With the season minutes away, and drafts likely complete, there is still time to dig deep for those watch list wonders and sneaky waiver pickups. Whether these players 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 highlighted the Eastern Conference earlier in the week, now we’ll tackle the Western Conference and look for players who can be had for cheap and can make an impact sooner than later.

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The Portland Trail Blazers are an odd team for fantasy basketball. They are a good regular season team, but for fantasy there are only two stars and Jusuf Nurkic, a borderline top 100 player. They’re in a tough spot because everyone knows they’re not going to compete for a championship, big free agents are hard to lure to Portland, Oregon, and the team is too good to get a high draft pick. Damian Lillard is locked up, for this year and the next, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021. He has gone on the record stating that he’d like to stay in Portland, but if the Blazers front office doesn’t do something drastic, this team is going to be on the proverbial treadmill for years.

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How many years has it been since the Brooklyn Nets consummated one of the worst trades in sports history? Four? Five? Six?! They are still paying guys that are rumored to be the next stars of Ice Cube’s Big 3 league. Alas, in 2019 the Nets will finally have their first round pick again, and can finally be a team that doesn’t have an excuse for being terrible year in and year out. Despite their lack of draft capital and obvious lack of talent, the Nets have played respectable basketball the last two seasons under Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and GM Sean Marks has made decent moves bringing in young talent and finding under-appreciated players. Yes, this hasn’t translated into many wins, but they improved by eight wins last year after losing their best player, Brook Lopez, and are looking to take another step forward this year.

This is a fantasy website, however, and as much as I would like to defend the legitimacy of the Brooklyn Nets and how their five-year outlook is bright, this is the preview for the ’18-’19 Nets. Spoiler alert: they’re probably in for another losing season. That does not mean they will be without fantasy contributors, and that is what you’re here for.

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Whether you’re in your head-to-head playoffs or gearing up for the final month of the roto season, I’m here to help you figure out which moves to make to maximize your chances to win. Last week, I discussed the amount of games played per week and for the remainder of the season for each team and how to value their players accordingly. This week, I’ll go through some free agent specialists to consider picking up. Next week, I’ll return to my bread and butter: punting categories. As always, I don’t only mean those that went with a season-long strategy of punting free throw percentage. By this point, you have so much more information about exactly what your team needs and, almost as important, what it doesn’t need. Of course you know that you should be focusing on steals if you’re only about 20 behind two other teams in the roto category or going all in on field goal percentage if that’s the only category you need to swing the final score in your playoff matchup. But, from my own experience, I know that you’re probably still focusing on players and categories that can no longer help you. It’s so hard to decide to sit a 25-point scoring all-star for the final month of the season. But, if you’re running away with points in a landslide, those points do nothing for you anymore. I remember multiple seasons where I had to completely ignore all stats except for steals and blocks for the final few weeks of a roto league. Sitting a guy like Damian Lillard (past 30 days: 0.9 steals and 0.2 blocks) for someone like Dewayne Dedmon (1.3/1.2). Forget the names and focus on the stats.

So, today, I’ll give you some players you may be able to grab who can help you in the specific categories you need. This time of year, that’s going to include some surprise players that are getting extra run and/or usage. So, this will also be a reminder to focus on what’s going on now as opposed to the numbers we got used to in the first half of the season.

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“ Energy and persistence conquer all things.” (Benjamin Franklin)

We’re past the three-quarter turn of the NBA fantasy season. This week starts the fantasy playoff, and only half of our teams will fight to be the winner of the Razzball Commenter Leagues. Congratulations to Pikachu, the winner of the best record for the regular season. Taking a look at the Pikachu’s team demonstrate the importance of a good draft.

Pikachu’s team draft analysis:

Player Player value Draft selection
Victor Oladipo  8 40
Damian Lillard  10  16
Nikola Jokic  13 9
Josh Richardson  33 112
Dirk Nowitzki  41  Added from waiver
Jamal Murray  46  64
Spencer Dinwiddie  55 Added from waiver
T.J. Warren  62  105

As the board shows, a good draft goes a long way to becoming a fantasy championship team.

 

Here is how the action went down in Week 21 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

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Anthony Davis is not from this planet. I don’t care what anyone says. What he’s doing on the basketball court is I. N. S. A. N. E. Since Boogie went down….hold that thought….I have the sudden urge to get down. Ha! I miss Soul Train. The Soooooooooooouuuuuulllllllll Train. Ok, back to business. Since Boogie went down due to injury, Anthony Davis has seen the usage rate get to as high as 40%. He has 13 double-dubs in 16 games. He’s gone 40/10 six times and has a 50/10 game during that stretch. Aaaaaaannnnd, he’s averaging close to 3 blocks AND steals. Averaging! But the most impressive and unbelieveable thing is that he hasn’t gotten hurt! Oh boy….I just jinxed him, didn’t I? Do I need to perform a seance? Sacrifice some virgins? What? UPDATE: I swear I didn’t know he left in the second quarter. Anyways, last night AD went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 13 2 3 3 4 4/7 17/31 3/3

I often hear this joke in DFS. No <insert player name>, no cash. Well, if AD stays healthy, you are probably not winning diddly poo this year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I worked on a trading floor before the Internet Bubble went snap, crackle, and pop. Crazy times I tell ya. I always felt bad for the IT guys, though. They used to get shitted on all day, everyday. It didn’t help that they would say, “Did you turn it off then back on?” I kid. They were a vital cog to the operation because without them, things would cease to function. But dudes on the floor could be ruthless, especially when making or losing money were at stake. The IT guy was always the punching bag. Sound familiar? Isaiah Thomas has had a rough season. He struggled mightily in Cleveland and took much of the brunt for the Cavs’ struggles. Now in LA, things are looking a little brighter, as last night he went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 4 6 0 0 3 6/11 11/20 1/2

He played 30 minutes coming off the bench. Now, Josh Hart did not play due to injury so that gave IT some extra run. With that said, he was getting around 25 minutes of run per game. Around January, I did start writing in the recaps that I was bullish on IT. He was getting the minutes and the shot attempts were there. I just felt like he was getting his legs under him. Let’s not forget that he was recovering from a hip injury. After the trade to LA, I thought it was a pretty good situation for him, as the Lakers like to play free and fast. I just had questions about how many minutes he would get and what the rotations would be. I think we have our answer now. IT is the microwave. Instant offense off the bench. The Lakers with IT on the court have a 114.9 offensive rating, highest on the team. Without him on the court, that number drops to 105.6. Crazy. Granted, it’s only been seven games, but still. He’s getting healthy and is mighty motivated, as he’s essentially playing for a big contract right now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I loved the Chappelle Show. My favorite episode was The Racial Draft, but right behind was Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Rick James. When he first met James, Charlie saw an “orange……auro” around him, as if he were some transcendental god. After getting to know him a bit, he realized that James was “mad niggerish.” He would “walk up to any chick and lick the whole side of their face” then yell, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” I think Rick and LeBron James are the same person, except for the whole “licking the whole side of the face” thing, but…..I don’t know what LeBron is into. Anyways, LeBron has been a trancendental figure in the sport of basketball since he was in high school. He’s a savant on the court, and polished and refined off the court, but when it comes down to it, he don’t take any shit. Last night, he messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 31 12 11 1 0 1 2/4 13/25 3/3

The triple-dub was his 12th of the season. I’m LeBron James, bitch! But, it doesn’t end there. For the month of February (11 games), he AVERAGED a triple-dub: 26.6 points, 10.3 boards, and 10.4 dimes. I’m LeBron James, bitch! But, it doesn’t end there. With last night’s performance, LeBron became the FIRST player in NBA HISTORY to score 30,000 points, dish out 8,000 dimes, and grab 8,000 rebounds. I’m LeBron James, bitch!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Back in the 1960s, the Batman television show with Adam West would have POW graphics written across the screen. Although corny, they brought us back to the comic book roots and accentuated a fight scene. Or disguised the “terribly choreographed” ones. I never really thought about it like that until I came across that article, but it does make total scene. The acting and fight scenes were an abomination, but I guess that was part of the allure. Anyways, to get the bad taste out of my mouth from re-watching old clips and remembering the unfortunate state of much of my childhood, I went to the good ole YouTube search box and typed in Mike Tyson knockouts. I don’t feel so bad about my youth anymore. Now, those POWs had substance. Which brings me to Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
18 12 0 0 1 2 0 6/12 6/6

Got the start at center again and played 29 minutes. Since January 31st, Powell has played 29, 23, 31, 29, 31, and 28 minutes. There’s been only one game during that stretch he hasn’t started. Dirk Nowitzki did miss last night’s game, but Powell had been starting next to Dirk when he was in the lineup. With the Mavs out of contention, it only makes sense for Powell to continue getting run down the stretch. Over the past week, he’s been a top 50 player for fantasy, averaging over 15 points, 8 boards, 1 steal, 2 assists, and shooting over 70% from the field and 80% from the free throw line. Ka-POW!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?