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.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
37 13 14 2 0 5 1/1 15/22 6/8

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:

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Certain things in sports are sexier than others. It’s as simple as that. While Ichiro strives to make singles sexy, the saying goes, “chicks dig the longball.” In hockey, Barry Melrose’s mullet screams sexy over Ovechkin’s buzz cut.  Big hits catch the eye before a 3 yard run up the middle. Lastly, slam dunks will always be more exciting than a mid-range jumper. Larry Nance finds himself in quite the unique situation. How many times since the inception of the dunk contest, has a contestant debuted their fresh new jersey on that stage? I’ll admit, I didn’t look into this at all, but man would it make a great HQ trivia question. In comes Larry Nance, I assume junior, or maybe even the third, traded from the Lakers and now sporting a Cavs uni. The same Cavs that are his favorite team, the team in which his father, Larry Nance, probably the first, played for and won the slam dunk contest with. The same Larry Nance whose number is hanging in the rafters at the Q. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will. As Kevin Costner said, it’s hard not to get emotional about baseball. Wrong sport, yes, but the man just wanted to have a damn catch with his dad, and now he can!

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According to our good friends at Wikipedia, the word leprechaun is thought to come from “the Old Irish luchorpan, a compound of the roots lu (small) and corp (body). Looks at depth chart for the Boston Celtics. Nods head. Looks at mascot for the Boston Celtics. Nods head. The glove fits. Looks at OJ nodding his head vociferously from side to side. So, this iteration of the Celtics is perfect for the new-age positionless basketball, but it’s one that makes Celtics old timers cringe. Bill Walton. Dave Cowens. Robert Parish. Bill Russell. All big men that brought the pot of gold to Boston. Now, the 2017 Celtics are 34-12, the second-best record in all of basketball. Brad Stevens for President! But, a huge glaring weakness is facing off against dominant big men. Over the past two weeks, Anthony Davis went 45/16. Karl-Anthony Towns went 25/23. Even Tristan Thompson went 10/11. Tristan Thompson people! Which brings me to Joel Embiid. Last night, Embiid went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 26 16 6 1 2 4 0/1 10/19 6/7

He was a true Sixer: 6 free throws made. 6 assists. 16 boards. 26 points. Nods head vociferously like OJ. Ok, back to reality. You don’t need me to tell you that Embiid is awesome. What would be of interest, though, is that the 76ers may allow Embiid to play in back-to-back games. He’s a top 25 player for fantasy right now. If he starts getting full run, that might get OJ to nod his head vociferously up and down.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I am back from a short hiatus with an up-to-date (or as close as I can get it) injury report to help you plan for the upcoming fantasy basketball week and to provide potential waiver wire replacements.

Here are the major injuries lingering around the NBA, some suggestions for which replacements to target, and whether you should Stash, Drop, Add, or use an I.R. spot (if your league allows it):

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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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Welcome back to another Wednesday Buy/Sell column. I strongly believe that self-reflection is key for improvement, so from now on i’ll be reviewing my calls from last week’s piece. Derrick Favors has predictably improved his play sans Gobert and even posted a 25/0/11/3/0/2/1 gem against Orlando. Since starting at the 5, he is returning fourth-round value and will look to keep it going until Gobert returns. Donovan Mitchell remains consistently inconsistent with his shooting, but all the other stats are juicy. This guy going number 13 in the draft was highway robbery. In other news, Spencer Dinwiddie and his funky name is the best call from last week. Hope you rushed to your wire and got him cause he is averaging 19.3/3.0/3.7/9.0/1.0/0.7/1.0 in his last three games. Ryan Anderson’s sell window remains open as he had himself a great game against the dream matchup that are the Suns. Derrick Rose is still injured and not worthy of a roster spot on your team. I already feel like a better person. Thanks, self-reflection!

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It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for our weekly Buy/Sell candidates. Last week, the Butler actually did it with with two strong games in a row and finally started getting to the line with 23/26 during that span. Hallelujah!!! Hope you capitalized on the buy low window, as it appears to be closing fast. This week, injuries have created interesting opportunities for some players, while the contributions from some of your aging veterans is declining. Let’s look at them in more detail…

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“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” (Michael Phelps)

 

Trees don’t grow to the sky, but James Harden has made me rethink that statement. The last two weeks, he’s averaging 34.9 points, 5.3 3pts, 10.9 assists, and 2.0 steals, an unreal line and the number one spot in fantasy.

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This is a crazy time of year. Halloween just ended and now we prepare for Thanksgiving, which basically means that Christmas is almost here, which signifies the end of the year, but also means new beginnings. Whew….So much. Too much. Last night, though, everything was straightforward, as it was simply a Jrue Holiday. 34 points, five boards, and 11 dimes in 42 minutes. While the calendar year is littered with holidays (Thanks Hallmark), each one occurs once a year. That’s how we should look at Jrue’s year. We know that there will be big games littered throughout the year. Just don’t expect them to occur on a daily basis. Through 12 games, Jrue has a 19% usage rate. Anthony Davis has a 28% usage rate, while DeMarcus Cousins a 33% rate. His numbers are down across the board, except in boards. Ha! The Universe is awesome.

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