With the season a week away, and drafts in full swing, now is the perfect time to dig deep for those late round fliers. Once you get past round 9, I believe the best strategy is to pick players who may pop in a moments notice. Whether they are in a new scheme, new location, getting more minutes or just primed for a breakout, there are potential underrated stars to be had on every team. I will go team by team in each conference and highlight a player who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner rather than later.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I love cars and have fixed up a few rice burners in my day. So, when I used to have cable and spent time channel surfing, I’d stop on a NASCAR race and indulge from time to time. Not my thing. Round and round and round and round they go. Look at the clock. Three more hours to go. The most interesting times would be when the pace car would come out. Without fail, I’d get up and sit on the edge of my seat and pray that whoever was driving would just punch it and channel their inner Fast & Furious. It’s going to happen one of these days. That’s how I feel about this Pacers team. The team has been one of the slowest paced teams in the league. Not since 1985 has the team played at a +100 possessions per game pace. Last season, they finished 23rd. I need someone to press the NOS button and let his baby go! Then we could all scream Oladipo Ho! and Myles wouldn’t have to walk 500 miles. I know what you’re thinking: This site is free?

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 9 6 4 0 0 3/9 18/33 2/2

A 40-burger!!! On Damian Jr.’s birthday. Y’all know what time it is.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

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I usually reserve the lede for the best statistical performance of the night, as numbers don’t lie. Neither do hips. I learned that from Shakira and my elementary school basketball coach. Anyways, last night James Harden‘s line was:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 3 7 2 1 4 3/10 7/14 8/9

For Harden, that’s one half of basketball. No matter, though, because Harden went Cobra Kai on Wes Johnson and put him in a body game. Literally. Figuratively. Twitterively. Spiritually.

Damn…….

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Bow down when you come to AD’s town! (New Orleans) Anthony Davis went 1-45-17-2-5-5-2 on 17-of-34 shooting and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. Hopefully, I didn’t scare anyone with my headline. I could see how ‘Brow Down’ could seem like he went down with an injury, but I was merely making a Westside Connection reference. The Pelicans beat the Heat in overtime so there were some big lines from this game. *Note to self: draft Pelicans players next year.  Mainly AD.  Most guys won’t put up this good of a line in a week… Ahh, time to shake off the post All-Star Game rust! There was a huge 11-game slate so if I don’t get to your favorite player I apologize. Here’s what else I saw in fantasy basketball this Friday:

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The City of Detroit has long been the s**thole of America. High crime. Low tax base. Corruption. Racial tension. Having the auto industry shut down plants and move them to other areas certainly didn’t help. One of my favorite movies of all-time, The Kentucky Fried Movie, put it best.

I remember during the housing crash, I’d log onto sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin, to see the true carnage. There were places in Detroit that you could buy for under $1000. Insane. Not all was bad, though. The Pistons teams of the late-80s, early-90s brought bling and optimism. Yes, they were the Bad Boys but bad equaled good in that context. Could history be repeating itself? Since Blake Griffin was acquired by the Pistons, the team has rattled of four straight wins. His presence has been so immense that the team gets a win even when he doesn’t play. Last night, Blake went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 9 6 0 0 3 3/7 9/20 0

Since arriving in Detroit, Blake is playing 36 minutes, scoring 20 points, grabbing 9.5 boards, dishing out 6 dimes, blocking 1, and stealing 0.5. It’s only been a three game sample, but things are looking on the up and up. The cheapest house that I can find on Zillow in the Detroit area for a 4bds, 1 ba, 1,777 sqft is $5,900. That’s progress.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons there were a lot of concerns. In the interest of time I will stick to just those relevant to fantasy basketball. Ok, actually that only leaves one major concern: Would Andre Drummond continue to be the rebounding machine he was prior to the arrival of the Kia-jumping, oft-injured, polarizing, human-highlight film come-again Blake Griffin?

Yes, the answer is yes. The dude is a beast. He sucks in rebounds like black holes suck in matter. And while black holes spit out gamma rays, Andre Drummond spits out sick slash lines. Forget the 3-point shooting, point-forward, stretch-four big men we are calling unicorns. The true unicorns are the old-school low-post bangers like Drummond, who even Charles Oakley would agree, could hang during any era of NBA basketball.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 20 1 4 4 6 0/0  11/15   1/3

Here is what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?