat one game yet, is among the league leaders in minutes per game again, and is #1 (#5 per game). Tyreke has played 49 of 59 games, sitting five of those when the team was holding him out before the trade deadline. He's #58 (#44 per game). And sure, that's partly due to Mike Conley missing almost the whole season. Yes, there are examples of injury fears being once again substantiated, like in the case of Danilo Gallinari. It's all guesswork. It's part of the fun, predicting what a season will bring. But, figuring out the puzzle can drive you mad. Today, I thought we'd have a little fun revisiting some preseason predictions. Maybe we can learn a bit about what types of projections are more trustworthy than others. Maybe not. I also don't think this would be a great way to figure out who's great at predicting things like sleepers and breakouts, because this is a small sample size. Continue to look at the methodology behind the predictions to see if it's backed up by reason. I just figured that we rarely actually go back to see what was right and what was way off. If it teaches us something for next preseason, great.