Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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First of all, I want to wish all of you a happy new year with peace, health, and happiness! May 2019 also bring fantasy glory to all your teams. This week was a bit frantic in terms of players for the Buy column, with many injuries creating opportunities, so you will notice a bigger number of proposed players than normal. However, as per usual, let’s first take a look at last week’s suggestions in order to evaluate their performance.

Jeff Green proved to be a productive streamer last week, and may have some more value to give, but watch out for the imminent return of Otto Porter Jr. Marcus Smart was his usual self, racking up steals and missing shots. You know what you are getting out of him, while Javale McGee’s return erased Ivica Zubac, who can be safely dropped. It’s funny that it’s 2019 and I wrote a sentence about McGee returning and making such an impact in fantasy basketball.

Finally, both Dennis Schroder and Terrence Ross continue to be in cold shooting streaks and thus, continue to be high on my Sell list.

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First of all, I want to wish everyone a happy New Year. If you’re just getting into your fantasy basketball season because football is now over, I don’t blame you, and welcome.

I’m not going to sit here and lie to everyone. I am pissed at the Lakers organization. Should I give them another day or two before dumping on their parade? Maybe yes, maybe no. The recently highlighted Ivica Zubac has relegated to DNP duties when JaVale McGee returned from his respiratory infection. I was just trying to think up a good nickname for Zubac. Was thinking “The Tap” (for the “IV” in Ivica), “ZU-LA”, “ViZa” (not to be confused with the credit card), and “Big Z”, just so LeBron thinks Zydrunas Ilgauskas is back in town and lets the kid play. So this is all for naught because it looks like the franchise is opting for the old over the new. With that said, I am holding for a game or two before I cut him loose. I don’t think Tyson Chandler is the key, Zubac should be in the rotation going forward, and I think a night off after his nice run is well deserved. Stay tuned.

As for today’s suggestion, Tomas Satoransky has to be owned. John

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Oh Washington. Like the great Linkin Park song, you tried so hard and got so far (not that far), but in the end it doesn’t even matter.  The John Wall/Bradley Beal combo looks so good on paper, but they never really got the complementary pieces to make it work. Ownership tried to cobble together something resembling a good team, but they could only get second rate players, afterthoughts, and Dwight Howard. I feel for teams like them. You know they’re not going to win a championship, but they’re still pretty good. The timing was all wrong. A bunch of players who were great at certain times in their lives, just couldn’t all be great at once. Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, John Wall was out for the Wizards and Bradley Beal went 4-40-11-15-0-1-8 on 17-of-33 shooting and 2-of-2 FTs in a mind-boggling 54 minutes of triple-overtime glory. He could be headed to the Lakers or elsewhere, and no one on Washington is really safe from being traded, so for now, Wizards fans are just going to have to enjoy what they have. Pretty much what they’ve been doing for their team’s entire existence… Hopefully, you had some players on the Suns or the Wizards.

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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).

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The SouthLEAST Division

Here we are at the quarter turn, as teams have played approximately 25% of their games.

We know enough to be able to make some pretty cogent observations. Try this one on: this division is the worst in the NBA. Last year, the Heat won the division with 44 wins, while the Wizards had 43. Most thought it would be those two teams battling again, but alas, the Hornets and Magic currently sit atop the divisional heap. Any of these teams will be hard pressed to win 44 this year, although since they have to play each other four times each, somebody might get close. We could easily see a sub-.500 Division champion. What has been evident is that there are four coaches who are doing a notable job with inadequate star power, while one coach has been doing an inadequate job with notable star power.

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Consistency has been a hallmark for the career of LeBron James. Year in and year out, you could Sharpie him in for 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Within that consistency bubble, though, are different shades of LeBron. There’s “Deferential” LeBron, who props up his teammates and lets them shine. There’s “We’ve Lost How Many Games?” LeBron, who could probably stop a flower from blooming. There’s “Playoff” LeBron, but the shade of LeBron that I want to discuss is “You Forgetting About Me” LeBron, which is my favorite because he announces it with the force of Thor’s hammer screaming to the ground. It all started two games ago against the Portland Trail Blazers. Entering that game, LeBron was averaging 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. Yawn, but then he exploded for 44/10/3. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
51 8 3 2 1 2 6/8 19/31 7/10

….A fifty-burger usually brings out the cops, but not for LeBron. It’s just another shade. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator knows all the different shades, as it had LeBron as the #1 player yesterday. For the season, LeBron is the #4 player according to Basketball Monster. Long live the King!

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Last night was interesting because we had some surprise performances and inefficient scoring. One performance stood out, though. Both in statistics and in how he just took over the game. Remember on opening night when everyone was freaking out about Jayson Tatum? Kyrie Irving was being called washed up and there were a lot of reactionaries out there saying that this was now Tatum’s team. That take proved to be dumb. Watching Irving and Kawhi Leonard battle in an overtime affair was a pleasure to watch. Last night’s game became a classic and will help build anticipation for a potential showdown in the playoffs.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
18/26 4/6 3/6 43 2 11 3 1 3

Irving has been electric this season and was the sixth-ranked player in fantasy heading into last night’s game. He ended with a double-double (43 points and 11 assists). Add in three 3’s and three steals and you have an incredibly dynamic performance. The icing on the cake was the super efficiency on high volume. Boston is his team and they go as he does. For fantasy teams that roster Kyrie, your team goes as far as he can lead you, which is looking pretty far.

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Tonight was clearly defined by the insane performances by some of the leagues best big men. Crazy points, boards, and stocks were being earned all night long. Joel Embiid beat up on Charlotte’s inferior front line, driving to the bucket, getting insane put-back dunks, and swatting shots into oblivion. One of the best examples of his diverse skillset showed him bring the ball up across half court and then orchestrate a perfect give-and-go that led to an Embiid statement dunk. To top things off, he showed his range by hitting the tying 3-point shot near the end of regulation. He’s just ridiculous.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/18 19/22 1/2 42 18 4 0 4 3

This was an MVP performance from the big man. He must have been shaken by that Sabonis dunk last night, as he came out and crushed. How many other big men can hit 19/22 free throws in practice, let alone in a tightly contested game? The boards were huge, as were the blocks. He’s really starting to heat up, so ride him if you got him.

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Welcome back Otto, we greatly missed you. After a painfully slow start to the season, and a missed game due to a toe injury, Otto Porter Jr. finally broke out yesterday with a 19/5/6/4/2/2/0 roto gem against the Mavericks. He was featured in the Buy column last week, so I hope you capitalized on the buy-low opportunity and got him at a discount. I have valid hope that he can continue improving due to the attention the P&R between Howard and Wall demands. As for the other suggested players, LaMarcus Aldridge predictably started making more shots and improved his value, Rodney Hood hasn’t really done anything great with his opportunity in Cleveland yet, and Josh Okogie has been OK, but I expect greater things from him with Butler set to miss more games. Finally, regarding the sell candidates, DeAndre Jordan continues making his free throws but I think that will eventually stop, and Wesley Matthews seems determined to prove me wrong because he continues scoring even with Harrison Barnes back. I still believe he is a sell high candidate because Barnes will eventually get back up to speed.

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