October is upon us and that is a wonderful thing. The leaves turn beauteous colors while the weather provides crisp breezes. Both adults and kids get to dress up. Kids to beg for huge bags of candy. Adults to fantasize and act silly. There is even a holiday when some folks get to stay home from work to celebrate the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus! But the real greatness of October lies in the fact that it is the month where our sports converge together like women for the 70% off sale at Nordstroms. College football, which if you haven’t heard, is its own religion in the South, and the NFL are into their second month. The guys in the US and Canada start wielding sticks and slapping pucks around, as the NHL season begins. Our national pastime breaks into its glorious playoff season. But for fantasy hoopheads, the most important thing that happens is the NBA season kicks off in earnest.

It is almost here. We have just a few days until October 16, and there are mock drafts, real drafts, online drafts, auction drafts, snake drafts, and dynasty drafts scheduled over the next two weeks in every hamlet in this fair country.

On September 28th, we saw Gordon Hayward in the Boston Green to kick off the preseason. Each team will play five games that don’t count in preparation for those that do. What then to watch for to help you  hoodwink all your buddies and have the best draft imaginable?

I will look Division by Division to give you some keys to watch that might provide some guidance.

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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:

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You know a team is peaking at the right time when its role players are shining. The Pacers are getting set for an epic playoff run led by their All-Star Victor Oladipo (3/27/3/5/3/0) and their breakout star Domantas Sabonis (0/30/8/3/3/0). Yes, the 30 points were a career high and, yes, both players were acquired via trade (for Paul George) in the off-season, but that is not even the most amazing thing about the Pacers’ season. The crazy thing is that the person who was supposed to be their can’t-miss stud has been an all-time dud.

Myles Turner has had an extremely disappointing season in both real-life and fantasy (funny how those are tied together) and last night he may have finally hit rock-bottom: 0/0/1/0/0/0 in just 6 minutes. No, it wasn’t injury-related. It was foul-trouble related, which should be strictly a rookie problem for big-men. The Pacers could end up being a very dangerous playoff team if somehow Turner can figure out his issues. My money is on…..drumroll…..no, no he won’t. This has been a problem the entire season, so there is no reason to believe he will suddenly be the team star again. I do think he will have some good nights, but overall he will be the same.

The good news is that the Pacers can win without him (maybe that is messing with his head and confidence), so it is not really that big a deal. The bad news is the Pacers cannot win a championship without him. But more good news, nobody expected them to even be in the playoffs, so they are playing with house money.

Anyway, here is what else I saw last night:

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If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re probably in your fantasy basketball championship week. If you’re not, you have a sick addiction to NBA basketball and still care how your friends’ weeks are going, or you’re a a masochist and want to see how you could have done if you made the finals. It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the NBA, with injuries, teams resting key guys, and extreme tanking. I would move your league’s final week up at least one week if I was you, because your team at this point in the year probably doesn’t resemble what it was even three short weeks ago. I think if you’re wise you will draft guys on mid to upper tier teams next year, who actually will be playing for something down the stretch. One of these guys is Paul Millsap. The Nuggets are battling for a playoff spot and Millsap got all the run he could handle going 2-36-9-2-0-0-1 on 13-of-18 shooting and 8-of-11 FTs. He could be on a lot of winning squads with four games this week. With that said, there have been some key steamers and beneficiaries of rested players and late season injuries. Here is what went down on a key Friday night for Fantasy Basketball:

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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.

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LaMarcus Aldridge must hate Jazz music, because he destroyed the Jazz last night. I know some people might listen to it to put themselves to sleep, but LaMarcus clearly doesn’t understand the complex rhythms or appreciate the skill of the musicians, and LaMarcus must destroy what he does not understand. LaMarcus killed the Jazz last night, going 1-45-9-2-1-3-4 on 19-of-28 shooting and 6-for-8 from the line. Although the game went to OT, LMA has been killing it all year, posting top 20 value.  Four quarters and overtime wasn’t enough for Aldridge, because after the game ended, he smashed some Thelonious Monk records and stomped on a picture of Dizzy Gillespie. On a more serious note, I could see Aldridge going in the second round next year, while you most likely got him in the fourth round this year. That’s value.

There were ten games last night so many of your fantasy playoff fates were decided yesterday. This could have been the night that made your dreams come true, or shattered them to tiny pieces. Hopefully, for most of you it was the former…Anyway, let’s dive on in to the Friday Daily Notes!

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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:

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Russell Westbrook gets triple-doubles so often that I think most fans take for granted the greatness that we are witnessing. Like NBA history making greatness. Last night, Russ picked up the 100th triple-double of his career, as he led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over the lowly Atlanta Hawks in a game they were supposed to win.

Westy scored 32 points, dropped 12 dimes, and pulled down 12 rebounds to become the third-fastest player to reach the 100 trip-dub mark. Only Oscar Robertson (277 games) and Magic Johnson (656 games) got to number 100 quicker than Russ, who accomplished the feat in just his 736th game. These stats tell me two things: 1) Russell Westbrook is really awesome and we are lucky to be able to witness his greatness and 2) The Big O was friggin’ unbelievable! 277 games? I mean, what? Nikola Jokic better hurry if he wants to even come close to sniffing that kind of epic-ness.

LeBron James, the so called “King,” has played in over 1,000 NBA games and he is not really even that close to 100 triple-doubles (ok, he’s pretty close, but still). I am saying (typing) all of this in an effort to put Westbrook’s greatness in perspective (because I am sensing that he is not getting the kind of love he deserves, most likely because ya’ll jealous of the man’s killer threads and overall sense of style). But anyway, yeah he’s good. Russell Westbrook also only trails Robertson (181), Johnson (138), and Jason Kidd (107) on the career triple-double list and trails only Kidd on the my head’s shaped like a basketball list.

However, since we are a fantasy basketball website I will stop boring you with general NBA history and give you Russ’ final line from last night: 0/32/12/12/1/1. I know, zero threes, what a bum.

Here is what else I saw last night:

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We’re getting into the last week of the fantasy regular season for most of us, so I’m not going to bore you with all of the decent lines from star players. You’re not getting Harden in a trade at this point. DeMar DeRozan scoring 23 points isn’t really vital information if he’s not on your team. We’re getting down to crunch time. The nitty-gritty. Absolute pond scum that might have value for one game or two. Sacramento Kings games where Z-Bo is resting and D’Aaron Fox is nursing a minor injury.  No one will remember how you won your championship, just that you won it. Okay, after a few years most people will forget you won it too, but you’ll remember. You’ll take it to your grave remembering, “Hey, I added Kosta Koufos and won the 2018 Fantasy basketball championship because I studied the schedule grids, and plotted my moves four weeks in advance.” But, I digress… Here’s what went down last night in fantasy hoops:

Please, blog, may I have some more?