As NBA fans and fantasy basketball players we all lust for the power of NBA general managers. Many of us wrongly assume we could do a better job heading our favorite team’s basketball operations—it isn’t hard to get those ideas if you happen to be a Knicks, Magic, Timberwolves, Suns, or Kings fan. But what we long for as much as the power, is the seriousness of the endeavor. NBA GM’s get to make decisions that carry weight. A draft pick is quite simply a choice—a highly public, decade-defining choice in some cases, but a choice all the same. We make choices every day—the blue or the red tie, Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, Fleabag or The Good Place, two drinks or twelve, poetry or literally anything else that might actually pay the bills. We make applicable sports decisions as well. We choose between Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard in our fantasy draft, we add Kendrick Nunn or Davis Bertans off the wire, we kill Russell Westbrook in the group chat, we build property on Julius Randle, Dion Waiters, or Lonzo Ball Island. We tweet, we engage, and we argue. We win our league or we don’t. In time, we are either vindicated or pilloried. At best, we have a lighthearted thing to lord over people we care about, at worst, we have to dye our hair, wear ugly ill-fitting clothes, or in a more recent trend, consume enough waffles to avoid sleeping in a Waffle House. But largely, no one notices or cares, as our sports opinions are indiscernible dots in a sea of data points.

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Who came up with the names for the forward positions? There’s small and power. Why didn’t they go small and big? Or weak and power? Maybe there was a power struggle within the name manufacturing plant and small/power was the compromise to appease all parties. Politics, man. Anyways, you will find some of the best two-way players in the league here. There are also 3-and-D, 3-without-the-D, and D-without-the-3 players. Enjoy!

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The Hawks won 29 games last year, but were a much tougher opponent in the second half. 29-53 is 12 games under .500, but the Hawks were only three games under .500 over the last 41. That was due to the young’uns getting better as the season progressed. The Hawks brain trust is optimistic the growth spurt continues, as they have added even more youth to the mix.

De’Andre Hunter’s Final Four heroics moved him up the draft board, and the Hawks paid a ransom to acquire him, but leadership has earned the benefit of the doubt. Their picks, combined with the teaching style of coach Lloyd Pierce and his staff, have drawn visible dividends, but will the expected leaps turn into hops? Not paying Dewayne Dedmon, when they could afford to, may hurt more than they realize.

Most projections have the Hawks winning 30-ish games. That may be conservative, but I expect a minor flirtation with .500 and another round of ping pong balls, as youth continues to mature.

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The NBA trade deadline is upon us! There are already some deals that have been finalized and more are sure to be done by tomorrow, so this week’s article will be structured in a different format than usual. Instead of looking at Buy/Sell players individually, we will review each trade for fantasy winners and losers, in chronological order. But first, as per usual, let’s take a quick look at last week’s suggestions.

Patrick Beverley has been a steady contributor for the short-handed Clippers and only stands to benefit without Tobias Harris (more on this trade later). Another trade influenced Trey Burke’s value but unfortunately, he takes a huge hit in Dallas and is an easy cut candidate. Shabazz Napier and Jerryd Bayless had good performances this past week and will continue to produce until their respective teams get healthier. Finally, I still maintain that D’Angelo Russell is a prime sell candidate and his shooting this past week only reinforced this belief.

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Lauri Markkanen was selected by the Bulls with the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I had seen a few of his games in college, so he seemed like a legit prospect, but I did not fully embrace him until I watched him play in the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. You could see he had that….bow wow wow yippee yo yippe yay….dog in him, and it translated to his first year in the NBA, as he ended as the #66 player for fantasy: 15.2 points, 2.1 threeecolas, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 43% from the field, and 84% from the line. Naturally, big things were expected for his sophomore year, but he injured his elbow before the start of the season and missed the first 23 games.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 10 1 2 1 3 5/13 8/24 0

Well then. That didn’t take long. Played 32 minutes after logging 26 in his season debut. Markkanen is so skilled for a 7′ 0″, 240 pound player and, as mentioned above, he has that dog in him. As a result, I have a feeling that this is going to be Markkanen’s team, sooner rather than later, which puts a slight damper on Zach LaVine’s fantasy prospects.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In 2008, Dwayne Wade averaged 30.2 points, 1.1 three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 38.6 minutes per game. In 9-cat leagues, he finished as the 3rd player in fantasy that year and it started a Golden Age. The following three seasons, Wade finished as the 7th, 7th, and 5th overall player. No wonder the property taxes in Wade County skyrocketed. But then Father Time started collecting his pension and Wade declined after his age 30 season: 95th, 96th, 72nd, and 222nd finishes. As a result, his 16th season in the NBA was to be a farewell tour. Maybe a token 20 minutes a game with a couple of rocking chairs were on the menu. But Wade a minute!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
35 5 6 0 1 3 4/7 13/22 5/7

Played 34 minutes and led the team in shot attempts. Wade is averaging 24.5 minutes and 11.5 shot attempts per game on the season, but the efficiency has been inconsistent. He still has ceiling, though, as evidenced by last night’s game. I’m just waiting for April 9th, when he plays his final home game. Kobe shot 50 times and dropped a 60-burger in his final home game. I believe!

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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I’ve watched the West Wing, House of Cards, and Designated Survivor, so I consider myself one of the preeminent experts on how things operate in our nation’s capital. It’s bipartisan wrangling to further agendas. It’s projecting power and showing force. Ultimately, it’s sound bites and photo/video ops, because image is everything. Two of the more contentious issues floating through the streets of DC have been the wall being built on the border of Mexico and John Wall on the court for the Washington Wizards. A few months ago, whispers echoed throughout the city: We don’t need no stinking Wall. Each passing day turned the volume up a notch to when it crescendoed to: WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING WALL!!! Entering last night’s game, the Wizards were 5-11, 15th in offensive efficiency, and 27th in defensive efficiency. Wall will be paid $169 million over the next four years. Why is every damn Wall so expensive?! Yet, Wall put all the questions to bed. At least for one night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 4 8 2 2 1 5/12 9/24 7/10

The Wizards were down 21-40 after the first period, but Wall was a catalyst in bringing the Wizards back for a 125-118 victory over the Clippers. After the game, smiles and handshakes abounded with cameras flashing pictures of joyful jubilee. A senator, who was sitting courtside, texted the Press Secretary a selfie with he and Wall. Under the picture were the words: Washington Wizards Wall. Four more years!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

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A good friend will tell you not to reply to the Nigerian prince. A good friend will spend time with “that girl’s” friend. A good friend will say you look good when you actually look like shit. A good friend will tell you not to draft Carmelo Anthony.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
2 5 0 0 0 1 0/6 1/11 0

In the offseason, I thought the acquisition of Melo would be a detriment for the Rockets….on the defensive side of the ball. Little did I know that he’d literally suck the life out of the offense. Melo, the most powerful Black Hole in the universe. All jokes aside, Melo does provide threeecolas and some rebounds. The turnovers are miniscule as well. It’s tough to turn the ball over when you have no intention of passing. Other than that, you’re not getting much….literally. A combined 1.6 assists, steals, and blocks per game. 40% shooting from the field and 68% from the line? Melo is the 150th player according to BM. I’m actually surprised he’s that high. Now, he can get hot, as he had a streak when he scored over 20 points in three of four games. Here’s a little story for you. I recently joined Periscope. Every day, at least three hot women follow me. I know I’m a good looking guy, but come on! It’s tempting, but you know nothing good can come from it. Friends don’t let friends Melo.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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