Basketball is a funny game. The Atlanta Hawks were riding a six-game losing streak and heading to Utah to face off against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Dennis Schroder, the point guard for the Hawks, had failed to score 20 points in each of the six losses. Then, a funny thing happened. The D went missing. Did Dennis change his name to Ennis? No!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 5 7 0 0 2 3/7 16/28 6/10

Forty burger! Against a team that was 8th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Against Ricky Rubio, who was 10th in defensive real plus minus. Schroder had a 42.7 usage rate last night! Going forward, though, I wouldn’t expect too many performances like last night. Taurean Prince, who had been the alpha in terms of usage, got Prince’D, so someone had to step up. In addition, while Schroder has had a couple of big games this season, they have been too few to count on. Expect scoring to be in the 18-20 point range with 5-7 assists, and 2-3 boards.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you are wondering about the title, just look at the postscript at the end of the article. It’s not basketball related but some things are far greater.

The playoffs have started for most fantasy leagues and I hope your teams are competing in them. May the basketball gods bless you with no injuries to your key players (ahem Stephen Curry) and good percentages to lead you to the championship. If you are instead in a Roto league, like I prefer for the most part, these injuries affect you less but it’s still a good time to focus on the categories that can give you the most points in the standings and shape your team accordingly.

On a completely different subject, as soon as I saw Josh Richardson and James Johnson celebrating after a made triple, I knew I had to include it in the article.

Master Yoda, you sure look taller…..The phrase “teamwork elevates you” gets a new meaning with these guys.

As per usual, let’s check the performance from last week’s suggested players, but before that, an extra shout out to my man Nemanja Bjelica, who I mentioned 2 weeks ago and is straight carrying my teams for the past weeks (ranked 18th during this period). Larry Nance Jr. has taken full advantage of the starting role in Cleveland, with three double-doubles in his last 5 games and will maintain this production for as long as Tristan Thompson is sidelined. On the other hand, Jakob Poeltl’s impressive defensive numbers faded this week as he averaged only 1.0 block after going for 2.7 per game during the previous two weeks. Finally, Skal Labissiere had two solid games before going down with a minor injury, while Marcin Gortat and Al-Farouq Aminu proved good drop calls as they had at best forgettable performances.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Anthony Davis gave all his fantasy owners, and fans of basketball, a scare at the end of last week when he exited with a hand injury. His owner in one of my leagues immediately messaged, “Well, there goes Davis, probably season-ending.” Well, it wasn’t season-ending and he made it back just in time to play on his 25th birthday.

Davis and his fantasy owners were celebrating in style as The Brow put up the rarest of triple-doubles: 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks! Yes, 25 points on his 25th birthday is pretty friggin’ cool, but watching a guy block 10 shots and also hit a three pointer while only turning the ball over 2 times in 40 minutes is just plain amazing. His final line was: 1/25/11/3/3/10. Wow!

Here is what else I saw on a packed Sunday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I was younger, much younger, I used to consider myself a fairly athletic guy. Played competitive volleyball and could hang when I hooped at most courts. Then the Summer of ’96 happened. I was playing tackle football, when one of the guys brought his friend to play. The new guy was a third string cornerback for the University of Maryland and he said, “No tackle for me guys. Just two-hand touch.” Didn’t matter because no one could get one hand on the guy. Ok, I’m exaggerating. One hand was possible, but two hands? Fuggetaboutit. 3rd stringer for a Division 1 college team. I couldn’t even imagine the level of what a professional player would be at.  Which brings me to TJ McConnell. Myself and many others clown him that he should be playing at the YMCA, but let’s not forget that he’s in the top 1% of ballers on the planet. Last night, he reminded us all as he messed around.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 10 10 11 6 0 2 0 5/11 0

Played 37 minutes off the bench. The last time TJ received 30 minutes of run in a game was on January 20th. More than likely, TJ will get around 24 minutes a game, but does have the capacity to contribute across the board. Just don’t expect 6 steals and for him to mess around on a nightly basis. More often than not, I’m going to talk about his hair. Every once in a while, though, he’s going to remind us that it’s fun to stay at the YMTJ.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The snake, The rat, The cat, The dog

How you gonna see them if you living in the fog?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_4tr_-OznU

Ah, this is the classic hip hop that I love. DMX is one of my favorite rappers, mainly because everything he raps about is probably true. He made three songs about Damien, so I assume he actually has a demon that follows him around and tells him to do bad things in order to get money and fame. I mean the man did like 12 bids…Despite that, he’s one of the most legendary rappers of all time, and I couldn’t help but think of this song after watching Lillard absolutely demolish the Kings last night. Damian Lillard a.k.a. The Omen, stole the headlines last night, going 8-50-1-6-3-0-2 in only 29 minutes, as the Blazers blew out the Kings 118-100.  He shot 16-of-26 and had 10-for-10 FTs. ”It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” and here’s what else went down in fantasy hoops last night:

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My Charlotte Bobcats fandom reached it’s peak during the 2006-2007 NBA season. My Bulls had been one of the worst teams in the NBA for nearly a decade and I liked cheering for the recent expansion team. I had NBA League Pass back then, since I was providing live box scores for a website more nights than not. The Bobcats weren’t one of the in-demand teams to cover, so I got to do a lot of their games. While the Bulls had just drafted LaMarcus Aldridge at #2 and traded him for #4 Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa (yes, that happened), the Bobcats selected one of my favorite players right between those picks to join forces with other favorites Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. That’s right, Adam Morrison was going to light up my tiny 19-inch box TV that sat beside my giant desktop computer as he turned (yes, people thought this) into Larry Bird 2.0! It was going to be fun watching this franchise, in just it’s third year, develop into a contender with those pieces.

Check it out! That weird, slippery ball they used briefly!

Okay, so the ‘Cats never really went anywhere, though Morrison did have some fun 3-point shooting streaks. I still love the snubbed and rightful 2012 Las Vegas NBA Summer League MVP and two-time NBA Champ (true). And, I still wear my Bobcats hat proudly (also true). Why am I going on and on about a player who only played in 161 career games and was out of the NBA four years after he was drafted? Because, he’s the theme of today’s strategy: The ‘Stache! I guess it’s The Stash, but at least I got to talk about Adam Morrison and Victor Khryapa.

This is a good time to stock up on and stash the players that might take off toward the end of the season and lead you to a championship.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Coming into this year, the fantasy freaks of the world had two guys on their radar as far as Phoenix Suns centers. Would it be one-time fantasy darling and all-the-time Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat, or lottery pick Alex Len, who could either end up as a modern-day Jon Koncak or a white Dwight Howard.

How about neither? Gortat was traded to the Washington Cheese Wiz in a very odd trade where the Suns ended up with a protected first-round pick and a frozen-in-Carbonite Emeka Okafor – which really isn’t that different than Emeka Okafor – while the ex-Bullets got Gortat and three guys they waived.

Len, meanwhile, is injured, and won’t be ready even when he’s ready, if that makes any sense.

And all of this is perfectly fine in the retirement capital of the world.

Please, blog, may I have some more?