Inflated line alert! The Thunder and Sixers went into triple overtime and guys in this game were playing minutes in the fifties, so you got some huge lines in this one. No one likes inflated stat lines more than Russell Westbrook! 2-27-18-15-2-0-6. Some guys do that in a week… The Thunder won, in the battle of interconference eighth seeds, but you don’t care about that, its time for the Friday fantasy recap!

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Hi folks. I’m going to keep the chit-chat short this week, as this is just a sequel to last week’s punt rankings. Last week, I provided the top 20 players for punt-FT%/FG%/points and some other players that were heavily impacted by removing each of those categories. I also went over the punt-FT% complement players (rated by 3s+assists+steals+points-only). But, I was thinking about how often it’s beneficial to ignore the other categories when making pickups and proposing trades, too. You might be out of contention in a category, or maybe you’re dominating that category to the point that you don’t even need to think about it in future transactions (aside from trading off your surplus). So, let’s look at what happens to per-games season rankings per Basketball Monster when we punt these categories that aren’t often punted intentionally.

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In 2016, Daryl Morey hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach. It was a match made in heaven, as Morey believed that three-pointers, layups, and free throws were the most efficient shots to take. D’Antoni? Did someone say three-pointers? Three-coooooola. The Rockets improved from 41-41 in 2015 to 55-27 with D’Antonio at the helm. They blitzed the league with 115.3 points per game, just 0.6 fewer than the vaunted Golden State Warriors. They hoisted up an absurd 40.3 three-pointers a game and made a league-high 14.4. Then the playoffs happened. After disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, D’Antoni and Morey were bested by Greg Popovich. Pop did not figure out the magic formula to shut down the Rockets O. What he did do was disrupt the rhythm and force the Rockets to do what they were most uncomfortable doing: shoot the midrange. Pop would use Kawhi Leonard to chase James Harden all over the court and plant Pau Gasol in the middle of the lane. The other three players would be paparrazi and follow their subjects wherever they went. As a result, three-pointers, layups, and free throws were defended. Everything in the midrange was conceded. Result? Spurs 4. Rockets 2. There was only one option to pursue. Better Call Paul, as in

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In all walks of life, we yearn for predictability. How long will the commute take? Is it going to rain tomorrow? Will the Big One occur tomorrow (I live in Cali)? What if we could predict the stats for every player on a nightly basis? That would be a good thing, right? Ever do a fantasy draft in NBA 2K or Madden against the computer? How about a fantasy basketball mock draft against the AI? What if your significant other did the exact same routine under the sheets every single time? Life would get boring and mundane. Imagine a world with no surprises. Imagine a world with no highs and lows. Just a living flat line. Fantasy sports would become an efficient market with everyone valuing players the same. I bring all this up because Victor Oladipo‘s career has been anything but predictable. Selected by the Orlando Magic with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, greatness was expected. And why not? At 6’ 4″ 210 pounds with a 42″ vertical jump, Oladipo had the physcial tools. Judging from his production at Indiana University, he also had the skills. But then life happened. After three seasons in Orlando, the team traded him to Oklahoma City. After one season in OKC, he was shipped off to Indiana for Paul George. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe he didn’t gel with his teammates. There are so many factors to consider, but one thing is certain: He’s found a home with the Pacers. Oladipo is scoring almost eight more points than last year on four more shot attempts, the shooting percentage has increased substantially (from both the suburbs and downtown), the rebounds are up, assists are up, steals are up, and blocks are up. I guess I could’ve just said every statistical category has improved, but I like the dramatic effect of spelling everything out. He’s the 14th overall player right now!!! Anyways, yesterday against the Nuggets, Oladipo played 45 minutes in an OT game and went:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 47 7 6 2 1 4 6/12 15/28 11/13

Oladipo Ho! Oladipo Ho! Oladipo Ho!

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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I’ve got a punt free throw percentage dynasty team that I love so much that I practically cheer for missed free throws. Logically, I know this is silly, but bricked freebies are my brand, I guess you’d say. For those of you punters that can relate, today I’ll give you some adjusted player rankings for the season. And if you haven’t tried a punt strategy, or haven’t been successful with one, maybe this’ll pique your interest for next season.

Last week, I listed the top 20 players in each category as well as the relevant bottom 20. This week, we’ll kinda do the opposite. I’ll remove some categories that you might benefit from ignoring, whether it was part of your plan or you just found yourself uncompetitive in a category that’s not worth trying to catch up in by patching it together at the expense of other categories.

First, free throw punters. I’ll give you the top 20 in per-game value (and others that make big leaps) for 8-category and 9-category with free throw percentage removed (through 12/5). All of today’s lists come from Basketball Monster stat ratings. Keep in mind that you’re not just looking for the worst free throw shooters. Those are the guys that benefit the most from removing this category, but it doesn’t mean they’re the most valuable to your team. They ARE, however, significantly more valuable to a free throw punter than anyone else. So, if you’re at the bottom of your roto league in FT% (or if you never compete in head-2-head), don’t try to just add a couple good FT shooters to fix it. Maybe that gets you a roto point or two at most. Go all in, and trade off some good FT shooters for the guys below, especially those that are cheaper since they benefit the most from punting (in bold) and watch your team gain in FG%, rebounds, and blocks.

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I try not to use the same player twice as the lede for this post. You’d think with over 300 players in the NBA, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, teams do not play every day and most of the players are not worthy. Sure, I could write up Nik Stauskas and how he didn’t score, rebound, assist, steal, or block in eight minutes of run. I could go into detail how he turned the ball over twice and picked up a personal foul, but even Momma Stauskas would be like, “I had to pause the curling match for this crap?” So, as much as I try not to use the same player for the lede, sometimes a performance is just too good. Last Wednesday, Devin Booker was The Razzballer after he dropped 33 points on the hapless Bulls. That was nothing compared to what he did to the Philadelphia 76ers:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 46 8 1 2 1 3 5/8 17/32 7/8

Booker started the game shooting 1-for-8. So, according to my handy dandy desktop abacus, he shot .666 the rest of the way. Ahhhh, the Devil lives!

The Wells Fargo Center used to be located at 3601 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. You can now just input 46 Booker St, Philadelphia, PA 00100 into your GPS from now on.

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For the first few weeks of the season, I try not to focus on the standings. I look, of course, but I do so knowing that there have been outlier games, whose impacts are more pronounced due to the small sample size. Also, most teams have a player or two that’s missed the majority of the games and they might also have been starting a replacement player that’s not going to keep it up much longer. However, we’re now about a quarter of the way through the NBA season. The data is relatively predictable. You should know which categories you need to focus on in order to gain points and which ones to ignore, either because you’re stuck at the bottom or entrenched at the top of a category (or if you always win or lose the category by a ton in head-to-head).

Today, we’ll look at the ESPN Player Rater. Tony RP’s Player Rater updates will give you a picture of who’s most valuable by position. I thought I’d go by category to see who’s doing what for us. Here are the top 20 players by category plus the bottom 20 for relevant ones, skipping players that have hardly played. So, it’s just the per-game stat leaders you may be familiar with, except that the percentage categories are weighted by volume. Turnovers are from BasketballMonster, since ESPN doesn’t include them.

So, how is this useful? Obviously, you want players that score well overall on the Player Rater. But, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to see some of your players pop up on these lists. Also, keeping in mind which categories you need help in, this can help you find some trade targets. Or, if you’re out of it in points or FG%, maybe ship off a guy that’s in the top 20 that’s not doing much else for you. If you’re in the middle of the pack in FT% and you see that you have one of the worst offenders there, maybe you can ditch him and gain points (just keep in mind what you might be losing in other categories from him). A lot can be gained by learning what’s actually happening compared to what we assume is happening based on previous years or projections.

Next week, I’ll get back into multi-category rankings for those that are ignoring categories, whether intentionally or as a matter of the hand you’ve been dealt. Think punt FG% & TOs, or for FT% punters: 3PTM+AST+ST+PTS+TO rankings, which are what you want to complement your FT% anchors with. That’s when you can really find trade value, since all players now have a new value to your specific team.

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Jusuf Nurkic had a huge afternoon in Brooklyn on Friday. He really took advantage of the Nets’ lack of viable big men. He came to Brooklyn to kick ass and chew bubblegum… and was all out of gum.  29-15-3-1-4-1. He’s got balls of steel! The Nets put up a good fight and it came down to the last shot, but they couldn’t top the Blazers.  This game was played at 12:00 Eastern time, so it could have been a factor in the Nets keeping it close or maybe the Nets are a little better than people think. Either way, they’re still 6-12 on the year, but they’re a very interesting team for low-end fantasy value. Anyway, here’s what else went down on Friday in fantasy hoops:

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Dinner was done, the kids were in bed, the dog was walked, and I was just about to kick back and finally watch the next episode of Stranger Things Season 2, when my phone buzzed. It was an email from Son letting me know that he had not left the bathroom since happy hour ended at his local sushi joint and he needed me to write today’s fantasy recap. So of course being the dedicated Razzball soldier I am, I let him know that I would add to my assist total and take the rock. It was only after agreeing to write the recap that I realized this was one of the busiest nights of basketball all season, so Son, I want to see a doctor’s note.

I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I will do my best to entertain the masses with a recap of yesterday’s action.

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“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” (Pele)

This has definitely been the week of the records. Last Wednesday, “Salvator Mundi”, a painting of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, was auctioned in New York for $450 million, smashing the previous record for a piece of art. One day later, we had something similar in the NBA. Our artist, called Joel Embiid finished with 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks in 34 sensational minutes. It was one of the strongest performances in the history of the NBA.

PLAYER YEAR Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Joel Embiid 2017 46 15 7 0 7
Shaquille O’Neal 2000 61 23 3 0 0
David Robinson 1994 71 14 5 0 2
Patrick Ewing 1990 44 22 4 2 7
Hakeem Olajuwon 1996 46 19 8 3 3
Anthony Davis 2016 59 20 4 0 1

This stratospheric performance impacted all of our leagues with most of his owners soaring. This tarnished other great performances.

Ben Simmons is averaging 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. Throughout NBA history, only two rookies averaged (at least) seven rebounds and seven assists per game. The members of this select club are Oscar Robertson with 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.7 assists and Magic Johnson with 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists.

Kristaps Porzingis made another record, as he is now the only player in NBA history with more than 200 3-points and more than 200 blocks in his first 150 games. In other words, he has made more 3-points than Kevin Durant and more blocks than Dwight Howard in this span.

Moreover, Robert Covington is averaging more 3pts (3.7) than Stephen Curry (3.6) and more steals (1.5) than Victor Oladipo (1.3).

 

The team of the week is Newbie. As you can guess he has Joel Embiid. But, he also has James Harden, the number one fantasy player the last two weeks (35.7 points, 10.2 assists, 2.0 steals, and 5.0 3pts). A match made in heaven.

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Here is how the action went down in week 5 across our 12 RCL Leagues:

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